Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Will You Marry Me?

G'day All

I have some very exciting news ... Yesterday I asked Hester to marry me and she said YES ... Yipeeeee. We are now officially engaged!!!

I told her that we were going to centre of Delft (Hester's hometown) to have dinner with a friend of mine. I also convinced her that we take pictures through the centre of Delft to show my friends and family the city she was born in.

Well the weather yesterday was not good, we had storms in the morning and crazy wind and rain all day. I was carefully watching the rain clouds as we enjoyed a "Booster Juice" and Apple Flap (kind of an apple pie). I saw thick black clouds approaching so I "suggested" that we go into the market square to take pictures of the church and town hall.

We got into the market square and I was getting her to pose infront of the different buildings as I took pictures. I suggested to her that we take a picture infront of the Church together and she agreed. This is where the action happens!!!

Instead of pushing the 10 second timer on my camera I put it on VIDEO and pressed record. I ran beside her and pretended to pose for the 10 second timer. Immediately Hester noticed that the timer light wasn't flashing. I tried to convince her that it was and still kept posing for the "PICTURE".

Well after a few seconds I dropped to my knees and took her hands. She said to me "What are you doing, get up" and tried to pull me back to my feet. I said "I am serious now" and then I proposed to her. Well of course ... she was shocked!! She looked around, laughed and then finally said "YES ... of course I will marry you"!!

The rest is history ... we laughed and cuddled and kissed and laughed and cuddled and laughed again. It was so amazing!!! After that we went out for a romantic dinner at an Italian resturant before Hester's parents joined us to celebrate in the city with drinks at a cafe.

It was such an amazing day and I am so glad that I can be engaged to my best friend and soulmate ... my fiancée

Check out the video and pictures below!!

Thank you everyone for your kind congratulations and well wishes.



The Proposal caught on Cam

Me Popping the question

A cuddle on a Delft Blue Pottery Seat

Hester with the Delft coat of arms

The Church which was the backdrop to my proposal

The City Hall

The ring I used for the proposal (we are getting a real one)

Celebrating with Hester's Parents later that night

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My German Vacation

G'day All,

Wow ... what a whirlwind!! I am back in Holland and have finally found some time to write a bit of a blog about my adventure. Without further ado I will get straight into it.

The path I took (2000 km)

On the 16th of June I picked up my "CRAZY CAMPER" from Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Oh boy ... it was crazier than I thought it would be!! It was painted VEGAS style and really got peoples heads turning, especially the police.

As I was crossing the German/Netherlands border I randomly had a nose bleed. Because I was running late I didn't bother stopping to clean it up but just kind let it dry naturally (disgusting I know). No longer than 10 mins after it had stopped bleeding a strange black car with dark windows pulled in front of me. Seconds later the car turned on a sign that said "Polezi --->".

I pulled over to find out that it was the undercover drug police. They suspect I was carrying drugs from Holland to Germany. I must admit it looked all very suspicous as I still had dry blood on my face, I was driving a vegas car with an Australian flag on the back.

Well I emptied all my pockets while they searched my bags and checked out the insides of the car. They came back to me and asked me if I had ever taken drugs in my life and I told them I hadn't. They were puzzled but convinced and they let me go again.

The Crazy Camper

Pfedelbach was beautiful, it is a nice little farming village surrounded by vineyards and fruit farms. It was very surreal to be at a village that my family lived in 144 years ago. I spent days just absorbing it all and doing my best to capture it on video and photo's.

Pfedelbach from Heuburg

I learnt some amazing things about my family and even visited some of the houses and places they lived and went to. It was fantastic!! I met a local historian called Mr Kruk who spoke no English but knew everything about Pfedelbach and many things about my family. Luckily local lady called Katja helped translate for me.

Later in my week there Katja and her husband Uli invited me to spend the day with them. It was great to meet some real Pfedelbachers and I had the best time with them. We enjoyed some local sights and ended the day with an amazing BBQ (enjoyed an amazing steak) with some other great local people.

I just spent the last couple of days just relaxing and enjoyed the village and the surrounding district. I made a trip to the famous Langeburg castle (relatives on the English royal family) with some Dutchies that I made friends with at the camping ground. It was really impressive and well preserved.

In the final days of my Holiday I made my way up to Berlin to visit a great friend Matthias Walter (we share the same name). I spent a couple of nights staying at his appartment and enjoyed some of the local sights, including the Berlin wall & Brandenburg Gate (remnants of Germany's past).

