Bossche Broek Nature Reserve Den Bosch

We are so lucky to have the Bossche Broek Nature Reserve on our doorstep.  Of course, many urban cities have large man-made parks but this nature reserve just south of Den Bosch, across the Dommel river laced with hiking and cycling is truly special though in the historical days it was just a swamp yet valuable for the defence of the city.   You can take historical boat tours in the canals under the city and part of the tour comes out the city walls and down the Dommel.  We took the tour twice and it was great and highly recommend the tour to anyone visiting Den Bosch.

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A bit of history:  s-Hertogenbosch owes a lot to the Bossche Broek. Enemy medieval armies could not get close to the city because the Dutch let this swamp run fill up with water. Hence the legendary nickname Swamp Dragon. The city lies on a sand hill surrounded by grasslands. These ‘pants’ remained wet due to the seepage water from the rivers Dommel and the Aa. And every year the Dommel also flooded again. Nevertheless, in 1629 Frederik Hendrik succeeded – after six attempts – to take ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He built a dike around the city and thus also dried the Bossche Broek.

On nice days like today, it’s full of people out for a walk.  In fact, in all weather you’ll find people walking their dogs, out for a jog, riding their bikes and one day, I saw a man on horseback.

Today the kids were on their bikes and N & I were on foot.   The bike bath which runs near our house to the entrance of the Bossche Broek runs along the street and as we were not on bikes, we had the kids ride on the sidewalk.  You risk a fine when you cycle on the footpath or on any pavements designated for pedestrians but it was a risk we were willing to take – after all it was the kids riding not us.   As N doesn’t yet own a bike, I felt like I couldn’t join the kids and leave him to walk.  I know he’d prefer an e-bike due to his knee (don’t we all) but for short trips like this, a regular bike is fine and required!

They could go far ahead and then stop for a bit and wait.  They are still learning the paths and M is still getting familiar with riding her bike with other people on the path like dog walkers, cyclists, etc.  She fell once but didn’t make a big deal out of it.

We set off to see what the Zuiderplas Swimming beach area was like, how long it took to get there, etc.  Clearly we are thinking when is this cold weather going to be gone – we are ready for Spring & Summer!    Well, we found the beach area and the Zuiderplas Beach Bar – while closed, I’m sure it will be great when it’s warm.   You can park near the shell gas station off the Pettelarseweg, but going by bike is extra fun for the kids and good exercise.

To get an idea of what it’s like in the summer, here is a photo from their facebook page, compared to today:

The beach area was large.   Near the bar is a volleyball area, swings, play structures.  In the water is a a slide in the summer.  Anyway, it looks perfect for after school and warm days.   It would be really amazing if they built a few pools to be like Staalbergven in Oisterwijk, one of our favorite places to go in the summer.

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There are some deer and rabbits which live in the park, but we didn’t see them today.  Due to the special grasslands there a lot of special birds which reside in the reserve.  We did see a lot of ducks, a bird of pray (falcon?) and a few egrets but I’ve seen photos of kingfishers – if we were only so lucky.  I’ve never seen one in person in the wild. 

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Here are a some photos of a walk we did in the Bossche Broek with some friends  – this time we took the little passenger only bridge back.


And a few more photos from the past few months.

I’ll  update this post as we go back into the Bossche Broek and take more photos – especially when warm weather.

UPDATE: We go so often to the BB and I never remember to take photos – but the swimming lake is a favorite place for the kids to swim in the warm weather and we walk/bike the paths often. So lucky to live so close by this park.

Second annual birthday bike ride at Loon

After a long action-packed weekend, we wanted to do something fun as the four of us. The kids have been suggesting a long bike ride again so we decided to do the trip back to the Loonse Duins.

Here is a funny photo of Nils and the three kids. This time I did really have a kids bike – 26″ wheels.

Like before, when we started out Maebh was very wobbly but in not too much time, her confidence and balance we’re better. Just sometimes you want to tell a few other cyclists where to go when they fly by or those who ride three wide and see a little girl coming towards them.

We stopped at Het Genieten after.

Birthday Bike riding at National Park de Loonse en Drunense Duinen

For Maebh’s 7th birthday, our family spent a few hours at the National Park de Loonse en Drunense Duinen which is essentially is a giant desert of sand surrounded by a forest.  It’s nicknamed the Sahara of Europe or Brabantse Sahara

We really stuck with the trails and bike riding but you could easily walk in the dunes all day.

Maebh doesn’t like sand in her shoes so asked for a piggyback ride.  Lol the entire place is sand, so hard to avoid even with piggy back rides.

We came across an Irish horse called Sally. The rider said the horse is Irish so she can understand you jokingly. I am not sure if is that we spoke English, or is it the Irish accents we’ve definitely developed after living in Ireland for 2.5 years!?

We rented bikes at De Rustende Jager (The Resting Hunter #36 on the map.

At first I suggested a tandem for Maebh but she really wanted to do it herself.
Don’t we look like Nils and his three kids?!

As Maebh only learned to ride a bike in the past week and has only been on her bike about four times, we were thinking we’d have to turn around in 10 minutes BUT surprisingly after a few stops and complaining, she got on with it and she rode for over TWO HOURS!

We had a little map with the route around the park and it was recommended that we visit Het Genieten #22 – a recreational place with a great playground inside and out and a water park play area.  So with that as our destination we set off and each time we stopped we kept saying  I just a bit further.

When we arrived, The kids had to visit the indoor one so we paid €3.50 each but truthfully it was a waste for the whopping 10 minutes spent inside!  Outside was way better and as it was not raining or very cold, we should have said no to the indoor option.
Overall, the kids loved it and so did we… I think we’ll visit again during this trip!  It’s supposed to be warmer on Sunday, so perhaps we go then.

It was a lvely way to spend the day with the family and it was our first time that we went on a biking adventure.  Surprisingly my legs were not in pain the next day as I suspected they would be.   When back in Dublin, we’ll rent bikes in Malahide Castle or Phoenix Park.

Kids Bike Riding

So I realize for some people kids riding their bikes at 4 & 5 is a big deal and for kids as young as 2 in The Netherlands but for us having Maebh ride just before she turns 7 is huge.   And just like Soren by waiting a bit longer she and he took to it instantly! Now she wants to ride every day. While she’s not anywhere ready to ride on the street, like Soren, but in time we can cycle to school.
Her first ride was a bit wobbly!

She is so proud that when we’re in The Netherlands next she can ride a bike!!

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Now that Soren knows how to ride a bike (and Maebh still on her training wheels) we thought it would be best to get a bicycle for me.  Getting back from the school run on bike will be so much faster – only trouble now is the continued question of what to do with Maebh.  As I said she’s still on her training wheels and tires easily so I know it is still going to be a problem.     For now, we’ll probably still have Nils drop them off (on the way to work) with their scooters but the solution is to get a bike seat on my bike – not sure if I can physically do it.

 

In looking over Done Deal (an online buying site like Gumtree), we found a Dutch guy, who is moving back to The Netherlands, selling his bike which he won in there and brought here.  As you can see it’s a heavy, duty bike.  It’s a bit big for me, but works fine – we took a ride to the Pencil playground over in Baldoyle yesterday.  Nils walked with Maebh and Soren and I went head.

Nils can easily ride this bike with the seat and handlebars up – so I may look for a lighter weight, smaller bike for me.