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.

Family Days, Story Reading & Pancakes

Last weekend saw the opening of our new office in The Bank on Rembrandtplein. Family and friends were invited to join in the fun and there were activities throughout the building, including cupcake decorating, face painting and Bollywood and Hiphop dance workshops.

Unfortunately, my lil family was absent due to an over-tired toddler and husband, so I adopted another family for the afternoon (thanks Miek and Danny!) The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, opened the building and did a speech, which included 3 mentions of the word “arse”. After which, lots of blue and white balloons were released into the sky, which looked pretty cool.

Watching tired but happy children leaving with new designs painted on their faces, and holding their cupcakes, it was safe to say the day was a success and despite missing my lil one, I had a nice time busting some Bollywood moves.

To make up for her no-show on Saturday, Lola took me out for some quality time on Sunday afternoon. First stop was the English Bookshop, where children’s writer, Hennie Jacobs, read from her book for bilingual children Thuis bij Betty & Cat.

As she was about 2 years too young for this storyreading session, Lola instead indulged in her newfound passions, climbing stairs, nicking toys from other children and yelling across the room at me. Throughout this experience, I wore my serene “yes my child, I’m lovingly listening to you whilst wishing a hole would open up in the floor below me” expression.

After the reading was over, Lola had a great time in the book/toy corner (well, she was already loudly doing that, but it was a bit less socially awkward after that). The ground floor of the bookshop really is a cosy place to help get young children into reading.

After the almost-success of storytime, we ventured to Pancakes! Amsterdam on Berenstraat for, well, pancakes. I’d read that it was a child-friendly place, but as is the case for many cafés in the 9 straatjes, it’s a pretty small space too, especially with a stroller and being surrounded by concerned diners, worried that their peaceful Sunday brunch is about to be tantrumed on.

The staff, however, were amazing. They helped stow away the stroller, made some space upstairs and brought us a high chair and some plastic cutlery for the Lil Miss. They were also just very friendly, which was refreshing for a busy café in the town centre.

Whilst she was settling in, Lola did what she would normally do to bring in the crowds – a bit of chucking of things onto the floor accompanied by cries of “oh-ooooooh” and some random chatter at fellow diners. All those endearing things that the general public just love to deal with during brunch….

After a while though, and with the promise of pancakes, she was relaxed and happily scoffing away and it felt more like I was having lunch with a surprisingly young friend rather than my daughter, and I started thinking of all the other adventures we were going to have in the future. Exciting times!

We ordered pancakes with natural yoghurt and strawberries (sneaky mama’s came with sugar whilst lil one’s was without…while I can still get away with it, ahem), and they were heeeeerlijk!

 

After lunch, the staff helped Lola into her stroller whilst I paid up. The tip was well-deserved and I definitely recommend the place.