I spent the last few days making a trek across Germany into The Netherlands to take a fabric dyeing class with Dijanne Cevaal. I’m not really sure how I got there, as I thought I had to drive across The Netherlands, but when I followed the directions the computer gave me, only the last 45 minutes or so were not in Germany. By the way, when driving around Germany, I am always suprised by how many people seem to be compelled to stop on overpasses and watch the traffic. On one holiday weekend, TS&WGH made a game of counting the overpasses without “watchers.”
Once in Borger, I was not confident I had actually found the correct town until I took a walk and found the quilt shop where the class would be held the next day. I saw some ladies working in the classroom and was tempted to stop in and say hi, but thought better of it as it was after 9 pm. Here’s the shop/proprietress’ home, with the classroom/gallery to the left. This picture does not do the shop justice — the other side has a lovely yard and quilts hanging around. If you are ever in or near Borger, NL I recommend visiting De Stofmeid!
The town itself is quite charming. Check out the neat thatch and shutters (?) on this barn.
Here’s some more conventional houses in the area. It’s quite a bit different than the row houses crammed together in the cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht which I have visited previously. I love the mix of old and new and how the Dutch seem to effortlessly mix these old thatch and brick homes with modern glass doors and huge windows. Looking in those windows everything seems elegantly spare, but still warm.
And what a beautiful gate! My dad would love it.
The town closed down early, so I was lucky to duck into an Italian/Greek restaurant for a salad and a glass of wine. Sorry, no pics as it seemed rather desperate to photograph my food when I was the only one in the restaurant besides a pair at the bar. Seems everyone was at home watching Arsenal play Barcelona. I’m not a big follower of Fußball, but it’s World Cup time and you just can’t avoid it. Arsenal is to the UK as Bayern München is to Germany, and I think Barcelona is the favorite of Spain as well, so the match was a big deal (Barcelona won, BTW). For World Cup, the whole town of Borger was decked out in Holland’s national color, orange. There were banners everywhere and window displays with T-shirts, balls, personal fans, ties, everything! (And yes, I’m a lousy German for not being more knowledgeable on the national sport, but I do root for Bayern München.)
The next morning I had breakfast at the hotel. Don’t you just love this Frieda-Green dining room.
Breakfast was the usual european fare of boiled eggs, bread with cold cuts, yogurt and müsli, coffee and juices. The Dutch add a little treat though. They like buttered white bread with Hagelslag (chocolate jimmies). The Hagelslag even come in a variety of flavors, to include fruit!
Naturally, I had to buy Hagelslag and Stroopwafeln (crispy waffle sandwiches with caramel in the middle) for my friends at home. I couldn’t pass up the sprinkles with gnomes and toadstools on the packaging for myself.
Bad, bad me, I had so much fun in class that I didn’t bother to take any pictures. The class was 11 Dutch ladies and me. They were very nice to accomodate me and my limited language skills. Annemeike, who owns the shop, is friendly and has a beautiful space for classes and shows. Dijanne is a lovely lady and was nice enough to translate for me when needed. Silly me assumed that since she was from Australia, the class would be in English (we all know what happens when you assume). Ends up that Dijanne was born in The Netherlands, as so is fluent in Dutch. Luckily, her hand-outs were in English, and Dutch has enough similarities to German that I could devine the big ideas just listening for familiar words. We dyed a lot of fabric and played with mixing colors and mooshing around the fabric to make interesting patterns. While we waited for one batch to “cure,” Dijanne inspired us with some of her fabrics. Annemeike prepared a delicious lunch of bread, salad, and to-die-for salmon tart. At another break we were treated to a “suitcase show” of Dijanne’s quilts. I was overwhelmed with the possibilities and lost site of actual projects I might be working on in the future. I combined colors on the fly, so I’m not sure I will be using much of this stuff soon. I WILL use it eventually though, you can be assured of that! The whole reason for attending though, was to be able to come home and dye fabrics myself in a more contemplative atmosphere. So, here’s what I brought home. I’m drying my fabrics outside rather than in the dryer because Tommy says it’s easier on the ironing, which I look forward to doing tonight.
After class, I walked down the street to see the local megaliths. Yup, you read right, prehistoric megaliths. The region, Drenthe, is dotted with these large stone formations, and the largest of them all happens to be in Borger, just down the road from De Stofmeid. If I interpreted the Dutch signage correctly, these constructions were grotto-type dwellings of the local hunter-gatherer tribes. According to the picture on the brochure, the space “inside” would have been dug out to achieve a proper ceiling height, and then the spaces in between the upright stones would have been filled in with stacked, smaller stones. Not easy to build, but obviously sturdy, and probably well insulated. Cozy, eh?
No one is sure exactly how these were built (perhaps by giants?), but it is theorized that the stones were moved along rolling “roads” of logs. Perhaps the side, upright, stones were placed first, then a ramp was built of smaller stones topped with logs, and the top stones were rolled up into place. Another possibility is that the top stones were hoisted up into place temporarily with logs, and then the uprights placed underneath. I think the literature said that both methods had been tried out and were equally plausible.
I drove back home this morning, and actually spotted another megalith formation along the side of the road in the next town. Cool. The weather wasn’t as nice for the drive home, but at least the rain cleaned most of the bugs off the car. I didn’t have to rush either, as TS&WGH was able to take two days off of work to stay at home with the kids. When I signed up for the course, I worked it around the kids being able to stay with friends and neighbors after school, but Katja got sick last weekend and couldn’t go to Kindergarten. I offered to cancel my plans, but my man, World’s Greatest Husband that he is, said no. I needed this “professional development,” and he was willing to adjust his schedule for it. Yippee! Had I known my schedule wasn’t going to be so tight, I probably would have opted not to drive (5 hours each way and 2 tanks of gas, one at US prices, the other at the european price of $100 to fill my 18 gallon tank). I envy the people on the express trains that zipped by me along the way.
I had to snap some pics of the fields of Raps as well. I think Raps is called Rape in english. It is used to make canola oil and it’s intense lemon yellow color brightens the days at both the begining and end of the growing season. The other day, I saw a red regional train just past a yellow raps field, under a blue sky. Too bad I didn’t have my camera that day.
And finally: I’ve lived to the notheast of Frankfurt Airport, to the west of it, and now, to the south of it. I could practically drive to it blindfolded. So, I felt like I was almost home when I zipped past this friendly face. Even the airport is decked out for World Cup (finals will be held in Germany, I believe).