My Green Finger Project

Sometime last year in June, I remembered vividly how enchanted I was each time I step into Corrie’s Garden (Jos’ Stepmother). From Spring Time onwards, Corrie’s garden will be blooming with lots of different kind of lowers, Rose, Lilies and some others I don’t know the names to it. But they all look so beautiful, I can sit in the garden for hours!

Because I kept singing praises about how beautiful those flowers looks, Corrie had kindly offered to teach me the art of gardening. She start by asking me, “what do you like in your garden?” In our case a balcony. Without much thoughts, because I already know what I like all this time, I answered, “I want lots of Tulips and many sunflowers!” At this point, I didn’t know there is a season to every kind of flowers. Tulips never survive till summer and Sunflowers never blossom in Spring! I also didn’t realize, these seeds takes so much time, so much effort for them to grow to finally blossom.

I’d planted some sunflower seeds (bought in Holland) back in Singapore and it grew within two weeks but didn’t grow so big. A picture of the sunflower below and that is the biggest it went and then it slowly withered away. But then in Singapore, we have no seasons. It is summer every day!

That was the max it went.

At that time, Corrie had draw up a plan (really sweet of her). She decided that we should first start with the Tulips in October and then start with the Sunflower sometime in March. So we did. We went to the shop in Dordrecht that sells all kinds of seeds. According to Corrie, this shop has high quality seeds so chances of success is higher.

Today, I share with you my pride. Although most of the work is done by Corrie, I’m still proud of our achievement. 🙂

Here are the photos of the tulips that blossom during spring time. The seeds was put in the soil since October. According to Corrie, these tulips bulbs must be froze for a period of time before they come out in Spring time. And I’m suppose to get more Tulips every year if these bulbs are good.

Tulips Buds

Coming up really nicely. See those little pink too?

Pretty Tulips lining up

And then after spring, the petals of these tulips dropped off one after another. Very sad to see! Until there is no more left! In the end they are left with a green stalk and no flowers. At this point, we wait for the next seasons.

In February, Corrie & Piet give me a little green house for my birthday! That was the 2nd part of my green finger project where we start with the sunflowers. I was beaming with joy! At the same time, I’m still skeptical of the greenness of my fingers. Oh well, I would just go for it.

So with this little green house, I’m suppose to control the temperature so as to make sure the sunflower grows healthily. Not too much water, not too much heat.

See the Water vapors? This little green house is heated.

And it grew and grew so fast until I have lost control of it.

Because I was not good with the controlling of the temperature and the water levels, these sunflower just grew too fast for me to handle. They were all over the place and hanging downwards as if they were dying. Of course I panic ! It’s like a mother watching the children drowning.

In the end, the whole little green house was transported back to the MASTER (Corrie) to take care of it. See, here, Corrie is like the doctor, I’m a lost mother trying to take care of a weak child (in this case – Children, because there is so many of them sprouting !).

The professional did not fail to uphold her professionalism. Every time I visit the plant, they just grew stronger. They always look better each time. The stems are thicker, the leaves are greener, they just look healthier. After that I leave for our summer holiday. And when we return, this is what we saw:

This is just one of them.

And another… .

There are alot of them standing tall in Corrie’s Garden. really beautiful. Before my summer holiday, Corrie already potted some for me to bring home so I can enjoy them as well. However, those in our balcony didn’t work out so well.

Here are the pictures of those in our balcony:

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Did you notice some of the buds aren’t blossoming? I’ve given water everyday and wait everyday for it to blossom. It seems to me that’s how far it will grow. It will never blossom…

Call me emotional, but I feel kinda sad to see that some seeds just don’t survive the growth process. It happens to all living thing. Even as human, some fetus just don’t come through as human. They lost it half way. That’s sad. But I guess, that’s just life.

Last Sunday, I harvest some roses from Nelly’s Garden (Jos’ mum) for our home, look! they are beautiful

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Till next year.. see you again beautiful blossoms!

Opera on Water.. by the Queen’s Palace.

Hey there.. I’m back again. This time I wanna share my experience of watching an Opera On Water. No, I don’t mean performing on a Stage on some Water. I really mean performing on and at some point in and under the water of the pond of  Soestdijk Palace (Queen’s Palace) situated in the heart of the province of Utrecht.  This is not something I’ve come across and I was totally enchanted by the performance.

