Only at 8.30 am we awakened by Esmée and it is such nice weather that we quickly go outside for breakfast. First at the table in front of the house, but sitting on the grass is of course much more fun, as if we are having a picnic. But then we quickly get on our way to the zoo in Nordhorn. Tierpark Nordhorn is a not too big zoo where you can quietly walk among the many animals. Therefore, it is perhaps more fun for children than a zoo with more animals that are all behind fences and canals.
Esmée likes it, soon she is lying on the ground to smell the flowers or bends over to look the animals at the same height in the eyes. We walk along an old river bed of the Vecht where water birds and aquatic animals now reign. Then we arrive at farm Vechthof, a characteristic farm from the 19th century, where humans and animals lived under one roof. Walking through the stable you enter the originally furnished living room of the farmer, with old furniture and tools. A lot of animals walk around the yard and a lot of storks nest around it.
After a short break (time for an ice cream with this nice weather!) we walk through the kangaroo pasture and then to the ostriches. And we catch them on a rather dirty habit: they eat their own shit! Esmée can not get over it, she thinks it is so dirty, but also fascinated because we have to stay there for more than 20 minutes while the ostriches run up and down and return to our window each time to get a few bites of their own feces.
The park is divided into two parts and the rear part is built into a new housing estate. There is also the petting zoo with goats and sheep. Esmée wants definitely to feed them but you can only get bags of food at the checkout. I completely agree with her and walk all the way back for a bag of 1 euro. Pedagogically, it may not be the best action, but I can imagine that it is fantastic for someone of her age. All in all, we spends more than an hour with the goats.
Then we eat something on a busy terrace, but the playground next to it beckons and that is another hour! Actually, the zoo is not necessary at all: some sand, a few goats and Esmée sweetly plays all day long. If we walk further, the seals are fed and it is busy, everyone wants to see this. We find a spot a bit further away where Esmée can see something at least sitting on my shoulders.
It is amazing how quickly such a day can fly by. We have not even seen everything when we walk back to the exit, while we have been here for more than 6 hours! Esmée says goodbye to an alpaca, a kind of lama. At the entrance we call with Therese, the mother of Esmée so she can tell her experiences. So we also hear her highlights of the day: feeding the goats and sheep and the eating behavior of the ostriches!It stays warm so she can play in the sand for a while (again) and she is in bed only after eight o'clock. And however quiet the day was, for us it felt strenuous enough. We enjoy the setting sun and would want all the days of the holiday to be like this. But unfortunately the weather forecast does not want it ...
Monday 28 April 2008, a rainy day
Again we are late, well after eight. As predicted, it is bleak outside and regularly the rain pours down. That's why we stay inside for a long time and Esmée plays with her puzzles, dolls or looks at Niels Holgersson's DVDs which she really likes.In the afternoon we go out when the weather seems to clear up, towards Ibbenbüren. But on the way we end up in traffic jams, it starts to rain harder and we do not feel like walking in the famous Dörenther cliffs, a jagged rock formation of 166 meters high. Also for the Sommerrodelbahn that Teije knows well from his childhood, the weather is just too dirty and too cold even though there must be a nice fairytale forest.
That is why we only take a short walk through the city center, eat something in a restaurant and then look for a supermarket. And then quickly back to our house where we put the stove a little higher because it is cold, at most 12 or 13 degrees.
After we have put Esmée to bed suddenly the rain stops, the clouds disappear and a thin sun comes out. It suddenly gets a bit warmer too, so we have good hope for the coming days, even though the predictions are so bad. But even on a day like this we have been well entertained, especially when we have our grandchild with us!
Tuesday 29 April 2008, searching for an indoor swimming pool
It is not too cold today, but the day starts very bleak. That is why, after a quiet start, we will visit a swimming pool. At least, when Esmée is finished playing hide and seek. There is an outdoor pool nearby, but that does not seem really fit to us today.So we go and inquire at the health resort of Bad Bentheim whether that is also suitable for children. Bentheim has had a medicinal source for more than 300 years and may therefore also put Bad for her name. According to legends, farmers saw long ago that animals with wounds rolled in the mud of a pool and that the wounds healed quickly. The farmers tried the same for sick cows and horses with the same result! After a doctor made a report in 1710, a sandstone building was built around the source and in the meantime it has become an extensive complex that apparently benefits many people. But we do not, because at the reception they tell us that it is nothing for a child of 3 years.
Our knowledge of swimming pools in the area is now exhausted and we use the navigation to search further. Then drive to the Netherlands and find the first tourist information. That is in Losser where a friendly lady tells us the different possibilities. We choose for the swimming pool in Denekamp, which is the closest to and has a 33 degrees paddling pool, delicious!
Esmée has a great time: first playing in the shallow pool, but afterwards she would like to 'swim' in the deep. It is not really a subtropical swimming pool but there are nice things like a waterfall and a piece where there is a strong current. Esmée has her safety vest and can do well independently and we only have to support her very occasionally. Of course, our little princess can do almost everything herself, she thinks.
As the day progresses we also see the sun outside and it is getting warmer, especially inside under the glass. While Esmée is having a great time with the water fountains, Elisabeth and I make plans for tomorrow. Imagine that the weather cooperates as it does today, then we have to be somewhere where we can walk around, but with opportunities to do something inside. And so we ponder a little while Esmée, unhindered by these kinds of difficult issues, plays nicely.When we come back to our house at 5:30 she can still play outside in the sand while I prepare a meal. After we have put her to bed (I have read a lot of stories again) we read for a few hours and then do go to bed early. This is becoming a real holiday vacation!