My blog for Maya and Nila

… to help them remember …

Maya becomes Dutch National Relay Champion Girls 13&under :-)

One of the main reasons for leaving Albion and moving to WVZ was Maya’s big wish to be part of a bigger swim club again, to train with others and compete with others. In and around Den Haag, there are many swim clubs, but only a few that train at Maya and Nila’s level. And WVZ happens to be one of those, plus it is a club which also happens to have a huge number of extremely strong swimmers, girls and boys in various age groups. That was, of course, part of the appeal: the hope that the trainers there can get the best of each individual swimmer, no matter at what level.

We therefore also knew from the beginning, that if Maya qualified for the team that WVZ was to send to the National Relay Championships, chances were big that she’d be in an extremely strong team of girls, which made the whole event not only more exciting, but also a lot more scary.

So, last Sunday, we stepped into the car at 6am to drive to Eindhoven – just me and the girls. Raj was on his way to Zurich. Out of 4 relays that the girls team overall had to swim, Maya was signed up for two, in both of which she had to swim the 100m freestyle. That meant a long wait initially, and two swims shortly after another.

And Maya swam amazingly, the pool was so full of excitement. Also, by the time Maya swam, it was clear which teams would compete for the places on the podium and WVZ was definitely one of them, albeit not the first. And it was then decided in the last race, with Maya being the last swimmer. The WVZ team came third in that race and everyone expected the winning team – which had been strong in the other three relays too – to take the gold overall.

But a few minutes later, the announcement came that this team was disqualified in the last race, because of a too-fast takeover. By that luck and by WVZ’s strong performances overall, the team with Maya and the other 5 girls became champions! It was unbelievable! What a feat! We were thrilled. And so happy to see Maya joined her team on the podium, something you don’t get to do very often in life.

Watch the race and pictures of the whole day here.

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Congratulations, Maya and team, and onto many more memorable swimming experiences! And thank you, Nila, for your great company on that day.

Altea’s wedding

I have been to many weddings, but I have always just been a “guest”. But a few months ago, our good dear friend Altea, who has been helping our family for more than 7 years now, asked me to be a witness at her wedding to Lester. I felt truly honoured!

So, on 22nd September, me and Jos and Reinette – my neighbours and even closer to Altea – set off to the council hall to witness the very short event, which was to start at 11:30 and only take 10 minutes. But Altea and Lester weren’t there.


In fact, they only arrived just minutes before 12:00, by which time the wedding official lady was getting rather nervous, and us too. We were minutes away from having to come back another time, when Altea, Lester and family arrived and it was clear that they didn’t take that wedding likely – they all looked stunning. Altea all in white, with a fabulous hat, Lester very smart, William and Yvette all white too. It was a gorgeous sight.

So, literally within 10 minutes, the whole group went inside, Altea and Lester were married, everyone took lots of pictures, Jos and I and two family members signed as witnesses and were were out again :-)

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Then, it was up to the photographers to get their best shots. It was so much fun, such a warm atmosphere, such a relaxed newly-wed couple. Not to mention little William, who just happily hung around, watching quietly, smiling for the cameras. And baby Yvette didn’t really say a peep either, well at least till I started holding her :-)




In the evening then, after picking the girls up from school and taking them to swim training, we joined the wedding party at a Chinese restaurant in town. It was again beautifully relaxed and the whole Philipine family and friends welcomed us with open arms. The food was delicious and lots of people sang karaoke-style songs for the couple, which inspired Nila to consider singing for Altea too. It’s important to know, that Nila and Maya are very close to Altea – like three sisters really. And so it was more than precious that Nila really gathered up the courage to sing for Altea. This resulted in massive applause and calls for an encore, which she also did beautifully. I then felt I had to be strong too and agreed to a small speech for the lovely couple.

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Congratulations, Altea and Lester! Good luck for your future and thank you for sharing this special moment with us.

LOADS, and I really mean LOADS, more pictures here. 

Vredesloop once more

This time, we were all so tired and very close to skipping the run, but we went, we did it and one of the main reasons why we did was because of all these terrible news about the plight of refugees fleeing war. It had dominated the news this summer and running for peace, keeping in mind the hardship of those families, was what Maya, Nila and I wanted to do. So, we did!

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Zoetermeerse Mijl – first competition with WVZ

By now, the girls have really settled at WVZ. It will still take a little while to make really good friends – after all, swim training doesn’t allow for a lot of chatting – but it feels good. So, the first competition was exciting and a nice way to get back into it. I just really wanted to post some of the cool pics we got from it :-)

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Back to school, to swim, to dance, to….

Maya – year 9

Nila – year 7, first year of Senior School

Maya and Nila – swimming at new club WVZ in Zoetermeer

Nila – still dancing at Het Dansatelier

Maya – discovering Ultimate Frisbee

A busy start, with lots of new discoveries, both girls happy with their new classes, Nila straight off to school trip, new subjects, new routines.

