Sunday, 21 February 2010

De Bijenkorf - I'm back & I can speak Dutch!

We arrived at Amsterdam Central Station, on a cold crisp Friday Evening - So cold that if I talked it steamed my specs up - prompting giggles from me to G, as I uttered those romantic words - 'by eck, you look gorgeous', whilst almost blind....

Good job I had my stripey scarf & gloves ready....

G had told me that we wouldn't be staying any where posh - because the flights weren't cheap, and I was quite happy with this, as the main objective of the weekend, was just to relax & spend time with each other, after what has been a really tough 6 months for both of us. Including a huge fall out the night before (honesty card being held up here)  Don't worry I'd said, "It's about being with you....", and he replied "Stop it! - Now you are worrying me..."

So you can imagine my suprise and delight to end up here....

Total Princess status! The room still had the original beam for winching up the trading goods.

The very nice manager told us that the building was a former linen warehouse, and that the hotel had been built around it.

After a lazy breakfast on Saturday morning we set off for a wander aound Amsterdam. It is such a truly beautiful city.

We came across last November for G's Christmas work get together (He works for a company with it's European head office in Holland). At the time it was so very stressful because of his mum being so poorly, so we promised hat we would come back. I admit I fell in love with Holland there and then. I now wish I had discovered  Amsterdam years ago, but I admit, being such a home bird, I was put of by the steroetyping of the red light districts and brown cafes.

We walked and talked, at a slow leisurely pace (courtesy of my skating-on-ice episode) over many canal bridges, building our own bridges.

Taking in the picturesque laid back streets, the continental grace, the quiet of minimal car traffic. In Holland cars are taxed heavily & so bikes are hugely popular. They are practical as people live close to where they work, and cyclists are provided with their own paths and well protected by Dutch law.

The architecture is beautiful, tall thin buildings lean, nestle and almost hug together in rows, like books on a bookshelf, not quite straight, and you get the feeling, should one fall, they would all come down. They were built tall & thin (although they go a long way back) as tax was paid, dependant on the frontage of the houses.

I think this is the best picture I took, to show the lovely wonkiness of them all...

And much like a book shelf, there is always the odd one, with a different spine, that makes it stand out from the rest...

G allowed me to chose where we went, and having seen a flyer, I asked to go to the Museum anf Handbags & Purses. It was facsinating, they had examples of the earlieast handbag, through to the modern, and are currentley running an exhibition of British designers. 

Look at one of the Tea rooms within it....

And the cake wasn't bad either....

Mmmm Who's that coverting a very expensive hanbag or two...? The British Exhibition room was the only one where we could take photo's. Poor G's face, when I told him how much the very nice classic Mulberry leather handbag was worth....

It was just fabulous - I loved, loved, loved  the colours in this little alcove -

Here are the floating flower gardens, greenhouses on the canal....

We passed a Dutch Quilting shop, with this quilt hanging on the railings....

And my second request of the day was to visit 'My Aunts Tart' - Labelled the campest cake shop in town, it was a true test of G's love for me, it was utter kitsch, a riot of plastic flowers, miss matched furnitire & PVC tablecloths - the stuff CK and nightmares would be made of. But the tarts were tasty, and the displays of wedding & party cakes they are famous for were inspirational for any cake decorators who are un-afraid to use colour.

Finally - My third wish was to go to the Bijenkorf - The only dutch word I know. It's the most loveliest department store in Amsterdam - Think a dutch John Lewis.... It was here in November that I brought a christmas card, that I really ought to get round to telling you about...

This is a household range called 'Pip' -

After all our wanderings, with me completeley jiggered, we decided to stop and have our tea in the Bijenkorf, as it was open until 7pm. They have a restaurant that takes up the whole of the top floor, and offers a huuuge choice, so we settled on a stirfrys - cooked to our own order. 

Then it was back to our room, for a quiet Saturday night, bottle of wine & Casualty on BBC....

Sunday saw us wake up to snow - and a 2 hour train journey visit some freinds. R grew up in Sheffield lad and G has known him for years & also now works with. He married the lovely J and they live close to the German border. I stupidly didn't take camera for the walk round where they live, although I did tell R, I couldn't imagine why he wanted to leave Sheffield!

We arrived home late Sunday - & it's all too quickly been back to normal day-to-day life.

