Cat sitting in Beesel, village along the river Maas

December, 2019

This month, I am taking a ten day leave and go for a house- and cat sit in the tiny Dutch ‘drake town’ Beesel. I am still a member of one of the biggest house- and petsitters websites; Once you build up some (good) references, the opportunities to housesit are endless! My temporary home borders the woods and fields and both sunrise or sunset can be enjoyed from one of the rooms. It is a light and colourful house, full of singing bowls, gongs, Indian tapestry and small bottles of aromatherapy. I feel ZEN in no-time! The cat Ziggy is quite a personality; nothing is safe on the counter nor on the coffee table, he needs to sit on your chest (not lap) at least for one hour in the evening and loves to brings a mouse in the house. He does not only play with it, but eats the whole mouse, including the tail, right in front of you!

The hiking path starts immediately out of the house and brings you within ten minutes to the river Maas, which meanders through the countryside of Limburg.

The tiny, sleepy village does not have any supermarkets, but there are plenty of restaurants, two backeries, a castle, chapels and the Beltkoren mill ‘De Grauwe Beer’. This mill, situated along the Maas, is still open for visitors on regular hours. Vibrant Maastricht and Roermond are a short car drive away, so no time to get bored!

A visit to Kessel, on the other side of the river, is on my priority list. I decide to go hiking to the ferry and pass Castle Nieuwenbroeck on the border of the village. Once closer to the water, the views over the flat Dutch landscape are endless.

For less than one euro, the ferry brings you to the other side, where Castle ‘De Keverberg’ towers over the banks of the river. This is one of the oldest fortresses from The Netherlands, though ruined various times, extended and rebuilt. It has an impressive history and nowadays people can tour the inside and learn about its past.

For many years, only the walls of this historic monument were remaining. The inhabitants of Kessel didn’t want to rebuild another castle. There are already 50 castles in the province of Limburg and more than 300 castles in The Netherlands! Also, the view from 30 meters above the Maas is one of a kind. To enjoy this view you need glass. For those reasons they decided to rebuild the castle into a modern version. In 2008 a project started with many volunteers of Kessel. It took seven years and more than 25.000 hours to erect a different version of the former castle. The old walls are still standing, but inside a totally new construction was made, to support the different levels. They used ecological methods and solar panels. The theme for the rebuilding became ‘Broken Glass From The Past’ and you will recognize this in the shape of the windows, the rooftop, the lay-out of the gardens and the decor.

While visiting ‘De Keverberg’, don’t forget to go down to the original cellars, admire the endless views from upstairs and watch the movie, about the history of the rebuilding of this modern creation!

A couple of hours later, I return along the mansions of Kessel to the ferry. The days are short and I still have to walk for another hour through the fields. Just before sunset I arrive home, where Ziggy is welcoming me on the counter top. Dinner time!


A festival of lights and culture in The Hague, ‘Royal City by the Sea’……

December, 2018

During these last days of the year, I have a house-and catsit in a city, where I haven’t been for many years. A city filled with musea, history, modern buildings and impressive government buildings, palaces, many stores and on a short distance the sea.

It is a two-hour car drive from my home in the eastern part of The Netherlands to The Hague, but it is a totally different world! After getting settled in my temporarily home, I hop on the tram and the first thing you notice is the mixture of nationalities and languages.

I get off at Central Station, where I have an appointment with an old friend and I am impressed, as the station is huge and has changed completely. Our meeting point is the piano, where everybody can hit a few notes and which is placed in the hallway. Just a couple of hours after my arrival in the big city, I already get a sightseeing tour from somebody, who knows The Hague very well.

The first thing you notice, is the abundance of lights, illuminating the historical buildings all over town.

‘The Royal City by the Sea’ is a nice combination of old and new and during these few days, I just get a taste, what this interesting town has to offer. I visited Mauritshuis, where you find all kinds of famous Dutch and Flemish masters. While entering the museum, I witness a demonstration of the ‘yellow vests’. Interesting to see how just a few people are triggering the police, while all others are trying to have a peaceful demonstration.

