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heatwave in the hague

I think we might have unintentionally brought the heat back with us from The Hague.

It was 36 degrees C in Holland and now it’s  19 degrees C here.  At nearly midnight.*

Here though, instead of Emma’s lofty apartment with it’s high ceiling-to-knee windows and bright sunny spaces, I have english-sized wibbly-wobbly windows and fifteen centuries of thick cool bricks fending off the hot heavy air. Don’t get me wrong.  It’s been brilliant.  Just really really hot.  Too hot at times even for our sun-loving-“I need the suunshiiiiiiiine!!”-Marie.   Which is really saying something (cue Bananarama).

We lay on the wooden floor to cool down, wafted each other with palm tree fans in a furniture store and splat wet cold tissue onto wrists and ankles as we lay restless at night. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA At one point (prevented only by her city-bike and the last shreds of dignity she had retained) a very pink and bothered Sara seriously considered mugging some small children for their paddling pool: “Oh..(whimper)… that looks so gooooood”.  She was satisfied, eventually, by a dance in a (too short) rain shower. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Flying into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, your eye is snagged away from the book you’re reading by a mess of green and yellow crayoned fields, jumbled in with a tangle of blue waterways.   It must have once been a kingdom full of mountains, until a giant got sick of the noisy waterfalls and never ending streams, and stamped down his foot.

We didn’t venture out too far into the countryside.  Sadly, the tulips have been and gone already this year.  Plus, the main aim was to see and catch up with our dear flame haired friend, Emma, who for the foreseeable future will be working, and living, in The Hague.  Good news indeed, as it’s the kind of place you want to go back to.

The Hague…

(“The where?”; “The Hague”; “Where’s that”; “In Holland, close to Amsterdam, the UN […] supreme court […] friend working […] seat of the goverment…”etc)

…is an immensely like-able city.  It’s streets are bracketed on each side with handsome tall buildings, more liqorice all-sorts than chocolate box, and lined with rectangular roughly-cut, cobalt-coloured cobbles as small as a geisha’s foot. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Squares are wide and inviting, decorated with scores of clashing restaurant parasols by day and fairy-lights cobwebbed through trees by night. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Roads are crisscrossed with tram’s tracks and wires, and lined with proud trees reaching up to try and brush the wispy clouds. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you are a cyclist, you are a King or a Queen.  You are treated to red tarmac carpets wherever you pedal and an unquestioned right of way at zebra crossings, road junctions and parking spots.  There are bike racks everywhere.

If you’re particularly lucky (or daft looking) the man at the bike shop might treat you to the Harley Davidson version of a bicycle.  Not quite the quaint little city bikes you had hoped for, but obscenely fun (and funny) none the less.  I’m not sure the poor stoned bike man will ever quite get over Sara’s hysterical reaction to the concept of backward pedaling (to brake)…or that she was actually serious when she demanded the half-size red child’s bike.

Still the pressures of ‘odd’ bicycles were tackled with gusto by our merry little trio.  Sara even managed to look slightly regal at one point (before we left the beach…after a  3 hour long ‘recovery’ break). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Everyone keeps asking what we did in The Hague. We ate.  We drank coffee. We chatted. We window shopped. We cycled on one long straight royal tarmac path to the beach.

We then cycled some more – quite a lot more (in the hot mid-afternoon sun) – to try and find the sand-dune part of the beach we were meant to be at (note: next time get a map rather than listen to the bike shop man, who’s a/ stones and b/probably still in shock from dealing with three hysterical English girls).


In a restaurant amongst the sand-dunes of Stanslaag 9, we (eventually) found Emma, who spent half the weekend hobbling around on crutches after an unfortunate incident at yoga-massage the week before.  We ate.  We drank coffee. We chatted.

We walked/hobbled.  We chatted.  We wandered down to the sea’s edge and picked up shells.  We chatted.  We ate ice-cream.  We drank coffee.  We chatted.

We cycled home again (this time following Emma’s friend who knew where he was going, whilst she hobbled, caught the tram and.. hobbled some more).  Went out for dinner.

Ate.  Chatted. Coffee’d.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (We also drank some fizzy iced tea)

And so it goes on.

Perfect.  And the perfect place to do all the above.

The Hague is as unapologetic as it’s people.  It won’t move aside for you: it’ll carry on being just the way it’s always been.  At first you might think it’s rude and highly  likely to flunk it’s customer service exams.  But give it 20 minutes and you’ll realise that it’s not trying to be rude, it’s just laid back and easy going and…totally comfortable with itself: no special effort necessary.  Utterly charming and lacking in pretense.

You’ll leave feeling privileged to have met The Hague and it’s attitude:  “No, I won’t apologise if I bump into you or get in your way.  In fact, you should think yourself lucky!  Your day will be better now.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

*I did start writing this post on the day we got back (20th July).  Too hot.  Kept falling asleep. Had aimed to finish it on my birthday (ran out of free time).  So finally got around to it on Thursday 24th July, after finishing work at 8.  Photos and videos to be added – all being well – by the end of the week, but we shall see.  It’s a labor of love this blogging lark you know.  Especially for a perfectionist like me.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. aunt ang #

    Dawn , you are brilliant at eatingdrinking and chatting. love you xxxx

    July 24, 2014
  2. Julie #

    You came to NL and didn’t tell me?….

    July 24, 2014
    • dawn #

      AAAHHHH!!! I had a really thick moment. I’ve left you a whatsapp to explain.

      Please don’t hate me.


      a/ am stupid about geography (as we have established before) and
      b/ ridiculously had not connected the dots that you and my friend Emma were living in the same country. (Confession:) I only learnt that “The Hague” existed after Emma moved there. And when people were asking where it was, I was saying “The Netherlands”. I’ve always thought of you being in “Holland” which is clearly also “The Netherlands” to someone un-stupid. Believe it or not (and having lived with me I’m sure you will believe it) I only realised we were in Holland when exiting a toilet in the airport (on departure) and saw a big “Welcome to Holland” sign.

      It’s official.

      I am an idiot.

      And I promise I’ll let you know next time and we WILL meet up…

      Now, whereabouts in the great country of Holland/realm (??) of The Netherlands is it that you are?? (I’m a terrible friend. I love you though!! xx)

      July 26, 2014

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