Kim and Damien's 12 month Odyssey, 2005 travel blog

Kim, Oma and Lotte before the party

Oma - surrounded by her family

Nicolien and Tim

Oom Rob and Mum

Jacqueline, Jimmy and Jill

Familie Joosen

Puk and Demi

More cousins

Dig in.

Jimmy and Jaqueline sing to celebrate our marriage

We receive our congratulations

Sorry Lot

The grandchildren and great grandchildren WOW!


Now listen Kim.....

Oisterwijk scene

Team ten Hacken

Oisterwijk scene

Oisterwijk scene

Raw thanks!

Dinner in Etten Leur


Snow falling at Etten Leur


(KtH) I woke up with a shocking hang-over. Not surprising considering the amount we all drank last night. If only I had drunk more water...

The headache slowly subsided but I was still very tired when Lotte, Damien and I got in the car. Rene had kindly offered to take us to Etten Leur on his way to his boat (to tie a screw?). Oma would be celebrating her 90th birthday today.

We were unable to give Rene directions as he had come in on the other side of the shopping centre. As we didn't recognise the roads we opted to walk from the shopping centre.

When we arrived at Oma's, Oma was already dressed and ready with her party frock on. It was really cute. The rest of us got ready and not long after Inneke and Jack arrived. We all walked to Jopie's and then distributed ourselves among the cars. Damien and I ended up with Patrick and Verle and their child Mathia. It was fun seeing Patrick again. Things have changed since his 'wild' days in Melbourne but he is definately still Patrick. He was very impressed by our trip and shared his enthusiasm by calling us 'bastards'. Ha ha, he he!

Five minutes down the road we stumbled out of the cars into the Etten Leur community building. Oma had hired a room with a bar, tables and chairs and a huge buffet meal. We were some of the first people to arrive but it didn't take long for the room to fill with about 60-70 family members and friends.

Lotte and I spent most of the time chatting to our cousins, aunts and uncles. Damien mostly stuck to our cousins who all speak English. Nicolien was out of hospital and able to make it, as were Annemarie and Katlien who had come over from England. Except for our cousins in Canada (who I don't know anyway) and of course, Sean, we were all there. I was amazed to learn that Oma has 36 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Wow!

Jacqueline's children are gorgeous and Jill played the drums for a number of songs Jacqueline and Jimmy sang. We were also surprised with a special presentation and song in congratulations of our marriage in Peru. It was totally unexpected so I went bright red when my name was mentioned and Jacqueline and Jimmy approached us and began singing. They sang "You're Still The One by Shania Twain" (lyrics below). I found out late Mum had organised it. Thanks Mum. I was very embarrassed with the unexpected attention but it was a lovely surprise for Damien and I.

Around 5pm everyone headed back home. I think Oma had a lovely time and it was a great way for me to see all the family at once. It isn't very often that they all get together.

We spent the evening at Pim and Thea's house. Damien thought he was in heaven when he spotted the DVD cabinet. We watched Shrek 2 before heading to bed. Poor Sjoerd had to give up his bed to Damien and I. Thanks Sjoerd, much appreciated!

You're Still The One - Song Lyrics

Written by Shania Twain & Mutt Lange

Looks like we made it

Look how far we've come my baby

We mighta took the long way

We knew we'd get there someday

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"

But just look at us holding on

We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)

You're still the one I run to

The one that I belong to

You're the one I want for life

(You're still the one)

You're still the one that I love

The only one I dream of

You're still the one I kiss good night

Ain't nothin' better

We beat the odds together

I'm glad we didn't listen

Look at what we would be missin'

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"

But just look at us holding on

We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)

Look how far we've come my baby



(KtH) Damien woke up with a bit of a runny nose this morning. Not surprising considering the contrast in temperature between Egypt and here. We've also been so busy (drinking and feasting :) ) that our bodies are probably a little run down.

Thea dropped us off at Etten Leur station to make our way back to Den Bosch for Opa's official birthday. Thea asked if I needed any help with the ticket machines but I assured her we'd be ok. Well that's what I thought anyway. I had no problem specifying the ticket we required but once it came to paying it was impossible. None of the machines there accepted notes and we don't have a maestro card. Even the shop at the station was closed. Thea had warned us about the huge fines you receive when travelling without a ticket. Frantically, I approached the flower shop and then the petrol station asking for change. They all refused to help me.

The train was approaching just as I returned from the petrol station. We had arranged with Opa for him to pick us up when the train arrived in Den Bosch. Being left with little choice we jumped on board the train. When we arrived in Breda I overheard a girl talking to a conductor about not being able to buy a ticket to Germany. I took the opportunity to put myself forward as also being unable to buy a ticket.

