ART: Elise Klinkert

If you read my travel posts about Holland, I’m sure you know that my mum works at hotel-restaurant Rikus. I always mention RIkus as I always go to my mum when she’s working. Do you also remember that in my first post about ‘Holland Groningen/Drenthe‘ I mentioned the artist Elise Klinkert? She makes beautiful paintings, from animals (mainly horses) and also people. Her work is some sort of dreamy and magical. I especially like the paintings with the horses, but there are also some people-portraits I really like. Always when I go, I hope there are new paintings I like and I’ve never been disappointed.This is why I like to tell you about her and her work. 

Elise Klinkert was born in 1967 in the Netherlands. She now lives in the north of the Netherlands, with her husband and 2 children. As a child she actually never painted. She was good at drawing, but she never decided to do something with it. She has always been creative though and designed and made other things, like jumpers, cardigans, teddies, lamps and even a wedding dress. Now, since 20 years, she is a stylist for fashion and advertisement photography. For the last couple of years she’s also been active as a photographer herself. Only 3 years ago she started painting and she feels that this is her future. When she paints it feels like everything comes together and this is what she wants to do. She is completely autodidact when it comes to painting. In the back of her garden she created a little studio. It’s very quiet there and she can completely focus on her paintings, whilst looking at an old magnolia tree and the birds singing in the background.

As a vegan I was curious why she chose to paint a lot of animals. But she actually doesn’t have a clear explanation for that. She loves animals and if something touches me she wants to translate that into a painting. ‘It’s that simple’ she says. For me this is a very clear answer of why she chooses animals automatically. Animals touch you, they’re so pure, honest and majestic. Nature and emotion are her biggest sources of inspiration. Most of the time it’s just that one moment, that glance or that right atmosphere she tries to translate through her paintings. She finds it very important in her work. She doesn’t make some sort of plan of what she should paint. She paints what she feels. This means that sometimes she started something, but then she doesn’t touch it for months. Then later on she will work on it again. It also means that some paintings will never be finished and end up in the hearth. ‘That’s part of it’ she says.

She mainly works with acrylic paint, but sometimes also with oil paint (like the ‘White Goat’ here on the right.) She definitely prefers acrylic paint, as she has difficulty with the mediums you use with oil paint. She also likes to use acrylic paint better, because oil paint is bad for your health and for the environment. Depending on the painting and her mood, it can happen that she finishes a painting in a matter of days, but it also happens that it takes months and that she does other painting in the meantime. Elise also does commissions, depending on the clients wishes. If you’re interested in her work, I recommend taking a look at her beautiful website. Here you can see all her art work and all the other things she does. At the moment she is looking for a nice gallery what suits her, so all she has to do is paint.

New York
About a year ago she notices an art competition: The Equus Film Festival Art competition! Everybody who makes art, involving horses, was invited to send their work. As she likes to paint horses and she does it quite often, she decided to send some of her work. She made it into the competition and was invited to join. The first round was choses by the public. Everybody could vote via Facebook. After that, out of the winners, a jury of experts picked the winner. Elise Klinkert won!! She never even dared to dream about winning this. It felt all very surreal to her and it was totally unexpected.So last November she flew to New York, with her paintings, to exhibit her work at the Equus Film Festival! ‘You understand, this was an amazing experience!’ she says. The painting you see on the left, used to hang on the wall at Rikus and I saw it many times. She couldn’t bring this specific painting, as right after the news that she was going to New York, it was sold instantly. The painting on the right is one of my personal favourites. In my opinion she totally deserved to win as I’m a big fan of her work. So without any doubt: congratulations Elise!

I want to thank Elise very much for letting me share her story and art with all my readers. 

Do you like Elise Klinkert her work? Is it the kind of art you would get for yourself? Please let me (and Elise) know by leaving a comment below or on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Dutchie Pie

img_8155This Sunday, the 12th of March, Planet Manel will celebrate it’s first anniversary! Yay!! That means: CAKE! So I made this typical Dutch cake for you. It’s the ‘Authentic Apple Pie’. The cake itself is a bit like biscuits and a bit like cake, with a filling of apples, raisins and cinnamon. It has always been my favourite cake. I only like the home-made ones though, because pre-made, they’re not tasty at all. I actually don’t like any pre-made cakes, so that explains. On every birthday I went as a child and also when I was older, I’d choose home-made apple pie. On all my own birthdays I always made an apple pie. Though they never really turned out perfect. My sister is a lot better at it than me. So when I decided to veganise this pie I was a bit nervous. Very surprisingly the pie turned out to be more than perfect. I was so proud of myself that I finally made a good one after 15 years of trying. Vegan Power!! WARNING: This pie is not healthy, haha! ..but super super delicious though!

