Posted in Border hopping, Nature, Personal, Photo, Photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

Share a picture which means SURPRISE to you! is Sara Rosso’s challenge today.

Can you imagine my pleasant surprise when I first saw this photo? My two sons in a suit, dancing! They are the ones right after the lady with the handkerchief. They went to Turkey with their dad a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate the wedding of their stepbrother and his lovely bride. When my ex-husband sent me this picture, I was delighted. My boys are growing into men. I know the quality of the photo is not good, but it’s the thought that counts, right? At the next party I’m going to drag them to the dance floor! 😉


Something else that never fails to surprise me is the moon in clear daylight.


And… surprise!


~ click the photos for a larger image ~


More Surprising Photos at WordPress!

Posted in Culture/History, Personal

Thanksgiving in Holland

I bet you don’t know we have Thanksgiving in Holland huh? Noooo my dear Canadian and American friends, no, I’m sorry: you are not unique in that! The low lands, the Netherlands, Holland is also celebrating Thanksgiving! At least, in my family 😉 At least since last Saturday! 😀

It was my heartfelt wish to start a family tradition based on nature, so I invited my dear family to our house to celebrate the Dutchess Thanksgiving on October 15th. And they gathered to my call!

Around three PM two cars arrived, soon followed by a third. And out they came: the Driessen family. First there were my parents, my father (79) totally ecstatic because he could finally drive again. He had his eye lenses renewed last month (cataract) and because of that his sight is now as it was forty years ago! The colours have come back into his world and he – and we with him – is so very grateful.

Then my sister, her two kids and her partner jumped out of the car, carrying a bouquet of tea. YES really. In it is black, herbal and green tea – of course – small sweets, a kind of tea egg and sugar candy. I love it! Mom brought yellow roses, ‘Limburgse vlaaien’ – a special kind of pie from our home province in the deep south of Holland – and chocolate! And my brother, his wife and two (of their four) kids brought up the rear, carrying a big bouquet of summer flowers and a bottle of champagne. Isn’t that sweet?! 😀

The weather couldn’t have been better: a full sun in clear blue skies. So after drinking coffee and tea (sorry Bert, you had to wait ‘a bit’ ;)) and eating fresh apple muffins and the ‘vlaai’, we headed towards the forest. Luckily all brought sturdy shoes, because the ground was muddy from last week’s rain. The youngest boys really didn’t feel like going at first, but soon they could be seen cantering through the bushes, under dark trees, jumping ditches and carrying sticks, climbing wood stacks and grinning ear to ear. Meanwhile the elder folks strolled at an easy pace, talking about the things families talk about when they meet after being separated for several months. Like South-Africa. Like anniversaries. Or about food. Holidays. About silly TV programs. My brother shot pictures, which I hope to publish later this week.

After the walk we headed back home again for snacks, wine, juice and beer. My living room is kind of small but we created a circle and sat where ever was possible (lucky number thirteen in total). And then my second experiment was tested: pumpkin soup. It was a combination of shallot, olive oil, garlic, chicken broth, curry, cumin and sugar, plus of course pumpkin. At the last moment I added half a litre yoghurt, cream and more garlic, plus fresh coriander on top. Seems they liked it 😀 That was a real Thanksgiving dish right?

Because my oven is kind of small, I couldn’t make a whole roast turkey. In stead I made two sauerkraut oven dishes. Yes that’s right: sauerkraut! You just HAVE to serve that at a Dutch Thanksgiving. 😉 Again I’ll give the ingredients. If someone wants the entire recipe, just ask and I’ll translate it for you. Here we go: potatoes cooked in chicken bouillon, mashed with butter, milk, herb cream cheese and nutmeg. Then bacon, sauerkraut, apple, pineapple, cream and water. The meat section: minced meat, salt, pepper, paprika powder, onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, ground chilli, orange juice, ketchup. Layer of the sauerkraut mixture, layer of the meat mixture and a layer of mashed taters, with little pieces of dairy butter on top.

