Friday, August 1, 2014

Rollin', Rollin', Rolin Den Heijer

The city of Dordrecht lies just 18km from Rotterdam but, in many other respects, it is several lifetimes away. Life in this picturesque town is altogether more languid. Canals flow at a gentler pace, windmills whirr wistfully, people are unhurried, easy-going and keen to pass the time of day [in perfect English, of course] with visitors who, like us, have drifted in on the afternoon tide.

decorative tiles to be found in the Simon Van Gijn Museum, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland. Rich in culture, decorated with delightful architecture and steeped in history with a mediaeval heart, this is a charming and beguiling town. Handsome houses of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries line kilometres of canals, shady squares provide attractive meeting places whilst a wealth of museums, churches and some 950 monuments paint a picture of Dordrecht's past which is both colourful and significant.

a fine example of the splendid architecture which is to be seen throughout Dordrecht

And, joy of joys, we arrived in town on the very day that the preparations for 'Dordt in Steam', Europe's biggest steam event, were in full swing. Historical steam boats filled the canals, brushed and polished to perfection by their proud owners, whilst the quay sides boasted all the trappings of a bygone age.

the canals of Dordrecht give berth to the shipping of a previous age and time 

But, for all its illustrious past, Dordrecht also has its eyes focussed firmly on the future. Its noble industrial heritage has been revitalised to meet the demands of twenty-first century living.

view of the interior of The Grand Café Khotinsky, 1905, Dordrecht

The Grand Café Khotinsky, built in 1905 as a power plant, is now home to concerts, both classical and pop, a theatre, a cinema, dance studios, workshops, a café, bistro and bar. And the Villa Augustus, completed in 1882 as a water tower, today serves as a boutique hotel, a restaurant and function rooms surrounded by formal gardens, an orchard and an immaculate kitchen garden which supplies the Villa's ultra chic market café.

exterior of the Villa Augustus, in former times a water tower
a part of the formal gardens which surround the Villa Augustus

There can surely be no more sublime surroundings than these, we thought, for taking Afternoon Tea on a hot summer's day. The Lemon Pie was deliciously lemony, the tea reviving and refreshing and the waiter, Rolin, was efficient, amusing, and handsome. Perfection indeed.

Jane and Lance Hattatt at the Villa Augustus, Dordrecht this summer

"Do come for dinner in Budapest," we invited.
"I shall," he replied.

And so he did!

Rolin Den Heijer joins the sentries on duty in The Castle District, Budapest

160 comments:

  1. I have just googled Villa Augustus and it does look rather special. Did you stay there too? Dordrecht sounds like a perfect blend of old and new, chic indeed. I could get on a plane right now.
    Nice to see Rolin suitably colour coordinated for his trip!

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    1. The Villa Augustus was, and is, very splendid but, no, we were actually staying with our Dutch friend in Rotterdam and visited Dordrecht for the day travelling there by boat and returning by train.

      Rolin's visit to us here in Budapest was enormous fun. He arrived with wonderful gifts from the Villa Augustus where he works part time as in 'real' life he is at University.

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  2. Morning Darlings,
    I really must travel more, especially to Belgium and Holland. So simple to get to but in some ways not very inviting, until of course someone like yourselves highlight it's beauties! I see a trip to Holland coming on. See what happens when you invite people to dinner. Of course they come!
    Happy Days.
    Di
    xoxo

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    1. Good morning, Darling Di!

      Our recent visit to The Netherlands, earlier this year, was in fact our first. We cannot now understand why, previously, we had overlooked this fascinating and very attractive country which has so much to offer to everyone. Belgium we know slightly and are very drawn to many of its exceedingly stylish cities. Both countries we should highly recommend.

      And we do hope that you know there is always an open invitation to you.

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  3. Dearest Jane and Lance

    So lovely to see your post this morning. Just like that, Rolin took you up on your offer for dinner in Budapest. I love him already. Nothing like spontaneity. I wait with bated breath for the next chapter.
    Dordrecht looks delightful and I absolutely love the photo of you in the restaurant.
    Continued joy as you weave your magic and happiness through the fabric and people of Europe

    Helen xx

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    1. Dearest Helen,

      Not only did he come to dinner, but he stayed with us for five days and we had a simply wonderful time. He was interested in EVERYTHING, even to be out on a day of torrential rain, and so very appreciative. We missed him hugely when he left.

      Dordrecht is a delight - you would love it.

      And what of you, and new house in Ireland? Will there be posts? xxx

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  4. Good morning Jane and Lance.
    A lovely informative post ..
    Holland is at the top of my travel list. Hopefully next year.
    How super to have been there when the boats were all out.
    Super photos of the Villa Augusta. Interesting that it used to be a water tower.
    So great that Rolin , indeed took up your lovely offer. Another lovely friend
    Wishing you both a happy August.
    val x

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    1. We do so hope, Valerie, that you are able to visit Holland next year. There is so much to see and do and for our part we know that we only skimmed the surface. But all the more reason to return!!

      Rolin was so very appreciative and interested in everything. A perfect guest.

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  5. So far, I have never set foot on Holland's soil, but your description of Dordrecht certainly makes me want to visit the place. I wonder whether handsome Rolin would be serving me at the ultra-chic café, too, since I won't be able to invite him for dinner in Budapest.

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    1. We are really surprised that you have not, so far, visited Holland, Meike, which we think you would love and, particularly where you are concerned, wonderful walks to be had. Dordrecht is a delight, rather like a scaled down Amsterdam without the tourists.

      Rolin is at University but works part time at the Villa Augustus. We are certain that you would be charmed by him as we were and are.

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  6. it's a real treat traveling vicariously with the two of you seeing the architecture interior and exteriors, super to meet a new friend and have him to dinner in Budapest

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    1. One of the great joys of the Blogosphere for us, Linda, as surely for you, is the way in which it is possible to have all manner of different and interesting experiences without actually having to leave home!!

