We started the month with another party... this time a family barbeque in Drente. It was organised by Marjolein’s favourite uncle and aunt and their house was full of relations, so we had to explore alternatives.
Naturally our positive experience of camping in Australia inclined us to try it again, particularly the flexibility of being able to go visit people without worrying that our brood would drive them nuts. So, this was an opportunity to check our fantasies against reality in the Dutch climate. We found a cheap folding caravan on the online Dutch garage-sale. It is basically a very large tent that folds out of a trailer. It takes a while to set it up, about 90 minutes first time but there is plenty of room inside, you sleep on platforms above the ground and the kiddos had their own room. It performed well in Drente, though the sleeping pads were a bit thin for Marjolein.
The party was nice, particularly seeing the Drente family again and when it got late the for monsters we could just gently walk down the road to the campsite and tuck everyone safely into bed.
We still need to develop some camping skills and perhaps a little stoicism, but the trailer should give us some cheap holiday options for next year. No more camping this seasons though so we have now packed it off to winter storage in a tulip barn (really). Apparently storing people’s caravans during the winter is much more profitable than growing flowers these days in the Netherlands.
Further world-shattering events are that Daniel made the transition from Beaver to Cub Scout. It was a fun event. They had a magician’s tower made of poles and rope (neatly knotted of course) and all the children that were moving up (Beaver to Cub/Brownie to Scout/Guide to Explorer Scout) had to go into his tower to be transformed. Naturally he was a dud wizard and they all came out wearing the wrong uniforms – that is why the picture shows Daniel in a huuuge explorer shirt. Then they all had to go solve puzzles and find clues to fix the wizard’s spell and be restored to normal. It was nicely done and great fun. I have ever more respect for the creativity and dedication of the scout leaders, all of whom are very young adults. Finally Daniel got to put his new kit on and swear in on the wolf-head staff. Sociologists would have a field day…
Matthijs turned nine this month. We had the usual multiple birthday situation: treats at school, family celebration AND a kiddo party. I am sure it was simpler when I was a child. I remember jelly (yes really) and sausages on sticks. Matthijs wanted his kiddo bunfight at an inside playground we favour called Chimpie Champ. It cost a bit to take him and his mates there, but it minimized the organisation we needed to do and they were able to do lots and lots and lots and lots of running, bouncing, climbing and generally working up a tremendous sweat: girls and boys both. Then they ate chips and drank lemonade, did still more running and climbing, ate ice-creams and we delivered their wracked little bodies to their parents. In my experience people are generally pretty pleased when you have utterly exhausted the animal spirits of their child and all that exercise must be good for them. Certainly our boys are pretty lean and muscular for pampered city children.
End of the month we went to Artisklas which is a weird little zoo less than two kilometres from our house. It is like a miniature version of Artis with displays of stuffed native animals and some live animals: squirrels, frogs and a displaced porcupine: another example of dedicated volunteers at work. The kids loved it, so we will certainly go back again.