Mama & Daughter Mondays

Mondays have quickly turned into one of my favourite days. I know. It’s weird. Or perhaps not so much. Every Monday is my free day with the Lal Lass, and if the weekend is taken up with housey stuff I try to make sure we do something special on this day to get the week off to a wicked start.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Artis zoo, where we spent an inordinate amount of time watching fish, and ate pancakes. Last Monday, we went for a bike ride around Gaasperplas, which always makes me feel happy we moved here, and stopped off at Boerderij Langerlust for dinner (I’m still northern at heart, if you aren’t, you’ll know it as lunch).

It’s been a while since we were last there, but I won’t leave it so long until our next visit. There is a great outdoor play area for kids, a spacious outdoor terrace and they have their own greenhouse and vegetable plot. But I was most impressed with the service. We ordered a cheese and ham toasty and after 5 minutes the waitress came back and said it would unfortunately take another 10 mins and did I want a free drink while we waited?

Errr… I have pretty low expectations of service in Amsterdam, and was beyond surprised that they: a) thought 10 minutes was a long time to wait and b) felt it should actually be compensated in some way. Result! On top of that, they brought out books and toys for Lola to play with, which was the equivalent to massaging my shoulders whilst I drank the free coffee.

Our toasted sandwiches followed immediately and were molten cheese-tastic and just enough to fuel us for the return journey. If I had to complain – and I really don’t want to – I would say that the lunch menu isn’t very adventurous. But I’m more than happy to pay for the service and the surroundings…and a happy Lal Lass.

And now for today! As we were given a free pass by the sun gods today, I thought another bike ride would be a good idea. So today we biked to Weesp, home of van Houten chocolate and separated from Amsterdam by the Amsterdam-Rhine canal.

We biked through Gaasperpark, passed Boerderij Langerlust and followed the Provincialeweg to Weesperbrug and then stayed left into Weesp. Despite the fact that some of this journey is close to the main road, the ride was peaceful and relaxed and we both really enjoyed it.

The first thing we did was find a playground so Lal Lass could shake loose after being sat on the bike. This was easy enough and after a run-around there, we biked on to Molen t’Haantje, which was cute but not exciting enough right now for Lal Lass.

 So we had a bike through the town, which is small and cute, just as I like ’em.

Many of the shops were closed, as is the case around these parts on a Monday, so after a wander around town and along the river Vecht, we got back on the bike to go towards home. Only we weren’t quite ready for home. The sun was still shining, we were still singing (badly) and so I decided to take a detour at Gein-Noord and follow the river down through the farmlands towards Abcoude.

We carried on to Hoge Dijk, and picked a few buttercups, and then Lal Lass started yawning, so it was time to head home and we headed back to Gaasperplas via Gaasperzoom. All in all, the bike ride was around 15km and really relaxing. So much so, that Lal Lass has been asleep now for almost 3 hours. Aaaahhh….the wonders of fresh air! You can see a map of our bike ride here.

Amsterdam: Playgrounds for Kids, Adults and Inbetweeners

Of course, as soon as I become slightly optimistic about the start of spring and – conspiratorial whisper – warmish weather, the clouds rolls in and the sky turns all morning-after-the-night-before-pale again. So I’m going to reminisce a bit about a sunny time last week.

Last Monday, the little one and I decided to do a playground-crawl around Gaasperplas. We had a Happy Hour at a few places in the ‘hood and because all the other mini-players were in creche for the day, Lola had the run of the parks.

Call her a playground lush, but our girl was in her element and calling last orders felt much like it did when I was a barmaid on a Bank Holiday weekend. Yes, I feel your pain, but my need to go home outweighs that now – plus you look like you could do with a nap.

Lately, I’ve taken a lot of photos of Lola’s back. That’s because it is currently a more common sight as she scuttles off into the distance, giggling to herself and talking all manner of Dutch-in-Furness-style babble. She’s doing her thing and pushing those boundaries and I’m THAT mam. The one I thought I wasn’t going to be…who posts photos, and bores passing acquaintances with milestones, and is just so @#$#ing proud.