applDUTCHIE PIE

Serves: 8

dough
3 cups plain flower
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbs flaxseed (+ 6 el soy milk)
2/3 cup liquid butter
pinch of salt
filling
5 big apples (peeled/chopped)
1/3 cup raisins
4 tbs sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

img_8156-Preheat the over at 180C.
-Mix the flaxseed and the soy milk and let it stand for about 15 minutes. In the meantime you can make the filling:
-Mix the apples, the sugar, the cinnamon, the lemon juice and the raisins in a bowl. Make sure the juice on the bottom of the bowl, coming from the apples, is taken out before pouring it into the cake tin.
-Put the flower, the baking powder, the sugar, the salt in a big bowl (or use a food processor) and mix well.
-Then also mix in the flaxseed mixture and the butter and knead it until it forms a firm dough. It should not be sticking to everything: too wet ..or flaking: too dry. Add a little bit of flower/butter in case it’s too wet or too dry.
-Spread the dough over the bottom and the side of the cake tin, but make sure you keep about 1/4 of the dough for the top of the cake.
-Put the filling on the dough and spread it out nicely. Don’t press too hard, but make sure it’s even everywhere.
-Form 8 strips out of the left over dough to cover the top of the pie.
-Put the pie in the oven for 55-60 minutes.
-Let it cool down before cutting it into pieces.

Are you going to give this very tasty recipe a go and celebrate Planet Manel’s 1st anniversary with me? Please let me know! And I’d love to see some beautiful pictures. Please share them with me on Instagram using #PlanetManel ! Thank you! X

Biscoff Spread / Alphabet Biscuits

img_6392BISCOFF SPREAD
If you ask me about what I think they serve in heaven, I will say ‘Speculoos’. This is what we call it in Holland, over here we call this amazing spread from Lotus: ‘Biscoff Biscuit Spread’. It’s super unhealthy, loaded with bad bad sugars and bad fat.. you really shouldn’t look at the ingredient list! Hehe.. Ok, you should, because then you hopefully can hold yourself together and try not to eat the whole jar at once. Yes, sometimes I eat it from the jar.. It’s also delicious on white bread with butter (just adding to the healthiness here), crackers, biscuits and apples (no this still doesn’t make it a responsible snack). Last Friday I posted a simple recipe with this amazing spread, ‘Spread Magic’. It’s a hot chocolate.. you should try it! At first there were only biscuits, but later they made spreads out of it too. Can I get a Hallelujah?! The biscuits are originally from Belgium and are already around since 1932. Do you want to know more about this brand? Check out their website.

img_5536ALPHABET BISCUITS 
Yes, these are actually children snacks. Though, why can’t we adults eat them too?! I like the brand ‘Organix’, because they do not use any crap in their products and most of it is vegan. So if you want to give your kids a nice snack, I’d like to recommend them. But that is why it’s also a nice snack for adults. I’m not saying you can now swap your salad with packs of biscuits, but once in a while, as a snack, is totally fine. They btw, taste great with the Biscoff Spread. Though, adding crappy nutrition onto good stuff might be considered as a sin. They don’t have a very strong taste, but that is what I like about it I think. They’re just nice simple biscuits. They come in little packs, what makes it handy for on the way and perfect for sharing too. Give them a try! If you want to know more, please check out their website.

Did you already know these products or are you going to try them after reading this? Please let me know or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Would you like me to test and review your product(s) or do you have any suggestions? Please send me a message via CONTACT! It can be anything (food, drinks, beauty..) as long as it’s vegan. Thank you! X

Hundreds Of Miles

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-19-16-02As you might have noticed (if you follow me on Instagram), I’m in loooove! Last November I met the nicest guy ever and now we’re together, what makes me so happy. I was single for the last 2 years, after coming out of a very difficult relationship. I never thought I would be in a relationship again, but I couldn’t ignore these feelings. He’s so amazing! We had to miss each other for 25 days over Christmas, as we were both on holiday and that’s when I wrote this poem. Missing somebody is not nice, but being able to miss somebody is a good sign. It means you care and you want to be with that person.

