Holland – April 2018
5 great days of exploring flower fields, gardens, windmills and cities.
Check in time was 3pm but we decided to make it later and spend the time in the small city – Delft. All Delftware comes from there (I didn’t know delft ware was a thing, but it is). It’s the blue and white crockery and kitchness (subjective of course). The city was small with not many places to explore but pretty none the less. It wasn’t a good place to entertain children but it did have some great coffee shops with good coffee and amazing hot chocolates – if you like the bitter kind rather than the super sweet. It was a good way to spend the day on the way to our Keukenhof accommodation.
Our accommodation was great – a small bungalow in a park. It had 2 bedrooms with a small kitchen and lounge and a play ground for the children(obviously that was a win). It was near to the tulip gardens, which was the whole aim of this trip, was in amoungst the fields of flowers and a close drive to the beach. Who knew that Amsterdam had a great beach? We didn’t. Despite there being mice in the house, it was a pleasant stay. The worst for me was having a mouse run over my foot one evening when I went into the kitchen and it was in our food that was on the counter. The kids were sleeping and Jon just heard me scream and run out the kitchen. I sent him in to find it and to clear out the food that it was just in as there was no ways I was going to put my hand in there incase there was another mouse! Ew! I hate rodents! They did send a rodent person in to sort it out whilst we were there but then we had the smell of poison for the rest of our stay.
Tuesday was spent in Leiden. I don’t think I’m a city girl. They’re great to see but I feel like I’ve hit my capacity with cities. It’s been a while since we were last in a city but I still feel like I get over it pretty quickly where Jon likes to spend the entire day in the city. The children struggle too. It’s not terribly exciting for them to see more buildings and more churches and to just walk around for hours on end so we did have a lot of whining with constant, ‘ok let’s just go see this then we can have an ice cream,’ or some other bribery like that. We walked more than 10000 steps in a day and they either had to scoot or be dragged on their scooter so the days were long for them.
Upon arriving in Leiden, I spotted a chocolate cafe. It was amazing. Jon had a coffee, the children each got a little piece of chocolate and I had a chocolate spoon in hot milk. It was a win for everyone. We explored all the little streets, bridges and churches etc. before stumbling upon a little toy shop. It was really sweet with a mixture of second hand and new toys. One thing Lil’s spotted was a princess castle, yikes, I couldn’t get her away. It was second hand but ridiculously priced for a second hand toy. She sat on the ground in the shop for ages playing with it and then didn’t want to leave it behind. We did eventually get her away but she keeps talking about the princess Castle.
I don’t think Jon feels like he gets to explore like he would like to or how he’s used to exploring without the children and he commented saying ‘ when you travel with children you end up mainly doing what they want to do!’ Uh yes! You can see he didn’t spend much time with us when we traveled with him for 2 years cause you would think he would know this by now?
After spending the morning in the city we drove down to the beach near to our accommodation for the rest of the afternoon. It was such a great afternoon there. Everyone was super chilled. Jon even took his shoes off (which he doesn’t usually do). The children ran around playing in the water and the sand. The sun was out so we could take our long tops off and lap up some vitamin D. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s impossible to be on a beach and be grumpy, everyone was having a great time.
Amsterdam was a little different from the last time I saw it. I was pregnant last time and it’s a little different exploring the streets with 2 children now. Jon took us to 2 neighbourhoods. One that had a huge market and the other was a boutique store neighbourhood which didn’t really interest me as I’ve seen it before and knew it was way to expensive to buy anything there anyways. It felt like we went from play ground to playground and coffee shop to coffee shop all day. It was only the last part of the day that was spent in the old town of Amsterdam. Caleb’s had a dodgy stomach all day so we had to try find toilets all along our walk. Again, the children did so well on their scooters the entire day. Anyone who knows my kids, would know they are pretty lazy when it comes to walking around for long periods of time so for them to be out and about and on their scooter for the whole day is pretty impressive.
I got to do a quick walk through the floating flower market in Amsterdam which I loved last time and again, it was stunning. Jon took the children a different way whilst I got to explore a little on my own and then we met at the end. I did buy myself a flowering cacti because it was stunning and we were driving so flying with it was not an issue! Thankfully, no time was spent in or near the red light district as that didn’t sit very well with me the last time we were here.
