We spend a long, endless summer in Holland, seeing family & friends and travelling to some other fabulous European destinations. It was fabulous.
I visited Paris for the first time in many many years and am glad to report it has not lost it's enchanting charm. We stayed with friends from the other side of the world, that we met while on another expat assignment. The conversation just flowed as if we'd had coffee (/champagne) the day before!
I went to Jersey to see one of my lovely friends get married in a posh English garden wedding with a touch of African, Arabic and Swedish culture. All the best wishes to this gorgeous couple; catching up with them was so long awaited - especially as I had fled my country of residence due to a military coup last time they tried to visit!
I spent 5 days in Tuscany, bella Italia and drank some of the best wines in the world with my husband while the kids had fun at Grandma's and Grandpa's, pottering around in the garden all day in their underwear. We met some amazing passionate winemakers and truly enjoyed the Italian hospitality.
We reconnected as a family in a typical beach town, where, ironically, we tried to find our cottage in the biggest storm in 100 years and were blocked by several trees that had fallen on the road. We still had fun that week though riding around in the dunes and forest in a borrowed 'bakfiets', making multiple trips to the beach that thankfully became sunnier and sunnier (but not really warmer) while the week progressed. We had an extended family photo shoot too, with a photographer that I've admired on social media for a while now.
Even the flight back was great, after we managed to get my husband on the plane with us too.
All in all, it was a fabulous summer. Thank you to our family & friends who welcomed us, fed us and gave us beds to sleep in. We miss you already!
Now we're back in Tokyo, dealing with the hot & humid summer here, listening to the crickets, enjoying yakitori and sake and reminiscing the great times we had. Slowly all our friends are flocking back into Tokyo, bronzed and relaxed after their home leaves.
I really think that once you've left the place you're from, you can return and really see the value of it. We have been an 'expat couple' and 'expat family' for quite a while now, almost my whole adult life I've lived away from my home country. But I LOVE the Netherlands. This small, quirky, wild country is where I'm from and I'm proud! Maybe one day we will even return there (for a while) and get our own bakfiets. (In case you've never heard of such a bike; http://bakfiets.nl/eng/)
In between all the fun, I also did some work - which was fun too to be honest. I got to capture my brand-new niece and some beautiful families that I'm blessed to call friends.
It was a great challenge finding good backdrops and also a good exercise shooting in the bright sunlight (as the Golden Hour is around 5am..no thank you!) I love the diversity of the landscapes and the emptiness - in one of the most crowded countries on Earth.
Who's in for summer sessions next year?