Flower power

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Yesterday we decided to go cycling with some friends to see some tulip fields. Armed with a map of cycle routes and our energy, we rode around on our bikes until we found what we were looking for: rows and rows of amazing flowers and spectacular colours which really stand out in the typical Dutch landscape.

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It was breathtakingly beautiful, and the smell of the hyacinths was sweet and overwhelming.  We fooled around like kids, taking pictures and exploring undisturbed in the peace of the fields under the sun… it was so much fun!

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Just as we were about to leave a giant swan jumped out of the canal and started chasing us off what he must think of as ‘his territory’, I’d never realised how huge those birds are close up and was really glad to be able to jump back on my bike and cycle off quickly!

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Flower power

A walk in the dunes

Kennemerduinen

Kennemerduinen – winding road towards the sea

On the sunday before last the weather looked promising and we wanted to get some fresh air, so we took the train to Santpoort-Noord, stepped out of the station and went to explore the Kennemerduinen. 

Colours of Kennemerduin

Colours of Kennemer dunes

It was not sunny the whole time, but when the sun came out the temperature was perfect and the landscape transformed, all of a sudden becoming  much more colourful.

Traces of the hairy coo

Traces of the hairy coo (we didn’t see any though)

One of the reasons I enjoyed this walk so much was that for once the landscape wasn’t totally flat. A winding road crept up and down small hills towards to sea. It seemed to me that on the other side of every hill the sea would appear, but it was always further away…

Wind swept trees

Wind swept trees

Over the course of the walk the landscapes changed from green and humid forest, to sandy open spaces, wind swept hillsides, very wet grassland until finally we reached the beach. It was amazing to see the landscape evolve as we advanced.

Perfect view for our lunch break

The view we enjoyed as we sat to have our lunch break

It felt so good to be outdoors, away from the computer, surrounded by this amazing unspoilt nature.  Falling into the rhythm of walking and being totally in the flow, whilst feeling the wind and sunshine on my cheeks, is for me one of the simple pleasures of life.

Here comes the sun

I was already gushing about how I love spring a couple of weeks ago, and the weather these last days have been even more incredible here in Amsterdam! It was sunny with blue skies and about 16°C which would already considered good weather for the month of May, and is pretty much unheard of in the beginning of March.

Wetlands in the Amsterdamse Bos

Wetlands in the Amsterdamse Bos

Conditions were perfect to spend nearly all weekend outdoors, to bathe in the warm sunlight and soak up some much needed vitamine D.  Saturday we took a long walk and discovered parts of the Amsterdamse Bos I’d never seen. Under the sun everything looks so much prettier. The woods and the protected wetlands were beautiful and calm, full of birds.

Haarlemmermeerstation roundabout

Haarlemmermeerstation roundabout

The roundabout close to my place, that I showed pictures of end of february, is now even more amazing as all the flowers have opened into a gorgeous purple and white carpet. 

Celebrating spring

Celebrating spring

In the Vondelpark, this red and white thread caught my eye hanging on the branch of a budding tree. There are different versions of this tradition, which originally comes from Bulgaria I believe. People give these bracelets to their friends and family, and the person receiving the bracelet keeps wearing it until they can tie it to a budding tree or when they see a stork. It’s a way of celebrating the arrival of spring, and some say you should also make a wish as you tie it to the tree…  It made me smile to spot one here in the park, I hope that person’s wish comes true:)

First signs of spring!

IMG_4146I absolutely love the arrival of spring after the dark winter months. This year we didn’t have a very cold winter in Amsterdam, but I am still amazed at how spring seems to come all of a sudden, and at how wonderful it feels when the days start getting longer. I really enjoy that there is now daylight when I get on my bike and leave the office, and I can see the fading sunlight along the canals on my ride home.

IMG_4158Close to my flat there is this round-about  that comes into bloom every year in February with thousands of crocuses.  I like the contrast of the bare trees with the splashes of colour on the ground.  Seeing these little flowers really warms my heart because they are the first signs telling me the worst of the winter is behind me.  I can’t wait to be sitting in the park and enjoying the sunshine after work soon, as the days get longer and longer.

Optimism

A few Sundays ago we decided to go for a walk in Castricum, where there is a natural reserve that I had heard is very beautiful. As we were enjoying breakfast the sun was shining a little outside my windows so it looked like a promising day. But by the time we got on the train, the sky started to turn grey and just as we stepped off at Castricum station it started raining!  I was really upset and couldn’t believe we had come all this way only to walk in the rain.

Dunes

Dunes

You would think after over 7 years of living in the Netherlands I would be perfectly equipped and constantly be carrying with rain gear with me.  However I must still be in the denial phase about Dutch weather, as I get soaked by rain much more often than I care to admit. That day of course I didn’t have a waterproof jacket with me.

Directions rock

Directions rock

Despite the rain we decided to explore anyway and headed off. I was feeling grumpy and complaining, and wasn’t really enjoying my surroundings. Everything looked grey to me, even as we walked through varied landscape: woods with pine trees, sandy areas, open clearings and finally made it to the sea.  I really didn’t give myself a chance to enjoy the experience.

Castricum aan Zee

Castricum aan Zee

On the way back, finally it stopped raining and my mood shifted. I started noticing the changing landscape, laughing about the reactions of the people we asked for directions and enjoying the fresh air and moving. The best part was stopping to warm up in a cafe we had spotted at the very beginning of the walk. We had a delicious cup of hot tea and cake (despite the doubtful decor of stuffed birds and rifles on the wall;)

Kijk-Uit cafe

Kijk-Uit cafe

So what does all this have to do with optimism?? It reminds me of something I read in a magazine recently: optimism is not just believing things will work out. It means believing that you are living the best possible situation. In other words, it means that at every moment you have the chance to decide how you react to things.  I really want to keep in mind that optimism is the starting point in order to perceive any situation, and I want to remember that it’s up to me to choose not to get upset for nothing about things I cannot change. Let’s see how it goes:)

Walk in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

The last months have flown by unbelievably fast! I have been very busy with the new job and also not been doing anything on my balcony since winter arrived. But I have good intentions for the new year, it get outdoors more, take more pictures, have fun on this platform:)

Tonight I went back and looked through my pictures for some nice things from the last months to upload and found these pictures I took mid-november in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen during a photography workshop. It is a beautiful nature reserve close to Haarlem which looked magical with the last autumn colours.

It was wonderful to be outdoors, with nowhere to rush to, and just take time to walk around, enjoying the silence while paying close attention to the nature around, taking lots pictures to try out new techniques. It was a cold and grey morning, but I am really amazed by some of the bright colours that were to be found.  There were also plenty of deer grazing nearby, undisturbed by human presence as long as we didn’t get too close.