My family calls Aardbeienhof: Gemert “Strawberry Land” because it is a celebration of all things strawberry. Aarbeienhoff is a really unique play place with lots of things to do. There is an indoor and outdoor play area and strawberry picking. In the summer there is a train that takes you to a strawberry castle where the strawberry Queen greets you and shows you a little film about (can you guess?) strawberries.
The inside is a one huge room with lots of little play areas. There is a plastic play structure, a few bouncy houses and a soft play. There is also a giant inflatable strawberry to jump on. The big strawberry is surrounded by a track with tricycles and tractors of kids to ride.
It’s nice because Aardbeienhof is one basically one big open room so it’s easy to keep track of the little ones.
There is a small room with a stage and projector at one side. They are generally playing kids music videos. The kids love going in periodically and dancing. Mini Disco!
The outside play area is also great fun. There is a track with peddle cars surrounding a play area.
A few times a day everyone can ride the strawberry train (during the summer) or walk to the strawberry palace where everyone can watch a sort video about strawberries. Honestly it’s more fun than it sounds. The Strawberry Queen is there!
Say hello to the Strawberry Queen!
There is strawberry picking but it’s meant to be more of an activity. You buy a small plastic container (for around 2.00 Euros) and then the kids pick strawberries to fill it. It isn’t a way to fill the freezer. The kids love it, although they9 all tend to get eaten just after the picking.
There is an indoor and an outdoor picking area. The staff tells you where to go and supervises.
My kids love it. The staff is so helpful. I love going to a place where everyone seems to really enjoy being around kids.
I was helping my daughter and an employee lifted my son so he could find the biggest and reddest strawberries.
It sounds like a crazy amount of strawberry , and it is. My kids really love going there. In the winter the outside is closed but the inside is still a great place to play, and the admission is discounted.
You aren’t suppose to bring in your own food, but the have a small cafe with some pretty nice sandwiches and such.
It’s a really fun place!
Some practical information:
I bought my Roller Derby skates this week!! I was going to wait a few more weeks but I just didn’t want to go to any more practices with the wrong skates. I went into Turn Left Roller Derby Shop on Thursday afternoon after the gym. I was very fortunate that a friend of mine was willing to join me and help keep an eye on my daughter. I tried on 3 different styles. I went with a brand called Bont. Apparently they are a new brand from Australia. I liked them because they had less padding than the typical Roller Derby skates. I also like that they are heat moldable, I can put the boot in the oven and then put them on and they will hold to my feet. I bought toe guards to protect the skates and out the door I spent 180 Euros.
If you are interested in learning more about my fancy new skates you can check them out here: Bont Skates
Friday night there was a “gear workshop” (as in a workshop for my gear not about gears) at Turn Left. I wanted to go mostly because I think, as the only foreigner, it’s important that I make the effort to be a part of the team. I’m really glad I went. It was 2 hours of Dutch sitting on a cold hard floor so it was mentally exhausting but I was able to keep up with the Dutch pretty well and I learned a lot. One of the owners of Turn Left took us through every part of our skates talking about how to care for them as well as all the different options for each. It took 2 hours! I had absolutely no idea how intricate these skates can get. Every piece is changeable with what seems like unlimited options. For now I’m happy with my “starter skates” and I hope they will last without upgrades for the next several years.
Man oh man, what a difference the skates make! I had a really difficult time adjusting to them in the beginning. The wheels are set much wider and they are faster (like the wheels spin faster) so I was loosing my balance much easier. There is no ankle support so that gave me a little trouble for a while. Once I got used to them though, I was so happy. I was able to go faster and manoeuvre loads easier. I suppose it bacause of the cushions but if I shift my weight just slightly the wheels will sway in that direction. This was hard to get used to at first but in the end it makes turning so much easier. I’m very happy with the skates.
This is a side by side of my Derby skates and my normal roller skates.
I really feel like the trainers stepped up the intensity a lot today. The last 3 weeks has been a gradual increase where tonight felt like a real leap. We played games and ran (or skated, I suppose) drills. Like: skate to this line and drop into a 4 point fall (meaning you land on your knees and fall forward on your elbows and wrists protecting your head and slide) then back up and skate to this line and then a rockstar (fall forward on your knees and lean back into a slide like a rockstar sliding across stage) then up then at the next line……. and it went on like that forever. Across the track and back, over and over, for what seemed like forever. And it went on like with different drills for what felt like forever!
We practiced skating forward and turning so we were skating backwards and around again for a long time as well. Thank you Power Yoga, balance is so critical!
