7 January 2009


We woke to a landscape made strange with a heavy frost. The ice grew like stalactites in delicate crystals off the remainder of the frost from the day before. Everything was frozen!

white landscape, yellow net

The ice on the irrigation channel, which had cracked under heavy use (bikes, chairs, skates, stomping, kids, adults), had refrozen. I took a few more pictures, and was joined by my aunt A for a bit.

standing on re-frozen ice

bubble rush in ice 2

After breakfast, Dan and I walked into the nearest village, Nes, with my aunt C and cousin L. The walk is around 2-3kms, but it took us a while because we kept stopping to take pictures!

We met my . . . great aunt (?) T on the way in, and she pointed out the Southern Wright whale jawbone and translated the information sign. In town it was too cold to do much but peek at the old buildings with dates in wrought iron on the outside (17something, 1625, 2001), laugh at the fact that the name de Jong was on the de Jong restaurant, the de Jong bottleshop, and the de Jong bakery.

We stopped in the bakery for chokalatemelk and olliebollen (Dutch new year ‘oil balls’ – a kind of doughnut), then went to the bottle shop and purchased some new year whisky (a bottle of Oban 14 years).

It seemed to be getting colder and colder, and so we set off home. Once we got out of town, we opened the whisky and had a swig to warm us up.

this is the life: j with oban whisky

d with oban 14 years whisky

c with oban whisky

Just off the road was a paddock that was completely iced over, and people had been skating on it for a couple of days. This is pretty special for Holland, we’ve heard, as people haven’t been able to skate on natural ice for over a decade. We headed over for a look, and I was yet again amazed at how easy the skaters make it seem. Even the kids holding onto chairs look more coordinated than I think I’d ever look! At any rate, we went for a good long skate. C and I posed for a photo as we went around . . . heh.

That afternoon was laid back – Dan had a nap, then played with my cousins A, C and E, and I drank whisky with my cousin C standing around a little bonfire we’d made outside. Later in the afternoon, I helped out with dinner by making golden syrup dumplings (though they didn’t turn out so great because we possibly used half non-self-raising flour – we couldn’t read the packets! – and there weren’t enough eggs). Other people made more olliebollen . . . I ate so many. Erk!

It does amaze me, having lived as a vegetarian for 10 years and having a vegetarian house, that so many people base their meals around a big bit of meat with some veges. I guess it’s easier to make a huge bunch of roast chicken and a huge bunch of boiled vegies than to do a meal with all these things combined. Still, it’s kind of odd – the very different diet played havoc with my skin and gave me headaches for the first couple of days . . . or maybe that was the cold! DID I MENTION IT WAS COLD?!

I was shattered after dinner and fell asleep, but not before making Dan promise to wake me up at 10 so I could meet people and be part of the fireworks at midnight. Waking up and getting up at that time was the most difficult thing I’ve done on this trip (which is a good thing, I suppose!). We had a bit of a whisky-off between the Canadians’ Canadian Club and our Oban, chatted a bit, and then went outside at about 11:50 for a countdown and toast. People had bought masses of fireworks, and we set them off for something like half an hour – fun, and slightly scary being so close, but awesome. I’ve never been directly underneath fireworks going off before, so that was a pretty cool experience!


  1. omg HIIII.

    Looks amazing, still jellus, still in melbourne, still missing you.


  2. Wow! Sounds like a great trip. And "olliebollen" is just fun to say - maybe three times quickly with one in your mouth.

  3. looks cool. (HA) lots of fun, yar?

  4. don't you love the cold? damn damn cold, here in germany, it snowed days ago but it's still here, can't even make snowballs with it, because it's too dry to stick together ... so sledding today hopefully, yay!

  5. oooooh, sledding! sounds like a good time!

    we had lots of frost in the cotswolds (see forthcoming updates!) but no snow. alas!