HUNDREDS OF MILES

Every day I feel my love for you growing,
addicted to feel more as it’s mind-blowing.
Every time I see you I feel more and more,
so missing you makes my heart feel sore

I want you to be here and hold me very tight,
me wrapped up in your arms just feels so right.
Knowing you’re so far away makes me so sad,
missing your loving kisses on my forehead.

I miss your stories and your cleverness,
imagining your voice doesn’t help I guess.
It makes me want to hear you even more,
makes me miss you even more than before.

I am missing your passionate cuddles a lot,
for now, memories are the only thing I got.
But me knowing you’re not away for good,
makes me excited and it lights my mood.

Never really knew this actually did exist,
realising that it’s you I’ve always missed.
You’re so different from everything I know,
but it feels more right than ever though.

Yes in between us are hundreds of miles,
but I’ll wait forever for one of your smiles.

Did you like my poem? Would you like to say something about it or do you have any other thoughts? Please let me know in a comment below! Thank you! X

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

Sint Twist

img_2682In the Netherlands, every year, we celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’. A lot of people confuse this Dutch tradition with Christmas. Some people even think we celebrate Christmas earlier in the Netherlands, but Sinterklaas is very much separate from Christmas. Though there are similarities: It’s both in December, Sinterklaas en Santa Claus do look like each other a bit, it’s important you’ve been good all year, it’s also with presents and nice food and children love it. We celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December, but as we officially welcome him to the Netherlands about 2 weeks before this date, there is something else we do. You can put your shoe in front of the fireplace, sing a song, leave some treats for his horse and write him a letter if you like. The next morning it’s swapped for a present. So exciting for children!

img_2683On the day itself a lot of people have a nice meal together and after that it’s time.. The presents are waiting at the door and somebody(a family member, friend or neighbour for example) will ring or knock the door really loud. Children will run to the door and of course there is nobody there. When the presents are all inside it’s time to open them and it’s just so much fun! A typical sweet what is given by his helpers, are ‘pepernoten’. It’s like little biscuits. They’re delicious! I thought it would be nice to give you a little recipe today for a ‘pepernoten milkshake’. Very simple, very yummy!

SINT TWIST

Serves 1

200 ml oat milk
1/4 cup pepernoten
1/2 banana
1/2 tbsp palm sugar

-Put all the ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth.
-Sprinkle a crushed pepernoot on top.
tip: you can get pepernoten in the Dutch shop ‘Hema’.

Did you know what Sinterklaas was already? Have you tried pepernoten before and are you going to give this recipe a go? Please let me know in the comments below or share a picture on Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X 

Netherlands- Amsterdam and Rotterdam

amLike I said in my last travel post about the Netherlands I was going to post my adventures about Amsterdam and Rotterdam in a separate post. So as promised, here we go..

AMSTERDAM
I arrived at Amsterdam Central station around lunchtime and after I put my suitcase in a locker, I headed to the vegan restaurant called ‘Dophert’. It’s only a 20 minute walk from the station. It was a lovely walk to a lovely restaurant. The restaurant is bright, but if you sit upstairs it still feels very cosy. You can even sit outside, but it was quite chilly that day. A few people tried though, but came inside again after while. I ordered the Dophert burger with fries. It dhtook a little longer, as I think my order was given to somebody else by accident. I really didn’t mind because the staff was so friendly and they apologised. In the meantime I ordered a cupcake for dessert and an apple juice. It was all very delicious. I was so hungry (I didn’t really have breakfast) that I ate all the fries and the whole burger until the last crumb. Then I was so full, that it was impossible to eat the cupcake too. So I had that take away to enjoy later. The fries were definitely one of the best fries I’ve ever had and the sauce that came with it was ahhhh-mazing! The burger itself was a bit like a falafel burger and the bun it came on was lovely and fresh. I so enjoyed this meal. Dophert is not only a restaurant where you can eat, they also do catering and you can order cakes. You can go to their website (only in Dutch I’m afraid) to gain more information about that. Something good to know is that you can only pay by card. Anyway, I definitely recommend going here when you are in Amsterdam. Happy with my lunch choice I walked away to explore.

