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Memories and Blackberries

Blackberries and Memories

Yesterday, I took my daughters blackberry picking. To someone else this may sound like just another day out, but for me it was special. It was special because it enabled me to re-live one of my favourite childhood memories and to share it with my own children.

When I think of it now, it seems a little strange, a teenage girl voluntarily taking her little brother out to pick blackberries. Remember though that this was in the time before iPads, and we had two months of summer holidays to fill!

This particular memory takes place towards the end of the summer break when we had already spent days at the beach, in the park, hung out with friends, set out crab traps, wandered around the house doing nothing in particular and were feeling rested, relaxed, and superbly content. Suddenly it was the end of August, and what had started as an endless vacation was *gasp* almost over. The race was on to make the most of those last sun filled days. I grabbed a few buckets and shouted to my little brother, “come on! We are going blackberry picking.”

Vancouver Island, where we lived, is a magical island of spectacular natural beauty (but that’s another story). It is also covered with wild blackberry bushes that ripen in late summer. Out we walked into the hot sun carrying our buckets like little soldiers on a mission to the nearest patch. After sizing up the bushes to find the juiciest specimens we dropped our buckets and started picking. We worked in companionable silence broken only by the occasional “ouch!” as one of us scratched ourselves or ‘mmmm’ when we were unable to resist a taste. Occasionally, disaster would strike in the form of accidentally kicking over a nearly full bucket or, particularly painful, falling into the bushes. Much to the hilarity of the other sibling.

If I let my mind travel back there now I can still smell the warm, ripe berry smell, part fermented fruit and part earthy leaves that would soon be turning brown. The hot sun burning the back of my neck, the scratches on my hands and the relaxing monotony of picking. Concentrated as we were on our efforts to find the biggest, juiciest berries, we lost all track of time.

Buckets finally full we trudged home with the fruits of our labour. Tired and hot we competed to see who had the most scratches or whose fingers were the purplest, stained from the dark juice.

Back in the kitchen, I made the pastry and, together with my little brother, we rolled it out to fit the pie tins. Then we cooked the berries, adding lots and lots of sugar. By the time we’d assembled the pies and baked them in the oven, the kitchen was a disaster of flour and squashed berries. At about this time, my Mum arrived home from work to find two children who had made a disaster of her kitchen proudly displaying fresh blackberry pies.

The childhood experiences that my daughters have in Holland are very different from my own back in rural Canada. Sometimes this is part of the fun. We get to experience things for the first time together. But other times it can make it hard to relate to each other. Memories that friends back home hold on to because they are triggered by their familiar surroundings have faded into the recesses of my memory. It’s amazing how a simple activity like this can bring those memories rushing back, filling my heart with a warm glow.

Vancouver Island is too far and too expensive to travel back to regularly. However, I am doing my best to bring a little bit of my life in Canada here to share with my family. When I do and when it works, the distance between here and home closes just a little and the effort is so very worth it.

I would love to hear about traditions from home that you are sharing here with your children?

And of course about any good spots for blackberry picking!

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Water, Water, Everywhere

With warm weather (hopefully) just around the corner and the school summer holiday fast approaching, I’m busy working on my summer holiday bucket list. In addition to being a list of things I’d like to do with my two girls aged 7 and 5 while they are off school, it’s also a list of places to cool off when it’s hot. I love the beaches at Monster and Ter Heide, but being a redhead I miss the shade. We thus often opt for a local lake where we are more likely to find trees for me to hide under. If any of you, like me, start to wilt like fresh spinach in a pan when the thermometer rises above 25˚C, you may enjoy one of the options below.

Freshwater lakes

Prinsenbos (Naaldwijk)

The Prinsenbos is one of my favourite places to go with the kids. Given that we live in Naaldwijk, it is very close by. It also just makes a lovely day out.

There is a small lake for swimming with a sandy beach and grass to sunbathe in. There is playground equipment and a small nature playground with a water pump on the other side of the parking area. There is nowhere to buy refreshments, but there are picnic tables to use and the ice cream man is often parked at the entrance.  

