In the first week of March I’ve been traveling with my husband. Kind of a vacation, but not a very relaxing one. We had several reasons to pay the Netherlands a visit. Like an important birthday and family members that had moved house and we wanted to see their new homes. And of course to see our children, relatives and friends. All in all it became a special hectic week with not so much time to color. But obviously it was impossible for me to completely forget about coloring 🙂
The vacation started without coloring stuff. Normally I would bring some, a travel coloring book and some Stabilo point 88 pens, something like that. But this time I hadn’t brought anything with me. It felt pretty empty, but it was not without good reason that I had made that choice. Together with my husband, two carry-on suitcases, a large suitcase and a backpack we hopped in the airplane and then in the train (the journey was significantly longer than just described haha… wish it was that fast!). On the station we were picked up by my sister, whom I hadn’t seen for nearly a year. Wonderful, I love her!
One of the main reasons for our visit was that important birthday. My sister in law had her birthday, one we definitely needed to attend. She knew nothing! We did have an accomplice in the Netherlands of course, my husband’s niec, since we would appear on the birthday dinner as a surprise. The day after we’d arrived the birthday would take place. And we ware nervous all day for the big surprise. Would it work? Wouldn’t she suspect anything? A couple of days earlier I had sent my sister in law an app that the gardener would come to us on the day of her birthday. He actually did, but there was no need for us to stay at home for him hahaha.
That morning I sent another app to her about the gardener being late (he always is, so without a doubt he’d be late again). And I asked her whether she had any nice plans for the day. It all sounded as normal as I possibly could, like we were at home, 2300 kilometers away, instead of in a radius of five kilometers just around the corner. We had to be careful, we didn’t want to suddenly run into her! But we also wanted to do things during the day, so we went to a part of town of which we guessed that she would seldom visit. And luckily we guessed right.
And in that part of the town where my husband and I had spent part of our youths and where we had met each other as classmates, we suddenly ran into a bookstore. A bookstore that has been there for over fourty years, because in that store I used to buy my pens, pencils, notebooks etcetera when I was a little girl! We went into the store and before I knew it I was carrying a large pile of books, including three color related books! It’s always dangerous to go into a bookstore with me haha.
Finally we came outside with a completely full cardboard box. Thanks again mister Bookseller! We’ve sent the box to Spain by mail and it was already waiting for us when we came to our post office box a week later. We (well to be honest, I 😛 ) had bought sixteen books!
To the ‘crime scene’
That night it was time. We were picked up from my sister’s by our niece and her husband, and the four of us drove to the restaurant where it all would happen. Sister and brother in law would come in a bit later. The would be picked up by their grandson, our grandnephew, and his girlfriend. My husband and I were ‘parked’ all the way up in a corner of the restaurant. The staff all knew about it, and everyone was grinning and smiling and we were somewhat shaking from the tension.
Around the time they would arrive I looked in the direction of the entrance, which I could just see, and saw my brother in law standing there. I looked away quickly, startled, afraid he would see me! But he didn’t see anything, since he didn’t expect us there. After about five minutes, that seemed like half an hour, the redeeming text message popped up on my phone: “You may come!” And off we went, arm in arm, slowly walking in the direction of the table they had pointed out to us where the party would be. A table set for six people, because only after our entrance we would all move to a larger table that was set for eight people. Like I said, everybody was informed, except sister and brother in law!
We were slowly walking towards the table and all of a sudden sister in law spotted us. Suddenly the time seemed to slow down, for us as well. Everything appeared to take place in slow motion. We saw her watching, her eyes in disbelief, blinking… and her jaw dropped and her mouth didn’t close again. And then we stood beside her and my husband took his sister in his arms and the tears started to flow. Tears of joy, happiness, love… After my husband it was my turn to hug her and look her in her eyes. A beautiful, heartwarming moment. And that look of her, that was priceless! The whole evening she sat between us and held our hands and she could barely believe that we were really, truly there. Mission accomplished!