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I didn’t really make a plan, so I was going to let it surprise me. I decided to walk towards the centre via the street ‘Haarlemmerdijk’ and almost immediately I found an ‘Eko Plaza’. A lovely organic supermarket. There is also one in Assen, which I often go to with my mum. I think it’s a mix between the Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic. I find it a very nice supermarkets to do some shopping. They have a lot of things. I noticed that this one had a lot more vegan products. I think because it was bigger than the one in Assen, but I hope it’s because veganism is growing. I bought a Vivani chocolate bar with organic almonds, just because it was talking to me ‘buy me, buy me!’.
The next thing I found was ‘Bagels&Beans’. This is a cafe all about.. bagels (lucky guess). They try to use organic where they can and there are a lot of vegan things to put on the bagel. I didn’t go here to eat something as I just had my lunch of course, but I did go there before amstand the bagels are delicious. In the same street I found something so nice, called ‘The Tea Bar’. A store all about tea!! I’m a sucker for tea and I love the idea of a tea bar. They have more than 100 unique flavours and also lots of nice gift ideas. Next time I’m in Amsterdam I’d love to go here, but I was just too full at that time to even have one sip of tea. So I walked towards the Prinsengracht and then I just got so lucky with the weather. The clouds were dark grey on one side and the sun was fully shining on the beautiful autumn coloured trees from the other side. It gave such an amazing contrast that I was able to make some lovely pictures. Then a little bit later it started raining and I was blessed with a rainbow. Rain, sun, rainbow, autumn, Amsterdam, canals, boats.. it really was my lucky day! I loved the rain on my skin as I walked past the canal.

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I bumped into a juice bar, called ‘The Cold Pressed Juicery’. I went inside to have a quick look and it looked very fancy! The juices looked amazing and you could almost feel the boost in your immune system by just looking at them. Looking at the prices I was almost sure you had to pay for looking at them. For 250 ml (what is just a normal sized glass) you had to pay €4,75 and for 500 ml €7,25. In their defence, all the juices are cold pressed, organic, raw, unpasteurised, HPP free, and contain a lot of vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes. They also offer Juice Cleanses (1,3 and 5 days) and I think they must be really good, but again there is this price. I really like their website though. It’s clear and with a lot of good information. Also on the Prinsengracht I found am2‘Bolhoed’ and I really liked that I accidentally found it. I heard about this restaurant a lot and it must be really good. Next time I think I’m going to have a meal over here. It’s a shame I couldn’t stay in the evening, otherwise I could have had my dinner here. A little bit further I found this lovely shop called ‘Varsana’. A shop with everything you could possibly need for yoga or pilates. I really loved this shop and I think anybody who is into yoga will love it too. The last thing I found on the Prinsengracht is the ‘Tulip Museum’. For only €5 you can learn within 20-30 minutes all about tulips. You can also buy a lot of tulip things, including tulips itself. I love tulips and because it’s not that long I think it could be a nice thing to do.

stI walked via the Westermarkt and Raadhuistraat to the Kalverstraat. The Kalverstraat starts at Dam Square (most famous square in Amsterdam) and is the biggest shopping street in Amsterdam. You can find all the well known shops like H&M, Blokker, TheBodyShop, Forever 21, Lush and River Island in this street. If you keep walking straight, you will end up on Rembrandtplein. This is a square with a statue of Rembrandt, surrounded with a lot of bars and cafes. I walked back via Rokin where you then come back on Dam Square again. From there, via Damrak, it’s only a 5 minute walk back to the station. At the station I discovered a little cafe called ‘Yoghurt Barn’, where you can get yoghurt with the most amazing toppings (think ‘mango, brownie and walnut’). You can choose any yogurt you want and it turned out they have 2 (!) vegan options: Soy and Coconut. They also have coffee, tea, smoothies and juices. It looks great! Next to Yoghurt Barn you can go downstairs and the first shop on your left is ‘WAAR’. I did post about this amazing shop before, because there is also one in Groningen. I love this shop. It has such lovely gifts (what most probably ends up in keeping it yourself) and they sell (and I bought) the ‘Tony’s Chocolonely’ chocolate. Theeeee best!

It was a lovely and relaxed day with lots of hotspots I found by coincidence. I love Amsterdam, it’s such an amazing city. Nothing compares! But around 18:00 it was time to get my suitcase out of the locker and catch the train to Amersfoort.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Dophert
– Spaarndammerstraat 49-H, 1013 ST
Eko Plaza – Haarlemmerdijk 164, 1013 JK
Bagels&Beans – Haarlemmerdijk 122, 1013 JH
The Tea bar – Haarlemmerdijk 71, 1013 KC
The Cold Pressed Juicery – Prinsengracht 154, 1016 HA
Bolhoed – Prinsengracht 60-62, 1015 DX
Varsana – Prinsengracht 100, 1015 DZ
Tulip Museum – Prinsengracht 116, 1015 EA
Kalverstraat – Rembandtplein
Yoghurt Barn – Stationsplein 17B, 1012 AB
WAAR – Stationsplein 41A, 1012 AB

