JOYFUL GRATITUDE #180
In the nearly 14 years I’ve been living in Amsterdam, I’ve never seen such a long stretch of warm and sunny weather. Yesterday, as it was a public holiday, the city was bursting with people which meant maintaining a safe distance was a challenge, so it was the perfect opportunity for a mini-adventure around the polder in Nieuw-West. It was a relief to escape to escape the crowds and take refuge in a much quieter area.
I love the feeling of freedom when pedaling without haste, being self-propelled with the light breeze and the warm sun on my skin. It felt so good to get away from the constructed part of the city and closer to nature. We heard frogs croaking loudly among the reeds, passed large flocks of grey geese lounging in the grass by the canals and even saw a tiny baby Shetland pony.
We had a destination in mind, the beautiful Amsterdam Bee Park, but finding it out of bounds (for COVID-19 reasons) didn’t deter us from exploring the area. Instead, we strolled along the wooden pathways of the poetically named Fluisterbos (Whisper Woods), which turned out not to be as calm as its name might indicate. Then we found a quiet stretch of grass that we had practically to ourselves, where we could chill in shade and play Frisbee undisturbed:) A restorative bubble of calm before returning to the bustling city.
Since we have more opportunities to explore close by due to the COVID situation, I really recommend to visit this area if you are looking for a day trip by bike from Amsterdam, there’s loads to do! See more info here, and for more of my own adventures: Fruit picking in Fruittuin van West, Local fresh fruit and Amsterdam Bee Park.
We are finally enjoying some warm summery weather in Amsterdam and that’s the moment when I most wish I had a garden. A small green space of my own where I could relax in the shade without needing to face all the other Amsterdammers who are out and about also searching for their own few square meters of greem.
Luckily the Botanical garden is just a 7 minute ride away, a lovely place to escape from the masses. On Saturday I took refuge there for a few hours, sitting on a rock amongst the blossoming plants, feeling the light breeze on my skin, listening to bumble bees buzz their little hearts out whilst feasting on pollen:) It was a moment of slowing down, breathing deep, being surrounded by nature, just noticing all the simple beauty of the many varieties of plants that grow side by side. I hope one day to have a garden of my own just like that!
Most days I love to take a walk by just heading into my neighbourhood of Amsterdam Zuid and roaming my usual paths. However weekends offer more time to get out of the city for day-trips a little further afield. This weekend for instance we took the train to Castricum station and went for a walk in the Noordhollands Duinreservaat, a place we regularly return to with great pleasure.
I like the fact that the landscape changes a lot as you go along. The first part is in the shade of the trees with bluebells lining the path. Then when coming out of the woods, you find yourself in the flat, sandy landscape, peppered with windswept bushes of all different types creating beautiful colour contrasts, and lakes on which birds gather and play.
After following the winding path, you end up at the final steep dunes which hide the North sea. I love this colour palette of beige and grey sand, dry dune grasses and blue sky with passing white clouds. We took a long walk along the beach, enjoying the sea breeze and the sound of the waves… Paolo exchanged a few words with a fisherman casting his rod from the beach, who when asked what he was trying to catch, answered “Platvis… en zeemeerminnen natuurlik” (Flatfish… and mermaids of course!).
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #78
On Tuesday I got up a little earlier than usual to join a yoga session organised by a colleague on the rooftop of our office before starting work. I count this as one of my favorite yoga lessons of all times! It was wonderful to be outdoors in the sunshine, overlooking the city, and I entered my work day feeling so much more relaxed and grounded than usual.
As our office is just next to Amsterdam Central station, our rooftop is not the quietest of locations, but actually the screeching of the train brakes on the railway tracks and the sound of traffic driving below contributed to the unique atmosphere. The nudge of the gentle breeze helped me to push through the discomfort of the downward-facing dogs, and it was pure pleasure to feel the sun warming my skin as we stretched.
While in warrior pose, focussing on the horizon over the the river Ij towards the North and then looking over rooftops and church spires towards the South, I felt intense gratitude that I get to live in this beautiful city.