It's amazing what can be achieved when you all work together.
There will be a Home in Leiden committee meeting at 8pm at my house on Tuesday 26 th (the date that suited most people) for anyone who is/would like to be involved. For directions and/or if you haven't already let me know that you are coming, email me (so I have an idea of how many brownies to make and bottles of wine to buy) on firstname.lastname@example.org
We have all been very busy writing new content: check out our sparkly new sections! First up Greener Leiden Living, for which Laura and I have been scouring Leiden for tips on responsible living: if you have any tips or links that you would like to add, do please let us know! Marianne Orchard of www.likeasponge.nl has written the hilarious (and helpful) Dutch Festivals and Traditions, which aims to shed some light on tricky issues such as 3 Oktober and trakteren. Jessica has written the Useful Links section, which is of course an ongoing project - do please send us your favourite links! Jessica is also doing exhaustive research for our great revamped section on Schools , especially getting reviews from international parents. If you would like to write a review of your child's school, or have any other suggestions, please email her on Jessica@homeinleiden.nl.
Tree cozy by Carol Hummer
Knit a tree! As part of the Leiden Textile Festival (more on this later, see www.textielfestival.nl ), Marja of www.nordicwool.nl has come up with the lovely and agreeably bonkers community craft project of knitting a 'tree cozy' for a tree in the Hortus. Inspired by Carol Hummer and the graknitti projects and Guerilla Knitting (makes me smile even thinking about it - see http://www.flickr.com/groups/guerilla-knitting/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/feb/23/guerrilla-knitting-yarn-bombing-magda-sayeg ), she is sponsoring the project whereby we all knit pieces to create a beautiful and amusing whole. You can collect a free bag of wool and instructions from the Hortus Botanicus from the 23 rd (you leave a deposit of €5, returnable when you hand in your knitting). We'll be knitting at home, but can also come together in the café at the Hortus, 14.00-16.00, on Saturday 23 rd January, Sunday 7 th February, Saturday 6 th March and Sunday 14 th March). The finished tree will be viewable during the Textile Festival, 24 th -28 th March.
We had our first session on Tuesday, which was tremendous fun but utter chaos! The children loved it, but my ears are still ringing! We've decided that as the aim of these sessions is for some actual dancing to take place, we need to remove the distractions and have a more 'workshop' feel to the group. Basically, each week will therefore be a leader, a helper, and a group of 4+ children, without parents and younger siblings. I have lots of exciting sessions lined up, including a zumba teacher, belly dancing, and hopefully some break-dancing teenagers from my neighbourhood! If you yourself have an idea for a session, or know of someone, do let me know! We can also have plenty of simple free dancing sessions: all we need then is someone good at dancing to a specific sort of music (be it drum n bass or Strauss). We have some HomeinLeiden funding, but the aim is to keep the cost to an absolute minimum (to cover costs it is at present €1 per child), so sponsors for a professional are always welcome as an alternative to leading a group yourself!
The rest of us can always go to the playground or to my house for a cup of tea.
The Leiden Expat Centre has just opened! Located in the visitor centre next to Leiden station, it provides advice and information on all the nitty-gritty of moving and living here, including things like tax, housing, benefits etc. The website www.expatcentreleiden.nl should be online shortly, and there will be someone at the desk to answer your queries in person. I will be also meeting with the organizers to discuss what we, as the international community, need and want from them, and how we can help each other. If you have any ideas/input please do email me!
This website is a treasure trove of ideas on how to make basically anything: from chainmail out of ringpulls (I'm collecting already) and swords out of duct tape, to jewellery out of old computer parts and edible chocolate playdough.
The lovely make-your-own jewellery shop Byoux le Nuur has moved to gorgeous new premises next to V&D (Maarsmansteeg 4-6) - a huge roomy shop with plenty of space for pushchairs where you can choose from the most amazing array of beads. The woman who owns it is lovely, and it's a great way of helping a child make a special present for someone else (friend, sister, grandmother, aunt), thus learning thoughtfulness and enjoying yourselves at the same time! www.byouxlenur.nl