Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Amazing Giants of the Ice Age

O boy O boy! When Berry told me, me could come with her to Amsterdam Expo me was really excited. Me was going to learn more about the Ice Age, she told me. Me like the Ice Age, the animals were fuzzy (not blue) and huge. Me especially love the woolly mammoth, a large, elephant like animal with huge tusks and long hair. After me visit at GaiaZOO where me had seen Snuffies family, me was glad to learn more about them. So we travelled to see Giants of the Ice Age.

Little did me know the exhibit was so exciting and scary! It really felt like me went back in time to see how the prehistoric man survived. There were all these sounds around me, me imagination was playing little tricks on me. But it is a great exhibit! If it comes to a city near you, you must go. At the exhibit there are all kinds of lifelike and life-size animal statues that tell the story of the huge animals of the Ice Age. Me really loved the woolly rhino though. Especially the little baby was just too cute! The sabretooth tiger was a little scary. And me loved the Dutch wing of the exhibit. Me did not know there used to live mammoth on the Dutch fields! Even the hyena had ancestors roaming in the Netherlands. In the Dutch wing you can find a fossil hyena dropping. It was kind of funny.

But me loved the almost last room of the exhibit. There they were, the ancestors of Snuffie. A nice family of three. Me loved the little one, because he was more of a Cookie Monster size than its mom and dad. But boy these animals were large! Me understand why exhibit is called GIANTS of the ICE AGE. Me sat with the little one for a while before we visited the last room where me felt really tiny next to this mammoth skeleton. It was gorgeous.

If you want to learn more about these gorgeous creatures, you must go and see it. And make sure you say hi for me to the little woolly mammoth!

Monday, December 29, 2014

1001 Inventions and 1 great Elephant clock

Hello everybody. Here is me again. Me had a really great Christmas. You did see all the updates on me Facebook right? If you don’t, you should follow me there too. A well, me had great Christmas… but before that me promised on Facebook again to talk about some special things me had seen with me friend Berry. For her job she sometimes needs to travel to this cool locations. Yeah yeah. There see can see all kinds of stuff and later on, she writes about it on her Dutch blog. Me on the other hand can write about it here. So to kick off again, me will talk about the traveling exhibition called 1001 Inventions, the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization (wow tough word).

You can find the exhibit in Post Rotterdam, an old postal office in Rotterdam, where me also went to see the Living Dinosaurs exhibit at the beginning of the year. This time the old postal office was turned into a magical world with living paintings where scientists (male and female) motioned me to come closer, so they could tell their stories to me. It felt a little like talking to one of the paintings in a Harry Potter movie. The scientists all spoke English, me liked that, and the rest of the exhibit was in Dutch. Me especially loved the huge Elephant Clock that was standing at the heart of the exhibition room. This clock runs on water! And it is always on time. It was made from bits and pieces of all kinds of countries. The Elephant Clock at the exhibit wasn’t the original one though, but it was impressive nevertheless.

Me learned a lot that day. Do you know why this is the number 1 and this is the number 7? Well, they were written with corners, and every number has the same amount of corners as the number stands for. Like 1 corner for the number 1 and 3 for the number 3. And did you know there are English words that come from Arabian words? Me did not know that too.

If you can read Dutch, you can find more information and pictures at Writing Berries.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

O boy O boy Christmas Eve is here! That means it will be Christmas tomorrow! ME NO CAN WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS! But me already in Christmas spirit with me hat and sweater. And the tree ofcourse. Gather round for a Sing-A-Long! Merry Christmas everybody, enjoy the season. Me know me will!

If you want some musical updates follow me on Facebook and like me page. Me would appreciate that as a nice Christmas gift!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cookie’s Kitchen: Hutspot

Hello everybody. Me is back with another Dutch recipe for the cold winter time. The Dutch really like to eat Stamppot, a dish made of potatoes and some vegetables mashed together. Ofcourse with a little pit to put the gravy in. There are all kinds of stampot to make. Me chose Hutspot (hotchpotch), a dish everybody likes! Well… if you like carrots ofcourse.

Hotchpotch is really easy to make. You need carrots (the big ones, not the small ones), onions and potatoes. There is a little trick to know how much you need. When you use 500 gram carrots and 500 grams onions, you need 1 kilogram of floury potatoes. It is all about the right proportions. If you use a kilogram of carrots and a kilogram of onions you need twice as much potatoes: 2 kilograms. It is just basic math. But usually if you want to make a bit pot for say 6 people, 500 grams of carrots, 500 grams of onions (they add up to be a kilogram) and 1 kilogram of potatoes is enough. You also need gravy, some butter and some salt. And ofcourse a large pot, a masher and water.