I fell on my butt twice and I must have fell on my hand at some point because by the time I got home I had a bruise on my hand and I couldn’t move one of my fingers on my right hand. Hopefully it will be better in the morning.
This was my favourite practice. I think we are starting to get to know each other a bit and it’s starting to feel more like a group. We are cheering each other on and in general being very supportive. There was quite a bit of laughing this evening. I was questioning my decision to try a group sport because I have never been on a team before but I’m really glad I am giving it a try.
After last weeks training I was able to really pinpoint the weaknesses in my gym routine. I wasn’t sore at all in my legs but my core was very sore. I also discovered last week that I can only do 8 pushups. These are on the feet not the knees (so no “girly” ones). I was very annoyed about this because I lift weights, I really do work my arms but I guess I’m either not doing enough or I’m doing the wrong things (or perhaps I should just do more pushups).
I decided to start working on my core but I didn’t really know what to change because I really thought I was focusing on my future six pack already. I decided to check out a few classes at my gym that focused on abs and core so I could get a few pointers. Thursday night I took “boot camp” and then “core stability”. I generally go to the gym Thursday mornings but my daughter was sick so I went in the evening instead. I took both classes because they were only 30 minutes each and it seemed logical to group them together. “boot camp” was really fun but nothing new. I always enjoy pushing myself to the limit and seeing how I handle it and recover. “Core Stability” kicked my ass. It was all sit ups and crunches and such, with a weight. I physically couldn’t make my body do some of the things she was asking me to do. I did enjoy it in that it pushed me farther than I would have pushed myself. All in all, although I enjoyed both classes I will not be rushing to take them again.
Friday mornings I have been going to Zumba ( wicked fun) and there is a class called “bosu balance” before and after my zumba. A friend of mine takes it and said it is really good for balance and core. Both things that are super important in Roller Derby. Man was she right! The class uses a half ball on a plastic base. We did all kinds of squats and standing workouts while balancing on this ball and some major ab work thrown in. It was perfect actually, the core work was really challenging and it really forced me to practice my balance (I also do Power Yoga on Monday night and that helps as well). I plan to continue to g o to “boss balance” on Fridays. I think it will really help with Roller Derby.
Practice Week 3:
Honestly, I didn’t want to go. It has been a really busy weekend and I was really tired going into Sunday night. And Aunt Flo is visiting so I’m really bloated and grumpy. I forced myself to get out and I’m very glad I did. Practice was very nearly the same as last week so I was really comfortable and I was able to work on some of the things that are giving me trouble.
I was able to hold “derby pose” which is basically a deep squat for a full 5 minutes and I was really proud of myself for that, last week I could only manage 4.
The Fresh Meat Trainer asked me if I had skated before. I told her that I haven’t been on skates since I was little little and she said that she was surprised I had no experience and that I was doing great. I told her that I was an angry determined sort of person. She said “oh, your one of those…….good.” It was so nice to hear that I was doing well. I don’t get competitive with other people but I want to always do better than what I have done before. I will support and praise and help everyone around me, I don’t want to be THE BEST but I do want to be MY BEST. I don’t exactly know when I realised that these were 2 very different things but I’m so glad I did. I am a much nicer person after this realisation.
And there was our first injury. A woman fell and busted her upper lip. There was so much blood. She handled it like a super woman! She was very calm and composed while blood was dripping from her mouth. I’m sorry she got hurt but it was really amazing to see her handle it with such grace. I found out tonight that she had to get 7 stitches!
After practice we were told to take off our gear, leave our bags and come outside. I didn’t know this but we were going to get our first of 5 lessons on rules. I’m not gonna lie, this was painful. It was an hour of sitting in a very cold room on a hard bench trying to keep up with Dutch. I think I understood most of what was going on but I’m going to download the rules and give it a read sometime this week. I think that we will have a rules test at the end. I imagine that it will be in Dutch and I see this being very difficult for me. I should probably download the rules in Dutch as well so I can study properly. On the positive side this will force me to practice my Dutch.
I really enjoyed practice and I’m very glad I went. Honestly I would never have skipped for as lame of a reason as: I’m tired and grumpy and its “that time of the month” anyway.
Next week I am going to buy my real Roller Derby skates. I’m very excited.
Well, thats it for week 3.
I really enjoy to the Maritime Museum: Rotterdam. If it were closer I could see taking the kids there on a regular basis. Unfortunately it is about 1 1/2 hours to get there from Eindhoven and that’s just at the top of what I’m willing to drive for a day trip. There are great indoor and outdoor play areas and tons for kids at all age groups to do. It a really great kids museum.
The ground floor looks really empty. There is a few picnic tables and the front desk.
