The land of cheese and sprinkles.

And frites, and bitterballen…

We left the Netherlands this morning after 5 days mostly filled with cousin catchups (as it should be).

We did take some time to experience some of the culinary delights of the Netherlands though.  Toby’s first introduction to Hageslag on bread as a breakfast food was on the ship.

Wait - it's like fairy bread but I get it for *breakfast*?
Wait – it’s like fairy bread but I get it for *breakfast*?

Aunty Sue had done some shopping for essentials before we arrived – milk, bread, fruit and yoghurt types of things – and three types of hagelslag.  There was more than Toby could possibly eat in 5 days, so now we have sprinkles for the road.

We also tried frites (of course).  I was very excited to be able to translate knoflooksaus as garlic sauce.  There are so many food words in Dutch that are very similar to English or French, so I could figure out a lot of things.  But knoflook = garlic? Wouldn’t have worked that out on my own. I saw it in the supermarket and was delighted by it.  So of course I couldn’t resist ordering it with our frites.

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The frites are serious business.  We stopped at a little hole in the wall which had all the (hand cut) fries par cooked, which were then second fried to order.  They were hot, crispy and delicious.

Another Dutch specialty is the bitterballen – deep fried balls of stuff that is crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.  They’re delicious, and I can see how they would make a great bar snack.

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Millie did try the bitterballen, but she wasn’t too impressed.  Never fear though, I found something far cuter for her at the supermarket:  Miffy baby biscuits!

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The actual biscuits are even cuter.

Finally, the last part of our Dutch eating adventure – kaas! Cheese is everywhere, and we ate a *lot* of it.  From trying different types of sliced cheese at the supermarket to stopping at the kaaswinkel for freshly made cheese biscuits… it was good.  (I’d make a Gouda pun here, but we actually went through Gouda on the train this morning and the proper pronunciation is nothing like ‘good’, it turns out.)

After all that cheese, I’m feeling a little cheesed up.  So tonight we are in Berlin, and I have roasted a piece of beautiful pork belly (4 euro a kilo! Absolutely ridiculously cheap.) with new season plums, fennel and apples.

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It’s a little charred in places (unfamiliar grill) but the crackling has crackled and it smells amazing.  So I’ll end this now to go have our first dinner in Berlin!

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The land of cheese and sprinkles.

Katie, get your hands off that man’s tightrope!

And other things that have been said over the last 3 days.

Less arty than the last post, as our guest blogger has had the computer wrestled off him – I mean, graciously relinquished the blog, but 5 times more chaotic.

‘Ok, everyone look at the camera!’

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‘I think one scoop of icecream is enough.’

(Followed closely by the often repeated ‘Did anyone bring wipes?’)

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‘Millie, you can’t follow the big kids up to the top of the windmill.’

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‘I’m not sure you can all fit on… never mind.’

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‘Toby, smile for the camera.’

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‘Meredith, be careful of your (recently broken) arm!’

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Never said once: ‘I wish you cousins could get on with each other better.’

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No limbs broken (or rebroken), and one day left for some of the cousins to hang out.  Luckily we only have a couple of months before they’ll all be together again over Christmas.

Katie, get your hands off that man’s tightrope!

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag!

Okay. Is this thing on?

Right.

Hi Everyone. Tony here. I’ve taken over the blog been generously invited to use Min’s blog to launch my newest photographic art exhibition. The official catalogue title is Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag (series one). For those of you not yet completely fluent in the language, this loosely translates to ‘Evil Morning Baby in The Hague’

About the work:

Inspired by a poorly timed 5.15am wakeup, and finding myself unceremoniously thrown into the streets of a Dutch city at sunrise, I was struck by the ironic juxtaposition between my own grainy-eyed exhaustion, and the bright-eyed, cheerful disposition of the baby that I was wheeling around, and resisting the urge to push into a lake. Instead, I decided to capture the granduer of the city, scaled against an eleven month old, by nearly abandoning said child in large empty plazas, deserted cafe forecourts, and barren window art exhibits. Referencing the early work of John Bracks and Jeffery Smart, but with the added frisson of potential investigation by child services, Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag, is available for purchase (the baby, not the photos) for only 25 Euros*

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 1: 6.15am – De straat bij zonsopgang

The sun rises thorugh a morning Haze of deserted cafes.
The sun rises through a morning Haze of deserted cafes. The subject’s serenity defies the screaming of 45 minutes earlier.

