Signs of Spring in the Griftpark

Spring in the GriftparkA picture of two little lambs curled up together seemed appropriate for today. They’re some of the animals that live at the Griftpark, which we visited the other day. We went because I’d heard there was an International Market taking place through the 21st and I was curious to see what they had. Plus, the Griftpark is just a nice little park located nearby, at the end of a picturesque walk along one of the canals.

When we first got to the park, I realized that the kermis (fair) was also there. We were there pretty early in the day, so nothing was in operation yet and staff were getting some of the rides ready for the day.Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThe International Market was also just getting started, with a few stalls still shuttered. The offerings were mainly food, but there were a few stalls with clothing, handmade baskets, and the somewhat random stall selling necklace chains by the length. There were a number of nations represented, including Spain, Germany, Britain, and France, but the Italians seemed to be out in force. There were a number of Italian stalls selling cheese, meats, olives, nuts, and sweets. Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkHowever, it was the animals that we spent the most time watching, particularly the pigs. They have a lovely curly, wiry coat that I was dying to touch, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that urge, so they sensibly put up a warning sign telling people to be careful, because the pigs can bite. Duly noted! Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThere were also a few swans and a mix of ducks hanging around the small pond, as they often do, enjoying the sunshine and perhaps hoping for a few bites of pretzel from one of the market stalls. In all, it was a lovely little outing on a beautiful spring day.Spring in the Griftpark

The Agreement’s In The Bag

The AgreementLast year, as part of the Treaty of Utrecht anniversary celebrations, a massive photo canvas was hung from the front of the Stadhuis, signifying the various parties involved in the historic agreement.

The image was a composite of photos taken by artist Red Saunders, melded beautifully into a fascinating tableau. After the celebrations, there had been the hope that a place would be found where the image could hang on permanent display. Unfortunately, the sheer size meant that it just wasn’t feasible. It could have been folded up and left somewhere to gather dust, but an alternative solution was agreed upon.

The variety of cultural festivals and events that take place here in Utrecht produce a number of sturdy banners that would become garbage if someone didn’t find an alternative use. As part of the duurzaamheid (sustainability) that is of growing interest, many of the old banners have been transformed into sturdy, unusual, and stylish bags. The people who have been doing this are going to do the same with The Agreement. Rather than have the large image languish in oblivion, it will be turned into a bag that can also be used as a picnic blanket, perfect for the Bevrijdingsfestival. Anyone interested can order one for just €20, and have their own personal and functional keepsake.

Now if only I could get a bag made out of the section with the dogs …The Agreement

A Trip to the Handmade Market

Zelfgemaakte Markt
The winter market season is in full swing, it seems, with the Zelfgemaakte Markt (Handmade Market) today, the Christmas edition of the Streekmarkt tomorrow, and the Christmas market that runs from 19-22 December around the Ganzenmarkt/Stadhuis area next week. Lots of great stuff to be found for last-minute Christmas gifts (or for yourself).

The Zelfgemaakte Markt is held a few times each year, but I keep missing it, so I was determined to finally go today. I’m so glad I did! So many pretty/funny/cute/useful/gorgeous things for sale! I saw some decorative plates and bowls that I almost bought, but then I came across the Studio Ellessi stall and I knew that was where I’d be spending the small bit of cash I had with me.
Studio Ellessi
She does these wonderful line drawings of various Utrecht locations and I wish I’d had more money with me, because I was having a hard time making up my mind which print to get! In the end, I went with a view of the Domtoren along the Oudegracht/Vismarkt, since it’s a favourite view and also goes well with one of the vintage prints I’ve purchased recently. Along with the Paushuize print, I’ve now got a nice little collection of Utrecht prints to frame and hang somewhere.
Utrecht Kunst
At some point, I’ll probably be ordering her print of Orloff at the Donkere Gaard, another favorite of mine. In fact, we walked past there today and I couldn’t help but stop to admire their Santa decoration.
Donkere Gaard KerstmisSantaSo the next time the Zelfgemaakte Markt is in town, definitely make a point of stopping by. There’s a fantastic mix of stuff and much of it is really affordable, on top of being well made. I was particularly impressed by the variety of items on offer, too, as sometimes it seems like the bulk of stuff is for children. There was plenty on hand for adults — of all maturity levels. There’s also food and drink for sale, including gevulde speculaas and cranberry gluhwein, and a few spots to sit and enjoy them there in the market.
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Liefde
Mariapomp

Bock Bier Festival in Utrecht

Ledig Erf Bock Bier Festival
It’s that time of year again! Time for the annual bock beer festival at Ledig Erf! Lots of delicious bock beers from a variety of breweries, and various typical Dutch snacks to soak up some of the alcohol.

