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Imagine opening up your laptop after a long day and finding an e-ticket
sitting quietly waiting in your inbox.
A return ticket to Amsterdam for a week…
This was not a goosebumps moment, this was a grand swan day…IMG_7471
Courtesy Rijks Museum.

Thank you, thank you Christopher, I said
as I quietly had a large emo’s moment,
what an indulged mum am I?

I spent the next few nights not able to find sleep easily.
So excited was I at this fabulous prospect,
that in my mind I packed a thousand times, for a week of adventures
of the historical and cultural kind.

I flew into Hamburg at mid-day
and was collected there by Christopher and Silje,
and as we drove through the beautiful green and abundant
European countryside to our destination ‘Port’,
memories of a Jaques Brel song came flooding back..
‘The port of Amsterdam’.
Suddenly I was transported back to a time
when my family was based in Belgium, all the sights smells
and shadows set off a myriad happy recognition sparks…dare I say it
but a sense of home-coming, just in a different time warp,
then, I was there with my parents, now I was there with my children.
Wow! Awesome…IMG_7431(Our first auto bahn stop.)

And so it was that we left the car at a parkade outside the city centre
and at 9.00 pm, in broad sunlight,
arrived at Amsterdam central station.
Coming out of the building I was rendered speechless!
The sight in front of us was extraordinary…IMG_7434

And thus the adventure began, although I admit
that I was too chicken to ride one and resolved to spend my week
on my two legs, the city of cycles was wonderful to watch,
they seemed to be coming from all sides and directions,
with all manner of extensions and add on bits.
Dog carriers, grannies grandpa’s children,
talking on cell-phones and cycling around corners?
Everything and anything goes with cycling in Amsterdam.IMG_7464

Arriving at my nephew and his partner’s home
we were greeted by gentle David (Val was away on business)
and homemade lemonade, with a hint of raspberries… Aah, what can I say!

After a wonderful vegetarian dinner,
( David makes the best food I have ever tasted!)
exhaustion set in, and with a glimmer of light still in the sky
at 11 pm. we all passed out, exhausted but so happy.IMG_7458

And so our week unravelled, bicycles, babies, museums, canals
and picnics, artists and galleries, Van Gogh and Rembrandt.IMG_7518

Tall thin gabled houses, with steep spiral staircases,
leaning to left or right, walls and windows decorated with anything
and everything. Cobbles and shaded walkways, Cheese and more cheese.IMG_7450

Reflections…everywhere! Secret gardens, also everywhere.IMG_7720IMG_7610(A secret garden)

Beautiful window boxes and flowers, wherever they can possibly grow.
Pot-plants,( that too in certain coffee shops!)IMG_7440

Colour, community and vibrant life.
There is such a sense of acceptance,
nurture and cosmopolitan family in this liberal city,
where churches are turned into contemporary Art galleries, or concert halls.IMG_7570
(An exhibition in the High church)

Anne Frank’s secret hiding place, preserved in the most beautiful
and sensitive manner, a dreadful story told with discretion and care.

All the waves of emotion that well documented history
can produce in me welled high and spilled over with this multi-facetted
gem of a week, not to mention rich and irreplaceable time spent with
loved ones.IMG_7593

Whilst there, family time was cemented when James, my firstborn called
to tell us that he and his wonderful Sofia are getting married.
Yay, more family, so we popped a cork, in Fam sterdam.

I fell in love too,
David and Val have a 10 month old child,
Quentin… well what can I say?
He won my heart,especially when in his bak-fiets,
a bicycle adapted for parenting in this cycle city.IMG_7647
He sits, smiling to all he sees as he journeys
with his Pops to creche, to picnic or to market.

What a week, filled to the brim with memories and extraordinary times,
Thank you Christopher, Silje David, Val and Quentin…
Oh and thank you Amsterdam, I hope I see you again.
Soon, I think I fell in love with you too!IMG_7742