Sunday, August 26, 2007

Outmarket

Outmarket is the literal translation for Uitmarkt. An event in Amsterdam that opens the new cultural season in Holland. Many theatres open their doors for free to shows that range from classical music and ballet to hiphop, cabaret, literary recitals and film. Besides that, there are stands on the square and surrounding streets selling books or giving information on various cultural events of the new season.

As we are musical fans we left for Amsterdam this morning for the stage where they would practice for the "Musical Sing along Songs" which shows parts of new musicals which will be in the theaters the coming year. This evening they did the real show which we watched just now on TV (nice and comfy on our own sofa).

But this afternoon we made sure we were in time as we wanted a good place to watch. We had to wait a little while but it was worth it for we were right in front and could see very well. After watching several performances we decided to move on as there was so much more to see.
Here we look back on the stage as we walk away.





Crossing the bridge we could see the stage on the right hand side. There was lots of traffic on the waters of Amsterdam. The weather was lovely so it was good day for travelling through the canals of Amsterdam by boat. As for us, well we went by foot and walked along the information and book stands. A little later we came across another stage where a choir was singing Dutch medley's. WOW it gave a typical Dutch feeling, especially when they sang a song about Amsterdam. It was a delight to hear this choir sing.

As we came by tram from the Olympia Stadion where we parked our car we had to walk back a bit to catch a tram. One of our kids had been asking about De Wallen (the red light district) and because we passed this area and saw how many tourists where walking around we went into this well known Amsterdam area. We had never been here before but as you can see on the picture it is a very picturesque area (during daytime). We didn't see any red lights in the streets we walked through. After that we walked on to the Dam where we took a tram back to the parking lot.

On our way home we heard that over half a million people visited the Outmarket this weekend. Must say there were lots of people but it didn't feel uncomfortable at all. In fact we had a lovely day with perfect weather.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cooking

Now that the laundry is back in the cupboard the house needs a cleanup but till now I couldn't make myself do it.

What I did do was go into town and buy myself a new cooking book explaining how to prepare normal meals without using ready made things.

First thing I decided to surprise my family with was a lovely, creamy mushroom soup. The recipe looked easy enough and it didn't need too many ingredients.

After spending a few hours in the kitchen the soup was ready to eat and so was the rest of the meal. So I called everybody to come and taste.

For a starter: homemade mushroom soup!! What a pity it didn't look appetising at all. I didn't find the taste that bad but it didn't taste creamy at all. What I did wrong I don't know for I did exactly what the book said but ............??

This is what it should have looked like, perhaps I should give it another try tomorrow................!

In the meantime my family doesn't like to see me looking in that cooking book any more. They are really longing for me to get back to my studies and to my work so that I won't have time to experiment with their meals. In fact just this evening walking in a large shop our daughter showed me the packs of ready made mushroom soup: JUST ADD WATER!! and advised me to buy a few packs. (LOL)

What a pity they are not in for me cooking all kinds of exciting things for there are lovely recipes in that book and aren't homemade things supposed to taste better?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Laundry



Now you know what has been keeping me busy the past few days. And this is not even as much as we had when we came home. Our bathtub was filled to the top!!

I am so glad with our automatic washing machine and with the possibility to dry the laundry inside on our top floor. For with this real Dutch summer we are having here it wouldn't have dried at all. At least now nearly everything is clean and back in the cupboards where it belongs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we left Camping Les Trois Rois in Les Andelys after packing all our things. At least it stopped raining so we were able to get everything dry on board. We were glad to be going home for camping is great but after three weeks we all longed for our own beds and a clean toilet and shower.

Unfortunately we had a bad journey for our car gave us lots of problems on our way home. As we wouldn't be able to explain the problems in French we hoped to be able to make it to the Belgium border. When we finally did we tried to find a garage but it was a public holiday in Belgium. We had realised that when still in France, as it was rather quiet on the road and most shops were closed. We were lucky to realize in time so we could still buy a few baguettes to eat on our way home.

The ride through Belgium was no fun at all with a car switching of every now and then. Luckily we made it to Holland where we stopped on the first parking lot to call for help. We had to wait about half an hour. When help came even explaining our problems in Dutch was difficult and the mechanic couldn't solve our problem. So in the end we made it home with a stammering car.