The first floor holds a small exhibit about boats and some really pretty miniature ships behind glass. The exhibit has been different both times I have been but I’m not sure how often it is changed. Honestly there was nothing here for the kids to do so we didn’t linger. On that same floor is an area dedicated to house boats. This area is pretty cool. There isn’t a huge amount to do but there is a really fun shadow area and a little room set up like a room on a boat.
The second floor is where the real fun is. If you go up the stairs you will see and area with a big map on the floor. There, kids will get an interactive lesson on trade. There is a little video about where a few products come from and how they are transported around the world. The kids can pick up a sheet and move giant boats around and get stamps when they “collect” goods. Its really super fun for all ages. My 2 1/2 year old just pushed around a boat, my 4 year old pushed a boat and collected the stamps and the older kids did everything in a certain order and followed a set of rules that I didn’t bother to read because my kids are to young for them.
To the left there is a mock cruise ship. There is a “deck” with shuffle board and bingo and a bar with fake martinis. There is also a dining room and a recreational room with play roulette and a karaoke stage. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.
To the right there is a hallway with the another play area at the end. It’s super fun. There is a ship and a slide and some other play structures.
Through this room and out some doors there is an outdoor play area. It is set up like a shipping yard. There are padded boxes to move around. They start at a fixed boat and can be hooked to a crane that takes them to a flat “train car” that can be moved a short distance. Then that can me unloaded and scanned. Then they are to be placed on wheel barrows and trollies and moved to the final delivery point. Of course, this is what the big kids are doing. My son is doing his own thing and having a great time. My daughter is running around playing a game that only she understands.
Honestly, it is a lot more of a focused play area with a nautical theme than a traditional museum. I didn’t learn anything, but that’s ok.
Outside there are a few boats that you can go on. One is a house boat and one is a very industrial big boat. The most recent time we visited the museum was the first time I was able to see the boats. The first time we went we stayed inside for so long that this section was closed by the time we got there (it closes an hour earlier than the museum). So I have only seen them in December and I had about 5 heart attacks during this 20 or so minutes. There is no railings, fences or anything stopping the kids from falling into the water. I generally don’t consider myself the safety police but this seemed excessively dangerous. It would have been nice to at least have a handrail. Then there are the boats themselves. Rickety metal stairs leading up to the top of a boat with a barrier lower than my kids waist stopping them from falling in the water. I hated it. Every minute of it. I had visions of my babies slipping and falling into freezing water.
Terrifying boats aside, I really enjoy the Maritime Museum: Rotterdam. It makes for a really nice day out.
You can bring in your own food. There are picnic tables on the ground floor you can eat at and you can also eat in the big play areas. You can not eat in the map room (I was told off for that last time I was there). There is no place to but food within the museum. There is a restaurant attached to the museum but it is a sit down place with servers. The food was good but was a lot of trouble. We ate there the first time we went. It was tough convincing the kids to stop playing and go all the way down for food. They were not interested in sitting still and waiting for our tostis so it was a real pain. The last time I packed food and it made things much easier.
This is a great place to use the Museum card. I really recommend it.
Some Practical Information:
Looking for other museums to visit with the kids?
Don’t have a Museum Card? Read about it here: The Museum Card
I learned a few things after Sundays practice. I really thought I had been working my core at the gym but obviously not enough. I hurt across my lower stomach and lower back. I have tried to rearrange my gym time to focus more on my core and legs. I am still lifting weights, even thought I know that this wont help me with Roller Derby. I still want nice arms and big shoulders. But that is a post for a different day.
I visited Turn Left Roller Derby shop on Thursday to get some information about protection. When I had first decided to start Roller Derby my husband and I found a “fresh meat package” online for 170 Euros. It included skates, knee pads, elbow guards, writs guards and a helmet. Knowing nothing about Roller Derby or what I would need this sounded reasonable and about what I budgeted to get started. Around 200 Euros for all my gear.
Man was I wrong.
I borrowed protection gear last week and I was able to see first hand how important safety gear is. We practiced falling and we were told to fall on our knees and lean back (like a rockstar sliding across stage). Makes sense because we don’t have protection on our backsides but our knee pads are huge. You lean back because if you fall forward and your hands hit the floor your fingers could get rolled over and you could get really injured.
After seeing the importance of the safety gear and how robust the stuff I borrowed was, I really researched the cheap “Fresh Meat package” we had seen online. I couldn’t find any real information about the brand and the knee pads looked really small. The prices for everything seemed really standard at all the online skate shops and there was no way everything should cost under 200 Euros with skates. I decided to visit the local skate shop and have a look around.
