Netherlands – Xmas Holidays

img_3639The end of 2016 was quite hectic for me. Mainly because I had to find another job before I could book my ticket to Holland. At some points it was so stressful, but in the end I got to choose between 2 jobs. It was hard, but I did it and then I could finally book my flight to Holland for the Christmas holidays.. and a little longer, as my new job doesn’t start until the 16th (yes.. that’s today!). So I booked a flight from the 20th of December until the 9th of January. Steven, my boyfriend, left the 16th for his holiday to Brazil and was going to come back just 2 days before me. So the time in Holland would be a good distraction from missing him. Even though I basically did something every day and it sometimes felt busy, it was also quite a relaxed holiday, because I had 3 weeks. And because it’s 3 weeks and that’s quite long, I will write a little bit of what I did every day, like a journal. Of course I do have a few hotspots too! I will list them in the end, so you can easily find them.

img_3678December 20
I was so excited about this day. I was just very much looking forward to Holland. Partly cuz I already  missed my boyfriend like crazy and because I love Christmas! I left very early as my flight was at 7:40 in the morning. I like to book early flights, because otherwise the day is so long before you can finally leave and also because then you don’t feel like you’re spending the whole day traveling. I had 2 (heavy) suitcases and my handbag, but I managed to get to the airport at a perfect time. The flight was very relaxed and that 1 hour I was in the air, I even snoozed a little bit. At the airport my sister and my niece were waiting for me. It was such a nice surprise to have my niece running to me with her face all brightened up. What a lovely moment! We drove straight to Rikus, my mum’s work. I wrote about Rikus before, but for the people who don’t know yet, Rikus is a hotel – restaurant, in a former farm. It’s a beautiful renovated building, with lots of peace and amazing nature around it. So in case you ever want to escape the big city and go for total silence.. book a room! (I’ll list them as a hotspot again) It was so nice to see my mum, even though I’ve seen her not that long ago. It always feels like I haven’t seen her for ages. We went back home for some tea, before we went to the hairdressers. My mum wanted to cut her hair. I didn’t agree with it, as I like my mum’s hair long. So with me not taking my eyes of the scissors it was being cut. In the end, I must say, though I prefer it the way it was, it was looking very nice. It reminded me I have to cut my hair myself. I always do that myself and I might write an article about it one day if you guys will like that?! After the hairdressers we went to the snackbar, what is so Dutch. You can compare it with the Fish&Chips shops available in the UK. Only at the snackbar you get mainly fries, and you choose some sort of snack with it. There are no vegan options if it comes to the snacks, but I love fries so much, that I don’t mind. I brought my own Vegenaise mayonnaise and I really enjoyed the veryyy yummy fries. What a great end of my first day.

img_5242December 21
I decided to go to Germany today with my mum, my sister, my niece and Odette (a very nice colleague of my mum). It’s only an hour drive. Just across the border, in Leer, there is a very big shopping mall, where apparently things are a lot cheaper. I never went, so I was curious. Nobody knew exactly where to go to, so we first ended up in the centre of Leer. What was actually very nice. Next to where we parked the car was the Bio Markt, where I got some nice vegan goodies. Yummm! I bought a new shirt at H&M and I’m very happy with it. Though I had to keep a close eye on what I spend, I had to get this shirt. I wore it a lot already, it’s one of my favourites now, so worth it. I also bought this cute wooden sign what says ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, on sale. We eventually used the TomTom to find this big shopping mall, called ‘Familia’. We first had some tea there and then we did some more shopping. I didn’t think it was that much cheaper, but I did get some nice things. It was still nice to be in a huge supermarket, I love that. We had so much fun too, good laughs! In the evening my mum and I did the Christmas tree.. I know, a little late. It was very nice though. As we’re celebrating Christmas, the gifts have to go somewhere.. haha!

img_4579December 22
Today my dad got the most amazing news ever! It needs a little explaining first.. my dad is ill and he can’t work anymore because of too much pain. It became impossible. Though in Holland it isn’t easy to just stop working. What is a good thing, but if what you have makes it sometimes a lot of times impossible to even function normally during the day, there comes a point where you need to stop working. My dad reached that point about 2 years ago already, but he kept trying. He is an all round carpenter/builder, specialised in renovating, so it’s heavy work. The whole process of being able to stop working, but still to receive the money you have the right to, is long and sometimes very unfair. It was super stressful, what made the illnesses worse. But today.. he finally received the letter, after all his hard work, that he didn’t have to work anymore, but would still receive his payments! To get this incredible news just before Christmas is just so amazing! You probably understand that there were a lot of happiness tears! It made the day very special. Another very nice thing was that Julian, my brother, and Marsha, his girlfriend, performed together on stage for the first time and it was so lovely. They sung a beautiful song whilst Julian also played the guitar! I watched the little video about a 100 times. So proud! In the evening my mum and I watched one of my favourite Christmas movies, ‘Love Actually’. Gosh I love that movie!

