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, 8 August 2014

Viggo's Opinion About International Cat Day.

Following his much-read interview about his favourite subject (himself), Viggo has granted a second interview, about ICD.
We agreed to meet him in one of his preferred haunts: the laundry basket. Since he was fast asleep at the appointed time, we waited for ten minutes.

We then waited for another ten minutes while he smartened himself up for the photographer.

- Can you tell us a little more about the shelter you came from?

V: I thought we were going to talk about International Cat Day.

- Yes, that too, but my readers are interested in that shelter.

V: Are they? It's really not that interesting. 

- Please?

V: If I must...My Mum, me and my siblings were thrown over their fence. Now, I was only a couple of days old at the time, but if I remember correctly I behaved heroically.

- How many siblings did you have?

V: We were three brothers. They were a bit older and stronger than me, I was the youngest, but I was the most intelligent, by far. All they did was mewl and stuff, but I looked around me and found out the best way to survive immediately. I saw that I should suck up to the shelter boss in a big way, and that I would became her best friend, and that would ensure me the largest bowl of food and the best cuddles. It worked. She almost cried when she had to let me go.

- How long did you live in that shelter?

V: A couple of months.

- Did your siblings stay with you all that time?

V: No...they left a bit before me.

- Why?

V: They mwroafmmmmmm...

- Excuse me? You are mumbling a bit, I didn't quite catch that?

V: I said: they got rid of their mange quicker than I did, so they were able to adopt a family sooner. Are you hard of hearing?

- Do you miss them at all?

V: Don't be stupid. If you are going to ask stupid questions, this interview is over!

- Sorry. What do you think about ICD?

V: I think it is a commercial attempt to get people to feel sorry for cats in shelters.

- Yes, but since there are so many of you stuck in abysmal conditions, those shelters provide an out, don't they, and they need money desperately.

V: Are you giving your opinion now, don't you know that this violates #1 rule of conducting an interview? You are supposed to write down my opinion, not give yours!

- Still?

V: Still what? Oh...Yes, obviously those shelters need money, duh! The cat food could be a lot better, for one. And I would have preferred to have a bench of my own, instead of having to share. My brother left his hairballs lying about, disgusting habit!

- But would you advise people to adopt cats from shelters, instead of shelling out a huge amount of money for a cat from a breeder?

V: Oh, absolutely! Those in-bred cats are weaklings. I have a couple in my area, those what-you-may-call-it Maine Coons. Maine Coons! Long-haired egomaniacs, that's what they are. They sit on fences preening, showing off those ridiculously long fluffy tails all day long. Haven't caught a mole in their lives, I bet. Wouldn't know where to start. Maine Coons-buffoons!

- Any last words?

V: Yes. Send food! So far, no one has sent me any. Don't your readers understand I am hungry all the time? It's my shelter background...never enough food, you see. Heck, send money to the shelters for all I care, but send me a salami!

(Viggo after a tiring day spent in front of a fresh mole hill)

At Viggo's request, I have provided a link: Stray Cat Strut
and he says to read the message.

Did A Knooppunten Test - and it was wonderful!

Good afternoon, all you cyclists and other readers!
Last night I did a test drive to see whether that whole knooppunten theory of mine (= you can cycle all around the Wetlands even if you have sense of direction of precisely 0%) works.

I'm very happy to be able to tell you that YES! - it works perfectly!
Even for such a notorious 'lost-my-way' person as myself (I was once lost in London for more than 6 hours, resulting in angry phone calls to my boss about where on earth those ordered bouquets were), it is an easy to follow method.

(Um...about those 6 hours in London: do you know how many High Roads there are in London?! I ended up crying near Shepherds Bush and then after another 1 1/2 hours turned the car around when I saw a road sign pointing towards the North least I recognised that. Those bouquets were subsequently delivered by my extremely pissed-off boss himself. Who was also my partner. It was complicated)

So...I started from home (obviously), and my first knooppunt was number 48. By looking at the very thoughtfully provided map, I could then plan my route, cycling from point to point. It seems a bit illogical at times, for instance when you are at 34 and the next one you need is 11, but it works, it absolutely works!
Relieved from the nagging thought that I would probably get lost even though this is my home turf, I could enjoy the landscape around me.
I cycled along pretty dykes I had never been at before...and I have lived here for the last 27 years; it was an eye-opener.