The performance was also performed using the Queen’s Palace as a back drop. It is in my opinion very special and totally enchanting. The Mother of Queen Beatrix of Netherlands used to live in this Palace. The Palace is now open to the public for visit on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.For more information on the Palace Tour, you can check out this website : http://www.paleissoestdijk.nl

Back Drop of the Stage – The Queen’s Palace

The Title of the Opera that we watched was  Orfeo Ed Euridice. It is a musical place and the opera was sung in Italian. Although they have a book explaing the different Act, they were in Dutch. So, I’ve googled on my wonderful Iphone for the exact meaning of each ACT of the opera.

Orfeo Ed Euridice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck and it is one of his most popular work. The story is based on Orfeo who loses his wife, Euridice, when she died. He mourn for her death by singing around her tomb. And then, Amore (cupid) appears, telling Orfeo that he may go to the Underworld and return with his wife on the condition that he not look at her until they are back on earth.

Orfeo accepted the quest and the next act was the tribulations while he travels to the underworld and back. After Orfeo rescue his wife Euridice and on the way out of Hades, Euridice is delighted to be returning to earth, but Orfeo, remembering the condition related by Amore in Act I, lets go of her hand and refusing to look at her, does not explain anything to her. She does not understand his action and reproaches him, but he must suffer in silence.

Entrance to the Underworld.

Euridice takes this to be a sign that he no longer loves her, and refuses to continue, concluding that death would be preferable. She sings of her grief at Orfeo’s supposed infidelity in the aria.

Orfeo facing his back upon Euridice.

Unable to take any more, Orfeo turns and looks at Euridice; again, she dies. Orfeo decides he will kill himself to join Euridice in Hades, but Amore returns to stop him.  In reward for Orfeo’s continued love, Amore returns Euridice to life, and she and Orfeo are reunited.

Euridice returning to underworld.

The other Ghost surrounding

The original story of this Opera written by Gluck was that Orfeo dies when he could not save Euridice and supposely a very sad romantic love story. Somewhat like Romeo and Juliet. The story was edited and altered to end it with Happy Ending. I suppose the new age view of a love story is preferably a Happy one.

Anyway, I enjoyed the play very much. This must be one of the most spectacular performance I’ve seen so far. The effect of the nature, the exploding with fumes during Orfeo entrance to the underworld put so much reality within. I’ve never felt so real with an opera like this one! Bravo! Quite honestly, I will be quite happy to watch it the 2nd time.

Where Flowers Bloom… So Does HOPE

No matter how my day sucks, no matter how stressful each busy day may be, each time I set my feet on the ground of a Garden, the serenity and the perfumery scent of a Garden immediately takes away everything. I love Gardens, I love the sight of beautiful flowers, I enjoy the scent from the green, even the buzzing sound of the bees doesn’t annoy me when I see them in the Garden. This is the time of the year when the garden is aglow with sensational blooms and a fantastic array of colors. I like it, I really do.

Yesterday, we were invited to Piet & Corrie’s home for dinner (Jos’ dad & his wife). The most enchanting part of their home to me is their Garden. I’ve visited their Garden during Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. Each season gives a different feel. Of course the best time of the Garden is during Spring & Summer time. When the leaves starts to fall during Autumn, it depresses me. During Winter time, if we have some snow, the white covers the brown, that don’t feels so bad.

When the flowers are blooming and the vegetables are growing, Piet & Corrie never fails to show me around their garden explaining to me what each plant is and how it was being planted. And each time, I would be so entice by the details and feel really proud of their achievements. Gardening to me is fun but it cannot be an easy job but why is it I don’t see them working on the Garden very much…. did they grow on it’s own season after season.. secret untold.

Home Grown Prunes!

Do not mistaken.. these aren’t pumpkins, they are tomatoes!

And apparently, placing banana skin next to it will help it to turn red sooner…

Home Grown Lettuce for Salad

Cucumbers

Juicy Apples

oh my… ONIONS!

Beans

Berries.. and I ate it !

A special Snail I spotted on top of a tall tree… I have to have Jos take a picture of this.

All the green…. now the other colors.. 🙂

Check the Hedges, it is also home grown. 🙂

Oh my…. there are just too many beautiful flowers… and I really wanna show the world! So I will carry on uploading. 🙂

Sorry I cannot remember all the names of these flowers.. so I will call them Beauty!

Berries!

I know the name of this one… Yellow Rose 🙂

I’m really proud of their Garden. I remember the last time I visited the garden sometime in April, there was potatoes and strawberries and huge bulbs of tulips & Roses. This time, the season for the strawberries aren’t there any more. The Roses & Tulips are also gone. I was told the season is over. Oh and I was told, Potatoes and Tomatoes cannot be planted on the same ground.

