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...

Monday, 26 December 2016

Viggo's Blog - My dog has died.

Hiyah fans, Viggo here.

Today I have a sad blog to write for you.
Remember I told you that I may be King of the house, but that there was a dog there before me who thought she was Queen?
Her name was Gina, and if you want to know more about her history as an adopted stray from Istanbul, search the posts using her name. My woman has blogged a few times about her.

Anyway,Gina had been ailing for years, suffering from arthritis, but she was puttering along since we moved to my present home; she seemed to like it there and had some sort of renewed lust for life (not a little helped by the daily heavy dose of painkillers she got along with her morning nibbles. Bowie once ate her medicine, well...But that's another story)

Last Wednesday my woman got a panicky phone call from the young woman, that Gina had vomited all over her bed. As my woman was singing with her band at that time, she told young woman to clean it up (duh!), and that Gina must have eaten a bellyful of grass again. She used to do that from time to time, silly mutt.
I was worried though! That vomit smelled funny I tell you.

So, by the time my woman came home, Gina seemed fine, she was asleep. So we all had a nice beer, since the young man was there as well with his girlfriend, and the young man from my young woman as well. Quite the jolly party we had! Bowie and I joined in, as usual. Bowie tried to have a beer as well; I just focussed on the snacks.
Until, at almost precisely 1 am, Gina suddenly shot from her bed (quite a feat in itself, as she moved with difficulty) and pooped all over the parquet.It had a horrible smell! So they all shouted and made funny faces, and then had to clean up the mess.I chose to watch from a distance.

By that time the young man who dates the young woman admitted that he had seen Gina eat something in the bushes when he walked her that afternoon, but that he couldn't make out what it had been, as by the time he reached her she had ate it all.
So, my woman said that she hoped Gina had got it all out of her system now, and they all went to bed.

In the night, Gina woke me up by moaning, and I went to investigate. She really did smell weird! She again got up, and pooped all over the floor, in seven places in all, and by the time she had finished I got in a right state, as I could smell blood. I went up to the puddles and took a good sniff, and then decided to go wake up my woman. It was 5 am and she came down immediately (remembering that last time us cats had woken her up and the fish tank had emptied all over the floor), and when she turned on the light I saw her turn all funny and white, and she said "Oh Viggo, that's blood! It's blood!" and she ran to get her phone and phoned the night vet for advice.
He told her that she should go see her own vet straight away when his practice opened, so she woke up my young woman's lover (he's better in a crisis) and together they rolled Gina in a blanket and drove her to the vet.

There they put Gina on a stretcher and called the vet to hurry and get there, but just as he did, Gina's heart stopped.
My woman told me later that the vet had done mouth-to-mouth, and how special she thought this as she never realized that vets did that kind of stuff. Together with heart massage he got Gina's heart working again, but she was very frail, and just when they had managed to get a drip into her the heart stopped again. They gave her adrenaline and got it going yet again, but things looked pretty dire. 
So they conferred, and decided that if and when her heart stopped again, they would let her go. 

And that's what's happened.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Viggo's Blog - Humbug!

Hiya fans, Viggo here.

One picture paints a thousand words, doesn't it?
See those fangs?
They are the bane of my life at the moment. One minute I am quietly snoozing in my favorite spot on the settee, and the next this white little monster jumps in my neck and sinks those teeth into my fur.
He hasn't grown an awful lot, so I can still win our tousles by sheer weight alone, but effing Frith, is he exhausting or what?!

Mind you, my fangs are in fine nick too, don't you think?
The vet has told my woman I should have dental work done, though. She's put this forward to 2017, as she can't have both hers and mine done at the same time. Her teeth are in far worse shape, she needs a new crown put on. So she's told me I'll have to wait a few months. Phaw! I don't mind that one bit. The vet used words like "removing the tartar" - well, as far as I'm concerned tartare is a nice sort of ground meat my woman sometimes prepares.