And after basking in maternal pride and a nicely busy week at work, the weekend started with another kind of playground. A mama’s playground. Yes…the girls were out on the town!

The first stop of, erm, only two stops, was the Getto on Warmoestraat. When I worked in the coffeeshop in my first year in Amsterdam, this friendly cocktail bar was a regular haunt. Nice atmosphere, a real mix of people and great cocktails. The tone of the night was set by Mel and I and a round of bubble cocktails…I went for the Kylie Minogue.

The next rounds went by in a haze of gossip, giggles and gettoblasters (the bar’s signature cocktail and highly recommended). And then, all of a sudden, it was late, and the need to move on propelled us to Batavia, where we watched MCs, shouted over them at each other, sipped Jagermeister in ladylike-shot-stylee and came up with fine solutions for most global issues.

And Saturday brought with it no hangover and a warm feeling. Score.

Going Ballistic in Gaasperplas

The sky was wearing its unflattering grey look again today, so after breakfast, I took Lola on a bike ride around Gaasperplas to Ballorig, a children’s indoor play centre that sits on the opposite side of the lake.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get there, but we will be back pretty soon. Lola loved it! As soon as we got inside, she clocked the padded slide and ball pool and she was off.

There was a café serving snacks, lunch and kids meals but although I was happy to see salads and sandwiches on the menu, there could have been more in the way of fresh fruit, smoothies and all that kind of healthy shizazzle.

Anyways, Lola didn’t care about any of that, she just loved it all. It was so cool to see her bombing around (since taking her first few steps alone, she has reverted back to crawling quickly rather than suffer the indignity of walking all wobbly) and making friends.

The latter mission was a little unsuccessful as some kids weren’t so fond of her stealing toys and destroying Lego empires. In her defence, it was in a Robin Hood sort of way (those kids were rich as they had the toys, and she was thieving off them to give to the poor, herself, as she had none in that particular moment). At that age, all is fair in love and doll wars.

There is so much I miss whilst at work and going to Ballorig today was a good insight into the social developments that take place each day at creche. Only a few months ago, she wouldn’t let go of me when surrounded by strangers. Now, she throws herself into the action, looking around for me from time to time when something is needed. And there will be a time pretty soon when my guard duties will no longer be required. So I better make the most of them while I’ve still got the job.

Lola the conqueror invades the final fort of the day

Speaking of the future, Ryan painted a brilliant picture of the future of our rockstar daughters in an open letter to Anthony Bourdain over at his blog, Amsterdam Tourist. If it works out, we’re going from lifeguards to groupie parents of DIY musician daughters. I’m down with that.

This Week In Photos

We weren’t the only ones chilling at Kinderboerderij t’Brinkie. We’re really lucky to live almost right in the Gaasperpark. And even luckier to have this petting farm round the corner.

Family nap time

Lola the Explorer

Cine Qua Non

I stumbled across Cine Qua Non on Staalstraat today and fell in love with the window display. As is the norm for these kinds of shops in Amsterdam, it was closed…making it even more alluring.

Metro 53 – Studio Codex

Design by Studio Codex

I travel by metro 4 days a week and I love it.  I used to spend those 20 minutes before and after work listening to my ipod or reading my latest Amazon purchase…until I realised how cool Metrolijn 53 (Gaasperplas-Amsterdam Centraal) is.

Back in 2008, the GVB, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts) and Kunstenaars&CO (Artists & Co) joined forces to renovate the 30-year-old Silver Gulls on the oostlijn and promote local artists. The project was initiated by Tjeerd Herrema.

It’s come at a time when I vowed to take more notice of my surroundings and I thought I’d make it a win-win situation and share the joy. So, enjoy!

Sometimes I need the reminder.