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, 15 March 2014

Affirmations. Do you use them?

Ohm mane padme hum...

I grew up in the sixties and suffered/celebrated (it depended on the hour of day) my adolescence in the seventies, so one of the defining chants of my youth comes from the musical "Hair". I hadn't the foggiest what it meant at the time, but I liked it nevertheless.

I owe George Harrison a lot, as his first solo album coming out in 1970 was one of the defining moments of my childhood. Listening to his songs, and being enchanted by the use of a sitar (unknown in the safe Bach-orientated world of my parents), I crossed the threshold of childhood to teenager-mania. I read everything I could get my hands on about him (this was 2 years before I discovered David Bowie) and was fascinated by his brush with Indian religions and confused by the chorusses (did he worship Jesus, or didn't he? I was utterly baffled).
What I did understand, was that the lyrics made use of affirmations.

Years later, I dabbled in yoga, and was given my very first personal affirmation by the teacher. It was in Dutch, but I'll translate it for you:

I am grateful for my rich and blessed life

She told me to repeat this 10 times every morning, and all would be well.
I thought it was hogwash. But, I did repeat it for a while, thinking that, since I paid quite a lot of money for those yoga lessons out of my meagre salary, I might as well do it. But it didn't last.

Isn't it amazing how time works? Click open FB and the affirmations are flying around your ears! In 1986 I was not ready to take it seriously. Too young and na├»ve and optimistic, perhaps. 

Nowadays I get the advice to use an affirmation left, right and centre. My acupuncturist gives me one. My friend gives me one. A nice website I visit regularly (called SoChicken) tells me to use them, magazines publish articles about mindfulness and give affirmations. I'm waiting for my local news rag to start urging me to repeat "I like living in Hellevoetsluis" 10 times every morning.


I've come to the conclusion that thoughts play a major part in how your life develops.
And affirmations are guided thoughts, as it were. If you have a lot of negative thoughts, your life will be mostly lived in negativity. If you make certain you 'bend' your thoughts around to positive ones, positivity will make you feel better.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. Try bending the immediate thought "I loathe you" (when, say, someone calls you an awful name to your face) around to the more positive "you only seek my attention, but you do it in a rather nasty way".

I have started using an affirmation every day, when I am on my way to work. I come out of the tube around 7.30 in the morning, and I have to cross a bridge over the Coolhaven, with a stunning view of the Rotterdam skyline. On most mornings there is a man, a stranger to me, standing there on the bridge, taking a photograph of that skyline. He takes his time, waiting for the perfect moment. I watch him, watch what he is watching, and I say

I will be strong, just and kind today and today will be a good day

I don't know if it obeys all the laws of good affirmations, and if it works. But at this stage in my life I can use every little bit of help.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Quick Newsflash: hey! Only 90 readers away from 3,000 :-)

Misty Morning Walk in the Copse

BBbbrrrrrr! It's cold out! 
I woke up to a freezing house, and saw that the world was white. No, not snowy white, but misty white. And after a gloriously sunny Spring week, it was 5 degrees, so back into my winter coat to walk Gina.

It was a struggle. Mist makes her want to sniff every tuft of grass, every molehill, every tree stump, every dog turd.
So I let her do just that, and took the time to take some misty copse photographs for you.

I told you about our copse, didn't I? It isn't large, only 17 acres, and full of poplars and some oaks and cherries. And one beech; the grave of our beloved Freya.
Around the pond there are willows, both small ones that get cropped every year, and large ones that get left alone. 
And bordering the walking routes are cherries, currants, dogwoods and hawthorns.

Gina knows every inch. So do we. We warned our kids never to go there alone when they were small, and I do not go alone in the dark, for unfortunately it gets used intensively by the part of Hellevoetsluis youth you do not want to meet after sundown.
There were times when I was part of a group of people 'managing' this copse, together with the official manager, which is Staatsbosbeheer. But frustration about the total lack of interest of my fellow suburbanites made me quit after four years. It's heartbreaking when you work and lobby hard to get benches and then see them destroyed within the week by yobbos. 

The March violets underneath the cherries always make me happy. We planted a small tuft of these years ago, and they have spread and spread. Lovely!

We've planted 1000 narcissii  bulbs with our group, and they are still around. This year they have been mostly left alone, but we have had years when they were all destroyed... I do not understand young people sometimes, even though I spend my working life among them.
The butterfly plants behind the flowers were planted by a fellow guerilla gardener. We sometimes meet him in the gloaming, armed with his spade and young butterfly plants.

Gina having fun underneath the catkins. 