December 23
Apparently everything we did for Christmas needed to be late, because we went to get groceries today. Normally I’m never like this, especially not when it comes to Christmas (remember I started to do my Christmas shopping in October?). Lucky us, we didn’t need a lot of things other people needed too, so everything was there and it was very cheap. We had enough food for 8 people (ok and we still ate from it 2 days after, so we could have had 12 people over I think). All together it was something like 80 euros, which I think is such a good price. In the afternoon I looked after my nephew Jinan. We went to the little village supermarket, because he wanted to get Julian and Marsha something for Christmas. What is so sweet, as he’s 9. My heart melted of course. He picked sweets and chocolate and we wrapped it together. They were the first presents under the tree. When we got home I worked on my blog and he also did some things on the laptop. In the evening I cooked us some dinner and we ate it together, he’s so sweet! In Holland ‘The Voice of Holland’ is on at the moment and so my mum and I watched that together. A lovely relaxed evening in front of the telly. Did you know the program originally comes from Holland?

img_3836December 24
I planned to drive to the north today, to Uithuizermeeden to be precise. To deliver some last Christmas cards (again, I know.. late!) and my best friends and my grandparents live there. When I wanted to post my aunt and uncle’s Christmas card they just got out of the car with 2 of my cousins, so we had a little chat, was nice to see them. Then I drove to my grandparents and I stayed there for a few hours. I love my grandparents and I always see them every time I visit Holland. It’s important to me. In the afternoon I went to the house of my friends, Nienke, Jeroen and their 1 year old daughter, Annemarie. We had a late lunch together and did lots of chatting. They got me some very nice gifts and Nienke made me a very nice hand-made card and tags. I also always see them when I go to Holland. I know Nienke since I was a toddler and Jeroen since I was 13. I love them! One of the reasons I also love to go to the north is because I love to drive the car, haha! As it’s Christmas evening my parents and I decided to watch a Christmas movie together. I actually wanted to watch ‘Elf’, but my dad is not a big fan and so we looked on Netflix. I actually like movies I already watched before (haha!), but there was this movie called ‘The Spirit of Christmas’, what looked nice and none of us watched it before, so we gave it a try. Turned out to be such a nice movie, with a very nice actor.. hehe.. So I want to recommend it for next Christmas, in case you’ve watched ‘Home Alone’ too many times already.

img_3831December 25
It’s Christmas! ..but guess what.. in Holland we’ve got 2 Christmas days. 1st Christmas day and 2nd Christmas day. Today my sister still had to work and so we decided to celebrate Christmas on 2nd Christmas day. Felt a bit weird to do nothing on the 1st, but I was looking forward to tomorrow. At lunchtime we went to Rikus, as Freek was having lunch there with his son, his son’s wife and his grandchild. Freek used to live across the street, but he moved to a home for elderly now. My parents still visit him 2 times a weeks and sometimes I come with them. We just went to say ‘hi’ and I had a Christmas card for him. In the afternoon I wrapped up all my gifts, what was lot of work, but I like it.

img_4038December 26
Yay!! Was looking forward to this day and I started cooking straight away. I made sweet potatoes with a nice black bean filling (recipe), a beetroot salad with dill (recipe) and an aubergine curry with rice. It wasn’t even that much work and I really enjoyed it. I was also very excited to meet my brothers girlfriend, Marsha, as it would be the first time I would meet her. So I got myself ready, my mum was doing the table in the meantime and everybody was walking in around 16:00. We decided to first do presents, because doing dinner before presents, whilst there are a 9 and 2,5 year old excited for presents, the dinner will not be very peaceful. There were soooo many presents! We should have gotten at least 3 big Christmas img_5243trees to make it fit. It took us 2 hours to open everything, but it was so much fun. I got so many lovely things! Really appreciate them all. The only thing is that I wish that Steven could have been there too, missed him so much! Everybody liked the dinner and to make it even more perfect.. my sister made a chocolate pie with chocolate icing! Deeelicious! I’m so lucky to have an understanding family. My dad and I are the only vegans, but everything was vegan and everybody is ok with that. I feel so grateful for that! We had a very good time at the dinner table. Marsha, who’s so nice btw and a perfect fit for our family, brought her guitar and we sang lots of songs together. Was so much fun! This was one of the best Christmases I’ve had. Would have been totally perfect if I didn’t have to miss Steven though. I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas too. Tell me about it if you like!

