2017, a busy year in The Achterhoek

10th of December, 2017

Last time I worked on my blog was May. A long time ago. Too long. I always knew I would continue again, but I needed a break. There have been enough evenings I sat down in front of a new page, but words didn’t appear and my inspiration seemed to be on a long holiday. Life always has been busy, but the last seven months were gone in no time. I totally adapted to my new life in the tiny town of Lochem in The Netherlands, but I still miss the travelling. This year there was only one trip I made, last February. I used to travel half of the time for the past ten years, so I feel as if I am constantly hibernating and winter hasn’t even started yet. While writing this down, big flakes of snow are falling and the forecast tells us, it will continue the whole night through. It brings memories back from Canada, where most of the wintertime the garden was turned into a winter wonderland. At his moment, I am not even finished with cleaning the garden en raking the leaves. My ‘to do list’ is never-ending, as these days the list also consists of ‘handyman’ jobs, which the ex-husband used to do. Some of those jobs I try to accomplish, but without any results and then I get tremendously frustrated. The kitchen cupboard is dropping down and after two hours of trying to repair it, I still can’t put the screws back in place. A very kind opposite neighbour is helping me with a new concrete doorstep, as those are jobs I don’t even think about trying myself! Still, the painting has to continue, but there is no time left. My life changed again in May, when I suddenly was forced to find a job. The whole summer I have been looking for work, from morning until end of the day and I was grateful that my ‘garden project’ was just finished.



The only time I took a break was when both my children came to visit for a small week. It was the best week of the whole summer and gorgeous weather. We enjoyed long evenings, sipping too much wine, in my totally transformed garden. My daughter, whom I hadn’t seen for nearly 20 months, was still my little girl. After three years, she finally saw her brother again and they continued, where they left all those years ago. Within two days, they had their first little arguments again, but they also were teasing each other, the same way they used to do as children. It was a very happy week and after they all left, I dried my tears and continued looking for jobs again.




In August I was able to watch the Skûtsjesilen in Friesland, where I spent a weekend with an old friend. Every year this event takes place and attracts many Frisian people, as well as tourists. Eleven races are sailed by fourteen skûtjes (historical flat bottom boats) to win the SKS championship. The atmosphere was great, the weather superb and to witness the tall ships, flying over the Frisian waters in a spectacular race, was amazing.

In between I tried to discover some more nice spots of the surroundings of Lochem. I live amidst nature and there are endless hiking and cycling trails all around. There is also an abundance of Castles in The Achterhoek. Until now I only saw a few. I just love to walk around Velhorst, where you find so many different landscapes within a short walking distance of each other.



September arrived and I finally managed to find a job! Too many hours, but I am close to my ‘expiry date’, so who is complaining? I got the job thanks to an article I wrote about my house sitting jobs. Nowadays, I now and then write a column in the same regional magazine, about my dating stories and other hilarious events. It seems I always find myself, for whatever reason, in some ridiculous situations. So now I am a text and content writer with an online travel company. My Dutch vocabulary has to be perfect and I am learning every day. Also, I get to know every museum and all the historical sites in different countries in Europe, as we have to advise the clients where to go and what to see. I only wish I could investigate the hotels and surroundings in person. Ah well, maybe in a next life!?



As soon as I knew I was hired, I quickly took a three-day trip to Sauerland in Germany again. My last outing was a three-day trip in April and I missed travelling on my own very much. Just that independent feeling, which I felt on so many occasions in the past, was making me happy. Sauerland is great for hiking and that is what I did, besides taking pictures of course! The nice Dutch owners of the small hotel in Bad Fredenburg were very welcoming and a little bit worried that I was touring around on my own and spending my days in the woods, on the Diemelsee and climbing the rocks of  Bruchhausen. Though in the evening I mingled with all the other guests at the bar and listened to the guitar playing and singing of the landlord. I hope to be able to go back one day and enjoy their hospitality again.

My work was a challenge in the beginning. My whole body was hurting from sitting eight hours in front of two big screens, but after a couple of weeks I got used to it and now I enjoy the time with my new colleagues. It is tough coming home where everything is left the same as it was in the morning. Nobody, who cooks a meal for you, does the shopping or cleans the house. For the first time in my life I lived on salads and soup for two weeks in a row, my house is a mess and there are always dirty dishes on the counter. Funny enough, it doesn’t interest me anymore. I am happy I got a job, although it might be temporarily…….

Now it is December again, not my favorite month, but with work and sports the days are going fast. While the first snow of the year is falling, I go with a friend for a hike on the grounds of the Castle of Ampsen. At this time of the year the sound of the ‘Midwinterhorn’ is heard everywhere in the woods. It’s an old tradition, a way of giving each other messages, but also to chase away the bad spirits……..



Also this month, I booked my first trip to Australia, to visit my daughter! I am looking forward to see how she and her boyfriend are living and where they are working in Sydney. It will be a wonderful break of the winter months and Spring will be around the corner when I come back.



2 thoughts on “2017, a busy year in The Achterhoek

  1. Renee, I always like reading your blogs, even if they are close to your new home as opposed to across the continent. Your pictures are wonderful. Makes me wish I were there. Our winter here in Canada is quite severe this year. Lots of snow and deep freeze temperatures. I am sure you have heard that from your son. Glad to hear that you found a job, even if it is slowing you down and keeping you home. Wishing you the best for 2018!

  2. Hi Renee! The life you describe is similar to mine. Dirty dishes, simple meals, not enough time (or energy) left after working to attend to life’s essential tasks (and I work a part time job in addition to my full time job!)

    Yes, it is difficult to have only yourself to rely on. However, remember too that it is also wonderful to have the independence and freedom to not have to rely on anyone. Be proud of what you have accomplished. We are strong women.

    Miss you!

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