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A few more days with family in London

While Raj was already back in The Hague to work, the girls and I too a few more days to enjoy London and family and we even managed to meet dear old friend Aga. They were a lovely few days of rest before going back home.

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Photos and films here. 

Swim camp in Somerset

Wrapping up the end of our UK summer was a 5 day swim camp for the girls, pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Somerset. Raj and I dropped them off at their boarding houses in Millfield School and headed back to London.

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Maya and Nila were super excited and it turned out to be a massive success for them, not only in terms of making new friends in a place where they could just simply speak English, but also really for their swimming technique. Both had made such huge progress, I could hardly believe my eyes. Great training and coaching all around.

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For Nila, it was a tough few days, because short nights and demanding trainings took their toll and she took two days of rest and sleep to recover. But she LOVED it there and really wants to go back. For Maya too, it was a huge boost in motivation and definitely wants to go back too.

So, we think we will – Easter 2016 might be an opportunity.

Some more pictures here. 

London, Cambridge, Dorset, Cornwell and Devon – our first UK summer holiday

This was the first time in a very very long time that we spent our summer holiday in the UK! It took a lot of thinking. Should we really risk the bad weather? Wouldn’t it be so much more relaxing to go to Asia or Africa or southern Europe for the usual tourist pleasures? Won’t be miss all that yummy food?

But once we started googling the Southwest of England, we came across stunning pictures of white cliffs, turquoise water and picturesque villages. So, we decided to introduce the UK to Maya and Nila (both British passport holders, by the way) and to re-discover it ourselves.

We started with Raj’s family in London and a reunion with Simon’s gang in Cambridge. Funny, how Cambridge seems so much smaller to me now. Back then in 1991, when I arrived there just a year after the fall of the Berlin wall, it was the big wide world to me. And it is amazing too, how visiting places like these is quite normal to Maya and Nila. For me then, it was not just a foreign country with a language I hardly spoke. It was a new culture in every way, a realisation of how big the world really was and that it was quite commonplace for many to just travel between countries, whenever you liked. Hmmm… anyway, we went punting, toured the colleges, visited places full of memories and had a fun day altogether.

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We then set off visiting the Jurassic Coast with stunning Durdle Door, where we finally confirmed that swimming in the sea this summer was not going to be possible without wetsuits, ha! The hikes along the coast were superb and we were very lucky the weather, getting amazing views along the sea, practising our skidding skills and collecting pebbles.


The reward after every big hike was good traditional English food, usually served by super super nice English people. Honestly, the friendliness of all locals – although quite understated – really stood out for us. Guess, that living in Holland had made us forget simple politeness :-) In any case, we had fish and chips, burgers, Cornish pasties, trifles, crumbles and most importantly scones! We mostly forgot to take pictures – hunger and appetite were stronger.

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Driving even further West towards Cornwell, we stayed for a week in St. Agnes. Famous for it’s mining history and beautiful Trevaunance Cove, St. Agnes gave us our first body boarding experience. Being total beginners with everything sea-related (despite living cycling distance to Scheveningen), we started out by buying us some second-hand wetsuits. And oh, what a difference a wetsuit can make in water that is around 15 degrees. Yippieh! The holiday was saved.


We got two boards too and gave it a try – it was so much fun. Even for me and Raj! And you honestly never see me spending much time in any water, no matter the temperature. We were lucky to catch a few waves and somehow tried to figure out the best body boarding conditions between high and low tides. We didn’t always succeed, unfortunately, and sometimes had to turn home without riding a single wave, but we learned. Only thing left to do is putting our suits and boards to good use in Holland too.


Since we spent quite some time in the car – remember those narrow windy lanes – we took note of some of the funniest place names we’ve ever heard. Here just a few from our selection and do read them out loud for full enjoyment: Pantiles, Slaughter Bridge, Stoney Bottom, The Butts, Westward Ho!, East-the-Water, Yelland, Butts Close, Nomansland, Puddington, Crazelowman, Clayhanger. There was definitely a butt/bottom theme going on. 

After St. Agnes, we drove north into Devon, where we had booked a cottage right in the middle  of the countryside. The cottage itself was a big improvement over our narrow St. Agnes place, and the countryside was indeed beautiful and very remote, but the weather, ah! We were unlucky – well, I suppose that was part of a UK summer – because it rained non-stop for a couple of days. Then, our lifeline WIFI link gave up too and phone connection was not available anyway. So, we actually stayed in the house for two days, hardly getting out of bed, playing games, watching TV. And, you know what, it was perhaps the most holiday-ish time of it all.


Luckily, we also had sunny days, when we got out to visit National Trust sites – like that laurel maze and cute little fishing villages – and got in beach time too.

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As always, the blog only fits a few pics. Online you can see many more.

Weimar and Den Haag

Just more days with family and good friends, before heading off on our long family summer holiday.


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Click for smugmug.

