Choose your own adventure

With the start of summer comes the anticipation of some truly unplugged time. My vacation plans with my 3 treasures are :

  • A long weekend visit to Amsterdam. This is a walk- and bike-friendly city with so much to explore in terms of art, culture, and design. The long hours of daylight in summer will make this a trip to get out and about.
  • A weeklong visit to the coast. This is often a last-minute escape plan for Belgians. Truly a satisfying low-key beach getaway marked by stunning stretches of coastline, nature and lots of local charm.
  • An adventure to Senegal. I’ll admit this is a far-flung escape to the wilds. But it’s a relatively short and easy flight to Dakar from Brussels.

As I was mesmerizing over my upcoming adventures and spending some leisurely hours with my kids by the pool this sunny afternoon, Dorothy dropped by for a nice cup of tea.

“So where are you off to this summer?” She had asked me before, though I had been evasive. So I spilled the beans. “To Amsterdam in July, to the coast in August, to Senegal in October and still planning Japan.”

Her jaw dropped. “What on earth are you going to Senegal for? Isn’t that dangerous?” I smiled as I had anticipated all the questions of “Are you sure?” and “Are you going alone?” So predictable, yet we do love predictability. It creates a feeling of trust.

“Senegal has multiple purposes.” I informed her. “It’s an inspiration tour. I aim to meet local entrepreneurial women and see how the digital revolution is helping them prosper. I would also like to see how I can pay it forward and get more involved in some charity works I have been following involving the promotion and wellbeing of girls and women worldwide. It’s going to be inspiration for my blog. And it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

“Do you think ‘She’ lives there?” She looked at me expectantly. Dorothy did, that is.

“Who?” I’m clueless who she’s talking about.

“Come on, you know that book we both read. ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed‘, remember?”

“Really Dorothy? I think that was more along the coast of Ethiopia. Or was it South Africa? Besides, it’s fiction. A book, you know, not real.”

“Oh really, do you think so… pity.” Dorothy looked disappointed and for a moment I almost felt like I’d told her Santa doesn’t exist. Then she perked up. “Can I come along with you to Amsterdam?”

Ah, the trap! First the disappointment and then she insinuates herself. How can I refuse? “Well maybe then. I thought you’d already been to Amsterdam numerous times,” I tried to get out of it anyway, “And you do realize I’m going with the kids, don’t you?” Here’s me trying to make it sound less fun. “You can bring yours too. Make it one big happy bunch.” Oh no, now I’m going to be in for it…

“Seriously! That’s amazing! I’ll have to see if I have the kids at the same time as you do, but I’m coming along nevertheless. I haven’t smoked a joint in absolutely ages!”

Ah, I knew it was coming. I knew it !

“Dorothy, it’s a vacation with the kids.” I looked at her sternly.

“Yes, and? Can’t we have some fun too whilst we’re down there? Smoking some weed might actually make us regress back to the age of our kids and then they’ll think we’re super cool!”

I can’t believe I’m having this conversation.

“No, we can’t smoke a joint in Amsterdam. We’ve got the kids with us. If anything happens and we’re stoned, then what? What if Lilly gets up in the middle of the night and she is unwell. I need to be the responsible adult. I need to be able to discern at that moment whether she just needs a cuddle and a tummy rub, or if I need to get her some urgent medical attention.”

Dorothy sighs. “You always make things sound so boring. So… so… responsible. How do you think kids survived the stone age and the dark ages until now?”

I give her the look which normally means the end of it. “Look Dorothy, this is not up for discussion. You can come along with me and the kids, and we’ll all have a great time visiting the House of Anne Frank, going for a boat ride, eating pancakes and treating ourselves to an ice cream. But that’s as flavoured as that outing is going to get.”

Dorothy has given up. For now. “Okay then. But please tell me you’ve booked into some fancy 5-star hotel.” She’s turning the tables on me now. As if I’m the one who’s got to convince her to come along. And I play the game too. “Oh yes, I’ve booked us into the Hilton where we stayed last time. There’s something about its particular blend of modern architecture that perfectly typifies the city.”

“Ah okay then, I can live with that…” Dorothy has that dreamy look on her face. So I continue to lay out the plan the way I see the city trip. “We’ve only got a day or two to really explore the city, so I’ve been thinking about renting a bike and to pedal on over to some museums, like the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House.” Dorothy yawns, but I won’t give in just yet. “I’ve also heard that you can take a cruise through the Vondelpark. And there’s this pancake house I’ve been reading about on the internet.”

Dorothy gives me the eye. “Really, that’s what you read about on the internet? I prefer to read about men, and how to attract and seduce them, and the latest exotic sex move some magazine is raving about. Just in case it’s something I didn’t know yet.” She added that last piece to cover up her insecurity. It just glimpsed out at me, but she hid is fast and well.

“If you’re good, we might do some designer shopping whilst in Amsterdam.”

Aha, a radiant smile at last!


What do you think ? Should I let Dorothy have her way in Amsterdam’s notorious coffee shops ? Let me know in the comments below.



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