at

ROTTERDAM
It started with the 3 cheap train tickets my mum bought (only €13 each). You can use the tickets everywhere in Holland, in the weekends, for the whole day. Rotterdam is named best city of Europe in 2015, so that was the reason why my mum, my sister and I planned to go to Rotterdam on the Saturday I was in Holland. Before we went there was a very nice coincidence. As I was telling you guys in my last travel post, my mum works at hotel-restaurant Rikus. She gets very nice and interesting guests from all over the country. Just a few days after we decided to go to Rotterdam it happened to be that the director of the VVV tourist office of Rotterdam was a guest and she wrote down a lot of hotspots and tips for us. What is super kind of her. How lucky for us!

ran

That Saturday morning.. We came home so late (2:00) the night before that it was a little bit of a struggle to wake up. We did make it in time though and we took the first train allowed (the tickets are only valid from 9:00). We had so much fun and when the 3 of us are together we can be uhh.. loud! I’m sure a lot of people were annoyed by us (like the man who asked us to calm down at one point), but I also saw some people smiling and laughing at the stupid jokes we made, haha! It was so much fun! After the 1st change my mum sat next to a girl and then suddenly she was reading the book ‘VeganForHer’, the same book I was reading at

pd

the moment. My mum pointed it out to me and it made me so happy that I immediately started talking to her. She was vegan too and was even working for a vegan company who makes raw bars, called ‘Lifebar’. She actually lived in the Czech Republic and she told us all about it, she was so kind. She also gave us 3 different flavours of the Lifebars to try. I gave her a Vego bar(Yes.. I happen to have one in my bag, haha..) in return as she didn’t know it yet. After lots of nice chatting we had to say goodbye at the next station, but it gave me so much positive energy. What a lovely girl!mhIn the next train we directly opened the Lifebars and shared it so we could all try every flavour. Omg, they are so nice! My favourite was the ‘Brazil Guarana’ and my mum agreed with me, but my sister liked the chocolate one the best. It didn’t take long before we arrived at Rotterdam-Blaak and when you get out of this station there is a lovely architectural surprise waiting for you. The ‘Cube Houses’. It’s an amazing piece of architecture by the architect ‘Piet Blom’. When I was studying Interior Design I’ve been inside one of them and it was such a cool experience. If you like to go inside yourself, you can, because there is one open for the public. The real reason we came to this station was because here is the ‘Markthal’, what literally means ‘Market hall’. meIt’s an amazing building and inside there is a market, some restaurants and there are flats where people are actually living. It opened on the 1st of October 2014, so it’s quite a new concept. I love the building and then especially what they did with the inside. If you look up they decorated the ceiling with massive flowers, fruits and vegetables. Lovely! In the end I was slightly disappointed with the lack of vegan options though, especially because my hopes were up high walking inside and vegan treats was the first thing I saw. Silly me forgot to remember the name of the company that sells them, but if you use the entrance closest to the station, it’s right in front of you. I did like the big range of tropical and rare fruits and I got myself some red bananas which were delicious. Also there is a juice bar and a ‘Jamie’s Italian’, but overall it wasn’t what I expected. On a cheerier note, behind the Markthal is burger restaurant ‘Burgertrut’, where they sell yummy yummy vegan burgers. They’re not 100% vegan, not even vegetarian.. but they have amazing vegan options!

spIn the meantime it was lunchtime and we were all so hungry. I wanted to have lunch at ‘Spirit’ as I heard so many good things about this restaurant. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the Markthal and on the way we also bumped into ‘Poké Bowl’, what is a little restaurant with Hawaiian food. It’s actually a fish restaurant, but you can fill your own bowl and the options include tofu, rice and lots of veggies. A lot of people are crazy about this, so I’ll try it one day. Restaurant Spirit is part of a little shopping mall called ‘De Groene Passage’ and there sp2is also a health supermarket called ‘Gimsel’ and a shop what is called ‘the Wereldwinkel’, where they sell all fair trade stuff from all around the world. But first lunch.. omg, they were right, Spirit is amazing! It’s a vegetarian buffet, but almost everything is vegan too. I was being so greedy and I wanted to try it all and I ended up with a very big plate of food and it’s not very cheap. I had to pay €20, what was a bit of a shock, but I also didn’t really care as it was my holiday and I really wanted to try all these things. I forgot all about that hs2price too when I tasted it, because it was soooo good! I really want to go again, haha! Big pieces of seitan, things with seaweed, tempeh, corn cakes, fried veggies, chunky guacamole.. I’m seriously getting hungry writing this all down. My mum and my sis really liked the food too, but they both got the same drink which they didn’t like at all. It was a ‘matcha latte’ and I agree the matcha was wayyy too strong. Only after a while the matcha sunk to the bottom and though the taste was still quite strong, I actually liked it. It was just not possible to drink the last few sips. I can’t imagine that anyone will like this, so maybe a little less matcha powder is an idea?!

