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 March 2014

Wie het Kleine niet Eert - Or: be thankful for small mercies.

"Wie het kleine niet eert, is het grote niet weerd", my grandmother used to say.
I'll save you the trouble of going all the way down to my translator gadget. It means: "Whomsoever doesn't honour small things, is not worthy of large things".

Today was a gloriously sunny day. I honour that.
My garden is blooming. I honour that.
The Erica (heather) I picked is looking good on my kitchen windowsill. I honour that.
There is a bird nesting in my shed. I honour that.
I have a refrigerator full of heathy organic food which I will cook in a little while. I honour that.
There is a glass of cheap, but very tasty red wine standing at my elbow. I honour that.
My cat Viggo is hanging from the door, wanting to come in. I honour that.
I can now go to the hall to feed him, as that is clearly what he wants. I honour that :-)

And there are the more-than-little things to honour as well.

My husband and children are healthy. I am very thankful for that.
My 86 year old Mum has been told she merely suffers from old age (and not lung cancer). I am very thankful for that.
My work schedule has been miraculously (read: without any communication) lightened. I am thankful for that. And will let sleeping dogs lie.
The pains I have been suffering in my left leg have been absent today. I am thankful for that.

What are you thankful for?
Feel free to let me know. You can use the comment box below this post.

Friday, 7 March 2014

And....they're off! Or: the run-up to Easter.

Good afternoon, my fellow Spring enjoyers! (Is that an English word - enjoyers? If not, it is now!)
My day started with sunshine, so I hung my washing outside on the line, but I've just taken it in again as it started spitting a bit...

In the meantime, we are in the running-up to Easter. It doesn't make a blind bit of difference whether you are of any faith or not...our shops are bursting to the seams with chocolate eggs and bunnies and the Easter hare and all sorts of sweet stuff that will make your fillings spontaneously jump out of your molars with seasonal joy.

I do not bow to any religion, am of the humanist persuasion (with a little bit of Pagan and Zen thrown in for light relief), but I cannot pass a shop decked out with cute little bunnies without sighing in pleasure. Easter is such a fun, joyful festivity, isn't it? The weather takes a turn for the better (at least, it's supposed to), the flowers are back in the garden, the little lambs are frolicking in the meadows, and the birds are nesting.

My tulips are doing well in the greenhouse, where my husband has planted them to get them in bloom earlier for the birthday party of both our kids (in our Northern facing garden everything is at least 2 weeks later than in other gardens, that's why). When the time comes we'll replant them in containers.

And my heather is looking gorgeous, the photo doesn't do it justice unfortunately.

All those tiny yellow blobs are my mini-narcissii; not exactly 'hosts-of', but they do lift my heart.

I'll leave you with something I found on the internet (where else?), which looks like fun. I'll try it, and let you know if it works.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring! Oooohhhhhhh has sprung! Don't you love it?

Hello, are you also feeling sprightly from this sudden Spring burst?
(Before you think I have gone absolutely bonkers, let me remind you I am from The Wetlands. The low lying lands where water is the predominant feature, clouds are omnipresent and sunshine is a gift and a blessing.)

After an entire Winter of feeling like a mole, I now see the sun come up every day from the windows of the Tube, and this morning it didn't immediately hide itself behind a bank of grey, but stayed in view!
And I was so lucky, in that it was still shining when I got home from work, and I even had a little snooze in the garden, on the bench with Viggo on my lap. Bliss!

Afterwards I took a turn in our garden, removed a dog turd or two, admired the pansies and the daffs, and planned a trip to the garden centre for tomorrow.

And have you noticed that people are more friendly when the sun is shining? (Perhaps not when you are in, say, Brazil, but in The Wetlands they definitely are) I exchanged smiles with at least 5 persons within ten minutes, which is quite a lot for my hard-nosed neighbourhood.

The currants are in bloom, the swans are on their nests, all my little garden birds are very active and twittering away. 

And the shrubs are getting tiny leaves (no, not like the photo yet, but I couldn't resist that one, as I think it lovely).

What do YOU do in Springtime? Does it effect you at all? Or are you one of those "Heck, as long as I can watch Netflix I'm happy" type of person?
Perhaps I'm a bit weird, but I actually feel happy when I see my ferns unfurl...And when I spot the bumble bees checking out the potting shed. I saw a huge one this afternoon, and bid it welcome. One of our projects for this year, garden-maintenance-wise, is to build an insect hotel. And my husband wants to build a chicken coop. And a new woodshed. 

Now isn't this interesting? 
Someone pointed out to me (on FB) that my blog was utterly uninteresting to him. It took me aback for all of 3 seconds (well, at least he took the time to point it out to me) and then I thought long and hard about the bloggers-bug.
Does it really matter if 9 people read this post, or 900? I mean, does it make a difference to me?
The fact that you are reading this right now, is enough. I used to be a diary keeper. Then a reporter. Now I am a blogger. I think it is realistic to say that writing is a sort of compulsion. And even if nobody reads it, I can view it as a kind of super diary, without all the nasty bits. I'll keep the really nasty bits to myself.

Have a super Spring day tomorrow!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Sometimes You Plain Fall in Love with a Singer, Don't You? (About Lisa Hannigan)

This isn't the first time I've pointed (or tried to point you...) in the direction of a singer, is it? You know me a bit by now. My passions run deep.
I'd like you to get acquainted with an Irish singer called Lisa Hannigan.

