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...

Friday, 4 April 2014

3333 readers - let's celebrate!!!

See that number? Fun, eh?
It has brightened up an otherwise gloomy day (weather-wise). 
I officiated as wedding registrar this afternoon, al fresco, with a shivering bride and her brave company. As half of them were over from Northern-Ireland, they were used to chilly weather (their own admission). But I kept on my coat under my robes :-)

And afterwards I had some sad news - the choir I had joined and was enjoying so much, has been discontinued due to a lack of males. Fiddlesticks!!! positive mindset needs to be dusted off once again. Here's to this news:

Was it in The Sound of Music that someone said that when a door is closed in your face somewhere else a window is opened?
Well... bring it on!!!

I'll leave you with a virtual light in the darkness.

See you :-)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Still thinking about the same issues - do you feel at home in this day and age?

Hi, bon soir, France :-)
I feel justified in greeting my French readers, as they have been absent so far, and suddenly they have arrived...great, welcome!

This will be yet another follow up on the post about a positive mindset and the theory that many people can't keep up with the pace of our modern life and thus feel (mildly or severely) stressed out and even depressed. And stick to a 'hey, let's see the glass as half full, for that's better for our health' attitude (like me, and a couple of you who told me)

I'm writing this seated at my garden bench, watching a crescent moon and listening to the numerous birds singing their little hearts out around me. We are experiencing a 'false' summer, when it is only April...amazing weather! And I try to enjoy it to the maximum, for in our Wetlands you never know how 'much' summer you will get from year to year.

Mind you, there is a storm front moving in, with thunder clouds, so you may see me fleeing inside soon.

Depression linked to the pace of life.
That's the ongoing theme of this post. I was distracted, sorry.

One of my favourite writers, Redmond O'Hanlon, states he was born in the wrong century. His reaction to this fact of life is to live his life largely as if he was born a hundred years ago. Being a bestseller writer, he has the means to do so (at least, that is my assumption).

But my son, 21 in two weeks time, says he feels like this often, as well. He usually shouts it in frustration when some piece of technology refuses to do what he wants it to do.
And I certainly know I feel like this! I can bring tears to my own eyes (sentimental biddy that I am) by remembering the many letters I used to get every month. I am a great letter writer (hah!), and my average was 5 letters a week during the seventies, eighties, nineties. Until email arrived, and the letters I got petered out. But were they replaced by emails? Nope. Hence the sentimental nostalgic tears.
And now we have Whatsapp. I have installed it to keep in touch with my daughter. Sigh. But it's pretty handy sometimes, and I'm nifty with it. ("Where R U??? You said you would take the 10 pm bus?????")

So, I hanker after letters on real paper with real ink. And curse my laptop sometimes when I'm supposed to internet-bank. Hate it! And walk flights of stairs at work to actually try to talk to people instead of sending them email after email, although (yep) I do that too.

But I suffer from stress related nasty little thingies. Like migraines (thankfully not often) and backaches (often), and skin rashes (damn). And I wonder if all this stress is:
1. work-related (probably)
2. age-related (I'm definitely post-menopausal)
3. day-and-age-related (I can't keep up with technology for a fact, and can't be bothered with lots of things younger people find very important )
4. relationship-related (hubby is post-menopausal too, whether he wants to or not)
5. food-related (I'm convinced that the food we buy in the supermarket is pure poison. Well, almost pure poison)

I would rather travel by horsepower than fly. Yes, I know, not very practical if you want to reach the US. But still.
I prefer 80 km/h to 150 km/h.
My favourite pastime is having a good meal with friends, preferably al fresco.
I never watch TV in bed (I don't have TV in bed). I read. Or listen to music.
I walk to the shops, or cycle if it takes more than 20 minutes to get there.
I would love to dress myself in flowing robes and skirts, very witch-like (but don't, as my pupils would freak out and so would my boss, and come to think of it my husband and kids too)

So...all this adapting I do to 2014, is that what causes my stress???
Your thoughts?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Is the pace of life too much for many of us?

Hi there,

In a follow up on last night's post (about a positive mindset), and a discussion by readers of my post about this topic on FB, I would like to pose the following question.

Is the fact that the pace of life has speeded up so enormously for the last couple of hundred years, and especially during the last century, the reason for the great increase in people being depressed and experiencing a burn out in Western Europe?

Or: is it simply that it is more accepted that people admit to being depressed and/or burnt out ?(thank you, Sabine)

Let me know your thoughts on the subject, please?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Positive Mindset - Does it work?

Good evening, all of you all over the world.
This evening I would like to talk to you about being positive. With a capital P.
It has been the mindset to have, lately. Ever since, during the seventies, someone started publishing about half full glasses and taking life with a cheery disposition, positivism has spread like an ink spot.

