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Author: Agnès Batllori Benet

I am a newbie in the blog-writing business, so it is safe to say that you, my dear readers, are my guinea pigs.
Luckily, I am not alone. I have the best partner in this venture that one could think of, seasoned blogger Tarja Van Veldhoven, with more than 10 years of blog writing experience to her name.
Be happy to gently point out my blogging weaknesses and celebrate your favourite posts by sharing, liking, commenting until we make them go viral.
Do you have a story that can not wait to be shared, but have not time to put it on black and white? Get in touch! We will make the best out of it.

Delft MaMa of the week: Alis

Today’s mother of the week is the living proof that the reach of Delft MaMa knows no borders.

Alis, is a Catalan high school teacher for adults with special needs, a coach, a business woman, an entrepreneur, a Zumba, Pilates, aqua gym, baby-mum fitness instructor, a mother of three, the wife of a firefighter,… a never ending list.

Judging from all she does, with no muss no fuss, it is safe to assume that her days have 36 hours, instead of the 24 that the rest of us are given.

She does not live in Wonderland but surely close by.

Although she is not based in Delft, she takes every opportunity she has to pack her camper van and drive up north, nonstop, until she arrives. Sometimes alone, sometimes with the five of them.

She made herself known to the Delft MaMa audience last Easter, when, in the company of a large portable loudspeaker named “Ibiza” she made some of us and our under three years old, break a sweat at the rhythm of Shakira’s “bicicleta” (bicycle) at the Papaver in Delftse Hout.

Back in her natal city, Lleida, and next to her teaching duties, she organizes weekly fitness activities for mothers and babies. Weekends are for organizing activities with families with older kids.  

She is very passionate about many things, amongst which, to keep young families fit and connected.

As I was chatting with her, my biggest questions were: WHY? Why fitness for mums and babies? Why in Delft? Why working when you are on holidays? And HOW? “How many more holidays do you expect to spend in Delft?”

The “Why fitness for mothers and babies?” had a very straightforward answer:

When I was pregnant with my first child, my sisters-in-law, told me: “with the arrival of your baby, live as you know it will soon be over”.

As innocent and common this sentence is, it was enough to fuel her necessity to prove them wrong. That her much loved and awaited boy would not be the cause for her world to stop, not even to pause. And so it did not.

Right two weeks after he was born, she was back on track. Carrying her newborn in a wrap, she continued running  lessons at the gym. On the plus side, cycling on an elliptic bike and running on the belt seemed to be the only ways to keep her restless child at ease. Next to helping her drop some pregnancy pounds.

Ten years and three kids after, she has not stopped yet. What’s more, she has only broadened her skills and areas of expertise.

Then came the “Why Delft?” again, she answered without hesitation and with a fair share of magic. Once upon 2015…, … she took her kids camping for a few days whilst husband was on working duty. Right next to their tent, there was a father in his fifties with his teenage boy. The couple happened to be from the Netherlands, more precisely,  from Delft.
It took the occupants of the neighbouring tents a thunderstorm and the Dutchman’s need for an ATM to start talking. Right from that moment, they became good friends and up until today.
In December 2015, during a school break, Alis decided to come explore the city of Delft and see what it had to offer to her and the family.
Serendipity made that visit coincide with Lichtjesavond day. The astonishing beauty of the city together with idiosyncrasy of its inhabitants captivated her.

As she went back home waxing lyrical about the lowlands, together with her husband, they started planning the Easter and summer holidays of the family for 2016, whilst teaching herself Dutch.
The time spent in the campsite at Delftse Hout was a great success for the five of them, who jointly decided to turn Delft into their second home.

I was shy to ask, fearing to be intrusive or judgmental “Why working when you are on holidays?” but decided to go for it, as I was genuinely curious.

The answer was clear: “the only time I had holidays in the resting and doing nothing sense of the word, was on our honeymoon. Right on the first day of doing nothing, I started suffering from lumbago. It is clear that inactivity is not in my nature”.

Besides, I am convinced that she is a very generous person who likes to share more than anything in this world. Otherwise, how would one answer that during Easter she came all the way by herself to offer free training to any Delft MaMa that wanted to join her at the Papaver?

“How many more holidays do you expect to spend in Delft?”
In her own words: “I like to experience things fully. Putting my heart and soul into what makes me thrive at the moment it does. Carpe diem.”
Her clarity takes me to Lewis Carrolls’ book:

Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes just one second

Luckily, it seems that forever will last a little longer and we will get to enjoy Alis’ company and fitness know-how for the entire month of August at the Papaver and in the forest of Delftse Hout.

And maybe, who knows, she will come up with other activities to keep the Delft MaMa community engaged at the sound of a Vallenato or maybe the despacito?

 

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His Royal Highness Willem Alexander King of the Netherlands is 50! and we are all celebrating him

Citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands*, vassals of the King Willem Alexander “the first”, let your hair down, dress up in orange from top to toe and celebrate that His Royal Highness is hitting 50 tomorrow Thursday the 27th of April.
If you arrived in the Netherlands after that date of April 2016, you should know that on Koningsdag nothing is bizarre.

(*that includes Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten)
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23rd of April, World book day. Let’s celebrate!

Books, roses, writers and lovers will literally take the streets of Barcelona and every city big or small in Catalonia tomorrow Sunday the 23rd of April, to honour our patron, Sant Jordi (Saint George).
Well, not just quite only to honour the patron, as we are not that devoted to patrons or saints anymore.
It is Catalans lovers’ day, and we are certainly devoted to love. Love for culture, love for history, love for flowers and love for love’s sake.