The festival starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. We’ll be there Saturday afternoon, hoping the rain stays away. It’s always been gorgeous the past years we’ve gone. Hopefully our luck hasn’t run out! Say hi if you spot us.

If you go, take cash. You pay a deposit on a glass (which you can keep or return for your money back) and you buy coins that are used inside the tents to pay for the beers.

As well as looking forward to seeing friends and drinking tasty beers, I’m also looking forward to seeing what strange, new creatures will be roaming the festival this year.
Friendly CreaturesStrange Creatures

Lekker Utregs

Lekker Utregs
After being housebound for five days thanks to a vicious cold, I was feeling better today and headed out briefly to Neude to check out Lekker Utregs. It’s a festival celebrating regionally produced food, grown by everyone from balcony gardeners to professionals.

It was a nice mix of stalls selling their wares — vegetables, meat, honey, jams, cheese — as well as more interactive displays, including a chance to learn how to milk a cow, or should I say a “cow”.
Lekker Utregs
There was also a small petting zoo for kids, with a small pony, some sheep, a goat, a couple of rabbits, and some fluffy chickens who looked suspiciously like one of our neighbors.

There was also a display of “extreme groenten”, showcasing some of the more impressive and unusual vegetables locals have grown.
Lekker UtregsIf all the food was making you hungry, some of the stalls had some free samples. I particularly enjoyed the fenugreek cheese. In addition, there were food trucks and other stalls set up offering burgers, pizza, desserts, and pancakes to sate your appetite.

It wasn’t all food, though. There were a few musical performances, and in the center of the square stood an art piece by Utrecht wood artist Jules Enneking, which turned the Domtoren into festive tree.
Lekker UtregsNumerous events were planned for throughout the day, including discussions and debates about the value and importance of local food sourcing. All in all, it was a nice way to ease my way back into life in Utrecht.
Lekker Utregs

As a side note, unfortunately, my camera is having issues, so photos were limited (and others disappeared) that better represented the event. Think positive thoughts that it can be easily and cheaply fixed!

Back in Utrecht

Gouden Kalf
I’m back!

After a gruelling trip back, which included a missed flight in London and what seems to be an elbow injury and too many bruises to count, I finally made it back to Utrecht yesterday. I saw the Domtoren on the taxi ride home and managed to get a quick shot of the Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf) before they take it down. It’s part of the decorations for the annual Nederland Film Festival, which I missed this year. I always get a photo of the kalf, though, so I was glad to not completely miss a year.

More NC photos and stories to come, interspersed with regular Utrecht content, but for now I’m cuddling the cats and the boyfriend and enjoying being able to walk everywhere.

Visualizing the Treaty of Utrecht

I’ve got a few more days left in the US, and you’ll probably end up seeing a few more posts about the US when I get back, but for now, time to squeeze in one last post about the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht (Vrede van Utrecht). Unfortunately, I missed the final celebrations, but I got to enjoy plenty of the events that have taken place throughout the year. This video is a nice look back at some of the many events and exhibits, including some of the ones I didn’t make it to over the past few months. Enjoy!

