Friday, 3 August 2012

Utrecht: Miffy & Summer Darkness - All Of Life Is Here!

We hadn't originally planned to go to Utrecht, but had a bit of a re-plan a week or two ago and decided to go across country rather than further north, then back south again.

Also, the fact I'd seen a poster advertising the "Dick Bruna Huis" (Dick Bruna House) was also a factor in my mind - Stephen was totally mystified, as he had never heard of Miffy (philistine!).

The route into Utrecht is beautiful; lovely countryside, nice houses and gardens to look at and lots of houseboats (my current favourite type of house - I think I'd revise my view in winter, though). We moored up in the centre of the town, right at the top of the canal ring which runs around the town. We had hoped that we'd be able to go through the town by canal, but our boat was about 5cm to high to go through the town-centre bridges.

First stop - launderette! Found one fairly close and within an hour and a half we had 21 kilos of washing was clean and dry. Always a relief to know you have plenty of clean underwear!

Next morning we set off into town by bike. The town is busy but easy to navigate by bike and is well signposted. There wasn't much car traffic, but we did have to watch for for buses and trams.

We set off to see the flower market and the fabric market. Both were fabulous and it's probably just as well I got to the fabric market just as it was starting to pack up - stall after stall after stall of every type of fabric, trimming and general haberdashery stuff. Being a crafty/sewing/making person I could have filled the boat, but settled for a couple of bags of material; some for projects I have planned and some which was just too beautiful to not buy - how could I not get some Chinese silk-type fabric when it was only E2 per metre? It would have been rude not to!

My new fabric hoard - what to do in the evening is now sorted for the foreseeable future!

We stopped for lunch at a cafe and couldn't help but notice a larger than usual (even for a university town) population of Goths/Steam Punks. At first we put it down to a fetish/alternative clothes shop across the road, but would just one shop, however good, really attract people in these numbers?

My favourite outfit of the day
Obviously, in The Netherlands Goths travel by bike - black bikes, of course
We didn't think much more of it and got back on the bikes to explore some more and, by chance, headed straight into "Summer Darkness 2012" which bills itself as an "interdisciplinary underground festival".

The square in front of the Dom (bell tower) was filled with market stall,s a music-stage and food and drink stands, all catering to the Goth/Steam Punk sub-culture. At first sight the (mainly) black-clad crowds and stall selling some very odd stuff could appear a little threatening, but actually, nothing could have been further from the truth.

The participants were incredibly friendly, all seemed delighted to have their outfits admired and photographed. It seem very inclusive too, with people taking part ageing from about 5 to well over retirement age; all shapes and sizes; able bodied and disabled. We had a great time walking around the stalls, listening to the bands and admiring the hair, outfits and outrageous shoes.

Given this unexpected discovery, we didn't make it to the Dick Bruna Huis until Sunday morning. It is part of the Centraal Museum and you ticket gives you access to both. Stephen decided to go to the "proper" museum and Emma and I headed off to see Miffy.

A whole wall of Dick Bruna books
What can I say, other than WONDERFUL! Beautifully designed using the same small palette of colours used in the books with stories to listen to (in English, Dutch and Japanese), games to play, Miffy's house and clothes to explore and dress up in, art-desk plus an area for adults about Dick Bruna, his life and work. Emma had to practically dragged out when it was finally time to leave - another Miffy convert!

Emma listening to a story

Emma in Miffy's House

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