Books for Your Family Trip #Ireland #Wales #Roadtrip

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-07-04-amThe school librarians saw me coming and knew I’d be leaving for holiday with a bag of books. Our recent school vacation (blogs forth coming) opened the doors for a King family road trip from Holland to Ireland by car with a few days in Wales. Below are the books I weighed our vehicle down with and the links to my reviews on Goodreads. Several of the chapter books were not read, because I’m in the midst of reading Harry Potter aloud to our younger sons. Also because they were all carrying assigned books from school.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-46-25-amOur younger sons loved hearing the short Irish legend as rendered by Tomie De Paola, Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmanyhill. They laughed out loud as Fin’s wife helped him outwit his arch enemy, the bully giant Cucullin.

For your family Halloween read, check out the Irish ghost story, Kate Culhane, and for bringing the Irish-Manx-Scottish water horse legends to new life, read The Scorpio Races. (5 Star Middle Grade)screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-07-am

Join me on Goodreads here.


Best for Ireland: Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story by Michael Hague (5 Star), and Leprechaun Luck: A Wee Book of Irish Wisdom (5 Star) by Erin Gobragh and Catherine O’Neillscreen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-14-30-am

Nonfiction Reviewed: Castle (4 Star) by David Macaulay, The Horrible History of Britain and Ireland (4 Star) -includes Wales and Scotland, or course, A to Z Ireland (3 Star) by Justine and Ron Fontes, and Wales (3 Star) by Tamara L. Britton.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-15-34-am

Fiction Highly Recommended by Librarians: Nory Ryan’s Song (A Girl in Potato Famine) by Patricia Reilly Giff (#1 Librarian Pick for Upper Elementary and Middle Grade), Twist of Gold by Michael Morpurgo (Brother and Sister from Cork to California). fiction-set-in-ireland

Also recommended and set in Ireland or set in Wales (thereabouts): Atemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Leprechaun in Late Winter (Magic Tree House #43) by Mary Pope Osborne, Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist by R.L. LaFevers.

Selected Travel Guides: Back Roads Ireland (DK Eyewitness Travel) (4 Stars), and  The AA Guide to Wales (3 Stars).screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-43-09-am



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Other People’s Mail #moving

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-9-37-12-amI have a little confession to make: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading other people’s mail for the last couple years. Whose mail you ask? Gimme a minute.

Unlike the US where those Halloween pumpkins pieces left in neighbors’ mailboxes by my unruly friends violated federal laws protecting the mail, Holland seems to have a more relaxed attitude regarding the post. Want to stuff mailboxes with flyers? No problem, just follow the Nee-Nee stickers on their boxes. The post situation is usually direct.

Official mail tends to find its way to the correct addressee in short order–unless an international move takes place. To take up the slack time for our US mail, we leave a forwarding order at the US Post Office closest where we’re leaving directing all our postage-paid items to my parent’s house (especially if we don’t have a new address for where we are going). Mom is great about letting us know if an item of import turns up while we are in transition. (Thanks, Mom!)

Forwarding mail comes at a price that doesn’t extend to posting to other countries. Hence the detailed list of places to notify of a change of address you make prior to moving. Several items fell through the cracks in my system when we moved to Holland, and they tended to be those mailed only once a year.

The previous occupants of our house in The Netherlands left a good bit of post behind including their yearly bill for the Thames Royal Yacht Club, a few investment updates, and their subscription to Engineering & Technology Magazine. I may not be very tech savvy, but I’ve discovered I love reading cutting edge news from the field.


Industrial sabotage suspected in Space X explosion. Image from

For two years now I’ve eagerly torn the plastic baggie off EandT Magazine to delve into the world of tomorrow today. Did you know a rocket from Space X exploded during take off recently at Cape Canaveral? Or that Lionfish are invading the Caribbean? You may ask how a fish becomes a leading technology story. Well, it turns out a remote controlled robot is being tested for use against these ecosystem invaders. Recently an airship that looks like two blimps strapped together crashed in the UK, and the world’s first array using tidal water movement to make electricity was connected to the grid in Scotland. That’s just on page 6 and 7!

Hopefully you understand why I’m reading other people’s mail these days. What I don’t understand is how they’ve forgotten to update their address with the magazine for two solid years.

Here’s to hoping for a 3rd year of postal neglect.