Panorama Mesdag, with a special exhibition of The Storm, is a museum you have to visit, as it is one of a kind! The guardian of the museum showed me an optical illusion; he walked ‘into the painting’ and collected a clog, which seemed very big from a distance, but was just as small, as the one closer by……….

It is like a dome and you have the feeling you are standing on the beach! Many artists, besides Mesdag and his wife Sientje van Houten, have been working on this fabulous piece of art.

On New Years Day, I meet up again with my old friend and he treats me to a wonderful ‘saté’ lunch, in an Indonesian restaurant called ‘De Poentjak’. From there we stroll through The Hague and finally take the tram to Scheveningen (by the sea), where he shows me the different harbours. I am impressed, as everything has changed so much. It must have been many years ago, that I visited this part of Scheveningen.

We finally end up at ‘Simonis aan de haven’, a wonderful place to get your favorite fish! Here its ‘self service’, a great way to have lovely food for a fair price! We just grab a bottle of wine (for 13 euro’s), sit ourselves upstairs, from where you have a wonderful overview. While outside the fireworks are in full swing, we catch up on stories of the past………

Later, we walk over the famous boulevard and witness the woodstacks, which will be burned in the evening. This year they cause many problems, as of the increasing wind.




Along the promenade, there is an exhibition of statues.

It is all part of ‘Beelden aan Zee’, a museum in Scheveningen, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. At the moment, they have a wonderful gathering of artwork of Ossip Zadkine, the same artist I saw in France, in Les Arques.

From the boulevard, we walk through the Kurhaus. In front of the Kurhaus there is a skating rink and the Kurhaus itself, is nowadays surrounded by many other buildings.

I realize that I have been away for 23 years and time didn’t stand still………..



Fifty shades of Holland

May, 2017

For 18 months I am living now in Holland (The Netherlands) and I experienced all the seasons in different parts of the country. I thought I never could get used again to the dark clouds, the rain and the amount of people living all together on a few m2, but guess what? I did! Mind you, Lochem is no Amsterdam or Rotterdam and traffic cues are a foreign language in this part of the country. Also, here the word neighbour means, that you help each other in times of need. We even have a “neighbour app” invented, after one of us had a severe accident. We use the app to inform each other regarding disasters, as well as suddenly organised parties, or when a rabbit is on the loose……..dsc07166

During the winter months, I get the opportunity to explore some other parts of the Netherlands. After 45 years or so, I return to the province of Friesland or Fryslan, as this province has its own language. Back to the tiny places, where time stood still. We used to go there by boat during the summer holidays, admiring the old “Zuiderzee towns”, strolling around during the day and sleeping on the boat in the picturesque harbours at night. This time, I visit over land in December and enjoy the stillness of the towns of Lemmer, Stavoren and Hindeloopen, without any tourists. Such a rich history you can find here and all the drama these pretty small towns experienced, when “IJsselmeer” was still “Zuiderzee”. So many lives of the fishermen got lost in the rough waters of the sea, years ago.


Stavoren is the oldest city of Friesland and got its city rights between 1060 and 1067. During the late Middle Ages, a sandbank formed a blockage for ships entering or leaving the harbour. That meant an end to the prosperous years.

Hindeloopen is famous for its Hindelooper art and costumes. Especially during the 17th and 18th century, the shipping trade thrived in this tiny town.


Both these towns are part of the so-called “Eleven City Tour”, an ice skating contest in Friesland, only possible after days of frost (which never happens anymore!).

