Sewchet

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Yarn Shopping In Amsterdam

I was just catching up on some blogs when one particular post by Zeens and Roger struck a chord. Rosina has just come back from a weekend in Amsterdam and it reminded me that I never blogged about my trip there back in December, so I thought “Better late than never” – and here it is!

Mr. H-L works for a Dutch company which is based just outside Amsterdam and he travels there on a regular basis. Back in early December I decided to join him, but with plans for something a little more exciting than business. I contacted a fellow blogger, Marianne Dekkers-Roos who blogs at MaRRose, and we arranged to meet at my hotel about half an hour after our flight landed. She was already there waiting for me by the time we got to our hotel!


Marianne is just lovely – and very tall, as are all the Dutch so it would seem! After a quick coffee, we hopped into Marianne’s car and drove the short journey into Amsterdam.

I gratefully accepted Marianne’s offer of the scenic route past some of the more historic parts of the city. A dull day doesn’t show the palace off at its best, but what struck me was how it blends into the other buildings (it used to be the town hall) and isn’t sealed off from the public at all. I know it’s not a place of residence for the Dutch royal family any more, but official occasions are still held there and I would have thought security would be more of an issue.


Having been before, I didn’t take many photographs, but still admired the distinctive architecture that tells you that you can only be in The Netherlands.


The Amsterdam Light Festival had started the previous day, running until mid January. Described as “A Winter festival of light, art and water”, we were treated to some fabulous displays on our walk through the city.


As it was the 2nd of December, Christmas decorations were everywhere, but this one was particularly spectacular, spanning as it did through three floors of a shopping centre!


On to the main purpose of our visit – yarn shopping!

Of course, the first stop HAD to be the famous Stephen & Penelope’s, run by Stephen West and Maria Joseph (no, not Penelope!).

What a shop!! 

Skeins of luxury yarn in every shade imaginable and in row after row of highly organised colour. Stephen’s inimitable designs were showcased and, tempted though I was to buy this book, I knew the likelihood of my making anything from it was low.

The shop goes back around the corner as well so this is just a portion of what’s on offer.


In fact there was SO much that it was a bit overwhelming and, as I didn’t have a project in mind, I didn’t actually buy any yarn.

BIG mistake – I have regretted it ever since!!

I did, however, succumb to the charms of this beautiful book about brioche knitting. It certainly is a lovely book, although I have yet to try the brioche stitch, let alone make a scarf out of it.


I also bought these needle gauges – they were on my list before I left England. How cute?


Obviously, I needed to buy a project bag to carry them home in.


Our next stop was Hooks and Yarns which had not been open very long at the time of our visit. If you go, don’t be put off by the Dutch language website as they speak good English and are very friendly.


The style of decor was very modern – stark concrete and exposed steelwork which contrasted brilliantly against the softness and bright colours of the yarn. Resident dog behind the stair gate!


I can’t remember the names of the owners, but they were so friendly and hospitable that they insisted we stayed for coffee and we ended up chatting for over an hour!


Marianne dropped me back at my hotel later that afternoon and we said goodbye. Did I mention that she has a book on crochet coming out soon? Look out for it – it’s sure to be fantastic.


The following morning I ventured out alone whilst hubby went to another day of meetings. The local shopping mall was festooned with all things Christmassy – Sinterklass’ companion Black Pete being a Dutch tradition.

I found some crocheted stools for sale.

I wasn’t tempted, but isn’t this display a good one?


I found a quiet spot for a nice cup of tea.

Look at the selection I was offered!


This was my little haul from the shopping mall – did you spot the buttons that I put in my Stitching Santa parcel?


Back at the hotel again, I sampled a few G+Ts whilst waiting for the husband to finish work.


Finally, at the airport we had supper before our flight. See the tablet on the table? That’s how you order nowadays, apparently!


You make your selection which you can add to at anytime, and it’s brought over to you. Simple, but brilliant.

A few days at home, then we flew to Lapland…..another trip that I must get around to blogging about eventually….


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Anniversary in Amsterdam

Two years ago on May 3rd I married Mr H-L, on the tenth anniversary of our first date.