But.. my favorite flower was no where in sight. How can there be no Sunflowers? Corrie explained that sunflowers takes a lot of effort and space, the seed have to be planted close to a feet apart from one another. But she promised to plant some for me! I told Corrie, “If I can work in a garden for a day, I would gladly do.” So now, she is going to draw up a planting project for me to work on. Hopefully I will see them next summer! I cannot wait to work on it. Seeing the fruit of your labor must be really comforting.

The Green House

It was indeed a very educational tour. Before I go, here is a picture of the dinner I had cooked with hand picked beans! 🙂

Babi with Beans and Rice.

Mr Sun came out & smile at me!

It’s the best day ever – Mr Sun came out and smile at me!

Today must be the best day of the summer so far. I’ve blogged about the rain, so to be fair, I’d better be nice and sing a little praise to Mr Sun who came out bright and sunny today.

The weather is so good everyone is in shorts and flip flops and no one stays indoor. Our neighbours was all sitting outside at their little garden or balcony enjoying the long awaited sunny. And for the first time since I’m here in Holland… I SWEAT! And I’ve never felt so good about sweating .. 🙂

Since the weather is so good and it’s not a time to hide in door, we decided to do BBQ dinner tonight! I enjoyed it so much I had to snap pictures and share it with you!

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We had fish, chicken and pork. What is really missing when doing BBQ in holland is I will never be able to find nice big prawns to put on the grill. That’s really what I miss most, the fresh seafood we get in Singapore.

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And Mr Sun slowly fade away…. Thanks for coming today Mr Sun. I love you 🙂

How was yours today? Did Mr Sun also shine where you are?

Oh It’s Summer Time but what’s with the Rain?

The long awaited time of the year has come… het is zomer tijd! Yippee! 😀

But wait……. what’s with the rain? -_-

It’s been raining almost everyday since a week ago when I landed back in Dordrecht. Sometimes it’s light rain, other time is big rain drops, and hardly, we have little bit of Sunshine, only little bit for a very short while.

No wonder the Dutch cannot wait to escape to where the sun SHINES. At this time of the year, when you pick up the phone and call someone, be ready to be answered with “He/She is out for 3 weeks holiday.” And most likely, they will be either

1) in the car; driving towards France or Spain; with car boot filled with camping equipments.

2) in a camper; driving towards Italy; well equipped with food & drinks & toiletries.

3) in the plane, flying to the Far East; Indonesia is a popular spot.

Last year this time, I was on a road trip, camping in Italy & France with Jos. I must say I enjoyed the adventure very much even though it was my first attempt to sleep in a tent.

We have not decide where we would go this year since I’ve just return from Singapore; but taking a 2 weeks holiday might not be possible this year! Sad! 😦

But fret not…. good news is, we will always find something to do during summer. Alright, maybe accompanied by the rain but it’s still fun. Since the day I’m back, I’ve been packed with programs that Jos had wanted to attend so I had to tag along.

These programs only happens during Summer in Holland. Every town in Holland have their own festival and in Dordrecht, we have a weekly Monday Night Chill Out at the Wantijpark for the Summer. Wait… I did say Monday Night right? Yes it is a little crazy but yes Monday Night, at the park, bbq, drink and enjoy live band performing. We were there last Monday and I cannot help but marveled at the amount of bikes parked outside the park. Quite awesome I reckon 🙂

Count the bicycles Challenge!

The other Festival we went was also in Dordrecht which happen only over 1 week end… THE BIG RIVER FESTIVAL.

I was told, the festival was called the Big River because Dordrecht is surrounded by Rivers. And the theme colour of this festival is Blue, Orange, Green. People visit the festival and collects necklace of those colors. The more the merrier! I caught sight of so many necklace on one neck that I felt their neck are hurting!

Very interesting festival with interest food. There are poffertjes, stroopwafels and freshly fried potatos chips which is what I enjoyed most! The whole potato are cut by a machine and string to a wooden stick, put them in a fryer and finish it off by sprinkling some BBQ Powder and other spices.

Fresh Potatoes Stick.

There are also  several live performance at different part of the town with different theme. Some are blue Jazz and some dutch music. There was also a QUEEN cover band! Really cool.

Live performances

Last weekend, we were at this long awaited event that happen yearly – The Breda Live. This year we have DJ Tiesto performing at the Breda Live. Although I like David Guetta more, DJ Tiesto rocks the stage with roaring cheers and crazy dancing. This party was organised by Jos’ best friend so we were given free VIP Passes. Suppose to cost EUR49.00 each!

Breda Live! VIP View 🙂

The way the crowd was allowed to throw all their trash on the ground amazes me. Check out now, the after party effect… 🙂

What lies underneath the party…

So who says there is nothing to do in Holland? You just have to find them and make yourself do it! Happy Summer Holiday People! Catch you again soon 🙂

There is no World without Verona Wall.

