Monday, 6 November 2017

Bits and Pieces



Aldi have always sold roasted almonds . I was just rather surprised last week to find that the ones they now stock are adorable . It says so on the packet .

I'm temporarily immortal , having just had the 'flu vaccination .Can't help feeling that if I'm going to do anything remotely risky , this might be the moment .

Though when we tried some Tai Chi this week at the gym , it was swiftly demonstrated that I'm not going to be part of any band of Superior Pensioners weaving graceful patterns in the local park's dawn light . Not having any coordination at all , I kept on getting teetery and tied in knots . All attempts to remain serious , graceful and balanced reduced me to giggling hiccups , so I had to retire to the treadmill instead .  There's something very sobering about the treadmill ...
The Class Swot persevered and , taking to it like a duck to water , asked for more next week . Meanwhile I seemed  to be rediscovering my teenage silly-arse self .

The sun shone for an hour this afternoon and I took the chance to have a coffee on the balcony . Sudden commotion as two little boys cycled past , bells ringing and bellowing "Alarm !", "Alarm! " . Had I not just poured out the coffee , I might have joined them ... it looked much more fun than dusting . 

 
Is everybody else's deep freeze full of pumpkin soup too ?

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Miaow !

The new ... in theory , temporary ... municipal library which rejoices in the name "Pop-Up Library" ( such a dispiriting name ) is full of bewildered Leeuwarders , cardboard boxes , new machines , an assortment of old armchairs and new Ikea dining tables , a windup gramaphone and the roaring of mechanical dinosaurs in the lobby .
And , depending on the time of day , Dutch lessons for bewildered foreigners , spontaneous Bible lessons by a young man in a wooly hat ,  unofficial lessons/workshops on how to use the new machines for the older staff by the very youngest stagaire  and weird clanking of hot water pipes .
 No , it's not the most peaceful of places any more . 

Until I sat down at one of the tables this afternoon to hunt for my library card and found a cat .


 I think all libraries should have a cat and I hope he comes to the old jail/new library , sometime in the Spring . 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Maternal Solicitude ...

When the children 'phone , you naturally want to hear all their news , so you ask about what's been going on . How are their children , partners , partners' parents , work , their friends , the cats , the garden  ? ...  yes , being related to me must be like being picked up by the KGB .

It's an empty nest thing , I suppose . For some reason it took me ages to get used to not knowing what they were wearing that day , once they'd left .
A fully furnished picture of their home life makes them seem nearer .

And now Younger Daughter has introduced a further character ... After years of showing no interest in gardening or of growing anything at all , she now has a plant .
So now , of course , every week I'm also asking after Mint . Together we glowed as she reported that it had two new "branches" ( she's still not mastered the jargon but it's just a question of time ) ...

Now , as long as I don't start saying , "And how's Minty this week ? "...


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Local Gentry



It's museum time again . The new season's exhibitions are beginning and the one I went to yesterday was  simply titled  , "Rich In Groningen" .



 It was a collection of locally held treasures  , some  from attics , some from country churches and a lot from the museum's vaults .
 Lots of crests , uncomfortable furniture




family portraits by the barrow load , silver goblets , gorgeous wall paper copied from odd scraps of the eighteenth century originals in the city archives , even the odd angel .





Since the city , in an attempt to avoid corruption , had a complicated system involving having four mayors , electing two at a time every two years there were lots of portraits of tubby chaps in black and splendid lace jabots ... and a definite family look to them .
In fact , there was a certain family look to most of the portraits and the same names pop up again and again .

But the occasional parvenue pushed forward and , since anyone could , would design himself a crest .


The Reverend Rudolphus Kuen and his wife Elizabeth had a particularly nice one .

I left , designing mine as I went . Aubergine with a bay leaf wreath and soup ladle rampant ?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Operation Stonebreak



Sorry , it sounds less clunky in Dutch ,"Operation Steenbreek "... or maybe it doesn't , but anyway , whatever you call it ,  it's in full flood .

It's a nationwide scheme to make towns and cities in Holland greener . Leeuwarden did a survey and discovered that up to 77% of the gardens in some neighbourhoods were totally covered in stone slabs , with a resulting decline in wildlife . Hedgehogs , bees and butterflies are becoming scarcer ...

So this weekend , all you have to do is dig up one of the flag stones in your yard and take it along to these young people and they'll swap it for a fruit bush  .

All of which sounds admirable ...  but I live in a flat  .  Neighbour and I pondered how to hack a chunk off our respective balconies and totter down the road with them but couldn't quite see ourselves managing it .

It'd probably be simpler to buy a couple of bushes at the local nursery ... I wonder if we asked at the town hall , they'd even give us a grant ? Two Euros fifty each ?

Friday, 1 September 2017

You Know It's Bad When ...




You know it's bad when you get a birthday card like this from one daughter , the second gives you a calendar from the year you were born that she'd found at an antique fair , and the third just gives you a giant pot of miracle-promising body lotion .

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Shortbread , Swans and Morris Dancers

That's right , I've just been to England .

Fish and chips , country buses , lots of Red Leicester , the V&A , London pubs , amassed aunts , the biggest and best pizza I've ever eaten , Rosy Pig cider , a folk festival and ( temporary ) tattoos .


It was all great fun and ended far too soon .

I think I'll probably be doing it again next year .