Sunday, 9 March 2014

Holland's Heatwave

The weather has been so very odd this winter. It is now the beginning of March and the Netherlands is in a sudden heat wave. (And by heat wave, I mean warm for both season and place...) In Amsterdam and other cities in the south, temperatures are up to 19/20C (about 65-68F) today! Here in the north we are about 15/18C (59-64F). I went out at midday to the Grote Markt to soak up the sun. I even had on short sleeves! It was about 15C (about 60F) with a gorgeous, fresh, southerly wind. The streets were quiet, but the outdoor cafes were cramming in chairs into every bit of sun they could, and doing a roaring trade.

Grote Markt "bleachers"
It was lovely to sit and watch the world go by on a quiet Sunday. Families and friends were milling about or having lunch on the wooden "bleachers" in the Grote Markt. Lots of rather young couples with small toddlers. Parents seem to be getting younger and younger (or maybe I'm just getting older...or both...). Dashing, twenty something dads with beards and sunglasses, carrying young sir/madam in a 'Baby Bjorn'. Very cool. I like it. In fact, all the children I saw today were being looked after by the dads. From wee babes to toddling toddlers. Allowing poor mums to finally read a book or eat with both hands free!

The Dutch have this rather interesting (and sometimes annoying) habit of scheduling. If you want to hang out, you had better make sure it was decided about two weeks previously and that is was written in their agenda. It is the most disconcerting thing when you say, "Hey, let's get together soon." "Yes, let's." Out comes the agenda (usually on phones these days)..."How about next week or the end of the month?" Sorry, what?

So, on days like today, I find it very amusing that people take a whole hour out of their day to sit in the sun and people watch or drink a coffee. But I really like it - at least here people know how to enjoy themselves. And not like, "oh isn't this a treat!?" but more in the fashion of, "of course I'm enjoying myself; this is normal." Even the teenagers put away their mobile phones for half a minute!

This was thrown together two days ago for the good weather!
It has been a week of pleasant weather, and during the middle of the week I found it incredible that at two o'clock in the afternoon, people were sitting down enjoying a glass of wine and a bit of sun on a cafe terrace. It makes you wonder if anyone works! But, the Dutch are in fact, extraordinarily hard working. The Netherlands are also in the top five "Happiest Countries." I think the secret lies in their agendas...perhaps they are, in fact, scheduling in free time for themselves to simply enjoy life.   

Time to kick back, have a beer, and enjoy the beautiful, blue sky weather, wouldn't you say?