statAfter our tummies couldn’t even stand the thought of another bite we went to Gimsel. It was a good tactic, because walking inside I knew straight away that walking around here with an empty stomach was a bad idea for my bank account. It was a lovely supermarket with lots of great products. You could taste oat yogurt, what my mum and my sis hated, but I absolutely loved (I had to taste it twice.. hehe..). In the end I did buy 3 things. A ‘wooden toothbrush’, what was on my shopping list since forever, ‘dried grasswort’ which you can use as a salt substitute and what do you think they had there too? Lifebars! I was hoping for the ‘Brazil at2Guarana’, but they didn’t have it. They did have ‘coconut’ (hallelujah), so that was that, easy decision. I loved it btw.. this flavour was very tasty too. I didn’t see them in London yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it. We also did have a little wander around the Wereldwinkel, because it’s a lovely shop and my mum and sis bought some Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate. Can’t blame them. On our way back to the station we passed ‘Foodelicious’ and that looked so nice and bright that we had to go inside. You can get so many nice things here. They have a big range of lovely oils, vinegar, tea, beautiful bowls and dishes, books and so much more.. and a lot of very nice gift ideas too.

gd2Back at the station we decided to go to the centre of Rotterdam and that is not even 5 minutes by train. Rotterdam central station is such a cool station. It’s really one of the reasons I love Rotterdam, it has amazing architecture. Rotterdam has a very nice centre for shopping. It actually has 3 shopping streets/areas: Lijnbaan, Coolsingel and Koopgoot. Walking from the station first ‘Lijnbaan’ will appear and then you can via ‘Coolsingel’ go to ‘Koopgoot’, but before we got there we had a little break at ‘Green Delight’. My mum and sis ordered chocolate milk and I ordered the tastiest Chai latte (+ an energy bomb) I’ve ever had. What a lovely place! It’s so different from other cafe’s. We sat in a very comfy sofa and it felt like we were sitting in a living room. On the table there were lots of nice magazines, like the Happinez for example and the atmosphere was just so relaxed. In order hs3to go into the cafe you have to go through a very nice shop with amazing goodies, gifts and cactus plants(!). This is a very nice concept, but unfortunately it’s a pop up, so go before it’s too late! After we walked to the ‘Koopgoot’, what is very close from there. I think I like ‘Koopgoot’ the best, because they made it look so cool and there is a Lush. My sis got some new tooth tabs as she nearly run out and I got a new pair of comfy jeans at C&A. Then it was really time to go home, because it’s about 3 hours by train and my dad was picking us up. We didn’t want to make it too late. But before we got to the station we past this really nice restaurants called ‘Freshii’. They just closed it, but I looked them up and I think they’re pretty good. They do burritos, salads, wraps, soups and more.. all fresh and they try to make a lot of sustainable choices. They’re not 100% vegan though, but there are a lot of veggie choices and you can even custom make your own lunch.. so do I need to say more? Great for a next visit!

We had such an amazing day with so so much fun, tears of laughing all the time. I love my mum and sis so much! Also I want to thank Renske Satijn, director of VVV, who gave us so many helpful tips, they were all so good!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Cube Houses – Overblaak 70, 3011 MH
Markthal – Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ
Burgertrut – Hang 5,
Poké Bowl – Hoogstraat 117B, 3011 PL
Spirit, Gimsel, Wereldwinkel – Mariniersweg 9, 3011 NB
Foodelicious – Mariniersweg 47, 3011 ND
Green Delight
Lijnbaan – Coolsingel – Koopgoot
Lush – Beurstraverse 55, 3011 AE
Freshii – Korte Lijnbaan 18B, 3012 ED

Have you been to Amsterdam and/or Rotterdam? Did you know about these cool hotspots or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip! You can comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

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

Netherlands – Groningen/Drenthe

 Last week I was in Holland for 10 days and I was looking forward to it a lot as I felt like I didn’t see my family and friends in ages. The last time was with new year, but it just felt a lot longer. I was also very looking forward to it as I was going to surprise my family with my visit. Which is very hard! Especially for my mum. Call it a mothers instinct, but she always knows. Within the 4 year I live in the UK I only managed to really surprise her twice. This time she also had the feeling that I was coming, so I had to come up with a lot of tricks to manage to surprise her at least a bit. I pretended to be at work(sending her pictures to make my story more believable), though I was only and hour away from her. So even though she expected me, she didn’t expect me the moment I walked into the living room! It was great! My dad and my brother walked in not long after that and they were surprised too, I love it!