I’ve been really busy of late trying to finish up a scrapbook that I’m presenting to Jos as a Christmas Present. And each page brings my mood up higher because of the many flashes of memory that every single photo brought back.

One of the pages on the scrapbook that I’d particular like was a page I did on our trip toVeronalast summer. It had brought back so many memories and I’d thought I should blog about it in this post.

I have always been a fan of Shakespeare and his popular play on Romeo & Juliet. I’d been so crazy over the way it is written that I can recite most of the popular sayings of the play. Sometimes, I’d even use the way it’s being said during my conversation with friends for fun. Romeo & Juliet was written based onVerona. As such, I’ve always dream about visitingVerona.

Some years ago, I’ve also watched a movie – Letters to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried, I love the movie so much, I told myself I’m definitely going to visitVeronasome day, one day. I even spoke to one of my Italian friend about it. So can you imagine my joy when Jos said we were going toVeronalast summer? It was like the best present he ever gave me. Its like a dream come true!

Although I’ve blog about how disappointed I was when I realize that the Juliet’s Garden in Verona isn’t really the real balcony the play was written on, I was still determine to see Juliet’s Balcony for whatever it takes. 

The day trip toVerona Town was one beautiful one. The weather was at its high of 34 degrees Celsius, hot and sunny with a light cool breeze. We parked the car at one of the parking garage, put on our sunglasses and hat (ok, just mine hat) and take a stroll with a map in hand.Italyis such a beautiful country, the minute our car lays its wheel onto the Italian ground; I awed at every angle the beauty of the historic architectures and the natural beauty of the scenery. I did not stop snapping on my camera to make sure I capture the beauty my eyes set on so that the memory will stay with me forever. 

The first popular spot we walked past was Ponte Pietra, which is Italian for Stone Bridge. It is also known as the oldest bridge inVerona which symbolizes the history of the city. Ponte Pietra has been destroyed several time by floods and rebuilt time and time again. Today, the bridge looks steady and glorious and definitely did not lose its beauty.

 

We walked on to the many beauty of the city which can clearly only be describe with pictures. So here are more pictures for your viewing 😀

What was really exciting was walking towards verona town which is where Juliet’s Balcony is located. We’d walked through a crowded town with loads of tourist searching for the sign that says Romeo and Juliet. During that time, I’ve also observe the surrounding, there were many branded names along the street. And there is one thing I realise that there is always more than one Gelato shop along the way. You see one and you will see another right at the opposite corner. I guess that’s only because Italian Gelato are too good to refuse. There are always a queue waiting to get a cup of gelato and it is truely worthwhile waiting. So why would we refuse one?

Besides the many shops along the way, I happen to see also beggars in some corners. One of which that strikes me was a pregnant lady running from people to people with a picture of her other 2 children at home with her hands stretching out. Such scene always gives me a sad feel.

Next we arrived at the Juliet’s Garden. Packed with tourist and maybe really not what I’d expect but it does look exactly the same as the one in the movie – Letters to Juliet. I enjoyed every bit of my time there.

I’d really enjoyed my 30mins stay there. You cann only feel the same if you visit it yourself. The next event that we’d plan was The Arena of Verona for our 1st Opera together and yes it’s one best experience ever.

La travita was the Opera we were going to watch. I’d prefer Romeo and Juliet but that will only be play in August. So we had to miss that one. 

I’ve never attended an opera and had thought it must be really grand and I had to wear something formal. To my surprise, the arena is like a big stadium, open spaced and free seating. We bought dinner from a shop nearby and was going to do picnic in the stadium. That was like so exciting.

The grand Arena!

 

Me at the Arena.

 

Look at the Crowd!

Although I did not understand the saprono singing but I’ve bought a book that translate the play in English for my understanding. The setting was grand and totally enchanting despite us not understand abit of the language, yet also the music was really pleasing. Jos was going to get me a CD of the full music play. So I’m still waiting.
 
The opera was really long, money well spent! 😀 We left the show earlier as we were afraid we might have problem finding our car since we need to walk back to the garage in the dark. But then again, it was already 12 mid night. So it isn’t really early.
 
I can only say, the experience was one romantic and lovely one. Thanks to my very sweet boyfriend! xx
 

Four Seasons Versus One Season

Being a Singaporean, experiencing the four seasons is only possible if we travel to countries with four season. The thing about living in Singapore is there is only 1  season,  summer all year round! Its either sunny or rainy but it will stay humid. So, in order for us to experience four seasons…. we travel! Some think its good because then we don’t have to live with the nasty winter storm but I think its boring to only have 1 season.