The reason for coming to Holland was to see the mass of flowers, which have been absolutely stunning. We were a little early for the tulips but the daffodils and hyacinths fields were incredible to see. The smell coming off the fields was like something I’ve never smelt before, you could smell them as you were driving past. We did a lot of stopping on the side of the road to walk the fields and take photos in them. We managed to get the children out a few times for photos but they preferred to stay in the car and wait for us.
Because the flowers were the reason for the visit, we had to spend the day at Keukenhof Gardens. It wasn’t cheap to go into but seeing the amount of bulbs planted there was mind blowing. The children weren’t allowed to take their scooters in and we did 12000 steps so the poor little guys were dragged around. We tried to make everything into a game by playing hide and seek along the way and getting Caleb to read the map and he had to get us to places on the map that he saw. But by the last hour, Lil’s could not go on anymore we ended up having to carry her the rest of the way.
I was taking a photo of the children on a little bridge. They were standing a little too close to the edge and I had warned them to be careful. They were hugging so I knew that one could push but they were standing pretty still. Lil’s wanted to keep hugging and Caleb didn’t want to so he called her a ‘poo poo head’ and then she pushed him. Without realising what she had just done, he landed up in the water. He was wet from his chest down and got the fright of his life. It was the coldest day we had experienced here so we were kitted out in jerseys and coats and now all of his layers were wet including his shoes. Lil’s also got a huge fright and she ended up in tears. Someone who worked there, came over and told us to get him to First aid in case he had swallowed any water because of the chemicals in it. On our way there, we were planning on what we were going to do. We had only seen half the garden but obviously, we had to go home and we were so sad that we had spent all this money and weren’t going to get to see the rest of the gardens. Jon was going to take the children home and come back and fetch me later. There was drama as we stomped off to first aid. Caleb was crying from shock and because he was so wet and Lil’s was crying because she was being dragged by Jon who was shouting at her the whole way (until I took her away from him) and telling her she wasn’t going to have the ipad that evening. When we got to first aid, the first aiders stripped Caleb, checked him out, dried all his clothes in a tumble dryer, gave the children activities to do and dried his shoes with a little mini hand dryer. The care was incredible and it meant we didn’t have to go home and we could carry on with the day. Apparently, it happens often and to adults too which is obviously why they are so ready for it. Everyone had a chance to chill out and relax whilst we were waiting for Caleb’s clothes, we managed to have a bite to eat and then carry on our walk. It turned out to be a pretty good day. We all had fun!
Finally, our last day was spent driving to fields and taking photos, looking for windmills, a bit of time on the beach (but it was cold there) and then exploring the windmill area at Zaanse Shans. The last time I went there it was a little quaint village, quiet with a few windmills. This time, it was heaving with tourists, it was so busy you could barely walk around. The clog factory was so packed that you could barely move in there. They have a chocolate factory there, so as you’re walking around, you just get the delicious smell of chocolate floating in the air. We had to try a bit of chocolate obviously from the shop which was pretty good.
Caleb has been desperate to buy post cards. We had told him that he could get here at the windmills. He brought his pens with and everything so he could write a card for his teacher. It was really sweet. We sat down at the windmills, ate our chocolate and wrote post cards.
So what did we eat on this trip? We didn’t eat super healthily, we’re on holiday. Our breakfasts were egg and bacon for all of us and the children had a little bowl of rice crispies with that. Cereal is a treat for them as they don’t get that when we’re home so they were super excited to have it. Lunch was chopped up raw veg like cucumbers, peppers, carrots, cold meat and cheese. The children had a roll or hot cross bun with theirs. Then dinner was cooked at home so chicken and veg, steak and veg, sausage and veg. We did snack on ice creams, local chocolate, stroop waffles and nuts or dried fruit because we;re on holiday and I believe that you need to try the local food whilst away. Food is so much easier now that the children are older.
Our road trip turned out to be super fun! We loved it. We loved the family time, loved the exploring, loved the flowers, loved the food. We would totally do it again. Our trip back to the UK was uneventful, we drove straight through to the ferry and caught an earlier one then we planned to because we were a little early. The children got to play on the ferry and we got home earlier than planned. We are so blessed to be able to do trips like this and to explore new places. I would recommend the flowers in Spring to anyone but try to go at a time when the tulips are out. Had we been there 2 weeks later, we would have been lucky enough to see them but our time was dictated by the school holidays.