My cousin suggests ice skating at the 3km (2 mile) long artificial outdoor skating track at Biddinghuizen. How can I say “no”? I love ice skating and want to catch up with my cousin so, despite the two hour drive each way, we drive across Holland to Velonice at Biddinghuizen.
I’ve only skated two or three times in my life. Once was on a small rink in the snow in Warsaw last year. Before that I ice skated once or twice on indoor rinks as a child (25+ years ago). But I love the sport – possibly because it’s so far removed from sweaty subtropical life as you can get.
The hire skates are long-bladed speed skates with low ankles. I’ve only ever used short-bladed hire skates with high plastic ankles. Giving a beginner speed skates is a bit like giving a fixie bike without brakes to someone who doesn’t cycle. But somehow I manage to stay upright.
We skate three laps of the rink. It’s like magic to be outdoors in the near-perpetual sunset that glows yellow around us. The air is crisp. The speed skaters in training zip past in blurs. The children slate better than me. And I get to catch up with my cousin.
After skating 9km (5.5 miles) we drive back to Brabant (two hours away) for dinner with my uncle and aunt from Dad’s side. We eat hearty winter food and talk the night away until Paul and I can’t keep our eyes open and drive to our home away from home.