Kristin King is an author and US expat living in The Netherlands. She has no magazine subscriptions of her own but might consider signing up for a tech mag when other people’s mail becomes unavailable.


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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Living in Holland


Dutch Caribbean Menu #Foodie

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

You may remember the posts I did about another part of Holland, the Caribbean islands which are part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. (Yes, I know Holland is actually a region not the country.) My poor husband had to visit the Dutch Antilles for work, and special menu was planned one night of the visit. Was it full of coconuts and exotic islander fare?

Not exactly. Regardless, I thought I’d share the courses and parings for all you foodies out there.

Appetizer – Shrimp Salad paired with “Solo Quinta” 2013 (Rare White Blend)/Recas

Soup – Ciorba de Perisoare (Romanian sour soup with vegetables and meatball – photo)

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Main Course – Romanian Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls made with sour cabbage stuffed with pork, beef, and rice) AND Traditional “Cordon Bleu” (Rose veal meat wrapped around Schweitzer cheese and mushrooms) with spinach and potatoes. Paired with “La Putere”/Feteasca neagra 2013/Recas

Dessert – Cake with vanilla cream, caramel and nuts or fruit salad – Paired with Cabernet Sauvignon 1998/Odobesti

Not what you expected?

Me either. You know how it is when you travel though, it’s hard to say what you might be eating. It’s all part of the adventure.

Related Posts:

This Is The Netherlands?!? (Guest Post and Images by Ryan King)

The Netherlands an Island? (Images of Curacao)

Summer Longing for the Sea (Curacao)


Kristin King is an author and American expat living in The Netherlands. Currently her dog sits to her left and the bedroom balcony door is open on a cool, sunny Dutch day.


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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Food, Living in Holland, Travel


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Another way for you to make a difference…

Art news from our nonprofit. So proud of our students and staff. Click through to see the artwork!

Future Hope Africa Blog

Our in country director, Bintu, is always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of children, youth and adults in Bukavu, DR Congo. When she visited our home in Holland last year, we took her on a tour of the first-class international school our sons attend. Most of the decor in the school is student art blown up on huge canvases or framed originals. An idea was born.

An American artist friend here heard about our education center and asked, “What about art supplies? Could you use those?”

“Yes!” A generous gift of two stacks of stretched canvases went into my suitcase my next Congo visit, and now you can see some of the results. Small but delightful, these pieces are featured at our center to tell the world how proud we are of our students, the team that supports them, and how a little goes a long…

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Return to Refugees in Holland #Expat

Photo from with "Faces of Change" Professor Saskia Harkema

Photo from with “Faces of Change” Professor Saskia Harkema

When I wrote about The Refugees in My Town, I hoped to give you some insight about how things are in The Netherlands. My friend I mentioned continues her volunteer work collecting items for these folks to use as they settle into new housing around our area of the country. She posted on Facebook, and I asked if I might share her up close and personal experience with you. It’s the news behind the news that you’ll never hear otherwise.  Thanks, Friend. –Kristin

(Anonymous Post)

Just wanted to share a quick refugee update since I haven’t done so in a while. Today I spent this glorious sunshine filled day with some wonderful people. I volunteered at the refugee clothing center in the am and was greeted by smiles, hugs, and kisses. Some of these folks I have now known for 6 months. I got to hear people share their stories and both good and bad news of their lives.

A young Syrian man, who a friend donated new soccer cleats last year, shared great news about finally being accepted by a Dutch competitive club. This is wonderful for him because 3 weeks ago he was sharing that his current local team was not being kind or helpful to him and he didn’t feel like “part” of the team and was thinking of quitting. At that time I encouraged him not to let this bad experience stop him for doing what he loved. Today he was beaming to finally have teammates who encouraged him and he is hoping to continue to play with them even when he gets status and has to move out of the camp.

Photo credit

Photo credit

I met and assisted another man find a stroller and clothes for his newborn son and the pride in his eyes and excitement for the future was so moving. Finally I spent the afternoon with a mother and her 14-year-old son who recently got status and gave them a ride to their new home to check it out before moving in next week and brought them donations of household items. Their home is 45 km from camp and it is very expensive by train and bus for them to go. Our language in common was basic HS French which was so fun to muddle through with her. We picked up her brother and wife, who have lived in NL for three years, and they shared with us they think they may be expecting a baby and can’t wait to find out if is true. The brother speaks great English and we had an enlightened discussion about tolerance, finding commonalities, diversity, and the funny, and sometimes aggravating, aspects of living in a country that is not your birth country.

