Another year has gone by… welcome to 2016

2015 is almost over and it has been year of much change and many new highs. Going through the postings here and looking at the photos on my camera, I realized it was a year with a lot of travel. I had started a new job at Mars which has literally taken me around the world in 90 days. My year started in Brazil in early January where it was middle of summer, only to go straight into snowstorm Juno in New Jersey a week later. Dubai followed shortly after as well as several trips to China, Spain and Hong Kong. Luckily I was able to stop over in The Netherlands and visited my dad in Wapenveld already before the end of February. Alexandra also embarked on a big trip to The Netherlands while I partially was for work in France. She got to spend time with Tante Elly and opa en oma. Saskia, Sylvie, Benjamin, Annette and Marco were also in The Netherlands and it was a great time to be together as a family.

Travel continued for me for a little bit after this trip but big changes were on the horizon. Late June I decided to accept an offer for a new job and leave Mars after 17 years. It was a great time and I learned a lot at Mars over the years but the new opportunities were very exciting. Roos and Alex also traveled with Mascha and went camping several times in Arizona and Utah. Jans and Minnie also came to visit us late in the summer and we visited Las Vegas together. The girls already went skiing early this year and I was able to do a nice week trip to Northern California with my friend to wind down from the hectic “first 100 days” at my new job. Plans were made for another big trip to Europe with Alex going with Mascha to the Netherlands and Roos with me to England first and then joining her mom and sister.

I just put the suitcase back in storage today from my return from England and Mascha, Roos and Alex are getting ready to go to Amsterdam as we speak. They’ll arrive back in the US in about 20 hours from now and that wraps the year….
toastEverybody stayed healthy and happy in 2015 and while we’re unsure what 2016 will bring, I hope health and happiness and family will stay with us. We already know that Roos will go to high school and needs to pick a new school in the next few months. For now though, just a toast and a warm welcome to 2016…

 

Roos is flying by herself..

Today Roos will be flying for the first by herself. She’s flying from London to Amsterdam to meet up with Alex and Mascha. Marco is going to drop her off (and help Roos get to the gate if necessary ) 

I’m staying for another day and will fly back to the US tomorrow. My vacation days are a bit limited so will get a few more days of work in this year.   

Update: Roos has arrived on the other side. Her first flight by herself is now successfully behind her. 

  

  

Day trip to London

Yesterday Roos and I took a day trip to London. We wanted to visit the Harrods store, which is a bit obligatory when one is in London for Christmas. Alexandra had been there too a few years ago and found a few nice presents. We left Woking by train around noon and took a taxi from Waterloo. Roos noted that the London taxi experience is a lot better than she expected.  

The food court in Harrods was very welcoming as we were both getting a bit hungry. Roos settled on sushi and I stayed a bit closer to home and had some Scottish eggs. With lunch over we shopped for a few hours and Roos found a few nice presents she wouldn’t be able to buy easily somewhere else. We had to leave some presents behind though, like this 17,000 pound tiger figurine. Roos can come back pick it up when she has made enough money babysitting …


From Harrods we walked a couple of blocks to a nearby hotel and picked a taxi from there to the British museum. This is an old trick as the streets around Harrods were packed with cats and it can take a while to get out with all the traffic.
The British museum had a few nice collections and Roos really liked the Egyptian department because of all the cats. She also recognized the Rosetta Stone right away. It’s one if the more prominent items on display.



By the time we finished in the museum ( probably having seen only 20% of the collection ), it was time to get a bite to eat. This time it was Roos who decided on a typical English option: a real pub. There were shared a steak&ale pie and bangers&mash.

With dinner over we took a taxi back to Waterloo station and into the train to Woking where Marco picked us up.

Leeds Castle

Yesterday we all went to see Leeds Castle. Its tag-line is ‘the loveliest castle in the world’. It’s about an hour drive from Marco and Annette’s house in Kent near the town of Maidstone. The location has been the home of the castle since 1119. It originally started as a Norman stronghold and has been expanded upon through the centuries passing through various families. While the castle isn’t that large compared to some others, it has some nice documents that were retained. There is for example a detailed record of the billings to suppliers from the 14th century showing that the cost for food, furniture, repairs, etc. was close to 200,000 GBP in todays dollars. Probably not that different from what it would be today. leeds castle

The weather wasn’t on our side and it was raining quite a bit. While it made for a nice, typical English view from within the castle, it was not so fund walking the grounds back the car.

Parc Guell 2010 - 0001-5

 

London

Yesterday Roos, Marco and myself went to London. We went by train from Woking station to Waterloo and then took the Tube to Leicester square. The weather was very English; a few serious rain showers and a grey sky. The city however was brightly decorated with Christmas lights so it was quite nice. We arrived quite late in the day and first got some hot chocolate before going to Hamleys. Hamleys, on Regent Street, is the oldest toy store in the world. It opened in 1760. This being a few days before Christmas, the store was incredibly busy. Similar to Harrods the store has people demonstrating the various toys:  boomerangs, paper airplanes and other things were flying around in the store. At the end of the day the choice was overwhelming and we didn’t buy anything. It was fun to visit though. We walked through London and strolled by Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye.

 

Roos visiting Saskia’s school

Today Roos was a guest in Saskia’s class. It was the last day of school this year so a great day to be a visitor. One of the things that is different here is that Saskia and all other kids have to wear a school uniform. Roos was appropriately American dressed in Coca Cola sweat pants. The kids asked her about California and Disney land. 

 Sadly we weren’t able to take any pictures. Schools here generally have stricter rules around privacy.  After school however we did take some pictures.