Meppel : Red on Blonde

Meppel Travel Blog

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Jordan gets dressed for tea-time :D

“Man oh man!” Such a luxury to wake up in a proper bed.  No laminate floorboards.  No Greek men lying by my side :)  I did though awake sometime in the middle of the night to the experience of rain lashing viciously against the window-panes.  Slightly ajar.  Thunder rolled in the distance and lightening flashed with ferocious regularity.  Quite a storm was wreaking it’s way around us and in a slumbering trance it all felt slightly unreal as I stumbled over to close the window casings.


By daytime it is golden sunshine once more.


…which is GOOD as it’s Jordan’s first day at pre-school today.

A painstakingly accurate reconstruction of an Aztec totem-pole in Leggo... she's a smart kid!
  (That's Patricia's youngest by the way).  She seems to be pretty cool about this fact as Patricia readies her girls and gets her bike set to accompany them on their way.  I spend the first portion of the day crafting a “thank you” illustration for Patricia’s and the girls’ great kindness and hospitality for my stay in their cosy hometown of Meppel.


The girls are later collected for an amusing and chaotic lunch where Lego blocks abound and are sculpted into a myriad of colourful and creative marvels.  Jordan prefers at one point just to stick the bucket on her head! Hmm, definitely a creative kid :)  She also continues to attempt to practice her vetinary skills by trying to glue the broken leg of a small plastic horse back into place with mummy’s Prit-Stick.  Ironically Patricia explains that once when asked what they wished to be when they grew up it was Reagan, not Jordan who proclaimed she wished to become a vet.  Jordan on the other hand stated she wanted to become “a chicken”.

Wilhemina Park, Meppel.
(?!)  Hmmm, not sure there’s much of a future in that Jordan, although presumably you’ll be well cared for by your sister the vet.


Before the girls return Reagan asks that I draw a further picture.  One that she can colour in herself as they get awarded “medals” for good colouring at school.  This is a first for me I have to say, but I pretty swiftly whip up a picture of a creature I dub ‘The Cloud-Bunny’.  Reagan struggles with the question as to whether Cloud-Bunnies actually exist.  I try to explain that “how could I possibly draw one if this were not the case?”.  I’m not sure she’s convinced but she commences happily colouring later on nevertheless.


When Jordan’s day at school ends later Patricia takes she and I on a gentle guided tour of Meppel.  This takes in the town centre, the canals and the lovely Wilhemina Park where the ponds throng with bread-guzzling geese and a large fenced area contains goats, peacocks, a gorgeous group of deer (anyone know the collective noun for deer please feel free to inform me) including the very sociable stag who’s more than happy to scrunch the apple-skins that the goats foolishly refused when offered by Jordan.


I’m left to my own devices for a bit in town but spend 40 minutes waiting in a travel agency waiting to sort out the next leg of my travels.  I settle for an impetuous booking on a midnight, overnight coach from Utrecht to Berlin.  Patricia cooks us all a wonderful, fresh homemade lasagne with all the trimmings and an ice-cream’n’ maple syrrup chaser.  We all sit around the dinner table happily, two redheads and two blondes and smiles all around.  Patricia and I encourage the girls not to play with their food... whilst I play with my food :)  Reagan and I play some intriguing Dora the Explorer puzzle games after munchies until it’s time for the girls to say goodbye and turn in for the night.  Sadly then it's also time for me to hug Patricia farewell with endless thanks for her kindnesses and to catch my train to Utrecht.  Luxury is at an end, for now, for Weselby.


Like a right plum I get so anxious about getting the correct train I completely forget to buy a ticket which lands me in a spot of hot water and a potential fine.

  I playup the naïve backpacker, doesn’t know any better “sorry, sorry, sorry” card and buy the ticket at the next station.  Dignity occasionally has a price and tonight it’s avoiding a 45 Euro fine at the expense of some grovelling.


The sun is setting over my right shoulder as we glide along on the IC (Inter City) train smooooth as you like.  Any objects observed through the window against this backdrop appear as perfect 2D paper-cutout silhouettes.  Trees. Lamposts. Buildings.  Every now and then waterways are zip by.  As they strip away towards the distant horizon line they mirror the sunset in their gently rippled waters.  The black shadows of the silhouettes ripple too, but we are moving on.  Two giant wind turbines pass by as the train slows, their three black silhouette blades arc through the mauve and tangerine skies graceful and grand.  My final Dutch windmills as I head towards the border.

Those geese look MEAN!


‘Threads’ (Part 2 of 3)


- "Oh, don’t be silly daddy.  You know he doesn’t speak Dutch!"


Or at least that’s what I assume she’s just said in Dutch to her father who was making another enquiry of me.  It’s 23:30pm.  I’m trying to remain conscious whilst awaiting the coach to Berlin.  I smile at the bubbly young lady as I gather a response of some sort is called for from me.


-  "So how are you? Where are you going? Where do you come from? W? W? W?" etc…


Uh-oh midnight conversational hijacking ahoy!  A pretty young Dutch lady… girl (half my age) who’s father I earlier pointed in the right direction for the bus stop seems keen to snatch the opportunity to practice as much of her excellent English upon me as possible ahead of the coach arrival that will rescue me.

feeding the stag.
  A barrage of questions assail my weary ears.  My wearier eyes are drooping fast.