After twelve years, I still get butterflies in my tummy when I see him:)

Wedding

We decided there and then that we would celebrate every wedding anniversary in style and go away on our own – life after The Big C is very precious and each anniversary is a bonus.

Larm301a

Life before The Boys included the odd city break to Barcelona, Venice, Bruges and the like so, for our first anniversary we went to Geneva – this year we chose Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, often mistakenly referred to as Holland. Watch this brilliantly amusing clip to find out why https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE_IUPInEuc

We swear by the DK ‘Eyewitness’ Travel Guides – they’re perfect for us as we want to pack in as much culture as is humanly possible in three days!

DK book

Getting there couldn’t be simpler – trains leave from Schiphol airport and go direct to the centre of Amsterdam from where our hotel was just a short walk.

Amsterdam Centraal Station is a pretty fine piece of architecture itself and looks especially lovely lit up at night.

station

After checking in at 10pm, we went exploring…..

canal by night

….and sat outside a bar overlooking a canal with a pint of the local beer.

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Saturday was spent doing the sights.

Anne Frank's Huis

canal view

Another beer and a spot of lunch in between sightseeing.

bar

No prizes for guessing where we are in this photo – the completely wonderful Van Gogh museum in which we immersed ourselves for the entire afternoon.

Van Gogh

We discovered an amazing Tapas Bar down a side street, met a lovely Dutch couple and ended up staying until nearly midnight eating, drinking and chatting.

Tapas

Sunday saw a turn in the weather, but it didn’t stop us walking the suggested canal route in the DK book, the pages of which were soaked through by the end.

The walk took us past many notable buildings and we also took a slight detour to a museum that the guide recommended.

The house in the centre of the photo below was left to the city in the will of it’s last owner in about 1890, on condition that it was opened to the public as a museum – the Willet-Holthuysen museum.

museum

Two of the floors are left exactly as they were, the lower ground floor was reconstructed to the same period and the top floor displays all her art.

It’s well worth a visit as it shows how the Merchants typically lived at that time. It also gives you an idea of what all the other houses would have looked before over a hundred years of constant modernising took it’s toll and saw them chopped up into offices and flats.

merchant's house

More beer in a bid to shelter from the rain…..

beer

….which led to emergency use of the (very) public facilities!

loo

The same night was our actual anniversary and my lovely husband booked an evening canal cruise inclusive of five courses and as much prosecco and wine that you could drink!

Unfortunately, even a newly purchased dutch umbrella couldn’t stop the damp air making frizz out of my hair:(

cruise

The food was spectacular – have you ever heard of Broccoli Panna Cotta with Piccallilli?!

Cruise food

Amsterdam must be a romantic hot-spot because, aside from the usual Hen parties and Stag groups, we witnessed a proposal on our dinner cruise…..

proposal

….and a newly married couple being whisked away by tuk-tuk, complete with tins trailing along noisily behind.

wedding tuk tuk

Monday saw us taking the obligatory trip out to the bulb fields to see the tulips. Altogether now – “When it’s Spring again, I’ll bring again, Tulips from Amsterdam”.

tulip fields

bulbfields

Keukenhof was the destination though, a 70 acre wooded park about half an hour from the city, which only opens for eight weeks of the year whilst the tulips are in bloom. How lucky were we that it coincided with our trip!

pinks

purples

vista

These flower ‘beds’ made me smile.

flower beds

windmill

2015 marks 125 years since the death of Van Gogh and Keukenhof planted an incredible floral tribute.

Van Gogh floral

The blossom on the cherry trees was magnificent and reminded me of his painting “Almond Blossom”.

almond blossom

On the walk back from the tour bus to collect our suitcases we spotted those fatal words “Seafood Bar”, an unassuming place hiding behind row upon row of bicycles.

(Did I mention the 22,000,000,000 bikes for the Dutch population of 17,000,000,000?!)

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There was no way we were ever going to walk by and not go in!

Seafood

Just look at his face and the anticipation of dripping all that lobster sauce down the paper bibs they give you.

Bruce

Champagne and Mixed Grill – the perfect end to a perfect wedding anniversary.

Now, where shall we go next year?