When I was a young child, probably less than ten years old, we made one of our regular family holidays to Holland. My parents, having studied Afrikaans to varying degrees of competence, felt easier visiting a country like Holland where the native language, Dutch, was not too exotic for someone to comprehend with a knowledge of Afrikaans.
One Saturday afternoon, my parents decided to take us to see the tulips at Keukenhof gardens. I cannot recall anything about the flowers.
However, I do not think I will ever forget the car park at Keukenhof. We had parked our car early in the afternoon when the parking area was fairly empty. When we came to leave, the car park was very full.
Everyone wanted to leave at the same time. A disorderly tsunami of vehicles converged on the exit gates. Nobody seemed to be regulating the traffic. It took us well over an hour to escape from the motorised mayhem.
Sadly, I associate Keukenhof with traffic rather than tulips, and although I love tulips, seeing them often brings Keukenhof to mind.
There was a young receptionist at one of the dental surgeries where I once worked. Let us call her ‘M’. Engaging her in conversation was not easy, but I tried often and succeeded occasionally.
Once, M announced that she was taking a week’s holiday. When she returned, I asked her:
“How was your holiday?”
“Ok,” M replied vaguely.
“And, where did you go?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Really?” I queried.
“I just got a last minute package trip and got in the ‘plane,” she told me.
“If you don’t know where you went, what was it like?” I asked.
“Not very exciting, really. All of the beaches were covered with black rocks and stones.”
I guessed that M had probably been to one of the volcanic islands in the Atlantic. It surprised me that someone could take a flight somewhere and have no idea where she had landed. What if something awful had happened to her? Who would have known where she was?