How to make it
Peel the potatoes and cut them in quarters. Smaller pieces are okay to when you have big potatoes. They are going to be mashed up anyway. Put them in the pot (a pan with a lid). Then clean up the carrots and cut them in small pieces so they will cook faster. You can grate them, but not to fine. Then you peel and chop the onions in half rings. Put the carrots and onions with the potatoes in the large pan. Fill up with water until all veggies are under water. Add some salt and bring the water to a boil.

Let the veggies boil just as long as is necessary to get soft, well-cooked carrots. Just stab them once in a while with a fork. When everything is well-cooked, it is time to drain the water. Just throw the veggies and potatoes in a strainer until the water runs all out. Put the carrots, onions and potatoes back in the pan. Take a lump of butter and put it in the pan with the rest. Use the masher and mash it all up until you get a nice Stamppot. You do not have to mash it to a smooth mixture, you can still see the ingredients. Add pepper or nutmeg to taste and serve with a nice meatball, some smoked sausage (rookworst) or slow cooked beef…

Ah… you are in for a nice Dutch, vitamin C filled treat. Om nom nom nom nom!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cookie on Safari: Crocodile Cookie

As promised after lasts week blog, this week part 2 of me visit at the Safaripark. After the Car Safari at Safaripark Beekse Bergen me went on a Walk Safari. Well… to be honest, me just hitched a piggy back ride on Berries back while she did all the walking. Let me tell you about some gorgeous things you can see during this long hike.

The Walk Safari starts at the big entrance of the Zoo. You can visit one chimp family, but it was cold so instead of roaming their islands, they were chillin inside. So we went to visit the lion family instead. Hey… these look familiar don’t they? Yes that is because first we drove by them and now we walked by them. Cool huh. That is exactly why this zoo is so cool. Also you could see other animal families that live along the trail of the Walk Safari but have relatives at the trail of the Car Safari, like the spotted dogs and some cheetahs.

The cheetahs alongside the Walk Safari were so cute! They were still little, so me think they knew me from Sesame Street – hey even baby cheetahs need a good bedtime story. Also very adorable were the meerkats, red panda and of course the gibbons. These are just a few of the animals you can see at the Walk Safari.

But there are also tough animals at this zoo you can only visit during the Walk Safari. Like the majestic tigers (this one showed me his teeth…) and their neighbours the hippo’s and crocodiles. Me wasn’t scared of the crocodiles at all. This one even let me ride on his back!

No! Me is kidding ofcourse. It is a statue. Children can duck underneath it and put their heads in its mouth. It is kinda funny. The Walk Safari is a long walk. Which is great. But after me was a little tired though, even when me was tagging along on Berries back… a well… It was all worth it. Well… that was it for now. Bye bye!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Thank you Sinterklaas

Finally it is here! Today we celebrate the birthday of Sinterklaas, a saint who gives us all presents. His helper Black Peter gives us pepernoten and candies. O boy O boy. Me have been such a good monster all year, me know me will get some nice gifts! Do you know who Sinterklaas is? (picture: me in the Sinterklaas gift bag)

Sinterklaas is a saint who is very very old. Every year he packs his great steamer (Stoomboot) and stuffs it with all kinds of gifts and candies. With his Pieten (Peters) he comes to the Netherlands. The old guy lives in Spain for the rest of the year. It is nice and warm there, so why not. So they travel by boat and when he gets here in the Netherlands, we all go welcome them at the dock, because everybody is so happy he is here. That is totally different from Saint Nick, because he only travels the world with Christmas.

Sinterklaas and his helpers (you can compare them with elves) make sure the children and grown-ups will have a great time. During the three weeks Sinterklaas is here, children can put a shoe out in the hallway, sing some songs and hopefully a Piet or Sinterklaas has put some gift in it. It helps if you put some sugarcubes, water, hay or carrots out for Amerigo, the horse of Sinterklaas. O yeah… the reason why the Pieten are black is because of the dirt inside of the chimneys. And it is nice camouflage when you travel through the night.

Between gifts/ om nom nom candies

But at Pakjesavond (Gift night) the party will be complete. Then maybe Sinterklaas and Piet will stop by your house for a personal visit. We always wait impatiently for the knock on the door… O boy o boy. Sometimes only Piet comes to visit. He or she will bang on the door, throw in the candies so we must scatter across the floor to find them all. And then he or she will disappear, leaving this BIG BAG of gifts for everyone!

At a Sinterklaasparty / With me friend Zwarte Piet

With Sinterklaas gifts come lots of fun poems too. Sinterklaas and his helpers like to write those as an extra gift. Because Sinterklaas knows everything about us, he likes to write a personal note that rhymes to all of us. Me love it, just as much as me love me cookie.