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  7. So nice to see you back... Holland is one of the countries on my bucket list... I love all the quaint old heritage buildings and the colors... The pictures you posted are great.;)

    Have a great weekend, I look forward to hearing more about your travels and experiences :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Launna. The summer is proving to be an exceedingly busy time for us which makes it not always easy to fit everything in.

      That said, we really do hope that all is well with you and will look forward to catching up.

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  8. Hello Jane and Lance!
    It says something to me about good civic judgement that Dordrecht built such a splendid water tower. And it says something about civility that your serendipitous encounter with Rolin proved to have such a happy outcome. The world needs more of this!

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    1. Dearest Faisal,

      As always you are so very kind. We did indeed find Dordrecht to be a highly civilised town inhabited by the most charming and open of people [but that may be said of the entire Dutch nation in our experience]. Rolin proved to be enormous fun and great company - such a happy chance encounter.

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  9. Holland is so overlooked by the British, and yet so close and convenient, with some stunning towns and cities and the people are so relaxed and friendly. They do celebrate their maritime history in some style too! I have visited several times though not yet to Dordretch. An omission to be rectified I think, having enjoyed your post so much. Lovely to find you back posting!

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    1. Sadly, we do have to agree with what you say here, Marianne, about the British rather generally overlooking Holland as a country to visit. And this is such a shame as you know from your own experiences how much there is to see and do.

      Dordrecht is a city with a long history and is utterly charming. We should highly recommend it to you and if you are there be sure not to miss the Simon Van Gijn Museum which is an absolute joy. And they serve delicious light lunches!

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    2. Thank you for the recommendation. With a cousin-in-law living in Dordrecht there is certainly every reason to visit soon!

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    3. But how wonderful for you to have someone who not only knows Dordrecht but who would be able to give you a personal tour. Do go whenever possible - you will not regret it.

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  10. What a gorgeous place. And how fun to extend your connection with a new friend!

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    1. Dordrecht is a most attractive city and it was such fun that we met up whilst there with Rolin who is, as you may imagine, the most entertaining of company.

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    2. Thank you for visiting my blog too!

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  11. Have only been to Amsterdam but always had a brilliant time there......you do get to some marvellous places ....I want to stay in a water tower!!

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    1. Dordrecht is, to all intents and purposes, a smaller version of Amsterdam and whilst it does not have such principal attractions it has much to offer in the way of culture, architecture and of course canals. You would love the Villa Augustus.

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  12. How lovely to see and hear about your latest trip. I particularly like The Grand Café Khotinsky.

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    1. The Grand Cafe Khotinsky was an outstanding example, or so we thought, of the regeneration of a building whose original purpose became defunct.

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  13. Thanks for putting this place on the map! I do love a restored water tower - I love restored water towers turned homes here as well - they make exceptionally good abodes!

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    1. Dordrecht certainly, in our opinion, Naomi, deserves to be on every discerning route. It is such a very charming city and one which is full of character and interest.

      As for water towers, we totally agree.

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  14. A lovely place indeed. How lovely to make a new friend on your journey.

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    1. We do so enjoy meeting with people on our travels and the chance encounter with Rolin turned out so very happily.

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  15. Decorated tiles are often such an underestimated form of domestic art. But the Dutch did them so well, as seen on the tiles displayed at the Simon Van Gijn Museum in Dordrecht. I suppose we would have to go back to Voysey or de Morgan, to see the equivalent in our homes.

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    1. In Delft, but you may well be aware of this, Hels, we saw lamp standards decorated with tiles one of which, somewhat unusually and surprisingly, portrayed a tank!

      We wonder if you know Wightwick [near Wolverhampton] which contains a splendid collection of de Morgan tiles installed at the time the house was built?

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  16. Welcome back, Jane and Lance! Dordrecht looks fantastic, the Viila Augustus is a stunning building, and I love how you make new friends wherever you go! It's because you are an utterly charming couple, of course! xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Curtise. You are more than kind. We thought everything about the Villa Augustus to be exceptional. It was, almost literally, the proverbial icing on the Dordrecht cake.

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  17. What a fun story. Lucky Rolin! Pictures of Holland always captivate me. It seems like a singular place. The colors, canals, the scale of things, the architecture that manages to be both economic and luxurious. Another of my "one day" places.

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    1. We have had such great fun with Rolin since our chance meeting with him, Jen. Sometimes these things work out so very happily and this is one such case.

      Certainly you would enjoy Dordrecht [and Holland too] and the Dutch are such a welcoming nation.

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  18. That did take me back...I visited Dordrecht years ago and remember its architecture...but the transformation of industrial buildings had not then taken place.
    I have visions of streams of overseas clients arriving at the water tower requesting to be served afternoon tea by this delightful young man - only to be told that he is not available as he is away visiting previous clients...
    But how super to have a really appreciative guest!

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    1. We were more than a little impressed, Helen, with the way in which so many buildings which had clearly outlived their original purpose had been put to new use and in the most imaginative of ways. And how interesting that you have visited Dordrecht yourself.

      We are amused at your idea of the other staff making excuses for Rolin's absence. And yes, he could not have been more ideal as a guest.

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  19. I think I would like to pick up a Rolin!
    You look as though you had a wonderful time.
    Sx

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    1. It really is quite easy! Simply issue a dinner invitation and be prepared for a week's stay!!

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  20. Dordt in Steam, what a wonderful event! From your witty title onward, this is a delight of a travel post. Thanks for bringing Dordrecht to us.

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    1. Actually, Susan, 'Dordt in Steam', was terrific. As we were there the day before the official opening we were spared the crowds but had an excellent tour of all that was happening. We are delighted that you have been amused by the title of this post!

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  21. I have always thought as Holland as you beautifully described it, "Canals flow at a gentler pace, windmills whirr wistfully, people are unhurried, easy-going". You wrote a lovely piece about a lovely place and I enjoyed each word and picture.

