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, 3 October 2015

Viggo's Blog: Happy Animal Liberation Day to Me!

Hello fans, Viggo here.
Did you miss me?

Today, Oct. 4th, we celebrate "Dierendag" (Animal's Day) in my country.
That means we get treated to ridiculous things like bows around our necks, or to something better to eat than normal if we're extremely lucky.

I for one make certain that I don't get within a mile of a bow, and I prefer my crunchy nibbles to any fancy fish I might be treated to.
But today is rather a special day for me as well, for today exactly five years ago my woman came to the Kids for Animals shelter and took me away from there. I can still see her come in. I was playing in the corridor with my two brothers, and I immediately realized that she was my ticket out, so I sprinted towards her and climbed her leg. Needless to say she melted.

I haven't been sorry. I have a great house, with an even greater garden, a fish pond with pretty fish I can watch for hours, and the run of the bedroom. 
I do as I please. I am King of the house. 

And now that the nights are getting colder, with sometimes even ground frost, I climb into bed with my woman again. She's careful not to smother me, although she does shove me towards the wall sometimes and I'm forced to pull her hair then. I do this with reluctance, for she uses that sticky stuff on her hair and it makes my teeth all gluey. But sometimes a cat's got to do what a cat's got to do. 

Anyway. Just thought to let you know that I'm still around. That bloody Maine Coon is still around as well, bloody nuisance he is. Yesterday he dared to show his ugly fat face in my garden again, and I set my dog Gina on him. She can hardly walk with her arthritis, but she hobbled towards him anyway, bless her, and barked right into his mug. Ha!  That showed him! 

Right. Time for a wash. See you!

Review: Rattle That Lock - David Gilmour.

Mr Gilmour has been an unknowing witness to my coming of age.
At 14 my first (Gilmour look-alike!) boyfriend introduced me to Pink Floyd, the smell of pot and Lapsang Souchon and an ever-lasting affinity with people who stay true to their first musical loves whilst enjoying all the latest bands.
So it won't come as a surprise to you that I awaited the latest Gilmour with growing anticipation. I am a subscriber to his YouTube channel, so I knew the album was in the making.
Boy, did he make me wait a long time! Years, years, and years. Two months ago he released a preview, which soon had 1,778,225 views and sparked great discussion between Pink Floyd fans and Gilmour fans and their opponents. Then, on September 18th, the CD/album was released.
I've heard quite a few vinyl snobs say that the only true way to listen to it is on vinyl. 
Bollocks! I enjoy my CD very much, thanks.

Is it any good, you want to know...
It has its merits.
(Ooooh, damn, what an awful on-the-fence-thing to say!)
I'll start again.

Is it any good, you want to know...
Well. I have listened to it approximately 30 times by now, and my initial disappointment has warped into a reluctant realization that it has wormed its way into my sub conscience. And I have caught myself humming the title song whilst on my bicycle, and in-between lessons. The four note signature intro (with immediate flashbacks to le Gard du Nord in Paris) has turned into a not uncomfortable worm-in-my-ear, I can tell you! 
There are many musical reminders of Pink Floyd; nothing strange, obviously. And I adore the old Pink Floyd, so they are easy on the ear.

But what I miss are the poignant lyrics. Mr Gilmour himself is quite content with the lyrics on the album, so he tells us in his 'the making of' video and with Polly Samson who wrote most of them, but...I am not. They meander on. Not a bite in sight. Nothing that comes even close to my all time favorite PF line: "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way".
Perhaps I am being unfair here. And okay, 'The Girl in the Yellow Dress' is an exception. Still no memorable lines, but comfortable ones, nicely rounded off. And the jazzy music is wonderful, love it.

So...I will continue to play this album often, absolutely. Favorite track? 'Today'.
Was it worth the money? Sure. It is a well-crafted comfortable piece of music by a musician I  will respect until his (and my) dying day.
Here's the link: Rattle That Lock
Great artwork, by the way!!!

This photo has nothing to do with the above-mentioned artwork; it simply is evoked by the music. And I'm Dutch. Hence the cows...

Picking the Apples - Such an Autumny Pastime (with recipe).

Good evening to you.
If you feel drawn to this post, that means that you are an apple lover. Good for you, apples are not only healthy, but also a feel-good food.

