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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Tulips Galore at the Keukenhof!!!

Grab a cuppa and come on the tour with me at Keukenhof, Amsterdam.  Be warned - lots of photos - I took hundreds, but have selected just a few to highlight and give you a flavour of the Keukenhof.

I lost the special USB lead on my camera somewhere in  Keukenhof, so had to replace it when I got back.  I couldn't download or edit any of my photos until the lead arrived.  Better late than never so here are the tulips in all their glory.

Our visit to the Keukenhof was marred only by the fact that we missed our friend Tamra who we were supposed to meet at the Tour Office in Damrak.  Long story short, she was running late and one of the tour guides who were escorting the first group to the coach took her straight to the first vanguard of coaches while she was hot footing her way to meet us so she never made it to the Tour Office where we were waiting.  Basically we got put on different coaches and she was an hour or so in front of us as our coach was late leaving.  While we were at the gardens, we were both hoping to bump into each other which was kind of impossible really as the gardens span a 32 hectare park with 15 kilometers of footpaths! That converts to 79.07 acres and 9.32 miles of footpaths. My phone doesn't work except in a wifi area, so we didn't get each other's messages till we got back to the hotel but we did manage to meet up in the evening instead!

There is only an 8-week window when the tulips are at their best, and we were in the right place at the right time for once!  Our excitement grew as we arrived and could see the fields of tulips row upon row.

I took these photos on a moving coach travelling at speed so am quite pleased they came out because it is the only photo I have of a real windmill in the photo above to the right.

Once inside the Keukenhof and leaving the forecourt, refreshments and comfort area, there was a little enclave to the left of the gardens where this organ was playing.  The video is courtesy of YouTube as I haven't quite worked out how to transfer my phone videos to YouTube or blogger!

I was fascinated by how this organ worked - you can see the tomes of music which is fed into the cavity of the organ on the left, and as the huge wheel spins, the music plays as well as the percussion! The music has holes cut out and I'm guessing that they fit into pegs and works rather like a pianola, except this is for the organ.

We were surrounded by beautiful beds of tulips everywhere and because of the height difference,  me being a shortie and hubby 6' plus, we were struggling to take a selfie when  some kind stranger sat us down and offered to take our photo.

Looking for Tamra?....... She'll laugh if she reads this, because she's almost as tall as my hubby so you can't miss her!

Hubby leading the way.  It was such a beautiful sunny day, but don't let that fool you, it was quite crisp and COLD!!!

The Keukenhof theme for 2017 is "Dutch Design" incorporated in the flower bulb mosaic. Two of the inspirational gardens are also dedicated to the theme - the Mondriaan Garden with  primary square colour patches and the flower shows in the Orange Nassau Pavilion.

Meandering through the gardens, there were various sculptures used as focal points pictured in the collage and photo above.

Here are the blocks of colour...........

There were lakes and waterways which added to the vista and a plethora of different bulbs planted along the banks.   There were trees everywhere not yet in leaf but I can imagine they'll provide much needed shade at the height of summer.

It wasn't just tulips, but hyacinths and other varieties too which gave off a wonderful perfume as you walked along the paths.

I love the smell of freshly mowed  grass, don't you?   What a responsibility to keep these gardens looking pristine for visitors.  The couple bending over are inserting little wires straight through the flowering stems of the hyacinths to keep them standing to attention!  Great tip for gardeners among you. 

Pretty arbour

A river of Hyacinths...........wish there was smell-a-vision - the scent was out of this world.

Some lovely mixed planting in spring colours

Finally back to the pavilion and the end of our tour - huge displays of all sorts of varieties of tulips, floral arrangements and even stained glass pictures with tulips.

Some species of tulips didn't even look like tulips as you can see from the ones above.

It was without doubt worth the visit and seeing these beautiful bulbs in bloom and at their best.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you enjoyed the "tour".

I promise something crafty in my next post!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Special Reason Retiring

I have a few cards to show you that I made with the Special Reason Bundle.  It's retiring and I'm sad because the coordinating dies could cut both a positive and negative image and it hasn't been around for that long.

I thought erroneously that this set has sold out, but I've just checked again this morning and it is still available as a Bundle.  The list changes everyday, so jump in quick.  The best way to order is online then if the item is no longer available you can make a decision as to what you'd like to substitute it for.   For those of you who were lucky enough to get your hands on this set, watch the video and see the samples I've made from simple stamping to the stepped up version.  I threw in a technique too for this video - enjoy.  

