A surprisingly lovely day today. I chatted on the phone with my big brother for more than two hours and went for a socially-distanced walk with a great friend. I also entered Furious Fiction with this little travel story below.
Twenty push-bikes cluttered the side of the lane. We could see the windmill in the distance, across the flat landscape, but could not resist stopping to snap photos of the sunlight sparkling on the blue ribbon of water behind a field of waxy tulips. The view west, more flowers, north, low glasshouses.
A tiny van slowed to a crawl, every vehicle miniaturised by necessity, we pressed ourselves, laughing, against the fence, the driver high fiving us through the window as he went.
Only the Dutch would do this, the guide said, rightly proud.
Still smiling, we climbed back in the saddle. Less than a kilometre the guide said, and Jill from Arkansas asked if that was more, or less, than a mile. (I called ‘less’ and she smiled back at me.)
In another ‘only in The Netherlands moment’, we parked in a bike-only parking area that was twice the size of the carpark and followed the guide like a row of ducks. The Tardis-like windmill swallowed us all up, our chattering hushed and reverent like we were entering a church, receiving the souvenir embroidered apron like holy communion as we filed in. Gasps and low whistles rippled across the group at the huge vats of vibrant pigments vying with the rows of tulips just outside the huge plate-glass windows.
After a tour of the ancient building and refreshments of quirky, art-themed cookies, an artist, well-known, Dutch, tall, sat down to demonstrate. Favourite colours, she asked the group. Prussian Blue, Gold Oxide, Lemon Yellow. Dry powdered colour spooned onto palette, a splash of the purest, cold-pressed linseed oil, the colour of champagne. Mixed deftly as she talked, she transformed her icon-sized stretched-canvas into a splendid, if a touch kitschy, landscape and the ‘exit through the gift-shop’ saw us pedalling back to Amsterdam with brightly coloured bags in our baskets, still smiling, Jill from Arkansas already planning her first exhibition.