Starting the summer in Berlin incl Nila’s 11th birthday

It has become a tradition for us, well certainly for Maya and Nila, to spend part of their summer holidays with my parents in Eggersdorf, near my grandmother’s house. It’s a tradition that the girls truly love, as it is all about feeling part of a bigger family, eating delicious German food and spending day-in, day-out bathing in the lakes in the East of Berlin.

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Since I have not yet found a job, I was free to join too and even Raj flew in for the day on Nila’s 11th birthday, which was just so wonderful. We spent all of Nila’s special day wondering around Berlin and ended with an amazing dance show, Dummy Lab at the Chameleon theatre there.


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Many more pics as usual on smugmug: for Berlin, for Nila’s birthday.

Nila’s last day of Junior School

There’s been a long summer since Nila’s last day at Junior School, but it has to be mentioned here nevertheless. Our little baby is going to the big school now, together with Maya. A milestone that Nila was really excited about that makes all of us happy, because it makes our lives sooo much simpler too :-)

Saying good-bye to JSV was therefore not too hard. It was a wonderful time there for both Maya and Nila, with very special children, families and teachers. But we were ready to move on.


You can see pictures and films of Nila’s leaver’s assembly by clicking here.

Maya’s 13th birthday party – at just the right time

In March it didn’t really feel right, didn’t fit, but now, shortly before the end of school it was perfect – Maya’s 13th birthday party with some of her best friends, a mix of some she met new, and some she has known for a long time. A super group, I have to say myself – we all had so much fun, so many laughs. Cool!

It was the same party as Nila’s, with all kids relatively clean before…


…and not so clean after…

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…with lots of happy moments in between – all to see (as photos and video) in our smugmug gallery.

Happy birthday, Maya!

Maya’s school trip to Luxemburg

One week in Luxemburg with friends was a big success. Maya loved it and took lots of pics. Amongst them these and more in our gallery:

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11 in 4 weeks, but party first :-)

Nila’s birthday being always after the end of school, we have gotten used to celebrating with her friends upfront. This year, Nila wanted to go all out… and muddy. She definitely succeeded in that and says “it was my best party ever”.

See here for yourself!

Nila’s last Junior School sports day

… was sunny, fun and sad too, because of the good byes Nila had to say to her best friend Camilla (who is moving schools) and to her PE teacher Mr Lowe (who is also moving schools…).

My attempts at sport photography are here.

Nila on stage

There is truly nothing that excites Nila more than performing on a stage. Don’t ask me, who she has got this from, but for her, the nerves that come with it are definitely part of the thrill. She’s done jazz dance lessons with Regina for two years now and loves them. I have posted films on our gallery before, being pretty impressed by the hard work (coordination and fitness) that these require and this bi-annual big performance they put on was an amazing display of all that hard work.

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Nila had just returned from the Ardennes on Friday, when I had to drive her directly from school to Zoetermeer for the general rehearsal. This was then followed by 4 shows in 2 days, each of them being 3 hours long! A real marathon for Nila and even Maya and me were in a sort of theater trance, driving back and forth from Zoetermeer and watching the show twice. But it was worth it!

Take a look for yourself here!

Life before and after COBIS

Although Nila’s COBIS trials and training seemed to dominate our lives for a few weeks before and after the actual Games in Athens, our normal lives continued and there were lots of little special events that I don’t want to forget in my blog for my girls.

We spent a lovely Easter Sunday with Niriti, Rajeev and Vrishin in Den Haag – link to gallery.

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Maya was awarded an price for “outstanding achievement”

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Nila had WWII day at school, this year’s replacement for Victorian day – I think they have to reconsider the title… but it was fun:


Next was a lucky day for all, as it was the King’s birthday, meaning no school or work and lots of orange celebrations on the street. Nila refuses to wear orange, by they way, as she is strongly anti-monarchy :-) – more pics here.


We also had some super relaxing afternoons and weekends, full of sunshine, good food, nature and each other. And every time, we decide we must do that kind of “activity” much more often… only to be carried away into the madness yet again – link here and here.

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And so we were back to the swimming pool quite shortly after Nila’s return from COBIS, for Maya and Nila to each swim 8 races over 3 days in the north of Holland. We stayed overnight at Niriti’s, which was great fun too and even included the kids witnessing the arrest of some criminals by police – what can yo ask more from a weekend? Well, there were also medals and new PRs… – see more here.

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In the half-term holidays, Maya and Nila went with Raj to work at THNK for a day – link.

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We also visited the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam – first time for me, ever – cool pics here.

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… and to Drievliet with friends for a good adrenaline rush – proof here.


Nila then left Maya and me home alone – Raj was travelling the world in the meantime – to go on her Year 6 Ardennes adventure, which she loved as much as Maya did hers previously:


And this is it for my summary post. The other highlights, for which I am behind, will get their own post :-)


With Greece in the news so much lately, I am constantly reminded of my recent trip to Athens together with Nila.