Apart from that, I want to leave you with a Christmassy quote which might teach you a lesson. I bet you are in need of one.

The problem is not the problem.
The problem is your attitude to the problem,
that's the problem.

Profound, eh?
Until next time, tar rah! Oh, and if I don't speak to you before Christmas, have yourselves a merry one.

Sorry - I was So Terribly Busy-Busy!

Good morning You, everywhere,

So sorry not to have posted anything for weeks!
I have been awfully busy at both work and my home. Not having a lot of money means knitting wooly hats for Christmas presents and making my own decorations and doing the cooking for pre-Christmas parties from scratch instead of going to the delicatessens, and sewing my own party frock.
Fun as this all is (and it was!), it it also extremely time-consuming. Coupled to the pre-holiday panic at school (know that? You only know that when you actually know that...) in both pupils and colleagues, I haven't had the time to upload anything to Blogger.

There you are.
This must be the longest introduction I have written so far.

So, how have you been? I bet you have been awaiting my next post with baited breath!
Yeah, sure.

Well. My Christmas tree is standing in pride of place. And young Bowie has ignored it so far, I'm very pleased to be able to tell you!

He is such a bundle of joy! I know Viggo doesn't quite agree, but to me adopting this cat has been the most positive action of 2016.
What has been yours, I wonder?

We all adore him. This is my Mum, by the way. She will be 89 next month, and she's very frail. A constant worry, in fact, as she is not-so-slowly becoming more and more muddled. This week she locked herself out (she's done that before), but the worry was in the fact that this time she couldn't remember my name nor where I work. So the neighbours had to call out the locksmith.
So...immediate action was to order a name tag  with my name and cellphone for her to keep with her and to leave my name and number with the neighbours. Quite a thing, in a well-to-do flat where everyone keeps to themselves.

I have had the medical centre do an Alzheimer's test on her, and their conclusion (after 30 questions out of which she answered 27 correct - yes, she still knows her own name, thank you very much! And she also knows where she lives, what year it is, etcetera) was that she is "too good" to get help. With only one child (middle-aged me) who works to feed and house  two of her own (my kids), the help thus is whatever I can provide.
Well-meaning people who hear about this, all say the same thing: oh my, you cannot leave her on her own anymore!, what should I do, take her to work with me? All those well-meaning people don't offer to go see her, mind.

Sorry. Didn't mean to bug you.
So. Instead of offering you my woes, I'll promise to upload a new book review very soon. And I know Viggo also cannot wait to upload one of his monologues.

One more week to go until the holidays. Can't wait!

Mum has finally grasped the concept of a 'selfie', isn't that sweet? This was at the Christmas market yesterday.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Viggo's Blog: A Streetcat named Bob - A Review

Hiyah fans, Viggo here.

Today I want to tell you about the book my woman has read to me over the last couple of days.
Being of the catty persuasion, I'm always interested in art about cats, obviously. Couldn't care a fig about other animals.

Right, this book, listen up.
It is called A Streetcat named Bob and it has been written by James Bowen - or rather it has been written by this other guy called Garry Jenkins, and he did a pretty good job pretending he was James Bowen.
Are you still following me, or did you dive too deep into the catnip last night?

Anyway, it is about a red cat in London, who hooks up with a down-and-out junkie (old Jaimy). Garry/James seemed to think this was very very special, where in fact we all know that us cats have far more sense that you humans anyway and we pick and choose among you. You think you chose your cat, do you? Phah! Dream on, my friend.

Bob and James form a bond, and Bob quickly realizes he's onto a very good thing when lonely James starts to coddle and cuddle him, and spends a substantial amount of his benefits on cat food and the vet. He even walks down five flights of stairs to let Bob do his business several times a day!
I can relate, I hate that litter tray as well, especially now that Bowie uses it all the time. Boy, does that shit stink!