img_3976December 27
On the 21st of August it was my nephews birthday, but I never gave him a present. I promised Jinan to go to the cinema for his birthday, but the last time I was in Holland we didn’t have enough time. Of course I didn’t forget and because it’s the Christmas holidays, there was enough time now. So we went today. He picked the movie ‘Pets’ and it was on in Assen at 10:45. Jinan absolutely loved the movie, I thought it wasn’t that good actually, haha! It was nice to be there with him though and see him laughing and having fun. After, we ate some fries at the snackbar across the street and it was so nice to spend some quality time with him. Before we went back to the car we walked to ‘Eko Plaza’, a health supermarket. We got some vegan mayonnaise, chocolate, red chilli pepper sausages and I got a hair mask from Weleda. My hair is quite dry from drying it with the blow dryer and I decided to look after it a lot better. So regular hair masks will be a good treat for my locks.

December 28
Quite a relaxed day today, I didn’t do much. Christmas is finished, but I still didn’t watch one of my favourite Christmas movies, ELF. This movie is so stupid, that it’s hilarious! Haha.. My sister and Jinan never watched it before, so in the evening we went to their house to watch it. We had tea, some yummy snacks and we laughed so much. It was a lovely evening!

December 29
Because I love Nienke so much, we planned another visit today. This time she was coming my way. She also brought Annemarie. We had lots of tea, lots of biscuits and we did lots of chatting! Melody, my sister, also came with Joëlla for a little bit and the 2 girls together are just so much fun. It’s like watching an entertainment show!

img_4148December 30
Starting the day, like every day so far, with a lovely sleep in. Opening the blinds woke me up instantly though, it was very white outside from all the frost. It looked beautiful, but it meant it was very cold outside. I don’t like cold. The only thing what excites me about it, is that I can take some nice pictures. So around lunchtime I went with my dad to walk the dogs. I took some nice wintery pictures, but we went home quite fast again, as is was way too cold. At home we made tea to get warm again and we kept chatting for a few hours, lovely! In the meantime Steven send me pictures of palm trees and sunny markets.

img_5244December 31
Tonight it’s New Years Evening! Yay! I love to end a year, to start with a new one. In the afternoon we were all invited by my mum’s work. My mum works at ‘Rikus’, but the owner has another Hotel-Restaurant, called the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’. The party was at the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’, same as last year. Before we went there I made some cinnamon rolls (recipe) for tonight. In Holland, at New Years Evening, we eat oliebollen. Oliebollen are typically Dutch and are some sort of fried cakes. They are not vegan, so that’s why I made the cinnamon rolls instead. I should veganise oliebollen though, that would be nice. Maybe next year! At the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’ it was really nice, but after 2 hours we went home for dinner. We always eat the same thing at New Years Evening and everybody is always very much img_4358looking forward to it. We eat mushroom ragout with pastry cups. My dad always makes it from scratch. He used to make it with chicken, but as we’re both vegan he veganised the recipe and it’s delicious! My mum, brother, Marsha and me played a card game in the evening, what was very fun. After that we watched ‘Ik hou van Holland’ (I love Holland), a game show. They always make a special New Years Evening version of the show and it’s very nice and very funny. We kept watching that until it was 00:00!!! After wishing each other a very Happy New Year, I got a message from my amazing boyfriend. He wished me a Happy New Year all the way from Brazil (where it’s 3 hours earlier). Loved that so much! Then we went outside to img_4355watch the fireworks and to wish the neighbours a Happy New Year too. Eext is a very small village, but quite a lot of people have beautiful firework. Julian and Marsha had a wishing balloon and they asked me to help them. So we went to the dark field behind the village and we tried and tried, but the wind was just too strong and unfortunately it didn’t work. My hands got so cold, that they were stinging a lot. I was scared they might fall off. Happy to be back in the streets, I joined my mum at the neighbours house and we stayed there for a little bit. Around 2:00 we were in bed, but I wanted to wait until it was 3:00, so I could wish Steven a Happy New Year too. Around 3:30 I finally fell asleep.. cheers to a New Year!