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 2: 6.27am – Het meisje met het lege meer

In the distance, the Mauritishuis Gallery, home to Vermeer's iconic 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring', forms a gentle counterpoint to Millie's 'The girl with no regard for daddy's sleep'
In the distance, the Mauritishuis Gallery, home to Vermeer’s iconic ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’, forms a gentle counterpoint to Millie’s ‘The girl with no regard for daddy’s sleep’

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 3: 6.48am – Slaap is voor losers

An empty plaza, a tiny pram. The granduer of the architecture outweighed by the lack of caffeine in the artist's system at 6.43am
An empty plaza, a tiny pram. The granduer of the architecture outweighed by the lack of caffeine in the artist’s system at this ungodly hour of the morning

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 4: 7.03am – De duivels speelplaats

An empty playground in the early morning. The only screams of delight those of a father, napping on a park bench while his daughter observes the surrealist playground equipment.
An empty playground in the early morning. The only screams of delight those of a father, napping on a park bench while his daughter observes the surrealist playground equipment.

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 5: 7.24am – Waar de straten geen naam hebben

Lost in translation, and in The Hague, the artist looks back not in anger, but in weary resignation. At this point, bed is but a dream, a glorious hallucination.
Lost in translation, and in The Hague, the artist looks back not in anger, but in weary resignation. At this point, bed is but a dream, a glorious hallucination.

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag 6: 7.44am – Ik weet niet veel over kunst…

Finally heading home, artist and subject find a beach in a shop window. The art becomes part of the art, the circle of creation (and of the centre of Den Haag, roughly 3 kilometres) is complete
Finally heading home, artist and subject find a beach in a shop window. The art becomes part of the art, the circle of creation (and of the centre of Den Haag, roughly 3 kilometres) is complete

About the artist:

Best known for his continuing performance instillation ‘Toby and Millicent, an adventure in fatherhood’, Tony Eaton continues to push the boundaries of art into the realm of parenting, fearlessly exploring the nexus between exhaustion, joy, and surrealism. The artist wishes to thank his manager, Imogen Marjorie, for her support for this project.

* or any reasonable offer

Kwade ochtend baby in Den Haag!

Farewell to old England forever…

…well, for 5 weeks or so.

Yesterday, we packed our bags (again), bid a fond farewell to Sugarhouse Close in Edinburgh (but not to the bed), and caught a train to Newcastle.  The train trip was fairly uneventful – it was the Virgin Edinburgh – London service, so it was fairly busy.  It also had a few groups determined to make their trip into a celebration, including the family next to us who broke out the rose wine and cider at 10.05am. They were still going strong when we got off at Newcastle, so goodness knows what they were like by the time they got to London.

At Newcastle we were met by an old friend of mine from my debating days, and her gorgeous 6 week old son.  Ness has always been a powerhouse of efficiency, energy and organisation, and she has not changed over the years.  Despite having a newborn, she had worked out where we could leave our luggage (Newcastle train station no longer does left/checked luggage, it turns out), and where our bus was going from.  Then she took us for good coffee (probably the best we’ve had since leaving Australia), a very quick tour of Newcastle city centre, great lunch, and showed us where to buy fruit/mobile vouchers/wipes/everything we needed before leaving.  The only problem with the whole stop is that I failed to take any photos whatsoever.

We then made it back to the bus stop and out to our ship.  In keeping with the Grand Tour aspects of this trip, we decided at least one ocean crossing was called for.  So instead of flying to the continent, we sailed on the King Seaways with DFDS.  It was really a lovely trip.

We had a great cabin, that comfortably fit us all.

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The cabin had the biggest bed we’ve had since leaving Australia.  I’m not sure if this is an endorsement of the ship, or an indictment on English & Scottish beds, but either way it was nice.

The sea was as flat as a pancake as we left (which is good, because those who are close to me can attest I’m not the best sailor).

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We had pre-booked dinner at one of the restaurants on board.  We assumed it would be dreadful but were pleasantly surprised.  The food was actually good – fresh, tasty, nicely cooked, and in a lovely setting.  So satiated, we took a final stroll round the deck and waved goodbye to England.

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This morning, we docked at IJmuiden, in the Netherlands.  Tony’s sister, Sue, came to pick us up, and took us back to her house.  We went out to lunch with her, and she promptly absconded with both the kids.

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Sue’s kids were at school today, but we’re going back to her house tomorrow for COUSIN MAYHEM.  It should be fun.

We’re all now fairly exhausted, but are in a lovely (and huge) apartment in Den Hague.  The staircases are ridiculously steep (getting the suitcases up was fun), but the ceilings are high, the living room opens up with beautiful floor to ceiling windows, the washing machine is efficient and the kitchen is more than functional.  Add in a great location, and family nearby – and we’re very happy.

Farewell to old England forever…