I was helped by one of the owners, a really nice British lady named Emma. She was really helpful and I didn’t feel pushed or pressured into buying anything. She said that the big tickets safety items were the knee pads and the helmet. I asked her about the pads included in the cheap package and she called them “an injury waiting to happen”. She said that people who buy those pads end up with an injury before Fresh Meat was even over and they leave Roller Derby because of it. They didn’t sell any of the cheap brands in the shop because they have a commitment to safety. I’m glad she was so nice, this felt more like an honest conversation than a sales pitch. I could tell that she really loves the sport and has a very real interest in helping women enjoy it as much as she does. All this was done with my 2 1/2 year old “big helper” touching things and making messes.
I decided to buy all my safety gear there at Turn Left Roller Derby Shop. Their prices seemed in line with what I had seen online so I knew that I wouldn’t be saving a significant amount of money by shopping online and I wouldn’t have my gear in time for Sundays practice anyway. Emma had me try on a ton of different knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. I am so glad I didn’t try to buy them online. The sizing is completely different that I would have thought. I would have gotten the wrong things for sure but since I didn’t have any idea how everything was supposed to fit I probably wouldn’t have realized that nothing fit properly until it was to late to return it (because it was worn and scratched up). There really isn’t anything better than one on one help from a knowledgeable person. Plus I was supporting a local business and the Eindhoven team sponsor and those are good things. In reality I saved a ton of money by shopping there because I wont have to replace things that certainly would have had to otherwise.
This is a link to their website: Turn Left Roller Derby Shop
So what did I buy and what did it cost?
Helmet: 49.50 Euros
Mouth Guard: 22.50
Elbow Pads: 31.50
Wrist guards: 27.00
Knee Pads: 80.10
Total Spent on pads and protection gear: 210. 60 Euros. * Note: People participating in Fresh Meat get 10% discount at this shop because they sponsor the team. The prices I listed are what I paid with this discount.
Yikes, right? Believe me I know.
I still have to buy my skates and I was told I would need to budget between 200 -250 Euros. Those will have to wait a few months. I just can’t afford to spend any more right now. I have my basic roller skates that I got used and those will work for a while longer. I have a birthday coming up (hint, hint, hubby!)
I knew that there would be start up costs because you need gear in any sport but I had no idea. It’s probably a really good thing that I didn’t know until after I had made the commitment because I would have talked myself out of it for sure. I have it now, though and I as long as nothing horrible happens I wont need anything else for years. Also I see this as incredible motivation to love Roller Derby and do well!
Practice Week 2:
This was one of the hardest workouts of my life. It’s a lot of the same things I do at the gym but add in skates and a higher intensity. Lunges? Skate and drop down touching a knee to the ground and then get up again without stopping or falling over. Pretty much a lunge on crack. Squat? Hold a “derby pose” which is basically a deep squat for 5 minutes while being held at the hip and pushed around the track then switch. Oh, and in order to get you hands on the person in front of you, you pretty much have to be in a squat yourself. 5 minutes. Each Time! I didn’t make it. More of the same. A basic gym workout but taken to a crazy Roller Derby level. And then we also had a basic gym workout, but on skates. Push ups, planking (regular and side) sit ups, leg lifts …… If you aren’t hella strong at the beginning of this you will be by the end!!
Then there is the skating lessons. And the falling lessons, I have a particularly hard time with these for some reason.
And did I mention at any point that the track is outdoors? It’s hovering just above freezing here. My toes went completely numb and my fingers turned an interesting shade of red.
I loved it. Every crazy minute of it.
It felt more fun this week than last week. I chatted with the others (there are about 9 of us). We laughed and lightheartedly complained about how we were going to be sore. It was fun. At the end we played a Dutch game that is kinda like “red light green light”.
I can’t wait for next week.
I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with Dippie Doe: Best. It’s a fun place and my kids both love going there. In fact, if I ask my son where he wants to go on a particular day he will almost always request Dippie Doe. It’s like a small amusement park for kids. There are rides inside and outside so it’s good in any weather and there is plenty to keep kids entertained.
So there is the love, where is the hate?
When it gets crowded I find it very overwhelming. The music, the children screaming, and the rides spinning overhead, all in a very compact environment gets to me after a while. Oddly enough I tended to avoid the place during winter because every time I went, it seemed to be very crowded and that’s a shame because I really struggle with finding fun indoor places. We were there only a few days ago and it was very calm and even I enjoyed myself. I have decided that I need to be more open to going there in the future.
