I have commented before on the nature of a Dutch house. The fact that land and space are in short supply and large demand in the lowlands produced and produces a country where skinny and tall is the norm. Second fact on that matter is that the Dutch physique itself fits that same description, but that friends, is commentary for another time.
Let's talk architecture.
Our home sits on a street of homes which look just like ours. Not only does our house resemble every other house on the block, we also share walls on 2 sides with neighbors. Who share walls on 2 sides with their neighbors. Who share walls on two sides with their neighbors. And so on, and so on, and so on. I know you have the picture in your head but just to illuminate, I shall show you. It looks like this:
On the inside our houses diverge from one another, not just in matter of decor but also by means of alteration and remodeling which most if not all the homes on this street have gone through (or are in the midst of even as I type these words). So where my neighbor a few doors down (count that, it's like 6 walls over) has knocked down a wall to make way for a less ship's-gallery-like kitchen, the owners of our home have left narrow kitchen in place but opted for a second (oh! the luxury!) bathroom on the first floor.
The variations are endless I suppose, but the one place where no alteration is possible and no alternative available is the staircases.
I tell you now, my dear readers and friends, Dutch stairs are a wonder to behold. Narrow, steep and windy are adjectives which fit but only for lack of better, wilder, more apt terms to describe the narrow, steep, windy things.
When we first moved to Holland, our youngest, Andrew, was just 2 years old. The sight of the steep, narrow, windy stairs in our first home in Leiden was enough to make me throw up in my mouth just a little. Steep. Steep. Steep. Oh, shit. Teaching him to ascend and descend with care and caution was the first item of adjusting to Dutch living on my list. Andrew quickly mastered the mostly crawl on the way up and the bum-slide-bump on the way back down. And while he tumbled down those steps at least once, he is not the family member who holds the record for most stair mishaps.
No, that would be me.
After our first year in Leiden, we gathered our things and moved to The Hague (but not before moving all of our accumulated THINGS to a friend's home while we transitioned, and hauled all of those possessions up TWO sets of steep, narrow, windy stairs to the second floor of her home). Our house hunt in The Hague consisted of one single element for me. On sight of stairs alone I chose a house. Well, almost.
Nearly impossible (especially as a family of five) to find a place to live WITHOUT stairs, I adjusted my standards and the OKAY TO MOVE IN list included places that at least had a hand rail next to steep, narrow and windy. Staircases which literally resembled ladders were out. Definitively.
So, we chose a home which, yes, has stairs. But steep, narrow and windy as they are, they are captured between 2 walls and sport a handrail for nearly the entire run.
Still, I've managed to fall down them more often than any other. Which is what I did just now as I was heading to check my e-mail. Thus, the birth of this post.
I think it's time I adopt the bum-slide-bump.