As it was early evening, the hares were out in force...I spotted more than a dozen along the way. And I saw a family of partridges, as well as quite a few pheasants. And the usual cows, horses, goats, geese and sheep of course, there's no getting away from them around here.
Just after I had left the village of Tinte (nothing amazing to add about the village of Tinte, sorry, except that they have a village festival every Summer where they drink themselves silly for a week) I passed a wooden fence and there it was: a huge gorgeous buzzard. It sat there, contemplating Life. Or digesting something. Anyway, it just sat there watching me watching it.
Immediately I had this dream about how that buzzard would fly to my fist, and that I would ride and stride triumphantly home, carrying my buzzard friend for life. I tried ESP. But it simply continued to sit on the fence. So I rode on.

(No, not that buzzard...this is a photo I found on the web. It probably isn't even a buzzard. And it has copyright, see? So if and when I ever to get to make some money from this blog...I'll be philosophical about it)

Only a km after my encounter with the bird of prey I saw a young man being instructed in how to drive sheep. A small herd of 8 lovely exotic sheep (not a native Dutch race, I mean) was being herded around traffic cones in a small meadow with the aid of a long staff and a border collie. It was immediately apparent to me that the collie was more experienced than the young man. Whenever a sheep would start to wander off, it would start to quiver, all the time looking from the sheep to the man and aching for an instruction. ESP worked fine this time. I got strong thought patterns screaming "hey! dude! that sheep should be snapped back into group! hey! for crying out loud, give me the command to go get it!!!!".

It was entertaining, that's for certain. After watching the dog get more and more frustrated, and eventually disobeying the command to lie down, it raced around the herd instead and drove those 8 into a tiny mount of wool, I rode on, silently cheering the collie. Well done, girl!

The remainder of my 25 km passed without anything of interest. The sun sank behind the bank of cloud introducing the end of our amazing 4 weeks of wonderful sunny Summer weather.
My butt hurt, a bit. I need to build up tougher skin there (Frith knows it's big enough), that's for sure! But I felt great.

Got you a nice photo, courtesy of the web. (My Samsung only takes mediocre pics)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Sort of Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars - by John Green

We're back from 4 glorious days in Amsterdam. And, not incidentally, one of the best books I have read in a loooooooong time is partly set in that lovely city.

(She is sitting on the bench...yes, THAT bench!)

Some time ago my daring daughter pointed out to me that I HAD to read a book by John Green (never heard of him), as it was magnificent. But I was extremely busy and had two books on the go I put it off and then forgot about it.

When we arrived in Amsterdam it was sweltering (27 degrees - extremely hot for Dutch people) and bursting to the seams with gay people as it was Gay Pride Weekend. We partied with them for exactly 10 minutes and then decided to flee into the most beautiful cinema Amsterdam has: the Tuschinski.
We could choose between 6 films, but darling daughter wanted to see The Fault In Our Stars. Again. 'You know, Mum, that book I urged you to read'.
Fine. It looked fine, and I wanted to please her, so we went in.
Holy moly, I came out crying my eyes out. And I wasn't the only one! I swear all the women and not a few of the men around me were sniffling discreetly, or bawling out loud.

We spent the next hour locating the particular bench that Hazel Grace and Augustus had been sitting on in the film. The director had helpfully filmed the name of the gracht, the Leidsegracht, and the church in the background helped as well. When we had found the bench, we had to wait our turn, as another mother and daughter were taking photographs.
Darling daughter sat down, and discovered people had put quotes from the book onto the bench. Sweet, albeit a little vandalistic. When we were about to finish, we were approached by a company of 6 people, who shyly asked us if this was THE bench.
And I tell you, when we took a canal boat trip two days later, and went past this bench, it was swarming with people, with them lining up in order to take photographs!

Now, I had immediately after leaving the cinema walked into the first bookstore I could find, and I had bought the book.
Every evening and every morning whilst in Amsterdam, I read. And, fair is fair, I prefer the book to the film. Sure, the film is romantic and great and the actors are wonderful! 
But the book is better.
Rawer, more realistic, less smooth.
I know about cancer and I know about pain. And the book tells you about this without being sentimental, and so insightful that I sometimes held my breath without realising it and then was wondering why I was so out of breath.
Mr Green, John, chapeau!!!!
You have written a book I will recommend to my pupils, and to all others I will meet for ever after.
So, folks, even if you never read a book: READ THIS BOOK!
If you have a family member, or a friend, or a neighbour, or a colleague, with cancer: READ THIS BOOK!