Posts Tagged ‘Dutch’

L’Amour à Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I have exciting days ahead of me full of family, food and most likely lots of fun. Saturday is the wedding of my mum’s cousin’s daughter (still with me?) and so lots of my dutch family are heading to Paris from Holland. Luckily for me, the wedding is in Paris so I don’t have to go anywhere. Hoorah!

I am also honoured to have been invited to Freya and Mark’s civil ceremony on Friday, because just like everything in France, one wedding isn’t enough and you HAVE to have two. Ok, that’s not completely true, but you must go through the boring, administrative civil wedding at your local town hall and it is up to you whether or not you want to have a nice party and/or a church service. Seeing as most people like an excuse to eat food, drink wine and dance the night away, most couples fork out money for two events. Suddenly the single life is looking deliciously inexpensive.

Anyway, over the next few days random people from my extended family will be arriving in Paris, something that makes me very happy as I love family and these are some of the members that I don’t get to see very often. There will be my mum’s cousins, their children, my Grandma’s sister, and my great-half-uncle and my almost-great-half-aunt-in-law. This makes for very complicated introductions when you have to try and explain how we are all related.

The other thing I am excited about is the food (WHAT A SURPRISE!). Knowing Freya and Mark the food at the wedding is going to be fantastic and plus there are additional family dinner gatherings on the days before and after the wedding that will involve more food consumption. I am preparing my stomach in advance. Last night was the first of these dinners at a restaurant that is on a barge on the Seine – Café Barge. The exterior of the boat could do with a lick of paint but clearly they spent all of their money doing up the inside. There were fluorescent pink lights, plastic pink and silver glitter chairs and on the walls were murals with images of Marilyn Munro and Elvis. At one end of the boat was a ‘dance’ zone with disco lights that was being occupied by a group of international business people, clearly all trying to network while surrounded by mirror balls. Amusing.

Café Barge chair

It’s… pink.

However, despite all of this I have realised this morning that I have disastrously overlooked a very important fact. This will most likely be the single wedding that I will ever have the occasion of attending in Paris – the city of fashion and style – and therefore my one opportunity to wear a dress that is down-right FANTASTIC. Up until this morning I had been planning on wearing one of the two dresses I own, depending on the weather and my mood for the day but I realise this could be a wasted opportunity! How can I settle for a dress I already own when I could go and buy a new one? Sure, money. But as I mentioned before, the wedding is in Paris and I therefore don’t have to travel to Holland OR Australia and I am therefore saving money! I should really spend that on a new dress. And a new bag (this one is a necessity. My current plastic, water proof, go anywhere, fit anything bag isn’t really wedding-friendly.) And potentially a hat (I made a new friend last night who is wearing a hat to the wedding. This sounds like a GREAT idea.) So to the shops it is! Luckily, whenever I am searching for something in particular I can never find it and therefore I will return home this evening empty handed and I will wear one of my two perfectly nice dresses. But in the words of Daryl Somers, you never ever know if you never ever go (to the shops).

Jacob is Ready to Discover New Muds

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Jacob, my mudwalking sock creature, is for sale on my Etsy store and is looking for new lands to discover and new muds to walk. He’s the perfect gift for mudwalkers, Dutch family members or that grubby person in your life. Buy him now.

Mudwalker

Love me.

Walk This Way

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Introducing the latest edition to the Zaum menagerie – everyone, meet Jacob. Jacob, meet everyone.

Jacob the mud walker
Hello…

Jacob was born near the Zuidplaspolder – the lowest point of the Netherlands and has always felt a strong affinity to all things ‘marshy’. This is potentially because his mother gave birth to him in a swamp (it’s a long story involving flat bike tyres, a windmill and lots of herring) and the fact he spent a lot of time playing in canals and soggy ground throughout his childhood. Whatever the case, Jacob has never shied away from getting a bit dirty.

Jacob the mudwalker

Jacob is ready for any muddy situation

Unfortunately for Jacob, this backfired slightly in that he was constantly teased and getting into trouble at school for the muck under his finger nails and the general stench that wafted off his skin. But no matter how many times he was tripped up by bullies, he couldn’t stay away from the ooey-gooey goodness that mud provided. In his opinion, all humans should live in mud, be constantly coated in mud, and live off the creatures and fungus that grow in and around mud. There is nothing better.

This is why when it came time for Jacob to leave home and find himself a job, he headed to the north of the Netherlands and took up mudwalking. He couldn’t believe his luck when he found out that he could make a living taking tourists on treks across the North sea sea-bed when the tide was out. Suddenly people were interested in his passion – people wanted to become with mud, just like him!

Jacob the mud walker

Everywhere he goes, he takes his mudwalking stick

While he did manage to get a job as a mudwalk tour guide, it wasn’t easy. People get scared by his odd looks and obsession with the slimy stuff. Due to decades of contact with mud, Jacob’s pasty-white skin has turned into a dark, mouldy-black. His blonde hair has permanently stuck to the top of his head and you can’t tell the difference between hair and skin. The only part of his face that is easily decipherable are his eyes that bulge out in a mole-like appearance. The only part of him that makes him clearly a Dutch-man are his limbs – long and gangly compared to the rest of his body. His legs are excellent tools for getting out of tricky mud-situations and his arms can pull out stuck tourists in an instant.