After months and months of trialling at school, Nila qualified for a team of seven boys and seven girls from all junior schools to represent the BSN at the COBIS (Council of British International Schools) Games in Athens. That in itself was a huge achievement and we were thrilled for Nila that she was given that kind of opportunity.


Maya unfortunately had to stay behind in The Hague because of a GCSE exam, but was well looked after by my parents and Raj. So, with Nila travelling and staying mainly with her team and me only tagging along as supporting mum, it was a great opportunity to see Kostas and Maria. We had just met again in Easter after years and years of no visits, so it felt so good to also spend time with them in Athens. And they were the perfect hosts as always – I felt like home. I stayed at their office right at the foot of the Acropolis, which was a brilliant starting point for my daily trips to the Olympic stadium and other sports venues.

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And what an intense time it was. There was a huge group of BSN parents and they had spirit. Nothing compared to the Nigerian or Abu Dhabi teams, but we tried. My voice failed after day one, so I left the cheering to the others, but it was so exciting following Nila and the team.

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And it started off well on day 1 with swimming. Nila and many of her team reached the finals, which meant a lot of points collected despite no medals. On day 2, it was athletics at the Olympic stadium. Nila did javelin and came 7th and also ran the 800m, a distance which had terrified her immensely and was not her choice to run. But she came 22nd and loved the experience. And with all points collected by the team, they won 3rd place overall of the day. What do you want more :-)

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Day 3 was all about football. The kids did super well and when time came around for the final results, they were thrilled to find out that they were 3rd for the day, which earned them each a medal – you cannot imagine the happiness on their faces. And overall, not forgetting how much the swimming points mattered after all, the BSN Juniors came 3rd – wow!

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It took me weeks to recover my voice, but hey, these experiences don’t present themselves often and I am super proud that both Maya and Nila got that chance once.

Now I can only hope that all will be well with Kostas and Maria in Greece!


Spring life, mud walks, CPC, disco, swimming, COBIS

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Rome, eternally beautiful

It was a first for me, Maya and Nila. But even for Raj, these four days we just spent in Rome revealed new sides of this beautiful city. Everyone told us before that we’d love it and sometimes, I get a bit worried that my high expectations would lead to disappointment. Not this time around. It really was unique, just so special and it’s hard to say why.


Of course, there is the obvious beauty of ancient monuments, the wonderful simplicity of the food and the Romans themselves, but it’s hard to pinpoint why walking around this city just feels so familiar, so welcoming. And walking we did – a lot! But we were happy to have that exercise, to excuse the 3rd gelato in a day or the 2nd pizza.



We’ll be back, no doubt! Soon!


In the meantime, browse our huge Rome gallery online, mostly credit to our family photographer Nila.

Happy 13th birthday, Maya!

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With love, forever,

Mami, Papi, Nila and Chita

Year 6 final production – Nila’s real good bye to Junior School

It was a performance month for Nila, no doubt. But next to the Rabarber production, this Year 6 production was giant. Four Year 6 classes getting together to perform “The Arrival” on two evenings. It was soooo cooool. Just right. Very professional, moving, funny. Simply brilliant.

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Films and more pictures of the performance are totally worth watching – click here.

Nila’s first Rabarber performance

Rabarber is a huge theater school in Den Haag, which also offers English classes, so Nila gave it a go this year and concluded the term with the performance of “Cinderella” by Roald Dahl, something quite different from the classic story.


Here’s the beginning:

I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
just to keep the children happy.

Keep on reading it here, if you like.


And take a peek at Nila’s performance of it too, here.

Maya’s first ISST

Gathering the energy to go to the BSN swim training late on Thursday afternoon after an early morning swim training and a long day at school hasn’t always been easy for the girls, but Maya’s first ISST competition showed how worth it was. From year 8, the kids can be selected for a team in their sport to compete with different international schools from all over Europe and the world. Last year, the swim team went to the Olympic Aquatics center in London, this year the event was hosted here in Holland, by the BSN and the American school.

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So, instead of travel, we got to host two swimmers from Zurich – interesting experience – and Maya competed as one of the youngest in a team with kids all the way up to year 13. A a little intimated at first, it turned out to be a wonderful milestone-experience for Maya, with an amazing team atmosphere, great individual races for Maya – she made it into a few finals – and a second place overall for the team. We were so happy for Maya and so glad for her to see and feel that sport is not only endless tough trainings, but that it also opens doors to new experiences, new friends. Even Nila was part of this as medal girl on one day.

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March was a big month for us – two birthdays, two holidays, reports and so much more. It began with a sunny break in Dubai, perhaps our last chance of visiting Aparna, Rana and Ankit there. We were so lucky with the weather, because our first day there was apparently the first clear day after days of sandstorm. We enjoyed it to the full, with lots of swimming in pool and sea, hanging out with Momo and lots of yummy food in the malls.

