Tall, direct and often – extremely- extravert. The Dutch are not known for being refined, courteous or even humble. Dutch style is sober. In every day life you’ll hardly ever find the ground covered with a red carpet in front of you . Fortunately we have a great Dutch tradition on Pentecost. On this bank holiday you can live your fairytale. See what it’s like to live like a king. Several estates and a few magical castles in South Holland and in other Dutch regions open their doors to the public. A day to dive in a world of glamour and exciting history.
Like many events and festivals in the Netherlands the magical castles in South Holland, open on Whit Monday can best be reached by bike or foot. The organisation has set out a few cycle routes. The estates and castles are beautifully connected through parks and polders.
Many estates and castles organise small activities. Guided tours, dance workshops, artillery lessons and locally produced food & drinks. As all these Dutch castles have beautiful gardens a little picnic is always a good idea.
Opening hours and program for Whit Monday, 5 June 2017 can be found on the website of Dag van het Kasteel – Day of the Castle-.
It’s a tradition of my own. When heavy grey clouds make autumn days gloomy I turn to the magic of light. Christmas lights in Holland city centres are little crisps, they make me feel at home. But, what really ignites the fire within me are the different light festivals. The November Light Festival Utrecht is like entering a feelgood fairytale.
During the November Light Festival Utrecht the city celebrates its patron saint Sint Maarten, in English known as Saint Martin. As the saint was born exactly 1700 years ago in 2016 the city organises different activities for the entire family. All week long.
On the evening of the 5th of November I was completely enchanted. A giant lantern in the shape of Saint Martin himself led a long lantern parade. Children, their parents and members of different organisations followed with unique lanterns in all sizes and shapes. They didn’t just walked through the streets: they sang, danced and their enthusiasm was so contagious that many joined the festivities. By seeing, hearing and living this November Light Festival Utrecht my inner happiness manifested in an all giving radiant smile. All of Saint Martin’s friends and fans united in the small courtyard of the St Catharijne convent. Here they sang songs about being together, being merciful and sharing with those in need, the exact same virtues connected with Saint Martin.
The November Light Festival Utrecht or Saint Martin’s celebrations last till 13 November 2016.
More information on all activities can be found on http://sintmaartenutrecht.nl/sint-maartensviering/programma
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It wasn’t supposed to get all the attention, but somehow it did. A small café by the harbour became the core of the Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen Challenge. This is how it happened.
Celebration of the Dutch New Herring
The new herring catch of the season calls for a typical Dutch celebration. A typical Dutch celebration calls for a challenge by Verita’s Visit. So there we were, me and a bunch of international minded people, at the harbour of Scheveningen with just one mission: find out what Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen was all about and if it was more than Dutch new herring.
King William and Madonna at Vlaggetjesdag
The participants had no idea what to expect, there were question marks all over their faces when we met at the Scheveningen library. As there was some drizzle outside that was expected to turn into heavy rainfall, we headed inside for a short introduction. The given information could be used during the challenge. King William, Madonna, the painter Mesdag and of course the Dutch herring, also known as Hollandse Nieuwe all dropped by in this introduction.
the go with the flow festival challenge
Exactly at the moment the rain stopped, the participants, now divided in teams, were off to the first location in the Scheveningen harbour where they had to answer a question and complete a creative challenge. Now, finding your way in a local festival is quite a challenge by itself, so at first all teams were a bit lost. By the time they had done two or three challenges they got the hang of it. They somehow realized the best thing to do was to just go with the flow, dive into the festivities and have fun.
Enjoy the local atmosphere and get social with a local
The best thing on local festivals like Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen is the atmosphere, everyone is relaxed and it’s easy to make contact with locals or visitors. Just like in the Leidens Ontzet Treasure Hunt the participants of the Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen Challenge had to step out of their comfort zone and get social with a local.
Sharing Experiences during Herring & Corenwijn tasting
At the end of the Scheveningen Vlaggetjesdag challenge we all gathered at Restaurant de Dagvisser. In this small café by the harbour we tasted 4 exquisite herring dishes with 4 types of Corenwijn. All teams shared their experiences there. When I asked them why they all had chosen the song ‘Het kleine café aan de haven’ for one of the challenges they all responded in unison: “Because it was the shortest!”
Small cafe by the harbour of Scheveningen
Athough they were all enjoyed, it was not the Hollandse Nieuwe, the fishers’ boats, the stands demonstrating the local crafts or the men and women in traditional clothing, it was a small café by the harbour that became the core of the Vlaggetjesdag Challenge edition 2016.
Once upon a time there were two farmers. Both lived and worked in the Green Heart of the Randstad, the area between Utrecht, Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam. One was a cheese farmer in Zoeterwoude and the other a business man on his parents’ cheese farm in Kamerik. Although they lived some miles apart, there were different aspects that tied them to each other.
Royal Supplier Dutch farmer cheese
I had invited Sjaak van Veen to the Dutch Culture Talk about the photo exhibition on farmers in the Netherlands in the The Hague Gemeentemuseum. His story, the story of a Dutch farmer, started decades ago. When his parents started farming there were almost no rules and regulations. No one came to do check ups on the hygiene in the cheese farm, on the health and the nutrition of the animals. Running a cheese farm became more difficult from 1984 on. That was the time Sjaak took over the farm from his parents. Now inspectors come every week to test the milk, see if the cows are healthy and if they’re chipped. Sjaak and his wife Karin, who is the actual Dutch cheesemaker, are lucky, because although the Dutch government & EU regulations make farming and producing cheese difficult, they are still able to deliver good quality cheese. Their farmers cheese won many awards and their farm, Kaasboerderij van Veen is even the official royal supplier.
They do have a difficult time finding succesors. Running a cheese farm requires different skills than a regular farm. They show people what life on the farm is really about and often give guided tours & cheese tastings to groups of school-aged children trying to make them interested in a future as a cheese farmer.
New life for a dutch cheese farm
Due to the milkquota in 2001 Hendrik Jan Hoogendoorn had to take a brave decision. He converted his parents’ cheese farm into de Boerinn, a place where recreational activities & business activities meet. In this inn there are rooms for different group sizes, ideal for business meetings and dinners made of regional products. The hayloft is definitely the most authentic place with an amazing view on the farmer’s land. If you are on your own or with a group of friends or family you can also enjoy this view from the watchtower.
The 40 hectares of land invite every visitor to go on adventure. Either you go on a polder walk or choose from the many options de Boerinn offers like golf on clogs or survival games in the polder. If the weather is bad there’s an authentic farmhouse, decorated in Old Dutch style where you can do different old Dutch games.
Although the focus of the ex cheese farm is not on cheese anymore, there are still enough things that hint to the past, like the cheese making workshop. The two brothers, Hendrik Jan and Elmar Hoogendoorn will always do their best to cherish the past and prepare for the future.
A polderwalk in Kamerik, through the land of De Boerinn is part of the Culture & Cheese Tour Woerden on Saturday 2 July. You can still join. Send an email to travel(@)veritasvisit.nl for more information.
Verita’s Visit organises meet & greets with these two men so you can hear the story of a Dutch farmer at the Kaasboerderij Van Veen and at the De Boerinn. This can be combined with Dutch cheese farm cycle tours in the area of Gouda, Leiden or Woerden. On request a guided tour on the (cheese) farm, a Dutch cheese making workshop, lunch and other activities can be included.