Monday, March 23, 2009

het stift

we went on this GREAT bike ride over the weekend that we KNOW opa would be suuuuper jealous about -- we rode from hengelo to het stift, a little village dating back to the 12th century. it used to be a beguinehof (like a convent, but for lay women -- they were very common in the middle ages, especially in belgium, and also a bit here in the netherlands too). it was only 15 km away (what is that? like 9 miles? more? less?) which took about an hour by bicycle. we had a picnic under this ANCIENT oak tree that had bolts in it to keep it upright. it looked like it had been struck by lightning a hundred times and was also looked so old that i imagined it might have been planted shortly after the first stone was laid down to build the old church in the courtyard (which used to be a benedictine monastery).

before we left for our bike ride, adam did a quick run to the market since it was saturday and we needed all sorts of produce and bread to get us through the week. while he was out doing that, i got gracie and myself dressed for the day, packed up the diaper bag, and packed a lekker picnic for us all: sandwiches, crackers, lots of fruit, some granola bars, and water bottles for everyone. (gracie loves her own little nalgene bottle that we have for her, and she plays with putting the lid on, and goes "ahhh" when she sees it, which is like her way of saying "drink" because after anyone takes a drink, and does that little gasp afterwards, she has to do it too, so now i think she thinks going "ahhh" is like saying "drink"). after lunch she had a bottle of milk and laid down on the blanket in the sunshine next to her daddy and the two of them took a nice nap while i read a magazine and relaxed. after about 45 minutes gracie woke up, we packed up our mess, and the three of us walked around to see the cute little cottages.

adam and i visited het stift just a few days before gracie was born -- our friend drove us and my mom up there to see this old village, just to get me out of the house and help me forget that i was still pregnant (i was getting a lot stir crazy at that point). and so now this time i actually got to show spruitje what it all looked like, cuz last time we were there spruitje was still in my belly... i thought to myself this time around how SMALL het stift was -- cuz when i was there at 42 weeks pregnant, i thought it was a lot larger than it was. i guess it was just that much harder to walk around, so i must have been a lot slower and more tired. i'm glad we got to go back again so i could see it again -- and REALLY enjoy it this time!

the ride out there was just great: we spent about half of it in the city, but then as soon as we turned off the main road, it was instantly quiet. we rode past dozens of little thatch-roof cottages and farms, and in one field we counted 11 ponies all together! (i told adam that i thought it was cute that the dutch don't have horses, cuz they're too big. they have ponies, cuz they're much smaller and take up less room. cute!) we also saw several goats, a few geese, some cows, and even three black sheep standing in a field. for part of the ride, we were on a dirt road... and i don't mean a dirt road like what we have in the usa, where it's gravel and well-maintained anyway. this was straight up dirt and mud and sand, and the only traffic was a couple of tractors. fortunately there was a bike path on the edge of the muddy road, which was flatter and more compact and more even, but still difficult to navigate with a DANCING toddler in the front seat... (my bike has the child's seat in the front, typical of many bikes out here -- and gracie was singing her own song "la la la la laaaa la laaaa la la" and dancing along by rocking side to side in her bike seat -- which was ADORABLE but it also really made it difficult for me to steer because she was so powerful that my front tire kept rocking from side to side with her movement! AND this bike path we were on was pretty narrow -- muddy road to the left, deep canal ditch to the right -- don't fall!!!) it was definitely an adventure!

we had such a great time! i wish we could have shared it with you! oh, well, i guess you'll just have to enjoy it with us by looking at our pictures instead!


teresa said...

Obligatory angry godmother: WHERE IS HER HELMET?!? Love, Teresa

The A-Team said...

i know, dude! where IS her helmet?! i can't find one out here to fit her! it's soooo crazy! they have them for toddlers, but nothing for a baby. and believe me, i've looked...

she DOES have a helmet, but it totally doesn't fit her. and with the length of the ride we were on, i was actually more concerned about the helmet CHOKING her when it falls off her head than the idea of us getting hit by a car on lonely farm roads.

i know, dude. it sucks. but bike culture fortunately is very safe out here, so i at least find some comfort in that fact...