It’s dark when my alarm goes off. I want to get up early to sneak in a New Year’s morning bouldering session at the small bouldering rocks in the park about 1.5km from my godparents’ house. We saw it yesterday on our walk.
It’s about 7am when I reach the wall and the sky is still a deep blue. The moon and stars are the only light in the sky other than the red lights flickering on top of the electricity windmills across the nearby German border. The rock wall isn’t big but it is a fantastic place to train with a mix of natural and man-made holds.
I work a few different problems with increasing levels of difficulty. My fingers ache from the cold (it’s probably 1’C (34’F)). But I am having fun making this the very first activity for 2016 and setting my intentions for the year. I stay at the wall for about an hour, watching the dark blue sky slowly change through the shades until the dawn proper breaks.
I am back “home” in time to share breakfast with Paul and my godparents before my cousins arrive to go for a walk. We take a turn around parts of Coevorden that we missed yesterday (hard to believe we missed anything given the town is so small).
But there’s a park and an animal petting zoo and my cousin’s soccer club where his family has a special plaque on the ground.
And there’s the Vancouver House, which is said to have inspired architecture in Vancouver, Canada. My family tells me about how Vancouver was established by people from Coevorden and that this is why the city has that name (literally translated to “from Coevor”. The Vancouver House is quite cool with it’s drooping walls and higgeldy piggeldy angles.
The New Year’s Day swim takes place in the affternoon. No one else in my family participates and apparently they never have. After the swim, we say our goodbyes to my godparents and cousins, traveling back to Zwolle with my cousin who lives there. She takes us to the train station where we catch a late afternoon to Tilburg. The train ride is uneventful but for the thick fog that rolls in, reducing visibility to nil outside the windows. This is more normal for Holland.
My grandmother picks us up from the train station in Tilburg and drives us to our B&B in Hilvarenbeek, the village she lives in. After a shower we walk down the road to her house. It’s easy to find because I pretty much now the address by heart, having sent my grandmother post cards from every place I’ve ever visited over the past 8 years. It’s wonderful to see her and to see her home in real life. We eat eggs with tomatoes and I introduce her to Paul. I hope they like each other because with any luck they’ll be in each others’ lives for a fair while. We while away some time chatting before we again find our eyes struggling to stay open and we have to toddle off home. I have to say, the constant changes from cold outside to warm inside are making me feel sleepier than usual. Something that continues to bother me even now a fortnight later (I am writing this post on 15 January).