Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tulips in Keukenhof - Easter 2012

Dreary days are here to stay... (sigh).

Yup, it is officially autumn.  According to Google, the astronomical fall (autumn) began on Saturday, the 22nd of September and will end on Thursday, 20th December 2012.

Dah terasa kesejukan itu.  Tak lama lagi berbungkuslah aku :P.

Honestly, the season was a bit muddled this year?  I remembered a spell of hot weather at the beginning of the year, and everyone thought spring came early.  But it was not to be, coz temperature suddenly dipped in April, bringing in snow to the northern states.  Yeah... those were dreary days, too.  That was when we decided to cross the English Channel to find respite from the English weather.

Since the growth of flowers was stunted due to the mixed-up weather in England,  I was really looking forward to visiting the renown Keukenhof Tulip Garden, then.  Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the largest flower garden in the world.  It is situated in Lisse, a small town, southwest of Amsterdam.  This year, the garden opened from March 22 to May 20.  Yup, only 8 weeks! :).  However from 19-21 October 2012, the gates will open again  for the Flower Bulb Market , and entrance is free!! :)  Then, it closes for the year.  Next year,  the garden is set to open from March 21 to May 20, 2013.  The best time to view the tulips is in mid-April.  Kalau pergi awal sangat, bunga masih belum kembang.  So, siapa yang berhajat, take note of these dates, ya!

We were advised by a friend who had gone there, to buy ticket online to avoid wasting time getting in line.  So, I  bought the entrance tickets AND the parking tickets, online.  Melayanglah beberapa puluh Euros.
We were also advised to allocate a WHOLE DAY there.  Itu pun, katanya, macam tak cukup...
WHAT ?!!
Well, when we arrived at Keukenhof, it was already noon.  So, we wasted no time exploring the area.

The place was really HUGE.  We entered via the Extra Entrance and almost immediately, was greeted by a  sea of tulips.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  Aduhai... Never seen so many tulips in my life!!  Red, pink, yellow, white... simply breath-taking!  My head started to spin...

Tulipa Kaufmanniana "Show winner"

Tulipa Kaufmanniana "Johann Strauss"

Tulipa Kaufmanniana "Heart's Delight"
"Hah!!  Apa tunggu lagi?! Ambik... jangan tak ambik... " 
Terhenti lamunan bila ku dikejutkan oleh suara sumbang seseorang... 

As if I needed prodding! :P

Me and hubs amongst the "Darwin Hybrid Apeldoorn Elite".  Ngee!!

Jeej and Jon

Amirul catwalking down the tulip 'runway'

My favourite pink tulips - "Pink Impression" (darker pink) and "Esther"

It was madness!!  I snapped the tulips in multiple positions possible! Hehehe!  

bottom-up, lateral view... Tulipa Kaufmanniana Show Winner

Top-down view ... Esther tulips

Wide angle.  Well, sort of :P

Close-up... Maureen Double Tulip

Uncle Tom Double Tulip 

Tulips themselves consist of different categories.  They are different, in terms of blooming time and shapes.   Among those I managed to snap were the Kaufmannania, Darwin Hybrid, Single Late and Double late.  There were other types of flowers too, in Keukenhoff...


White Grape Hyacinth


Flora and fauna appealed to the senses...

The lake near the Wilhelmina pavillion...  I remembered eating some really delicious chocolate and cream donuts at a bustling cafe there.  Yummy! :)

Captured at the spur of a moment :)

There was even a mini petting farm!  My daughter was quite taken by a goat there!  Hehehe!

The place itself was big and well laid out.  Credits should go to the gardeners who did an excellent job in maintaining the garden.

The Lakeside

The windmill

One of the water feature 

A garden feature

Giant clogs

The Orange-Nassau Pavilion
had a flower exhibition when we were there

At the William Alexander Pavilion

The bulb field

Sadly, we did not manage to cover all Keukenhof.  I would have loved to explore the nooks and cranies, but    circumstances did not allow me.  My boys became bored and restless, and kept asking me when they could go to the hotel.  My man was groaning LOUDLY over aching feet, lack of sleep and exhaustion, from non-stop driving the previous night.  Yeah, boys will be boys... :P

Mama:  Come on now! Pretend to be happy! :)
I would really love to visit the place again! (I always say this wherever I go!:)).  If I had to do it all over again I would definitely:
1)  come early in the morning so I could 'take time to smell the flowers' (the Hyacinths were fragrant!)
2)  visit all the pavilions, resting on the benches when I get tired
3)  take the boat tour through the bulb fields
4)  ride on a bike through the bulb-growing region
5)  Leave all whiners at home... hehehe! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weston-Super-Mare 2012: Sand Sculptures & Red Arrows

Who would be mad enough to go to the beach on a hot summer's day during Ramadhan?

Yup!  I was the mad woman, guilty of dragging the whole family to watch the Grande Pier Air Show at Weston-Super-Mare on the fourth day of fasting, in the not-so-distant past.  (Yeah, yeah, 'blast from the past' blog post :P)

Weston-Super-Mare is a coastal town near Bristol.  Besides the pier, it's beach is a favourite among locals.  Well, of course the beach could not match those in Terengganu or even Port Dickson, but people came to soak up the sun, anyway.

On that particular day, people came in droves to watch the air show.  Although there were 4 shows scheduled, I had come to specifically watch the Red Arrows perform.  The Red Arrows of Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) is one of the world's premier aerobatic team.  I knew about them when my dad posted on Facebook, pictures of their performance at last year's Bristol Balloon's Festival (yet another impending post :P).  As I missed that act, I just had to see this one.

Since we came an hour early, we decided to go see the sand sculptures on the beach.  Ingatkan free.  Rupa2nya kena bayor.  Should have known by now that nothing is free :P.  Anyway, I really marvelled at the professionally sculpted sand structures.  Wish there were more, though, to substantiate the ticket price that we paid :).  For those who want to see the sand sculptures, you can still go as the exhibition will only end in September.  

from this compacted sand ...

to this...

Sonic the hedgehog, Amirul and Mario :)

The queen and I :)
BTW my chair is real :P

Amirul among sand Olympians

The Red Arrows appeared on the sky around 2.00 pm.  Ramai sungguh orang ambik gambar dan video termasuklah saya... :D.  See the pix below...

The Red Arrows - close-up 

The show took about 20 minutes or so.  There were other air performances after the Red Arrows, but we decided to call it a day.  Puasa lah katakan... :).