Thursday, 30 April 2015

Leiden and gardening gloves


So how was Leiden?  Beautiful, a mini Amsterdam with canals and bridges and bikes.


It is a university town with something of the same feel as Cambridge, but with canals!


The place we stayed in was a real find, an apartment on the Nieuwe Rijn.  Ours was not the one pictured on this website but had two bedrooms, a fabulous bathroom and a small sitting area within the larger bedroom overlooking the canal.  Everything was spotless and comfortable, the bathroom was to die for and our host, Leon, made us wonderful breakfasts in the spacious kitchen overlooking a terrace.  Brilliantly situated, beautifully furnished and cared for and really nice people.  If you can get to Leiden I would really recommend it.


We rented bikes from our hosts and, having not ridden a bike for about twenty five years, I tested the cliche that you never forget and found it to be true.




The Keukenhof gardens were amazing,  not a garden in the ordinary sense of the word, although there were a few places which worked as a garden for me, but a living bulb catalogue.


Although I love tulips and identified some varieties which I shall try, this river of muscari armenicum, edged with tiny daffodils was one of the high points of the garden for me.


And looking out from the Keukenhof to the surrounding fields is extraordinary.

The place was full.  It was crowded and jostling and I often find that being surrounded by too many people inhibits my ability to look properly but somehow and surprisingly Keukenhof absorbed the people and there were moments of simple beauty.


We focussed most of the rest of our time in Leiden on walking to find a series of almshouses, known as hofjes.  These are tiny squares hidden away behind doors in the walls of Leiden.  They were built from the late sixteenth to the eighteenth century as places for the poor or the elderly to live and are all still lived in, most still by the elderly, some I think as part of the university.  They are tiny oases of calm and all are accessible to the public, if you can find them.







We drank a lot of coffee in all sorts of outside cafes including one on the top of a department store with fabulous views down over the canals.


And we visited the Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden in Europe outside of Italy, which has some of best glasshouses I have ever seen.





A great week.  Thank you to Joyce for her company and to Ian for holding the fort at home and visiting my father while I was away.


And just a quick heads up for a product review coming soon.  I don't do much of this kind of thing as I am not myself keen on much advertising in  my own favourite blogs.  I review books occasionally if they are ones I think you might be interested in.  I get lots of approaches for product reviews and generally just say no thank you.  This approach came from Mill Race garden centre and was just so pleasant and totally non-corporate, courteous and personal that I thought I would give it a go if I could find something to review that mattered to me.  I have chosen to look at some gardening gloves.  I don't know about you but I am constantly on the hunt for gloves that are not so thick and heavy that I find myself taking them off which defeats the object somewhat (a very frequent occurence) or so thin and flimsy that I put the index finger of my right hand through them.  Why the index finger?  I have no idea.  Do you find that gloves fail in the same way every time?  I must have half a dozen pairs with a hole in the end of the index finger of the right hand.  I don't know why I just don't throw them away.




So these are the three pairs which have been sent.  The last pair is the thinnest and lightest and I am already using them.  The others are a little heavier.  I will use each pair for a week or so on the same kind of activities, hand-weeding mainly and let you know how I get on.  I will report back!

53 comments:

  1. I was given a pair of their winter wear gloves and they are brilliant, specially when going to let the chickens out early morning

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    1. Oh that is a good recommendation! thanks Sue.

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  2. What a great trip! I think you saw The Netherlands at its best, and it tugs a bit at my heart strings. You even got to ride an "omafiets" and visited the "hofjes". Good weather too and I am glad you enjoyed yourself.

    I am all in favor of garden gloves being sold in singles, rather than in pairs :-)

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    1. I think this is the perfect time to visit the Netherlands, especially if you are a gardener! And yes to the idea of selling gloves singly, what a inspired thought!

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  3. Ah, such a delightful trip. Many thanks for sharing the story and photos.

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    1. It was great. I don't know the Netherlands well but can see that I will be going again!

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  4. Lovely post, looks beautiful out there. I've worn a pair of the Seed and Weed ones for about five years now for gardening at work and home. They have been brilliant but are now sadly in need of replacing. I like my garden gloves to fit my hand perfectly and these did the trick, Jane x

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    1. Having a pair of gardening gloves going for five years is quite an achievement! I agree with you about the fit. Poor fit and clumsy grip are the main reasons I start out wearing gloves and end up with them in my pocket and with my hands filthy!