January 1
Heading to the north again! To wish my grandparents a Happy New Year. We picked up Melody in Groningen as she celebrated New Years Evening with friends. My aunt, Renske, my uncle, Rudie, and my cousin, Blessing, were also at my grandparents and later on another aunt walked in too. So lovely to see everybody, to catch up and to wish them all a HNY! In the end I quickly went to Nienke, Jeroen and Annemarie for an hour. Had some tea there and we said our goodbye as I wouldn’t see them again until the next time I’ll come to Holland. We left in the beginning of the evening and we took Blessing with us. He always likes to stay over for a few days when it’s the holidays. He is such a nice child. He just turned 12 and it makes me realise how fast time is going, as I remember the day he was born so well.

img_4419January 2
My sister, Melody, picked me up in the morning to get groceries, because my cousin, Santos and his girlfriend, Charlotte, and also Julian and Marsha, were coming for dinner tonight and we were going to cook. It’s hilarious and partly exhausting to go to shops with Joëlla, haha, but we got everything we needed and so as soon as I was home again I started to cook. I made this yummy aubergine curry (recipe coming soon) again and the raw RainBOWL (recipe) salad. They came around 4:30 and after some chatting we had dinner. Melody made a nice pasta salad, yummy pizza and a dElicious apple pie. Everybody enjoyed it and almost everything was all finished in the end. That’s a good sign! We drunk some tea after and I must say that it was a really lovely evening, lots of fun!

img_5245January 3
In Groningen they opened the first Vegan Supermarket! Yay! My dad and I went to check it out. It wasn’t very big anddd.. they had ‘Oatly Foamable’! I didn’t succeed finding it anywhere else in Holland and there it was. I was so happy! It’s the best milk ever! So I got 3 packs. I also got some nutritional yeast and chorizo slices for my parents and 2 croissants. Apart from the ones you can roll out and bake yourself in the oven, I didn’t have a normal croissant since going vegan. I really liked this supermarket. The staff is amazing and very friendly. The man let us taste some mayonnaise and told me about the vegan supermarket in London (why didn’t I know this?! They will definitely will be a hotspot soon!). After walking outside with lots of vegan goodies we decided to go for a drink. We went to ‘Coffee Company’. It’s a very nice cafe. Lovely green tea and a cool interior. You can img_5246sit upstairs, where you can find benches and comfy chairs and downstairs you can sit at a long table. You can also plug in your laptop at the work tables next to the windows and work from there. Very popular with the 347962352 students living in Groningen. We ate our delicious croissants there and talked about all the holidays we had together when I still was a child. Lovely times! On our way back we popped into this very nice store called ‘Yantra’. You can get all sorts of nice jewellery, Buddha statues, singing bowls, crystals and a lot more. Such a beautiful store. I got myself some lovely smelling incense. Just before we got in the car I was able to quickly take some pictures of the many graffiti art around that place. Love it! In the afternoon I introduced my mum to the series of ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Steven introduced it to me and because I miss him so much I like watching it again. Luckily my mum loved it! We watched the first episode, but then we had to get ready, because we planned to go to Odette in the evening. Nicki (another nice colleague of my mum) was going to pick us up. Odette lives above Rikus with her boyfriend. ..and OMG! I love her house. It’s so cool. It’s one big space, but with just a few build-in walls to make a bath- and bedroom, overlooking beautiful fields and the forest. I’d love to live like that one day. We put on some facial masks and we watched ‘The Proposal’, with lots of chocolate, crisps and other snacks. A real girls night. So much fun!

img_4525January 4
Today I looked after Blessing, Jinan and Joëlla. Jinan and Blessing were doing things on the computer as it was cold and rainy outside. Joëlla and I went to get some groceries. I could go grocery shopping with her every day, so nice. She was behaving very well, apart from throwing the Pombears on the parking space in the end. Haha! When we got home we all had lunch and after Joëlla’s nap we watched some Peppa Pig together, with cucumber sticks and Pombears. I loved it!! I’m missing so much of my nephew and niece and to spend time with them when I can, just feels amazing. Blessing slept at Jinan’s house since, but as this was his last night he slept at ours. In the evening we watched ‘Iron Man’ and he really liked that. It’s also a movie I’ve watched with Steven.. hehe..

img_5247January 5
Happy Birthday to Melody! Normally I always have to go home just before or on my sister’s birthday, but because my new job doesn’t start until the 16th I had time to stay longer and so I finally was able to be on her birthday. We went to her in the morning and she made a very yummy yogurt cake with an Oreo base.. I had 3 pieces.. or was it 4? Oops! I braided my brother’s hair in the meantime and we drunk tea. Very nice! In the afternoon I went to my friend Esther. Blessing wanted to come too, because she has a lovely English Bulldog, Lucy. I know Esther from secondary school, but only later on we became friends, because of Pamela. Pamela was my English Bulldog and she went to Esther when I moved to img_4190the UK. I’m forever thankful for the amazing life Pamela had with her. It was lovely to see Esther and her boyfriend and wonderful to cuddle Lucy. She also got me some very nice gifts. I’m very excited for her to come to me in April. Yay! In the evening Rudie and Renske were picking up Blessing again but they also stayed for dinner. Surprise surprise.. I made the aubergine curry again! I also made pasta with a home made tomato sauce. They absolutely loved it! I knew that for sure as Rudie had 5 plates.. I don’t know how he did that, it was impressive! They stayed in the evening too and we all had Chai tea with Oatly Foamable, yum! It’s always so much fun with them.

