Meppel : Red on Blonde
Meppel Travel Blog› entry 11 of 268 › view all entries
âMan oh man!â 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 itâs 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.
âŚwhich is GOOD as itâs Jordanâs first day at pre-school today.
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 mummyâs 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 âa chickenâ.
Before the girls return Reagan asks that I draw a further picture. One that she can colour in herself as they get awarded âmedalsâ 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 âThe Cloud-Bunnyâ. Reagan struggles with the question as to whether Cloud-Bunnies actually exist. I try to explain that âhow could I possibly draw one if this were not the case?â. Iâm not sure sheâs convinced but she commences happily colouring later on nevertheless.
When Jordanâs 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 whoâs more than happy to scrunch the apple-skins that the goats foolishly refused when offered by Jordan.
Iâm 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-creamânâ 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 itâs 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.
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.
âThreadsâ (Part 2 of 3)
- "Oh, donât be silly daddy. You know he doesnât speak Dutch!"
Or at least thatâs what I assume sheâs just said in Dutch to her father who was making another enquiry of me. Itâs 23:30pm. Iâm 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?" etcâŚ
Uh-oh midnight conversational hijacking ahoy! A pretty young Dutch ladyâŚ girl (half my age) whoâs 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.
- "ErrrâŚ well Iâm from England. Travelling a bit. Iâve just had a lovely time in Leiden and Meppel."
- "Oh, well Iâm 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!"
- "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, Iâll 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. Youâre the boss. Iâm 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 theyâve 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!) âPoorâ Berliner girl smiles âgood eveningâ 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.
- "Yeah, so no Breda for me this time. But in two years when Iâm back maybe. Itâs 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.
- "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 itâs some way from Vienna."
- "Oh that is SUCH a shame.
- "Um? Well, my dad liked it. Opera that is. Iâm 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 Iâm ever in Vienna again, maybe Iâll give it a look in too."
The coach finally arrives. Itâs 5 to midnight.