It took us nearly 12 hours to get home but finally we made it! Oh home sweet home!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Versailles

Because the weather was not that great to spend time on the camping we decided to drive to Versailles after we visited Giverny.

Here all nationalities come to visit this great place. The castle and gardens are really big. We couldn’t visit the castle itself because there were too many people and those that managed to get tickets to enter the castle had to wait two hours to do so. As we didn’t intend to visit the castle we just looked at that long row of people waiting to go in. Wonder if it is worth the long wait.

We just walked to the back of the castle and overlooked the large garden with lovely white statues everywhere. On the canal at the end of the gardens people where enjoying themselves on the water in rowboats. We walked down and up the long lanes to get a good impression of these gardens.

Luckily it didn’t rain when we were there but later on the way back to the camping it started raining so we ended up eating at McDonald’s (not my favourite place to eat but our youngest still likes it very much).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monet

Ever since we bought a reproduction of a painting made by Monet we have wanted to visit his house and the gardens where he painted this painting. This year we had the opportunity to do so.

On our way there we picknicked near the old bridge in Vernon. (see above)

In Giverny it was very busy as many people come to visit this place. Not only Monet made it known but also many other painters that came here to paint because of him. There is a museum showing paintings of these painters.

We only visited Claude Monet’s house. It had a very yellow kitchen and he loved Japanese sketches as we could see them everywhere in the house. I prefer his own paintings to those sketches. In a way it amazed me that he would like such sketches when his own makings are so different.

The gardens are really colourful with all kinds of flowers. To get to the water lily pond we had to pass under the road via a little tunnel and there we saw the little bridge he painted on the picture we have.


The gardens are still lovely and it was a delight to walk through them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Les Andelys

Today we left Martragny and went to Les Andelys where we found a nice, large place on a camping near the Seine. From our tent we looked up the hill to the ruins of Château Gaillard. The ruins were lighted in the evening and it was a wonderful sight. Unfortunately it was too cold in the evening so we couldn’t sit outside for that would have made it even better. Still it was nice to look at.

The Seine is a busy river and we saw all kinds of boats passing by. The one I remember most was a cruise ship that passed by with a cook walking over the deck and a woman sitting on a home trainer on the back of the boat. It looked as if her cycling made the ship go along. While training she waved to us standing on the shore. It was a mighty sight.

On Monday we walked up to the ruins of the castle and enjoyed the fantastic view over the curve in the river Seine. I tried to capture the beauty of the place on this picture.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Longues sur Mer

Yesterday we had lovely weather and we visited Longues sur Mer where we visited the remains of a German battery.

On this picture you can see the view from the cliffs at Longues sur Mer. In the distance you can see the Mulberry Harbour of Arromanches. It was a lovely view.

We walked along the battery and saw 4 bunkers from the Atlantic Wall with the cannons still in place. It was an impressive sight. We wanted to spend some time on the beach after that but at Longues sur Mer there were too many pebbles and it wasn't nice at all. So we drove a little further and found a nice place on Omaha Beach. The tide was low so the beach was very big. That reminds me of a few days ago when we returned to Omaha Beach and there was this woman saying "oh, where has my beach gone, it has disappeared!" Well it is funny when you are not used to the tides. After having lived in Gozo for many years where there are no tides and where beaches remain the same size all the time, these tides still amaze me.

Sitting on Omaha Beach I had to think about it's history and about the many life's that ended there so that we could sit on that beach. Above the beach the American flags were fluttering high above the American cemetery for all those brave men.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mont St Michel

Yesterday we visited the Mont St. Michel. We wanted to show the kids this famous place. We found a nice picknick place, near Avranches, to have a coffee. From here we could see the Mont in the distance and we had a nice view over the Bay.

On our way there the weather was very bad and we had heavy rains. Luckily it passed and it was dry when we had our coffee and later when we visited the Mont.

But my how many people where there! It was simply filled and the main street inside up to the top of the Mont was simply packed!! Just awful. So as soon as we could we tried to find some parts where there were not so many people and then we walked around a little before leaving the Mont via the back and walking over the dry Bay back to our car. The tide was low when we visited so we were lucky that was possible.