Lemmer is surrounded by lakes and very popular among water sport and beach lovers. Once, it was a thriving fishing town, with a fleet of 146 ships. One of the most spectacular sites to visit is the ir.D.F.Woudagemaal, a steam-powered pumping station and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See also:


Not many foreign tourists will discover these places, hidden in the North-West corner of the Netherlands. Here you get the typical Dutch view; clouds in all kind of shapes, above a green flat land, with sails on the horizon.IMG-20170531-WA0003

I also experience Lochem and Zutphen during the seasons. The grey skies in winter make place for the fresh green of Spring. Plenty of gorgeous days in March, are inviting me out to prepare my garden for the Summer. I work hard on the in-and outside of my cute house and the progress is rewarding.


In between duties, I find time to enjoy playing tennis with some great people, go to the fitness and explore my new surroundings. No time for house-sits at the moment! Also, I have to try to find a job. This is a whole new experience, as for the last 20 years or so, my jobs consisted of moving around the world, establish new gardens, paint houses and volunteer. This time, I need to find a real paid job and although everybody is telling me that there are no jobs for people of my age, I am positive I will find something. Hello, I am full of energy, believing in myself and with tons of crazy experiences. In between all these activities, I also have to prepare for the arrival of my two children and one boyfriend in July.  I haven’t seen my daughter for more than 20 months and for a devoted mother like me, that is way too long! When people in the Netherlands complain that their children are living two hours away by car, I feel hurt, but try not to show it. Whenever my daughter mentions that she and her partner might go for a while working a bit North of “Down Under” (Australia), my heart starts pounding…..Maybe there is hope? As a good mother you don’t want to interfere in your children’s life. I myself went to Curacao at the age of 25 and stayed there for a couple of years, without seeing my aging father. So who am I to judge?

While reading a book, I stumbled upon this Quote from the poet Kahlil Gibran; a lesson for all of us………..

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love, but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies, but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you can not visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday.


Vibrant Zutphen; another Hanse town

September, 2016, The Netherlands

A 15 minute car drive over a road through the forests and farmland,  brings me from my home in Lochem to Zutphen,  a town situated at the confluence of the rivers IJssel and Berkel. Until now, I only visited Zutphen two or three times, but for sure I will return to this town, full of culture and history, many more times in the future. .

Founded in the 11th century as Zuidveen (Southern peat bog). In 1312 it was fortified and became a member of the Hanseatic League. Zutphen was occupied by the French, the Spanish and during WW2 by the Germans.

There are still quite some medieval fortifications like the Nieuwe stadspoort (gate), the Drogenapstoren (tower) and the ruined Berkel gate. In the St.Walburga’s church you can find the Public Library. Definitely worth a visit. If I would live here, I probably would visit the library a few times a week! Other places of interest are The Wine House Tower, the Town Hall and the Butter and Meat Halls (Markets).

If you like shopping, there is a variety of stores with second hand or new stuff and sometimes funny displays in the windows!

During the Heritage days, the second weekend in September, when many monuments open their doors in the Netherlands (free of charge), I got just a glimpse of a few of those historic buildings.

As in Lochem, also here you can go for a tour with a “whisper boat” along the river Berkel. It gives you a totally different view on the town and it is a nice break after a few hours of hiking!

Zutphen also organizes many festivities. From now on I have to keep my eye on their cultural website and newspaper. One of those events was the  ”Art along the IJssel” and ”Brocante Market”. It took place on the last weekend of August and the temperature was good enough to give the children (and  one grandfather) some fun time in the fountain!


I gave myself a day off to discover a bit more of this vibrant town. A variety of Art was displayed along the river, from paintings and ceramics to glass objects and pictures. From the river you walked along the Brocante stalls into town. There was music, mostly French tunes and people filled the many terraces around the Wine House Tower and the inner streets.

I used the day to take pictures instead of buying things. My house doesn’t need more decorations, so the camera let me concentrate on other things……..