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Seems like regular blogging it getting tougher, so I’ll do another month summary here. Feb too was busy. Nila had her last international day at junior school – who knows when we can wear our beautiful Indian clothes now? Petra came over on Valentines Day for Rothko and sushi. And all the early morning swim trainings paid off for Maya with some big PBs at the Grand Prix.






Car photography

With so much of our time spent in the car going to and from school, swimming, football, competitions, etc and both Maya and Nila now fully equipped with the latest gadgets, a new art form has been developing: art photography with a big focus on selfies. See – and judge – for yourself! I think they rock!

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January has been a good month. We were well rested after the Christmas holidays and everything just feel back into place again when school started. We managed to return to our early time schedule for the swim trainings, Maya did well in school with lots of tests and exams, Nila was excited to continue the COBIS trials as part of the pre-selection team. We were also all super happy to return to healthy living after completely stuffing ourselves in Germany. I joined a gym, which has been surprisingly fun. Only tricky bit continues to be the times that Raj is away travelling. He’s loving his job, but it’s hard when he’s away for anything between 7 and 14 days at a time. Well done though to THNK’s big milestone for opening their Vancouver office!

Nila and her friend Julie before dance lessons:

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Car selfie Maya:

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Swimming competition at the Hofbad:

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Nerves and expectations at the COBIS trials:

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Raj helps open THNK Vancouver:

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My dad visits for a day and we go see the new Market Hall in Rotterdam, which has the most amazing ceiling:

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Camilla having Sunday pancakes with us after a sleepover with Nila:

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Now onto February! We are ready! More swimming competitions, the selection of the final COBIS team and one week in Dubai with Rana and Aparna during the half term. Let’s see, if I manage to update this blog without too much delay…

Christmas with the family

Usually, we do Christmas in Weimar with my parents and sister and New Year in London with Raj’s family. That is always super nice, but also tiring. So, this year, we just combined it. Raj’s parents and sister’s family all came to Weimar for Christmas. What a great reunion. I think the pictures speak for themselves.


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All other pictures are here. 

5 months since summer…

Is it really the 2nd of February 2015? I still remember writing my summer blog post like it was yesterday, but apparently, that is now 5 months ago. Oh guilt! And disbelief. Where has the time gone? Did nothing noteworthy enough happen to trigger my “must put that on the blog” action? Or were there just too many of those daily, weekly special moments that I thought, I can better combine them all in one big summary blog. That’s it! That’s what it is going to be – a summary blog post of 5 months since summer.

Autumn for us has definitely a season filled with, above all, sports. Starting with me and Maya doing the 5km peace run, it continued with the girls doing their first competitions as official Albion swimmers.

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We switched to the new club just before the summer and were as excited about their trainings as we are still today, 5 months later. The trainings are all in the morning, so 3 days a week we wake up around 5 to head first to the pool and then to school. It’s a shock to the system at first, but once the biological clock is reset a little, it actually works out far better, because it results in… free afternoons. Of course, we added a few other afternoon activities too – football for Maya, dancing for Nila – but it still means we have lots of afternoons off for homework and relaxing. Not bad.


So, back to the competitions. The girls have been swimming the most amazing PBs (personal bests) since then. Nila in particular is taking off chunks of seconds in her races and Maya too is making huge improvements with her already sharp times. A wonderful reward for the effort they put in. And we even got to go to Aachen in Germany, where Maya competed in the same event as Dutch world record holder Ranomi Kromowidjojo – impressive and intimidating at the same time.

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Meanwhile, we had lots of fun starting to make Christmas presents for family – what a fun thing sock teddy making can be – going to a coding workshop, trick-or-treating with friends in Wassenaar, and going to school parties with fireworks.

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Lots of time was spent in car rides taking selfies:


And Nila entered the trials for the COBIS Junior Games, which will be held in Athens this May. Fingers crossed – we’ll find out soon, if she makes the final team. In any case, she looks great on the pictures:


Maya also competed for the school, going to London to swim with a group of very senior kids – ahhh. It’s a whole new world for her, but she loves to finally meet new people through her swimming. The big ISST championships will me in The Netherlands in March. Can’t wait to cheer…. and host some foreign swimmers at our place.

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It was time again for school photos, school assemblies, Christmas concerts etc:
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And now comes my Christmas report…

Summer Holiday – one of our best ever!

With autumn firmly settling in The Hague and Christmas plans being finalised, I thought it was high time to close the gaps in this blog by reporting back just a little bit from our summer holiday. This is particularly important given that it was one of our best family holidays ever although it involved no long-distance flights or five-star-hotels or infinity pools. It also did not involve any iPads or much TV at that. And for some reason, I believe that this absence of screen-time-escape made this holiday so special. We communicated more, saw more, discussed more, had more fun, played more, rested more, enjoyed more.

