birdienl: (Jane Eyre)
I was nominated for this award by Carissa at Musings of an Introvert. Thank you so much, Carissa!

The rules of this award are as follows:
a) Answer the eleven questions of the tagger
b) Share eleven facts about yourself
c) Nominate up to eleven other bloggers
d) Ask those nominees eleven new questions

There we go! First up are Carissa's questions:
1. Where do you go to decompress from the world?
When my pony was alive, this was definitely the riding school where she lived. I could almost literally feel the stress falling from my shoulders when I spent time there with her and among the other horses. I believe animals are great stress-relievers! Nowadays it's just at home, with a good book or a nice series.
Read more... )
birdienl: (spring 2015)
Hamlette tagged me for the Sisterhood of the World bloggers award. Thank you so much Hamlette!

Here are her questions:

1. Do you like westerns?
I... think I do. If you look at my answer to question 2. But I don't really watch many Western movies, maybe something I should remedy?

Read more... )
birdienl: (Tea answer)
[ profile] touchofgr3y posted about local foods from her home area of upstate New York a few days back and invited everyone to post about food local and unique to where we live.

So here for you, a little list of some typical Dutch foods!

Cheese: Probably most famous outside of The Netherlands is Dutch cheese. The Netherlands is the largest cheese exporter in the world! I guess at least all of you in the US will know Gouda cheese. Dutch cheese is usually (semi)-hard and mild. Some variants I really like are the ones with herbs like cloves, cumin or nettles. We eat it with sandwiches ofcourse, but also as a snack in cubes.

Read more... )
birdienl: (Autumn)
Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows
book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. sharing
exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week etc.)

1. I have a new phone, yay! After struggling with a slow, always full and often crashing Alcatel phone for ages, I now have a lovely, fast Samsung Galaxy Core on which I can download all the apps I want and still have lots of GBs of memory left! There's just one little downside to this: about half a year ago I was browsing through Etsy and came across some great, classic literature inspired phone cases. I then decided: when I get a new phone, I'm buying one of these cases. Unfortunately, these cases are only made for standard model phones like iPhones and Galaxy S. So now my great new phone is dressed in a boring black case, all I could find for this model (#firstworldproblems)
Read more... )
birdienl: (Tea answer)
Hello dear readers,

I'm going on holiday today! Yay! Which means I won't be posting anything for the next 10 days... Less yay.... I'll try to keep up with reading my f-list though.

I'll leave you with a link to this very nice YouTube channel from C.G.P. Grey. Two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were discussing about The Netherlands. I happen to have colleagues of 4 different nationalities, so the colleagues from abroad are usually interested in learning new things about their new country. On YouTube, I found this very funny vid about why you can't call The Netherlands Holland (I bet some of you did, right?). But I browsed the channel some more and found there were a lot of other funny but also educational vids about historical and geographical questions we all ask ourselves sometimes: what is the difference between the UK, Great Britain and England, how does the Vatican work as a country within a city, what is a leap year etc. Have fun and I'll see you soon (with pics from Germany and Austria!)

birdienl: (History castle)
As you might know, today was a pretty special day in The Netherlands. Our Queen of 33 years, Queen Beatrix, abdicated in favor of her son, the now-King Willem-Alexander. He is the first King of our country in over 120 years, as we've had three successive Queens and a Queen Regent before him. It was a wonderful day, filled with ceremonies and festivities. I'd like to share some of this with you, so I picked 11 pictures of what the day was like. Enjoy!
Long live the King! )

birdienl: (Default)
Tomorrow, here in The Netherlands, we celebrate Sinterklaas! And I thought for all of you foreign readers ( I believe all but one of the persons on my f-list are foreign) this would be a nice topic for this week's '100 things' post. The next three posts are going to be about Christmas related facts. So if there's some Christmas tradition you've always wondered about or if you know a very nice, little-know, Christmassy fact, please let me know!

So, Sinterklaas... It's a traditional Winter holiday celebrated mainly in The Netherlands, but also known in other European countries. The feast is celebrated on the eve of 5 December, traditionally the name day of the Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam. Nicholas was a bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey in the third century. Many of the legends attached to this saint speak of his secret-gift giving, which might have given rise to the present-day Sinterklaas stories. Already during the Middle Ages, people would put coins into the shoes of poor people at the name day of Saint Nicholas.