- "Errr… well I’m from England. Travelling a bit.  I’ve just had a lovely time in Leiden and Meppel."

- "Oh, well I’m from Breda.  Have you ever been to Breda?"

- "Umm? No.  Amsterdam a couple of times."

- "Oh."  (disappointed) ."...well Breda is wooonderful!  You MUST go there sometime.  Is the most beautiful place in all of the Netherlands!"

- "Okay.

Cool." If you say so.  " I’ll bear that in mind next time I’m around."

- "Yes you must! OH we have the MOST beautiful strawberries in the whole world.  Breda strawberries!  They are unbeatable, so fresh and sweet.  I promise you of all the strawberries in the world I could always pick out the Breda strawberries just by their smell alone! They are so wonderful!"


Right. Okay.  Breda.  Strawberries.  I getcha. Calm down on the strawberry thing already!


- "I see, I’ll bear that in mind too.  We have famous strawberries in England also.  At the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, with champaigne and cream.


- "But they are not so beautiful as Breda strawberries no."


Sure.  You’re the boss.  I’m just trying to say something that vaguely chimes in with a topic of conversation as strange as strawberries at midnight.  She is a very charming and extreeeeeeemely talkative young lady.  Clearly very well educated and keen to show it.  They are here to see off a German girl who they’ve had to stay as part of a charitable program her father runs to give holidays to poor Berliner teenagers that otherwise, apparently would not have the opportunity to travel. ( Jeez these guys are too nice for this time of night!) ‘Poor’ Berliner girl smiles “good evening” in my general direction.   The Dutch girl continues to talk at me, and talk, and talk, the words tumbling in a friendly, enthusiastic torrent, veritably tinkling uncontrollably over the edge of her lips like a sonerous waterfall.

Swing time!
  Sometimes the cascade, the flow of words and thoughts gets a little too much even for her to handle and every now and then the words spill over into sweet and genuine, sporadic laughter.  The laughter comes often, and often without reason it seems other that to  give her mind a momentary pause for thought…to find the next thing to say. I am apparently kind.   She laughs some more.

Ha ha.


- "Yeah, so no Breda for me this time.  But in two years when I’m back maybe.  It’s Germany and then Austria for me next."

- "Oh Austria, I soooo love the idea of Austria.  The music. The culture.  I will be going to Vienna with my mother later this year.  I cannot wait and have a great ambition to go to the opera there.

"Vroooom!" Harley Davidson Meppel-style.

- "Wow. Cool.  Do you play something yourself?"

- "Yes, the violin!"


No doubt she plays the violin as well as she speaks English and as well as she acquits herself of all other tasks in life with effortlessness and grace I imagine.  Didn't we all know (and hate) someone like that when we were at school?


- "So are you going to Vienna?"

- "Sadly not.  I plan only to go to the western end of Austria.  The Tyrol region.  My family, we used to go there when we were young.  But it’s some way from Vienna."

- "Oh that is SUCH a shame.

Meet my friend Dragonaki... my "thank you" doodle for Patricia's priceless hospitality.
  I dream of going to Vienna and seeing the opera, it must be soooo magnificent.  Don’t you think?"

- "Um? Well, my dad liked it.  Opera that is.  I’m not sure?  Never been.  Never really thought about it."  No biggy.

- "You must, you MUST go!  And I must go also.  With my mother later this year!"

- "You do that and if I’m ever in Vienna again, maybe I’ll give it a look in too."



The coach finally arrives.  It’s 5 to midnight.

Sun goes down over Meppel as I walk to the train station.
  I cannot recall if we exchanged names.  I’m notorious for not doing this.  But the pretty girl from Breda, whose words cascaded into waterfalls of laughter you shall be remembered by the name of Strawberries.  Strawberries and opera.  The bus rumbles out of town.  The ‘Poor’ Berliner girl sit’s a couple of seats down from me on the other side of the isle, turns and smiles “good night”.

delsol67 says:
I am quite impressed, as well, I hope as I continue to journal, I will improve. I have great adventures....just need to learn to express more creatively.
Posted on: Oct 15, 2008
Biedjee says:
love your writing style mate, but if you continue like this it will take at least four years to blog your two-year trip :-)
So how have you been? Where are you now?
Posted on: Oct 05, 2008
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Jordan gets dressed for tea-time :D
Jordan gets dressed for tea-time :D
A painstakingly accurate reconstru…
A painstakingly accurate reconstr…
Wilhemina Park, Meppel.
Wilhemina Park, Meppel.
Those geese look MEAN!
Those geese look MEAN!
feeding the stag.
feeding the stag.
Swing time!
Swing time!
Vroooom!  Harley Davidson Meppel…
"Vroooom!" Harley Davidson Meppe…
Meet my friend Dragonaki... my th…
Meet my friend Dragonaki... my "t…
Sun goes down over Meppel as I wal…
Sun goes down over Meppel as I wa…
Wilhemina Park, Meppel.
Wilhemina Park, Meppel.
A gaggle of geese.
A gaggle of geese.
The old toll-house in Wilhemina Pa…
The old toll-house in Wilhemina P…
A church in the central square of …
A church in the central square of…
...err?... another church in Meppe…
...err?... another church in Mepp…
Cloud-Bunny gets a colourin in!
Cloud-Bunny gets a colourin' in!
Train outta town.  sob-sob :(  …
Train outta town. "sob-sob" :( …
photo by: Stevie_Wes