James falls in love with Bob, and Bob lets him. In return for food, shelter and a nice warm spot in front of the central heating he starts accompanying James to the streets of London, where he is busking. He even susses out that lying along James's shoulders as some sort of cat rug, makes people donate more. And he protects James, who clearly is a sad specimen, by sitting in front of him and keeping mad dogs away.

My woman and I had an argument at this stage. She claims that I should try to empathize more, as James has had a rough time of it and being a heroin junkie is no picknick. And wasn't it a wonderful thing that Bob was the catalyst that helped James pick up his life, get off the methadon, start selling The Big Issue, get a publishing deal and now a movie deal as well and probably has a chance of leading a better, more healthy and fulfilling life?

Well...yeah. Ish. 
What bothers me is that Bob, being a cat, surely has nine lives, but is clearly living his ninth incarnation and what will James do when Bob snuffs it? Hm?
At that stage she got all huffy and told me 'probably what I will do when you snuff it - get another cat' and relations were a bit strained after that for a while.

Did I mention that I bit her in the lip? I must admit I did feel a tiny frisson of guilt when I saw her sitting there all shocked and sad with a bloodstained tissue pressed against her mouth.
But she didn't have to call the doctor for a tetanus shot (she said she probably would have to), so she clearly overreacted.

Should you read this book?
Only if you adore cats.

Monday, 14 November 2016

To FB Or Not To FB?

Hey there.
Some years ago I (one of the first generation FB users) quit FB, after getting very tired of the trolls and slanging matches and look-at-me-what-a-wonderful-life-I-lead photos and unsolicited and very unwanted tags.


There's a huge but. A bit like that white elephant in the room. Remember? You agree not to see it and yet it's there larger than life and knocking your Gran's treasured Hummels to the floor?
I've found that in this day and age, there is no getting round being on this medium. Not only do I miss 99% of the birthdays around me (have bought a calendar but that doesn't work as well), but I miss out on people getting together as well, which is a bother.

What clinched it for me though, was the fact that a music collective that I really really really do want to become a member of, only communicates through Facebook.
Long story short (I did sleep on it!), I have uploaded a profile. Strictly for music communications purposes (with one exception: I do like stuff on my kid's pages. Heck, I can do that, can't I?)

So. If you see Song Smith's guitar floating past your timeline, you'll know it's me. Stars passing in the night, sort of.
Have a lovely day! 

UPDATE Jan. 8th, 2017.
Happy to be able to say that, so far, I haven't regretted it.
I have joined that music collective, and quite a few others as well, so that's wonderful. 
And although yes, (deep deep sigh), I do get invites for Candy Crush and assorted lame stuff (sorry if you are a CC addict), I have not been accosted that much by people screaming their heads off about things. The occasional Trump thing comes along, but I quickly avert my head and then that's sorted.
So, all in all, I am not disappointed.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Matt Steady - My Plug

Good morning over there, where ever you are.
A couple of weeks ago one of the bloggers I follow, Tim Clark, pointed out an English singer-songwriter, and curious biddy that I am, I looked him up.
And consequently did something I have never done before - I signed up for an album, Matt's second album, that hasn't even been made yet.

I know, I know, an album gets produced, keep your socks on.

After listening to Tim's tip "The Roamer" on YouTube and liking it, I searched out Steady's  website, and was joyed to find many samples of his songs there, so I could have a leisurely listen. And I liked what I heard! So much so, that I left a comment (I am one of those commenters, can't help myself). Much to my surprise, he answered.
So I listened to some more of his music, and found myself pledging to his new album "Feels Like Coming Home".
Never done such a thing before, I need to be careful with my money.
But what a great way to get to know a new musician! Look up PledgeMusic if you are interested - it is a wonderful concept. The link to PledgeMusic.

Right: Matt Steady! This is the gorgeous piece of music that hooked me. I have very thoughtfully provided a link for you.
Zakaras Lament
But he does a great cover as well. Just listen to this Johnny Cash cover - cover ;-)
71 Views, it said just now. Guys and Girls, this man deserves at least three 000s behind that number within a week!

