New Garden, New Furniture

We’ve placed an order for some brand, spanking new garden furniture from Unopiù. This Italian garden furniture shop doesn’t have many branches outside of Italy, but we’re lucky to have one within walking distance, on the far side of the Vondelpark on the Stadhouderskade.

Sarah and I went there on Monday and picked out a table, eight chairs, a parasol and a few odds and ends. A small fortune, one way or another, but the teak table and chairs should last us many years and provide us with a great deal of pleasure.

I wish we’d ordered this stuff a few weeks ago. The delivery time is two to three weeks, so we probably won’t have it before Sarah’s folks, who arrive this weekend, return to the States. We may get lucky, though, and have it for the last few days of their stay.

Speaking of the garden, Eloïse has had her first run down the new slide, although we’re supposed to let the grass sods go another week before they’re trampled by small feet.

The apple tree is in full bloom now, and many of the plants recently placed in the garden have taken and are starting to thrive. By the end of the summer, things should be looking really great out there.

The temperature here is supposed to rise by the weekend and the weather report claims next week will be more like summer than spring, so I’m hoping we’ll get to sit out there and enjoy the new surroundings with Sarah’s folks, while Eloïse plays on her new frame.

May Holiday

Schiphol experienced its busiest day of the year yesterday, as 170,000 passengers milled through the airport and headed off on their way.

It’s the start of the May holiday here, which this year includes Koninginnedag (the queen’s birthday), and Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day). That means workers only have to take three days off work to get a nine day consecutive run, so many people have decided to go on holiday this week.

We were originally planning to be a part of this group ourselves, and go to England today to visit Fenella et al in Cornwall. Time is short, however, as Sarah’s folks arrive next weekend, so we’d need to be back by then.

Car, plane and train all seemed inappropriate for this trip. Lucas isn’t yet used to travel and we were reluctant to start him off with a trip that, one way or another, would mean quite a long day in transit. He’s still so young and tiny at the moment, and I feel that we need to stay close to the nest for at least another few weeks.

Not only that, but there are things going on at home, too. The garden, for example.

Yesterday, Eloïse’s climbing frame was delivered and installed; and today, the lawn sods were laid down on top of chicken wire (to thwart the moles), thereby rendering the initial laying of the garden more or less complete.

As I’ve written before, we have yet to put in the new lighting and there are a few places where plants and flowers are still missing, but this should all be taken care of in a matter of weeks. We’ve started looking for new garden furniture and may already have found something appropriate. We’ll know in a few days.

We had beautiful weather today. The Vondelpark was teeming with people. When I got home from having my hair cut, Eloïse was standing atop her climbing frame and clearly enjoying herself.

She spent the rest of the afternoon riding around the garden path and patio area on her outdoor tricycle. She, for one, is clearly going to get a lot of use and enjoyment out of the garden.

The sods need a week or two to settle without being trampled underfoot, so we’re going to have to try and keep Eloïse off them. The problem with that is that the slide of her climbing frame lands on the grass. We’ll have to see how well we can control her tomorrow.

Garden Of Delight

Well, not quite just yet, but it’s coming alone nicely now.

The pathway paving is more or less complete, lots of soil has been strewn on the borders and today, work is being done on a new geveltuin along our perimeter wall.

A geveltuin is a border garden, commonly placed along the facade of a building, but, as in our case, sometimes also along a perimeter wall. They’re very popular here, not least because, for many city dwellers, it’s the only kind of garden they’re able to have. The local council will also do the work to lay one for free, as it’s seen as increasing the allure of the street. All you need to do is file the application. Once you have one, you’re obliged to maintain what you plant in it, but why else would you want one?

To this end, the pavement tiles are being dug up along the edge of the wall and a narrow strip of soil is being laid, so that creepers can be planted and made to climb the wall. Once the plants take hold, it should look really nice and counter the slightly sterile look of the brickwork. It’s hard work, though, as a stone saw is needed to cut through the square tiles, so that just a small piece of each tile can be put back.

The actual planting of the garden starts tomorrow, which should rapidly make our little plot of land look more like a real garden. All of the work so far has been preparatory and, whilst very necessary, provided little of aesthetic value and gave little impression of the progress being made.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the borders full of shrubs and flowers. We’ll still need some outdoor lighting and a new set of garden furniture (the old set is really on its last legs), but the garden will be mostly finished at that point.

Eloïse’s climbing frame should also be erected by the weekend. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather this weekend and she’ll be able to play on it for the first time.

Speaking of the weather, it’s been lovely here over the last few days: gorgeous sun, a warm temperature and no hint of rain. It’s been a real treat after the long cold spell of late. Having said that, it’s drizzling again outside as I write this.

The First Week Passes

It’s hard to believe that Lucas was born a whole week ago. My, how the past week has flown by.

Saturday was Cora’s next to last day at our house. She’ll be back on Monday for the last time (in connection with Lucas, at least). Cora’s been a great help: cooking, washing, massaging, etc. Most importantly, she has created the breathing space for Sarah to rest and recuperate.

Friday was Sarah’s first venture outside the house since Lucas’s birth. She came with me to pick up Eloïse from the peuterspeelzaal, which is close enough that it made for a perfect first outing. The other mums and dads were excited to see our new family member.

Earlier this week, a sprinkler company subcontracted by our gardening company came over and laid down our new watering system. It’s only a sprinkler installation, I know, but it’s very clever. Technology is technology and this system is well-engineered. Good engineering is always impressive, whether it’s a washing-machine or a computer program.

The gardeners will hopefully return tomorrow to continue the task of readying the garden for spring. Spring’s already here in theory, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to know it yet.

Our friends Marc and Miranda came over to meet Lucas this morning. After they left, I drove Eloïse to a birthday party in IJburg, where she had fun playing with the other children.

Lucas still spends most of the day with his eyes closed. I’ve seen them, though. They’re blue. Sarah says he looks like me, but so did Eloïse at that age. Who’s to say whether it’ll stick?