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...

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Colouring for Adults: Childish Pastime, or Mindful Zen Moment?

Here you have it. The Dutch rage, craze, trend (take your pick) of 2014-2015.

All of a sudden adults were not ashamed to admit they were colouring. And they didn't have to pinch their kid's books or buy childish coloring books either - for someone with a very smart business plan brought special colouring books for adults on the market. First there was one, which you had to search for, and then all of a sudden around Christmas 2014 they were everywhere.
I had a talk with our local pencil supplier and he told me that coloring pencils were a dwindling market (kids prefer the markers) - until recently. Now the luxury 50 pencil boxes fly out of his shop almost as fast as he can get them in.

I adore it.
It makes those chattering monkeys in my head, especially those after a stressful day's teaching, shut up instantly. They go quiet and respectfully watch me sharpen my pencil and start a new zentangle, or mandala, or wallpaper. When one tries to start in with a flip remark, the others hush it immediately. Be quiet! She's creating calm.

So what do I like about it so much?
It's a combination of factors: the anticipation - the choosing of the colours - the putting on of music - the concentration - the being totally in the moment.
Very Zen, in fact!

I must admit my husband looks at me askance and although he doesn't say it out loud, 27 years of experience of living with him tells me what he is thinking: don't you have something better to do with your time?

No, actually.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

No More Sun for the Wetlands - But My Garden Is Blooming.

Just a quick post to share my lovely garden with you.

Like it?


Wetlands Woods - How Even a Tiny Spot of Green Can Lift Your Spirits.

We live next to a municipal plot of trees - optimistically called a 'wood'. Its is only 17 hectares, has no official name, but my persistent publishing in the local newspaper about it during the early years of this Millennium has coined the name "Kooisteebos". 

It has grown for 25 years by now, and has turned into a green haven for the people of our part of town. The foresters of the owner, Staatsbosbeheer, tend to ignore it (thank Frith!) for most of the time, they only turn up occasionally to cut down a part of it and cart the logs away. 
And for the last couple of years it has become very popular with dog walkers, as it has turned into the only part of this side of town where you are still allowed to let Boris run free. Thus I tend to choose the very early or very late hours to enter it. I do like dogs, but not when there are too many of them at the same time.

This windless drizzly  Sunday morning I was the only one there; except for the birds. I heard the green woodpecker, the many kinds of tits, the robins, the jays, the jackdaws and the cuckoo. Whilst my Gina was sniffing the grass, I noticed the hundreds of snails who were marching up the trees. Are they expecting high water? 

Ever since I noticed the birds falling silent seconds before a minor earthquake hit (me in) Athens, I keep an eye on things like that.

All this green always manages to lift my heart, however heavy it is. I was raised near the sea, but give me a forest.

The locals call this flower "Kikkerbloem" (Frogs Flower), as it appears when the frogs are marching and mating. It is like Belgian Lace, and gorgeous, and smells very green. 

This path marks the edge of the Kooisteebos; after this there are the polders, with lots of potatoes and fodder corn, and onions.
I know, it is not spectacular, not at all. But it is my green haven.

10 Reasons for Planting Your Own Vegetables-and-Enjoying-It.

Hi there, from the wet and windy Wetlands.
Have you ever tried planting your own? Vegetables that is - not flowers this time?

We are enthusiastic gardeners (with emphasis on enthusiastic - not so much on knowledgable). So (as the photograph clearly shows) we do err from time to time.
Like last year, when we planted courgettes (zucchinis) in our greenhouse and they behaved like The Day of the Trifids.
Our struggling tomatoes and cucumbers were not happy, I can tell you!
Still. I do love it. Gardening. And here are 10 reasons why you should try it as well:

1. Vegetable seed comes dirt cheap. Better still, swap it with other enthusiastics.
2. You can do it everywhere! Even in the bath, if need be.
3. Some veggies are like weeds; they thrive even if you neglect them. (Parsley is a good example; although this is a herb if you should want to nit-pick I suppose)
4. Your home-grown vegetables taste 100 times better than store-bought ones.
5. You don't have to worry about poison. At least, when you don't spray yourself.
6. You can swap with other growers. For example, I get the grape harvest from my neighbours, who do not like grapes (Yes! True story!) but who do like my grape jelly.
7. It keeps you sane. 
8. It keeps you healthy (all that digging, bending, lifting and picking).
9. It keeps you in stories to tell.
10. It keeps your weight in check. That is, if you try to eat your own harvest. Just try to eat all the vegetables and fruit and herbs you grow, there will not be room for greasy other foodstuff.