Social inclusion, splendid stained glass, a surprising encounter and being an early bird!

It was so lovely to be back in the Netherlands – the most sane place in Europe I reckon! The keyword there is inclusion – a good quality of life for all.

This beautiful lake is just a few minutes walk from where Hannah lives

Maybe it isn’t like this everywhere in this small nation but where my daughter lives in Pijnacker near Delft, social housing is integrated with executive homes, community gardens abound and there are numerous beautiful places where anyone and everyone can enjoy the peace and enjoy communing with nature.

The sheep were very curious
Such a beautiful time of day …
In the main square in Delft. Look at the size of those hooves!
A typically Dutch scene

We were in the Netherlands to celebrate our daughter’s birthday and she had chosen to celebrate it at an outdoor vegan feast organised by a local vegan restaurant in a beautiful garden where all the vegetables were grown.

Such a beautiful table set for our vegan feast
Including lovely flowers
…..and cool cutlery presentation

What an amazing evening with fantastic food and such an interesting group of people from all parts of the globe.

The garden was glorious
We had a guided tour before dinner
Photo opportunity!
After dinner coffee was served round braziers

The birthday fun continued at the home of Hannah’s partner’s parents where the whole immediate family came together for a great meal and cake – lots of cake!

More birthday fun at the family dinner
Just one of the birthday cakes

Then there was the day itself when of course, there were more celebrations!

Happy Birthday!
Birthday flowers

The following day we (plus Hannah) headed on the long road to Milan where we had a date with an aeroplane to take us to Brisbane for a very important date – the wedding of our son Ben to his lovely Sarah.

Metz Cathedral
Fountain in Metz
Such a beautiful city

We stopped en route at Metz – such an underrated town! It has a fabulous car park down by the Moselle River where you can park your van – an easy walk into the centre of the picturesque town.

Votive offerings in Metz Cathedral
There is 6,496 square metres of stained glass in Metz Cathedral

The Cathedral is amazing! It has stunning stained glass windows – in fact it is nicknamed “the Good Lord’s Lantern” as it has the largest display of stained glass in the world with 6,496 sq metres (69,920 sq ft) of windows.

The stained glass includes works by many Gothic and Renaissance master glass makers and wonderful windows by modern artist Marc Chagall.

Two of the Chagall windows (above and below)
Hannah enjoying the wonderful stained glass

After a great walk round the Cathedral and through the lovely Medieval streets of Metz, we found the perfect place for dinner down a little alleyway.

Walking through the laneways of Metz
We found the perfect place to eat up this alley
Cheers to Metz

We walked some more down by the river to digest our dinner and had one of those encounters that you only get when travelling. We stopped to say “hello” to a little dog and then got chatting with its owner.

Lovely to walk round as the day turns to night
Such a gorgeous light
The River Moselle

Somehow between our long forgotten school student French and her equally scant English we managed to have a very nice conversation.

It was here we met our new friend

Suddenly she thrust her dog’s lead into my hand and said (roughly translated) “stay there, I want to show you something “.

Our lovely lady from Metz (left) with her dog

She left us looking after her baby who looked rather stunned but didn’t make a break for it. A few minutes later she arrived back with a beautiful bottle of champagne for us! We were amazed – what a lovely gesture!


We ended the evening on the river bank in the dusk enjoying a drink at the end of a surprising day.

Just couldn’t stop taking photos!
The Cathedral is very photogenic from the exterior too
A lovely place to sit and enjoy the evening
Nightcap on the river bank

Early the next morning we travelled through Switzerland where Hannah bathed in an ice-cold mountain stream (I can still hear her shrieks!) and where we negotiated fantastically precarious hairpin bends! The amazing views, hard to capture on an iPhone will live on in our memories for many a day.

After coffee a freezing swim in this mountain stream
I’m sure these peaks were the inspiration for that Swiss favourite Toblerone!
Loving the drive through the Swiss Alps
Arggh! Hairpin bends
This is what they looked like on our GPS
More beautiful mountains

We arrived in Lake Como in the early evening and after a wonderful walk round part of the lake found a great little hotel where we enjoyed a bottle of wine gazing on to the lake so favoured by the rich and famous.

Lake Como from the van while driving!
Romantic Lake Como
We had a drink on the balcony of this well placed hotel
Ahh! Such a good spot

Our final day of driving saw us arriving on the outskirts of Milan at the motor home storage place where we were leaving the van while visiting Australia.

Back in Milan where we stored the van

Our flight was very early the next morning and by some miracle we were first in the queue at check in – for the very first time in my life!!

First in the queue. It’s a miracle!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Social inclusion, splendid stained glass, a surprising encounter and being an early bird!”

  1. Belated Happy Birthday Hannah!
    Think you look very snazzy in your orange and white in the airport queue, Dot!
    Did you see the Chagall window in Chichester Cathedral?


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