Initially the conductor had no sympathy for me and told us we could get off the train and buy a ticket in Breda. I had 2 minutes. Yeah right! In response I asked him if the train would wait for me. Of course not. He told me that Damien and I will each have to pay a E35.00 fine when the conductor comes round. I pleaded my case and finally he came round. I offered to pay for the ticket in Den Bosch but he just gave us a look that said "don't worry about it". Luckily we got away with it but it really is ridiculous how difficult it is for a foreigner to buy a ticket from a small railway station in the Netherlands. Considering how expensive the rail travel is, I think it is just unacceptable.

We returned to Rosmalen to find Opa's lounge full of people. Three of his brothers had come to wish him a happy birthday. There was Huub, Piet and Niek. Ans (a widow of Opa's brother Ton) and Niek's and Piet's wives, Thea and Miriam were also there.

Damien got into the La Trappe Quadrupel with Dad while I just drank wine and ate chocolate letters. YUM! My stomach is definitely growing. If I keep this up, I'll be fat by the time I'm back in Australia.

Dad had organised to have dinner at Huib's place. Judith was also there and so was Birgitte. Even Rene turned up later. It was 'gezellig' and it was another lovely meal. Damien and I haven't eaten this well for ages!


(KtH) Opa picked us up from Engelen in the morning. It was decided to make a sightseeing tour to Oisterwijk. Dad had promised us pancakes for lunch.

Opa drove through many old villages on the way to Oisterwijk. It was grey and cold outside but after being in the car for a while we were ready to go walking.

Oisterwijk National Park, like most of the forests in Braabant has a sandy base. The park is full of beautiful birch and pine trees and still had a lot of colour from autumn leaves. Opa was a little scared of getting lost as he had lost the way last time he walked here. We made sure we only walked in one direction, but even then we found a split on the path on the way back we hadn't seen. Luckily we didn't listen to dad and took the left turn....otherwise who knows where we'd be now.

Back in the car we began our search for the pancake house. It took a while before I realised that Dad was trying to find a pancake house he had visited 30 years ago. It came as no surprise then when we couldn't find it. We think it may have converted to a Chinese restaurant. We drove back to Oisterwijk and ate chips and spring rolls instead. Later we saw the menu actually included pancakes so Opa shouted us each an apple pancake before heading back home.

Opa took the scenic route again but I doubt Damien noticed. He was fast asleep after the first 15 minutes. Ha! Back in Engelen we feasted on Rene's stuffed capsicum. I'm sure the garlic will do wonders for Damien's cold.

Rene showed us some wonderful Dutch TV called "Preview TV". I thought it was a show where people send in their home made video clips as part of a competition. I was wrong. I was informed that these were some of the biggest stars in Nederland. I couldn't believe it. It was all tits and bums and very amateurish. Very funny though!


(KtH) It was Dad's last night in Nederland last night so we went back to Etten Leur to spend time with Mum until she leaves on the 17th. We managed to get a lift with Rene again - this time with a pit stop in Tilburg. While he was in a meeting, Damien and I explored the local bike shop.

In the Netherlands everyone seems to ride on similar standard touring bikes. Unlike Australia, where mountain bikes and racing bikes dominate the bicycle shops, in the Netherlands you have a choice between hundreds of standard push bikes. It's all about comfort!

Mum took us to the local markets for a wander around. We ate raw herring, which Damien politely declined. After shopping for dinner we returned to Oma's.

Back at Pim and Thea's we cooked up a mean spaghetti. I kept hitting my head on their exhaust. It was very painful (and also a little embarrassing considering I hit it about 7 times...I mean you'd think I'd learn). I gave up my stirring duties to Damien.

Damien joined Koen for basketball training. I would have liked to watch, just for the fun in watching Damien play a sport he hasn't played in years, but I thought I'd be nice and leave him be.


(KtH) Damien still wasn't feeling so well (and with the lure of the DVD collection) decided to stay home when Mum, Thea and I headed of to Galderse Meeren near Breda. We took Bo, Pim and Thea's beautiful brown labrador for an hour walk around the lake. The area is actually quite beautiful and although cold it was also invigorating. Apparently we used to swim in the lake when we were kids.

When we got back Damien was totally tuned to the telly with Schindler's List. Even though I didn't watch it from the beginning I still felt myself getting emotional. It is such a sad movie.

We visited Oma again and picked up our bags from Jopie's to organise ourselves for the following week.

After dinner we visited Rinus, Jacqueline and Nicolien. Their new house is fantastic. They really have done a marvelous job. Nicolien was looking well and looking forward to returning to Dubai.

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