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    1. We are so pleased that you have enjoyed this post, Arleen. Holland really is the most attractive of countries and one which we very much hope to know better in the future. Both the towns of Dordrecht and Delft we found to be a delight whilst Rotterdam is a modern, thriving city with much of interest.

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  22. looks absolutely beautiful here. the details on the buildings is something i'd love to see in person to take in and enjoy. and i always enjoy your writing. so colorful! have a delightful weekend.

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    1. It has to be said, Jane, that the detail on so many of the older buildings was, and is, superb. Everywhere one looked one was in awe of the decoration.

      Have a lovely weekend too.

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  23. Owwww i know you where in Dordrecht i also come...villa August is my favorite ...!!...love the garden and all the flowers Their ....lovely weekend love Ria...x!.

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    1. Ria, what fun that would have been to meet up in Dordrecht and how amazing that you know the Villa Augustus. But there will be other times. We do agree that the gardens are very pretty and looked especially good when we saw them.

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  24. thank you thank you thank you for taking me on a beautiful virtual trip this morning while i sit in my garden drinking tea and now thinking of how gorgeous our world is. thank you for connecting us all through your photos and words. xo janet

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    1. This is so very sweet of you, Janet. You would have especially loved the gardens of the Villa Augustus but we imagine that your own is looking particularly lovely at the height of summer. Yes, isn't it wonderful how we can all be connected through the Blogosphere!

      Have a lovely and relaxing weekend.

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  25. Welcome back! It looks like such a beautiful place to visit. Rolin sounds like quite an interesting person, so glad you met him. Thanks for sharing your amazing adventures.

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    1. We loved all that we saw of Holland, Jennifer, but especially Dordrecht with its myriad canals and ancient houses which line them. Rolin is an absolute treasure - and such enormous fun!

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  26. Loved this. I lived in a thatched roofed cottage in a village in the Netherlands in the "70's. This beautiful, well done, post brought back wonderful memories.
    Janey

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    1. We saw so very many attractive and interesting houses during our time in Holland that we could have fallen in love with so many of them. We are delighted that this post brought back happy memories for you.

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  27. Darlings Jane and Lance,
    How wonderful Dordrecht sounds when you tell us of the languid pace and the locals keen to pass the time of day. The teeming cities and adventurous peaks and valleys are all nice for a visit, but I often feel that I can appreciate a region when I can peacably absorb the surroundings at a reasonable pace. I believe you both to be the perfect travellers. If there was an award for travel you would win and your acceptance speech would be your wonderful blog.
    And that lunch sounds like absolute heaven-how I would love to join you for lemony pie, refreshing tea and amusing Rolin.
    Very pleased to have you back.

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    1. Darling Bebe,

      You are more than kind, more than generous, and it is all far more than we deserve. We loved the peace and slower pace of life to be found in both Dordrecht and Delft but, equally, were fascinated with all that the busy, and very modern, city of Rotterdam had to offer.

      Perhaps one day when we all meet up, as surely we shall, we must put Rolin into one of our suitcases so that we may all share in his high spirits, his love of conversation and his overall enjoyment of life. What fun we shall have!!

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  28. Thrilled to know you are home in beautiful Budapest once again - hopefully you'll continue to post when time permits. I love the pics from Dordrecht - the water tower hotel is awesome.

    I've not visited Holland yet - as you know I will be able to enjoy a little time in Amsterdam after seeing you in Budapest next year. Can hardly wait!

    Another thing we apparently have in common, inviting waitpersons to dinner. We recently invited a lovely waiter from our nearby local Italian restaurant - he cooks too - to our home for dinner. We had such a fun time getting to know him better away from the restaurant, and we shared cooking tips too!

    Hope ALL is well dears. Did you find the weather overly hot in England this Summer?
    Warm hugs and best wishes - I missed you.
    Mary

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    1. It is so good for us too, Mary, to be back in touch once more. The summer, and we are certain it is the same for you as well, tends to fill up with all manner of tempting things to do, people to see and places to go that the blog, rather sadly, becomes slightly neglected.

      Dordrecht is, or so our Dutch friend, 'Madelief', tells us, something of a miniature version of Amsterdam which you are certain to enjoy next year when you are once more on your European travels. We cannot wait!!

      How very splendid that you invited a new friend from your local Italian restaurant to dinner. These things can so often turn out to be great fun and really enjoyable - well worth any risk attached. And so it was with Rolin who proved to be the most charming and appreciative of guests.

      We had really good weather in Brighton, thank you, and were able to be out and about a great deal and seeing friends. Since our return to Budapest it has turned exceedingly hot, as it is today.

      Take care and love to you both.

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  29. Dear Jane and Lance,

    I am sitting behind my computer with a big smile on my face! So much fun he actually came! A very brave boy ;-) I can still remember the conversation you had with him in the restaurant. I thought he would not do it, how much I have been mistaken!!! Hope you had a lovely time together!

    Sending you much love,

    Madelief xox

    Was all well in Brighton?

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    1. Dearest Madelief,

      We were almost as surprised as you that Rolin did, in fact, take up the invitation and come. But how wonderfully successful it all turned out to be and we had such fun with him. If only you could have been with us too! But, without doubt, we shall all meet up again at some future point. And, so very generously, he came bearing lovely gifts from the Villa Augustus!

      All was well in Brighton, thank you for thinking of it.

      Speak soon. Our love to you all. xxx

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  30. Form shifts, from power plant to concert venue, but underneath beats a heart even more timeless than the medieval. Languid is the pace of truth, while scurrying manifestations bubble to the surface with what we hope to be beauty, sublimity, amusement and clues to that power which lies with infinite patience beneath.

    Much love,
    FGD.

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    1. Darling FGD,

      As always, you write with sensitivity, insight and understanding. We are made all the richer for your words which not only provoke thought but also add a further dimension.