Painting the summer away; Lochem

August 2016, Lochem, The Netherlands

My first summer in the Netherlands since many years and no long, warm summer nights, filled with mosquitos, as in Canada. The nights are or wet or too cold. The good thing is that you really enjoy those few occasions, when you are sipping your wine on the patio and constantly telling each other what a beautiful night it is!DSC05936

My garden gave me a surprise, when I noticed that the little plant, which suddenly appeared was not a cucumber nor a courgette, but a pumpkin! By now, my whole back garden is filled with pumpkins……..

I do miss my animals, after taking care for so many dogs and cats, goats and ducks and whatever else for the last two years. Though my neighbour cats are regular visitors and sometimes I wonder if they choose my house as theirs and their own house just as a favorite restaurant.


Though there have been enough days to enjoy the outdoor life, it seems that in the Netherlands sometimes summer starts, when school starts again……..We are amidst a heat wave and it is the end of august.

My new, old house is getting the colours it deserves. All my little treasures from a lifetime travelling and the cherished memories from the past are giving it the appeal I was looking for. I even started using my own pictures as decor. Waking up with the stunning sunset of Diakofto, Greece and the stillness of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada is giving my day a good start!

I am literally painting the summer away. A job, which will take months before it is finished, but to see the improvement is very rewarding.

Still, now and then I get my walking shoes on and try to catch some shots of the inviting nature of Lochem and surroundings.

From my home, I cross the street and walk into the cornfields, along the river and into the woods, passing a windmill or an old farmhouse.

Going in another direction, I can easily walk to the old centre of town, where tourists are filling the patios, as soon as one sunray breaks the sky. Lochem is a town, but it has a village atmosphere. It is surrounded by a river and a canal and filled with cycling and walking paths. Around Lochem, plenty of old mansions and castles are attracting many Dutch and foreign visitors.

Hopefully next year, I will have more time to discover everything the area has to offer. For now, we combine work with pleasure, as during the summer months many festivities are organized, not only in Lochem, but also in many of the villages around. After Canada, where drinking alcohol is not allowed “on the street”, it is great to be back in a country with different rules!


The Dutch “Hanse towns” along the river

March, 2016

After arriving back to the Netherlands in January, I am trying the get used to the Dutch way of living. Twenty three years is a long time to be away from the “home country” and although I have been back for holidays on and off, it is different to emerge into daily life again. I settle myself in the East of the country, as pace of life is still slower as in the West and the outdoor is gorgeous for hiking and cycling. The first weeks I rent an authentic little house on the edge of a provincial town, on walking distance of the station and the centre. The house is cute and cozy, but the winter days in the Netherlands are dark and rainy this year. On the nights that there is frost, I am very happy with my warm water bottle, as the windows are single glazed and there is no heater in the bedrooms. On some nights I need gloves to read a book in bed! It feels like back in time, when I was just a little girl and when winters were still harsh in the Netherlands. We used to wake up with the windows covered in ice on the inside….. Though watching the television, which shows us the refugees in Macedonia, sleeping in soaked tents with their little children, I feel like a princess in my bed.

From the town where I am staying for several weeks, I visit some of the so-called “Hanse towns”, situated on the peaceful IJssel river. Hanse was a medieval guild or trade association. These historic towns remind of the region’s rich trading past, which reached its golden era in the 15th century.

At the same time, I try to discover if this is an area where I would like to settle down. Therefor, I explore neighbouring villages and even start to explore the Real Estate market. A very time-consuming effort, but also very necessary and fun to do.

Deventer, is one of the first towns I visit of the Hanseatic League. It is among the oldest cities of the Netherlands and its history goes back to records of the 9th century. There is a great collection of heritage; here you can find the oldest brick house, the oldest park and the oldest academic library. Every December Deventer hosts a Dickens festival, which attracts lots of visitors.

During this first visit I start my tour along the river and walk from there into the inner city. Around every corner, there is another surprising building, alley or little courtyard and even an excavation site.

Shopping is fun in this town with so many cute little stores………

Another Hanse town is Doesburg. Way smaller than Deventer, but with so much charm! From here the view over the river IJssel is stunning and I imagine going on my bike in Springtime, following the meanders of the river, over one of the many perfect cycling paths. A bike was one of the first things I bought in the Netherlands. You can’t go around without it!