We often need a last minute card, so I created this design for a super quick card.  Hope you like it.

Here is the supply list - did you know that if you click on the pictures, it will link directly to the item on my online store?   

Calypso Coral Stampin' Write Marker
Calypso Coral Stampin' Write Marker

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lovely Swaps

I'm sharing my swaps from OnStage Live which took place in Amsterdam the weekend before last. These were the swaps I made, using the Swirly Bird stamp set which is carrying over to next year's annual catalogue - Hurrah!

To cut down on the number of times I had to run all the little elements through the Big Shot, I stamped the floral and leaf images on narrow strips of Whisper White card stock spaced sufficiently far apart to allow me to cut them all at once with each pass through the Big Shot, which sped things up if you're having to make several! 

Although swapping is not compulsory, it's always good to make as many as you'd like to get back so that you can see different styles and get fresh ideas for your own creations.

This was a little gift from Tamra which was a Paper Pumpkin project which we can't get here.  It's so cute because the muslin bags have got bunny ears just for easter.  Tamra stamped the bunny face on the bag, then added some DSP inside the ears, filled the bag with sweets and tied it closed with bakers twine.  There were also 3"x 3" square cards, which sadly retired last year.  I love them, and they're easy enough to make yourself and you can then use the envelop punch board to customise making the envelops with the envelope punch board.

.... phew!  I found the precious Dragonfly Lavendar bag key ring which I thought I'd lost!

Have you ever wondered about whether or not you'd love to join the party, craft with like minded people and get your goodies at a discount but weren't brave enough to take the plunge?  I was that person!  Look at me now!  It's enabled me to make so many new friends.  If you'd like more information, contact me, elaine.harding@googlemail.com.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Ear worm Tulips From Amsterdam!!!

Are you sitting comfortably?  This post is likely to be long and picture heavy!  Good thing about blogging is that it's a diary and a way of putting down your thoughts and memories of a trip or event which you can look back on easily.  Often times, I'll look at a photo and cannot for the life of me remember where it had been taken or when!

I'm still buzzing from our trip to Amsterdam with my Stampin' Up! sisters from all over the world. Just a quickie collage from Centrestage reception on the Thursday evening at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam - fab dinner laid on and dancing afterwards.  Top left is my upline Amanda with Rhoda, next on the right is the lovely Liz and Helen, down below on the left is gorgeous Kerry and bottom right, yours truly with lovely Tamra who I roomed with in Brussels at the Inaugural OnStage Live event  after the changeover from the Convention format of old. 

In between training sessions hubby and I crammed in as much sight-seeing as possible.  On the Friday my downline and cohorts took the tram into Damrak for a meal.  Along the way, we saw these oversized clogs so of course we stopped for a photo op!

This is typically Dutch, bicycles everywhere, and yummy cakes, canal boats and the tram system which is very efficient, cheap and frequent!

Our last session at OnStage Live finished at 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon so I dashed back to the hotel and hubby and I took the tram into town to capitalise on the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere in Rembrandtplein which is halfway into the city centre for dinner. There is a floating flower market, and lots of cheese shops here and we found some normal sized Dutch clogs for sale.  Luggage weight constraints meant that we couldn't get a pair, even if we wanted to and I'm really not sure whether or not they're designed for comfort!

In Rembrandtplein, there is a life size bronze statue reconstruction of Rembrandt's famous painting "Night Watch" (pictured below) which we saw at the Rijks Musuem the following day.  Uncanny, isn't it?

It really is so awe inspiring to see these originals hanging on the wall -  there are too many to list or include in this post, but this one titled "Woman Reading a Letter" by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) having withstood the passage of time still looks as fresh as the day it was painted - he used lapis lazuli ground down to give his paintings this radiant blue.  He recorded the effects of light with extraordinary precision and my efforts to stamp and colour in with an aqua painter becomes quite insignificant!

This is the Rijks museum library which boasts the most extensive art history library in the Netherlands.  Items have been collected since 1885 including catalogues (auction, exhibition, commercial and collection related books, periodicals and annual reports). It is also the quiet zone, and we talked little above a whisper whilst we watched an artist down below hard at work putting paint to canvas.

We did the highlight audio tour which takes about 90 minutes, I would've loved to have stayed longer, but the sunshine beckoned.

I'm going to leave it here and leave our visit to the Keukenhof for another day.  Hence that ear worm as I can't get "Tulips from Amsterdam" out of my head!!!

Happy Easter Monday!!!

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