Thankfully his pledges have reached the 100% mark; meaning that the new album will be actually recorded and shipped to his followers.
And he is so approachable...We, his pledgers so to speak, have had a say in the album cover. Love that sort of thing! Refreshing to see a guy who doesn't think he's a star after 2 YouTube uploads.
So. Do you need more encouragement?
Visit his website and listen to the many songs up there.
As simple as that. 
Enjoy yourselves!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Viggo's Blog - I Hate Halloween!

Hiya, fans, Viggo here.

See this woman? It's my woman, in a silly witches hat. Not that she's going to any of those stupid Halloween parties, mind. She's told me the hat is for a Harry Potter Night in the library. Equally stupid if you ask me. Grown persons dressing up and pretending they're at a school called Hogwarts? Humbug!

Last night I was out minding my own business, chilling with the mates on the pavement near the primary school, when all of a sudden we were surrounded by ghouls and screaming youngsters. We nearly lost half of our hair from fright!
Why, I ask you, WHY do those teenage girls always have to scream as if they don't like it when being chased by young guys?
Us cats know that a good jowl is only used for two purposes only: as the interlude to mating OR to tell another cat he/she it sitting on our bit of pavement.

Anyway. The only one I liked was dressed up as a giant mouse. I like mice.
Apart from that, it's same old, same old over here. The leaves are falling nicely, there's lots of toadstools everywhere, and all those lovely little birdies have re-appeared in the bushes around my house.
Bowie is growing like mad, and he is mad as well. I need to put him in his place at least five times a day.
And that's it.
Have a good Sunday, won't you?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Song's Best Books Club - Library of Souls

Hi there!
Number three of the trilogy by Ransom Riggs. And I dived straight into it from the second one (Hollow City). Perhaps I should not have done that...?

A new book is always a promise to me, like a beautifully wrapped gift. And when I've already read and enjoyed two previous ones by that author, my expectations are sky high.
So it was with pleasant anticipation that I started reading the third book of this trilogy back-to-back from the second one.
And fiddlesticks...
I was disappointed.
Ransom Riggs has done his utmost to make it even more exciting, but in my opinion only made the story more gruesome and violent, and I simply tuned out  halfway (can you say that with a book?).
I finished it - obviously, it is sacrilege not to finish a book. But it took stamina, perseverance and needed a good whisky to help me along.

Jacob, needless to say, continues his battle with the dreaded whights and hollows, and makes some peculiar new friends along the way. And wins. Sort of.
What really disappointed me was that the, so far, really poignant love story between Jacob and Emma somehow lost all glow, it petered out. And I think I know why. 
In part 1 and 2 they fell in love, love deepened, physically as well as mentally, but propriety prevailed (this is a YAL series after all) and they didn't go farther than hand holding and a kiss.
But when you are fighting for your life, and appear mortally wounded, I believe instinct and nature take over, and I simply cannot believe two feisty youngsters in love would go no further in that situation than gazing into each others eyes and another chaste clothed embrace. No way! Any historian could tell you that (think baby-boom).
So...was this a conscious decision by Riggs? Probably. He writes mainly for an American audience.

So. Anyway.
The main question now is, should you still read this book?
My answer is: if you've enjoyed the first two, then read it by all means. Hey, my opinion is just that: an opinion.
And I'll be interested in yours, so be sure to let me know.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Gyotaku : a new project (lampshade).

Hi there!
My first try pleased me enough to want to have another go at this ancient Japanese printing technique.
This time I opted for something more difficult: a lampshade.
I bought this rather nice cheap pottery lamp but it came with a boring white shade.

It does have some black needlework as a decoration, but I don't like that either. So, I decided to have a go at livening it up with a print of one of my potted ferns.
And this is the result:

This first is the shade next to the real fern; the second is the detail.

