Saturday, June 09, 2007

visitors! (kasteel twickel)

Joe, J.J, and Camille came out to Twente not just to see the amazing Briggles but also to swim around in some authentic Dutch rural culture. No place finer suited for that than one of our favorite local dives, castle Twickel, which has been the subject of previous posts. We lounged a bit in the morning, and if my memory serves me well (which it usually does not) we had a little breakfast complete with Hagel Slag. These fun little buddies are basically donut sprinkles that you can use to adorn toast or bagels. Just spread on some butter and then sprinkle on the Slag, and viola! (as they say way too often in Bordeaux). Camille said I put too much Slag on my bagel but I told her "shmer," which got the point across well enough.

We then packed up a picnic basket (that Amber bought in Bordeaux) with some fruit, cheese, bread, and tasty beverages. The train runs direct to Delden for less than 2 euros. From the Delden station, we strolled through a bit of that quaint little village, still flush with old money from the days of textiles and trade. We picked up cold sodas at a little corner store as it was warming up. Then, we dropped into a bakery that Amber and I had visited once before when my folks were in town. J.J. picked out some monstrously decadent dessert, which prompted Amber and Camille to up the anty with a towering strawberry cream sugar bomb. I ordered us a lekker loaf of brood.

The castle was closely guarded by about a dozen cows wearing bells and chewing cud. I thought the bull looked like Luke, our old bull out at the Villa farm. We went into the gardens and first ate our picnic in a shady spot by the pond that overlooked the castle and the more formal gardens. Joe's camera kept running out of batteries but he was able to fool it by turning it on and snapping a picture real quick before it could remember that it was supposed to be out of juice.

Sated, we then strolled the manicured gardens, which were now complete with the fruit trees in giant pots, which spend the winter in the greenhouse. Some workers were there doing something with the moat (perhaps filtering it?) that was only mildly irritating to the otherwise nonplussed waterfowl. I think I saw black swans, but J.J. said they were just geese. I decided not to believe her. We saw the non-existence of frogs as is usual with these elusive animals. You hear a quick "skwooop" and see the water ripple, but you rarely see them, only their signs. My allergies, anyway, were beginning to fog my eyes as well as my mind. It seems that these northern latitude areas (as with Minnesota and Alaska) explode in a promiscuous profusion of pollen and leaves when the sun finally returns from a winter of lurking at the margins of the horizon.

After lounging for a bit on the grass, short as a golfcourse green, we needed to head home in time for Amber's massages that evening. Joe, J.J., Camille and I spent a couple of hours walking through Hengelo and sitting at a bar outside on their "plicker" (plastic wicker) furniture. Camille ordered a screwdriver and got screwed instead (no alcohol was detectable). There was some running race in town and runners were just finishing up in the Marktplein as we walked toward dinner. We ate at my favorite Italian joint, outside, and by good fortune Amber was able to join us as one of her clients had to cancel at the last minute. This was followed by some icecream for the girls and some philosophical chatting for the guys. Oh, but there was more to come for our visitors in the near future...

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