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, 20 June 2015

We Are Creatures of Habit

Good morning, folks, everywhere :-)
As is my habit, I am using the lazy Saturday (well...I already did the habitual weekend laundry, the shopping and the hoovering) to write a post for Rays of Light (and for The Entertainment Whacko, as it happens. This will probably become a new habit).

What I would like to share with you all today is that I am reading a fascinating book at the moment, by journalist Charles Duhigg, called "The Power of Habit".

Since it is my habit to post an inspiring photo after my first two paragraphs, I will not divert from this. Here you are: hope you'll like it.

What attracted me to Mr Duhigg's book in the first place was the blurb stating (and I quote) " empowering discovery: the key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive or even building revolutionary companies is to understanding how habits work."

Wow! This man, not knowing me from Eve, knows exactly what my issues in life are! He only missed one: nurturing a happy marriage. But still: kudos!

I am a sucker for books, and I immediately craved this one. (Later on, in chapter 2, Duhigg explained to me that this is quite normal for me. I happen to have a craving brain. So do you, by the way!)

The book burnt a hole in my bag, but I had to postpone until I reached home and bed, hours later. But then I could not stop reading. I had to force myself to put it away and turn off the light, resulting in a zombie-like day at school yesterday.

Long story short (in fact the first part of the book): we are creatures of habit, all of us, so much so that we spend our lives habitually craving things in order to reap rewards we are not even aware of and which are often downright bad for us.

Now, it is not my intention to steal Duhigg's thunder, if you want to know the details you simply will have to buy and read his book.
But what I do want to share with you is that, for the first time in 20 years of gradually gaining weight and struggling with that issue, I began to have an inkling why (to name but one thing) it is so damn hard for me to lose it. And why I was effortlessly skinny when I was single. And how (!) I should be able to to turn things around and shed those extra un-needed and uncomfortable kilos.

He gives loads of examples, and they are a good read as well as very interesting. So far I've read up to Part Two, so I have two-thirds of the book still to go. Perhaps I'll do another post about the rest after I've finished, perhaps not. It is my habit to be unpredictable that way.

So, guys and girls, if you are struggling with your cravings as well, in any way, this could be an eye-opener for you as well. Check it out!
(It's a pity my old dog can't read; she could do with this and all!)

Right. You are used to my habit of ending with another photograph. So I'll do. Wouldn't want to upset your habit loop. Or mine.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Grey Is The New Ginger!

You know what is said about people (especially women, for some reason) with ginger hair, don't you? 
Oh, you don't?
Well. They say that red-haired women are harpies. Or feisty. Or temperamental. Get it?

Personally I think that is hogwash. Red-haired women are just as sweet, or as bitchy, as brunettes or blondes.
But let's for argument's sake say that there is a grain of truth in it. That gingers are less boring, more exotic - alright: more temperamental that the other hair colours.

Then I state that grey is the new ginger. (No, not that 50 shades of grey bullshit, I mean grey hair).
Oh dear. I hope I haven't offended anyone now. If you actually read and liked that book, so sorry!

Lately I have noticed a new phenomenon. More and more well-thinking women of a certain age around me have stopped tinting their hair. In fact, so have I! My hairdresser doesn't like it one bit - but then my unilateral decision stops her from earning 85 Euros every 6 weeks, so I totally get her point.
I let my grey come through - my silver wings are getting progressively more silvery every week, I swear. And I like it. It gives me a look that goes with the laugh lines and the wrinkles in my face. And yes, I now do look as if I'm approaching sixty, which I am, so what?

I'm rather proud of my seniority. At work no-one can mistake me for a young nitwit any longer. In fact, I often use it on purpose, when my young guys (I have 430 'guys' I teach English to, from the age of 16 to the age of 24) get too rowdy. "Hey, mind my age, mind granny", I tell them. It's usually good for a laugh. Make no mistake, to them 30 is old, 40 is older and anything over 50 is definitely ancient. I mean, most of their parents are much younger than me!

Us older women have borrowed some of that temper from our ginger sisters, though. At Pinkpop (a pop festival) I observed quite a few grey-haired women rocking to metal bands. With abandon. Without shame.

And that pleases me. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Selah Sue - I'm In Love!

