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About Me

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My name is Gerrie Wydeven doing-business-as Wydeven Designs. I have been conducting this small GREEN business since 2004. Wydeven Designs, based in the Atlanta, Georgia area, sells CHAIRS, LOVESEATS, CHAISES, SETTEES and other fine, well-constructed refurbished upholstered pieces. I love to travel, cook, take photographs and generally follow style and decor topics as well!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Renting a Magical Rural House near Amsterdam

Het Gein is the name of the property - see website
I am continuing my travel theme with a discussion about the wonderful farm/summerhouse we rented  just last week located in a rural area only 200 meters from the Amsterdam city border.  It was magical!

The visit to Holland was added to the week we spent in the Normandy area of France.  My sister and I wanted to explore more of the land of our birth.  We were born in the southern part of Holland (Uden, Noord Brabant) and with our parents and three other siblings emigrated to America when we were in elementary school - quite a while ago.  Although we had both spent several vacations in southern Holland, we had never devoted much time to this part of the country.  So, for this trip, we (with willing husbands in tow) wanted to explore the Amsterdam and other near-by areas.

I found this house on the Home Away website link and thought it sounded too good to be true.  The cost was much less than renting an apartment in Amsterdam and it had two bedrooms with bathrooms en-suite.  Even better, there was a place to park our car since we did want to keep it for our non-city excursions.

The descriptions and history were intriguing:
The B&B has a rich history: until the 60’s the summerhouse was a cattle shed with hay-loft and the farm was leased by a farmer’s family. Later on the land was sold by the Amsterdam municipality to the famous Dutch sculptor Nel van Lith. On the old hay-loft she gave sculptor lessons to our Queen Beatrix (then Princess). 

From 1995 a garden architect lived here and she designed the English/French garden that is still intact today. Since May 2010 the B&B Het Gein is situated in the summerhouse.
Getting there was a little tricky for the Renault Trafic (HUGE tank-like car) we had rented in France and continued to keep for this week.  My poor husband had to navigate some very narrow roads to get to the property which is located on the River Gein and surrounded on several sides by small canals.  Once established in our new home, we figured out a system for getting in and out of the gate which involved traffic control by my brother-in-law and the requirement that my sister and I stay as far out of the way as possible.

The original property was built in 1865 as a farm with several attached and detached outbuildings.  Our wonderful hosts, Stephanie and Raymond, lived with their two beautiful daughters and very affectionate dog, Pukie, in what was once the cattle shed - attached to the farmhouse with limited separation.  The structure reminded us of the old farmhouse with similar accommodations for milk cows that our grandparents had in Holland when we were young.

The house we lived in was once a home for pigs (can't bear to call it a pig-stye) and a hay loft.  It had been beautifully renovated with all necessary modern conveniences including nicely designed bathrooms and a great country kitchen.  The true magic of the place, however, is the upper loft (former hay-loft) which is open and spacious with lots of windows and the extensive gardens that are both formal and unstructured in design - with plants and trees and places to sit and dream all over!

In trying to find just a few dozen photos to best demonstrate this magic place, I discovered that I had taken over 300 of the place and the neighborhood - and they are all great.  Here are a sample:

The artist - jan Van Kempen - lived next door - website
I  bought this pencil and charcoal sketch by Jan Ven Kempen.  He showed us the house located across from his garden on the Gein River.  He made this sketch during winter.
Sisters on the deck behind our home  
Front view of house

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Driving in France - A Brief Photo Journal

I just returned from a week in Normandy (and a week in Holland) and have a lot of stories to tell as well as photos to use/share.  In France, my husband and I were part of a group of ten coming from Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut.  On an earlier trip together, we had rented a Peugeot Trafic which is a tank-like oversized car that holds up to eight pretty comfortably.  With two Trafics between us, we could travel luxuriously.

My husband and our travel coordinator were the designated drivers - there were no others begging to do this job!   The vehicles performed admirably although there were size challenges in driving narrow country roads as well as parking.  The size of many roads particularly in the centers of older towns and cities were definitely not designed for this size car - in fact, they were really not designed for cars at all.   Parking spots as well as underground structures were not always accessible.   Our drivers were our heroes!