The next day we went to their house to visit sister and brother in law for a few more hours. And finally we could go into town without the fear of getting caught 🙂 . There we came along another bookstore… hm, let’s have a look at what they’ve got. And oh yes… I found a birthday calendar. A coloring calendar!
It was about time to leave for the next station. We would travel by train to go to the town where our son lives, to stay in his house for a couple of days. A journey of a little over one hour, with one change half way. Sister in law joined us to the station to say goodbye. We wouldn’t see each other anymore, so it was kind of a sad goodbye. To enlighten our emotions we went inside another bookstore on the station. We had some time before the train would departure and I was getting signs of withdrawal. I wanted to color. So at the bookstore I bought the Stabilo point 88 and pen 68 minis and a Dutch coloring booklet, to be able to do some coloring during the journey. (Told you, it’s always dangerous to go into a bookstore with me!)
Since we were travelling during rush hour, we needed to remain standing on both trains. It was too crowded to find a seat, especially since we had our luggage with us. So the coloring didn’t work out. Unfortunately. The reunion with our son was very good though, we hadn’t seen him for nearly a year as well. After that we could drop off our luggage at his house and we went to a nice Moroccan restaurant, with the melodious name of ‘Andalous’. Living in the beautiful Andalusia we couldn’t resist a restaurant with this particular name. And the food was delicious. Afterwards we had a lovely chat with the owner. It’s always nice to socialize a little bit.
A day later a visit to our daughter was on the program. By bus we traveled a little over 25 kilometer and enjoyed the sun shining over the beautiful scenery of what is called the ‘Achterhoek’, a specific area in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It was a delightful visit. My husband hadn’t seen the house of our daughter and her love in real life, so we started with a grand tour through their house. It was good to see where our child lives her life with boyfriend and kitties ♥. While being there we immediately took some of our own stuff downstairs. We had temporarily parked a couple of things at her house, for us to take with us to Spain ‘some day’, and we decided that now was a good time to do so.
But there was more. The weeks previous to our journey I had used our daughter’s address to send my orders in the Netherlands to. So there were several parcels waiting there for me. It looked a lot like Christmas! Four sets of new Twinmarkers from Action (a Dutch discount chain store), a new set of eight Posca markers PC3M, twelve Gelly Roll gel pens I bought from a coloring group member, the Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor set with 36 colors.And last but not least a Bennett Klein coloring book (Wild) and a dutch coloring book from my daughter that she gave to me.
All those parcels were the reason that I didn’t bring any coloring stuff with me from home. I knew that there was enough stuff waiting for me! Luckily our daughter let us borrow her car, else we would have had quite a challenge traveling by bus.
For the next day we had a very filled program again. Two ladies whom I’ve met online through Facebook and having contact with for quite a while now, were coming by train to visit us for a day. A couple of minutes past ten o’clock they arrived at the local train station, where I was waiting for them. To be frank, it was exciting. But eventually there they were, right in front of me, Johanna Ans en Manuela Badr. We hit it off immediately!
Together we enjoyed a very nice and special day. I gave them a guided tour through the medieval city center of ‘my’ town (where I lived thirteen years of my life and where I’ve got so many memories and know so many beautiful spots to show). We ate, drank, laughed and talked together (mainly the latter two!) and we visited the local art supply store. Another dangerous store to put me in. My husband wisely kept his wallet in his pocket.
Oops, money needed
After a while he had enough of it and went outside to wait for us, after paying for some things I had chosen. Thank you dear hahaha. But while he was outside, Ans suddenly saw brushes that were reduced from 25 euro to only two euro! “You need that one!” she called out to me. Semi helpless I shrugged my shoulders and said “my wallet is outside already, I’ve got no more money”. But then Manuela joined in and took out her wallet. And all of a sudden I had this mega expensive brush, that I now don’t dare to use since it has emotional value: hand picked by Ans and given to me by Manuela ♥.
Next thing was that I kind of fled from the store myself, afraid that I would discover more things I would like. And in the end there was three of us waiting outside for Ans hahaha, it was quite obvious which one of us is the biggest coloring addict!
