Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
141Trip End Jul 21, 2010
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Today I will find more family, spending the day with Oma's sister’s daughter (niece for all you playing at home) Eline and here husband Marien. They live in Arnhem, which I am told is the place of forests and the slight incline considered mountainous terrain by Dutch standards.
The walk to the station is in the rain, but is calming and nice. Thank lordy for the faux-leather wonder beast thing Robert gave me, the raincoat jumper combination would have worked, but would not have been so stylish.
I’ve also started listening to music more and more when out in the streets, but this tends to block out the worlds, which has good and bad consequences, so I may give it up for a bit
The train to Arnhem is about a hour. The email from Eline last night tells of the station having two exits, and requests which one to stay at. I’m a little early so do a lap of the station and the streets a little, finding a wicked accordion player who did not Dancing in the Dark (or said Yah Yah, then proceeded to play something totally different, nearly took back my 50c). I also find this crazy lattice pastry with a hot dog in it, such I monstrous ungodly creation I could not pass up. The amount of butter that thing had in it is caked on my lips, while the hot dog makes room for itself in my belly. Not the usual 8am meal.
Of course, I have selected the incorrect platform to be at for waiting. Ten minutes after the waiting time and I’m out and looking for them, and eventually find Eline doing the same. She was worried I may have had a haircut since Christmas and taken of my side burns (who would suggest such a thing!) and become un-recognizable. I assure that will not be happening any time soon. Marienne is waiting on the platform for me, where I did not end up being as I caught an earlier train. He is a little jet lagged having landed back from Japan earlier this morning. Both Eline and Marien apologise for their English, to which I reply it is amazing and fathoms better than my Dutch. Eline remembers Mum learning it when she was young, but gave it up as it was playing with her English Eline and marine are Wonderful. I mean wonderful. Both are funny and caring and quiet yet well spoken and friendly.
Marien, having just come back from Japan, talked at length about their customs – how he wins them over with syrup waffles at meetings (which I to now adore), how they seem to lack certain sounds - a 'v’ and ‘b’ sound the same, then they wonder why no one can help them find a ‘balbe’
They have also invited Raoul, their first son, and Patrice his wife over for lunch with their new son Stanley. He is freaking gorgeous, and both Raoul and Patrice a also very nice people. Raoul has a love of boats, and says if I’m here in the summer he will take me out on the water, which would be wicked. We all talk over a lovely lunch of soup and sandwiches, and afterwards. Raoul and I go through maps as he suggests other – more Mediterranean - places to go such as Barcelona and Spain. Everyone has suggested Spain.
After they depart Marien suggests we take a walk out across the natural nature of Arnhem, and looks to my shoes, asking if I brought any other one with me? I confess I have no other shoes
The parks have a winter beauty about them. It’s rain as we walk, the fields and the landscape shades of murky browns, blacks and greys. From here you can really see Van Gogh was inspired in terms of colour palette. Marien smiles and agrees, this is traditional Dutch weather - we have beautiful summer skies, but this is traditional.
The property overseeing the park is a mansion-for-hire, with rooms available, both living area and function room quite suitable for weddings and other such momentous occasions.
They also show me the bat cave, which was not always for bats. A natural cave, it was first used by the homeowners to hold all the ice they removed from the ponds. This was then used as a freezer to keep meat and goods chilled as the months got warmer (though I am not entirely sure how long this lasted. Now it has all been concreted)
Marien and Eline both speak of their time in Zealand, when they met and moved. Eline moved there very young, on the promise and belief it would be a lovely place for them to run and be children. Unfortunately this was not the case, their town was quite conservative and she felt claustrophobic from it all. After Marien and she had begun seeing each other, he was offered a job that was based in Arnhem, Eline suggested he take it.
The house on the park looks like a lovely traditional Dutch two story country home. Big enough to fit rooms upstairs and seat people for dinner below. I am told by Eline that this has been renovated recently, and it is no longer a nice place to stay. The life has gone from it, the chairs no longer good for sitting in.
They have a Labrador (who’s name continues to escape me) which they have had for four years. They both love dogs, and as the children were growing up (two boys one girl) found it a wonderful addition to the family. Their first passed away some years ago, with the children grown and out of the house, an for a time there was just the two o f them in the house. Eline could not get another dog, as the pain of losing the first was so great. But she soon found her moods were different, and even the house and garden and the food and carpet felt different. They decided upon one that looks like their first, almost like they can pretend she never went away.
When we get back Eline and I prepare a room for me upstairs. Their three bedroom home is wonderful, the staircase has an organic feel to the roof, curved concrete and textured. The also have all the fabulous mod cons, like a bath. In comparison, Roberts bathroom feels like a closet.
As Eline makes dinner we begin to go through photographs. First with those that show mum and dad on their European trip visiting - Marien still remembers dad helping them move home for a weekend they were here. This house we’re in has also be renovated downstairs , as a few years ago a flood took out the bottom floor and filled the basement. For a time they were living upstairs, but said it wasn’t that bad, and much of the furniture that could save has remained there.
The most recent photos of the kids see Irwin doing placements across the globe in exotic places like Africa, getting up his hours to be a doctor. His girlfriend Valentine (pronounced Valenteen) is still in Belgium but hope to travel with him shortly. Leisbeth is in Switzerland. Eline loves this as it’s like having a holiday home when they go. Often for a few weeks in the summer, the photos look amazing and I hope to be there in June.
Raoul lives in the next suburb with Petrice and Stan, and Eline comments that when they first moved Raoul suggested Eline and Marien do the same. She smiles to him and says "While I love you, I don’t think that’s a good idea."
She also notices that she sees a lot more of her first son when his wife is not around, over for dinner most nights ad what not.
After dinner we keep going, this time I’m showing them every single photo I can find of u on facebook (yes mum, even you are on facebook). They remark at Kelly’s hair and that we have two red heads. They are sent photos of us every Christmas from Oma and Opa, which is most likely why they could recognize me this morning.
Marienne’s jet lag starts to kick in so he bids us a good night. Eline and I spend the rest in the living room talking more about travel and family and being a tourist while missing everyone at home.
Unfortunately I have made plans with Robert for tomorrow, so I need to leave rather early in the morning. It would have been lovely to stay longer, and I promise Eline I will come back later on.