Just think: if Garfield would have had a love for apples instead of lasagne and pizza, he wouldn't look like this.

This aside; I had to get a cat in there, sorry.

This weekend my son, daughter-in-law and myself picked the apples hanging from our solitary apple tree in the front garden.
There were two good reasons for doing this.
1. I had to get in there before they all rotted from the branches.
2. I had to get in there before the neighborhood kids would.

My apples are yummy, you see. They are Elstars, and when they are fresh they have a sweet but taut, very juicy quality. You can eat them as they are, peel them, dry them, cook them for apple sauce of bake wonderful apple pies with them.
And let me tell you, that's a good thing. Just look at the harvest. And this isn't all. It is halfway through our picking.

In fact, this year we had a bumper crop, as opposed to last year, when we barely had 1 bucket full.
But people with apple knowledge have told me that this is normal. Apple trees tend to have gap years, when they hardly bear any fruit.

To celebrate our great apple year, I thought you might like my recipe for unpretentiously not-at-all traditional Dutch mini-apple pies?
Yeah, thought you would!

First of all, I am a cheating kind of cook. I like to make it easy on myself, since my job is so demanding that I usually come home dead tired.
So I use almost ready-made crumble dough (buy it in any supermarket).

What do you need:
- 3 large Elstars (or the equivalent - you need apples that will not bake to mush)
- enough crumble dough for 6 mini-crumbles
- 1 egg
- 100 g pecan nuts
- 100 g butter (I use real butter) + (mind you check you dough mixture for the correct amount)
- 90 g fine brown sugar
- half a lime
- 1 table spoon of cinnamon (I use the organic kind)
- 100 g strawberry (or another kind of berry) jam (I use my home made blueberry jam)
- if you like, whipped cream or ice cream, to put on the side.

How do you make them:
* first of all, you pre-heat your oven (look at the dough packet for the correct temperature!)
* chop up your Elstars and mix them well with the pecan nuts, cinnamon and sugar, squeeze the lime juice over it
* mix up your crumble dough by adding the butter and the egg
* form your 6 mini-pies either sloppily by hand (I usually do) or by making a nest of aluminium foil first (do not forget to remove this later though!), or use ready-bought cupcake paper cups, this works just fine
* now put in a good table-spoon of jam in the bottom
* put your chopped up Elstar mix on top  

Settle your apple pies in the oven and bake until golden brown.
Do not attempt to wash your windows in the meantime! I did once - not a great idea, unless you like burnt apple pie.

Enjoy yourself!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Movie Review: The Dutch Delta (Holland: Natuur in de Delta)

Once in a while a film can show you an aspect of your own country which surprises or enlightens you. This happened to me last night, when I took my old Mum to see The Dutch Delta.

This is my own translation, by the way, because this film is not being distributed abroad (yet). And I so hope it will be soon!!!

It shows my country in the best manner possible. Green, blue, above all with water omnipresent and with some animal species as the main characters, of which the hare is one.
The hare, as Carice van Houten in her voice-over tells us, has lived here much longer than us humans.
The Dutch Delta has been populated for approximately 8000 years, but the animals have been here forever. And they have had to adapt, adapt and adapt again. 
Thankfully we humans lately have come to realize that we should be thankful they are still amongst us, those animals. And that they have the right to a clean, safe environment as well. 

Ever since the industrial revolution they have been pushed into hiding and their living conditions have deteriorated so much that some of them (the sea eagle for instance, but also otters and beavers) have moved out of our country permanently.
But, and this is the good news, now that we have come to our senses some of those animals have returned. The beaver is one, the sea-eagle is another.

Mark Verkerk's film shows us an endless green and blue landscape, flat as flat can be, with ever present wind. This is the country I live in (wind! rain! I have to deal with these on a daily basis whilst cycling to and fro work), but seeing it from the eagle's viewpoint took my breath away.
Especially since I saw one of those "flying doors" (wingspan 2 m) as we call them yesterday over my own little piece of Wetlands, being chased away by the two buzzards who have taken up living in and ruling over our puny 17 acre forest.

For me the animals are the true stars of this film, with a good second place for the cameramen and -woman. Their camerawork is truly amazing. The word 'epic' comes to mind.
Take a look at the link I've provided for you. You will not be sorry! The Dutch Delta
And keep an eye out for a possible release in your country.