Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Beautiful Game?

Quote of the week from Niels as we were cycling home from Scouts this morning:
"I thought the World Cup was going to be fun, but all anybody wants to do is watch the stupid football!"
I'm with you on that one, kid.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Amazing free-dive video

This incredible short film shows world champion freediver Guillaume Nery on a special dive at Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world. It was filmed entirely on breath hold by the french champion Julie Gautier. Dean's Blue Hole is located at Long Island, the Bahamas.

To enjoy the movie on full-screen, click on the 4-arrow symbol on the right of the tool bar under the video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Small Wonders; Nationaal Tinnen Figuren Museum, Ommen

In the picturesque town of Ommen is the most fantastic museum which I suspect is a well hidden secret to many people. The Nationaal Tinnen Figuren Museum (National Museum of Tin Figures) houses a collection of over 200,000 tin soldiers, animals, people, miniature landscapes...everything that you could possibly imagine, and all gorgeously painted. It looks like the whole world is represented in tin figures, and practically everything is just 3 cm high.

Most people, if they ever think of tin figurines, naturally think of tin soldiers but this collection is a real eye opener. From the royal court of Versialles; the Arabian Nights: Hannibal crossing the mountain:

...there was an incredible array of figures. And yes, of course there were soliders. Thousands upon thousands of them! In fact one room is entirely dedicated to the Battle of Waterloo, with a large recreation of the battle using 20,000 hand painted tin soldiers, horses, weapons, trees, buildings....everything you can think of. This is a detail of just some of them:

...and the Battle of Arne, which took place near Ommen a few hundred years ago when the farmers and peasants took on an army of Knights in protest over high taxes - and won - is also beautifully recreated:

As you can imagine, Niels was in his element. We went through the museum in an hour, went and had some lunch, then came back and spent two more hours there! And we could have stayed longer. This place is a treat for both kids and grown ups, and hosts several different exhibitions each year in addition to its own collection. The way the figures are displayed is also wonderful; entire landscapes or interiors are recreated in detail so you see the figures in context, and the skill involved in painting both the figures and the displays have to be seen to be believed. Check out the website (in Dutch and English) for information, or just to admire the photos. I seriously recommend it.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Splashing About

As I mentioned before, Niels turned 9 a couple of weeks ago. By way of a party he invited 8 friends over and we took them all (in two cars) to a swimming complex in Haaksbergen, called De Wilder. It has a long water slide, several jacuzzis, a huge pool, whirlpool, etc and is the pefect place for kids to burn off their energy. After an hour and a half of swimming, climbing on the massive inflatable toys in the pool, shooting down the slide and swinging out into the water on a Tarzan rope we fed them some chips and then they were off for another hour or so. Perfect! Brithday parties in Singapore were always easy in that respect; down to the pool with some new toys and the kids were sweet for the duration.
By 4:30 they were all looking a bit tired so we herded the boys and girls off into the changing rooms. Yes there were girls present; for the first time Niels has invited girls! We had to stifle a laugh when he explained that he has a crush on a girl in his class. However he didn't invite her to his party because the boys in his class had teased him about liking her and he didn't want to encourage them! Ah, young love.
We had planned to get some photos of the pool party but we were (a) too busy and (b) too wet, so only ended up with this one:
But wait...who is that little Bhudda lounging there like a prince? Let's take a closer look...