Belgium is a tiny country, even tinier than my own country The Netherlands. But small countries can be big in some aspects, and Belgium has consistently brought forth huge artists. It started with Jacques Brel and it hasn't stopped.

Milow, Stromae come immediately to mind (and if you in The States have never heard of Milow I forgive you...if you at least look him up on YouTube though).
But now I need to tell you that yesterday, whilst watching day two of Pinkpop live on my TV, I instantly fell in love with another Belgian singer. 

Her name is Selah Sue, and she is amazing!

I had vaguely heard of her, but had never hear her sing.
A quick Google taught me that I was an exception (I have been busy; told you my job is too demanding!) - that even His Royal Purpleness Prince knows her and has had her in his show.
She appears tiny herself, a bit like her country. But her voice is as big as her talent. And this petit girl had the crowd in her pocket, easily. Jiving, constantly in motion, she moved across the enormous Pinkpop stage like a breath of fresh air on her trendy 8 cm poles that looked as uncomfortable as stilts, huge golden ethnic earrings swinging wildly.

It made no difference if she sang with her band (including 2 female backup singers) or all alone, accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar. She commanded that stage, and all 70.000 people on the field.

She is worth checking out, folks, especially if you enjoy knowing about European independent singer-songwriters who are not just any pretty face. A year ago she revealed that she suffers from depressions, something which runs in her family. She made a point of pointing out that the anti-depressive drugs she uses help her function, and refutes some American prof's claim that placebos would help just as well. Just saying.

Anyway...she is, for me, my discovery of 2015 (a bit late, she's been active since 2006). Let her be yours as well?

*Pinkpop - a Dutch pop festival originally held every Whitsun Weekend in Landgraaf. It is one of the more successful Dutch traditions to go to Pinkpop, wear a pink outfit, flowers in your hair and rave.

Viggo Feels Gina is Getting Old!

Hi fans, Viggo here.

You know I am of the opinion that dogs are...well, somewhat thick creatures, don't you? And they are so dependent on their 'masters' (that name! I do not have a master, I AM master!).
And you probably also know (if you follow my blog and Haikus) that my dog Gina and I have a love-hate relationship.
Now, Gina is to blame for that, absolutely! When I arrived in my home 4 years ago, I was more than willing to share her basket with her and bond. But she told me in no uncertain terms that she didn't want to share, and that she didn't feel like sharing her food either, and that I should stick to the perimeter she set.

And I did. We now occasionally touch noses, and she sometimes even gives me a tiny lick, but that's it. I tried telling her about my philosophy and showed her how to do the cat stretch, but her heart wasn't into it. I can tell.

But now I want to share something with you. I am worried about her. She is getting so...old, lately! She groans, and moans, and when she's been in her basket for awhile she has trouble getting to her feet, and she limps through the garden. No cat stretch can remedy that, I'm afraid. I hear my woman tell people that Gina has back problems and that her hip is troubling her.
Now, I can easily do without her, that goes without saying, but my house would feel a little empty when she's not there. Ain't no sunshine when she's gone...sort of.
So today I asked my woman to take a photo of her, at her favorite spot near the pond. And she did.

Happiness is in the Details - Gardening in the Wetlands

Good afternoon (or evening/morning, depending where you are on this globe of ours).
Today we are having typical Wetlands weather: 18 degrees and alternately sunny or cloudy, very windy and sometimes threatening rain. Hence: sweater on - sweater off whilst in my garden. I'm used to it.

The garden is absolutely lovely right now. The wind has not damaged much so far, and we have been lucky with the sudden night frost of a week ago (June! I mean, really!) as well.

Since hubby has cut down our ailing plum tree last Autumn as it was threatening to fall onto our greenhouse, our roses get more light, and it shows! We have more roses in bloom than last year, and they look healthier as well.
I adore roses, so I make certain I walk past them at least four times a day, and sometimes even more often.

This is Snow White (Sneeuwwitje in Dutch), isn't it gorgeous?

And this is a nameless Pink we got from my Mum some years ago, as it was ailing on her balcony.  It is doing very well in our garden, thank you very much, and produces flowers almost as large as  my hand.

And again I have dissuaded hubby to tear out the monarda, as I like it. He doesn't, because it produces loads of huge leaves and 'walks' through the flower bed. It is a sloppy plant. I like sloppy (must be because I'm rather sloppy myself).

Hope you liked the photos, until next time!