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Dutch Delights: An acquired taste

Submitter: Tom Oosterloo/Jan Noordam
Description: We sometimes need an outsider to remind us about the beauty of the scenery around the Dwingeloo observatory, and what a privilege it is to work there. In any case, we took advantage of the recent cold spell to have a skating party on the little pond nearby.

While the lovely wives of Henk Snijder and Sjouke Zwier fortified us with "Koek-en-Zopie" (hot coffee and chocolate, and slices of a brown substance called "koek"), a decidedly mixed bag of ASTRON and JIVE employees ventured out onto the ice. The latter was of excellent quality, and a romantically winding circuit of a few hundred meters had been swept clear of snow.

Some of the locals glided along effortlessly on their long "Norvegian" skates, while others demonstrated that they hail from countries where (ice-)hockey is a big deal. There were even some graceful waifs on figure skates, and the odd blighter on old-fashioned wooden ones.

But our greatest respect must go to those who have grown up in places and times without much ice, who took this opportunity to sample one of the unique delights of their temporary host country. Recognizing that both the Dutch and their Delights are an acquired taste, but well worth the trouble in the end, they precariously wobbled around on ill-fitting skates. They displayed commendable determination, and got up bravely after each fall.

Our foreign friends might be comforted to know that, in the Netherlands, the ability to persevere on skates has a special significance. When our Crown Prince completed the gruelling 220 km "Elfstedentocht" in 1986 (on melting ice), we considered him worthy to be our King. After all, how else does one test for such a job, in this day and age?

A great time was had by all. A few days more...
Copyright: Astron
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