      Love. xxx

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  31. Thank you for taking us again with you on another trip to what looks like another great and seldom heard of in the usual tourist trail European city!

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    1. Dordrecht is well worth a visit, Mark. One of the unsung heroes of an interesting, attractive and very welcoming country.

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  32. A town unheard of by me, but one clearly worth visiting. I can tire of churches and museums, but never of European architecture and street-scapes. As I was reading, I imagined your visitor to be dark haired, but clearly he is not.

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    1. Dear Andrew,

      You would, we believe, have been as fascinated and interested in Dordrecht as we were and are. Additionally you would have much enjoyed seeing the water transport of a previous age.

      Rolin, who is a delight, is, as you rightly surmise, fair haired [as so many of the Dutch people].

      Thank you so much for your email. Lovely to hear from you and a reply will be forthcoming once we have caught up with everything.

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    2. Err, quite. I did mean to mention about the steam driven canal boats. I would have found them very interesting. I am sure it is nice for you to be home now. At an Indian restaurant tonight, our tea towel friend did ask about you both and I passed on where you had been and about your visitor from Dordrecht.

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    3. That is so nice. Please do give our best wishes and love to everyone. And an Indian restaurant last night sounds rather good to us!!

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  33. Dearest Jane and Lance,

    Dear Ones! How elated I was this evening to find yet another wonderful magic carpet ride awaiting me. I so look forward to your piloting me to the most interesting of places this posting is no exception, a steam festival no less. I do so love a steam engine, all hissing and sputtering; well I am attracted to great commotions anyway so my fondness for steam is a given.

    I was most enchanted by the revitalization of the power plant and water tower. It is so pleasing when a beautiful old structure is saved and put to new use. And from your posting it sounds that both are being used to the fullest.

    And until my next carpet ride, I wish you both a wonderful forthcoming weekend. – gary

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    1. Dearest Gary,

      Your comments always give us great joy and are truly appreciated. Thank you.

      With your love of all things 'steam', then the Dordrecht Steam Event is most definitely for you. Perhaps one future year we should all meet there and we know that with Rolin on hand we should have a perfect guide?!

      Both 'converted' buildings we visited were amazing and such very good examples of imaginative planning employed in the way of finding new uses for something which might otherwise be condemned to be pulled down.

      We trust that the sun shines on Fox Paw Lodge and that all is well.

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  34. It's so very nice to hear from you.
    If I ever get to Europe, a canal trip is at the very top of the must-do list.
    That water tower is fabulous.

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    1. The canals of The Netherlands are astonishing, Terry. And where they are lined with ancient houses they are a particular delight. As for the Villa Augustus, well........!!

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  35. So this is where you have been. How wonderful. Love the pictures, especially a peak of the two of you. I am a languid traveller, or I prefer to be, but always nice to make new friends. What fun!

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    1. Here, there, and everywhere as it happens!! We really do consider ourselves most fortunate to have the time and opportunity to travel. Sadly, and particularly in the summer months, the blog is somewhat neglected as a consequence.

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  36. What an outstanding place full of rich history! And your photographs have made me want to go there! Such beauty! A wonderful weekend to you! Nicole

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    1. It is always so very difficult, Nicole, as you must find yourself, to decide what to show in the way of images. As you may imagine we left The Netherlands with so many wonderful pictures of a lovely country.

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  37. Hello Jane and Lance, Reading this post, I realized that so many of the places you visited are adaptations of earlier buildings. Maintaining the charm and vitality of many places depends on respecting and finding new uses for earlier buildings, rather than tearing them down in order to redevelop the area.

    I particularly liked the historic view along the canal, and this that this is the area I would most like to explore.
    --Jim

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    1. It is possible, Jim, that we are always drawn to old buildings which have been adapted to the times in which we live, or indeed to new purposes, but yet which retain an integrity. Often they are so much better, in our view, than their modern counterparts.

      In Rotterdam our friend 'Madelief', with whom we stayed, lives in the most enchanting of 'canal lined' areas.

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  38. Lovely! particularly 'do come for dinner..and he did' :-)
    matthew

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    1. What is more, Matthew, it turned out to be hugely successful.

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  39. Welcome back, Jane and Lance, and what a splendid city Dordrecht is, one I know I would love. 'Oldest city' caught my attention immediately, followed by the delicious architecture. Villa Augustus is clearly a must-see, on my wish-list for travel. As a child I went to school with children from the Netherlands, families who came to Australia in the post-war years. They used to teach us words in the Dutch language. So of course, I have always wanted to visit. I should be like Rolin, and just do it!!

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    1. Absolutely, Patricia, we just know that Dordrecht would be exactly your kind of city with its canals, mediaeval buildings, instances of modernism and its museums of riches and quality. And all a short train ride from Rotterdam and all that that thriving city has to offer.

      How fascinating that as a child you had contact with Dutch children. You must seriously consider a visit to The Netherlands. We are certain that Rolin would be happy to act as a guide!!

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  40. I have visited the Netherlands a number of times but always Amsterdam - reading your post makes resolve to change that. That water tower hotel looks fabulous - I hesitate to ask if it is eye wateringly expensive? I shall look it up immediately!

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    1. How lovely to be a frequent visitor to The Netherlands which we found to be such an attractive, welcoming country and one which contains so much of interest.

      Happily we were not faced with a bill for accommodation at the Villa Augustus as we stayed with our dear friend, 'Madelief' [see her blog if you do not know it]. That said, our impression would be that the Villa Augustus is perhaps on the expensive side but most likely very worth the treat!

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  41. Welcome back and thank you for such a delightful post.
    This is a fascinating selection of pictures. What an intriguing city in Netherlands... my imagination is soaring.

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    1. Dordrecht is one of those cities, Julia, which we found endlessly fascinating with a story to be told around each wonderfully attractive corner. It is certainly somewhere to which we should wish to return.