Lisa was born in 1981 in County Meath, and is now based in Dublin I believe. But that's all the history in a nutshell, if you want to know all the details I suggest you look her up in Wikipedia. Or, much better still, use the link below this post to visit Lisa's website.

What I'd like you to know about Lisa Hannigan is that she has the type of voice that is so intimate, that you believe she is whispering her songs straight into your ear.
She looks like a 30's housewife, complete with rather frumpy frocks, but looks deceive. She is with it, and has worked with big names in the music industry since she was discovered by Damian Rice, another Irish musician, who foolishly thought himself curbed by her presence (source: Wikipedia. If this is rubbish, blame them!).
After he asked her to leave his band, she went it alone, and has brought out Sea Sew, Live at Fingerprints and Passenger, three introspective original albums which did rather well. At least, they made her reputation.

This woman is so amazingly creative! Look up her videos at YouTube and prepare to be stunned by the versatility of her performances. 

She plays a lot of instruments whilst doing all sorts of crazy things at the same time, has the dance moves of a demented hamster (I mean this in the nicest possible way, I adore her really!) and is cuter than cute in a little girl way, which is quite a feat as she's in her thirties by now.

She is one of those women that I admire enormously. Original, talented, creative, but down to earth and without any pretense. No showbiz rubbish. And with a marvelous sense of humour. I mean, who would let herself be pelted with multi-coloured paint when singing a song? Or sing in a roller coaster? 

Lisa Hannigan. Remember that name! And look her up! I've made it easy for you. Links are below. Enjoy!!!

Slowly Coming Back to Life - a little something to make you smile.

Good morning, World!
(I have the right to say this, as I see readers from Malaysia to Russia to Canada to Australia :-)
Lately I've been boring you with progress reports of my flu...Sorry about that.
To cheer you up, and to celebrate that I'm starting to feel better, I'll post a quickie. But it's a fun quickie!
O Fortuna - with a twist

This has made me laugh so hard I nearly choked from coughing.  Poor Orff...I'll never be able to listen to the original again now without thinking about this version.
Have a fun day!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Are Books Almost Obsolete? Of course not!

" When people tell me they don't read, I try to stay focussed and not to judge."

Good afternoon, you there in far-flung places.
You read, don't you? (DUH! The fact that you are reading this right now doesn't mean a thing. Sorry! I mean, you read properly, don't you? Books!)

I sincerely hope you do. Reading is, next to eating and listening to music, the great pleasure of my life. When people tell me they don't read, I try to stay focussed and not to judge. But secretly I tend to tune out a tad. Ironically, I married a non-reader. I can still be amazed that Life dealt me such a low blow...but I fell in love with the guy...what can you do?

I started reading to my kids when they were still in the womb. I'm serious! There I was, in a hospital bed for four months whilst the medical profession was doing its utmost to keep my son safely where he belonged, and I read everything by Bill Bryson to him. I have the conviction that is a. why he loves to read himself and b. why he wants to be a travelling photographer and c. why he has such a superb sense of humour.
The first thing I did after taking my daughter home from hospital was to snuggle up with her and her big 4 year old brother in bed and read Winnie-the-Pooh to them. My daughter had a library card from when she was 4 weeks old.

So, one of my favourite places in Rotterdam being in trouble, pains me. I'm talking about Donner (sod that name Polaris, or even Selexys; it will always be Donner to me), the largest, most cool bookshop we used to have. It was filled with gorgeous beautiful books, and it had efficient staff and Bagels and Beans if you needed a coffee, with a lovely roof terrace. And it's in trouble, because people don't buy books anymore. They download them. They swop ways of getting eBooks for free. Or they buy them online.

Thank Frith that a couple of the Donner booksellers from old have started a crowdfunding FB page, in an attempt to save Donner for the readers of Rotterdam. The address is:

So far, a lot of people have realised they don't want to buy their books from a very limited supply in the supermarket, and have donated money. But not enough, yet.
So this is a double-edged plea. Buy (and read) real books. And help save Donner!

Thanks! XXX

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday! How to Keep Oneself Occupied When Feeling Poorly.

Good morning, fellow-world-citizens!
It's Sunday morning over here, and gloriously sunny for a change, and-I-am-in-bed. Potjandosie!

(Potjandosie is a swearword. It's not really rude, a little cutesy, and doesn't offend any religion nor is it a terrible illness- as most Dutch swearwords do/are. So add it to your vocabulary. You never know when it may come in handy. When you do need a Dutch swearword capable of stopping all traffic, drop me a line in the comment box below.)

What better day to play the blues? My fingers are not as sore anymore...but stiff. Fifty-five-and-a-half years of age-stiff. Still, when I looked up Daddystovepipe on YouTube (great guy, he's my new best friend) there was a comment of a 70+ man who was attempting the fingerpicking blues for beginners just like myself. If he can, so can I!

What I'd really would like to do though, is go into the garden. But I ventured out onto my balcony for 3 seconds and quickly went back inside. There's the typical Wetlands freezing wind we always experience in Spring. Besides, those 3 seconds made my legs feel like jelly.

Quickly took a photograph for you though, fast as lightning I am. My heather is looking great (Erica), and so are the pansies and campanula.

And how about my primula? Good eh? And the borago is almost in bloom as well. And I've got hosts of snowdrops and golden daffodils. Spring definitely is here!

Well. Back to Daddystovepipe. Have a wonderful Sunday, you!