Yes, it's that time of year, the end-of-April Bank Holiday season is upon us, with double celebrations this year for the Very Last Queen's Day and the Very First King's Day. And fortunately the weather gods have come to their senses just in time and delivered a good helping of proper springtime, so that there shouldn't be any cases of hypothermia among flag-wavers and parade-watchers. The public holiday is also nicely timed just at the start of the fortnight's Meivakantie - May school holiday - so this homepage is about all things Orange and holiday-related. Cross fingers for the weather!
Are you living in Oegstgeest and would you like to see more provision for internationals in the area? Would you like to be involved in starting something up? Now's your chance to come and join in at the Gemeentecentrum at Lijtweg 7 on Wednesday 24 th April, at 9am till about 10.30. The Centrum Jeugd en Gezin and the local council have put their heads together with various people (also including Alison Sutton of Childrearing Matters) and the upshot is that the CJG/Gemeente want to hear what you want and how you would do it in the area - and then to help you get it going!
What's missing in Oegstgeest? Would you like affordable Dutch classes in the mornings? A bumps-and-babies group? A safe and dog-free playground in Oegstgeest (YES PLEASE)? A walk-in clinic for your questions about life here? Help with reading official documents? Advice on school choices? None of the above? There is time and space on offer from the council, together with help from all sorts of people and potentially some money to help set something up, but what is needed is energy and ideas from internationals like yourselves, and the enthusiasm of a couple of you to start something up. Even if you don't think you can do that, come and bring your ideas to the brainstorming session on Wednesday - children and babies welcome!
Mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, and I hope to see you there.
HomeinLeiden's very own Harriet will be holding at exhibition at the restaurant DENDE, Nieuwe Rijn 5 (opposite V&D). Join us for a glass of bubbles at the opening, at 4pm on Sunday 28 th April - children are welcome and there will be a drawing competition to keep them busy! Even if you can't make it, her work will be on display in the restaurant for a couple of months, so pop in for a coffee or a meal (the food is yummy and the staff are lovely) to see it. Take a look at Harriet's website www.thetulipandthebutterfly.com to see some of her work.
Well, on Monday 30 th - Queen's Day as was - the troonswisseling (Succession) will take place. The big Succession / Throne Swap will take place on Monday in Amsterdam; first Beatrix will sign an abdication document in the Dam Palace, and then Willem-Alexander's inhuldiging (inauguration) will take place in the Nieuwe Kerk. There will be plenty of pomp and circumstance Dutch style; one very grand part is the States-General (both houses of Parliament) meeting Willem-Alexander to huldig him in and everyone wearing their best ceremonial outfits. If you are really interested, you can find all yu ever wanted to know about the Succession on the government website here, but if you just want to hear about what's happening more locally - read on!
Both (sort of)! Willem-Alexander's own birthday is on 27 th April, fortunately, so the Dutch won't have too big a change to get used to when from next year a King's Day holiday on the 27 th will replace the old Queen's Day on 30 th April. This year, the holiday's still on the 30 th , but there are various jollifications over the weekend on W-A's birthday as well. If you have children in Dutch primary school, you will probably have heard about the Koningsspelen (King's Games) which will be held on Friday 26 th April. Most Leiden area schools are taking part, in the form of a Koningsontbijt (King's Breakfast) at school followed by a sports day for all the children - perfect for the last day before the holidays when they don't do any work anyway!
Loads! My favourite is the children's vrijmarkt in the morning of the 30 th . This is where Leiden's youth hone their bargaining skills by selling all their spare toys, games etc. at a free market (think car boot sale without the cars) in the town centre (Garenmarkt, Nieuwe Rijn, Hooglandsekerkgracht), or singing/playing a musical instrument to compete for the busking prize. There's also a junk-cum-curiosities market on and around the Breestraat. You can find out more at www.koninginnedagleiden.nl, but here are a couple of highlights: in the Marekerk on the evening of the 29 th you can hear Mozart's Coronation Mass in the Marekerk (Lange Mare), and the next day you can watch the Abdication live on big screens at the Koornbrug and on the Pieterskerkplein.
Many neighbourhoods hold their own mini-fetes as well, in many cases at the local speeltuin ; look at www.koninginnedagleiden.nl to see if there's something on near where you live. The local affairs are particularly good for small children who would be overwhelmed in the crowds of the town centre; there will be games, mini-children's market, food and drink, and it's all very relaxed.
In Oegstgeest the Oranjevereniging (www.oranjeverenigingoegstgeest.nl) takes care of all the festivities, and this year there's a concert with local band De Kraaien (among others) at Oud Poelgeest on the evening of the 27 th . There's a funfair at the Lange Voort starting at the weekend, and on the evening of the 29 th there's live music and a laser show at 10pm.
Much more fun for children are all the goings-on all day at the Gemeentehuis on the Endegeesterweg, and on the Hofdijck. These are blissfully low-key and old-fashioned; tugs-of-war, bouncy castles, poffertjes, silly fairground games that only come out on Koninginnedag and no doubt lots and lots of bright orange food. And the abdication on big screens here as well.
Oegstgeest saves its kinderrommelmarkt for 5 th May, when the streets are paved with children selling off their old toys and games. Oegstgeest being what it is, this can be the place to pick up seriously good bargains - but make sure you arrive early!
The founder of HomeinLeiden and general all-round good egg Harriet has written a lovely article about how this website started for an Amsterdam website which shares many of HomeinLeiden's aims - take a look at it here.
And to anyone who is needing a tribe at the moment - do please get in touch with us at email@example.com and we will do our best to help!
The Netherlands don't really spread their public holidays out; after Easter, there's Queen's Day, Ascension (40 days after Easter), Whitsun and in every fifth year also May 5 th (Liberation Day) - and then nothing until Christmas. Depending on the Church calendar this can mean odd concentrations of holidays in spring, and the school meivakantie fortnight comes somewhere in the middle of all this, this year from 29/4 to 10/5. If you're going away, have a lovely time: if not, here are some ideas.
The Leiden buurthuizen (community centres) run extra children's activities during the holiday - check out www.libertasleiden.nl under the 'In uw wijk' section to find out more, or - better - simply turn up and ask. The community centres are mostly open in the mornings and there'll probably be someone you can ask! In Oegstgeest the Stichting Evenementen at Lijtweg 7 (in the Gemeentecentrum) will also be organising things, but their website has no info as yet so you're better off going along to ask. Again, mornings are best. If your child is in school in Oegstgeest, s/he will receive a leaflet about holiday activities anyway. Leiden's museums (www.leidsemusea.nl) are always worth a visit and will have special holiday programmes on.
My favourite at this time of year, though, is just to get OUT among some green growing things - after the spring we've had, I don't need warmth; anything over 5C feels perfect to me! Look back at old springtime homepages for more ideas, but my favourites within easy cycling distance are: the farm 't Geertje; the woods of the Panbos between Wassenaar and Katwijk Huys te Warmont in Warmond; the 't Joppe lake in Warmond; the Vlietlanden to the south. It's also a wonderful time of year to get to know the Leiden speeltuinen. Remember that these playgrounds receive a subsidy which depends on the number of members they have, so do join your local playground rather than paying each time you visit; the cost is minimal (up to about eur20 per family per year!).
HomeinLeiden is taking some time off during the holiday, and wishes you all a sunny and happy (and hopefully WARM) couple of weeks until the next homepage.