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  42. It was so lovely to take a little trip through Dordrecht with you via your beautiful photographs.The Villa Augustus looks like a very splendid architectural treasure. I must ask our Dutch French neighbours about it. Small world, they are from Dordrecht and have a little cottage about a mile from us here in France. Also, Dordrecht is Hastings' ( our English home ) partner town.

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    1. Such a small world. How extraordinary that your neighbours should be Dutch and also to come from Dordrecht. Now that is something of a coincidence as is the fact that Dordrecht is 'partnered' with Hastings [your home town] which we know only slightly but which, we feel, has a very special appeal with many fine Georgian properties in the Old Town.

      Do visit Dordrecht if you are able at some time as we really think that you would find it of interest.

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  43. Good to see you back and with a terrific post. Holland is on my 'want to see' list' and with my bike as well. We took them on our trip through Spain and Portugal, but traffic and cobble streets were not cycle friendly! I even ended up in a Spanish hospital after clipping the curb! Three stitches in my lip and black and blue all over but the holiday continued :-)
    Keep well Diane

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    1. To our shame, Diane, we do not know Holland nearly well enough. Our visit this year to Rotterdam, Dordrecht and Delft was more than enough to convince us that we need to return, and often. It is, as we are sure that you already appreciate, a fascinating, attractive country and the Dutch people, with their excellent English, could not be more welcoming.

      How awful that you should end up in hospital after cycling in Spain. A very alarming experience and how brave of you to have continued.

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    2. Thanks Jane and Lance, I did not look very pretty for a number of days after the accident, but the holiday had been booked about 7 month is advance to meet up with friends. I could still walk though be it with a limp :-)

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    3. In some ways one does not in these circumstances have too many options but to carry on. But such a pity on a holiday and meeting up with friends that had been planned well in advance.

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  44. Another excellent post. How do you do it? I mean, I've been to Amsterdam on numerous occasions and not once bagged a waiter. Although they was that one time in Biarritz when I was having problems pushing it down, the waiter there saw my struggles and came over and placed his hand over mine and together, we managed to push it down, I'm not a huge fan of cafetieres.

    Wonderful architecture and the Dutch have to be the most elegant, chic and snappy dressers ever to grace the Levante prom, makes One feel quite shabby.

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    1. Darling Mitzi,

      Now, with someone of your experience......!! The answer is just to offer a dinner [chance if like us you cannot cook] and if said waiter responds with enthusiasm immediately, then you are on to a winner, so to speak. But do beware that it might, as it did with us, turn into a four night stay. That said, we had huge fun and cannot wait for Rolin [who is not really a waiter after all] to visit again.

      Additionally, just try the Dutch out on English - faultless. Shame, shame!

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  45. I'm glad you both are back! and what an adventure too, excellent stuff! the architecture is stunning, the Villa Augustus was a water tower! a very, very beautiful water tower, it must be amazing to live there, it's truly impressive - and of course your new friend Rolin! you two are such wonderful and warm people, your circle of friends must be massive! x x x

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    1. The architecture all over The Netherlands is absolutely amazing whether old or up to the minute in modernism. The conversion of the Villa Augustus we thought to be incredibly well done and the surrounding gardens were beautifully and imaginatively laid out.

      You are most kind and we are so very blessed with so many wonderful, interesting people who we can count as real friends.

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  46. The cafe sounded divine and I loved the fact that you invited the waiter to tea in Budapest and that he actually came! When I was young we fell in love with our Spanish waiter and took him to dinner on our last night.

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    1. The Villa Augustus is rather wonderful and it was such fun to 'meet' with our waiter, Rolin, who is actually a history student and then for him to come to Budapest where we had such a fun time with him.

      How splendid too that you have done/do similar things!

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  47. This looks an interesting place to visit. I’ve always had a soft spot for Holland, although we never made the most of it when we lived so close. In the early 1980s we were stationed at RAF Rheindahlen, not far form the Dutch border and we really should have made more of the opportunity. I expect we will make up for it before too long.

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    1. We found Holland, on what was for us a first real visit, to be an exceptionally interesting and attractive country and the Dutch to be such warm hearted, welcoming people. Perhaps now you will be able to make up for the lost opportunity when you were stationed close to the border.

      AS for ourselves, all the wonders of Amsterdam await another visit.

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  48. My husband's grandfather was Dutch and we would both like to visit Holland. Dordrecht looks like an interesting place to start.

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    1. Then with such a family connection we really do hope that you will have the opportunity, Loree, to visit a country which has so much to offer and which is full of interest.

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  49. Your posts from the Netherlands brought back such lovely memories of our years living on the German/Dutch border and day trips and weekends in places like Dordrecht. Blogging is a wonderful way of traveling vicariously while one is tied up with other things.
    I loved to hear that your spontaneous invitation was taken up with such enthusiasm and speed! What fun!

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    1. How splendid to have lived in that particular area of Europe which, from our own relatively limited experience with friends near to Cologne and now in Rotterdam, is so full of interest and where, within a few short miles, it is possible to 'dip' into so many different and varied countries.

      Rolin could not, had he tried, been a more perfect guest and one who was so appreciative of everything.

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  50. Darlings Jane and Lance,
    Once again many thanks for the splendid introduction to this little jewel of a city with a rich history that often go overlooked. Your post prompted a little research of my own which revealed Dordrecht's long history with British traders, Nazi occupation, etc.
    What is often referred to as Urban Development is a major interest of mine and how well or poorly it is done is vitally important to the vitality of the cultural institutions that are dependent on a favorable outcome to survive. Grand Café Khotinsky and Villa Augustus appear to be two good examples of when it goes well. The public money (government grants) or private money or more often a combination of the two play a big part as is a few people with the vision, influence, and perseverance to see it through. I know you're seeing a good bit of this in Budapest's rebirth and here in Chicago we are now recovering from the financial downturn and have a number of large projects underway.
    Such a lovely gesture to invite that young history student to Budapest and so glad he was appreciative of your generous hospitality.