img_4742January 6

In the morning my mum and I went to Freek and in the afternoon we looked after Joëlla, who wasn’t feeling very well. Poor her! So we stayed inside and watched some Peppa Pig again. In the evening my dad made home-made pizza, what was delicious. After that I introduced him to Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I really like to watch the same things over and over again. It’s my ‘special’ talent.

img_4911January 7
No!! Snow! It snowed in the night and everything was white outside. I don’t like snow. I love the look of it and I love to make pictures, but I don’t like that it’s cold and messy. My mum and I went to Assen, to go shopping. I still needed some gifts and it was nice to go to Assen for a bit anyway, the city I lived for 5 years. My mum needed a special kind of pencil sharpener and as we passed the arts and crafts store, we popped in. We found one and in the meantime I wrote ‘GO VEGAN’, with the big wooden letters they sell there. Hehe.. little activism! I got all the gifts and I also scored great new jeans and we had some yummy tea together. Shopping with my mum is the best! It was a good distraction too, because Steven was on his way back from Brazil and I’m always a bit worried with such a long journey. Luckily in the evening he send me a message that he landed all safely. The hard part now, was waiting for the next evening. Missed him so much!

img_4855January 8
There is somebody else I always go to when I’m in Holland and that is Mrs. Veenstra. She has been a friend of my grandma since forever and so my mum and all my aunt and uncles grew up with her. She is such a lovely lady! It’s always feels like a little party going to here. She is so sweet and super hilarious,, I love her dearly! My grandma called in the meantime and my aunt, Marieke, my uncle, Roel, and all 5 of my cousins happened to be at her place. So after we said our goodbyes we drove to Uithuizermeeden again. Was so lovely to see them all, because I don’t get the chance that often. ..and guess what?! They all turned out to be big Sherlock Holmes fans, haha, so funny! Tomorrow I’ll be going home again, this was a great last evening!

img_4769January 9
My last day here. Normally I’m not that happy to go home again, but knowing that I would see Steven again after more than 3 weeks, just made me very excited! I was going to be home around 20:00 and I was counting the minutes. I had this little suspicious feeling that he might be waiting for me at the Airport, but as today was his first day back at work, it was very unlikely. In the afternoon I packed my suitcases, what wasn’t that easy. How was it possible I had more stuff now than on my way here?! I still don’t know and though both suitcases were heavier than they should have been, the lady at the check-in was very kind. Lucky me, because normally they’re always very strict in Groningen. The journey took so long as I was so excited. heartI landed safely though and who was waiting for me there?! Steven! Gosh I love that man! I was so happy to be back in his arms.. best surprise ever!


HOTSPOT LIST
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext
Jufferen Lunsingh – Hoofdweg 13, 9337 PA, Westervelde
Bio Markt – Mühlenstraße 128, 26789, Leer
Familia – Nüttermoorer Str. 2, 26789, Leer (Germany)
De Nieuwe Kolk – Cinema/Theatre – Weiersstraat 1, 9401 ET, Assen
Eko Plaza – Torenlaan 24, 9401 HR, Assen
Vegan Super – Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 87, 9712 NG, Groningen
Coffee Company – Oude Ebbingestraat 39, 9712 HB, Groningen
Yantra – Oude Ebbingestraat 61, 9712 HD, Groningen

I hope everybody had lovely Christmas holidays and that you liked to read what I did in mine. If you have any questions or if you want to tell me about your Christmas, I’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

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Netherlands – Family and Friends

meLast week I was in the Netherlands. I always go back to the Netherlands about 3 times a year. I only went in the beginning of May this year (you can read about that time by clicking here) and though I always go with christmas it was too far away for me. Especially for my nephew, niece and the daughter of my friend Nienke, Jinan, Joëlla and Annemarie. They are 9, 2 and almost 1,5 and they grow up so fast and I already miss so much of them. I was really looking forward seeing them. Also my mum got very cheap train tickets you can use in the weekend and it was the perfect excuse to visit a cool city and to do some hotspot hunting. We decided to go to Rotterdam, but because I was going to sleep in
Eindhoven for 1 night and I was going to meet my mum the following evening at the birthday party, I decided to also go to Amsterdam. Those 2 city trip days were so busy, that I decided to write a separate post about that. In this one I would like to tell you about what I did the rest of the week.

