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A holiday, for many of us, is a chance to break free from the constraints which hold us in an iron grip during our day to day lives. Image Credit:

I’m sure it could be universally agreed that there is almost nothing better than putting your feet up and relaxing during a well-deserved holiday. Or, in my case, sprawling out like a starfish on any spot of grass where the sunlight pools and the breeze drifts by.

A holiday, for many of us, is a chance to break free from the constraints which hold us in an iron grip during our day to day lives. Whether these constraints are self-inflicted or otherwise, when the shackles of responsibility are finally shaken off — even if only for a short period of time — the relief is instantaneous.

In that moment, lying in the grass free from my worries, I am at utter peace with myself. I close my eyes and try and explore all the different things I can hear, if I focus.

The low sounds of the birds fluttering overhead; the soft rumble of a boat’s engine from across the lake; the gentle shrieks from children enjoying the freedom that will, one day, no longer be as rich. A feeling of utter contentment and satisfaction often surrounds me, until it becomes suffocating and I’m forced to open my eyes again to reality.

The scene I’m describing is one that occurs for me every couple of years when I return to a little town called Medemblik, which sits on the edge of the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands.

My family owns a little cottage right on the edge of a lake, which we share with many other holiday goers.

When I’m not floating in the great abyss of the lake and feeding a few ducks, I tend to sit at the table in the garden as we cook up a great big barbecue for all my relatives.

- Nina Mul

Each time I return there, I confront the attic at the top of the stairs (which is crawling with spiders, I might add) just to get out the rubber dinghy that I have had since I was a child.

After I drag it into the garden, I try to inflate it as fast as possible until I am red in the face and panting from the effort. But my loss of breath and dizziness is all worth it.

In the end, I push away from the dock and guide the rubber boat gently out of the inlet of the lake, ending up in a vast bit of water where colours of blue and green blend together — and I’m in bliss.

More often than not, while I’m floating in the rubber dinghy, the ducks arrive. These ducks are no strangers to interaction, and often wade alongside boats, quacking impatiently for any small scrap of bread. Now, while the ducks are safe to feed, if you see swans approaching, my best advice is to abort said mission. While swans are undoubtedly majestic and graceful in appearance, they’re actually quite aggressive and defensive creatures, who aren’t afraid to hiss, spit and nip at you. Thus, caution is advised.

Magnificent reflection

When I’m not floating in the great abyss of the lake and feeding a few ducks, I tend to sit at the table in the garden as we cook up a great big barbecue for all my relatives.

The smell of the cooking wafts around us, both inside and outside the house, while we enjoy light conversation through broken Dutch and English.

As the sun dips below the horizon, a subtle silence settles over us as we watch the orange, pink and yellow colours in the sky swirl and eventually disappear, following hastily after the sun. It leaves only the moonlight as a source of light; and the reflection it casts upon the lake is magnificent.

Such nostalgia currently clouds my mind as I am due to return to the Netherlands. This time, however, I’m bringing a friend with me, who, I hope, will enjoy the serene scenes just as much as I do.

Showing a friend around somewhere so pivotal to your childhood is a truly special thing. If anyone needs me, you can find me floating in the sun.

Nina Mul is an intern with Gulf News.