The Berlin Wall (Iron Curtin)

All in all I had a fantastic time, I am still disbelief that I have actually walked the same ground as my ancestors. It's been an experience that I will certainly remember till the day I die. I am in the process of putting everything together and telling the story to my family (stay tuned).

Hope this blog finds you well and I look forward to seeing my Australian friends and family in just over two weeks (its going so fast).

See ya


The outskits of Pfedelbach

Mr Kruk the local Historian

Pfedelbach's Wine Cask (3rd largest in Germany)

View from Waldenburg Castle

Australian Garden in Ohringen

Pfedelbach Castle

Evangelical Church Pfedelbach

Brandenburg Gate Berlin

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The end of the trip

G'day Everyone,

I am nearing the end of my pilgrimage to find my roots and travelling through a bit of Germany. At the moment I am in Berlin (hence the reason I have internet access) visiting a good friend Matthias Walter.

I have had a great week so far tracing my roots, I've got plenty of pictures and stories which I will post when I get back to Holland. For the time being I will put up a few pics so you can get a taste of what I have been up to.

I'll be in touch again soon.



Monday, June 15, 2009

Heading to Germany

G'day Everyone,

Well ... the time has finally come. Tomorrow I am picking up my Crazy Campervan (painted in vegas style) and heading to Germany. I will be in Germany for 10 days checking out the village that my forefathers came from and visiting a good friend in Berlin.

It's gunna be some adventure and I am going to try and do at least 1 post while I am on the trip. When I get back I will be sure to put up lots of pictures and stories about how it all went.

A big hello to all my old work mates at DLA PIPER. Hope you are all doing well, miss working with ya all.

I'll be in touch again soon

See ya


Friday, June 5, 2009

Aussie meets Dutchie

Almost 2 years ago a beautiful young Dutch girl (called Hester) ventured "Down Under" to visit her brother who was studying in Australia. As it happens that brother was my house mate as I was sharing a house with 4 Europeans (2 Dutch, a German and an Italian). Hester and I shared an amazing "click" in the 4 weeks that she was there but because of the circumstances and distance we never thought anything of it.

6 Months later I never forget that beautiful Dutch girl and the click we shared. I decided to email and Skype her and see what she was doing. Things went well and I decided I wanted to see what life was like off the big island (AKA Australia).

I worked hard and saved my Aussie dollars for another 6 months before I packed up my things and headed to Europe in July 08. I was looking forward to experiencing "culture" and "history" but was also keen to see the beautiful young Dutch girl.

Anyway to cut a long story short things went well and after being in Europe for 2 months we started an amazing relationship. I decided to stay in Holland for a full 12 months to experience her culture and enjoy our relationship without a 16,000 km distance between us. Soon after I decided that she is definately worth moving to Holland for so I decided to settle down a bit and get a job with the intentions of staying longer (possibly forever).

Well almost 1 year later plans have changed a little. Hester and I still share an amazing relationship but she is just finishing her bachelor of social work. After that she wants to come to Australia and experience life "Down Under" and see where I come from. So we are taking a 10 month trip to Australia to meet family, experience Aussie culture and see what life is like in Aus for us.

May next year we plan on returning to Holland for her brothers wedding. By this time we might also decided which country we want to settle down in (Australia or Holland). So the distant future is uncertain (where we will live) but we are living and enjoying each day as it comes.

Experiencing Dutch culture and meeting Hester has changed my life. I've learnt so much from the Dutch and have enjoyed 12 months here. I have so many stories and experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

If you told me over 2 years ago that I would meet a Dutch girl, fall in love and live in Holland for 1 year I would have laughed. But 2 years later I can't imagine it any other way. Who would have thought my best friend and soul mate would be born and live in Holland.

Anways ... This is getting really long and a bit too intimate for a blog :p

I've met some amazing people and made some great friends here in Holland. I hope to stay in touch in the months ahead. Keep an eye on this blog for more details of our adventure in Australia.

Keep on smiling ... See ya

Matt Walter

Monday, June 1, 2009

Writing history and finding my "roots"

G'day Everyone,

Some time ago (while sitting behind a computer in Australia) I thought about the fact that I am Australian. As you will know I am not a native Australian (Aboriginal), so somewhere in the distant past my ancestors must have come from somewhere else in the world. This sparked an interest in tracing back my family tree to see how I became Australian.

As many of you would know Australia is a British colony. At one stage Britain sent thousands of prisoners to Australia because they were having problems containing them in their own country. I am happy to say that to this point I haven't discovered any of my relatives to be "criminal".

