Queen’s Day at the tulip fields

Our little queen on Queen’s Day at the tulip fields

“Never let an opportunity pass by without giving it due consideration.” Weather-wise, this is my standing motto these days because in the whole month of April, we’ve hardly seen the sun and the temperature has been for the most part, chilly.

In yesterday’s Queen’s Day celebration, the weather did an unusual turn-around. Less than 24 hours before, I was still in my winter coat and then it was off to temperature soaring to as high as 28 degrees Celsius during the day. The party mode was on fever-pitch for the Dutch.

Not wanting to waste such a lovely day, I managed to persuade the Mr. to also do a side trip to the flower fields in nearby Flevo polder where we saw the tulips already in full bloom when driving through last weekend. We normally go to the Noordoost polder for our annual foray into the flower fields and our original plan to do that is still next weekend but seeing the blue skies, I just can’t wait for almost a week for that. Besides, there is no guarantee about a nice weather either and who knows, most tulips would already be gone by then when the farmer cuts the flowers to enable the bulbs to grow further. These fields are just a short drive of 20 minutes from our place so I see no reason why we can’t spare some time on this day.

Under sweltering heat at the height of the day, we were at the tulips fields in the polder. My little girl changed outfit to something close to the Dutch royal color and reigned over the fields in her faux jewelry ensemble which were hard won from throwing balls to a stack of tin cans from a distance in the fancy fair we went to the other weekend.

Year after year, I remain amazed by this staggering vista of tulips in various colors and varieties. I try not to give this sight a miss and why not, it is all for free, gratis et amore.

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Our family

Our family

Cheap date in the flower fields

Hubby and I always love our cheap spring date where we would normally drive around the bulb field areas in the Noordoost Polder, have coffee by the flower fields sold by some enterprising farmer’s children and have lunch of fries and kroket in a snack bar that we would find open in one of the village centers along the flower route. We don’t see the need to go to any fancy restaurant for what can we ask for when already surrounded by so much beauty that we are literally drowning from the sight of millions of tulips in full bloom.

It is kind of funny that this activity that we do every springtime comes as too corny and tacky to a lot of people. Many Dutch would not want to be seen in the flower fields, more so, to have their pictures taken in such a setting. I don’t mind being branded as corny and tacky in my appreciation of this incredible beauty. To me, seeing this amazing wonders of nature every spring is a testament of God’s existence and infinite love for us.

Hubby enjoying his coffee sold by an enterprising farmer's daughter who had a thermo of coffee and biscuits for visitors like us. A cup with a piece of cookie costs a mere Eur 50 cents.

Tulips (part 3)

We are still to have that annual visit to Keukenhof and our usual foray to the flower fields. Weather lately has been pretty weird as the disturbance up north sent chills our way these last couple of days.

Still, spring is here and frosty nights and chilly days haven’t dampen our spirits. I share with you more tulips pictures from last year.

Tulips (part 2)

Still more tulip pictures.

Tulips (part 1)

Busy time right now preparing for tomorrow’s Easter egg hunt. The little ones are already so excited. We will have the egg hunt in the sand dunes of Soesterduinen which is just a few kilometers away from our place. It sure will be a lot of fun because there is so much space to run around for the very energetic and hyper kids. Lots of secret places to hide the eggs as well.

Nonetheless, let me share with you these tulip images which I took last year from a showcase of various types of tulips which we chanced upon while driving through the Noordoost Polder.

The little girl’s second foray into the flower fields (Spring 2009)

Among red tulips

It used to be that the years went by without us noticing. Spring year after year would seem the same. We hardly noticed the passing of time and the difference in each passing year. All that changed with Francesca as since her birth, she became the benchmark and timescale for everything in our lives.

Certainly all parents will agree with me that children become the focal point of our lives, the beacon of hope on those dreary days, the source of strength when the hurdle seems too much and the source of laughter that cheers us up especially on those times that we can hardly summon a smile.

On this post you will see how much a year means in the life of a child. From the 6-month old baby in the previous post, she was 1.5 years in these pictures. This time, she was running through the flower fields and plucking the odd flowers out.

We spent the Easter weekend with my parents-in-law in Dronten where some of the big tracks of flower fields can be found. There were tulip and hyacinth fields and all were very exciting for our little girl.

Fields of blooms

I got the odd one out!

Among pink hyancinths

Francesca with opa and oma

Francesca and oma

our family

Francesca and opa

Francesca and me

Red tulips

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

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