Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

May the Olympic Force Be With You! - And I mean ALL of you.

We are a family of sports lovers - no doubt about it. 
Olympic years have a little extra glow, in this house. The television (not a thing which has an extremely important place in my life) suddenly becomes a permanent light source, for it is on all the time.

Not being able to ski, or rodel, or speedskate, or curl myself, I watch the athletes with baited breath, hoping that they will have a great day and that they will put down the performance of their lifetime.

And obviously I hope that my fellow Dutchmen will do well. We have the potential winners of a couple of gold medals, so...I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Sven and Irene and the rest of them.

My dear Reader, the introduction of this blog is now at an end.
What follows is the main argument. And therefor I am now warning you, gently, that if you are of the Putin-persuasion, it isn't safe to continue reading!

Peace, my friend.

I believe in equality. People, all people, you people, were created equal. 
Religion is simply this: a belief created by people to give them something to hold on to, to believe in.
I believe in people. Am I a Humanist then? Perhaps. I don't like dogma. I don't like someone telling others what to believe and what not. (Am I biting my own tail here? Yes, I am. But it is for a reason. And no, I'm NOT telling you what to believe and what not. I'm trying to make a point)

Human rights cannot be ignored.
What irks me, is that the little mistake of one snowflake not opening during the opening ceremony last night, gets more attention than the direct hint in the opening speech of IOC chairman Mr. Bach that the Olympic Games are intended for ALL people. 

I will not tell the Russian people what to believe in. I will not tell them how to live their lives, who to vote for, or how to love. Who am I? I am nobody.
But I wish that all Russians would have the freedom to decide for themselves who, and how to love.
It's love, what it comes down to, in the end. 

I wish you a lovely time watching the Olympics!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Abafazi : go to this show if you want an uplifting evening!

Going to the theatre is one of the joys of my life. Especially when it is musical theatre.
Ever since I went to the Shaffy Theater in Amsterdam when I was 17, I was hooked. And I still go as often as I can manage, now that I am deep into my 5th decade, and approaching the 6th.

African music has a special place in my heart, since my Mum brought home an lp of Ipitombi from Johannesburg in the 70's. I 'borrowed' this, and have played it again and again and again. So, whenever there's a show with African music near Rotterdam, I go.
I saw Umoja in the Luxor Theatre, and the African Mamas in the New Luxor (twice), and numerous smaller productions. And now this one: Abafazi, meaning 'women' in Zulu, I'm told.

The energy these women display! I would be dead within 10 minutes if I had to dance, drum and sing at the same time. And they keep this up for 2 hours!
And another observation: we Dutch females can learn a thing or two about feeling at home in your own body. Some of the Abafazi artists are 'big' to put it mildly. But they shine, and dazzle, and are gorgeous.

So...they have an extensive playlist and a FB page, so you have absolutely NO excuse to not go to one of their shows. 
Enjoy it!

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Great Flood of 1953 - why we Dutchies have a healthy respect for water.

February 1953 is ages ago, yes. But the thought that the large body of water on our doorsteps isn't only our recreation ground or our living (if you are a sailor or a fisherman), but can be bloody menacing, is never far away in our parts.

The topmost two photos were taken in 1953, not very far from my home on the island of Voorne, as the crow flies. The bottom one was taken in 1993, more to the south.
What they have in common is water flooding the land unexpectedly, resulting in loss of life and economic disaster.

The first well documented flood is Saint Elisabeth's Flood in 1492. It swallowed almost the entire province of what is now called Zeeland (Sealand), with a massive loss of life. The motto of Zeeland is 'Luctor et Emergo' ; how well chosen!

Friends of ours, over on the next island of Goeree-OverFlakkee, have great respect as well as fear of the water that flooded their villages in 1953. They were able to flee to the scarce higher ground in their village, a dyke just above the waterline, thus staying alive. And, like real islanders, they don't like to talk about this period. 

But I know that they are always wary of storms, especially in February, when there are storm surges. And I must admit, living in a bowl more than 4 m. below sea level, I always keep an eye out for the weather forecast and a keen ear for how storms behave.

Years ago, when we were still living in our old house, and had only a dog and a cat to care for, I was relaxing on the couch, reading, when my old friend Freya jumped up on the couch with me and whined. I scolded her, but she wouldn't budge. Then I realised her paws were wet, so I looked down, only to see that there was 10 cm of water on my floors.

And only this Summer, in a freak downpour which seemed to go on forever, I saw the water level of my pond rise and rise, until the water streamed into the garden and nearly came into the house.
The cause wasn't so much the rain (which was heavy), but the fact that there are too many houses, and that the water cannot drain away anymore, and the drains cannot cope, and the land (heavy clay over here) becomes waterlogged.

We have two things to worry about: the danger from the sea ( 2 km from my house) and the danger from the big rivers. The sea we have 'tamed', by our Delta Works, massive dams and storm ramps. The rivers are less easily governed. Many of the river dykes are old, and not well kept. In 1993 the flooding came from the rivers. 

Why do you live there? People do ask this, and it is a good question. I think it is the same question you can ask someone who lives on the fertile slope of a volcano. 
Why DO we live here? Because we were born here. Because our families are here. Because our work is here. Because gathering up our entire lives and moving somewhere else (where?), is too much of an effort.
Nevertheless. Whenever there is a storm brewing, and a flood warning, I ask myself the same question.