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    1. Yes, darling G, Dordrecht does have a fascinating history and although Rolin is only young he was most informative and enthusiastic about recounting it to us during his stay.

      We too are intrigued by urban renewal projects, especially when they appear to answer the needs of local people and to thrive as a result. We do believe that, in the light of your own close association with the revival of the Red Lion you would be fascinated by the Grand Cafe Khotinsky project although we suspect that the interior decoration may be very different in each case. Of course, one day we shall have to explore all the delights, not only the architecture, of Chicago and the Red Lion will be an absolute must.

      Rolin was a joy. He amused and delighted us and we trust that in turn he experienced a world that is in many ways new to him. He was extremely appreciative, leaving such a kind note that we were reduced to tears. We love it when these chance encounters work!

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  51. Hello Jane & Lance - I have looked up Villa Augustus and what a wonderful hotel it appears to be. The two bedrooms up in the lanterns must be extra special, the market cafe, and the lovely gardens, boat trips on the water, it all sounds like an ideal package for a very attractive stay.
    Now my dear Jane and Lance I have completely lost track of how many "mad boys" there are now, but so glad you had a lovely time with Rolin.

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    1. Rosemary we can absolutely picture you in the Villa Augustus. You would love it all and, we suspect, even your husband may be intrigued by it. The gardens are indeed a delight and there is something really special about seeing wonderful looking produce growing and then it being harvested for lunch. Perfect.

      As for Mad Boys........yes, they do seem to be adding up rather. Do we need help, do you think?

      However, Rolin was a delight. Charming, enthusiastic and knowledgeable beyond his years. Boy, definitely. Mad, perhaps not but definitely brave!

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  52. Didn't even realize you had a new post, Jane and Lance. Not paying attention much these days - just sort of letting the summer pass on by. What a lovely city you're visiting, gorgeous photos too. I wouldn't mind staying in that Villa Ausustus myself. (Why no photo of the handsome waiter I'd like to know. Ha.) I am so intrigued by the brilliant re-use of former industrial space rather than tearing everything down as we're wont to do in this country.

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    1. Actually, Yvette, we are doing much the same thing this summer in allowing the days to drift by but enjoying each one enormously. Rather regrettably this means that the blog at times is somewhat neglected.

      We were most impressed at the way the former water tower of the Villa Augustus had been so successfully and imaginatively converted.

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  53. Dordrecht looks like a lovely city. As you say, some wonderful architecture. The next time I go to the Netherlands I must pay a visit.

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    1. We really should urge you to visit Dordrecht, Nick, whenever you next visit The Netherlands. It is rather like a scaled down Amsterdam without the number of tourists.

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  54. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Without you all, I would not know anything about Dordrecht, and now I think it is a place I would like to visit. Thank you so much for this introduction.

    The Villa Augustus seems a rather magical place, where civilization flourishes! Your witty and affectionate title for this post made me smile, as did that last Budapest photograph.

    The picture of you two in the mirror, with flowers, is a classic.

    Best wishes from hot and humid New York. xo

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    1. Dearest Frances,

      And without you we should know so much less of New York and all of the wonderful things which you share with us in your delightful posts. So, if there are to be thanks, then they are owed to you.

      That said we are certain that you would enjoy a visit to Dordrecht and would, as we were, be fascinated by its architecture, its canals, and a life rich in culture.

      We are delighted that the title of the post amused you; at the time we feared that it might be too obscure!!

      Love and best wishes from us both from a very, and unusually so, humid Budapest.

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  55. I'm a bit late to this post. Work really does get in the way. I love the tiles, worth a visit just for them.

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    1. Sometimes one simply does not have time for all of the things one wishes to do or be about. We have found this particularly to be the case this summer.

      We agree, the tiles are superb.

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  56. Dear Jane and Lance,
    what a very tantalising post. I have never been to the Netherlands but do think I would like it. Dordrecht looks wonderful. I love the way you make friends at the drop of a hat, but aren't you ever afraid of being murdered in your beds? Sending you lots of love, Linda x

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    1. Before our recent(ish) visit to stay with 'Madelief' in Rotterdam we too, Linda, had never really visited The Netherlands. And what joys we have been missing for it really is the most attractive of countries and the people are, without exception in our experience, an absolute delight. You would, we know, love it.

      So far we have escaped murder and pillage!! Let us hope that our luck stays in!! Love as always from us both. xxx

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  57. How I would love afternoon tea here
    and oh I do love anything lemon for tea time.

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    1. You would then most certainly have loved tea at the Villa Augustus, Marilyn. Superb lemon cake!

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  58. Ah, so that is where you have been. I adore Dutch tiles. I've only seen Amsterdam but you make me want to see more of the Netherlands.

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    1. As we have only recently discovered for ourselves, Sarah, there is so much to see in The Netherlands. We are already looking forward to a return visit.

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  59. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Thank you so much for showing us your beautiful photos of Dordrecht - looks like an amazing place to visit with so much history and magnificent old architecture.
    Blogging is a wonderful way to see other places around the world.
    Oh... and afternoon tea with lemon cake, yes please - sounds divine.
    Happy weekend
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Dordrecht is, as you rightly say, Carolyn, full of interest as well as being, like so many other towns and cities in The Netherlands, a most attractive, interesting and lively place.

      Tea at the Villa Augustus was a wonderful experience, the perfect way to round off a superb and happy day.

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  60. How do you do it, Jane and Lance? You visit a wonderful old town, admire the marvellous transformation of disused industrial heritage and take tea in elegant surroundinga, and then beguile your waiter into visiting you in Budapest. iI'm really starting to think you both have a touch of the sorcerer.

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    1. It is no different at all from you, Perpetua, in that we really believe in making the most of every situation and fully embracing all that life has to offer. In this respect we are so very, very fortunate and think of ourselves as hugely privileged.