Tim was fond of saying that he was using JPS - Jack Positing System.  They tag-teamed throughout the area.

After this week, we took one of the Trafics to Holland - a much longer total distance and more challenging driving and parking to come!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Renting a Manor House in Normandy

The Village - Location of La Haule Manor House in Normandy
We just returned from a WONDERFUL trip to Normandy with five other couples coordinated by "Monsieur Jacque" - a dear friend who plans great trips like this every two years for this group and two others - he stays a total of three weeks with three different group of people and he and his lovely wife act as hosts and travel guides - a sweet deal for all of us!

I receive many questions from envious friends about where we stay on these great trips and how they could duplicate the experience.  I thought I would devote this blog to showing (showing off) this property and the amenities that accompanied it.

The goal of this trip was to visit the sites of Normandy with an emphasis on the World War II battlefields and memorials.  This is a wonderful part of France and Jacque had no difficulty putting together an interesting and varied itinerary.

We stayed in a quaint village near Caen, France - Douvres La Delivrande link to website.  The house itself is called "La Haule" and is named for its street location.  There is a website for the property but it does not do the actual look and feel of this site justice - link to site

This is a pictorial blog showing the town, the surrounding street and the house itself.  It's one way to use some of my 2500+ photos and allows me to better capture the essence of the place.  I am getting a lot out of this little piece!
The blue door is the entrance to the property which extends for many acres.  
The gardens at La Haule 

The back of the property has a barn-like structure that houses goats and chickens.
Some of the tress had not yet fully bloomed and I was intrigued by their unusual shapes and characters.

This chef cooked two meals for us - on first and last nights.  They were the best food we had all week! 

This was truly a location and experience to remember!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Normandy Campaign - In Honor of Memorial Day

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial 
I have just returned from a great trip to Normandy and the Amsterdam area (a week each) and have a lot of blogging material to cover.  Today, in honor of Memorial Day, I would like to concentrate on the visit we made to the Normandy Campaign sites of World War II with our great guide - Lucy (I wish I knew her last name - she was very knowledgeable and I was told recommended by Rick Steves in his travel book on the area).

Lucy started by explaining the D-Day strategy which had been two years in the making.  The goal of the massive assault on the Normandy coast was to liberate France and provide a path into Nazi Germany.  Our tour concentrated on the US forces and their roles in the overall strategy.

Lucy -  Our Well Informed Guide 
Overall Strategy of  Normandy Campaign
Our first stop was in the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise where members of the 101st US Airborne devision were parachuted in during the early morning of June 6, 1944.  They were to be dropped near a fire set by the French resistance and then move inland to secure critical roads linking the coastal towns with the harbor in Cherbourg and support the massive amphibious operation planned for later in the day.  A house fire in  town created a false beacon and caused many of the paratroopers to be dropped into the center of the square where they died before landing.  A statue of a paratrooper with parachute is situated on the church steeple as a reminder - we were told that this particular paratrooper faked death and actually lived a long life after the war.
Statue of Paratrooper on Church Steeple
Church in Sainte-Merer-Englise - Stained Glass Windows are Dedicated to Airborne Soldiers who Liberated Town
The Musee Airborne in Sainte-Mere-Englise is located on the site of the infamous house fire.

Depiction of WWII Airborne 

We visited Pointe du Hoc which is located between Utah and Omaha beaches.   It was the location of a large German artillery installation.  Members of the 2nd Ranger Division scaled the walls to take the position in order to protect the beach landings scheduled for later that day.
Our Traveling Companions - Sober Group Listening to Lucy at Pointe du Hoc

Looking Toward Utah Beach
Looking Toward Omaha Beach 

Omaha Beach and its monuments was also on our tour as well as the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.  Both sites can best be expressed with photos!

Monument on Omaha Beach 
Monument on Omaha Beach 
Lucy Describing the Battles
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial - "The Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves" 

This was an emotional trip for our group and a great way to think about and honor the memories of men and women who fought and those who died in this critical victory for freedom and peace!  It would be nice if the lessons learned could be indelibly hard-wired into all peoples for generations to come!