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Archive for May, 2010

A boat ride on the canals

One morning in Amsterdam and it was quite damp and grey, so we decided that the best way to see the city would be a tour on a canal boat. Our houseboat was within walking distance of one of the canal boat stops so we rugged up and set off.

Gorgeous Girl enjoyed looking out the window.

I love this picture of her with her scarf.

Gorgeous Girl did what she always does, and made a friend,

while Mummy and Daddy took pictures of the beautiful buildings gliding by.

While in Amsterdam we partook of some traditional Dutch meals. I was very excited to see purple sauerkraut on the menu

as this is something I remember eating as a child (I grew up in a German speaking home). In fact I enjoyed it so much that I located some when we got home and there is now a bottle of purple sauerkraut sitting in my fridge. Gorgeous Girl is quite happy to eat it with me, but Gorgeous Man, not so much.

We also visited the zoo. Not something Gorgeous Man and I would have done on our own, but Gorgeous Girl had a wonderful time. She loved the animals and was most taken with these jumping platforms.

The little owl we bought in the zoo store has become a firm favourite and has been added to the menagerie of animals that sleep in her cot at night.

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A houseboat on a canal

In Amsterdam we stayed on a permanently moored houseboat called The Lucky Piper.

It was lovely. We were in a regular suburb, not the main tourist districts, but we were still only 10 minutes walk from public transport and only 30 minutes or so from the centre of Amsterdam.

This is the front of the boat. The houses behind it were across the canal. To the right of the picture was a nest with a pair of coots. Gorgeous Girl had a great time staring out the window at them and counting how many eggs they had laid when the parents changed shifts.

There was a little breakfast nook for Gorgeous Girl.

Note the new footsie pyjamas ๐Ÿ™‚

The boat had an open plan living area and kitchen, and two bedrooms.

It was very relaxing and worked out cheaper than a hotel. Having a kitchen meant that we could cook our own breakfast and dinner which was a godsend since we didn’t really want to drag a tired 2 year old out to a restaurant for dinner after a full day’s sight seeing. It also meant that we could shop in Dutch supermarkets and have a more ‘authentic’ Dutch experience. Living in an Afrikaans speaking area ofย  South Africa really helped with the shopping, as Afrikaans is derived from the Dutch, well it helped me. Gorgeous Man doesn’t speak any Afrikaans ๐Ÿ™‚

Another advantage was that Gorgeous Girl got her own room, so we could stay up a bit later without worrying about waking her up.

It was quite cold and wet for most of our visit, and there were a few spectacular hail storms like this.

This is looking out the front door of the boat. On the right of the top picture is the shed that is on land.

It was wonderful being so snug inside while the hail beat down on the boat and the water. We could not have asked for a better place to stay. The only disadvantages were that the wifi did not work so we had to go to local cafes to hook into the internet, and the lighting was very ambient and not conducive to reading a chart and working on cables. Other than that I would recommend this place to anyone contemplating a trip to Amsterdam.

Only 2 more posts about my trip and then I will return to regular crafting blogging.

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While in Amsterdam I was lucky to be able to meet up with Helen.

Although she lives outside Amsterdam she drove in to meet me. We first fortified ourselves with some coffee, it was a cold wet day, and then we headed to the Begijnhof. Entry is through this alley.

Inside are beautiful houses.

This place has been reserved for single women since the 13th century, and it still follows this practice. Guests are requested to be quiet and not to disturb the residents.

After lunch we visited two quilt shops. Our reception in both stores could not have been more different, even though they were side-by-side.

The first quilt store was very friendly. They didn’t blink when Gorgeous Girl did this:

I let her choose one fat quarter for herself. In fact, they got out their own camera and recorded the moment for posterity. A few days later Gorgeous Girl was featured on their blog.

They also were kind enough to take a picture of Helen and I.

(I feel compelled to point out my hand spun scarf to you all).

In the second store, the owner followed us around the store like we were going to steal something. We had bags of fabric from the store next door, so obviously we were on a buying mission, but she was so unfriendly, and then became down right hostile when Gorgeous Girl touched something on a chair, that even though her fabrics were more my style I grabbed only the one that I really couldn’t do without, had it cut and we fled.

So here is the Amsterdam fabric haul.

The Russian dolls on the end is from the second store. The green and black fabric is the one Gorgeous Girl chose, she was most insistent that this one was the one she wanted. She likes the dark colours. Her paintings are mostly black and brown… Since being home she has also claimed the Russian dolls and we have had to have words about helping yourself to Mummy’s fabric stash…

After more coffee to defrost and dry out we went our separate ways home.

