A welcoming table full of toys and wrapping papers is located at the entrance to the IJzaal, the most beautiful room in the Tolhuistuin, with a view of the IJ and the central station. Evening packages can be packed here. A tangerine is also grabbed in no time, and are there ginger nuts to bake, a bowl of croissants, ginger tea and coffee ready?
In times of exorbitant gas prices, the Tolhuistuin cultural scene wanted to contribute some warmth on cold days. From this weekend, a Warm Lounge has been created every Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., accessible to all, drinks are free.
Candles and games
The space is there, the will too, now the people. On the first afternoon—outside the mercury had dropped to 2 degrees—only a handful of cold evaders managed to find the Warm Living Room. You also have to search a bit: you have to go through the restaurant first, which can be a threshold for those who don’t have enough due to the high energy bill. But there is also a cozy room with cushions, candles, games, good jazz on the loudspeakers and a rack with warm clothes, which can be taken away for those who wish.
Houssine, his daughter Neyla (4 years old) and his girlfriend Philou (5 years old) have arrived. The girls focused on building a marble run and eagerly threw themselves into the bowls of gingerbread cookies. “We live near here, it seemed ideal to me,” says Houssine, who moved to Amsterdam North from Belgium a year ago. His house dates from 1918. “Now we only light the stove for two hours in the evening, because we cannot heat these old houses.”
Rafel Mahmoud, programmer at Tolhuistuin, greets everyone warmly. He hopes more people can find this place in the near future. “We thought it was important to do this: if your property is still open, what can you offer?”
In two days he collected four bags of toys from friends and acquaintances, bought tangerines and is now waiting for visitors. “We are here for people who would otherwise be sitting at home with fifteen jerseys. Here it is hot and we meet others. And figuratively speaking, we can also warm up.
Moreover, he hopes that other organizations will follow: “If you have the space, why not share it? From next week, there will also be a repair cafe, where visitors can repair broken items with fellow DIYers.
The director of Stichting de Tolhuistuin Matthea de Jong can organize the fair thanks to a donation from the district. She sees the initiative as a cultural version of what churches and community centers are already doing. “In the summer you can congregate in the parks, but where do you go in the winter if you don’t want to sit in a cafe and spend some money right away?” The library? Mahmoud: “It is also possible, certainly. But over there, you have to be quiet and study, here you can lie on the sofa and make yourself at home.
The warm living room, every Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., in December and January.
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