A spider used the dogwood branches to make a perfect web.

I'll leave you with some of the flowers from my garden. Sweet, eh?
Have a good day!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Rotterdam Centraal Station opened by King Willem~Alexander. Proud!!

Today was a glorious Spring day, and a glorious day for the city of Rotterdam.
"Daughter-in-Law" Dianne (of the blog Dambitious) and myself met up in front of the overwhelming and awesome facade of the renovated Rotterdam Central Station (dubbed: 'the french fries bag' by Rotterdammers), to wait for the arrival of our King, Willem-Alexander.

He was late...But that's the prerogative of Kings, I suppose.
But it didn't matter, because the sun was shining and the hundreds of people waiting were in a good mood.
Take a look at the photographs below these words, and I'll tell you some more underneath.

The station has been operational all the time during the renovation, and it wasn't always fun, I can tell you! The point of entrance kept being changed, and it had the appearance of a tip sometimes, where you had to find your way between enormous puddles, and blocks of concrete, and undefinable heaps of stuff.
But: and kudos to the operators, it's been renovated on schedule and within the budget! I mean - WOW. I heard they even had 28 million Euros left over...Well, they can now donate these to the food banks of Rotterdam, right?!

The atmosphere was festive. There was music, and there were kiddies with balloons, and lots of pensioners, and tourists, and office workers, and lots and lots and lots of policemen in shirt sleeves (in The Netherlands you can judge the mood of a crowd by the fact that the police take off their jackets), and on those uber-cool Sedgeway mopeds.

Dianne and I waited behind the crowd control fences until we saw Mayor Achmed Aboutaleb arrive, and 30 minutes later King Willem-Alexander. 
I need to tell you a story about Aboutaleb. He's such a cool guy! Seriously, he's of Moroccan descent, and came to Rotterdam as a kid, and now single-handedly manages to change the opinion of a lot of Rotterdammers about Moroccan kids (which isn't that rosy, to be honest) by being a great mayor and such a macho (but in a good, hunky way). This week he saw a shop being burgled, and saw the burglar flee on the street in the direction of Gerdesia tube station. He told his driver to pursue, then left his car and ran into the tube station and tackled the burglar on the platform. He got him!

By the way, the woman in the red hat isn't Queen Maxima, she's our Minister of Defence. Maxima, unfortunately, was detained elsewhere. She's a star, shining even brighter than our Willem-Alexander.

Anyway. If you ever visit Rotterdam, be sure to arrive in Centraal Station, and admire it. It's beautiful.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hooked? Ooooohhhhh yes....unfortunately!

This evening I took my laptop from the cupboard where I keep it, and noticed the cable which normally connects it to the mains is missing.
Shock, horror!

So I spent the next 30 minutes searching my house from top to bottom. And it is still not where it is supposed to be, namely connected to my Mac!
I am a semi-orderly type, meaning I usually (90% of the time) know where I leave my stuff. And I am fastidious about my laptop, as it is my lifeline to my kids, my work, and!
And this means I have only so much time to write this blog, as my battery is only 45% full of remaining juice. Damn!

My daughter only just managed to refrain from hooting with schadenfreude laughter, as I always accuse her of being too addicted to her social media.

What to do? I don't know. I've even phoned our cleaner. She didn't know either.
I feel like reverting to my most primitive state of being, and howl with frustration. Which makes me even more frustrated, as I don't want to be thus hooked to my Mac.

Help! Send Rays of Light my way, please! Or ESP tips about where I should look.

Found it! It was in a place where I would never put it myself...hence my confusion. I tend to put things in logical places, i.e. laptop cable in laptop carrier. Not next to outdated textbooks. 
It only took 1 hour of searching... Grumble, grumble, grumble.

This photo is a good indication of my mood right now :-)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Meanwhile in Sunny Hellevoetsluis...

Glorious, happy, wonderful, beautiful sun!

Took Gina for a walk in the meadows this morning, and asked her to pose for me...which she refused. My dog has her moods, I tell you! Still, she enjoyed herself tremendously, she even ran a couple of times. The tiny yellow flowers are called 'speenkruid'  and are the first wild flowers to appear around our parts. They always lift my spirits.

So I took a turn around my garden, and look what I saw:

How do you like my selfie? Viggo always follows me around and watches what I watch. I'm always waiting for him to comment, he is that attentive. 
So what are the plans for today?
Well, I will get on my bike and cycle to the mall, for my daughter wants to go shopping. And being the loving Mum that I am, I will tear myself away from my gardening to do just that.

Have a great Sunday! I'll leave you with a poem I found floating around in cyberspace.