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, 12 September 2015

My Pond Fish Have Started A Fish-Protest-Group.

Oh dear, all of a sudden my gorgeous pond has turned into a mini Everglades with hardly any water visible...
I swear my goldfish have started their own pressure group: FISH FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM.
And when I was trying to restore some order (and find the water), I expected an alligator to stalk me.

If you look closely you can see the fish swimming around in the foreground,waving their placards.

So I fiddled around a bit with one of those professional looking, but oh-so-akward-to-use, pond appliances which consists of a long pole, a wire, a handle and a cutting knife. Within 3 minutes my back was aching and my fish had fled to the other side of the pond. Perhaps our riot police should start waving those cutters about instead of pelting protesters with tear gas.

Still, I managed to clear a bit of water. 

Ah....look....happy fishies.

Autumn really has arrived in The Wetlands now. It smells of apples, leaves turning and wet earth in my garden. Before long the fish will have plenty of clear water again, when all that greenery will die down.
But until then I will enjoy the pond jungle.

Note to Self: try to find a house with a pond.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Buying A House Is Hard Work!

Good evening to you, where-ever you are.
For your sake, I hope you are sitting cosily in your own home, surrounded by your loved ones.
Told you (or perhaps not in so many words, but the readers-between-the-lines knew) that I am searching for a new home for my two YA kids and myself, didn't I? And for my macho cat Viggo, of course!

Let me tell you, this is bloody hard work!
Now, I am on a tight budget ( tight as the seal on a new bottle of Glenfiddich, which - by the way - I will not be able to afford in the coming 30 years), so 90% of all 3 bedroom houses on the market around my hometown are simply way too expensive for me.

That 10% that is left I peruse on the Internet. Housebrokers thoughtfully provide descriptions and (!!!) photos. Oh...those photos. They show sunny spacious rooms with pristine paintwork, which (when you view them in real life) turn out to be poky smelly ones with watermarks in the corners. How do they do this? Photoshop?
But I'm wising up fast. Do benefit from my newly found wisdom:

When the description says there are 3 bedrooms, but the photos show only 1, this means that the other two are not large enough to swing a cat in (so sorry, Viggo), can barely hold a single bed in other words, let alone a desk and/or chest of drawers.

When the description says that the house needs a little work, this means that the walls need plastering, the gutters have grass and trees growing in them, the bathroom is mouldy, the outside paint is non-existant, the woodwork is rotten in places and the kitchen cabinets are sagging. (Oh, do see #3 by all means)

When the description says the property has a basic kitchen, this means that the cabinets are sagging and the appliances ("kitchen appliances included!" - oh, goody) are at least 10 years old and yellowing. Or with wires hanging out and essential bits missing (saw this one today).

When the descriptions says the garden needs a little tlc, this means there are Triffid-like weeds trying to take over the street, or (saw this one today - ) the neighbouring garden is used as the local garbage dump, or there is crazy paving everywhere with a suspicion of buried corpses underneath.

When the description says there is room for home improvement - run a mile. Unless you are a masochist OR you have an unscratchable itch to live in a tip for months on end.

Ah, I can hear you say "Oh...come it really that bad?". Yes, it is. Right now I doubt I will ever find a reasonably priced, reasonably maintained property.
But I could be wrong.
So I will call it a day for today, but tomorrow I will visit all those house-agent's websites again.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Are You A Beach Person?

Good morning to you!
Circumstances beyond my control (I was asked out to lunch) brought me to one of our local beaches yesterday. And even though it was your normal, typical September Wetlands beach weather (cold, damp, windy, cloudy, 14 degrees but the wind-chill factor making it feel like 12 degrees) I found myself asking myself why I don't visit the beach more often.

And no, this is NOT our beach...
This is our beach:

©Wibe Koopman Photography

Still. There were quite a lot of people kitesurfing, which I admire enormously. 
Imagine: you drive yourself to this beach (often from Germany), you gear up in a sticky sandy wetsuit, you drag this humungous kite towards the water (just take a look at that distance, won't you?), you get all those lines untangled, then the wind blows them all into a ball again and you start over, then you walk that kite into the water, you forget your board so you have to do it all again, you stand there buffeted by the waves...And when you know your stuff you're away.
As I said: I admire those people.

The ones with the kite dragging a kart - hm, not so much somehow. First, they don't get wet. Second, it's more the gear than the skill, to my un-knowing eyes. Sorry if I've offended anyone now. Not my intention, simply my opinion.

But then again, that 3rd photo is to show you the nature of our Wetlands beaches. Vast, vast, vast stretches of sand. Our tides rush in covering kilometers, no joke. Our waters are grey most of the time, sometimes a kind of blue if we get lucky. And they are always chilly to cold to downright freezing. And they are treacherous, with an undertow causing deaths every summer.

Still. They do have a certain charm.
The wildlife is wonderful. We have lots of seabirds, seals, dolphins (the smaller kind called bruinvissen), sharks (very small ones - and we play this down or otherwise all those German tourists will stay away), and a nasty little fish called a Pieterman, which has a poisoned stickle and buries itself in the sand with just the stickle sticking out (saying we play this one down is an understatement - we do not mention the Pieterman at all!) causing you agony for days. Local lore has taught me that the only relief is to pee over your foot. Quite a feat when you are hopping on one foot howling your head off. The best thing to do is to ask someone else to pee over your poor foot.

One of the good things about our local beaches is the beach restaurants. They have evolved from simple wooden shacks where you could get a bottled beer, a terrible coffee and a plate of fries (sixties/seventies) to proper (but still wooden - this is a rule) restaurants with all the mod cons and great food. Large open fires to warm yourself by (necessary in our climate), a huge range of beers to choose from, good to great food, nice ambience, often live music at the weekends, a laid-back atmosphere.

So, all in all, I told myself I really should go to the beach more often. I live on an island, surrounded by islands, for Frith's sake!

Location, location, location: 1e and/or 2e Slag, Rockanje, on the island of Voorne.
All photos (except #1 and #2) by Renée Grashoff.