I am on holiday in Europe with my family at the moment, spending most of the time at my parent place but also doing a lot of sightseeing around Holland, Germany and Belgium. A very relaxed holiday where I finally managed to manage my own time, instead of letting my phones and email decide my schedule. I basically shut off my main mobile phone most of the time (for the first time in years) and only answer the most urgent emails right away (and answer most of the other ones every couple of days). It works pretty well for me, now I get up and have breakfast instead of first spending an hour behind my laptop or on my phone.
I spend a lot of time with the kids and try to be there for them when they call me, instead of the usual “one minute, just need to finalize this email”. Today Grace and I took the kids for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Well, at least that was the idea, but after seeing the big horses both Grace and Elaine decided that this was not their preferred mode of transportation, so my parents were willing substitutes for them.
A friend of a friend is very active in this field, and he was happy to ride us around the fields and woods of Ommen in a carriage with 2 horses. He regularly competes in races and we used his marathon carriage for the ride. It’s a relatively small carriage, but it’s perfect for the woods because it has air-filled tires and an air suspension, and it can easily change direction.
At first Scott was a bit afraid and did not dare to sit on the front seat next to the driver, but he soon became more courageous and wanted to sit on my lap on the front seat.
The ride was great: I thought I knew the woods around Ommen pretty well, but today we rode mainly on the part north of the Vecht river and there are quite some areas that I had never been to. I will come back soon to check them out during a run, because it’s not only a beautiful place, but also a totally deserted area.
The driver had tons of stories about the nature we drove through, but also about the history of the area (esp. about the 2nd World War, his father had been in the Resistance and we learned that in total 16 English planes had been shot down in the fields around here). His family had lived here for ages (literally), and it was very interesting to hear about all the changes that had taken place over the years. History is most interesting when you hear it from people who have experienced it themselves, or heard it from their direct relatives.
The driver was very experienced and showed us some of his ‘tricks’, among others riding up a sandy slope, but also driving off road through the trees with sudden turns at a pretty high speed. I was impressed, and had to hold on to the carriage at times in order not to be thrown off. Probably good that Grace and Elaine did not join.
In the end we caught one on two rain showers (this is Holland after all!), but luckily we had umbrellas with us. And Scott was actually happy, because he finally saw a rainbow! He had learned about rainbows in class but had never seen one. So when a rainbow suddenly appeared he was super excited.
During the last part of the ride Scott was even allowed to take the reins. At first he was a bit hesitant, but when he realized the horses kept on going if he did not pull the ropes he liked it and seemed quite proud of himself. Scott had a really good time tonight, he learned a lot and seemed to truly enjoy the horse ride. And so did I, it was even better than I had expected. I had not been on a two-horse carriage in 23 years or so (at that time I cleaned and painted horse stables as a summer job!), so it was great to experience this again. And with Scott it was double fun of course!
For more pictures of our current trip, see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chijs/sets/72157630503176498/