hotelOn Thursday the 20th, very early in the morning (4:00) I woke up to get to the tube station, because I had to go to Liverpool Street. From there I take the Stansted express to the airport. At the airport it wasn’t busy at all and I could easily walk through security. No hassle, I like it! There is a Starbucks at Stansted Airport and I don’t need to tell you that I always go there, haha! The flight was a little bit delayed, but overall it went very well. I was going to sleep one night in Eindhoven for a few reasons. The next day I was going to a birthday party in Woudenberg and because my parents live all the way in Eext and we were going to Rotterdam the day after it would have been so much traveling. Also it gave me the chance to go to Amsterdam before the party, plus my best friend lives in Eindhoven and I didn’t see him for almost 2 years and it was our 5th anniversary this October! And if that wasn’t enough, I always wanted to sleep in the ‘Tulip Inn’ above the airport as it looks so cool. I was at Eindhoven airport at 11:15 and the hotel’s check-in was from 14:00. I could have asked to check in a little early, but I had so much work to do that I did that at the airport, assssss they have a Starbucks there too, haha! So I got a lot of work done in the meantime and I was rewarded with the most amazing room ever. My room was on the top floor, all the way in the corner. What meant that I had 2 windows and I was able to overlook the whole airport. It was amazing! The room itself was so perfect too. So spacious and with everything you need. A lovely bathroom, clean white sheets, a desk to work on, a lovely big sofa, a kettle with tea and so much more. I took a quick shower and then did some more work, until my friend came over. It was so nice to see him, I missed him so much. We had a lovely evening, talking about so many things and drinking tea. I love him lots!

pieThe next morning I woke up so well rested, without the airplanes waking me up. They have very good windows. I got myself ready and left the hotel to head to the train station to go to Amsterdam. I will tell you about my Amsterdam trip in my next travel post. So I will skip to the part where I met my mum at Amersfoort station that evening. When I arrived at the station my sister was there waiting for me. They wanted it to be a surprise, but ‘my mum’ was texting me whilst I knew she was driving the car and so I expected my sister to be there as my mum would never text and drive. It was so nice to see them both! I actually saw my mum the week before, because she came to London for 4 days to help me at work, but it was like I didn’t see her for so long. The party was very nice. It was the birthday of my mum’s friend Trudy, they know each other from school, so they have been friends for quite a while. I didn’t see her for very long and it turned out her sister and her parents were there too and it was all lovely to see them too. The biggest surprise was that Trudy made a vegan cake, because she knew I was coming. I couldn’t believe it! She has no idea how much I appreciate that. It was a lime-yogurt-cake and it was deliciousss!! I also really liked that everybody liked it so much, even though people were thinking at first that a vegan cake must come from a different planet. It turned out vegan cakes were not made out of grass, haha! I had some lovely conversations with people about my blog, though mostly I talked to my sister. I know.. but we didn’t see each other for so long, there were lots of things to talk about. Overall it was a lovely evening and I’m so happy I was a part of it. The next day we went to Rotterdam, but just like my Amsterdam trip, more about that in my next travel post. So lets fast forward a bit.. Sunday morning! I was so happy I didn’t plan anything that Sunday, as the last couple of days (weeks actually) were a bit crazy. It was the first day since ever that I didn’t have any plans. So I had a lovely sleep in and in the afternoon me and my mum did one of the things we love best.. grocery shopping! I got the ingredients to make an authentic Dutch apple pie. And honestly, that is the only thing I did that day and it was lovely!