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  61. Ah, this is just the kind of place I won't mind losing myself to for hours. The architecture, the history, the quiet canals, the very soul of it all sings 'old-world'. For a old soul like me that's just perfection. And your wonderfully crafted prose is just the icing one needs to get transported to this beautiful, beautiful world.

    Thank you for the lovely tour. Hope things are good at your end.

    Suman

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    1. Dordrecht is certainly a place with a 'soul', Suman, and somewhere which struck us as intensely civilised. We so enjoyed our day out there, wonderfully guided by 'Madelief' and a friend of hers, and it is somewhere to which we very much look forward to making a return visit.

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  62. Hello, Jane and Lance! Thank you for taking us along with you to this beautiful place! The boats in the canal are simply charming, and I am so pleased to see the beautiful power plant and water tower re-purposed into wonderful cafe's and shops. I can almost feel I am there with you enjoying the cafe' and the lemon dessert while admiring the beautiful waiter:) Such fun! Glad you are enjoying these wonderful late summer days and sharing it with us. A hug xo Karen

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    1. We are so pleased, Karen, that the charm of Dordrecht, for it most certainly has that, appealed to you as much as it did to us. We are much looking forward to returning to The Netherlands at some point in, we hope, the not too distant future for there is so much to be seen and to be discovered. xxx

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  63. Hello, my Dears,

    Just wanted to tell you that I've sent two replies to this post---on the first day, and then on 4 August. I have no idea what I'm doing in most things these days, and perhaps just did not sign in properly, etc.

    Hope you've recuperated from all that travel, and are enjoying being out and about amongst the delights of your lovely city. Our dear Brit friends were here last week and when I mentioned having "blog-pals from Brighton," both ladies, visitor and our hostess, jumped upon it with the avidity of the two younger Bennet sisters. They both love the IDEA of it, as well as the going, for to them both, it spells fun and a relaxing vacation. And they'd all been to Budapest at one time or another, as well. j

    Just rolling along ourselves, with several family gatherings and a bit of party-planning for our Sweetpea, who has chosen a FROZEN theme for her birthday next week---it's the charming movie that she and her Ganner went to see during our ladies' Christmas Tea last year. So we'll be dipping strawberries in white chocolate, making snowmen from marshmallows and pretzel rods, and slicing reindeer hay-bales from Marshmallow Krispie Treats. She goes into great guffaws at the idea of chocolate peanuts served as "reindeer poop," but in the interest of other people's children, I think we'll skip that one.

    I have the sillies today---lunch out with Chris and all that colourful, festive party-store shopping have me feeling seven again, myself, rather than so many decades.

    love and,

    r


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    1. Dearest Rachel,

      We are so sorry that your two previous comments did not arrive. We know from our own experience how very frustrating and tiresome it is when this happens, as happen it does and often with regular monotony.

      How wonderful that your friends, in the manner of a Kitty or Lydia, were so enthusiastic about Brighton and how interesting and splendid that they had also visited Budapest. It is really surprising the number of people who have been here at one time or another.

      It sounds to us as if you are enjoying are having a busy and fun summer. Strawberries dipped in white chocolate seems positively divine - something we should love to try. Think that maybe you are right to skip the chocolate peanuts in the interests of overall sensitivity. That said, full marks for the imaginative idea!!

      Continue to live life to the full, as we suspect that you do. Love as always. xxx

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  64. Hello Jane and Lance,

    What a spectacular place! The canals with the little steam boats are absolutely charming! I believe I'd have horrible neck pain, from looking up at all the intriguing details on the old buildings, but it would be worth it! So much to see and do. Thanks for taking us along this wonderful excursion!

    Poppy

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    1. Dordrecht is, as you rightly say, Poppy, a spectacular place which, or so it seemed to us, appears to encompass all the delights and attractions of The Netherlands in one relatively small, but exceedingly historic, city.

      It is true, one does always need to look up!!

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  65. That looks like a lovely place to visit. I'm particularily impressed with that water tower...wow they dont make 'em like they used to. Our Kingston water tower is one ugly grey alien in our landscape. That photo of you both with the roses is beautiful.

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    1. The conversion of a defunct water tower, Sally, into the Villa Augustus as an hotel and restaurant surrounded by the most attractive and thoughtfully designed gardens we thought to have been beautifully executed.

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  66. I knew absolutely nothing about Dordrecht till I read your post. What a lovely place it looks, and well worth visiting. The Villa Augustus is truly fabulous - like something from a fairytale illustration!

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    1. We too knew nothing about Dordrecht [one of the oldest cities in Holland] until we visited it earlier this year. When next our travels take us in that direction, then we shall certainly make a point of returning.

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  67. Hi Hattats! Welcome back from London and now you're in Holland. Perfect because the only place I visited there was Amsterdam and there seem so many other wonderful places to be. Aren't the Dutch fabulous people? They eat all those fries with mayonaise and crepes and whatnot and manage to stay slender beautiful and with clear skins! Not fair!
    Is that a photo of the both of you in Augustus, you look fabulous in that hat!
    I love how you have young friends and gather more in your travels, that's how you stay so vital. My parents live on the beach (they are much older that you though) and because they mix with whippersnappers of 60 years old they still manage to golf all the time and Dad goes on week-long bike rides up the coast.

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    1. It seems to us that we have had a summer of travel, Jody, having been here, there and everywhere leaving, we regret to say, too little time for the Blogosphere.

      The Dutch are the most wonderful people who, and this really is not a generalisation, are so very gifted where languages are concerned. They certainly put the British to shame. And as for their hospitality, well...........!!

      We do so enjoy the company of our young friends and consider ourselves so very fortunate to have many of them. It sounds as though your parents lead a really active life. Long may that continue to be the case.

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  68. Plus I forgot to say my brother owned a cafe there and my sisters worked for him and had a great time. Tony was a squash professional in some club there for years and learned to speak Dutch fluently. Even though the Dutch speak beautiful English they do like to conduct business in their own language. He also had a beautiful Dutch girlfriend and she taught him to dress much better.