Autumn! And it makes my heart sing.

Good afternoon!
Something entirely different from cats, rambles and printing techniques.
I woke up this morning and was greeted by this:

Well, actually I was greeted by ravenous cats and a dog who wanted sniffies and a tousled son-in-law who had to leave for the morning shift. But then I went out (with Gina and Bowie) and feasted my eyes and nose. Everything smelled so fresh. And ( it being 8.00) I was the only one enjoying all that...I do like that!

The rest of my country is shrouded in mist, we of the wetlands apparently are the only ones blessed with sunshine - even better! 
It made me all enthusiastic and energetic, so I started pruning the shrubbery at the front door, and now I'm writing this to you and afterwards I'll do another bit of printing (which I will show you, don't worry).

I wish you all a great Sunday, enjoy yourselves!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Hike: Kralingse Plas, Rotterdam

Rambling, hiking, roaming,together with singing and reading they are my favourite verbs at this time in my life.
Last weekend my rambling friend from the Peak District and myself took a ramble around one of the best loved green places of Rotterdam: the Kralingse Plas.

This 100 ha lake is man-made; for years it was the main source of peat in the Rotterdam area, so you would expect the water to be brownish black, but in fact it was crystal clear in the places I was able to look down into the water.
We started our ramble on the south side of the Plas (plas = body of water)and we weren't alone...The Kralingse Plas is busy-busy with all kind of Rotterdam folk who are aching for some greenery and fresh air. So the above photo is deceptive - there were hundreds and hundreds of people there, believe me!

Right: how Dutch can you get? 
There are two windmills there, De Lelie (the Lily)from 1740 and De Ster (the Star) from 1886, which you can visit, and where cooking spices are still being milled, and some really nice restaurants. 
Lysanne took me to the one next to the mills, and as it was sunny we were very lucky to snare the last available table for lunch. Our rambling boots got a few glances...most people there either dressed to impress or to skate or jog...

The Kralingse Plas is adjacent to the Kralingse Bos (bos = wood), the green lung of the north of Rotterdam. This neighborhood is very sought after to live, thus expensive. But next to Kralingen is Crooswijk, where many immigrants reside, and the Plas had a lovely mix of both kinds of people all enjoying the same sunshine.

This is the restaurant; nice, eh? It is called De Tuin van de Vier Windstreken (Garden of the Four Compass Points) and I can recommend it.
After lunch we did the thing everybody does there: take a walk around the water. From the north side, looking towards the centre of Rotterdam, the wonderful skyline was a thing to behold. It must be amazing in the dark as well, but Lysanne told me she would not be seen dead after dark is a notorious cruising spot for folk up to no good.

But on this Sunday afternoon it was tranquil, as was the water. And here our hiking boots came in handy, as we could take the more adventurous trail.

The last quarter took us along the beach; empty now save for a bunch of enthusiastic dogs chasing sticks and balls. Part of this beach is a designated nude area; this made me pause for thought. How on earth does this work? I must go back in summer and see this for myself - I can image women in headscarves and long sleeves next to women with bare boobs&bums...or rather, I cannot.

We took in one of the nice citizen initiatives: the Kralingse Botanical Garden. It is tiny. But very full of lovely shrubs, flowers and trees all the same. Lysanne apologized for the appearance of everything, dying down, but my botanical knowledge is good enough to be able to imagine how it must have looked when everything was in bloom.

I really like this plant, Giant Gunnera, even now when it was all brown with holes in the leaves.It is our Wetland equivalent of jungle plant, being more than man high. I have its tiny brother near my house, and it is the first thing that blooms at the end of winter, with cheerful little yellow marigold-like flowers which appear way before the leaves shoot up.