As I spent countless hours tracing back names and dates I have made some amazing discoveries. I have seen how a dozen or so families have endured hardships and trials, in order to have better future for themselves and their families. I have seen them leave family and loved ones in Europe and make the often fatal 3 month journey to Australia, often losing family to disease on the boats over.

I have also read stories of success and triumph as these people started life in a foreign country. Through lots hard work and perseverance many of them became successful, often pioneering different regions in parts of Australia. In doing this they wrote history and laid the foundation for future generations to build on.

These people and their stories are the roots of the very tree to which I belong. All the victories and hardships that they endured helped to give me the life I enjoy today. They are all part of the past which helps provide me with the present I enjoy now and the future I enjoy tomorrow.

The present (today) I am living and enjoying now is also significant. I am writing history!! My life is writing the story that future generations will read about. Each day and every choice are becoming part of the roots that will nourish the tree for my future generations.

Every day is a gift, a new opportunity to add a new page to the story. What an amazing opportunity as each of us has. We are holding the very pen that will tell the story of our families’ history. Even if we can't bear biological children of our own we can still choose to provide roots that will nourish the tree for future generations.

Our lives are a living story that can touch and change the lives of people in the future. The trials and success that you face today will provide inspiration and a future for generations to come.

What story are you writing today? It's never too late to write a happy ending!!



My Great Great Grandparents James & Anna Mary Curtis with their family

James migrated from England to Australia by himself when he was 17 years old.

He married Anna Mary Pedersen and had many children. One of which was my Great
Grandfather John Curtis. John grew up and went on to start a successful sawmill in
the Wide Bay Distract of Queensland, Australia.

Anna Mary is the daughter of Jens Pedersen who migrated from Denmark. Jens

lost both his wife and his only child on that trip to Australia. Later Jens remarried
after meeting another Danish immigrant called Mathilde Margrete
(the mother of Anna Mary)

Jens went on to become a succesful farmer in Wide Bay region of Queensland,

Australia. Members of his family still own and operate the farm today.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Work trip to Italy, Milan

Recently I got an opportunity to go to Milan in Italy for work. It was a great time to check out a bit of the city. Here a few pictures I took while there. Enjoy.


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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Queens Birthday in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hey Everyone,

Just dropping a line to update you all on what's news over here in Holland.

Recently (2 days ago in fact) it was the Queens birthday public holiday here in Holland. I don't think I have ever seen a country go so crazy over a Queens birthday.

The whole nation dresses themselves in Orange (the national colour) and they then take to the streets. There are street markets everywhere with people selling their second hand junk on every square inch of pavement. In between all the junk are children doing tricks, singing, playing instruments and selling home made food.

I live in Amsterdams which holds the largest celebration in the whole country. Close to 800,000 people packed the streets (and they are small streets) of the city. Each plein (park) was filled with people dancing to live music that was cranked to full volume.

I walked through Leidseplein, Museumplein and Vondelpark to get a small taste of the way the Dutch celebrate this day. A crowd of Orange people continually flowed through Leidselplein like a river. People singing, shouting and drinking!! There was a small stage but the main attraction was the cafes and resturants with their outdoor dining.

I dove into this stream of people and made my way to Museumplein which is perhaps the most popular place to be. A crowd of 100,000 people packed the park. There was a MASSIVE stage that cranked out all the typical Dutch songs (it's alot different to Aussie music). After about an hour of just taking it all I decided to make my way to the famous Vondelpark.

On the Queens birthday Vondelpark becomes the "childrens park". Kids fill every corner of the park selling their second hand junk, singing, doing circus tricks and pretty much trying to get your to give them 1 euro. Parents lovingly support them as the try and do the latest pop song justice or fumble their way through some classical piece of music. Either way it is cute and entertaining and I am sure some of them will grow to be great performers, musicians or singers.

After getting sick of the massive crowd I took a side exit out of the park and found myself on a street near my house (ta da ... it was amazing). I still couldn't escape the children who were still selling second hand goods, singing, dancing and playing music instruments. A couple of young girls approached me and offered to paint my hair orange. I didn't agree to it (I am mean i know) but gave them 1 euro and told them to paint the next two peoples hair for free.

I finally made it home and switched on the TV while I ate lunch. I found out that some made Dutchman had attempted to attack the royal family in his small car. He missed the royal family but plowed through the crowed and killed 6 people and injured about 14 others. It was really sickening and really ruined a great day. Crazy how one messed up individual can ruin a whole day for a nation. The celebrations closed early as people dealt with the initial shock.

But all in all I must admit the day was a great celebration. If you are ever in Holland on April 30 I encourage you to check it out.

Hope this blog finds you all well, until next time