Alright, you can all relax again. Of course I made a turkey stew too. After all, what is a Thanksgiving without a turkey? I bought turkey fillet and roasted it very slowly, making sure it was still pinkish inside. Then I started on the sauce with the gravy, adding onions, garlic, mushrooms and cranberries, salt and pepper, plus mushroom sauce. The meat had rested in this sauce for a night and a day and was tender and sweet. We ate it with fresh bread rolls and a green salad Vman made, washed down with red wine.

Everyone went back to the kitchen for a refill. Even the boys liked the sauerkraut! Except my eldest of course. He calls these slivers of sauerkraut ‘meuk’. Let’s say he doesn’t like it 😉 But he did love the turkey. After dessert everyone was so full, they didn’t even want chocolate bonbons anymore. Well, at the second offering they did dig in.

Finally around nine PM everybody fired up their vehicles and went home again, while laughter, kisses and waves filled the air. After cleaning up, Vman and me crashed on the couch, exhausted but happy. Thanksgiving in Holland. A new tradition has been born.

Why does time fly when you’re having fun, and crawl while waiting for the next meeting? See you all next year for another episode sweethearts! But first at Christmas of course 😉


Posted in Border hopping, Culture/History, Writing

Moving Targets @ Avans University Holland

During the first three weeks of April our academy, the teacher training college for primary education at Avans University of applied sciences in Breda, * gasps for air * is hosting

Moving targets

This intensive program teaches students from Belgium, Turkey, United Kingdom, Slovenia and Holland how to go about teaching English to Dutch elementary school children with a variety of cultural backgrounds by means of drama and music.

Avans Hogeschool

After nerve wrecking last minute interventions by professor Agnes Taks (the driving force behind the project) finally all visa were cleared and last Monday the participating foreign students of Moving Targets arrived at Schiphol Airport, safe and sound. Amongst other things, the group visited an elementary school to see what Dutch schools are about and had time to enjoy the beautiful city of Amsterdam.

Then yesterday at 9 AM the twenty five students walked into a classroom of Avans university in Breda. The room was brightly decorated with colorful flags. The whole group had spent the night at a house in the neighborhood of Breda, which was filled to the brim with rented bunk beds. Some of them look really tired, but everyone had a big smile and was eager to start with the program.

Agnes opened the meeting by telling a beautiful anecdote about Martin Luther King, and concluded with saying that there is only one race: people; that there is only one country: earth, and one language: love. It was great to see the impact of these words. Our dean Nicole van Son introduced herself and welcomed all to the Avans University, after which professor Muzaffer Yanik spoke a few words. Carla Nijlunsing (drama), Margriet Veenbrink (English) and Kitty van Gulick (music) were also present.

Like last year, I was asked (as bilingual writer) to recite my poems. In 2010 accompanied on piano by Kitty in a wonderful way, but yesterday it was only my voice and thirty pair of eyes. Plus an extra lens of the camera. Increasing the volume of my voice to the crescendo needed at the end of the first poem could pose a bit of a challenge, since my trachea decided to entertain me with an insistent tickling since last Sunday. Bad BAD trachea! Luckily a cup of licorice tea sweetened the coughing fits into temporary submission.

For this special occasion I chose:

Where The Wind Sleeps

After a brief intro, in which I led my audience along the road I had taken to end up writing in English, my poems were handed out on paper.Then I started with Where The Wind Sleeps, forcing myself to speak slowly. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins at an intense pace and my face was glowing. Everybody listened and absorbed my words in silence. When I finished, they spontaneously started applauding ooooh WOW that was so nice! The same with my second poem Spring oh Spring, you are not lost! *happy smile*. I ended by wishing the students great, joyful and instructive weeks and fell down on my chair again. Pfew. Icy cold shaky hands and the rest on fire haha. But it was exhilarating and fun to do.

Language uniting people from all over Europe! I will try to share photos and perhaps films of this wonderful program in the weeks to come.