IMG_0019I started my first morning at my mum’s work. She works in hotel restaurant ‘Rikus’ as a hostess. It’s a converted farm, which now has 9 rooms and an apartment. The thing I love about it most is that they grow their own vegetables. They have an amazing (!!) vegetable garden. Unfortunately there is nothing vegan on the menu, but I’m sure they can make a lovely summer salad from those crunchy leafs growing in the back. I always drink a tea, a freshly plucked one this time, and look at the paintings. The paintings are all made by Elise Klinkert and I love her work. She does a lot with horses and faces and they’re somewhat dreamy. Truly beautiful. You might have seen some of her work on my Instagram. If you ever need a place to sleep I would definitely recommend Rikus. The rooms are clean, spacious and it’s an excellent starting point for a hike through the forrest, breath in the fresh air or cycle from village to village. A perfect getaway for some peace and quiet.

IMG_0065In the mid afternoon I went to my best friends Nienke, Jeroen and their daughter Annemarie. We had a lovely time catching up and of course I cuddled their cute doggies Fleur and Roos and not to forget their gorgeous mini pig Madelief. Gosh I love pigs! We drunk tea, ate chocolate, made a yummy curry together and after even more chatting I had to go home. Lovely day!

My mum’s birthday on the 3rd of May! On the day itself we didn’t do a lot but baking cakes (which was hilarious, as baking isn’t really my mum’s thing), because the day after all my aunts, my grandma and a family friend came to have lunch at my mum’s work. It was a lovely celebration and a unique day. Very nice to see everybody.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.26.31On the 4th of May it’s also commemoration day in Holland to grieve for the people who’re killed during wars and everybody has 2 minutes of silence at 20:00. It always has an impact on me, especially now with all the refugees coming at the moment. What would it be nice if the world was in peace. Nobody should have to flee from their home country and leave their house and loved ones. It must be so hard for them. Let’s hope this nightmare is over very soon as everybody has the right to freedom!
The day after it’s liberation day, to celebrate Holland is free since world war ll. It’s also the national day for freedom and human rights. It’s a big happening as in a lot of cities there are festivals, with life music, performances and partying! My nephew had his first breakdance performance on the festival in Assen. The weather was beautiful, his performance was great and I was so proud of him. What a day!

IMG_0341I always see my best friends when I’m in the country and today I was going to meet Nicole. We had lunch at I the nicest place in Groningen, Anat. But in the morning we first went to a friend of ours we didn’t see in years. She just had a baby and so we thought it was a great reason to meet. We had such a good time.. and that 10 years later!
So about Anat.. I think it’s the best vegan hotspot of Groningen if it comes to food. What an incredible place. We were lucky as the weather was sooo good and we were able to sit outside in the warm sun, watching the thousands of students passing by on their bikes. You can choose several things, from soup to bread and salads, but there is also an option you can have little  bits of everything.. so you don’t have to ask me what I chose. And wohw.. the plate looked amazing and it tasted so good. IMG_0338Whilst eating I was already feeling sad that I couldn’t go again next week. We both drunk a Chai latte with almond milk, which was delicious too. We had to (had to!) have dessert of course and because there were two of us we could try both desserts. The chocolate cake and the lavender cake. Both yummy, but the chocolate wins.. duhh!
Anat isn’t very big, but there is a the possibility to sit up stairs. The interior in simple and light. Just what I like. Did I mention the colour of the outside? Love it! If you’d like to visit Anat, take a look at their website. I really recommend it, in case you didn’t got that yet. I’m definitely going back next time when I’m in Holland. No doubt.
13230803_1152302924813809_22750432_oAfter lunch we had some time left and decided to do some shopping. I always like to have a little wander around the shop ‘WAAR’. This is such a nice shop, all about sustainability. I bought 2 bars of Tony’s Chocolonely, a fair trade chocolate they only have in Holland (why?). I chose the almond and sea salt.. twice.. haha! Nienke already gave me the one with pecan and coconut, so with 3 massive chocolate bars I was good to go. ‘WAAR’ is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Groningen. It’s a bit hidden, in between the Vismarket and the Herestraat. Take a look at their website to see what else they have and where they stand for.
13210903_1152302891480479_1965184182_oGroningen also just got a ‘Dille&Kamille’. It’s my mum’s all time favourite shop as she used to work there as a teenager and just because it’s an amazing shop. It’s all natural things, beautiful colours and a lot of gardening stuff, wooden toys, kitchen tools and so much more. Take a look at their website to get an understanding of what I mean. The one in Groningen is quite big and a pleasure to be. My brother just gave me some nice wooden bowls and scoops for my recipes, so I didn’t buy anything, though I wanted to, I have to think of the size of my suitcase.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.26.59Lucky me, the weather was amazing every day and on Saturday Nienke and Annemarie came to me this time and together we went to the lake ‘‘t Nije Hemelriekje‘, where you can swim and just chill. It’s only 5 minutes by car from my parents house and we spend there a lot of time as kids too. Good memories. ”t Nije Hemelriekje’ is in the middle of the forrest, surrounded by trees, but still with a nice breeze of fresh air. And because it’s only May, not a lot of people came up with the same idea and so it wasn’t that crowded as it can be sometimes. We brought a little picnic, splashed the cold water and had a good laugh. Life is beautiful!

