It’s quite lovely in Holland at the moment.
The colours outside are turning Orange and Yellow.
When I catch the wind doing its thing and blowing outside my window I can watch the leaves as they are falling.
There are glorious layers of coloured leaves covering the ground everywhere I look.
We’ve been here (in Holland) for two months now.
It seems quite some time given that we only spent 3 months in Ireland (that felt like such a full chapter, didn’t it?).
It is also half the time we spent travelling on the road in the camper – wow.
Soon it will be a year since we left Aussie!
Moving to Ireland was one without expectations as it was an ‘add on’. A little bonus when Greg was offered a job to work from home and we took that literally (creatively).
I guess Holland is different as this was always the final destination after our travels.
We wanted to add a challenge to the luxury of travel and give ourselves the chance to live in Europe to really explore this continent.
I think if our kids were younger we may have stopped along the way and tried living in a Mediterranean country. But with one starting high school and one in year 5 we didn’t want to push them too hard!
Has it been easy? Not always. I miss the freedom of the road (not really Australia yet, sorry mum). I know that feeling of loss will pass. It’s a transition, thankfully, often momentary.
I’m creating a new story – a reinvention I guess. I try to stick to the basics of what I need. The things that fill my bucket.
Outdoor adventures, creating a homely nest, making things, chats with friends and hugs from kids.
The kids are so beautifully settled – maybe that makes it too easy to focus on myself.
Hindsight tells me that this part of the journey is the most meaningful. The bit where you settle into it and make the decisions and take the actions for how things will look.
Look! My sourdough starter arrived from Aussie. That will mean bread in a few weeks (watch this space).
Of course if you know me you’ll know that while I live here I’ll be present in this life and make friends while learning and trying new things. And, of course I’ll be daydreaming.
One day if we have a little Alpine house with loads of beds in the Alps I promise we’ll have a gathering and you can all come.
The hikers amongst you can climb, the painters can paint the wildflowers, the dreamers can cartwheel through the fields and the foodies can enjoy the simplicity of the seasonal and local produce.
What a gathering. Late nights and loads of chatter. YES. Daydreams – my air.
Of course if it doesn’t happen that’s ok too right? That is the absolute beauty of daydreams. They are a moment of peace, some time for imagination, a little story not a desire for more (but totally cool if it does happen).
I think we have finally sorted out all our paperwork here. Moving to a new country and signing a new lease has meant commitments to bills and contracts. That is a weird feeling after a year of freedom.
We try to keep everything as minimal as possible. Pre-paid sim cards, the most basic internet connection. No extras.
Two reasons I guess. One to keep costs down but also because there is more freedom with less commitments.
I’m saying no to all the ‘bonus’ card type extras (and there are plenty here). My wallet has only my debit card. It used to have a licence and a medicare card but neither are necessary here.
That’s a smidge of what practical minimalism looks like in my life. Less stuff, less commitments, reduced mail (noise).
Ironically that is the purse I bought here 12 years ago. Funny how life does full circles. We came home to Aussie before we were ready then – now we can finish the story we started here.
In Holland you have to register with a Dr and a pharmacy. They have all your details on file. A basic insurance is mandatory but all Dr, Dental and Medicines are free for children up until 18.
When we first arrived I needed new Epipens for Tommy. The receptionist at the Dr’s surgery organised these ASAP without even visiting the Dr – this was super efficient. I was really surprised.
A call was placed to the pharmacy with the script and we had to collect them. You can’t get anywhere without first registering at the DR and Pharmacy though. And you have to find a Dr that has space for you. Often you must be in the catchment area.
Opening a bank account was relatively straightforward compared to last time! No appointment necessary. Appointments are BIG in Holland. BIG.
We do have a BSN number (from last time). It’s like a tax file number and the most important number, without it you can’t really organise anything.
When we left the ‘medeworker’ (employee) told us we would receive our ‘PIN’ notification in 5 days. Once received we could visit the ‘secret’ location to collect the actual PIN.
I’m serious. Apparently there are three secret locations. The Dutch take banking security very seriously. International credit cards are not accepted in a lot of places as they have their own payment systems.
It’s also not a country that uses a lot of credit. When I first went to the beautician they sent me an invoice to pay via direct debit! I’m serious. They don’t take cash or CC. Only local cards.
It’s not a credit society, they save to pay for things. I like this mentality. It’s nice for the kids to grow up with it. There is also more social support it seems (housing and financial) than home.
I made a new friend from Greece last week. I am trying to be more open to meeting people. I often take my time. My usual MO is to hide – maybe a little too much. I get to know people slowly. It’s probably why online suits me. But we all need a few face to face people.
My new friend invited me for coffee and breakfast. I smelt the oregano and honey she had from the mountains at home. She was so proud of them. I was so honoured to smell them and to eat toast with her mum’s handmade strawberry jam.
My new friend told me of life at home in Greece. We talked about how strong the family is in Greece and how this is what holds Greece up in it’s failing economy. They take care of each other. Beautiful thought hey.
Had she been in her ‘normal’ life I would never have met her as she would be busy in that family life. This is one of the beautiful things about traveling to a new country and why seeking other expat’s is so wonderful.
We become each other’s family.
When I lived in Holland last time I met 5 or so friends who are still in my life today. Sometimes there are years in between talks or catchups but the bond remains the same.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of coffee. The Dutch don’t do anything without coffee – road trips can take forever (stops for coffee!).
Here is the local supermarket coffee machine (and the isle of wine, no seperate bottle shops). The coffee is free.
I’m trying to ignore the waste of the cups and see the generosity of the spirit. There is a seat near here inside the shop and I see people sit and chat.
I’ll start taking my own cup and see if I can start a trend ;). We can only do what we can do hey, from where we stand.
P.s. The coffee is not like Italian coffee, so generally we stick with the cafetiera at home.