So, we will take the streets in the name of love, books and roses.

Why roses?

We give blood-red roses to our loved ones following Saint George’s legend, who fought and killed a dragon to save the Princess. From the blood that sprouted from the dragon’s neck, a rose bloomed. Saint George, a real knight, cut the flower with the same sword with which he had killed the beast and, gentleman as he was, offered the rose to the Princess, who hopelessly fell in love with him. They lived happily ever after and blood-red roses became an international symbol of love.

This legend that belongs to the universal literature was turned into a Catalan tradition on the year 1436 (15th century), marking the first roses-for-love exchange. It went uninterrupted until today, 600 years after.

Nowadays, and thanks to the Dutch flower market, roses are in as many colours as you can imagine, including black and rainbow. But the blood-red or rouge passion remain the most popular.

 

Why books?

This is a “new” tradition that started in the beginning of the 20th century (1929). It was nothing but a marketing campaign from a Valencian book publisher who thought people were not reading, hence buying, enough books.
My apologies for killing the romantic mood…

As Saint George Day was a very well-established tradition in Catalonia, and men were getting nothing in return from giving away a red rose, he took it to his advantage asking women to buy men a book to show their love and keep them culturized. It was well embraced by the Catalan society and happily celebrated by authors and publishers, who helped to keep the new tradition alive. Soon the ladies got book treats from their significant others too. This “new” tradition was never cancelled, not even during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and the Franco’s dictatorship era (1939 – 1975), when the Catalan language and its traditions were forbidden.

In 1995, Unesco declared the 23rd of April to be the World Book Day to celebrate the deceased anniversary of universal literature writers Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha and William Shakespeare author of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, … They both died exactly 401 years ago.

So, if you happen to be in Catalonia tomorrow, expect crowded streets smelling like books and roses and a festive like working day

Saint George it like a local

If you would like to embrace this lovely Catalan tradition, you only need to do the following:

  • Ladies, Inform your loved one that you, your daughter(s), mother in law, and … are expecting to get a blood-red rose.
  • Go on a family trip to the bookstore and get each of you a book.
  • Stroll around town with your flowers, books and a broad smile on your face.
    Expect to be smiled back by other fellow citizens who are celebrating Saint George too.

They are easy to spot as, like you, they will walk with a rose, a book and a smile on their faces.

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Delft MaMa takes The Hague

Delft MaMa, represented by a group of kind-hearted volunteers, was one of the 140 institutions present at the largest expat fair in the Netherlands.
This annual event organized by The Hague Online in partnership with ACCES  celebrated its 10th edition.

“… have you heard about the most thriving parenting community in the South of Holland? … ” “Delft MaMa is…?” “New in town..?”

and so the day went by at the Feel at Home International Family Fair past Sunday the 5th of February.

From 11 am until 5 pm the City Hall of the Hague, hosted over four thousand people coming from every corner of the world.

Many were the visitors that stopped by to meet and greet a small representation of the people that build our community. Amongst crayons, boxes of raisins, bubble blowing bottles and face painting, our Delft MaMas got engaged with families coming from Canada, Italy, India, China, Japan, England, Hungary and The Netherlands, to name a few.

Complicity smiles and tips about parenting in a third culture environment where joyfully shared.

We hope we will see new faces in the upcoming events real soon!

A big thanks to everyone involved in making this fair a success, before, during and after.     

 

 images of the video by Ildikó Wooning and Eva Sabina Amaral, editing by Ildikó Wooning. Pictures Shadi Parsa, Eva Sabina Amaral and Agnès Batllori

 

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Gazpacho

A refreshing recipe for a hot week (and the importance of reading supermarket magazines)

Every time I go to a supermarket, I cannot help but bring at least one copy of each of the free magazines they have on display. It improves my Dutch vocabulary, teaches me grammar structures whilst it  helps find the answer to the “what’s for dinner?” question that I ask myself (and anyone with ears) almost daily.

As crazy as it reads, I plan my shopping in accordance with the  magazine I got last. Say if I went to the Plus a week ago, next week I will make sure to swing by the Jumbo. If only for a hand of bananas and a magazine. Read more

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A table for six (includes original recipes from Anish Patil)


photo intro

Delft MaMa has officially inaugurated the long awaited international cooking club.
Thursday the 21st of July, a mixed group of mums and dads gathered together to cook under the guidance and supervision of Anish Patil, who together with Viji Kannan will coordinate the club.
This very first session took us to India, where Anish comes from. We made a culinarily travel along the 7.571 kilometers India’s coastline and learnt how to use a star ingredient: coconut.

coconut milk

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Tarja & Emile a binary love story

Place yourself at the time when to connect to the internet from home, the phone line was engaged for as long as the connection lasted. Remember the dialing sound of the modem as if it were a broken phone? Are you in that soundcloud? Hang in there, as right here is where this story started, far back in 2001, when a teenage Finnish lady was studying in Italy and a Dutch scientist in his late twenties was exploring his career opportunities in Amsterdam.
Five years after they have exchanged their first “
hello”, they met “for real”.  No word exchanged at the arrivals gate of the Helsinki international airport, a straightforward kiss was the beginning of what turned out to be a family of five.

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Local events: Koningsdag (King’s Day)

Citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands*, vassals of the King Willem Alexander “the first”, let your hair down, dress up in orange from top to toe and celebrate that His Royal Highness is turning 49 this coming Wednesday the 27th of April, on Koningsdag it is all allowed.
(*that includes Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten)
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