Though inside the Mont was very crowded and we didn’t like to walk in such a crowd we did enjoy the sight of the Mont in the distance.



When back on the camping we prepared a nice meal on our Skottelbraai and the smiley’s where nice and brown and really smiled at us (as you can see).

The rest of this week will be spend relaxing near our caravan. We still wish to visit Caen and perhaps one last visit to the beach at Longues sur Mer to see the German battery over there, built on a cliff top overlooking the English Channel.

Our intention is to leave Martagny on Sunday and find a new camping place near Rouen for our last holiday week.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sightseeing

This past week was mostly spent driving everywhere doing lots of sightseeing. The weather was just perfect for that. We saw many interesting places.

On Sunday we spend the whole day near the caravan. It was very hot (nearly 30°C), too hot to do anything. In the early evening we visited Port-en-Bessin, a little harbour place. There we walked over the rocks near the sea and found many lovely, large shells. Of course we collected many to take back home with us.

Here we are in Bayeux finally visiting the tapestry that I wanted to see ever since I read a book about it. It was very busy when we arrived there and we even had to wait in a row before being able to enter. First we watched a small film telling the history of the tapestry and later we walked by the 70 meter tapestry with a small headphone telling us things that could be seen on this historical embroidery. On another day we strolled through Bayeux to discover the town itself.

On Monday we drove to Lisieux, a town of pilgrimage. Therese Martin lived here and she became known because of her memoirs told in “Story of a Soul”. In 1925 she was declared a Saint. I read her memoirs many years ago when I was living in Gozo and I never forgot the story for it touched me deeply. Now I was glad to be able to visit The Basilica in Lisieux and Les Buissonnets (the house where she lived as a girl). We even climbed the dome of the Basilica and enjoyed a wonderful view over the town and over Normandy.

Here you see the statue in the garden of Les Buissonnets where Therese asked her father to allow her to enter the convent.

We also visited Honfleur and walked around the lovely harbour with many places to eat. When in Honfleur we could see the Pont de Normandy in the distance, a bridge crossing the Seine.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Results

After waiting nearly the whole day and spending most of the time behind our laptop in the camping bar the results finally came through.

When I first saw them I could hardly believe it for I passed for both subjects. WOW you won't believe how glad I am that I won't have to redo a subject!

So it's back to holidaying now, laptop back in the closet and me back in the sun with that good book I am still reading.

There are a few less daisy's in the garden of the Chateau (see the above picture) for my husband brought me a bunch just now here in the camping bar!

We'll drink an extra Calvados this evening to celebrate the good results.
(Sabine, can't say I like the taste and am still getting used to it. The first nip is the worst and after that it slowly tastes better. Don't think it will ever be a favourite drink of mine.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Calvados

So far we have seen many interesting places and holiday weather is turning out quiet good. It’s a pity temperatures cool down in the evening so we can’t sit outside but there is a remedy for that as you can see on the pictures below.


CHEERS! The local drink, Calvados, is not bad at all and gives us a nice, warm feeling.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

D-Day Normandy

We spend the past few days visiting places that became known because of D-Day (6 June 1944). Before going to these places we read about the happenings on that day and seeing those places gave us a realistic view of what happened that day. Everything we saw really impressed us.

We visited Sainte Mère Eglise where a parachutist (a doll) still hangs on the church tower. The kids had seen the film The longest day so they knew the story and wanted to see this place. After that we drove on to Utah Beach and to Omaha Beach. In between we visited Pointe du Hoc (photo above) where there are many holes in the ground due to heavy bombing in that area. It was a mighty sight and just reading about this place and seeing it brought tears to my eyes just thinking about the heavy fighting that took place in this area that cost the lives of so many young, courageous men.

Later we also visited the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach with all those white crosses.

The picture below is taken at Omaha Beach and shows the sculpture “Les Braves” made to honour the courage of sons, husbands and fathers who endangered and often sacrificed their lives in the hope of freeing the French people.
“Les Braves” consists of three elements:
1. The Wings of Hope
2. Rise Freedom
3. The Wings of Fraternity