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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Last week I went to Jette Frolich's garden. Jette is famous here for her beautiful Christmas decorations that she has designed for over 30 years. The words 'Christmas Decorations' may not exactly be inspiring, but fear not, there are no Singing Santa's in Jette's range, it is all gorgeous Scandinavian designer stuff, some of it I wouldn't just use for Christmas either. Search out her stuff in Illums and Magasin etc. If you are coming over, it's well worth it! Anyway, her artistic skills don't just stretch to objects, her gardening skills are fantastic too. She opens her garden once a year to show her beautiful rose garden and actually does the tour herself. We spent a very pleasant morning there and also had a tour of her studio. For someone of Jette's age her energy, vigour and general cheerful nature were all inspirational.
Talking of inspirational people, last night we returned from a weekend in Maastrict, where we had a huge family reunion. My Grandmother is Dutch, and 48 people from that side of the family all gathered together to spend the weekend reminiscing, generally catching up and for many, meeting each other for the first time. It was amazing. Most of us arrived on the Saturday afternoon where we installed ourselves into the Limburg farmhouse.
A few of us later went for a walk to explore the surroundings, and also climb the 12th century tower. The following morning we had breakfast, had time to look around the small Mount St.Peter Museum, and then we all gathered at a local restaurant for lunch before we went to the Caves of Mount St. Peter. These caves are an important part of our family history, as My Great-Grandfather D.C Van Schaick was the first person to map out all of the galleries of the caves, quite a feat considering their vast size. Initially, he found his way around by gas-lamp, marking the cave walls with notches so he could find his way back out again, but he eventually came to know them like the back of his hand. Many people haven't been so lucky in getting back out again, so as much as I enjoyed the tour of the caves, and the great drawings etc. inside, I was secretly quite pleased to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
My grandparents also met here, so you could say a good few of us owe our lives to them too! My great-grandfather would sometimes show people around the caves, and on many occasions my grandmother would also help. On one occasion, her group consisted of British air-servicemen stationed nearby during the war (the caves also played their own valuable part in the war, keeping people safe and also keeping important works of art hidden from the Germans), one of these airmen was my grandfather. My grandfather's words in his diary that evening were "today I met the girl of my dreams". They married not all that long afterwards.
It was a lovely weekend, but also quite an emotional one. Visiting the house where my mother was born, visiting my great-grandfather's grave and witnessing my grandparents revisiting the places where their life together began. Also for the first time realising my grandmother's great love for a country she left over 60 years ago was very humbling, and put my own experiences of missing home in balance. She left the country and the people she loved forever, for the man she loves, and I am grateful for the sacrifices that she made. My grandparents are incredible people, and remain a huge inspiration for many of us. I also feel very lucky to have such an interesting, varied and HUGE family! The 11 hour drive in both directions (listening to Roald Dahl on a loop again and again!) was definitely worth it!