Believe it or not, life has been pretty busy around here! Between wedding planning, trying to figure out visas, Joost studying for the GRE and starting the application process for PhDs, and my training for the Amsterdam Marathon, we have also been invaded this summer–by Dutchies!
We feel so fortunate that the Netherlands is just a stone’s throw away and makes visiting quite easy [sidenote: I think it’s a stones throw away; Europeans might beg to differ–it’s funny how your perception of distance changes when you’ve lived in a big country!!]. We’ve been busy hosting guests for the past month. I feel like I’ve spent most of my time either cleaning to get ready for a guest or cleaning up after a guest! Three weekends ago, Sipke and Lisanne came to visit; two weekends ago, Ronald came to visit; this past weekend, Toni was here!
Sipke and Lisanne spent a long weekend with us before embarking on a two week camping trip in England. We visited Blenheim palace again, where we had a picnic, trekked around the estate, and went inside a tree, a butterfly house and a giant maze. Sipke and Joost had an unfair advantage, as they were both tall enough to see over all the hedges! We also spent a day in Oxford showing them the university and eating Jamie Oliver’s tiramisu [<–if you’re ever in Oxford, this is a MUST!, says Joost, the tiramisu connoisseur].
The following weekend, Ronald, an even taller Dutchie, came to visit after a week of roadtripping through England. We spent a day in Oxford, notable because the boys walked both to AND from the city–they walked almost a full marathon that day (me, being the lazy marathon trainer that I am only ran about 10 miles). The most fun we had, though, was when we packed into Ronald’s classic mini Cooper [how.cute.is.this.car.] and drove through the English countryside to see the Cotswolds, a quintessentially British set of towns. I feared for the safety of the boys’ heads, as the towns seem to be built with only 5-foot-tall residents and visitors in mind. It felt a little like being in Disneyworld, where everything is kid-sized! Perfect for me, though.
Last weekend, Toni (OUR NEWLY APPOINTED BEST MAN! 🙂 ) flew in for a quick, 36 hour visit before he leaves for a round-the-world trip next month. Of course, we had to show him the best of all things Oxford.
He was ever so kind to sponsor an activity that Joost and I have observed since we moved here: punting. Basically, you sit in a long wooden boat while someone stands on the back and pushes you down the river with a long pole. The crew members made it look easy. Every time Joost and I saw punters in the river, we would remark how romantic it seemed. NOPE. It is so much harder than it looks!
The stages of punting:
YAY! Let’s climb aboard!
The seats are wet. Now my butt’s soaking.
Toni, are you pushing? Oh, you are. Are we moving?
THAT’S A TREE! WE’RE RUNNING INTO A TREE! I now have part of a tree in my hair.
Aaaaaand it’s raining. Do you think our boat will sink if it starts raining harder?
Careful when we go under the bridge. CAREFUL OF YOUR HEAD! WATCH THE POLE! YOUR HEAD! Maybe we should just ditch the pole and pull ourselves along the trees.
The best part was during one particularly narrow stretch of river, when 6 or 7 other boats all found themselves wedged in, trying to maneuver around each other. There were a lot of yelled apologies and warnings not to take each other’s eyes out with the poles. Toni and I just sat in the boat cracking up while Joost was left to weave in and around them.
Despite the weather and my inability to successfully punt without running into anything and everything on the river, it was great. I highly recommend it, especially if it’s sunny–although if you want to stay dry and on course, I might advise hiring a chauffeur!
We ended the day with a beer, a burger and yet another trip to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant for a well-earned tiramisu. By the time we finished our bike ride back home (8.5 miles), I was dry heaving bacon aioli and orange zest fumes.
We’ve got two weekends free before the Dutch Invasion continues; Alexander and Job will be here for a weekend and then the following weekend, both my parents and Joost’s parents arrive in London!