This summer, me and Jos spend our holiday in Italy and France for a good three weeks. While I cannot stop applying that SPF 50 sunblock on my face, neck, hands, leg and any part of my body that was  exposed to the sun, I can never understand why Jos enjoys lying by the pool, reading a book under the very hot sun without a shirt on. I will only go with him if he can find me a shade from a big tree, big building or whatever that block me from the sun. Strange Singapore girl I am!

All my life, I’ve never really thought I would be able to experience all four seasons because travelling isn’t cheap. But by now, being in Holland every now and then, I realise I have experienced all four seasons which to my delight, I found them quite amazing and really liked them.

Some time in late December last year, almost Christmas time, I experienced winter in Holland. Also the same time where many dutchie are hoping for white Christmas and they did!

The last I experienced snow was 10 years ago in London but this just feels different. Maybe because I was in London with my sister and this time, in Holland with my love. Guess that’s what makes it different. Despite the cold, I actually enjoy the beautiful view of white.

According to a few Dutch friends, this time of the year is also the time where suicide rate goes up due to depression from the cold winter. That I can never understand…. whoever kills themselves because of the weather?  And then I read about S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Strange world!

Its really nice to sip on hot coffee on the couch and looking out of the window, watching the snow. I totally enjoy that. And then, winter ends.

Sometime in end March, its Spring time in Holland.  The white snow are gone, I don’t see white anymore. But, I awe at the sight of beautiful flowers just about any where I go.   The view of the country is once again different but still beautiful. There isn’t alot of sun in Holland, so even during spring time, it is still cold at least for me.

As its the first time I experienced Spring in Holland, I had to visit Keukenhof! So we did… all of the flowers everywhere, the whole field full of colorful tulips didn’t stop catching my eyes.

It is also at this time of the year, the Dutchie does ski-ing on the alps. We did ours at Les Menuires, France. Drove 10 hours to the Alps, enjoyed a week of ski-ing and back to Holland to enjoy Spring Time! If you ask me…. this is Life! I cannot imagine what Singaporeans are missing out, not being able to enjoy these beautiful changing seasons.

And then sometime in late March, early April, Jos turns his clock backwards by an hour. We call that Daylight savings and then Summer came… sometime in June! This day light saving thingy never fail to makes me wonder, why is there a need to do that but now I know. It did feels really strange.

Experiencing Summer Time in Holland for the first time yet again. Each day passes I began to understand why the dutchies loves summer. In my own perception, I think the dutch loves summer because:

1) The sky only starts turning dark at about 930pm and super pitch dark @ 1030pm. And the sun rise at 4am at some point of time! To me that is really cool! Can you imagine the amount of day light they enjoy?

2) To top it up. Summer in Holland is not necessary all sun. Some days, they have nice cool breeze with Sun. Some days they have only SUN and Some days they have horrible rain and thunder storm. (Unpredictable Dutch Weather!)

3) And its also the time where the Dutchies escape from the cold lowlands to other part of Europe where there is just full sunshine! It is also this time of the year the Dutch have long summer holiday from 2-4 or even 6 weeks for the retirees.


See me in cardigan and Freek in just shorts and T-shirt! He is a toughie and me… just a city girl from Singapore who feels cold even with cold breeze. But Summer time and  cold breeze are lovely weather!

This is also the time where there are nice harvest in many of the Dutchies’ garden. I remembered clearly the amazing time I have just harvesting from Hilde’s (Jos’ Sister) prune tree sitting on Jos’ shoulder, the strawberries from Nelly’s (Jos’ Mum) Garden and helping Piet (Jos’ Dad) harvest potatoes from his garden. Too fun and these vegetables and fruit just taste too good when its fresh from the Garden.

So yes, in deed, Summer time in Europe rocks! Now I know why they have long summer holiday and we don’t.

Soon Summer will end and the clock will be turn an hour ahead. The last I experienced Autumn in Holland was sometime in Oct 2009. I cannot clearly remember anything nice about Autumn but again I was only in Holland briefly then, so I cannot really remember. So, I feel a little sad I am gonna miss experiencing Autumn but Jos assured I am not missing much because its depressing to see leaves falling and the trees going all bald.

But fortunately, I am gonna be back in Holland in November this year and I should still experience Autumn in Holland before the Winter comes again. Here is a picture abstract from the web of Autumn in Holland.


So what is Autumn like? Is it really depressing? Brown, yellow and orange like falling leaves? What do you think?