Fall in the Netherlands is diluted in comparison to my upbringing in New England. The trees in Holland don’t die in brilliant shades. There’s no Halloween, no pumpkin picking or pie. Things like hay rides, candy corn, and apple cider just don’t seem to exist. And to be honest, the air never gets that crisp, autumnal edge. One day you’re hot and the next you want a hat, that misty grass, crispy morning air somehow lost in between.
I’ve spent the last three years trying to bring fall to the Netherlands. B and I carve pumpkins. I bake apple pie, wear plaid, and watch scary movies on the 31st. I may not be able to change the colors of the leaves, but I can still bring the deep hues of fall into my home. And I can use the internet to search ‘pumpkin patch’ or ‘apple picking’, because sometimes those rare fall gems do exist, just wanting to be discovered.
De Olmenhorst is one such gem – a quiet farm estate south of Amsterdam, with endless orchards and brilliant red apples. On Saturday, I invited B on a surprise date. I told him we needed to take a train to get out of the city, but I left the what and where up to his imagination. We biked to Amsterdam South and jumped on the Sprinter, waving farewell to our concrete jungle surroundings.
When we got off the train we grabbed a bus – and it was then I told B where we were headed. We would go to De Olmenhorst, pick & pack our bags with apples, and go home and make apple pie and apple sauce and apple cider. B was elated. He had never really been apple picking before, and the promise of apple pie only further fueled his excitement!^ ^ This low-flying airplane was the last trace of city life we saw.^ ^ We strolled into the orchard and followed the ‘Self Pick’ or ‘Zelfpluk’ signs to the apple orchards. Conference pears were also in season, but, erm, I can’t say conference pear picking is a fall tradition of mine!^ ^ Farm is laid out over hundreds of green acres, home to sheep, ducks, cows, and horses. We hiked around the property, exploring the land. We spend most of our weekends in the city, so getting lost in the green of the farm was really refreshing.I got to break in my new Frye Boots, which I will gush about in a later post. No, this is not a fashion blog, but sometimes you buy a pair of boots that are so darn sexy, they deserve a blog post of their own ;)
There was a small gift shop on the farm, that doubled as a candle making studio. When we poked in, kids were eagerly dipping long string wicks into huge vats of wax. De Olmenhorst has lots of great workshops for the family, from candle making to pressing jam. If you want a taste of farm life, it’s here!After some time exploring, we finally ventured into the orchards.Crisp, ripe apples were up high, bathing in the sun. Some ruby beauties were just out of our reach.B was the master apple picker, stretching to get all of the apples that seemed just slightly too high.
The apples I picked were not the highest, but they were the best tasting. How do I know this? Every apple I picked, by luck, was crawling with bugs!! After screeching and picking bug-infested apples THREE times, I stuck to the ones at eye level, that could be well inspected first.
As our bags got heavier, our pace slowed. And the apple fun turned into conversation, debating what sweets to cook first.After a few hours we started to get hungry – apple picking is hard work! So we walked back to the bus stop, ready to catch our ride back into the city.^ ^ This is the bus stop. So serene and quiet! I half expected a horse and buggy to swing by and pick us up.
It’s comforting to know that my country-girl fall traditions are not so far away after all. What a delight to find somewhere to go apple picking in the Netherlands! Prepare yourselves for delicious apple pie blog posts to come ;) And in the meantime, if you want an a crispy fall apple recipe, check this one out! x