Sunday, 1 May 2016

There Has Been The Odd Sortie ...

It's been like living in a snow globe recently .  There was  a sudden wonderful burst of sunshine the other day , and I grabbed my coffee and sat on the balcony ;  whereupon the heavens opened and the hailstones bounced off my toes ... my bare toes . At this rate I'm going to have to buy fur-lined slippers . 

Well wrapped up , I have ventured out , though  . Went to a Collectors' Fair in Utrecht with Friend ,  both of us showing admirable restraint ... slightly easier for me , I feel , since I can't shoehorn one more thing into my flat , much as I'd like to . Accessories seem to be the next big thing ..



And there's been an impressive exhibition of Mayan treasures in Assen Museum  , which I have no photos of , since the off button on the new camera's flash is unfindable.

 Never mind , I found the poster for you , where it incongruously peeked out of a shop window . Assen , the museum apart , is dying on its feet ... the building of an out-of-town Shopping Center and
the closure of the department store has taken the heart out of the town . Even the tattooist ,  
Suits 4 Life    ,  has closed its doors .  It's not been helped by the town council's determination to upgrade the drains in the town center ... all at once . Next time I'm wearing waders .

Back home , a trip to the shops revealed the surprise addition of a three-story high pirate's sword in the town square .  Makes a change ...

But it's now disappeared again , perhaps swept away by marauding students over the weekend  ...  so much more impressive than a traffic cone , after all .

Fatigued  by all this excitement , yesterday  I got on a country bus and enjoyed the scenery as we wandered from village to village through endless green fields and herds of dozy cows . From Wommels to Winsum , skirting  Tzum and Lollum ;  past windmills  , barns and little churches , two or three  to every hamlet all the way to Bolsward and a book sale in its Martinikerk .


As I went in , the church's huge , empty , whitewashed arched interior with a wonderful carved pulpit

and magnificent organ ( in need of repair , hence the book sale ) , was suddenly filled with song ... incredibly Ray Charles and Willie Nelson were singing  'Seven Spanish Angels ' .  And just as suddenly it stopped ... the volunteers had found a Bach cd . More in keeping , perhaps  , with this Reformed , very plain building .
I did find a small restored wall painting hiding up in a corner  

and pottered happily along the pews , lined with the usual ancient bird books travel guides , including a pristine Illustrated Aerial Guide of the Twenty Best Roundabouts of Europe  ( I decided against it , but the sale's on till June in case you need it ) , bought four paperbacks , and promising to come again , wandered up through quiet little streets to have a sandwich and resist kidnapping the cafe's little white-stockinged tabby cat who was snoozing on my feet .


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Not All Birds Tweet ...

I know , I'm a fraud  ... Bloggers are supposed to  blog , aren't they ;  post about things like their garden or knitting , personal journeys , achievements ...  Well , I could tell you about today's soup ; a new recipe from last week's paper :
      (  Frozen spinach , coconut milk and stock , a chili flake or two  . Simmer briefly and blitz . Add  some prawns . )
      but I won't ... I'll just say that replacing the prawns with frozen salmon wasn't a huge success and I won't be making it again . Oh yes , and that a final , rather desperate shake of Fish Sauce won't help . At all .

I could tell you about the library books I'm reading but I won't ... I'll just say that of all the books I've read lately , this is the one I really , really wish I'd written

 I could tell you  about my knitting but we'll draw a veil over that and the less said about any sewing the better ... I'm sort of hoping that the jeans I bought in November still fit me when I finally get round to hemming the second leg ...

 So I'll just show you my African violet which has just woken up again

and a rather fine cocoa goddess from Guatemala who I met in Assen , the other day .

It's just that there's a new bird perching outside my bedroom window this month  and no , he doesn't tweet  ... he wakes up at six every morning and starts bawling  what sounds like 
 " Raviol-i "!!!  , like some demented replacement Muppet chef . So now I'm going to eat a baked apple and lie down with my eyes closed and nod off ...

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A Bunny-Free Easter

Tempting though the supermarket's buttery-bunnies were , we resisted .