How lucky am I? It humbles me to be able to assist in some small way. I thank our amazing expat group for the donations. You make so many people feel at home in their new country. These are some of the bravest, sincere, and hopeful people I have ever met. Makes me want to be a better person. Now I have to go make dinner for the family I am lucky enough to spend time with. There are so many of these refugees missing people at their dinner table each and every night…Much love…


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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in In The News, Living in Holland


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A Bite of History on Spain Vacation

(Guest Blog by Ryan King)


Cartegena Spain’s Roman Theater

Long before Hispania became a Roman province, it was an overseas possession of Carthage. It was rich in silver and Iberian Celt mercenaries. This was where Hannibal prepared for his war on Rome and where the second climatic conflict, The Second Punic War began.

I’ve been interested in history for as long as I can remember. I still recall when I was twelve years old and I somehow ended up with a book called ‘War Through the Ages’ by the historian Lynn Montross. In those pages for the first time, I heard about the titanic wars between Rome and Carthage that lasted over a century. I learned of the brilliant genius, Hannibal, his crossing of the Alps with elephants, and his incredible battlefield victories. I also learned of a civilization that was the mightiest in the Mediterranean for several hundred years but was subsequently wiped from the face of the earth.

This time and this story have fascinated me since then. This was one reason, when I obtained my master’s degree in history, I focused on the Punic Wars period. It is also why I’ve taken every opportunity while living in Europe to visit those relevant historical locations and see them for myself. This was also, at least partially, why my family and I traveled to Spain on vacation.

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

The capital of Carthaginian Spain was Cartegena or ‘New Carthage.’ The location of this ancient city was how my wife narrowed down her hunt for a flat to accommodate the six of us. Even after Kristin broke her foot and had to be left behind, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take my fours sons to this place with so much history.

I’ve learned to moderate my expectations when visiting historical sites. It has been over two thousand years after all, yet Cartegena surprised me. First of all, the harbor itself was magnificent and is recognized as the finest natural harbor in the Mediterranean. The Carthaginians were, before everything else, seafaring Phoenicians originally from Tyre who understood trade.

The city boasts a Punic Museum with an original section of the Punic wall that encircled the city as well as a crypt with dozens of sealed remains inside. The large Roman theater is still spectacular, and you don’t want to miss the Roman baths or reconstructed Roman villa. IMG_9943

The highlight for me, however, was the magnificent palace/fortress on the giant hill overlooking the harbor and the city. This magnificent structure has stood through the centuries seeing the occupation of Romans, Celts, Vandals, Byzantines, Moors, and Spaniards, yet it was originally constructed by Hasdrubal the Fair who was Hannibal’s brother-in-law. Hasdrubal was credited with making Cartegena a great city after he assumed command of Spain at the death of his father-in-law, Hannibal’s father, Hamiclar.

The fortress is well situated on a giant sheer rock, and we had to take an elevator ride to the top. As my sons and I walked along the walls it was a surreal moment knowing that Hannibal and Hasdrubal had lived in this place and walked along the same paths several millennium before. The visit was reminiscent to one over a decade ago when my wife and I visited Carthage, Tunisia. I was mesmerized.

IMG_0042How could I not contemplate my writing? How I wanted to revisit the scenes I’ve already written of my historic fictional trilogy about the Punic Wars, the rise and fall of Carthage, and the conflicts  that forced Rome to greatness.

Yet, my sons were tired and hungry and wanted to go back to the pool at our condo. So we said farewell to Cartegena, that ancient city of numerous hills with a superb harbor continuously filled with ships. We went back to the Spanish resort for Spaniards, La Manga, and said farewell to history…at least for now.


Ryan King is the author of numerous post-apocalyptic books. He writes nonfiction under Charles R. King and enjoys teaching history to his four sons as the family treks about the world. Ryan’s first novel, Glimmer of Hope, is free for a limited time on Amazon.

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Doctor Aghast in the Dutch E.R.


Hypodermics loaded ready to go.

Coming home from Spain with a cast and spiral fracture of the fifth metatarsal was less of a hassle than expected. Acquiring an airport wheelchair, no problem. Assignment of extra legroom seat with items stacked to keep my foot up, no problem.