IMG_0417On Sunday morning I went to another friend, Esther. She just got a new dog, an English Bulldog, and of course I had to meet her. Her name is Lucy and she is so cute and very beautiful. It was a quick visit, but so worth it. It’s always nice to catch up with her. And not to forget the amazing pink blossom trees in her garden. I’m happy I was able to take a few pics. I loved when it was raining blossoms, little moments of happiness!
In the afternoon my sister organised a picnic in the forrest to celebrate my niece Joella’s birthday. Who was going to turn 2 the next day. A picnic, surrounded by trees, nature, animals, amazing sunny weather, good company and vegan food. I could’t ask for more!

IMG_0713Monday, the last day! A day I decided to have for myself. So I packed some sandwiches in the morning and a bottle of water and jumped on a bike. I cycled for about 15 km through nature. I went to ‘Balloerveld‘, where you have amazing heathlands and flat white sand. It’s very nice to cycle there. I made a stop in the middle of the field, had my lunch and just sat(ok, at one point I laid down)on a bench, enjoying the silence and the birds singing. A bit further I bumped into the shepherd and her sheep. I loved to see the sheep, but I must admit as a vegan I don’t really agree with the whole idea. I love that the sheep can walk around there and are in their natural habitat though. In the back of the flock there IMG_0717was a mother sheep with her baby and the mum was limping and could hardly walk. But the shepherd was forcing her to walk by directing her with her stick and send the dog. It wasn’t a nice thing to look at. And if that wasn’t enough, 10 minutes later there was another mother sheep and her lam all alone, panicking, looking for her flock. I felt so sad for her. There wasn’t much I could do, but I hope she found them eventually.
Also because it was Joella’s actual birthday, we all went out for dinner that evening. It’s the kind of restaurant where you can eat as much as you want, and of course I ate until my stomach was nearly exploding. But we had a good time and there were quite some vegan options! It was a good end of my holiday.

IMG_0785Tuesday I did have some time as my flight was going in the evening. I used it to just relax a bit. I made everybody lunch and then my mum dropped me off at the train station. I went via Eindhoven Airport, what means I do have to travel for 3 hours before I’m actually at the airport. I like to do that as I can see Holland from north to south. Watching the fields, the cows and the sheep is so nice. It gives me time to reflect and to be thankful, because what a lovely holiday it was! It always goes so fast though, but I went home with a lot of nice memories!

Chai latte with almond milk at Anat,, yum!

Chai latte with almond milk at Anat,, yum!

Inside Anat

Inside Anat.

Chocolate and lavender cake at Anat.

Chocolate and lavender cake at Anat.

Books at WAAR.

Books at WAAR.

Tony's Chocolonely I bought at WAAR!

Tony’s Chocolonely I bought at WAAR!

The beautiful pink blossoms in Esther's garden.

The beautiful pink blossoms in Esther’s garden.

Picnic party!

Picnic party!

Did anybody visit any of these hotspots? Or are you going to after reading this? Please let me know or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X