Easter egg hunt in the dunes

My little girl and her basket of Easter eggs

My blog stood silent in the last couple of days as the frenzied activities during the Easter holidays left me with hardly any time to sit in front of the PC.

We sure had a great time doing this year’s Easter egg hunt though the temperature was not as warm as it was the year before. Thanks to the suggestion of our neighbor, we did the egg hunt in the sand dunes of Soesterduinen, a lovely nature reserve area which is pretty close to our place. The kids had a great time being let loose in a seemingly endless sand box. There were also trees that were just perfect for climbing and before long, all of them were up in the tree.

This place is one perfect paradise for kids and one cannot help but be charmed by everything it has on offer. To us parents, we could enjoy moments of lively conversation without worrying about our kids who are safe in all the games that they can think about in this place.

We will surely be back again when the weather warms up and all of us have a free Sunday to spare. The kids can hardly wait…

The sand dunes of Soesterduinen look like an endless sand box

Pine trees sparsely populate the sand dunes

These low lying pine trees with outstretched branches are perfect for climbing

Under the tree, we could have that perfect picnic

The kids cannot resist the lure of tree climbing

Such a huge area to run around and look for the Easter eggs

More eggs!!!

Too many eggs to hunt

Eggs were everywhere...even up in the tree

There is always that look of wonder and amazement with every egg find

Easter eggs ... both real eggs and chocolate ones

Seeking for more eggs

Tree climbing

Playing in the sand

Sand rolling

Friendly banters

Picnic fare

Easter bread

Orange chiffon cake

Pistolet with smoked salmon

Pistolet with Nutella

Tree climbing

Tree climbing

Sometimes it is easy to climb but difficult to get down

My husband comes to the rescue

The rescuer

Our family

Family picture

The kids

The egg hunters minus one

Last year’s Easter eggs hunt

The little ones and their Easter eggs find

Time flies, it’s almost Easter time again! Where did the year go? Memories of last year’s Easter egg hunt are still fresh in my thoughts but it is time for the next egg hunt again. To my daughter, life is moving forward and wanting the years to roll by so quickly while I am hanging on to every bit of her childhood — carefree days under the sun hunting for Easter eggs, blowing dandelion seeds away, climbing trees, going back and forth at the slide, running around with the other kids and many more.

One of my little girl’s favorite time of the year is Easter and the delightful event of Easter egg hunt. It is something that has become a tradition with us having started this on the first Easter when she could walk. At that time, the eggs were hidden in the confines of our small back garden.

Last year, we organized the Easter egg hunt with the involvement of children in our neighborhood. We were blessed with the perfect Easter weather — warm and sunny and the kids really had so much fun searching for the eggs hidden in the grass and other not so obvious places. I baked cupcakes while the other moms brought in the refreshments.

One more week to go and it will be the same frenzied activity again. My daughter can hardly wait…

On to the egg hunt

Searching the grass and weeds for the hidden eggs

Feeling fulfilled with every find

Happy with every sighting of an egg hidden in the grass

Weather couldn't be any better than this for the egg hunt

Maybe there are more eggs here...

Counting the egg finds

"Could we eat first?"

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

Eating time after the hard work

More egg search

The parents minus me the photographer

Posing for mom

Childhood friendship

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

More on Keukenhof and its surprises (April 2011)

Francesca and the little lamb

Beyond the bewitching spring blooms, we were surprised to stumble upon the little animal farm inside Keukenhof to entertain the kids. There were turkeys, pigs, sheeps, lambs, a calf and some rabbits. Though a bit hesitant at first, Francesca enjoyed petting the lambs and the little calf.

Here are more pictures from Keukenhof. There was just so much beauty that I can’t resist taking so many pictures. ;-)

Chasing birds


With a Japanese lady in traditional costume

Enjoying a lolly by the fountain

Reds and yellows

Father and daughter admiring the fountains

A different kind of winter experience in Urk

The picturesque village of Urk

Our Valentine’s day out which was a few days late last Sunday was one that was very Dutch for we went on a date to the lovely fishing village of Urk without spending a single cent. Not that I am complaining. We were at my in-laws’ place to bring our little girl who would stay with them for a few days given the one week school holiday which the Dutch calls “crocus vakantie”. I suggested that we take a little sightseeing in the nearby Medieval city of Elburg. My husband insisted that we go to Urk instead which was also a mere 15 minutes drive from my in-laws.

Urk is a lovely fishing village which used to be an island in what was then called the Zuiderzee (South Sea) till the Dutch reclaimed lands that resulted to the creation of the Noordoost Polder and the Flevo Polder which now comprised the province of Flevoland. Noordoost Polder which was created before WWII attached Urk which since then ceased to be an island. The Zuiderzee after the construction of the Afsluitdijk, a 32-km causeway running from Den Oever in North Holland to the village of Zurich in Friesland became the Ijselmeer as it is no longer part of the sea but is now a freshwater lake.