Come Sunday morning , YD and I were far too busy eating our own weight in peanut butter . And not just any old peanut butter ... We'd got up early on Saturday , washed out two empty jam jars ,  taken a train , found   Opgeweckt Noord  and made our own !

 Well , we did do other things as well . Chips with mayonnaise were eaten in the main square . Olives , mezze and treats were  stocked up on in the Souk

A new cafe visited , where a grey-haired chap with a topknot and bright blue beard pondered silently which of his 14 special coffees to make for us ... 40 minutes later a perfectly pleasant cup of something Colombian or maybe Ethiopian brought us out of our trance and we escaped , never to return . ( Welcome though it is , Groningen's Foodie revolution is perhaps running away with itself ... )

Shoes were admired , second hand bookshops visited and who-dunnits purchased .
Four (!)  new specialist bread-shops were admired .
Wooden toys , children's books and tasteful kitchenware approved of ... 

And the next day the decidedly unfortunate-looking , additive free peanut butter was polished off . It's DELICIOUS !  I'll definitely go back for more ...  (Since , however much I liked it  , I'm not tempted to buy a machine for myself  . Cleaning it would be a nightmare . I'll leave that to them )

* When her older sister told YD later that she too had tried Avocado oil  a while ago , YD asked what she'd thought of it  . The reply was ,
 "Oily " .
Opgeweckt Noord

Friday, 18 March 2016

Time To Venture Forth ...

We haven't had any wet snow all week . No hail , either .

The shops are full of rabbit shaped buns , lamb shaped chunks of butter , chicken shaped slices of ham and chocolate-flavoured Advocaat to wash it all down with . Yes , it must be nearly Spring . Time for us all to rediscover the world .

 Sadly , most of us seemed to have missed last week's Street Fishing Leeuwarden bonanza , but never mind ... there's loads more to tempt us out this weekend .

Tomorow , a local care home has a workshop on worm hotels . There's a Freubel craft fair at the shopping center with a Shanty choir and workshops on making jewellery out of Nespresso cups  . Every village within a twenty mile radius has a jumble sale , birdwatching or birdbox making event .

There's an Archeology Day in the Historical Center with local metal detecting finds , talks galore , demonstrations on how to make mediĆ«val pottery and restore old metalwork  . Province-wide , there are klezmer concerts , brass band concerts , rockabilly bands and a nearby church has " Timeless , a tribute evening with ballads in the style of Adele "...

Despite looking like something out of  Monty Python ,

local band The Stammen will be singing covers of the Rolling Stones in a cafe ten miles up the road ... while ten miles in the other direction there's a jazzcrossover concert ( no , I don't know either ) and , on Sunday , Evensong in Easterein's Martinikerk will be sung by The Common Ladies while Bach's Mathaus Passion will be sung everywhere else .

I think I'll be going to the Archeology Day ... though the chance to see the lumberjacks singing  ' Let's Spend The Night together ' is tempting ...

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Phew ! It's Not Just Me ...

I was beginning to think that the world had left me behind ...

 but this cartoon in yesterday's paper has reassured me .The caption reads :

                                                  " This 'phone doesn't understand me ."

I know just what he means .

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Genteel Blast From The Past

I don't buy many magazines ... well , I don't buy any magazines , really ... out of sheer meaness , I'm afraid . But when I see a vintage one , I leap on it like a duck on a June bug .

A September 1950 Wife and Home I found the other day has provided endless enjoyment this week ..

The Editress' Personal Page had a few lines  on
 "an up to date idea which is now operating might be called a 'help yourself '  laundry.... with efficient washing machines and  'extractors ' which removed surplus moisture " . I haven't seen a laundrette in years ... even student flats can run to a washing machine these days .

There's a pattern for a delightful ( a very popular adjective in 1950s  women's magazines , along with dainty , though not for boys ,obviously  ) knitted suit for a little boy .

Our Babies' Club with photos of readers'  'wee ones' , each one chubbier than the last . I can relate to that ... I was the fattest  'wee one'  in the world at the end of the '40s  ...