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  5. What a wonderful visit you had!!! The town looks beautiful, but oh gosh, the flowers!! How fabulous they are!!!! So glad you enjoyed it. Have fun gardening in your new gloves!! xx

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    1. K.ukenhof really was flower overload, like being bombarded with tulips! Not that I am saying that is bad thing. It was great/

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  6. We had a few days in Amsterdam several years ago, and took a day to bus out to Keukenhof to view the gardens and then bike around the surrounding tulip fields. Your trip reinforced my wish to get back there (the Rijksmuseum's years/decades-long reno has been completed since we were there, and I really want to see its full glory!) -- I've heard that Leiden is worth the visit and you reinforce that notion as well. I love that your decision to take this trip was made so spontaneously and that it turned out so well -- from reading the blog, it seems that your last few years haven't left much room for vacations or spontaneity. Lovely that you managed this getaway.

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    1. If you like Amsterdam I think you would love Leiden! It was good to make the trip happen and in a way it had to be a bit last minute as it is hard to forward plan too much but that was indeed part of its charm. Leiden has some great museums too, particularly the Lakenhall and the Siebold Museum if you ever do get there!

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  7. Looks lovely Elizabeth. Holland is much neglected by the British and has so many beautiful towns and cities and the waterways are stunning too - we have sailed over in past years and explored parts of it and always enjoy visiting. In the meantime, I am still busy exploring the potential of Green Knowe and the Manor at Hemingford Grey...

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    1. I still have Hemingfird Grey on my list marianne! You are so right. The British never think of Holland as a holiday destination, with the exception of Amsterdam. I would certainly love. Return trip.

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  8. Elizabeth, spring is the ideal time to visit the Netherlands. I have never been to Leiden, but will surely add it to my wish list. When I did stay in Amsterdam, I loved my day trip to Haarlem, and actually wished that I had stayed there and made day trips to Amsterdam. Rotterdam is another place that intrigues me.

    I've no garden glove experiences to share with you, but look forward to learming lots about their varying characteristics and qualities from your experiences and those of wise commenters, too.

    xo

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    1. You are very well travelled frances! I have been to Amsterdam but never Rotterdam or The Hague. So many interesting place!

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  9. Hello,

    I so very much enjoyed this tour of a city I've yet to visit, Leiden. Your photographs have convinced me that it is as charming, if not more so, than Amsterdam, which I visited many years ago.

    I very much enjoyed the sight of those muscari carpeting the floor - breathtaking! It reminded me of my childhood in Kent when I used to play in the woodland across the street from my house and the sight of the bluebells turning the woodland floor blue.

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    1. Bluebells are fabulous for making rivers and pools. I must get out round us and see what the woods are doing!

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  10. Oh, I found myself just falling into those pictures - imagining that I lived there. So beautiful. Really so perfect in every way. Thank you for showing me a place I'll most likely never visit.

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    1. Leiden is really very beautiful. It's hard to choose from so many fabulous places but if you love European history and cities I would try to make it happen.

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  11. Ooo, these gardening gloves.....I´ve lots of left handed gloves but always need new right ones. They should buy them in pairs of three, 1 left, 2 right.
    So nice you visited de Keukenhof, have not been there for ages. I´m glad you enjoyed Leiden, de hofjes and the Hortus. As I don´t live far from Leiden I´m there regularly.

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    1. How lovely to have a visit from you! Yes, I enjoyed it very much. I hope any Dutch friends would be just as taken with the hills and green valleys of North wales.

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  12. Sounds as if it was a great trip Elizabeth. We visited Holland a couple of times but have never been to Leiden. Will have to try to remedy that :)

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    1. It's not huge so a very easy place to visit I a small space of time Anna. Except that there is a lot to see....

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  13. Lovely account, Holland often feels like a high point of civilisation. I used to go a lot for few years when my partner was working in Den Haag and we visited the Keukenhof. Overwhelming, but, not very natural to our eyes now. The Thijsse Park in Amstelveen was a wonderful piece of "wild" gardening, quite unique, Otherwise I have always admired the Dutch sense of town gardening, they make lovely easy care little spaces, full of interest and pleasure and can teach us a lot about using simple plants well. very stimulating to hear about it. x

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    1. There were so many of these little town gardens, from the hofjes to roof terraces and courtyards. Simple but delightful.

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  14. Such gorgeous photographs! Sitting here, watching a thunderstorm bellow after a day of blazing May sun, how your pictures soothe my eyes! :)
    Happy May!

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    1. It was very soothing somehow, the water, the cafes, the bikes. All like something from a story!