Sinterklaas arrives in the middle of November by a steamboat (patron saint of sailors) from Spain (probably because Saint Nicholaas relics are here) to The Netherlands. The arrival of Sinterklaas in one of the cities of The Netherlands is broadcast live on television. The appearance of Sinterklaas is typical of a bishop, with a long red cape over a white bishop's alb, wearing a mitre and carrying a crosier (a ceremonial shepherd's staf). From the arrival of Sinterklaas on, children in The Netherlands can leave their shoe at the fireplace in the evening. They will be encouraged to place a carrot or some hay in the shoe as a treat for Sinterklaas' horse and of course a list with their wishes. The next morning they will find candy or a small treat in their shoe. It's amazing how early you are prepared to leave your warm bed when you've put your shoe up, I can tell you!! The main feast, at 5 December, more and larger presents will be given. They often arrive mysteriously in a burlap sack on your doorstep....

Sinterklaas is not only celebrated in families with young children, but also groups of adults will celebrate it. They will often exchange presents by drawing lots and adorn the present with a specially written comical poem or a personally wrapped gift called a 'surprise'. A lot of special Sinterklaas candy is eaten around this period, among others kruidnoten (small, round, gingerbread cookies) and chocolate letters (often the first letter of your name).

Sinterklaas is one of the main sources for the figure of Santa Clause, though it is unknown how and when this transition has exactly taken place.

If you want to know some more about Dutch Winter, Christmas and New Year traditions, read this post I wrote two years ago.

birdienl: (Default)

I'll give you one more serving of a 'Dutch' fact, as this period of the year we do not just celebrate Queen's Day, but also remember WWII (on the 4th and 5th of May). Always a poignant time of the year, in which many stories about this period are told and retold.

Today, I'd like to make you familiar with the use of inundation during WWII. Inundantion is the overflowing of normally dry land and was used as a military strategy by both German and allied forces. As you may know, The Netherlands for a large part lies below sea level. To keep our feet dry, we build water works, such as dykes, sluices and hillocks.

In April 1945, to prevent landings of allied forces, the German command blew holes in the dykes of the Wieringermeer polder. Within 48 hours the entire polder was submerged, with the water at an average depth of 3,75 m. No one was killed, but 7000 people were evacuated and houses, infrastructure and the crop harvest were destroyed.

In September 1944 the allied forces had freed the Belgian city of Antwerp and were marching North into The Netherlands. In the polders of Walcheren, the Germans had build strong bunkers with far-reaching artillery. To weaken the position of the Germans, the allies decided to flood Walcheren. In Oktober 1944, RAF planes started to bomb multiple dykes. The population had been warned by pamflets, but many had not understood these, leading to the death of at least 150 civilians. The tide from the Northsea flowed into Walcheren twice a day, helping the allied forces to free this area, but also destroying many farms and villages. Many livestock could not be evacuated before the flood and died and due to the influx of salt water, agriculture was made difficult for many years to come.

birdienl: (Default)
Tomorrow, we nationally celebrate Queen's Day or Koninginnedag in The Netherlands. On this day, the Queen visits one or two cities or towns in The Netherlands with her family and is there treated to a taste of the local customs, sports- and music societies and historical details. This visit is broadcast live on television, but most other towns in The Netherlands will have their own festivities. Most notably, extensive flea markets are held and there are lots of musical performances. People often dress up in orange during this day when they go out to celebrate.

The holiday was first held on the 31th of August 1885 on the 5th birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, and was then called Princess' Day. The name was changed to Queen's Day when Wilhelmina ascended the throne. From 1949 onwards, Queen's Day was celebrated at the current date of 30 April, the birthday of Queen Juliana. Her daughter Queen Beatrix decided to keep celebrating the day at this date, as her own birthday is in January, not a really suitable month for outdoor festivities.... When her son Willem Alexander will succeed her, we will probably call the holiday King's Day, but that will take some getting used to!

Queen's Day last year: from left to right Princess Margriet, Princess Laurentien, Queen Beatrix, (behind her)
Prince Constantijn, Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima

February 2017

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