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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The weather was perfect, with the sun shining and comfortable temperatures, making it a wonderful day to enjoy everything on offer.
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.
My dad and I made a visit to the farmers market this morning to get a few things, including some okra! I was tempted by the apple butter, but worry that it won’t fit in my suitcase. As for the pimento cheese, I’m not sure how well that would travel. Oh well, at least I can get molasses in Utrecht.
The market is actually a large area with multiple open-sided “barns” like the one pictured above. Some sell just food, while others focus more on flowers and fruits. There are also areas for buying meat and such. Most items sold are local (and certified) although there are some areas where the items don’t have to be completely local.
Halloween is fast approaching, so there are plenty of pumpkins from which to choose. There are small ones for autumn decorating, medium ones for cooking, and large ones for all of your Halloween jack-o-lanterns and other decorations.
Some areas were heavy on the flowers and reminded me a bit of the bloemenmarkt at Janskerkhof. I think the prices were relatively similar, although the selection wasn’t as extensive. Most flowers were for planting, rather than the loose flower stalk bunches (like the tulips, gerbera daisies, roses, etc.) that are such a common site throughout Utrecht.
There was a nice mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, though, with varieties of apples, pears, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, and much more.
Dogs weren’t allowed inside the market area, but a few hovered on the fringes. (No idea what happened to my camera on this shot.)
There’s plenty to see at the markets, whether it’s the fresh produce, amusing signs that bring to mind Josephine Baker, or just the people watching. Best of all, there’s plenty of tasty stuff to take home at the end of it all.
One of the differences that I can’t help but notice while being back in the US is the lack of bicycles. I’ve seen seven since being back. One of those was the police officer in the photo. Of the seven cyclists I’ve seen here, five have been wearing at least a helmet and most have been wearing some sort of special clothing.
Police in the US, at least in North Carolina, are always on mountain bikes or speed bikes. Certainly not the oma/opa fiets you typically see police riding in the Netherlands. This is a typical look for Dutch police on bikes. In other words, not much different than everyone else, except for the uniform. But even then, they wear a normal uniform and rarely wear a helmet. I don’t even have any photos of Dutch police on bikes — although I do have pictures of police on horseback — because they’re a pretty normal sight.
Dutch bike police also don’t seem to have the same kind of “attitude” that American bike cops have, although I’d say Dutch police in general don’t have the same kind of attitude that American cops often have. Take that however you choose. 😉 On the other hand, this photo was taken on an actual mountain, so fair play to the bicycle cop who can handle the climbs!
(Apologies for the poor quality of the photo. It was done with an old camera phone.)
Everyone has parks, so I can’t say that the High Point City Lake Park (technically located in Jamestown, NC) is particularly American in what it offers. However, it does have a lot of nostalgic memories for me. As well as visiting regularly for the annual A Day in the Park, high school friends and I went quite often, whether just to hang out or to occasionally try our hand at grilling and serving up a picnic.
It’s a fairly large park, with a number of amenities — numerous grills, picnic tables, shelters, a merry-go-round, miniature golf, and a 340-acre lake. There’s even a miniature train (large enough for adults to ride), with scenic views of the lake. I have fond memories of riding the train on past visits.
Much of Jamestown (NC) was settled and turned into a thriving town thanks to the Quakers who lived in the area. In fact, there is an old Quaker Meeting House in the park and also an old shop that belonged to Richard Mendenhall, one of the important figures in Jamestown’s history. I’ll be posting more about the Menhenhalls in a future post.
The lake itself is the result of a dam being built, which covered an old home once belonging to one of the old families of the area. One side is the picturesque lake and on the other is the drier section of the dam. The dam has a surprisingly elegant appearance, reminiscent of old aqueducts.
The park can be quite busy during the summer months, but its size and wooded nature lends a certain sense of tranquillity that makes it a favorite.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the things I miss living in the Netherlands is the lack of breakfast as I know it. For many places in Europe, the idea of breakfast is a roll/croissant with some jam or something simple like that. In the Netherlands, many families have a slice of bread with some butter and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). What you rarely find is a full breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, etc.
To be honest, in my normal, day-to-day life in the US, I rarely had a full breakfast on a regular basis, but sometimes you just want the full meal. Since it’s hard to even find a restaurant in Utrecht that comes anywhere near serving breakfast, I’ve been looking forward to my trip back to the states to have a full-on southern breakfast. Today, I got my first chance (although to be honest, I’ve already had grits and bacon since being back). This morning we went to Penny’s, a family restaurant that’s been around for ages and where customers are regulars. I enjoyed my delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage patty, grits, and a biscuit. This was accompanied by a large glass of proper orange juice, not the thin, weak stuff.
I didn’t get the pancakes, but I’m sure a trip to IHoP (International House of Pancakes) is in my near future. Bring on the loganberry syrup!
Overall, I don’t miss too many foods from the US, since I was trying to avoid a lot of processed food long before moving. However, there are certain things that are just tasty, fun, or convenient. I make a lot of my own spice blends these days, but sometimes I just want to grab a shaker of Tony’s Creole seasoning or some Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay is great with seafood — as is Tony’s — but truly, when it comes to Tony’s, it goes great with just about everything!
I was introduced to Tony’s when I went to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. You could usually find a shaker of Tony’s on most of the tables in the restaurants on campus. It was while I was living in New Orleans that I was also introduced to Abita beer. I first tried Abita Amber at Tipitina’s and really enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, when I graduated, I found it hard to find either Tony’s or Abita outside of Louisiana. Eventually, it started showing up and now it’s much easier to find, thank goodness. As a result, on one of my first trips to a grocery store since being back here, I stocked up on some favorites (and bought some Burt’s Bees Hand Salve, while I was at it).
And finally, in this ode to southern food of sorts, you know you’re in a southern kitchen when you see Duke’s mayonnaise in the fridge. Best of all, my photo of Duke’s mayo showed up on Facebook during the time I was looking for a video that mentions the mayo and a friend posted a link to the very same video. So nowadays, when southern women see a mention of Duke’s, a lot of us seem to think of this video (around the 1:51 mark).
If you were wondering, I made it without incident back to the US on Monday. I lived here long enough that I’m not experiencing complete reverse culture shock, but I am a bit more aware of certain things now. It feels more as if my life in the US and my life in the NL are two completely separate things. Not good or bad; just completely different.
As for photos and blogging, I’ve been taking photos, but unfortunately I forgot to get a plug converter for my European laptop (with a useless battery), so I can’t upload photos until I get an adapter for my laptop. I did take a couple of photos today with my phone’s camera, though. One of the amusing differences between Utrecht (and much of the Netherlands) and North Carolina is the matter of elevation. We’ve got a lot more hills and mountains here. For that matter, just getting to the house requires muscles I haven’t used much in the past five years. Trust me, the photo doesn’t begin to show how steep a hill this is. I’ve been on rollercoasters with easier drops.
Fortunately, there are lots of magnolia trees to enjoy on the trek.