Eventually we went back home to do some coloring together. Both ladies had brought some of their coloring stuff and I colored in my new Dutch coloring booklet that I had bought at the trainstation the other day. Ans gave us some coloring- and drawing tips. It’s always nice to learn new things. Then we took some pictures of the three of us, nice as a memory of the day when we first met in real life.
And after that it was over. An enervating, enthusiastic, lovely day came to an end and I walked along to the station with them, to say goodbye. It had been a perfect day. Which was great, since it’s always a surprise whether it will hit off in real life or not, when you’ve never met or even heard each others voices before. But it had been a success and definitely worth repeating. The day was gone before we knew it.
There wasn’t much time to recuperate, because we were visiting friends that evening. So after a very short break, we went on full speed ahead, although we were a couple of couch potatoes with our friends. They have been my best friends for over 25 years, and I can count on them through thick and thin, and vice versa. So it was wonderful to see each other again after a long time and to be able to chat extensively.
On our penultimate day of this vacation we planned a visit to our repository, a garage we rent in the Netherlands where some of our furniture and other things are stored. It was about time to start cleaning up there. What needs to come home to Spain? What can we bring along immediately in our luggage and what needs to be transported by a firm? And more importantly: what can be thrown away? And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing there. We’ve thrown lots of things away. But I’ve also found things, that I had completely forgotten about. My palettes, a new set of brushes and a box containing 24 tubes of watercolor paint! Such happiness when you discover things like that hahaha. Obviously these things were taken with us in the luggage.
Last minute shopping
The next day we put all the stuff we had taken from the garage and from our daughter’s together and went to a DIY store called Gamma (best known hardware store in the Netherlands) to buy some moving boxes. It was impossible to take all that stuff with us in our luggage so a part had to be sent home in boxes. When we managed to find appropriate boxes, we rapidly visited the Action discounter again, because I still wanted to buy a couple of mandala coloring books and a couple of A3 size sketchbooks. I had heard that the paper of the Action sketchbooks is great for drawing and printing drawings to color.
When I was inside Action, I had no idea which sketchbooks I had to buy. They had children’s sketchbooks and on the other side of the shop there were sketchbooks for adults. So I decided to buy three of each. I wasn’t thinking about how to get them to Spain, that would solve itself with the packing later that day. Luckily I was smart enough to buy a bathroom scale a few day earlier, so we could easily weigh all the parcels that we needed to send as well as our luggage. And we could leave the scale at our son’s house, for our next vacation 🙂
We finally sent three boxes, of each just a little below ten kilos, to Spain! And about 75 kilos of luggage, divided over four suitcases and a backpack, went with us in the airplane. I was glad that I was able to book some extra weight! All together we sent more than 110 kilos from the Netherlands to Spain, including that first box of books that weighed over seven kilos!
Recovering from our vacation
And then all of it was done. Our vacation was over. Not that we really had had that sense of ‘vacation’. It had been a hectic week, where we were traveling from one place to another. We’ve met a lot of people, done a lot of shopping, cleaned up in our repository and we had been able to ‘breathe in’ the Netherlands again.
We met some people for the first time, with a lot of others it was a renewed reunion. But most important was that with all the people we’ve met it felt good! Too bad our return flight was delayed, thanks to strikes by French air traffic controllers. But who cares, we’re safe home again, no harm done 😉
We look back with a satisfied, warm feeling. And now that we’ve been home for a couple of days and the worst fatigue is gone, we’ve got loads of beautiful memories to reminisce. And we’ve brought a lot of things we really do enjoy! The boxes arrived perfectly, everything has its place in our home now, and so this chapter of ‘Vacation in the Netherlands’ has come to an end.
On to the next time!
I’ve decided to add a photo album to this blog and show you some nice pictures of our trip, as well as pictures of the coloring stuff that I’ve brought back home from the Netherlands. Click here to see the album. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading this travelogue. Did you like reading something else from me? Then leave a reply below this blog and tell me if you’d like to see more stories from my personal life!