If you get tired of swimming, you can take a walk on the path around the lake, which is buggy and wheelchair friendly. The walk takes about 15 minutes at adult walking speed.

Madestein (between Monster and Den Haag, gemeente Den Haag)

The Madestein is a large park and recreational area in between Den Haag and Monster. There are a few entrances, but I normally enter and park on the Madepolderweg side, which is also where the restaurant ’t Brasserietje is. There is a large grassy area in front of the lake where you often see families gathering for BBQ picnics.

Wollebrand (Honselersdijk – off the Veilingroute N222)

The Wollebrand may be located directly behind a provincial highway, but once you are in the park you would never know. There is a sandy beach surrounding the swimming area with a grassy field behind where you can stretch out on a blanket and daydream an afternoon away. If you fancy a walk, there is a tree filled park behind the lake with walking trails.

Directly on the beach is a modern restaurant with good food and a big deck overlooking the lake called the Wollebrand. If you are feeling adventurous, there is a cable water ski/wakeboard track on the lake.

Krabbeplas (gemeente Vlaardingen)

The Krabbeplas is a great lake for swimming and surfing located in a huge recreational park between Maassluis and Vlaardingen. There is playground equipment, a sandy beach, and a large grassy area for relaxing or picnicking. On the beach is a restaurant called the Krabbeplas. While it is a little outdated, it’s still a decent option if you don’t feel like cooking after a long day of playing in the water.

Grote Plas Delftse Hout (gemeente Delft)

What’s not to love about the Delftse Hout? There are several options for swimming in the Delftse Hout, but the Grote Plas is the largest swimming lake in the park. With lots of sand to play in, shady trees to hide under, and grass to picnic in, it’s easy to while away a summer day.

There are two options for restaurants in the Delftse Hout, Knus and Het Rieten Dak. For families, Knus is great. It is overlooking the lake further along from the beach and has a nice playground to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy a cool drink. Although the beach is not as nice as the Grote Plas, you can jump into the water right from the restaurant. They also offer waterbike and rowboat rentals by the hour.  

These last three lakes I haven’t visited yet but definitely plan to this summer. Maybe you have been and can tell us about it?

Zwemvijver Wilhelminapark (gemeente Rijswijk)

Put Te Werve (gemeente Rijswijk)

Dobbeplas (Nootdorp, gemeente Pijnacker-Nootdorp)

Outdoor pools

If you enjoy swimming outside but prefer the comforts of a swimming pool, there are two swimming pools that I know of that also have an outdoor pool which is open in the summer:

Zwembad de Waterman in Wateringen

Zwembad de Hoge Bomen in Naaldwijk

Water parks

Waterspeeltuin Tanthof (gemeente Delft)

A lovely and very shady place to spend an afternoon playing with water. There is a man-made creek with running water to float a toy boat down and go chasing after it. The stream ends in a small pool just deep enough to splash around in. There is playground equipment in the park and a petting zoo close by. Although there is enough to do for a family of all ages, I would say this is a particularly good option for toddlers simply because the water is very shallow.

Waterspeeltuin Delftse Hout (gemeente Delft)

And here we are back in the Delftse Hout for the water park. You can find the entrance close to the petting zoo. There is a small entrance fee, but personally I think it is well worth it. The park is kept clean, and there are toilets and a small café on the premises. Since there are so many options here for playground equipment, water fun, and sandcastle building, it is easy to spend the whole day.

Burying your sibling in the sand is optional.

Waterpeelplaats Tubasingel (gemeente Rijswijk)

I haven’t been here yet but can’t wait to explore it or hear all about it from a Delft Mama.

Unfortunately, a lot of the smaller lakes become infested with Blue Algae in the warm weather. The local government tests the water regularly and does make efforts to clean the water, but they are not always successful. If you want to make sure your lake of choice is safe to swim in before you go, see www.zwemwater.nl for the latest information.

 

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Three easy ways of becoming an active part of Delft MaMa community

Delft MaMa Children and Maternity Clothing Swap

This Saturday Delft MaMa is taking a head start on King’s Day by organizing a Children and Maternity Clothing Swap at the playgroup location KDV de Vlinderstruik in Delft on Lodewijk van Deysselhof 165. It’s a well-organized and an easy way to be kind to the environment and to our wallets by joining our efforts together.

