There was a moment there when I thought I would never again sleep after 4am. Lying awake, listening to the church bell dime four times was like torture, knowing I would not go back to sleep. My main concern, of course, was that I would at some point have to move or sneeze, which would wake Elka. It’s funny how the priority of travelling AC (After Children) becomes ensuring the child in question gets enough sleep. When travelling BC (Before Children), the priority was deciding which museum to go to and which pub to drink at.
We are well rested now. I suppose that was the famous Jetlag in action.
We are in The Netherlands…a country of bikes, cheese and rainy weather. I love it here. I love the healthy faces bitten by cold as people ride just about every where – holding hands, talking on phones and never wearing helmets. I love the endless variety of cheese. I don’t love the rain, because after an Australian summer of endless rain, I am over it. But I love the neat gardens – tiny packages of blooming magnolia, perfect hydrangea and weeping cherry blossoms. I love the old buildings, huddled together as if keeping warm. I love the stylish, interesting shops full of beautiful quality things. I love walking through the forest on paths lined with birch, with leaves so fragile and iridescent against the grey clouds. A bunny hops past into the fields of jonquils. As I ride on my bike with Elka on the back. I imagine myself living here, and I dream about how we can make it possible.
I particularly love the family we are staying with. When I say family, I mean my sister-in-law and the five friends she lives with. They run a company together that creates art and light and beautiful glass works. They eat together, share all the chores and responsibilities and live…harmoniously. There is so much warmth in this old Dutch home, with steep, narrow staircases and ornamental marble floors. People kiss each other on the mouth to greet each other. They share the conversation, like a loved animal passed around the table. Despite lack of sleep, Elka has thrived in this beautiful home. She cuddles up with any of the family members, sits on their laps and tells them a story excitedly. She refuses to let me put her in bed because she knows she will miss out. She tells them she loves them. She sings silly songs about them. Within a day, she felt at home.
We leave here tomorrow for the next instalment – two weeks in Austria, staying in another communal home, which is the home of Greg’s father. But after a week, perhaps I will be scheming about moving there instead.