In Doesburg you will find the oldest restaurant and Grand-Café of the Netherlands, called “De Waag” and is situated on the Koepoortstraat 2-4. It goes back to the Hanse era and coming into the building is walking into the past. Today, the fireplace is on and people cuddle up around the fire, as it is a cold day. It is interesting to tour around the building, as it consists of many different rooms for various events and every room has its history……

I am looking forward to my visit to Zutphen, another Hanse town and after, to Bronckhorst, which is called “the smallest town of the Netherlands”. In fact, there are even towns with fewer inhabitants, but for the attraction of visitors it is better to keep that illusion!

Since I am now the proud owner of a small car, I can cross the Netherlands more easily and with more fun! Beginning of March, I moved to another house on a holiday park bordering the woods and since then the weather changed into Spring feeling days and I am right in the area that I enjoy most; the rivers, canals, historic towns and villages, farm and woodland.

A turbulent year

December, 2015

On the 3rd of December, I arrived in Pedreguer, Costa Blanca, Spain for a house and dogsit of around 5 weeks. I was here also in February, 2015 and I looked forward to see the dogs and the Dutch house owner again, with whom I became friends over the last year. Due to a pretty slow internet in this part of Spain, I am unable to upload photographs from my computer to my WordPress blog. I even went with the computer to some cafe’s in the surroundings, but also there no luck. That means that I have to wait, until I am back in the Netherlands on the 6th, with publishing the blog stories about Spain.HPIM0584

In the meantime, I look back on a very turbulent year again. For two years in a row, my life is a roller coaster, with many good memories regarding the countries, where I had the opportunity to stay and look after the properties and animals of the owners. I feel privileged, that all my housesit owners asked me back.

I met wonderful people during my travels and it was a great experience to travel on my own. At times I felt lonely and yes, even a little depressed. During the last year, I had to close not only doors, but also windows and I know they never will open again.DSC03157

On the other hand I realize, that other doors and other windows will open up and I am looking forward for these new opportunities, in a better environment of love and appreciation.

Life is all about making choices and to be able to make a good choice, you need to be in a peaceful environment, where you feel safe and surrounded by people, who are loving and caring.

I still haven’t found that environment yet, although I did find the loving and caring people……..

So I will keep on travelling for a while in 2016, spending my time in between rentals and house sits, starting in the Netherlands in January and February, with a big ? for March and April and in May, I will return to the country, where my children grew up and where I felt so happy;  Greece…….

I will stay for around a month at the Peloponessos, in the house of my best friends from Greece, celebrating the Greek Eastern together and looking after their property, while they are going on a holiday. I am looking forward to finally seeing them again after many years.

Although my house sits were all great, there are of course some highlights. For sure that was beautiful Canmore, in the Rocky Mountains, Canada. The overwhelming beauty of the Rockies, spending quality time with my son and his girlfriend and looking after the adorable dog Sage, are experiences I will never forget.

Mexico, with its diversity of people, landscapes, climate and culture, took also my heart.

Portugal, where I fell in love with Cacela Velha, the market places, the kindness of the people and the coastline of the West.

So many memories to look back on and so many photographs, which tell me again and again how fortunate I was to be able to travel so much, not only over the last two years, but during the (nearly) 60 years of my life.

DSC03255I even discovered my home country again; places I never visited before, like Amerongen, Wijk bij Duurstede and the impressive Canadian Cemetery of the 2nd World War in Holten, with the 1.394 graves, from which 1.355 of Canadian soldiers……DSC03301



I must admit that I miss “my Cuba”, where I travelled for over 30 times, partly doing my “housing projects” and meeting so many grateful, wonderful people with always a smile on their face.


That door always stays open, as there I felt happy and alive!

Let’s take a deep breath and plunge into 2016!