Cast causing pain on heel…problem. Terrible bed-sore type skin injuries can occur when a cast rubs. Known as pressure sores or ulcers, you don’t take a chance of reaching stage 2, much less stage 4. The images online were too horrid to add one to the blog.

I didn’t think of a cast doing this. I only knew my heel was hurting more than my broken bone. On the advice of our medical insurance hotline, we dragged into Holland at bedtime, left the lil’ guys in the care of their older brothers, and headed to the Dutch E.R.

In contrast to the Spanish E.R., everyone spoke English to me. The doctor’s orders were to take paracetamol (similar to Tylenol) as opposed to ibuprofen. Although the replacement cast was plaster, it didn’t do a full wrap around my foot which left space for the ups and downs of daily swelling. Rather than being plain white with a tiny red line in the wrap, the top wrap was now blue. “To match your scarf,” the attendant said. “It is heavy now but lighter as it dries. Drying takes 48 hours.”

The doctor was aghast and told every staff member who happened by as shifts were changing, that my leg was put in a full cast and then, oh my get ready for it, I was allowed to fly. Considering my age, medical history, lower extremity injury, and such, the doctor was adamant that in The Netherlands I would not have been permitted to fly.

The doctors thoughts seemed to be, Were they trying to give me a blood clot in Spain? Unbelievable.

Well, not so unbelievable when you consider the Spanish doctor was unable to give me any after care directions in English. I told the Dutch doc as much, but she shook her head and pointed toward Schipol, “Our airlines would not let you board with this.”

Wow. Honestly, it made me glad we’d flown out of Spain.  Don’t break a leg in The Netherlands, folks. You might be stuck for awhile.


Blood pooling away from break not uncommon. (Break is between pinky toe and ankle.)

Now was the time for yet another first in my life. In the Spanish E.R. I got my first cast. In the Holland E.R. I got my first self-administered shot in the stomach. In The Netherlands it is standard operating procedure to take daily meds preventing blood clots while your limb is immobilized. “An ounce of prevention…” could be a Dutch Calvinist saying.

Several times the staff told me the shots would do nothing for a clot if my body had already formed one while I was traveling. Then they would mutter disapprovingly to each other again about my day’s travel.

A linebacker like tall, wide, intimidating nurse demonstrated what to do and then stood over me, bearing down with narrowed eyes, till I plunged the needle into my soft belly skin. Growing up with a diabetic friend, I watched her to do this countless times. That didn’t make it any less foreign an experience to have to do it to myself.

I did have to. My husband was leaving town the next day, or he’d have given me the shots. One of the children later offered to do it. I declined. The thing is, they were really tiny needles. Still, my chest tightened each time. Once I didn’t jab hard enough, the needle was only half in. I started over only to learn later I could have kept on. Once the needle went in at an angle instead of nicely perpendicular to my flesh. That’s when I learned why my mother had so much bruising with self-administered injections. In The Netherlands I was given my own bio-hazard box to dispose of used needles. In Spain, a friend told me, you just throw them in the trash. I remembered my diabetic friend bending each used needle to prevent unauthorized reuse.

I learned all sorts of things and could continue to blog about them. Did you know the pinky bone of your foot gets so little blood flow that healing times range from 8 to 19 weeks on average rather than the typical 6-8 weeks? Rebreaks are so common the doctor recommends you continue to wear the support boot till all pain is gone. At least two of my friends had rebreaks that took surgery and 3+ months to heal. In Sweden the boot would have been fitted to my foot rather than my shoe, so I wouldn’t be hobbling around with one leg a couple inches longer.img_1871

In the U.S. surgery for my break might have been the first recommended course of action from day one because the gap between bones was wide (in mm). Your foot builds up enough dead skin under a cast that even after a second bath the skin might look as if leprosy is settling in. I recommend several applications of an exfoliating scrub. Did you know it’s not uncommon to wake up to your healthy leg being a different color than than the one nurturing healing? It might be lighter or darker pink depending. And diagnosing blog clots in the leg? Don’t get me started.

But enough about pain and weird or scary medical conditions. Wouldn’t you rather hear more about fabulous, historical Spain? I would.

Up Next —A Bite of History in Cartegena, Spain, Guest Blog by Ryan King


Kristin King continues to limp around and have a surprising (to her anyway) amount of pain seven weeks after breaking her foot. She misses riding her bike in the recent, unseasonably sunny Dutch days.





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Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Living in Holland, Travel


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