The nitty-gritty:
I took 15.638 steps, boiling down to 10,18 km.
It was sunny, with temperatures reaching a high of 20 degrees at 2 pm, rather unusual for October!
The Kralingse Plas is famous for the Dutch Woodstock (The Holland Pop Festival in 1970); look up the documentary about it called Stamping Ground. I desperately wanted to go, but as I was only 12 at the time my parents successfully vetoed!
And it is also famous for the first official gay "meeting" area.
You can reach Kralingen by both metro, tram and bus.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Old Japanese Printing Technique

Hi there,

Contrary to what I've been blogging about lately (cats, hiking, books, more cats) I actually do have other interests. Unfortunately they are all sedentary ones, that is to say I sit on my butt whilst I indulge them.

Because my guitar playing isn't good enough to share, and I have no garden to show you that comes up to my standards (I rent...need I say more?), I have decided to let you in on my other secret hobby: messing around with paints and whathaveyou.

Now, intelligent pragmatic that I am, I thought to combine the two: get off my butt (read: go out into the wild as it is around my wetlands and search for interesting 'stuff') and  experimenting with paints in order to produce a Gyotaku print.
A what? Yes: Gyo = fish, taku = rub in Japanese. And so far there were no fish harmed in the process! Not that I aim to harm any fish, ever.

Today I tried my hand at rubbing two types of garden fern and some ivy. The result is...
Well, you judge.
I need A LOT of practice yet!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Viggo's Blog - I Swear That Vet Has Added 2 Balls!

Hiya fans, Viggo here.

Did you feel sorry for sweet little Bowie, when I told you he had to have an operation?
Silly you!

I know castration is said to change us toms into placid, overweight, fussy, neutered (need I go on?) so-and-so's, but I have to admit this did not work for our Bowie!
Within one day he was tearing around the place again, and getting into trouble. Business as usual!
I am SO fed up with that brat! He jumps on me all the time, he tries to eat my food as well as his own at the same time, he claims the woman's lap for his own, he is a nuisance!

The vet told my woman to keep him inside for 10 days, 'cause 'he needed the rest,in order to heal'.
WHaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Never heard such bollocks in all my life! My woman told the young woman her jaw dropped when she was told this hogwash. She's grown up in the country, you see, where pigs and horses are neutered and turned straight out into the meadow again after. Sure, she gave Bowie the antibiotics as she believes this did him some good (and he loves the stuff, silly brat!), but she took a good look between his hind paws after a day, declared the nonexistent balls healed and opened the door to the back garden. Needless to say, Bowie was out there in a flash. Thank Frith.
Now, me and the mates had a long talk about his energy levels, and we've decided that they are not normal.

AND he's growing...

Song's Best Books Club - Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Told you I could not WAIT to get my hands on the sequel to 'Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children', so me and darling daughter took ourselves to Donner (best bookshop in the Wetlands) and splashed out on not only 'Hollow City' but 'Library of Souls' as well.
I've read 'Hollow City' in 2 days flat. Being in bed with the flu helped. Heck, I had a headache anyway, so one on top of it didn't make a blind bit of difference.
And if you scrunch up your eyelids you might just - only just - pretend that you can see two pumpkinaffes in the photo.

Jacob and Emma and their peculiar friends have fled Cairnholm and land somewhere on the coast of Wales in their determination to rescue Miss Peregrine, who cannot turn back into her peculiar self. They embark on a perilous journey to London, to try and find the last remaining free ymbryne Miss Wren, meeting up with peculiar animals, Gypsies, and exciting new peculiar children on the way. Oh, did I mention that they are continuously being chased by the evil wrights and a hollow or two?

As in the first novel, Riggs paints a haunting world, totally believable even if it contains a speaking pipe-smoking dog called Addison. Their adventures take Jacob and the other children to war-torn London in the middle of the Blitz, and for me that was the best scene in the book.

The blurb claims this sequel is even better than the first book. I beg to differ. It is equally good. The photographs though, weird and haunting as they are, this time weren't as amazing. I think that's because the newness has worn off. Riggs himself has admitted he has turned the process around; instead of writing the plot around the photographs, he searched for photographs to illustrate the plot. This is perhaps contrived.
Anyway, as in my first review of Mr Riggs' writing, I will now repeat myself:

Read this book!!!


