Caught the train to Haarlem where cousin Albert lives, and met him and Margreit the two children at the railway station. An amazing old station with lots of woodwork and tiles.
Walked into the city centre with the kids on their bikes stopping at each road crossing waiting for us to catch up… On to the central square where it started raining so we ducked under the awning of a cafe and sat and ordered a coffee. There was thunder and lightning which frightened young Dewertje and then it really started to pour. It was that bad that so much water came between the gap in the awnings above us we had to go inside. Some brave souls stayed outside sitting with umbrellas up under the awning.
It cleared a little so we walked on and into the cathedral and saw how the floor was covered with grave stones of the rich who could afford a plot in the church building (from hundreds of years ago – 1600 to 1700’s). Apparently that’s where the phrase ‘stinking rich’ comes from. These people were buried in the floor of the church and their decomposing bodies gave off a rank smell, so people called them the stinking rich! There was some nice music playing on a fantastic looking organ and we saw a memorial for Fans Hals (the painter).
Then outside the church and stopped by a procession of horses pulling carts (bit like the tractors we saw in Groningen) and then walked through the town to Albert’s place. Had a nice lunch with them and the children enjoyed playing with the boys despite the language difficulties. Unfortunately all our visits have been short but they have been good and meaningful and it’s great that our Dutch family now know our boys and vice versa.
On the way back into the city we stopped at the Frans Hals museum which is housed in a converted single old mens hostel. Great architecture and some more excellent curating with a nice display of the paintings which tell the story f Dutch life and history. The interpretation was well written in English and worth an hour to read it all. We also saw some great paintings, huge dolls houses, room set up as they were in the 1600-1700s, furniture and other bits and pieces that made for a worthwhile visit. We also meandered our way around the city to find the Corrie ten Boom house (her family harboured Jews during the war) and then caught the train back to Leiden. Jane & Geerlof had organised another get together with all my mother’s siblings and their partners. Keith and Emmy were also there so it was fun to catch up with some of the adventures they’ve had since we saw them in Budapest. Great to talk a bit more with my uncles and aunties and again eating lots of nice food.