However it is the first time in 10years, since the small people have come along, that we have done anything like this. It was a special time, a time for relationship building. I think time away from the daily stresses, away from our much loved small people allowed us to focus on each other, remember who we are to each other. It's almost been to easy to be too busy for each other. I think we've realised that we need to continue to take time out to appreciate the other one, to listen and hear, to share our hopes and dreams. Perhaps not on this grand scale, next time closer to home.

(But I really do like Amsterdam)

Love Lydia xx



  1. It looks like you had a great time! Did you bring anything back with you? The shops look fab.

  2. Oh I'm glad you had such a lovely time in Amsterdam. I was there in 2006 for a 10th wedding anniversary trip (bitter sweet memories now)
    Your hotel room looks spookily like ours, we were right opposite the Central (train) Station.
    I'd love to go back as there is so much I still want to see there. :)

    Trips away together certainly help to recharge the batteries (((hugs)))

  3. Im so pleased you had a wonderful time. Amsterdam is quirky and quaint, I love it!
    Did you make it to the Van Gogh gallery/museum? or Anne Franks' house museum? If not you must go again and take a look, they are both fab.
    I like to visit the Vintage clothes markets too whilst in Amsterdam, they are some of the best.

  4. Sorry to hear things haven't been good..
    I went to Amsterdam 30 years ago (oh, goodness, I'm so old) with first husband, same sort of trip as you, sorting stuff out after son was born. I came back with a diamond ring and some edam..say no more!!

  5. I haven't been to Amsterdam for years, but your photos brought back very nice memories. I loved the views from inside the department store, and now wish I could find some of the Pip bedding - it looks just like what I've been searching for.

  6. What a fab time it looks like you had and definatwly something we should all make a point of doing with our other halves as it's easy to get bogged down in day to day mundane stuff :) x

  7. What a familiar story Lydia. Life gets in the way too much to appreciate and enjoy the one that is entitled to most of your time and effort. Hubby and I had a really bad time 7 years ago when we were brought almost to the brink! Fortunately, we realised that we still loved each other very much, but we had both taken each other for granted for too long and we just needed to spend more time with each other. We started by doing the crossword at the end of every day together - you have to sit pretty close when you are our age to read the clues!! Your trip looks great - Ive never been to Amsterdam. I hope you introduced R to my blog so that he can get his Sheffield "fix"!! xxxx

  8. What a lovely trip. I shared your preconceptions about Amsterdam but now I really really want to go there. Your photos are amazing. I loved the bookshelf analogy for the buildings. Your husband must love you very much to go to a handbag museum! Louise xxxx

  9. Hi Lydia! Welcome back!
    I've never been to Amsterdam, but it looks like a very fascinating place, and the Dutch are sooo lovely and friendly, aren't they?!
    Thank you so much for joining my swap, when you have time could you please e-mail me if you have any preference for the theme you've chosen? Thank you in advance!
    Have a good week!

  10. That looks great Lydia. I've always been put off going to Amsterdam, due to what you here, but you've certainly made me interested!
    It's definately important to get away from every day life and I'm glad you had a good time.

  11. Wow what a fantastic trip the hotel room looks amazing. and those cakes looked to die for. Hope you did some real shopping and not just window shopped.
    Glad you and G had such a good time together.

    Joanne x

  12. what a wonderful trip, I love the idea of a museum full of handbags! It is always important to take and make time for each other, you could always set aside a regular 'date' night x

  13. I'm so, so happy for you both that you had this time together and that such a good time all round.
    Thank you so much for sharing all those photos. It looks like a truly beautiful city to go and spend some time in.
    Lisa x

  14. Do you know I've 'never' been to Amsterdam. Mmmmm....I may have to rectify that as your pictures are gorgeous and very, very tempting.

    Have a wonderful week,

    Nina xxxx

  15. lovely post - brought back memories of my trip to Amsterdam 5 years ago. We went in Bijenkorf and I bought a ball of red and white string, and an oil&vinegar set!
    Glad you had such a wonderful time

  16. So pleased your parcel arrived ok and that you liked the contents!
    Hope you are feeling better.
    Love Lisa xx

  17. Hello, I just found your blog and couldn't stop reading.
    You sound like you had a wonderful time in Amsterdam, loved all your photos.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Luv Sophie xxx