Farm Fest

Farm Fest
Today we attended the Eleventh Annual Farm Fest. Obviously I was looking forward to getting lots of photos of animals, barns, and hopefully some picturesque Americana scenes. I made sure I had my camera with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t check to make sure that my camera’s memory card was in place. Ooops! Stuck at home in the laptop. Fortunately, I had my camera phone with me and was able to take a few shots, although not the quality ones I had hoped to get.
Farm Fest
The main reason we went was because the Scottish music group my dad plays in was one of the performers at the festival. He’s the tall one in the center playing the tin whistle. They performed early on, so afterward, we were able to take a look at the stalls of exhibitors and enjoy a nice lunch.
Farm Fest
The farm is primarily sheep, but they do also have some llamas and goats. I was admiring a couple of the llamas from a distance, but one seemed to be concerned that I wasn’t going to get him on his good side, so he came right up to me. With visions of spitting llamas in my head, I quickly backed up, hopefully out of range. Still, he is a handsome fella.
Farm Fest
There were also sheep herding displays taking place, with a variety of border collies showing off their skills. I happened to see them “backstage” before they went on.
Farm Fest Border Collies
Farm Fest
The main focus of the festival this year was food and fiber. They had a variety of fiber artists displaying their wares, as well as some woodworkers, jewelry makers, soap makers, and farmers offering honey, jams, salsa, and more. There were some beautiful yarns on display and a variety of sheep skins. If I were a more serious knitter, I would have been extremely tempted.
Farm Fest
The weather was perfect, with the sun shining and comfortable temperatures, making it a wonderful day to enjoy everything on offer.
Farm Fest
That said, the most entertaining part of the day was when a complete stranger came up to my dad and commented on how handsome he is and she then asked for a hug. My dad, the rock star! The kilt gets them every time.
Dad

A Day in the Park

Day in the Park 2013
Look! It’s a big school bus in its natural habitat! After seeing a couple of the big yellow buses in Utrecht, it’s almost entertaining to see them actually on the streets here in the US. They come in all sizes and colors here, although the yellow remains the most typical for actual daily school runs. White ones, such as the one seen here, are more commonly used for extra activities, such as transporting students and athletes to sporting events, or in this case, transporting the members of the Andrews High School marching band.
Andrews Marching Band
Here in the US, most schools have a marching band that performs at sporting events, as well as local parades and festivals. The Andrews marching band performs each year at the annual Day in the Park in Jamestown. They started off marching through some of the park, before finishing at the stage area where the band played a few songs and the dance squad performed.
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band

The Day in the Park has been going on for years and is a mix of music, games, food, crafts, and stalls where people show off their skills, sell their wares, or simply spread the word about their organization. I’ve attended quite frequently over the years, in part because my father is a regular exhibitor.
Day in the Park 2013
This year, he could be found in the Folk Life display, where people exhibited basket weaving, yarn making, quilts, and, in my dad’s case, ships in a bottle. He’s been making them for years and attends the festival to tell people about the hobby and explain a bit about how it’s done.
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
If you’re ever in Jamestown around the 20th of September, give or take a day or so, do check out the Day in the Park. It’s a fun, friendly event in a beautiful setting (more of the actual park to come in another post). In all, you could say it’s gezellig.

Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013

Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
Are you in or near Utrecht? You have until this evening to enjoy some delicious mussels, oysters, wine and beer at the annual Utrechts Mosselfestival on Lucasbolwerk. The weather has cooperated so far and we got to stop by for a brief period today to see the official opening while devouring the mussels and enjoying a beer from local brewery De Leckere.

Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
As well as the food and drink, which can be enjoyed sitting on any of the terraces of the four organizing cafés and restaurants, there are two springkussen (bouncy castles) for kids, and there has been singing from a local men’s choir. The official opening was brief, but included an “ode” to mussels and Utrecht, from what I picked out. Unfortunately, I missed the name of the gentleman who wrote/performed it.
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
As for the men’s choir, the 30 members perform under the name Tusken Waat en Wild. They performed a mix of Dutch and English language classics, ranging from Utereg M’n Stadsie to Let It Be.
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
However, my favorite was probably their rendition of Oh! Susanna. That’s such an American classic, one which lots of Americans probably grow up singing, so there’s something wonderfully charming and funny hearing it being sung at a mussels festival in Utrecht.
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
The festival continues to grow each year. The tents for the food and drink were bigger and fancier and there were two springkussen instead of one as in past years. The food and drink remains consistently good each year, so it’s a pleasure to see this neighborhood event succeed. If you can’t make it this year, plan on attending next year! Dogs and children welcome.
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013
Utrechts Mosselfestival 2013