Of course, it was also the wonderful mix of places we visited, starting with a day at Europapark with our good friends Moegi, Iwao and Misaki. Nila and Maya love that place and I find it a lot more tolerable than Disneyland ever was. It’s down-to-earth, authentic fun with rides and I am still blessed to be able to stay with Nila, who is not at all into all the crazy rides – phew.

From there, we drove to Italy, spending a week in the Dolomites – our first Italian hiking holiday. Despite a bit of rain, we found it to be truly beautiful there, quite different to the French Alps, again a bit simpler somehow and with some very different, quite spectacular rock formations. It’s become a kind of addiction for me and Raj and the kids too – that one week in the mountains, the best way of all to switch off and relax, to literally see this world from a different perspective. I love the peace, the crisp air, the sense of strength you feel up there. It’s magical.

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Just two hours drive from that scenery was Venice, a first for the girls and a great place to return to civilisation, pizza and ice cream. We walked and walked and walked, from our little hotel right next to St. Marks square to the Guggenheim Collection, through the Jewish quarter, across uncountable bridges, through narrow alleyways and past lots of little markets, millions of shops, massive cruise ships and… tourists. And we ended up buying some laser souvenir on St. Marks on the last evening – amazingly enough, it’s still Nila’s favourite toy.

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While this had already been a rich and relaxing break, it was even more wonderful to realise that we were only half-way through. From Venice we headed to Croatia, driving hours along an amazing coastline – it really is quite special! – and finally locating our little apartement in a pretty remote bay just north of Split. Villa Lavanda was a beautiful find, we had the most amazing view from our balcony. For a whole week, we simply enjoyed the views, the sea – the water was spectacularly warm and clear – the towns and the sunshine. Although the girls are swimmers, the open sea is quite a different experience and it took a little while for them to feel comfortable in the deep, amongst fish and sea urchins and algae. One thing is for sure, as holiday near the sea, this was our best ever. I guess, it was just so relaxing to not have to worry about big waves and currents…

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After a week of maximum chilling, we drove to Germany. It was a long trip, but as with all our trips up to then, we kept ourselves entertained with audio books, endless talking, singing, drawing, quizzes and games – it was fun! We stopped over in Landshut for a few nights with Angelika and family and for Raj, sadly, the holiday was over and he headed back to The Hague. The girls enjoyed playing with other kids again and we loved cycling and spending our time with friends in between delicious German food. A few hours of driving later, we arrived in Weimar, spent one night washing our laundry and stepped in the car again – this time with my parents – in the direction of Berlin, where we were going to be for a week visiting friends and my grandmother. This time, the weather was less favourable, it was actually cold, so the plan of spending days at the lakes didn’t really work out. Still, we walked and ate and walked and ate and took a dip in the water and ate again and enjoyed memories and stories from different generations of my family. Oh, I almost forgot: we also went to see the European swimming championships, a super important experience in the run-up to our upcoming new life with Albion.

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As you can imagine, we took hundreds of pictures of this fantastic holiday – you can see a selection of them here, in our smugmug gallery. Enjoy!

End of school

Already one week into our holidays, just a memory of the last school day and a mention of the girls fantastic reports this year.

Maya and Nila, you did so well in Year 5 and Year 7!

Enjoy your break, so you’ll be all re-energized for Year 6 and Year 8!

Lots of love from Mama and Papa

PS: more pics here.



Nila turns 10 – unbelievable!

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That was my facebook entry and it sums it all up. We celebrated our Nila with a lasergame party and a trip to Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam – perfect!

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More party pictures.

More birthday pictures.





Sports and more

The last weeks of school are always packed – this year even more so, with the Football World Cup. We loved it all!

Click on the pictures below for more.

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Hello SV Wassenaar

Following our step to commit to Albion swim club from September, we also reviewed our other activities and as a result, spontaneously decided to move to a different football club too. Main reason was that their training times are more in tune with our swim schedule to be, plus the girls know a lot of kids there too.

So, thanks for everything, ABF.


And hello SV Wassenaar! We are all excited!

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Nila loves dancing…

… so not only swimming, but dancing too. This is going to be very short: Nila had her last dance lesson for the season, parents were invited to watch, and I was stunned! Had no idea, what they were doing during the lessons. Well, at least now how much they had learned. I was so amazed, I filmed them all.

So, click here or the image below and you’ll go right to the videos.



In October, I posted our last real swim update, not knowing at that time, how things would turn out for that sport in our family. There was no swim club for us till Christmas while Maya tried to settle at the Senior School and both of them experimented with different sports. But being members of the BSN swim club still, they did do one swim competition for the school, which was fun. Above all, though, it was clear, how much both Maya and Nila still liked the sport, to race in the water. So, we started to talk again, and talked and talked.

And agreed to try again, just a little bit, just to feel. For that, we turned to WZK, a more recreational club in Wassenaar, where the girls were warmly welcomed and where we had all flexibility to train, even just once a week for an hour each. And that’s what we did, for a couple of months. The girls did a couple of competitions too, all quite heavy with mixed emotions. And we realised, that swimming was fun – yes – but to really enjoy it and to really progress, we’d need more in terms of training.

