Monday, 13 February 2012

A Cultural Winter Experience

This last weekend saw what could be the last of the ice skating on natural ice for this winter season. After the dashed hopes last week that an Elfsedentocht would take place, the Dutch took to the ice this weekend in their masses. Many had bought new ice skates for the occasion. Some grabbed them from the back of the cupboard. Others jumped on their sledge. Others collected their ice hockey sticks and pucks. Others just gathered on the ice to drink hot chocolate or gluhwein together.

Brand New Ice Skates
(c) The Writing Well
We took to the ice too. Or as least, some of the family did. Whilst I stood on the banks of what was water two weeks ago, my eldest sons and papa took to the ice. I scanned the ice for my family whilst I watched over the baby who was fast asleep in sub-zero temperatures in the double buggy. Whilst my eldest son lasted approximately two minutes upright on his ice skates, my middle son slid around enthusiastically behind him - until they both retired to the sleigh for papa to do the hard work. Watching them put a beaming smile on my face.

Out on the Sledge
(c) The Writing Well
The Dutch are almost as fanatical about ice skating as they are about cycling - another thing I have had to get used to as the Brits are certainly not renowned for their ice skating..... A few years ago it was my first time walking on a frozen lake and I stood amazed at those around me skating, sledging and pushing chairs across the ice. It was something I had never seen before and I loved watching it happening around me.

Ice Skating in the Netherlands - almost as popular as cycling
(c) The Writing Well
This year I knew what to expect. I could already picture the crowds on the canals and streams. But this year, two of my sons were enthusiastically thrown into the mix. Ice skates on, sledge out from the shed and winter woolies on.

Ice Hockey on a Frozen Lake
(c) The Writing Well

It struck me once more that my children will have different experiences because they were born in the Netherlands. Had my husband and I moved back to the UK before the children were born, I cannot imagine rushing out and buying a pair of ice skates for my eldest son so he could have a go at skating on a frozen lake. I don't think we would have a sledge tucked away in the shed as standard transportation (kids are taken to school on sledges as soon as there is any ice to speak of). I'm sure it's done in England, but not by the masses, and not with such fanaticism.

What different experiences do your kids have because they are in the Netherlands, or a different country to the one you grew up in?

1 comment:

  1. Countryside walks aren't really an American thing to do but I love doing them here on a sunny or crisp day. I also went out with L in the autumn to pick blackberries for baking for the first time. It was really lovely.

    You make this time quite special, but with my weak ankles I'm quite glad to stick to country walks. xo