Taking the gloomy view is simply not done. And it isn't just in magazines and on websites for the optimistically happy few. It has spread onto the work floor of ordinary workers (like you and me). 
Managers ooze positive sound bites everywhere. The 'go for it!', 'live life to the max', 'look out for number one', 'think positive thoughts out of the box and smile when doing it' generation of 35 to 45 years old team-building, boot-camping, ultra-fit positivity junkies seem to bounce through their working day high on adrenaline and positive vibes (and cans of Redbull).

And take a look on Facebook or Instagram. The happy photos and quotes there outnumber the gloomy ones. So there is a 'need' for happiness. But is this a need born, or created ?

I tend to see myself as a optimist. 
I kept my diaries from when I was a young woman, and all through job loss, divorce, moving to another country, another traumatic love affair, and moving back again, the pages are filled with hope, optimism and "oh well, it didn't work out this time, but next time it surely will" type of entries.
But there is a certain stubbornness about it as well. My family tended to take the gloomy side, if they had a choice, and my instinctive immediate reaction to this was to move to the opposite side of the fence.
I would be positive if it killed me, sort of thing.

And has it worked? Has luck smiled down on me, because I am a happy hippy type?
When I add all the pros and cons, I would say...not.
Oh dear.

I have never won any substantial sum of money, for instance, even though I play in the lottery and optimistically wish myself rich every time there is a draw due. I have read The Secret, but all my sending my wishes into the universe has not paid any dividend. So far.(See, ever the optimist). I go into work with a positive mindset every day, but ever so often travel back disheartened and frustrated.

So has it made my life better? Now that's another matter! I'm not that lucky in things, but I do believe it has made my life a little better. Fast approaching sixty (holy moly!!!), people always estimate me ten years younger. Hey, that's a win, isn't it?

So, what about you?
Do you believe in all this optimism thinga-ma-bob?

And I have it easy, in my Western, safe, rich, flat (though damp) country. How hard is it to stay positive when you live in...the Congo, for instance? Would it cross your mind? Would you have the time for it?

Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Making our world just a tiny bit prettier ...guerilla gardening.

Good (Sunday) morning to you! Hey, you over there in China, ni hao?
This is a post about guerilla gardening.

When we moved into our house 21 years ago, our garden was an empty nettle infested, paved bit of rubble. The guy who had lived there before us wasn't into gardening (an understatement if ever there was one!)

Now I had a horticultural certificate from the City & Guilds in London, but this was my very first private garden. So during the long cold winter months my husband and I planned what our garden was supposed to look like, and sowed thousands of seeds in seed trays, which were literally everywhere in our house. In the living room, in the bathroom, in the attic, in the kitchen. My baby son's first word was 'mama' but I swear one of the follower-uppers was 'plant' (except he couldn't pronounce the l, so it sounded like pant)

In February/March we dug up all the nettles (leaving a few right at the back, for the butterflies), dug out all the cracked paving stones, cut down the half-dead hedge, and planted out our seedlings.
It took years of trial and error. The soil, even though we mulch, is quite poor. So my beloved Alceas won't grow, and neither do the Paeonias. After buying new plants and trying to replant them for a couple of years, trying this corner and that, we gave up on them, and concentrated on plants which will grow in our North-East facing soil.

But, I'm happy and proud to say, we now have a garden which is lovely in all seasons, and the curiosity of the street (not that I care about that, but my neighbours all remark about our garden...usually ending their remark with: "not our cup of tea, all that hard work"). 

Guerilla gardeners.
So, what do you do, when you have a thriving garden, which produces seedlings, shoots and bushes growing too rampant? Do you throw away all that bounty?
Of course not! You dig up and replant elsewhere. In the communal park, for instance :-)

This is at the back of our plot, where we've replanted Ribes, Red currants and the honey scented Spirea x arguta. The neighbourhood kids love the red currants when there are ripe, but unfortunately the neighbourhood dogs pee against the lower branches (not stopped by their owners....unbelievable!)

The bamboe is one of the few survivors of our predecessor. We didn't want it overgrowing our garden, so took it out and had it in a pot for years, and then planted it out in a boring corner of the park. After the terribly cold winter of 2012 it seemed to have disappeared, but look, it's back! And Theo has planted Hemerocallis in this bit as well, which will be blooming in May/June.

This is one of my favourite bushes: a red hazelnut. It is only just coming into leaf, and its nuts are gorgeous. This is a shoot off of our own bush, which is giving us kilos of nuts every autumn.

The Helleborus is a legacy of Wibe, our son, who had a thing for them a couple of years ago, and collected different species. We got too many, so planted them out in the park, where they thrive.

You don't see them yet, but in this corner I have sown lots of Verbascum olympicum and Digitalis. But the purple and white Honesty are already showing their colours, and so are the Lamiums.

Okay, I'm going to love you and leave you now, but not before I've shown you the latest pride and joy: the parrot tulip in our greenhouse, the first in bloom. Isn't it gorgeous?!