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  15. Good morning, Elizabeth. What a pleasure it has been to catch up on your last few posts. Our springtime seems to be on the same schedule as yours, so it's interesting to see what's going on in your part of the world - loved the picture of the granddaughter in the wagon!
    Your trip to Leiden sounds like a perfect sort of break from the everyday. It has been years since I was there, and it wasn't at tulip time. I remember the canals and the bikes and the students. When we lived on the Dutch/German border, Saturdays were always for shopping in Maastricht. I remember the hofjes there, the sunny little corners in the nicest places, reserved for the elderly. What a lovely idea!

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    1. I really lied the way the hofjes gave the most beautiful spots to the elderly! While we were in one an elderly man came out and encouraged us to look around and was clearly so proud of where he lived.

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  16. Right, Leiden is on my list of possible holiday destinations... we loved our holiday in Holland a couple of years back - so much so that when I got back I had to get a bike similar to the one I'd hired on holiday. I now have a pale green sit-up-and-beg dutch style bike :-)
    I visited Keukenhof 30 yrs ago, looks like it's just the same.
    The other day my OH told me I was hoarding gardening gloves :-)))) like you I am in search of the perfect pair and the thin ones are definitely the best so far.

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    1. I am a real fan of Holland now. I am certain to go back!

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  17. on the notice, only in English do they require privacy. The French and German don't need to be nudged, how embarassing ;~)

    My gloves ... come off as I like to dig and settle my plants with my hands. But I do use gloves when pruning heavy stuff.

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    1. Ah yes I am constantly taking my gloves off. I don't even notice I am doing it until I look down and find my bare hands are filthy again!

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  18. I'll take the third pair, since they're invisible. 8-)

    Seriously, though... my problem with gardening gloves isn't holes. It's that none of them prevent you getting stuck with rose thorns, and my property is loaded with climbing roses, which, when trimmed, scatter thorny dried bits everywhere and get stuck in my hands when I'm weeding or doing anything in the garden. OUCH!

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    1. I have a similar problem in one part of my garden which gets covered in holly leaves. They never seem to rot away either!

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  19. What an astounding trip!
    I'm green with envy.
    I also think I could move in to one of the little old people's cottages. I think I saw some like that in Bruges years ago.
    My best gardening gloves were leather and super tough!

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    1. I suspect that the little almshouse is the model of the best kind of place to live as you age:small, surrounded by shared garden, in the midst of the city so not shut off in a ghetto for the elderly. Perfect.

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  20. I'm a great fan of the Briers 'weed and seed,' gardening gloves - except they are very difficult to get in size small. Leiden looked fantastic and a places to put on the 'places to visit' list.

    Loves that river of blue too - I tried something similar with alliums but they made a bid for freedom and the effect is more like a flood now! Still,marks for trying!

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    1. I love the idea of a river of alliums. I keep putting alliums in but they haven't yet decided to multiply all by themselves!

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  21. A great blog, looks like a great visit to Holland, thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I have become a big fan of the Netherlands now!

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  22. Thank you for sharing your visit to Leiden - it looks wonderful.

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  23. Sounds like an utterly delightful trip, that river of muscari is beautiful. I generally hate wearing gardening gloves, unless handling brambles, but I do have a rather fab pair of thinnish ones with reinforced fingers, still enough sensation for a degree of dexterity but protection from all but the worst thorns. Excellent for nettles and euphorbias. I'll check the latest el and let you know...

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    1. I am beginning to think they part of my problem with gloves on the last is not realising that one pair won't suit all the different things I want to do!

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  24. I love the look of Leiden from your pictures. The flowers and the block paved streets, just the sort of place I could wander in for hours.
    Gardening gloves are a source of continual frustration for me. I have very small hands and the fingers are always too long, even in the small size. Hopeless. I wear the right hand to cushion the palm from the hand fork and usually lose the left!

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    1. I sympathise with the small hands, although yours sound smaller than mine. I have a rather lovely pair of Laura Ashley ones that I had as a present which are just too wide for my narrow hands.

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  25. So glad you enjoyed your mini break Elizabeth-Leiden certainly looks a beautiful place to visit in the future
    I loved the picture of the grape hyacinths at Keukenhof as this is my special memory of the gardens there too
    Bluebells in this country are at their best at the moment too and the woodland at Coed Y Felin is close by and well worth a visit within the next few days if you have time to spare

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    1. Thank you for the tip about coed y felin! Mustn't miss that.

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  26. Glad you enjoyed your trip ! Leiden is very nice ... lots of pretty corners . I'd dearly like to live in a hofje and have long had my eye on a couple in Groningen , but never feel respectable , tidy and grown-up enough ....
    (The gloves to choose must surely be the Washable Gardeners , if only for the name! ).

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