The Woodfashioner and I armed with the exciting news that we have a baby on the way, decided we’d set off on a mini break to Holland whilst still being blissfully unaware of the joys we have in store when travelling with a little one in tow.
Living in Harwich has many perks one major one being that we are less than 10 minutes drive from the ferry to The Hook Of Holland which is where our mini adventure started.
We set off on a Sunday night, and with a lovely cabin complete with sea views we had blissful night sleep, arriving in Holland early the next morning to begin our holiday. Not before admiring the awesome cargo ships on the way out of Harwich though, I always love watching them arriving into Harwich so it was such a treat to be up close to them, wondering what each container is filled with and what journey of their own they have endured.
We decided after many recommendations to stay in Utrecht for our little visit and I am so pleased we did. Utrecht is an enchanting city with canal lined, cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and a buzzing atmosphere whilst at the same time being laid back and relaxed. We stayed in a lovely Air bnb and were welcomed by a little present for the baby from our thoughtful host. Utrecht is the home of Miffy a small female rabbit in picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, Nijntje, is a shortening of the diminutive konijntje, “little rabbit”, we were lucky enough to receive a little Miffy mug for the baby, their first present.
Miffy spotted whilst exploring the city
Here they stand together,
On a pedestal of grit
Dick Bruna and Miffy
A father and his kit
We spent the next few days exploring Utrecht, it’s a wonderful city to just amble around, venturing down the pretty side streets and taking in the ambience. Each corner turned throws up another picturesque canal view or stylish home. I was really taken with all the beautiful houses and the stylish Dutch interiors, I couldn’t help but nosily peer in through the windows making mental notes of their clever interior design ideas, all for inspiration for our work in progress at home.
Some typical Utrecht canal views, so pretty!
Beautiful Utrecht homes, love the windows and the mustard frontage
I loved this use of dried flowers in the windows, so simple yet effective.
As I am sure you are well aware the Dutch go everywhere on their bikes and Utrecht was no exception there were beautiful Dutch bikes everywhere, such a lovely way to get around.
Bikes galore! All cyclists were very relaxed and patient though with us dithering tourists.
Loved these beautiful old Dutch shutters
A beautiful cobbled Utrecht street
Utrecht is also the home of the Rietveld Schroder house. Designed in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964), the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht is a UNESCO World Heritage site, considered the architectural masterpiece of modern art movement De Stijl. 2017 marks the hundred anniversary of De Stijl and dotted throughout Utrecht are giant Schroder chairs marking the celebrations. De Stijl, Dutch for ‘The Style’ also known as neoplasticism was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colours. This was clearly evident in the famous Schroder chair…..
Just resting the pegs after a long day exploring
The Dutch also love their beer, so it was a must to visit one of the atmospheric bars in Utrecht and sample some of the delights, obviously not for me with baby on the way, but The Woodfashioner made sure to sample my share too. Just look at the extensive list on offer, what a choice!
The whole time you had the sense you were being watched over…..
Utrecht is perfectly located geographically with easy access to the rest of Holland, only half an hour on the train to Amsterdam we thought it would be rude not to go for the day. It was my first visit to Amsterdam and to me it felt like Utrecht’s older and bigger sister, equally beautiful but on a much larger scale and much busier with slightly less patient cyclists. It was pouring with rain on arrival into Amsterdam so we made a bee line for the Van Gough museum. Sadly though the queue was too daunting for us, two hours waiting in the pouring rain did not appeal so instead we ventured into a Banksy and Dali exhibition we had spotted on route. It was really interesting and dry and to our delight by the time we ventured outside again the sun was back out. We spent a lazy afternoon ambling along the beautiful canal lined streets, stopping for regular food, drink and of course ice cream treats along the way.
Of course no trip is complete without a bit of vintage shopping, so I was thrilled when we stumbled across this beautifully ramshackled, eclectic vintage shop, stacked floor to ceiling with vintage wares. There were items buried from years back, who knows what treasures were left undiscovered in there….
Then we were greeted by this trusty vintage steed outside…..
Armed with a cone of chips each we ventured back on the train to lovely Utrecht with weary legs.
On our way back to the apartment from the station in Utrecht I spotted this lovely old windmill nestled amongst suburban life…
For me no holiday is complete without a bit of open water swimming, after a bit of research I was delighted to learn that just a 20 minute drive from Utrecht was the lovely area of Loosdrecht, a small village on beautiful lakes. We ventured up there for the day. It was stunning, beautifully calm, and perfect for the essential holiday open water swim….
Some curious ducks even made friends with us..
That completes our Dutch adventure, apart from the picturesque arrival back into Harwich, I was even lucky enough to be welcomed back in with my name sake…
Old Harwich and if you look close enough you might even see our welcome party on the pier.
Can’t wait for our next adventure!