Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Dutch hill

A Dutch hill, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Fred and I just spent two days with our friends near Nijmegen, Fred's study friend from Groningen, Anneke and her 'man' Peter. Always nice to spend a few days with them and I remember a great time we had, also around Ascension Day many years ago when we sat outside in their lovely garden in Westerlee, near Winschoten in Groningen, playing Trival Pursuit at all hours of the day, one game after the other.

Anneke likes to walk and has walked the Nijmegense Vierdaagse (a four day walk around Nijmegen) a few times. The countryside around Nijmegen is particularly lovely because of the beech woods and the rolling hills (which are very rare in Holland!). One of the problems with Holland is that almost the minute it becomes hilly it becomes either Germany, Belgium or the North Sea. Here we were walking near to the German border, around Groesbeek.

We took the car here first of all in order to buy some fresh asparagus. This is the main asparagus growing region in Holland and it is asparagus season at the moment. Like the Germans, the Dutch like to eat their asparagus white, so the soil has to be raised constantly to keep the shoots under the soil, deprived of sunlight and therefore kept white. For this one needs cheap labour which used to be provided locally, then by Poles and now, apparently by Romanians and Bulgarians!

We had them for dinner in the classic Dutch style, boiled, together with broken pieces of boiled egg, sliced ham and melted butter, served with boiled new potatoes. Delicious!

But before then we had our walk through the woods and over the hills. A warm clammy sunny day, the air was full of birdsong. Very much like the woods near our house in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire where we were brought up. Wonderful. However, unlike Beaconsfield, there was a pancake house in the middle of the woods where we stopped for a drink and a bite to eat, Fred choosing best with his ham and cheese pancake, drizzled in syrup!

The day before we went out for dinner, we were celebrating some good news, about which, more later. At the other end of our visit, we left a little bit earlier than planned, as I had arranged my date with Marija!
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