I started the morning off by having a Dutch delicacy for breakfast: Nutella toast covered in Sprinkles. Apparently chocolate is an acceptable breakfast in the Netherlands- I may just have to move there. Shortly after we boarded the bus (the bus for the local orchestra no less) and headed out for a day of iAge meetings and talks.
We were taken to a rural area outside of Groningen, to highlight the differences between poor and rich households i.e. a comparison of the large farmhouses and the small workers houses. Oosterlengte, a care provider brought us there to show the amount of time they had to spend travelling between clients who are scattered across the region. This area is known as the Polders, which is a term for land that’s been reclaimed from the sea. Specifically, we visited the Nieuwe Statenzijl part where we were able to stand on top of one of the dikes, and see across to Germany (it seems we were only a few hundred metres from the German border)- I thought that was quite cool!
From there, we travelled back to the Oosterlengte buildings, via several small villages. One of these villages was named Hongerige Wolf, pronounced “hungry wolf”, which is an excellent name. Once we were back at the Oosterlengte building, we were given a talk about how the company are trying to use technology to make communication with their clients more efficient e.g. allowing nurses to have video chats with clients to check that they are ok. I wondered if affective feedback could be used within the interfaces the clients have to use? It might make technology easier for older people to use. In the room, there was a large clear tube partially filled with ping pong balls, so we enquired why it was there- the number of ping pong balls represents the amount of clients the company has.
Following this, we travelled through the countryside a little more and stopped off at Boerderij Hermans Dijkstra, Midwolda to eat (food provided by Oosterlengte’s catering service). Hermans is a beautiful old Dutch farmhouse, that was left to a historical trust when the last remaining family member died. He stated the house must be kept in its original form. Even though it has a new seating area within the barn, this is something which is easily removable. After a tasty lunch (I have discovered Mustard Soup- love it) we were given a tour of the house. It was really interesting (and cold, due to a lack of electric heating). There were multiple small beds within the walls (box-beds) for workers and maids to sleep in. Apparently the beds were so small because back then, people were encouraged to sleep partially sitting up. I could only imagine it might be a little scary at night time, if someone decided to jump out of the wall at you. Most of our group had to duck when going through doorways however, due to my lack of height, I didn’t have to bother.
We then headed back to Groningen, stopping at Noorderpoort College to continue the iAge meetings, right beside Groningen FC. There were various talks and workshops to take part in (including one where we had to discuss the requirements of a website- something which I quite enjoy doing). A 3rd year student at the college then took us on a tour of the facility. The college has a training kitchen and hotel attached to it so we were shown round parts of that. There were even hotel rooms you could stay in which students had to then clean the morning after.
At the end of the tour, we were seated at the training restaurant, directly overlooking the grounds of Groningen FC (it’s a pity there wasn’t a game on). The students prepared a brilliant 3 course meal for us, based on a Russian theme. First up was a fish salad, complete with prawns. The main course was supposed to be Beef Goulash however, I don’t eat red meat. I pointed this out to the manager and he got one of the student chefs to make me stuffed peppers (filled with cheese and mushrooms). The manager brought the student out to see me afterwards, to ask my opinion of the food (students get graded on every meal). What can I say, it was absolutely fantastic! The student deserves an A+!