Well… me is off to celebrate soon. Me really hope Sinterklaas sends me a nice COOKIE!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Cookie on Safari: Giraffe encounter

Me have been away a lot and very busy, but now me is back with some nice stories to tell. Me tagged along to Safaripark Beekse Bergen on November 20th. That was really fun and me will tell you me sweet readers all about that in a few separate blogs. Yes, because the park is so big me want to focus on small bits instead.

Starting with the best bit: the car safari.

The Safaripark in Hilvarenbeek, Noord-Brabant is a park specialized in African animals. Most animals that live at this zoo have cousins living in Africa. But there are some other animals representing other continents too. But most of the animals… well you catch me drift right. So the park is so huge there are different ways to explore it all. By foot, by bus, by boat and by car. It is recommended that whenever you want to visit this zoo you take a bus or car safari and a walking safari. That way you really will see all the animals. Because some you can only see by car/bus, some only by boat and some only by walking. Neat huh!

So, me went on a car safari first. That is really cool. And because it was a Thursday it was really quiet at the park. Meaning me could really see all the animals really close. With the car safari you drive your own car (me was not driving don’t worry) through the plains. There are a few rules though:
1. Do not open your windows
2. Do not open your car doors
3. By all means STAY inside the car
4. Stay on the road
5. Respect the Animals
6. Have fun!

For me own safety we locked the doors and windows and drove quietly through the gate. First me saw amazing lions in the morning mist, me saw spotted dogs, cheetahs who were walking around the car and at a different plain, there were beautiful deers and zebras staring at us. As if we were interrupting breakfast. Me loved it. The zebra walked so close next to the car me thought that me would be able to touch him if me rolled down the window. Although the temptation is big, we all kept the windows shut and the doors closed by all times.

Me loved it. The next stop – because you can park the car for brief periods of time – was at the camel plain. Here some oxen, camels and horses live together in perfect harmony. The best thing was that they just minded their own businesses and every once in a while they threw a little glance inside the car at us. It was incredible.

After a drive through the habitats of reindeers, deers and some gorgeous birds, we arrived at the savannah where other zebras and giraffes roam. Me love giraffes. They are so tall and majestic. Two giraffes noticed our parked car and came really close. And me mean REALLY close! They started licking the car, eating leafs from the hood and looking inside. It was AWESOME! Me almost forgot to eat me cookie.

Well that concluded the car safari. Me was so in awe me really needed a cookie and some milk first before me could take in all the gorgeous wildlife me would see with the walk safari. But me will tell you all about that next week. Bye bye for now!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Connecting wildlife

If you are connected with me through me Instagram or Facebook pages, you might have seen me hanging around this tree with this huge bridge behind me. Behind me you see a nature bridge or as the Dutch call it: an Eco duct. This special bridge connects two sides of a natural environment so animals can cross the highway safely. Remember, me talked about it in E is for…. This bridge behind me is called De Kempengrens and it is a very special bridge. Me shall tell you why.

Nature bridges for wildlife
There are many nature bridges in the Netherlands, but they aren’t placed haphazardly around the country. After very long research of animal protectors and conservationists they discovered old wildlife trails that the animals always used to go from A to B. These trails are really ancient and locked up in the DNA of the animals. Cool huh. A bear, wolf, snake or hog really knows how to get somewhere. When the researchers found the trails, they also saw that lots of highways cross the wild trails. So that is why they thought of the nature bridges. Large bridges covered with greenery and possible habitats. The bridges are also crossing highways in Germany and Belgium.

Special & unique
This particular bridge however is a very unique project. It is the first Eco bridge built in cooperation between two countries: the Netherlands and Belgium. Sharing resources and costs to build it. That is cool huh. It is built on Belgium territory (that was easier) and it connects the Dutch and the Belgium part of the Nature Park ‘de Kempen’. This way forest animals and other wildlife can finally meet each other or take a vacation in another country.

A whole new world
To celebrate the realisation of the Eco duct Berry was invited to a press event. And of course me tagged along to Belgium. Hey, me love to travel! The best part of the press event was that we could take a look ON TOP of the Eco duct. The wide bridge also gives animals all kinds of shelters and habitats, so they will feel right at home. It was so cool to see. And to hear. It is really quiet on top of the bridge. You would almost forget the highway in beneath it. Although the bridge needs to grow some more vegetation, me could see how beautiful it will be when it is all finished. Me thinks butterflies, wasps, bees, small snakes, badgers, deer, bunnies and more wildlife will feel right at home. And the bats will love the special bat cave (no Batman wasn’t in there) the people build for them too.

It was very great to see this and made me appreciate the Eco ducts even more!