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    1. That really is amazing!! We are so much looking forward to going back to The Netherlands, and to Dordrecht in particular.

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  69. Dearest Jane and Lance, what a thrill to experience this magnificent city through your eyes! The oldest city in Holland...I need to take that in for a moment! :))) The architecture is breathtaking, and experiencing the steam ship event added yet another layer to the feeling that you stepped back in time. Loving all of your photos, and especially of the beautiful and stylish VOUS!
    And how wonderful that your new friend Rolin was able to visit you in Budapest!
    Thank you for sharing this dreamy adventure...

    And köszönöm for visiting the cook up....yes indeed....the tomatoes and paprika in Magyarország are second to none, I quite agree!! That egg dish was most satisfying.. I think I mentioned it before, but I had one of my most memorable meals in a tiny Hungarian town (it was paprika based, of course!).
    Have a beautiful Sunday, dear friends!
    I'm off to catch up on your previous post...
    Hugs and blessings,
    - Irina

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    1. Dearest Irina,

      We are so pleased that you enjoyed this post. Dordrecht is the most wonderful city and we came away with many, many photographs - far too many to include and one is, of course, always conscious that one does not wish to bore people with one's holiday snaps!! But it is, as always, so very kind what you say here.

      Yes, paprika features in Hungarian cooking a great deal; this of course you will know only too well. Over the years we have really come to like so many Hungarian dishes which are not nearly as 'heavy' as perhaps they once were nor as people might think. Tímea has quite a light touch in the kitchen!

      We both so hope that all is well with you and that you are enjoying a peaceful and relaxing weekend. xxx

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  70. My dearest Jane and Lance,

    The city of Dordrecht is on my list of places to visit one day and your wonderful review of the city, its architecture and culture makes me want to go there straightaway. I love the cities that have both historic and contemporary art and culture. 'Dordt in Steam' sounds like the kind of regatta from Canaletto's paintings. I love your attention to details; the picture of decorative tiles in the Simon Van Gijn Museum has got the style of Aelbert Cuyp who depicted many different views of Maas (river). I would like this tile for my house! Both of you are looking very summery and stylish in your colour co-ordinate attire. How kind and generous of you to invite Rolin to your fabulous home. I believe that you will always remember your visit to Villa Augustus, what with drinking a nice cup of tea, enjoying their garden and cultivating a new friendship. Hope you are having a good weekend and that the remainder of summer days are rolling out nicely for you.

    Best wishes, ASD x

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    1. Dearest ASD,

      You simply MUST go to Dordrecht as we truly believe it is your kind of place - interesting architecture everywhere, both traditional and contemporary, fascinating museums and galleries, canals with river traffic in abundance, and wonderful coffee shops in which to sit and pass the time of day and watch the proverbial world go by.

      You have, as of course you would, immediately imagined 'Dordt in Steam', preparations for which were well under way on the day we were there. It opened officially the next day so we had all the delights without any of the crowds.

      The Simon Van Gijn Museum occupied us for hours - indeed we could still be there - and we came away wishing to remodel our bathroom on the one there!!

      Rolin's visit could not have been more perfect. We all had the most jolly of times and he was keenly interested in Budapest, its history and in Hungary in general.

      We do so hope that all is well with you and that you are able to have some time away from work to enjoy the summer. xxx

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  71. Greetings! Dear friends, excuse my absence from the blog world as I too am enjoying summer to it's fullest. As you took leave from the blog, I got tempted too. Like always enjoyed another trip through you this time to Dordrecht.
    Best wishes.

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    1. Absolutely no apology is necessary nor is one expected. We are simply delighted to know that you are really enjoying the summer, as indeed we are, and that all blog activity is for the moment on the back burner, so to speak. This is also so with us!!

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  72. That, your ‘come to tea’ invitation and being taken up on it I find absolutely amazing. How utterly unexpected and refreshing.

    Quite delightful.

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    1. It did indeed really 'work' and, in the event, Rolin stayed with us for five days during which we had the most wonderful time. He proved to be the perfect guest. We should recommend him highly!!

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  73. Thank you so much for hosting another wonderful party!
    I hope you had a great weekend!

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    1. We are delighted that you enjoyed the post. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  74. Good Morning Jane and Lance, Oh dear, I am a little late for your wonderful visit to Dordrecht..... but it is so lovely to catch up with you.
    I am amazed to think that Dordrecht is only 18 km from Rotterdam as I have travelled through Rotterdam so many times on my way to Germany and it looks so very different.
    What a treat to arrive just in time for the steam event, was that a happy accident?
    Villa Augustus is a very impressive building and it is wonderful that the power house has been revamped and is now in use.... it would be lovely to attend a concert in this magnificent building.
    How marvellous that you invited Rolin to visit you..... and he did. You all sound as if you had a marvellous time together.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Best Wishes to you both.
    Daphne

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    1. To be truthful, Daphne, we were somewhat late in writing about our visit to Dordrecht which actually took place in May of this year and now, already, August is slipping from sight.

      As you rightly say, Dordrecht is exceedingly close to Rotterdam and is such a contrast. In many ways it is, or so we are told, rather like Amsterdam but in miniature. The Villa Augustus was, and is, one of those very striking examples of a redundant building put to a new use in the most successful of ways.

      Rolin turned out to be an absolute delight and the most perfect of guests. Such a happy chance encounter.

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  75. I love the statue...thanks so much for all your kind visits and comments and especially about my mother. She will enjoy reading them so much!

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    1. We so much enjoy reading of all that you are about and do trust that all is well.

      The statue is, we agree, rather splendid.

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  76. Holland, too, is on our travel wishlist! And I couldn’t wish for two more charming tour guides than the Hatthatts!

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    1. We really should recommend The Netherlands to you most highly, Kim, and the Dutch are the most welcoming of people. We are much looking forward to returning and to getting to know the country more and better.

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