Another big issue I have is that there is very little for younger kids to do there. There is a small ball pit with a tiny slide and that’s kinda it for them. I still have to really keep an eye on my 2 1/2 year old there and she still struggles in the soft play a little. I pretty much know that if I go I have to have an active role and actually participate in the play. This is not something I generally like to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my kids but I like to encourage independence while they play as well.
So why does my son love Dippie Doe? Rides and a giant soft play indoors and tons of play structures outside.
The inside has 3 rides, a giant slide and a multilevel, padded, climbing structure (the British call it a soft play because everything is padded). The rides depend on height. Both of my kids need a parent to ride 2 of the indoor rides and only my son can ride the other. This means that whenever one of my kids want to ride something they have to first come and find me. First world problems, yes. But I still find it slightly annoying.
The outside area is really great, though! It’s like they gathered a ton of really great playgrounds together in one spot. There are also different rides depending in height. My son is about 110 centimeters and he can ride all of them except the big roller coaster (and before you ask, it’s big considering the place).
You can bring your own food but you can only eat it in certain areas. Inside you can’t eat your picnic on any of the tables. There are a few blue benches you can sit on and eat. Outside you can always eat food from home. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables or you can bring a blanket.
They sell all the normal stuff that all these places sell. Deep fried burgers and french fries and such. I choked down a burger at one point and I decided it was very nearly the worst thing I can remember eating. Last time I was there I got a brie sandwich on a brown roll and it was actually fine (but how do you mess that up?). They have these “pizza rolls” that my husband likes. It looks like an ice cream cone made of pizza dough and filled with tomato sauce and cheese. I tasted it and it tasted like a so so pizza. Don’t expect anything healthy in this place.
We have year passes for Dippie Doe. It was a real struggle to make the decision to renew them this year, honestly. The kids do love it but last year my daughter really was to young to enjoy it. And in the winter it was always so crowded. It is really great in the summer but there are no shortages of really great places during the summer. We went during Christmas break to decide and we went for it. The kids really do love it and my daughter was able to play on her own (with her big brothers help). We got our year passes during a special promotion so they only costs 100 Euros for the family and that does make it one of the less expensive indoor play places. I’m sure we will get our money worth out of the passes. It also covers the man made beach Aquabest just next door. We haven’t been yet but since it’s covered by out passes I need to put it at the top of out summer list.
So there it is. Dippie Doe. Great in the summer, decent in the winter and I would wait till your kid is around 3 (there are much better places for little kids)
Some Practical Information:
I have been spending quit a lot of time at the gym recently and I love it. Unfortunately I realised that I was beginning to focus on the wrong things. This little patch of fat just below my butt. That tire I can’t seem to get rid of. That loose flab on the underside of my arms. These are the things I was beginning to focus on as I spent my time lifting free weights in front of that huge mirror.
This is not what I want to be. I started my weight loss journey (over 25 kilos ago) as a way to be healthy and more active. I never had the goal of a perfect body or a 6 pack so why now? With much self reflection I decided that I needed a focus that was more skill based and less superficial.
I needed a sport.
Something that I could channel my hyper competitiveness into a more productive outlet.
Enter Roller Derby.
Fresh Meat is the beginner course for Roller Derby. I don’t know about other places but in Eindhoven it is a 15 week skating course, after that I will be required to pass a skills test in order to move on to the next round of training. Tonight was the first lesson.
This is going to be rough!
I haven’t been on 4 wheel skates since I was a kid. We spent time skating, learning a basic stop and practicing falling and getting up. The falling surprised me but I don’t know why. It really only makes sense, right? I will fall, a lot probably. I need to learn how to do it with as little injury as possible.
There was also a workout. This I was comfortable with it, but it was a challenge doing it on skates. Squats, planking, pushups and sit ups are all part of my normal gym time. Doing all of these things on 4 wheels made these standard workouts much more interesting and I enjoyed that. We also spent a bit of time working on our balance. Thank you power yoga! I was able to deep breath my way through a series of what ended up being a few of our yoga moves but on wheels. This also added a different dimension to the same workouts that I am used to doing. Physically I feel up to this new challenge.
The Dutch will be an obstacle but I think it will be good motivation for me to work harder. Everyone was really great about the fact that my Dutch is shaky. When an instructor needed to help me directly or correct something I was doing they spoke in English and several times I was asked how I was keeping up.
I really enjoyed my first class tonight ( bruised butt and all) and I am going to sign up for the 15 week training course. I think this will be a really great opportunity to practice my Dutch, make some new friends and put all my gym time to good use!
We meet on Sunday evenings. I will be updating weekly. Stay tuned!