An article on beauty routines when you're pregnant ... sorry , " in those days of expectancy  " , including a reminder to drink three large glasses of barley water a day , which apparently will keep you radiantly healthy from your glossy hair to your sensibly shod feet  . And perhaps help you to breathe inside your wasp-waisted maternity dress ...

An article by a Woman Doctor and a problem page with answers from Matron ...
 "chronic cattarh can be cured by instilling a few drops of cod-liver oil in each nostril , twice a day for two weeks " ( maybe not if you've got morning sickness , though ? )

Another on how to furnish the nursery on a budget ... everything from a utility playpen to coconut matting  , not forgetting a Victorian washstand with  shortened legs  ( the writer seems a demon with the hacksaw )  as a nursery table  and gallons of pale green liquid lino paint , all for 10 Pounds . Just in case you ever need to know , I'll pass on her tip about cheap curtains . Apparently if you wash your old black-out curtains they lose their colour and are "much more attractive" ...(  streaky grey ? )

There's a bizarrely dated serial set in India which has sentences like ,
"but then I was running , running as no white person should in the heat , across the compound ",
... I wondered if my great-grandmother ,  her mother or grandmother had ever felt compelled to run across a compound and then remembered that g-grandmother's grandmother , as a Keralan , would presumably have been heat-proof .

But , as always , it's the ads. that fascinate ;
Lixen , " The good-natured laxative ." ( a bad-natured one doesn't bear thinking about )

Mansion Hygienic furniture polish , Dettol and T.C.P. , corn cures and children's cooling powders .

Robin starch ... because  'starched clothes stay clean longer'  AND , more importantly ,  'Nothing does more to make you desirable than that air of untouched , crushable freshness .'

ThreeFlowers face powder to stop the destruction of your self -assurance that a shiny nose can cause .

 Lee & Perrins Worcester sauce to "add subtlety to salad " ( 2 tsps. of it in the dressing  , mind you , might just wilt the lettuce before you get to the table . )  and Handmade Children's felt Bonnets 8/6 post free .

But , for me , the change between then and now was crystallised by this  Weetabix ad . 

Compare it to the boast on their 2016 packets !

Wish I could do a taste-test . Does anyone remember exactly how sweet it used to be ?

Altogether this turned out to be a jolly good 1.50 Euros worth  !

Monday, 29 February 2016

The Strategy Sort Of Worked ...

When I drew up my plan to get through February unscathed by dedicating the twentynine days exclusively to jigsaws  , I hadn't allowed for the impossibility of buying Charles Wysocki puzzles in Holland and still having enough money left over to eat . They seemed to average 70 Euros each on Amazon ... about 55 Euros more than the common or garden ones available here of an Roman piazza , a Highland glen or a flower arrangement  .
Still , I did find an untouched 1000-piecer entitled Autumn lurking in the hall cupboard so set to  and quickly built up a routine ... eat breakfast , settle and squint at orange/yellow/brown jigsaw pieces till I manage to fit one piece . Eat lunch , settle and squint etc. till find another bit , eat supper , watch Dickensian if on or , if not , settle and squint etc. till realise I'm not able to tell all the bits apart any more . Go to bed . Get up and repeat .

 And start to see crossword pieces everywhere ....

And so the month slid by ...

I did actually leave the house occasionally , eating pasta in Amsterdam with YD after a day admiring graffitti

and shoes ( no , I resisted .... ) .

And I stirred myself to go to a talk about how Parish Relief was distributed in Leeuwarden at the beginning of the last century ( sparingly ) ... though I gave the one on Frisian poetry ( in Frisian ) a miss .

Kept Fit -ish .

And read loads of library books ... I can recommend Louise Walter's Mrs. Sinclair's suitcase and Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker , but I wouldn't advise reading anything by Susan Lewis unless you share her belief that a child's smile is a treasure that  transforms the little poppet into an angel .  

And tomorrow it's March and , though wet snow is forecast , Spring is in sight at last ....