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, 19 April 2014

How Important is Nature to You?

Hi there!
I noticed I now have some readers in Japan; oh...goody! Japanese people have something which interests me very much: shinto.
There is something extremely appealing to esthetic and natural beauty, uncluttered and pure.
And although I am not a religious person as such (I do not bow to any religion), I do feel amazed by the universe, its energy, and am very interested in what makes other people do bow to religious beliefs. And I feel overawed by nature.

Look at the pot above. It is in my favourite colour. But when I dream, I usually dream about green.
Green is probably in my genes, coming from The Wetlands, where rain is plenty and leaves and grass are abundant. When the grass starts growing in Spring, it lifts my spirit. When the trees lose their leaves in Autumn, I seem to dwindle as well. 
One of the predominant memories of my youth is walking through the woods near my childhood home, and looking up at the crowns of the trees, and watching the sunlight filtered through them, and hearing the cawing of the jackdaws who had made their nests there. I was completely and utterly at peace and happy there.

This photo is definitely NOT from my country; we do not have trees like that nor flowers like that. But it does evoke those memories for me. Peace. Natural beauty.

There you are. This IS in my country. I took this in Limburg, our most Southern province. And just by looking at this, I can call up the feeling of tranquility I felt when I walked past this post, watched the barbed wire put there to keep the cows in, and the wild campanula growing there. 

Travelling into Rotterdam every work day makes me appreciate my home environment even more. I live on the edge of suburbia; only 5 minutes walking and I am in the meadows and fields. They grow potatoes, fodder maize and grains near my house. But there are cows and horses there as well. And hares, partridges, pheasants, swans, ducks, geese, and lots of small birds and rodents. (The photo above isn't mine, by the way!)

This one is. Because when I walk the other way, only twenty minutes walking takes me to the sea arm called the Haringvliet, and these huge flowering plants grow there (they are 1 m high). I think they are gorgeous. 
Sure, I like the sea, and water, especially running water and waterfalls. But it is to the woods, trees, that my heart is drawn most.

How about you? How important is nature to you? And what do you prefer? Woods? Fields? Mountains? Desert? Sea? 
I will leave you with a little, beautiful film about nature. Enjoy!

Friday, 18 April 2014

For All Photography Fans - New Website Launched for Wibe Koopman

If you have kids, or nieces and nephews you  are very fond of, you probably know the immense and intense feeling of pride that washes over you when they do something worthwhile.

Well, then you know how I feel right now!
 My son Wibe, studying and working hard to become a photographer, has launched his new website.
It is still under revision, and he needs to translate his biography etcetera, but it already gives an impression of the great things still to come.
Do take a look! The link is underneath this photo he took of me for a portrait assignment. It's one of the few existing formal photographs, since I am always (and always have been) the officious family photographer...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Happy Cat to you!

Oh inspiration whatsoever. It happens....
And no story in store either...
The fact of the matter is that I'm pretty zonked out. My back is troubling me, work was hectic, emotional and plain hard work today,  I have a headache and I would rather be in bed. 

So, I have decided it is Cat Day today! Happy Cat to you!!!
Cat is warm. Cat is cuddly. Cat is regal. Cat is inquisitive. Cat is hungry (my cat is always hungry). Cat is imperious. Cat is Master of the Universe.

Got some of my favourite cats for you!

You either love this post, or you have skipped it, in which case I don't have to worry about it, eh?
I'll leave you with a link to happy memory of my youth.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Honeysuckle - the perfect cover for an ugly wall.

I promised you more posts about gardening - and I'm true to my word. It is no hardship at all, as it is Spring and my garden is a riot of colour and I swear I can hear the plants grow!

This is my Betula, or my ghost birch, and the wild forest Honeysuckle that used to grow into it. Last year my dog Gina destroyed the plant one day, by gnawing through the base. Why? Beats me. But the honeysuckle didn't survive the onslaught.

And this is the honeysuckle which we have planted along the dividing fence which separates our garden from the street. It smells divine! It attracts all kinds of insects.

This is the same plant, when in full bloom. We sit out in the garden until late at night, and smell this plant, whilst listening to the frogs in our pond, and to the hooting of the tame owl our neighbours keep. You would think we are way out into the wild, as opposed to in the middle of suburbia. 

I searched out an old photograph for you, from 1997, when the old pergola was still in place. The honeysuckle, seen from the bedroom window on the first floor, is covering a makeshift little roof, made of an old sheep fence, which gave my then 4 year old son shade to play in  and my daughter used to be in her crib under this natural roof. I remember her looking up at the green cover above her head and waving her chubby little arms at it.

We have another honeysuckle as well, which is pale yellow and smells of lemons. I love it! But for some reason it has never been photographed by me. I will remedy this in the time to come! 

So why not plant yourself a honeysuckle of your own? Did you know you have 180 species to choose from? And if you are into Bach remedies: honeysuckle helps you to let go of the past. And it is a great plant for bees, who can use all the help they can get!!!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Rose would be a Rose by any other name. Roses: do you grow them?

 Here it is.
My favourite flower.

Ever since I can remember I have adored roses, in all forms and shapes (yes, even those garish orange ones that have no smell), but especially the English blowsy scented ones like the one in the photo.

My Mum used to grow pale yellow ones in borders, masses and masses of them, and red climbing ones against the (whitewashed) walls of their old house. Every year they were pruned and mulched with horse manure (we kept a  horse, so plenty of it). Our old dog used to scrape out nice comfy holes underneath them, and so did our free ranging chickens, and the roses didn't mind. They bloomed and thrived.

When we bought our present house twenty-one years ago, one of the first things we planted in our derelict wasteland of a plot outside was a climbing rose, a New Dawn.
We bought it only 30 cm. high, and within one season it grew to a stunning 2.50 m long, absolutely covered in blooms.
We've changed our garden around 100% since then (due to the extension we've built into the garden at the place where the New Dawn used to be), but I dug out an old photo for you.

There is the New Dawn right at the right of the photo, and the white climbing rose "Snow White" in the foreground on the left. This too, grew metres long within the first year of planting. It was an issue with my (then) neighbour though, as the blooms all blew into her garden and she was the one who had to sweep them all up every day. So after a year or two of putting up with her grumbles about it, we dug it up and replanted it on the other side of the garden. Here is the proof, in a little posy I made last Summer

These days I have many different kinds of roses. At the moment they are just coming into leaf, but I promise I'll take photos of them for a future blog when they are in flower.

Do you like roses? And which ones do you grow?