Monday, 26 September 2016

Song's Best Books Club - Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Reading has saved me, many times.
Saved you from what, exactly, you may ask.
Oh...from despair. Boredom. Family gatherings. Pain. Ignorance. And much more.

Today I am going to introduce you to one of the best books I have read in a long time.
It is a "YAL" book, but do not let that keep you from reading it when you are over 23!

We have a wonderful, huge, bookstore in Rotterdam called Donner, and going there is an outing for me and a torment at the same time, for I don't have a lot of money and I could easily buy fifty books at one go...I usually admonish myself to keep it civilized (1 book) and end up buying three.
Last time I went there one of the books I snatched up was Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The title alone captivated me. And then I  looked closer and saw the intriguing photograph on the cover. Was that girl...hovering?
I've always felt peculiar myself, you see. But that's beside the point. So let me tell you about this great book.

The story is about a young American adult called Jacob and his close bond with his grandfather Abe Portman. Abe is forever telling Jacob stories about his youth on Cairnholm, a magical island in the coastal waters of Wales, and Jacob first believes every word (as children do) and then when he gets older starts to suspect they are just stories as a metaphor for Abe's troubled childhood as a Jewish boy in the Second World War. 
Jacob is very troubled himself, so much so that he sees a psychiatrist, dr. Golan. After some time he feels that the only option for him is to go and visit Cairnholm himself and see if he can put Grandpa's story to rest. use such an over-used word. He manages to convince his dysfunctional Dad to take him, and together they set off for Wales.
I will not spoil the plot for you, but take it from me that it has some pretty gruesome twists and scenes.
Not only does Jacob find out the truth about his beloved grandfather, but also about his own peculiarities and he finally comes into his own and finds friendship and perhaps even true love in the process.

The book is filled with amazing and sometimes haunting black and white photographs, which form a major addition to the story. And here's the thing: you probably have known about this book for ages, but us Wetlanders only were told of it because it has now been turned into a major motion picture...
The flap tells me there's a sequel, Hollow City.
I will have to make a trip to Donner's soon!

Read that book!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Viggo's Blog - That Young 'Un Is A Handful!

Hiya fans, Viggo here.
It's been a while...sorry about that. It is just that with young Bowie around I hardly get the time to sleep a wink, let alone write to you all.
But the woman has put him out into the garden just now ("Out with you!" she said, and I understand, as he had just put his left claw in her) so I finally have the means and opportunity.

See this? 
This was this morning at 6.30 a.m. Bowie had woken us up, as he wanted to go outside, and we took along old Gina and went to the field just around the corner from our home.
First everything was as usual.

Well, this was a week ago, but you get the picture.
But then our youngster decided he would try to walk on the duckweed of the stream (you can just about spot it behind Gina's left buttock).
He couldn't walk on water, silly brat. He could swim though...He was out of that water in a flash!
He was so upset that he tried to climb the woman's leg, but she walked us home instead and I tried to help him get his coat back into shape.

Hahahaha, not so feisty then!
Still, he got over it pretty quickly.

How's things otherwise? Well, he is a handful. The vet has warned us to look for signs of spraying, and then it's off with his balls. And he wants to shadow box with me: but all-the-time! I cannot get my rest!

Mind you, two weeks ago he came in handy for a change. Let me tell you what happened.
I was out chilling with my mates Big Black and Mate on the pavement at night, but Bowie had stayed in with the woman. At 4.30 a.m. he woke her up by tearing up and down the stairs and screaming in her ear and using her as a trampoline, so she woke up pretty damn fast and went downstairs with him, thinking he had cramps and diarrhea and needed to get out. When she got in the living room she saw the fish tank had sprung a leak and had dumped 3/4 of the water on the parquet floor already.