Every time he heads out on an expedition into the great mud, Jacob will always wear his lucky green hat. It is the only colourful item that he will wear – he never washes his mudwalking outfits as he has broken too many washing machines and he hates doing it by hand. His hat, however, is his pride and joy and he will do anything to avoid it getting muddy. In addition, he attached a small bell to the back of it in case of emergencies – should he ever get completely stuck in the mud he will ring the bell to call for help. Now that’s a pro-mudwalker.

Jacob the mud walker

Lindt Bunnies aren't the only ones who need bells

Jacob will be available for purchase from my Etsy Store soon! I just need to go to the post office and work out postage costs… That’ll be fun. Not. Also, Jacob is made from a sock that had a one in three chance of being used by me when I went mudwalking in Holland. The socks I actually used were beyond repair so this is as good as I could do. I don’t think any quarantine departments would have been too happy about me sending mud-filled socks across their borders.

Three Highlights

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

I am well and truly back in Paris and have said farewell to my parents. I am now officially living independently (well, plus Tom) in France with no parental guidance, job or direction. Sounds fun! Pity it is currently raining. Actually, I’m going to go and watch the rain. Be right back.

Back. A reasonably heavy downpour just happened and instead of taking cover like most Australians would, the French people who were hanging out in the park just continued to chat and put up some umbrellas. Water doesn’t seem to melt them as much as it does to Australians.

Anyway, back on track. So I am back in Paris after three weeks away in Holland, Germany and Crete and I feel I haven’t written much lately and I probably should. The problem is, a lot happens in three weeks so I am going to choose one highlight from each country and the rest you can decipher from looking at my photos that are now all up on my Flickr site. Sounds like a plan, Stan.

Holland

Ahh, Holland. Or should I say, The Netherlands. Apparently there is a clear difference but it is a bit like the capital city of Australia – is it Canberra or is it really Sydney? No one from outside Australia really knows or cares. Having Dutch family, I have always enjoyed pretending I am ‘Dutcher’ than I am. There’s something exotic and romantic about being from European decent as opposed to being the great-great-great-great granddaughter of a convict. I believe I am a mix of both. But it still amazes me how everytime I arrive in Holland I feel an instant recognition and connection with the locals. I can see myself in their faces, their rosy cheeks, their longer limbs and larger builds. On this visit it really hit me how a large percentage of Dutch women have stronger, more ‘solid’ builds than other nationalities. French women are tiny and ‘petite’ and would be crushed to death if a Dutch person sat on them. I certainly not saying that Dutch women are fat – they are very healthy and fit despite eating a lot of pancakes and cream. However they are tall and well structured and for once I actually felt like my own body shape fit in. Kind of relieving, really!

My ultimate highlight from Holland was most likely the mudwalking but as I have already written about that I shall write about my second highlight – Bike riding to Hoorn. Dad had hired bikes from a local bike shop and as he and Mum are now expert bike riders we decided they should teach Tom and me the secrets of the dutch bike paths. The night before we set off, Dad and I looked at maps and planned a route from Medemblik (the small town where we were staying) to Hoorn (a larger town nearby) – a 50km return trip past two windmills, through lots of little towns and across many dijks. Holland is covered in cycle paths that are all linked together and numbered. All you have to do is look at a map, see what number bike paths will connect you with where ever you are going and then jump on your bike and follow the numbered signs. It’s that easy!

Bike path map
It’s a netwerk of fietsroutes

It is a wonderful system – you can get slightly lost if you go off track or miss a sign but Holland isn’t really big enough for this to be a major problem. You only have to ride for a few minutes and you are in another town – there isn’t much chance of getting lost in the woods/desert/ocean etc. We rode past some really interesting scenery and along bike paths of various descriptions. Sometimes we were on the road side with cars and trucks giving way to us, other times we rode along the top of dijks with sheep farms and fields of flowers on either side. No matter where we were riding I always felt safe and the cars on the road knew exactly how to deal with bikes. That I think is the main problem with riding in Australia – drivers in cars become nervous about bikes and accelerate to get past instead of just waiting for a safe moment to overtake. Idiots.

Bike ride

Riding along on a dijk

Another things I discovered while riding was that my Grandma wasn’t lying when she told me that the wind in Holland is always in your face, no matter what direction you are riding and how many times you try and ride in the opposite direction. You cannot escape it and it can have quite an impact on your peddling abilities. We did choose a remarkably beautiful day to go on our ride to Hoorn so the wind wasn’t a huge issue, but I did wonder how my parents managed to ride for 100km in rain and strong winds a week or so before on their cycle tour of Holland. They’re clearly insane.

Anyway, the ride was wonderful as it was such an easy and enjoyable mode of transport. I think I received severe bruising to my rear end by the end of the day but otherwise no injuries sustained. Tom punctured his tyre so we had an emergency stop at a bike repair shop. And we ate fresh gevulde koek from a bakery which was probably the ULTIMATE highlight of the day. Much better than packet versions that have spent three months on a ship to Australia.

Gevulde koek

Mmm... deliciousness filled with almond goodness

Now I am hungry and I am going to go and buy a baguette but I will return later to write about Germany and Crete. Fear not!