So, the search began again, and we also turned back to try Racing Club for a session. But then we found: Albion. A totally different idea of swim club. A club run by a couple, with four official members (two of which are the couple’s sons, who swim at national and even European level) and a few guest swimmers. And those trainings were great! Just perfect! Very individualised, very tough, inspired by US and UK approaches to training and all about preparing for competitions. The girls loved it! I loved it! And Albion welcomed them both. We are so happy! We thanked and left WZK, joined Albion and are now training 3 to 4 times a week in the mornings – yes, 5am wakeup. It means adjusting our bedtimes a little, but also means free afternoons, more playtime, more rest, more time for homework. Perfect!

So, we are going into the next swim season all motivated and excited!

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The little things in life…

… are definitely still worth mentioning. After all, this blog is a diary for Maya and Nila, something to revisit when they are older, to help them remember. So, life has been busy, and lots of fun, and here are some bits and pieces:

Nila’s lost two teeth:



Maya still loves climbing:



Nila went to school camp and still practises piano:

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Both Maya and Nila finished their football season and are big Worldcup 2014 fans – luckily, we still have DE and NL to cheer for:

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Nila loves birthday parties, while Maya went to school camp too:

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The whole set, as always, in our gallery.


Feeling old… feeling young…

So, straight after my post about the good old childhood times, of memories and nostalgia, follows this one about being totally (well, a little bit) up to date with what my girls like and about us girls going to see boyband One Direction in concert in Amsterdam. It was fun, I had a great time, I screamed, I danced, I clapped. I felt young, ha!





If you want to see more and hear a bit too, click here!




The Weimar Reunion, finally

Now that the girls are getting older, understanding more about the world around them, I find myself talking with them more about my past, my childhood and how I met Raj. It’s funny, how far behind that time feels now. In fact, I have lived more of my life abroad now than I have been home in Germany. And it is also strange, how little mention there now is of EAST Germany. When I meet new people, one of the first questions is “where are you from?”. And my answer usually is: “I am German”. I never say “EAST German” and so, noone asks further. After all, there is a Germany now, people know it, have been there. And usually, I don’t think twice about it either. I don’t feel the urge to correct it, to specify, to say that my Germany was VERY different from what it is now, that that Germany is gone, is history.

But sometimes, it does come up, and it always surprises people. And it surprises me. Hearing myself talk about the GDR, my childhood, does sometimes sound unreal. But it is good not to forget. And I haven’t. In fact, I always say first how wonderful my childhood was, despite or because of it’s strange political status. I have beautiful memories of growing up in Weimar, going to school on my own at 6:30 in the morning in smog and pollution – Maya and Nila are driven to school in clean silent cars around 8:30 in the morning. I remember finishing school after lunch and playing with my friends on the streets for hours – my girls get home around 16:30 on good days and much later after activities. And there are lots more contrasting examples like that. That’s life…

Of course, there was the political dimension. Too much to go into now, but this blog entry is dedicated to a reunion we finally held in Weimar, with families that were a close part of my childhood memories and whom I had not seen for decades now. And the reason that these people were in Weimar in the 1970s and 80s was political, had all to do with the cold war times, with socialism vs capitalism, with East vs West. But to me then, there were just close friends, they were family. And in May this year, we finally managed to fly them all in, for a reunion in Weimar.

It was great to see you all again, Kostas, Maria, Leli, Walter, Darima, Natalie, Niki and all those still closer to home! It was really special!

The pictures are here!








Discovering the beach

Coming from the mountains and forests of Thuringia, I have never felt particularly enthusiastic about beaches, found it all too sticky, too sandy, too windy, too full. But in the spring half-term, I somehow befriended Scheveningen, as I took the girls there a couple of times, for surfing, just playing, having fun with friends. It was a super holiday and did make us feel like there was really no need to go away.


But we also did more than surfing. There was football and lush lunches in the city and lots of chilling and hanging at home too.


And Dadu and Dida came over for a couple of days, watching us run in the Royal Ten and catching up on family news.


Take a look at it all in our gallery.

COBIS Games Istanbul 2014

The COBIS Games will be something that Maya will remember forever. First her happy surprise, when she heard in December that she had made it into the pre-selection and then her complete disbelief that she was actually picked for the final team. She could hardly contain herself, couldn’t believe that she would be representing her school and her countries (!) in Istanbul in May. Well, it happened, she had a great time and deserved every medal and trophy she helped win for her team. But this experience was so much more than prices, it was all about making new friends, boys and girls from year 7 and 8, whom she had never even met before and whom she now feels so connected with. COBIS has thus also given a whole new meaning to school for her and for that, I am so grateful.