pie2Monday I had another sleep in, yay! ..and then I made the apple pie. Never in my life I made it just right. My sister is very good at making them, but with me they were always too dry or not done. With that in mind and the fact that I was also going to veganize it, I was a little nervous. Especially the moment I was cutting it, but you know what.. It was perfect! I never made such a good Dutch apple pie. The fact that it’s all vegan must have made it perfect. I’ll make sure to share the recipe with you guys soon! In the evening my cousin Mandy was going to come as after being vegetarian for 10 years, she’s transitioning to being vegan. I’m so proud of her and I wanted to share and show all the products I have and use. Unfortunately she got very sad news that morning and had to cancel. I really hope to meet her next time. In the afternoon I watched ForksOver Knives and Cowspiracy with my mum. These documentaries made my dad go vegan. My mum is vegetarian for quite a while already and I would love her to go vegan too. She was very surprised by all the facts and really understands me more after watching it. The things what is stopping her to go vegan too is cheese and that other people will always think she is the difficult one. Though she is thinking about living more vegan and making an exception now and then. What is already making me so happy, as it such a big step in the right direction. I love that my family is becoming more and more conscious. Personally the hardest part of being vegan is that the people I love most are not caring about their own health, animals and environment enough to do something about it. I know I can’t force this upon them, but luckily my family and friends are nice enough to talk about it. I think I can consider myself very lucky with people like that. I could have been in the middle of big meat eaters who don’t want to listen to anything what matters. It meant a lot to me that my mum watched the documentaries with me. In the evening my brother came to visit. He lives in Groningen (for only 2 months) with friends. It was so nice to see him and because me and my mum dropped him back home I even saw where he lives at the moment. It’s an amazing location, in the middle of the centre. Though it’s 3 boys living there and I don’t think I need to say more, haha. Though I really liked what he did with his personal space and also that he really has a good time living there.

puOn Tuesday I got out of bed at a (for me) reasonable time, because I wanted to go to my mum’s work. My dad has a new car and  he let me borrow it, what was super nice. For the people who didn’t know yet, my mum works in hotel-restaurant called ‘Rikus’ as a hostess and she also does the cleaning. Rikus is also in Eext (didn’t make the drive very long, hehe..) and is not even 2 years old yet. My mum works there since the beginning and she loves it. I understand why, because it’s lovely. It only has 9 rooms and 1 apartment and you can make lovely strolls through the woods nearby. They grow their own organic fruits and vegetables which they use in their dishes. When I came there my mum made me a lovely tea and after I helped cleaning a room. I used to be a maid in a big hotel for a few months before I moved to the UK and it was funny to clean a room over there. They have lovely rooms, so if you’re looking for a room with a lot of peace and quiet, Rikus is definitely a good option. In the afternoon I went to get a few things at the shops in Gieten, a village next to Eext. I got all ingredients to make a pumpkin soup, some little presents for the kids I look after back in London and some other snacks (yum!). That evening I went to visit my friend Nicole, she lives an hour away, what I don’t mind at all as I love driving. Nicole and her boyfriend just bought a house and though they don’t have the keys yet she did take me there so I could look at it from the outside. A lovely house and I really like houses, so I really liked seeing it. Next time I come they’ll be living there and I can’t wait to see it from the inside. Then we went to get some groceries to make a big salad at home. The rest of the evening we did what we do best, chatting.. with tea, chocolate and left over apple pie I brought. Great evening!

pig-2The next day I was looking after Joëlla and planned on visiting my friend Nienke and my grandparents (they live in the same village). My mum was coming too and so we waited for her to come home from work. She had to work a little longer than expected, but it was so nice to spend some time with Joëlla. We sung songs, read the book ‘The Gruffalo’ twice, cuddled and made pumpkin soup together in the meantime, so we could bring it over for lunch. When we finally arrived Nienke was waiting for us with a set table and we were al so hungry that we immediately started to eat. The pumpkin soup was so yummy and I’ll share the recipe for sure. Nienke has a daughter Annemarie and it really feels like she’s my niece too. She’s such a cute girl! It was the first time I saw pigher walking and she changed so much, that I told myself I should visit a little bit more often. Joëlla and Annemarie played so lovely together and it was hilarious at times, we all had a good laugh. Children can be the funniest ever! Before we left we had to visit their pet pig.. of course!! They have a pet pig.. you understand I’m madly jealous! She’s called Madelief and the kids loved to feed her apples and chestnuts. Lucky piggy! It was a shame we didn’t have more time, but because I wanted to visit my grandparents too (I aways do), we had to go. It was lovely to see my grandparents and again we couldn’t stay long, but for me it’s very important to see them. On our way back we dropped Joëlla (who of course fell asleep in the last 5 minutes) of at her house and then went home frwhere I made dinner for my parents and myself. Already the last evening, but another amazing day with my lovely friends and family.

I started to pack my suitcase when I woke up and said my goodbyes to my brothers cats, Kenya and Dublin, who kept me company every night (normally they don’t because they only want to be with my brother). I’m really going to miss that. My dad looks after Jinan and Joëlla on the Thursdays and the Fridays and today I could pick up Joëlla from nursery with him. My dad and Joëlla have such a close bond, it’s lovely to see that. I made her and Jinan (who came home for lunch a bit later) lunch and then had to say goodbye to Jinan as he wouldn’t be back from school in time. Not long after I had to say goodbye to everybody as it was time to go. My mum dropped me off at the train station in Assen. Everything went very well, had some yummy fries for dinner at the train station in Eindhoven and before I knew it I was back in London.