Urk remains to be a very traditional, ultra-conservative and very religious village with the locals still going to the church several times on Sunday and business establishments are completely closed. Women still wear long skirts if not the traditional clothing. The village is picturesque that is why it attracts quite a good number of visitors. And it is also a protected area under the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

We went to Urk because of one very amazing spectacle — the melting of the ice sheets in the Ijselmeer from the last 2 weeks of deep freeze here in the Netherlands which are then pushed onto the shores. I was so amazed seeing this sight of huge chunks of ice washed ashore. I enjoyed taking pictures because it was like being in the Arctic or the South Pole with icebergs.

On the drive back to Dronten, we took a detour via the Ketelbrug, went under the bridge to view Urk from the other side of the Ijselmeer. It was amazing to see Urk from the distance across chunks of ice sheets in the water. It was a great day out so who needs a very expensive and fancy lunch or dinner date.

By the time we were back at the in-laws in Dronten, Mam Sil has already my favorite Dutch dinner ready — the Dutch beef stew called “Draadjesvlees” which she served with boiled potatoes and beans. I brought the dessert which is a Philippine favorite called “leche flan”.

Ice sheets in the harbor

Huge chunks of ice that washed ashore

Feeling like he's in the Arctic

The lighthouse of Urk

Fun on ice

A memorial to those who lost their lives at sea

Urk in the distance

ice sheets

Ice sheets on the Ijselmeer

Modern windmills along the Ijselmeer

El Nido, our little paradise on earth

El Nido at dusk

With the snow and ice gone, this last bit of winter is just such a drag. There is still more than a month to go before the official start of spring but I can hardly wait to move on into the new season. Even my little girl is already longing for the time when she can go outside and pluck some flowers because at the moment, there is hardly anything of color anymore.

The weather is not helping either to cheer me up. Today it is wet, windy, cold and grey. Thus, I am going down memory lane to a wonderful holiday we had way back in 2006 in the Philippines. This particular place is called El Nido (or the nest) in Palawan and is so-called because of the limestone cliffs that are so typical in this area which are home to a special type of swift, the cave swift that are renowned for building the saliva nests used for the Chinese bird’s nest soup.

This place is special to me and the Mr. because this is where our love story started with a coincidental meeting on its shores over 15 years ago. We call this place our own little paradise for being here is like no other from the wonderful things to see — beautiful uninhabited islands, pristine beaches, scenic limestone cliffs to amazing things to do — island hopping, snorkeling, scuba diving or simply relaxing on the beach listening to the gentle to and fro sway of the waves on the shores and the chirping of the birds and crickets in the trees (or at times being pelted with fruit stones by monkeys who do not like intruders). Add to that the pleasantly warm weather, the friendly people and the relaxed if not lazy pace of life which is a comforting interlude from the busy lives we lead back here in the west.

We enjoyed our almost one week stay in this paradise…island-hopping every day and having our simple meals by the beach. Though I have this fear of the deep water, I was caught up in the magic of snorkeling, oftentimes forgetting the time while observing the amazing world beneath the waters…schools of colorful fishes, beautiful corals, sea turtles, clams, and many more.

My husband when he first came to the Philippines has really made it his goal to see El Nido because Jacques Cousteau has remarked that it was the most beautiful place he ever explored. He described El Nido as having one of the most beautiful seascapes in the world.

I miss El Nido and I look forward to returning one day…that time with the three of us. I am sure that our little girl will in a heartbeat get fascinated by these islands and its limitless charm.

US on one of the many uninhabited islands

Early morning on the shores of El Nido town

El Nido at dusk

Island scene -- pristine beach, wild plants and flowers

Typical feature of the islands - white beach, coconut trees and limestone cliffs

Coconut trees


White sandy beach, coconut trees and limestone cliffs

Sea shell

a local fruit (not sure if edible)

Limestone cliff

Approaching an uninhabited island

Limestone cliff island

A local flower

Coconut trees

Wild orchids growing abundantly on the limestones

Fruit-laden coconut tree

A local plant

a lovely shell

Sea shell

Coconut trees along the beach

The limestone cliff up close

This monkey was maybe not happy with intruders to his world - he kept on pelting us with fruit stones ;-)

Lazy pace of life in the islands

An uninhabited island

The magic of winter

After the generous snow fall of the previous day (Friday), we woke up to an amazing Saturday morning. The initial temperature was icy cold at -15 degrees Celsius which eventually warmed up to around -5 degrees Celsius. The sky was blue with not a speck of cloud in it and the snow covered trees looked like they were decked in diamonds and glittered spectacularly from the sun rays.

Too bad that my husband had to leave very early in the morning and missed all the fun, off to tropical Jakarta where the temperature difference that would greet him was around 45 degrees Celsius. He was so sorry to leave and to be missing the much awaited snow but work commitment calls.

My daughter’s friend was by the door at 9am, ringing the door bell for the continuation of the fun in the snow from the previous day. There is no better day than this to enjoy the snow with the sun and blue sky altogether. This is cheap fun too! With the crisis that is currently besetting Europe these days, many have foregone the usual winter skiing holidays in the alps or in Scandinavia. Getting this generous heaping of snow brought that winter fun right at our doorstep so why not enjoy this wonderful days of snow and ice.

Nothing is more precious than to see pure happiness in my daughter’s face as she glided downhill on her sled over and over again. She hardly noticed the passing of the time till she was exhausted and ravenous from hunger.

More pictures here:

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