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amsterdam (huw)

NETHERLANDS | Tuesday, 16 March 2010 | Views [684] | Comments [2]

The yawning mouth of the ferry sucked us in on a cold, clear night when the land and sea were vying to see which could be the flattest. Then the bright lights of the port slid gently past. Distance and darkness hiding the grim concrete they illuminated, masking the mundane and making it seem magical. An easy night’s sleep. The early start gave clear roads for the first day of driving on the other side, along a meandering route that led through to coffee and croissants in The Hague and ended at a quaint and convenient campsite on the edge of Amsterdam.

We took our bikes from the back of the truck and rode into town. Never go to the Netherlands without a bike. If you don’t have one, hire one: but not a yellow or red one. In Amsterdam they are just for the tourists who sway in the saddle and swerve around wildly, screaming like seagulls, irking and disturbing the locals.

At Neiwmarket we change mode once more, walking now through the narrower streets, across the Red Light district with its windows of women for all tastes, apart from those that desire the subtle. Cutting diagonally through the centre we wander to Jordaan and back: people-perusing while canal-crossing and staring up at the grand, old homely buildings.

That evening, out with Joris and Liz, Rosie and me, we cycled like we lived there, weaving through the back streets, dodging drunken tourists as we rode from bar to restaurant to bar. As we sat at one big table, fate was playful and the pretty girl who sat next to me was Fleur, last met in Jordan. Then, we were in a different restaurant, leaning to cook Jordanian food: ten beautiful, friendly young Dutch girls and me. Here, now, one of those rare but childishly inspiring moments when the world pretends to be small. Synchronicity in our first city. Inge was texted and she joined us too, for that night and the next, smiling constantly whilst firing barbs of sharp sardonic wit.

Saturday evening and a locals bar that had been teased into the present from two centuries past, wood carved and velvet draped, packed with people of all ages who knew one another and shouted greetings. Freddy and his father propped the bar like two benign gargoyles. Rocks of men with huge hands and open hearts, both generations born within staggering distance of the bar’s front door.

In just two days Amsterdam took us in, made us citizens and surrounded us with friends. Gentle, generous Joris from our old life in Brighton, Liz his warm, beautiful girlfriend, gorgeous gregarious Fleur, Inge my quicksilver-minded kindred spirit, and Maurice, met for merely a few hours, but quickly a man to trust.

South then, to Utrecht and Antwerp, with more old friends and new.



Hi travel dollies

mmm memories of amsterdam coming back after reading your blog, sounds like you are having a magic time, birthday hugs to Rose. We miss Huw at the studio, Tom and Jack are leaving so spread the word to your brighton buddies. I have my first editorial at last, great timing as Scarlett has settled into nursery and mama T enjoying working life and earning again, yip its only been four months of no illustration and I felt oh so rusty drawing figures in photoshop!
Been working on paintings while Judas sows new veg seeds up at the allotment, for a huge crop ahead to keep us in enough veg stew for winter ..........
big love and have some magic dragons for me

x x x

  tiff Lynch Mar 18, 2010 7:28 PM


Hey guys!!!!
Firstly I would like top apologise to the lovely Rosie for being awful and forgetting your Birthday, my only excuse is that I am crap and no longer go on facebook (the modern man's birthday diary) so alas I had no prompt, sorry sorry sorry sorry!!!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!
I hope you both had amazing time on the day and enjoyed the many fruits of the Amsterdam under world during the night!
Your blog was brilliant Huw, it immediately transported me to your journey on this sunny Monday morn in Brighton. Sounds like you guys are really living that dream and it's so exciting! I hope the shift at the bar went well, all is good here, I've just had a very family-fied few days and have been asked to be god mother to my niece which is amazing as she is so tiny and perfect.
Looking forward to the next update, Loads of Love Leila xxxxxxxxxxxx

  Leila Austin-Fell Mar 22, 2010 9:09 PM

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