Eight Days in the Netherlands and One Book

Canal Scene (Gouda, The Netherlands)H and I enjoyed our 2022 stay in The Hague so much we wanted to explore more of the Netherlands but after spending more hours of my life than I care to think about looking for somewhere as nice as Residenz Stadslogement, decided to return and use it as a base again.Planters in front of The Mauritshuis (The Hague, The Netherlands)

The first two days were an enjoyable replay, revisiting the Mauritshuis whose collection includes both The Goldfinch and The Girl with a Pearl Earring, and the Kunstmuseum, a treat just for the building itself with it lovely internal design. After such a miserable wet winter, we were keen to be outside in the June sunshine, taking ourselves off to the Haagese Bos, a lovely area of Haagse Bos (The Hague, The Netherlands)wooded parkland in the city which reminded me of Berlin’s Grunewald, on our first afternoon, and walking through dunes to a seaside cafe on our second. Lots of salt tolerant Japanese roses lined the path offering bees a feast.

We had plans to explore three towns and started with Gouda, famous for its cheese although we decided to avoid the weekly market. It’s a sweet little town – lots ofTown Hall (Gouda, The Netherlands) canals lined with pretty gardens the Dutch manage to coax out of tiny spaces in front of their houses. The main attractions are the town hall which towers over a square much larger than you might expect for such a small town and St John’s Church with its stunning seventy-two stained-glass windows. We finally caught sight of the parakeets I’d been hearing on and off since we arrived, catching the evening sun with their brilliant plumage. They seem to be everywhere these days.

HollyhockUnfortunately, the sore throat I’d been busy ignoring developed into a full-blown infection overnight putting paid to our plans to visit Utrecht and Haarlem although I did manage a totter around the elegant leafy diplomatic district where we spotted a couple of moorhen chicks so tiny they must have hatched a day or two before. Unsurprisingly, H was soon reaching for the throat pastilles. Hard not to feel sorry for ourselves but the announcement of Michael Moseley’s disappearance certainly put our ownMoorhen chicks woes into perspective. Despite, the almost inevitable outcome, I couldn’t help hoping he’d somehow be found alive as I’m sure anyone who’s come across his excellent health advice did, too.

We both struggled out for a meal on our last night unable to face another takeaway and then it was back home via Eurostar, hoping for better luck next time.

Cover image for Happy All the Time by Laurie ColwinAnd the book? You might have thought I’d have occupied the many hours in our hotel room with reading but concentration had gone out of the window. First published in 1978, Laurie Colwin’s entertaining Happy All the Time offered some welcome distraction. This story of two newly wed couples, linked by the husbands’ friendship, has been reissued with an introduction by Katherine Heiny. Suffice to say if you enjoy Heiny’s writing you’ll very likely take to Colwin’s which reminded me a little of Elinor Lipman’s novels.

Back to books on Monday…

48 thoughts on “Eight Days in the Netherlands and One Book”

  1. Oh dear. What a let-down. Funnily enough, we are planning a trip later this year based in either The Hague or Delft, so will be combing this post later for tips. Though hoping to dodge your throat infections!

    1. I blame the jam-packed Eurostar St Pancras waiting area where there was a great deal of coughing and spluttering.

      It’s very easy to explore that part of The Netherlands. I’d say The Hague is a better base. My 2022 post has more tips to offer.

  2. Oh, poor you. It looks like you had a beautiful time though, with plenty of sun! Who plans the trips? And do you rent a car while you’re there or get around on trains and public transport? I’m so keen to do more European travel but have found city breaks (i.e. with no countryside respite at all) actually fairly stressful, and I haven’t got my driving licence yet so getting out of cities is trickier.

    1. Oh, and the book! I actually nearly bought Happy All the Time recently. Must read some Colwin, she seems like the sort of writer that people are fiercely loyal to once discovered. Have you read Home Cooking? I’ve heard that’s one place to start.

    2. The first part was lovely! We both plan them – H tends to do what I call the boring bits but he enjoys delving into rail timetables. We use public transport on the whole. Very much more joined up than here which makes visiting green space much easier.

  3. jenniferbeworr

    Oh my, it is frustrating when you are sick while on holiday. I hope you are now feeling better, and H too. I stayed once in The Hague, with Dutch friends who were based there at the time. My daughter goes to university in Groningen and goes to Amsterdam for concerts. She’ll actually be in the UK on an exchange semester this Fall/Winter. I’m glad you enjoyed the Colwin. I’ve heard good things about her.