Is he a clever little bugger or what?
Obviously our house was a little damp, and the woman still hasn't heard from the insurance, but all is well again and all the fish have been rescued and almost all the shrimp as well, and we have a new tank already, which we love. All those pretty colored fishies for our entertainment!

It is still a bit bare...those ornaments are expensive. But the fish are happy.
Apart from that we have settled into a routine together. We now share our meals, which is nice, and we sleep together most days. And Big Black and Mate think Bowie's rather cute and they have welcomed him into our gang. So all in all I think the brat can stay. It is up to me, you understand, I was here first!

Okay, time for my nap. Bowie is still out, so I can have some peace.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Hike 18 -The Upper River Dove to Hartington

With a still smarting leg, but determined to walk the walk as it was my last day, I looked forward to rambling besides the lovely River Dove once more.

The fair weather of the day before had changed to drizzle once more, so on it was with the waterproofs again. I am the lady in red, with Angela's great hat which was just as good in keeping off the rain as it was in keeping off the sun.It was Canadian, and I want one!

We started in the highest situated village of Alstonefield, an extremely old village as it turned out, and I adore that name. They called it that, because there literally were no trees up there (there are now though). It has a pretty church, with a proper Sheela na gig over the door; you can just about spot it on the right hand side of the tower in my photo. (Too high up for my iPhone, but I'll try to find another picture for you)
Here is what my mate Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

Sheela na gigs are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are architectural grotesques found on churchescastles, and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain, sometimes together with male figures. One of the best examples may be found in the Round Tower at Rattoo, in County Kerry, Ireland. There is a replica of the round tower sheela na gig in the County Museum in Tralee town. Another well-known example may be seen at Kilpeck in Herefordshire, England.
Ireland has the greatest number of surviving sheela na gig carvings; McMahon and Roberts cite 101 examples in Ireland and 45 examples in Britain.[1]
Such carvings are said to ward off death and evil.[2][3] Other grotesques, such as gargoyles and hunky punks, were frequently part of church decorations all over Europe. It is commonly said that their purpose was to keep evil spirits away (see apotropaic magic). They often are positioned over doors or windows, presumably to protect these openings.

Such a lovely church. I'm a Pagan-Zennish-Something'sOutThere person (so that Sheela na gig appealed to me), but I was charmed by the interior and definitely by the attitude of the people who had put tea making things out for ramblers like us. So hospitable!

Universal values, I feel!

After some time in the graveyard (like 'em!just look at that view, it's to die for, lol) we descended to the river and the hamlet of Milldale (visited that before, but the toilets were accessible then) and now rambled upstream along the River Dove, through Mill Dale, Wolfscote Dale and Beresford Dale.

We actually crossed the Dove into Staffordshire and back again, and the hills were different. Tessa explained that it wasn't so much limestone as it was gritstone here.

Whatever the type of stone, I thought they were damn impressive.
And although we felt as if we were walking on flat ground, we were going upriver all the time, so it was what we Dutch folk call "vals plat" or "fake flat". But it didn't feel as if we were ascending, and that made it a wonderfully relaxed walk amongst the sheep, right up to the final ascent into Hartington - phew, that was a proper hill again!

Isn't this the typical English cottage? Something for my retirement (if they'll still have me after Brexit?).

I limped into the nice tea shop and reflected on a week very well spent in Derbyshire.

The nitty-gritty:
We rambled 6 miles (9.5 km) with a ascent of 1,000 feet (300 m), in drizzle and damp dryness.
Alstonefield is the winner of 'Best Village' I believe; for me it is winner of 'Most Hospitable Church'.
If the Sheela na gig has tickled your fancy, do take a look on Google pictures - there are stunning examples to be found, new fangled ones as well.
Hartington boasts two tea shops; I visited the one behind the farm products shop.

And this concludes my Derbyshire Hikes series. I hope you have enjoyed rambling with me, and will join me on new adventures in the future.