Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 - 1 (Harwich to Richmond)

When the possibility arose that I would be able to go on holiday  after all this year (due to my caregiver responsibilities that was very un...

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Do You Feel Like a Room Without a Roof? Just Another Day in the Garden.

Hi there!
My pansies have had it. That last storm 2 nights ago, with wind speeds up to 9, have whipped them into submission...no life left in them.
What better excuse to visit my local garden shop?!


Gardening makes me very happy indeed :-)
So: out with the pansies and in with a lovely lavender (the purple butterfly variety) and in front of the house blue lobelia and white begonia. I try to stick to a blue/white/grey/pink colour scheme over there, as we still haven't repainted the blue/grey door covering.


There you are; they are tiny still (I tend to go for small plants as they are far cheaper, obviously), but experience tells me they will grow to overflow that planter in no time!

Meanwhile the plants in the greenhouse are growing as well. We have harvested the first 3 (small) cucumbers, and I have been able to pluck enough lettuce leaves for salads for the last week. Yay! They taste much, much better than that stuff you can buy in the supermarket (we don't have an organic greenery nearby, unfortunately).




The large-leafed plant is a courgette (or zuchini I believe Americans call it). And the tomatoes are coming along fine. The red/orange flowers are called "Afrikaantjes", and they smell rather peppery. Many people say they stink. We've planted them not for their flowers (which are nice enough), but for their utility in keeping out the ants. Ants hate them.

And what do you think of our geranium? Cool eh?


It's last year's, but due to our extremely mild winter it never stopped growing, so now it is 60 cm wide and high. Together with the herbs and the gravel it gives the back garden where we eat (whenever we can!) a French atmosphere.

Two evenings ago we tried eating there; the temperature was fine (22 degrees, which is warm for The Wetlands I can tell you!), but that wind blew so hard already that the salad was blown into the liguster hedge...Oh well. You aren't Dutch if you aren't used to wind and wetness...

Okay, back to the garden for me now!
Have a lovely Saturday, and get your hands into that soil!








Thursday, 22 May 2014

Veracity - the 6th "ity"

I've come to the sixth in this series of 18 thought up by the Swami. And it is a tough one, in more ways than one.



When you swear in a court of law, in most countries you say something like: " I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".
But do you in real life? How many times a day do you enhance a story just this tiny bit, so that it is a little more glamorous, or exciting, or believable, or palatable?

Veracity is a seldom used word in ordinary conversations.  I've yet to meet the person who says: "And what's the veracity of that?" 
If you look it up in Wikipedia (and I have) there is no page for it; you get directed to the page for honesty instead, and this is only a couple of paragraphs long.

One of the nicest quotes I could find about veracity is by Margaret Mitchell, the lauded writer of Gone With the Wind (does anyone still read this in 2014?):

"The liar was the hottest to defend his veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness, and the cad his honor" 

I suppose it translates best as 'truthfulness'. To others, but also to yourself.
Quite a feat, to be true to yourself. True to your beliefs and convictions. Far easier to let yourself be swayed and persuaded by others. It makes life less strained. 

Be true, truthful and tell the truth.
Far easier to lie convincingly when they ask you if you have seen the fish.


Today we Dutchmen had the chance to vote in the European elections. I wonder how many of my countrymen and countrywomen stayed true to their beliefs.




Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Gers! Magazine: the best that Rotterdam has to offer.

Okay, I admit it, I cheated. I only heard of this magazine because my son knows one of the photographers.
And it took 5 editions before I caught on. But then. WOW!!!


(Btw, I don't know who the artist is that created this comical bicyclist, but it's a great picture! Imagine me stopping dead for Gers!)

Full stop! This is a wonderful magazine!
Not only does the magazine have a proper, recognizable "Rotterdam- touch", but it is chock-a-block of amazing photographs.
Sure, I like text. I write text. Text is what makes the world go round, as far as I'm concerned. And Gers! has a lot of well-written text.
But I'm an "image-thinker", and so images are ever so important to me. And my son is an aspiring photographer, so I'm always on the look-out for good, inspiring photography. And am very often disappointed. As soon as I think: "Hm, I could do that...better?", I am disappointed.
And believe me, I did not think that once when leafing through Gers! #5.

Take, just for example, the article about transgenders. Very 'hot': think Conchita Wurst.
In a text header it says: "The Netherlands are, supposedly, free and tolerant. We are mostly indifferent though".
Here you are. This is why this is a good, no, a great, magazine. No beating about the bush. The truth. Raw, Rotterdam honesty.

It has an article about the Rotterdam hookers. Whores, yes. Rotterdam, harbour and whores go together like ships and sailors. But the sailors dock far, far out, in Europoort, and need to be transported with minivans to the sex clubs of  the harbour district. Again, the raw truth about an old port which lost its red light district to building projects and managers.

And there's much, much more. About football (Rotterdam and football are a given), about jazz (Rotterdam and jazz are a match made in heaven; this windy city is created for jazz, like that other windy city Chicago), about multiculti projects, about immigrants.
With a very definite large multiculti immigrant population Rotterdam is a hotbed of dissent and creativity at the same time.

Gers! is a typical Rotterdam slang word, with its root in Jiddisch.  My mother saw her Jewish schoolfriend dragged from her home and deported in 1942. It was a defining moment in her life.
I grew up with a love-hate relationship with Rotterdam because of her stories (not the thing you want to hear over and over when you are a naïve romantic girl in the sex, drugs and rock&roll Seventies), but also with an over-developed feel for honesty, justice and tolerance.
Gers! seems to have this same feel.

Now all we need is an English version!!!

(By the way, for € 15,00 you can become a 'fan', and they will send the newest edition to your home.)


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Come on, you can do better than that, surely?

Good evening (it is evening over here, and what a lovely evening it is!)
How are you all?
Have you voted in the poll (at the top of the blog page) yet? No....you have not. So far only one person has... And this person wants more about gardening and a day in the life :-)
Well, Person, here you are:


This picture says it all. This is everything I like about cats; the ability to seek out the best sleeping place in the garden, with your head in a ray of sunlight, underneath a pretty shrub, on warm flagstones.
Felines do know how to seek out the best spots, don't they?

Did I mention you can also visit my Rays of Light Page on FB? here's the link:

My son has bought an audio recorder, so as soon as he's more familiar with it, I intend to link you to my voice. 
Eeeeeeeek?
Well, if "eeeeeek"  was your gut reaction, by all means do not seek it out. But if you are curious, then by all means do. And I can tell you about a day in the life firsthand.

(Hey, Person, did you catch on? This is more about cats again...sorry)
Right. I am very busy, as I have to write a speech for the forthcoming wedding on Friday. So I'll say bye-bye for now.
Do fill in that poll, if you have a moment?