    1. At least we were somewhere comfortable. I remember be holed up in a motel in Arizona with something similar. Not an experience I’d wish on anyone. Is your daughter enjoying her time in Groningen? Fingers crossed we’ll be a few months into a better government by the time she arrives here!

  4. What a shame you had to go down with a cold. The only consolation I suppose is that you had a lovely hotel (I couldn’t resist taking a look at it online). Ive spent only one day in The Hague which wasn’t enough to fully enjoy it but I’m hoping to get back next year

    1. We were certainly lucky in that respect. I did feel sorry for the owners, delivering our breakfast to a room full of germs! The Hague is a lovely city in itself and a great base from which to explore. Public transport works in The Netherlands.

  5. I have never been to the Netherlands and it is a place I want to visit, especially to see Vermeer’s work. Hope you are feeling better now. And it is a terrible tragedy regarding Michael Mosley, I was hoping it would not be the inevitable outcome that materialized. Thank you for the book tip, have not heard of Colwin before. Did you make it back to enjoy the Women’s Prize event last couple of days? I viewed it online. I was really rooting for Enright and Sinclair, but all of the writers are worthy winners. I am in the middle of Sinclair’s book at the moment, and it is a brilliant, moving story of growing up in a Rasta family in Jamaica. As I said before, I love non-fiction books about resilience.

    1. It’s a very easy place to get around and well worth exploring. Until recently, I’d been to Amsterdam but nowhere else in the country.

      I like the sound of the Sinclair. I missed the event. My concentration’s still shot from this virus. With luck, it’ll be back soon.

      1. The event is still online. As is the winner of the Walter Scott prize announced this week. Caribbean literature is getting more popular, which is good as its so rich. Poor concentration is a bummer for an avid reader!

  6. Oh, what a shame you were ill! I live in the Netherlands, but right over the other side, near Nijmegen, so have rarely been to The Hague, and never to Rotterdam, nor Gouda, except driving through. It’s a tiny country, I’ve lived here for 37 years, but I’ve seen so little of it because I don’t drive and, to be honest, I’m just not organised enough.
    I can’t get Michael Mosley out of my head, either. He was so close to safety. RIP.

    1. It must make it so hard for his family.

      What took you to the Netherlands? I’ve often thought it would be a nice place to live and have visited Amsterdam many times which is not really seeing the country! I’m sure I’ll be back to explore more.

  7. That’s rotten luck, but a great travel journal for us all the same. I don’t think I’ve been to The Hague but I do love The Netherlands, so I’ll take all the tips – thanks!

  8. Sorry illness scuppered part of your trip! It looks like you got in a few good sunny days before coming back to ‘June’ in the UK. (But with that dangerously hot Greek weather I learned about because of the unfortunate headlines, I’m grateful to have cold and wind rather than a heatwave.) I’ve enjoyed several of Colwin’s works before but haven’t gotten to that one. We fancy Germany and Denmark for our next European rail adventure (2025).

    1. Thanks – we were never so glad to get home as this time. Poor H was in a sorry state when we arrived. I know what you mean about the Greek temperatures. Makes me quail. Germany/Denmark sounds great.

  9. So sorry to hear you weren’t well! I also spent a lot of my first trip to the Netherlands being unwell! It looks like you saw some lovely places, though.

  10. Sorry to hear your trip was derailed by illness, always disappointing when that happens. What you managed to enjoy looked lovely though and I hope you are feeling better now x

  11. Sorry about the illness mid-trip. It certainly spoils things–happened to me on a two day Paris trip and I had to stay in bed for an entire day. Glad you managed to to do some exploring, though. Hope you can enjoy Utrecht and Haarlem the next time.

      1. I did manage to see the Eiffel Tower and the gardens at Versailles (it was a monday so couldn’t go in–sunday was when I was ill), Notre Dame too, so not too shabby overall

          1. I was lucky–the tower we went the evening we came in–and Notre Dame and Versailles the day we were leaving. The friends I was travelling with chose to enjoy a barbeque instead of sightseeing the day I was ill..

    1. Thank you. While southern Europe is roasting, our summer’s getting off to a very slow start which may explain the winterish bugs around. And thanks for the Kitamura recommendation. I don’t think I’ll go back for a third time but happy to take a literary return visit!

  12. Oh what a shame. I’ve only been to the Amsterdam and Aaslmeer end of The Netherlands, and somewhere else, the name of which escapes me but was very nice. I didn’t much like Amsterdam but we were staying just off the main square, exciting to some but at the time we were living in Covent Garden so it was a bit too similar!

  13. I am sorry you were ill on your holiday. Those pictures are lovely, showing what a lovely place to visit the Netherlands must be. Hope you’re much better now.

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