“If one million people bought their next item of clothing secondhand instead new, we would save SIX million kilograms of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere.” [1]

What to bring? Good quality clothing in all sizes for children and expecting mothers that no longer serve you. The seasons change and you just might find yourself staring at your child’s closet trying to find out if any of the last years shorts fit them. Or perhaps your maternity pants are only hogging the space and you’d much more benefit swapping those elastic jeans to a pair of sandals and rubber boots for your toddler. Whatever the case may be, everyone’s welcome!

Image: pixabay.com

How much do the items cost? The short answer is zero. Many of us don’t have families close by and find ourselves lacking the otherwise natural circles of clothes swapping with relatives. Swapping with cousins rarely cost anything and neither does this. We encourage people to bring what no longer serve them and hopefully find the pieces that will be just right for them as well. Pieces aren’t counted, so swap will be strictly based on taking whatever serves your purposes. You’ll simply pick what you need!

The items that are left in the end you’re free to bring back home or you can choose to donate to the Delft MaMa King’s Day Sale.

More information about the swap is available here.

[1] Source

Delft MaMa King’s Day Sale

Last year Anna Kõvári of Delft MaMa organized the first King’s Day Sale all by herself.

“I just cleared a bit our house and sold the items. It was more like an experiment for me to see how I would deal with selling things to strangers. I was completely surprised by myself; I did not know that I love bargaining and selling,” Kõvári says.

It took a few hours, Kõvári made some money, which she then decided to donate to Delft MaMa. Call it a success? Absolutely!

This year DMM decided to turn on the big gear and start preparing well in advance. Tatjana Lisjak has taken an excellent lead in the project and gotten people to dig through their closets in order to support the organization. Want to learn how to donate items and more? Click here.

On King’s Day you’ll find Delft MaMa in two locations: Nieuwe Langedijk and another to be announced spot. You can drop by to see the variety of books, beautiful dresses, clothing, toys and the rest that are available for small change at these two stalls. You will also find a Delft mama volunteer on the spot with coloring sheets, boxes of raisins and other wonderful things for your little ones. If you already have everything you could ever desire for, but you feel like supporting some of our projects, there will be a box for money donations purely for the upcoming mosaic project.

Crowdfunding for the mosaic

The mosaic project was previously introduced in the blog by Oriana van der Sande.

What’s the gist? Delft MaMa is turning 10 years in 2017. To celebrate, the organization wants to treat the city on our birthday much like the Dutch people treat their family, friends and colleagues in the form of “traktatie”. The current Delft MaMa substitute chairwoman Ildikó Wooning explains further: “We are taking a wall that is tagged with graffiti and make it a lot nicer. The location we chose is a playground, so it connects nicely to the spirit of Delft MaMa. The design is a picture of a bridge, children, a mother and ducks and it embodies the feeling of bridging the gaps.”

The current substitute chairwoman Ildikó Wooning. Image: Tarja van Veldhoven

Delft MaMa has asked funds from the city and various other charity foundations, but most of all we are relying on donations. You can contribute by donating your time, money or materials. [2]

  1. Nan Deardorff McClain, well-acclaimed mosaic artist in Delft, will be leading this project with the help of volunteers. There will be five mosaic workshops available for the Delft mamas in May. It will be an exchange of talents, time and materials, according to Wooning: “We give the materials and the volunteers give us their handiwork. Those pieces will go on the wall.” The first workshop will take place on 2nd of May. You can find more information here.
  2. Through this link you can donate, or you can choose to wait until King’s Day and drop by and donate money at designated box at the stand.
  3. Did you recently brake a mirror? Do you have a pile of outdoor suitable tiles you no longer need? Then hit us up and we’ll tell you where to bring your donations or when we can pick them up.

And of course once the crowdfunding videos Wooning has been working on are released to the public, you can help by spreading the word.

[2] Any extra donations will be forwarded to the next mosaic project.

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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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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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