Just a few facts. COBIS is the Council of British International Schools. They have been organising sports competitions amongst British Schools from outside the UK for the Juniors for a while, but Maya never joined those trials before. This time was the first Games for Senior School students and it implied that teams of 7 girls and 7 boys from 12 schools competed in Istanbul in three sports: athletics, football and swimming. Swimming was, of course, Maya’s strong sport, football too. So, she was even more surprised to find out that she actually managed to win a bronze medal in the javelin too. This helped the team to come second overall in athletics. Football was a tougher day for the BSN, with the girls working themselves to 5th place and the boys to 9th. And then it all came together on the last day, the swimming. The team got so many medals, it was hard to keep track, and came 2nd for swimming as a team. All that finally added up to 2nd place overall – an amazing result, which we still have to celebrate properly.

There are loads of pictures on our gallery – PLEASE CLICK HERE – but these below will give a first impression of our super time in Istanbul. 








Easter holidays in France – farm, ski and friends

We had a fantastic holiday this Easter, perhaps one of our best. It was simply the right mix of discovering new places, doing different things and meeting good friends.

A lunch in Paris with Astrid was followed by a reunion with our “yogababies” friends, who emigrated from Holland four years ago to the middle of France, where they turned a chateau into a holiday destination – check out Le Mas d’en Haut. There, we had the best time away from it all, no screens, no gadgets, wood oven, open countryside, the kids running around outside all day and… delicious French food, of course. In fact, Raj even helped to cook venison for a few Dutch families, who had come to help our friends Willem and Paula get ready for the summer season.



We then headed to the French Alps, up to 2500m and were happy to discover that there was indeed… snow! Skiing in Easter is wonderful: the pistes are quiet, the weather great, conditions still good enough for great skiing. And we were lucky. Sunshine most days and no injuries – phew!

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Heading back to Amsterdam, we stopped over in Luxemburg to visit Moegi, Iwao and Misaki who had recently moved there. Felt like family. Have you noticed that selfies are the latest hit with us too?



Go to our gallery to see ALL our photos.

Everyday stuff

I have so many pictures of special little moments in our everyday life, that sometimes I don’t know where to put them, so here again a little collection of the little events in the past weeks: Maya’s football team became champion in their league; Nila celebrated Kings’ Day at school and created a piece of art, we went to a fun fair in Den Haag, Nila went on her school trip to Drenthe, and I got flowers for mothers day.

Click on the picture below, if you want to see it all.


It’s not good bye, Moegi, Iwao and Misaki! Just see you soon!

Maya met Misaki at the age of 3 in Amsterdam, where both went to the British School nursery together. Even though we moved to Den Haag after a couple of years, Misaki and Maya have been BFFs – Best Friends Forever – since. And so have Moegi and me. And now, after all these years, they have started a new adventure in Luxemburg. We didn’t say good bye. It might just take a little more effort to see each other now. Good luck and see you soon!


Maya turns 12

Maya is 12 years old! I cannot believe it! My baby, all grown up, almost my height, a friend and most wonderful daughter. I love you Maya! We love you! You are just perfect!


Maya’s morning birthday table. Thanks to the Nuclear Security Summit in Den Haag on that day, schools were closed and we got to stay home – bliss!


And the party with her best friends…


My birthday

March is birthday time. First it was my turn, but I decided to celebrate small this year, just with Raj and my girls. I loved it. A big party again next year!


Click here for pictures of my day and evening :-)

The CPC again… with even more marshmallows

The City-Pier-City run in Den Haag is great fun. This year, only the girls ran 2,5km – more a sprint or slalom than a jog due to the huge number of participants – and after that we had friends over for pancakes, all followed by the obligatory marshmallow handing-out session during the half marathon. Great fun! Our marshmallow station was in huge demand. Raj and Asif had to restock two times to not disappoint the more desperate runners at the end of the field.

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Family, Friends and Fun

Too much has been happening to dedicate a post to each event, so here a little summary compilation:

First swimming competitions, for the BSN club, but also for WZK – our new club for the time being…

Lots of homework, all the time…

Raj still improving his pizza making skills, which all us girls cannot get enough of…

Nila’s international day at school. Maya no longer has that…

A cool selfie….

Maya’s football team… a nice, fun group…

Sabine bringing Lola to Den Haag for the first time, together with Opa and Oma… and a strange dog…

The girls totally loving their Friday late evening run training….


COBIS = Council Of British International Schools

As of this year, there exist a Senior School COBIS Games, a sports competition between a number of participating British International Schools that has already taken place a number of times for Junior Schools. Maya never participated in trials before, but this year she did and to her total surprise, she made it not only through the pre-selection, but also into the final team. She was speechless, in total disbelief. And we were so happy for her, happy that she had been allowed that special feeling.

Congratulations, Maya!

COBIS Games BSN Senior Team

This means that from 14th till 18th May, she will travel to Istanbul with her team to compete in swimming (yes!), football (yes!) and athletics (ok…). I will join her, but stay in different hotels with other parents. Let’s hope, the political situation in Turkey will be calm enough…

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