Thank you Helen for taking the time to meet me and to show me your favourite Amsterdam quilt store. I had a lovely day.

PS. You can see Helen’s account of our day out here.

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Amsterdam

We were flying with KLM via Amsterdam to get to and from South Africa and the USA, so Gorgeous Man had the wonderful idea to leave the airport and stay for a few days. Despite travelling really well to the USA, the flight to Amsterdam was one that I do not wish to repeat.

You know how on some flights there is a kid that just screams and people talk about it for the next 10 years: “I was on a flight once where this kid just screamed and screamed…” Well we were those parents with that child. In her defense she was over-tired and not very well.

On our first full day (after a lovely night’s sleep) we decided to take things easy and so walked down to an open air market and then ended up in a lovely park.

Gorgeous Man working out where we are, and Gorgeous Girl mesmerized by the ‘big digger’ that was planting a tree.

A walk through the park revealed something that made Gorgeous Girl very happy.

A playground just her size.

Please note the matching handspun hats. I told Gorgeous Girl that I was going to make her a hat for our trip and showed her my stash of handspun, she chose the one that matched Gorgeous Man’s. I was surprised, as I was sure that she would go for something brighter…

The slide is always a favourite.

After a long walk we fortified ourselves in one of the local cafes. Gorgeous Girl made 2 new friends.

She was most taken with the dog, and she and her little Dutch friend had a great time chattering away to each other in their respective languages.

I hope that you were spoiled, or that you spoiled your mother, this Mother’s Day. I received a very nice necklace from Gorgeous Man, and a hand-made card from Gorgeous Girl, the most exciting part was that she wrote the “A” for the first letter of her name and Gorgeous Man filled in the other letters :). We also went out for lunch and I got time to cut some fabric for a quilt, do some scrapbooking and cast on for a new project. I was very spoiled.

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Sight-seeing

After the conference, we hung around for a few days to have a bit of a holiday and do some sight seeing and some shopping.

One thing I really wanted to buy while we were in the USA was pyjamas with feet. They don’t make them past size 18 months here and Gorgeous Girl only just fits into that size now (she is 2 and 1/2). It took a bit of searching (ok I looked in Target and they referred me to the Children’s Place) but we found them. The store was also selling sunglasses.

Here is my fashionista.

We went to The Mall and visited some of the Smithsonian museums.

This is in the Air and Space Museum.

There was evidence of spring all around.

However, Gorgeous Girl did complain that it was cold.

She was starting to fuss a little by this point.

Of course, since we were in DC we needed to take pictures with some landmarks.

Gorgeous Girl was a bit distracted by the little girl walking past.

We then went to the United States Botanic Garden where they had an orchid exhibit and we were able to defrost a little.

By this time Gorgeous Girl was fading fast, so we found a McDonalds for lunch, back at the Air and Space Museum – that’s the biggest McDonald’s I’ve ever seen in my life!

Fortified by such nutritious fare we then went to the American Indian Museum. It would have been great to spend more time there, but a tired 2 year old meant that we did a very quick tour.

Gorgeous Man then took Gorgeous Girl back to the hotel for a nap and I visited JoAnn’s.

There was fabric shopping – which will be featured on the blog soon in a test block for Gorgeous Man’s quilt and some scrapbooking supply shopping as well. I was a bit worried about weight, so I didn’t buy as much as I would have liked to but I still managed to add about 14 yards of fabric to the stash. all of it except for 1/4 yard is for my next quilt though. I figured it was better to over-buy yardage than to run short, since it’s not like I can just pop down to my local store to get more. lol

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While in the USA I was lucky to be able to meet up with Amy.

Gorgeous Girl was most taken with her little boy and kept trying to hug him. This is the better picture, the other one looks like she is trying to strangle him…

It was really great to be able to meet up with an online friend in person. ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing I hadn’t really realised before is that we don’t really have many automatic doors around where we live in South Africa. The mall that we do most of our shopping at has revolving doors and most stores with street frontage have a gate and you call out or press the bell and the shop assistant will buzz you in.

Gorgeous Girl was therefore, most taken with the automatic doors in the hotel.

She spent a lot of time running towards them to watch them open. Please note the handspun and handknitted hat…

Sadly, her cute little bag was left behind in a store somewhere – I think Whole Foods and so is no longer with us.

On the subject of Whole Foods – wow, what a store. They were right across the street from the hotel and their salad bar was very convenient. I may also have stocked up on some muesli and organic chocolate and other supplies…

She also got to do quite a bit of travel on trains, which she loves, but never gets to do here in South Africa.

I love this picture of her.

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