I always have a good time whenever I’m visiting the Netherlands. I love my friends and family so much and I always try to see everybody, what makes it so special the times I’m there. For everybody who read this and who, in any way, made my visit worth it, a big  big thank you! Love you all!

Did you like reading my story? Did you visit the Netherlands too? I would love to hear about it! You can let me know in a comment below or via Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Being Grateful

IMG_3589There are people in this world who always find something what annoys them or what isn’t good or what could have been better. I don’t have to tell you that negative people like that drain your energy. I personally can’t be with those people for very long, because I start to feel uncomfortable. I don’t know how the respond anymore after a while and also it makes me feel mentally tired.
Wouldn’t it be so nice if everybody would see the positive things in life rather than the negative? I think if everybody would pay a little bit more attention to the things that make you happy there will be a huge change in the world. Nowadays people are focused so much on success, power and money. They are all in a rush to climb to the top, focusing on their career, make and spend money, show other people how good they are and how great their lifestyle is. Is this really important? Does this IMG_9470make you happy? I think we should focus on all the things what really makes us happy. In my opinion those things which are most close to you and they’re often the little things. When was the last time you felt really happy and you took a moment to think about it and be grateful?! I think it’s a good idea, after you finished reading this, to write down all the things you’re grateful for. You can make the list as long as you want. You can keep it short or you can explain why you are grateful for the things you wrote down. I think this is a very good exercise to make you realise what you have. It could even be helpful in a time you need some positivity, but you find it hard to come up with things because you feel so down. Just read all the things you wrote down and take a moment to be grateful. To help you understand what I mean, I will share a few of the things I’m grateful for:

IMG_4285– My health. My body has it’s problems, but overall I’m healthy. Even though I got some health problems, I always try to focus on the things I can do. I’m grateful for being alive.
– My family & friends. I have such a lovely family. The bond between me and my parents is very strong and so is the bond between me and my brother, sister, nephew and niece. There is so much love. I do not have a lot of friends, just because I prefer it that way. But the ones I have, I love so dearly! I’d do anything for the ones I love and I’m grateful I have people in my life who make me feel like this.
– My creativity. I love drawing, writing, fixing, creating, designing and it calms me staring at a blank piece of paper in front of me, knowing that I can create whatever I want. Such a feeling of freedom. I’m grateful that I can feel this and that I am able to make and create the things I want to.
IMG_0696– My sensitivity. I must admit that this is both a blessing and a curse. Though I mostly like to see it as a blessing. I feel things very deeply, I sense things very quickly and my love is very strong. I would’t want to live in any other way and in a way it even makes me feel proud. It makes me a very passionate person, what can only be a good thing.
– Being alone. I’m very good alone. I do everything alone. I am grateful that I’m never fed up with myself, but always happy to be with my own thoughts. I’ve never been bored in my life, because I always have me.
– Being vegan. It makes me very happy that I’m vegan. I’m so grateful that I can feel compassion and that it’s so easy for me to be vegan because of that.
bigben– London. I love London. I love my flat and I’m so grateful that I live in this amazing city, where I feel so very much at home. Wherever I am in the world, I always feel euphoric whenever I’m back.
– I’m also very grateful for all the things around me. Animals and nature. I’m grateful that I can see the good in every animal. That they calm me and make me smile. I love the way they respect nature, it’s something we humans can learn from. Nature is beautiful. The bumblebee who zooms from flower to flower. The beautiful coloured leafs making their way to the ground on an autumn day. The refreshing raindrops on my skin. The silence in the middle of a field full of flowers. The first early morning sun rays coming through the window. I can go on and on.. 

IMG_4203This all doesn’t mean that you can never have a little complaining once in a while, because that can also feel as a relief sometimes. Just make sure that, wherever you go and whatever happens, you also keep seeing the great things around you. Or if you’re in a very bad situation, remember the good things. Think of all the things that make you happy. It could be a family holiday.. the inspiring feeling you had after watching this amazing movie.. the time you and your best friend had the best day ever.. that satisfying feeling you get when you wake up and you realise the love of your life is sleeping next to you.. or that time you climbed that mountain and enjoyed the silence when you made it to the top, feeling proud of yourself. Be grateful.. Being grateful opens your heart!

Are you somebody who takes a moment to be grateful for the things you have? Or are you going to do this exercise? Please let me know if it helped you realising how lucky you are. You can comment below or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X