Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Splendid Girls' Day Out

On Tuesday , YD and I had a Girls' Day Out . After a hideously early start ... when did you last voluntarily get up at five in the morning ? ... it included taxi rides , endless coffees and the latest glossy magazines , a special hat for me , small displays of beautifully arranged antiques and excellent , friendly personal service with a smile .  
Where did we go ? The local hospital's eye department and their cataract removal clinic . I'd been terrified ... scalpels ? stitches in my eyeball ?  what would I see ? ... so it was perhaps just as well that YD kept a firm grip on my elbow while we went in but , once we were there , everyone was so welcoming that it would have been churlish to turn and run back whimpering  into the dawn light .
And now it's done and I can see everything clearly again with my left eye , I only have one slight complaint . I've got to wait seven more weeks for the right eye to be done . Why can't I go back tomorrow ?

            Me in my nifty new eye cap ... fortunately only to be worn at night . It keeps on sliding
            down to my chin .

Before she left YD pointed out that I'd wrongly attributed the Henry VIII and his wives drawing to her . Apparently it was by Smitonius . "I couldn't have done anything so good . Besides I'd have given them mouse ears ".  And , it's true . She'd have made dancing mice of them all . My abject apologies , meanwhile , to my eldest daughter

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hoarder Or Archivist ?

 I've spent most of the last week rummaging , looking for an old photo for Middle Daughter . Elder Grandson is at the gappy stage , when teeth suddenly fall out , usually at inconvenient moments resulting in reverently wrapping tooth in a paper napkin and Not Losing It Till They Get Home . He's now keen to see how his parents looked when they were losing their front teeth ...
 "If he just waits a few more years , he can see for himself . We'll be doing it again  " , said his mother , obviously feeling her age .
 Meanwhile , I'm hunting for a snap of a seven year-old MD in a poncho and toothless . Needless to say , I've found everything but . He'll have to content himself with images of toothless aunts , great aunts , grandmother , second cousins once removed ... even a dentally challenged , much younger Opa .
 Which has made me wonder why I've still got all this stuff . How many generations of photos does one keep ? The one of a great uncle , aged one , propped in a chair playing a large drum is rather sweet , for instance and must be guarded . But a fuzzy-ish black and white shot of  great grandmother's anonymous cousin's small son in full Highland dress , while equally sweet , seems less necessary , somehow . But I religiously put them all back in boxes , which will eventually be left to my daughters to store in their turn .
In the same case , I was amused to find a stash of drawings which I'd kept from their early school years

 This one caught my eye , since I'm reading an historical novel , at the moment , about Henry II * . YD  must have been doing English History at the time . I'm particularly intrigued by her depiction of Anne Boleyn ... the eyes ! ... The sheer brazen tilt of the hussy's head ! . Still YD's  teacher was , after all , a Spanish nun so La Boleyna wasn't going to be kindly viewed , I suppose . One day I must organise it all and hand them on but I'm too fond of them to do it yet .

* Elizabeth Chadwick's "The Time Of Singing ."

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Time To Dust Myself Down

O.K.  While not going overboard , I've done the mumpy bit and  it's time to do something that involves less sighing ... so tiring ...

 Given that Mrs. Laxmi Devi hasn't suddenly appeared outside my front door , rolling up her umbrella à la Mary Poppins , we've just been eating cottage pie or chicken fillets , slightly cheered by the last of the Dutch strawberries for pud. I've stoically eaten the last leaden Polenta Muffin and I've got Yotam Ottolenghi's  "Plenty" out of the library to see if it can inspire me to cook something a bit more inspiring  . I like his recipes ... so unjudgemental and very comforting . And  I do like aubergines .

The trip to the library helped in another way , too . At last I'd managed to creep towards the end of  "Incredibly Loud etc."  and returned it , glad to have read it but in need of something more relaxing . And I found Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" on the New Book shelves ( English books take a while to get up here ) . "Oh , " said the librarian , "you'll love it ! " ,  And I did .

I finally got a haircut that doesn't make me look like an elderly Milly Molly Mandy

But more Christopher Robin-ish , which is an improvement ... I think .

 And today we visited a Care Farm

that Husband liked and seems happy to go to one day a week . Chickens and cows , loads of cats and a beautiful Friesian horse , not too many people and the freedom to help out or just to sit in the conservatory admiring the view . It's beautifully and imaginitively run by a couple who watched their small farm become steadily less viable , while looking for a friendly day care place for a relation , and decided to kill two birds with one stone . The prospect of feeding the calves and the presence of a pair of very fat pigs clinched the deal . He goes for a trial day next week . His clogs and Benny-from-Crossroads wooly hat are ready and waiting . I could see the farmer looking at them with approval .

Thursday, 14 August 2014

What I'm Doing After My Holiday

The same as I did before , really ... without the football avoidance .

 Admiring the boats as they chug past , especially the huge ones whose masts tower above our three-storey building . Cycling through town , down Maria Luisa street and Button street to the gym and the odd desultory bit of exercise . Googling anything and everything ... pig gelatine and what  it's doing in Becel Light , for instance . Cooking rather badly ( does anyone else have spells when they just can't cook anything edible , or is it just me ? ) and sewing something rather uninspired that will end up in the scrap box .
Having a post-holiday dip , in other words .
Luckily I haven't forgotten how to read . At the moment , I'm reading Jonathan Safran Foer's  Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close in tiny bites ... it's Incredibly In Your Face and too sad and weird to read in one go . I've worked with quite a few autistic and ADHD children and  tend to get sucked in , perhaps  . But , while I can't say I'm enjoying it , I'm fascinated .
And , perforce , I'm plunking food on the table , edible or not . Çooking blight notwithstanding , I've found a chaas formula I like ( can't call it a recipe , really , since it's just buttermilk with spices and herbs , but wonderfully refreshing and good for you ) and , unexpectedly , a Cold Cure which I must share with you . In a little book titled Nepalese Kitchen , a Mrs. Laxmi Devi writes
 "Doctor Turmeric ! For instant relief of cold , add 1/2 tsp. turmeric to a glass of hot milk and drink it ." 
Not being fond of yellow milk I probably won't , but do let me know if it helps . She's obviously a splendid woman to have around ... her hiccup cure sounds failsafe , if less technicolour .
"Roast some peppercorns and breathe in deeply" .
 She would probably whip me and my saucepans into shape in a trice  . 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

August ! Already ? !!

It can't be .
 I mean , I know we've been lolling about in blazing sunshine for weeks now , but there are lots of things I haven't done yet . Haven't had a picnic for instance , or got a suntan. I haven't gone swimming ... not that I ever do , if I think about it ... or gone to the beach ( ditto ) , or a barbecue

BUT I have encountered spacemen ,

 seen the odd swan ,

been found wanting by squirrels,

 seen lots of graffiti ,

gone on a guided city walk ,


 eaten bruschetta in a field with half of England's middle-aged middle class ,

(*  No , I didn't do it twice . Blogger's just repeated the photo )

I've been taught how to avoid being annihilated by the Joker ( this wasn't a wild success , the multitasking needed to play Batman 2 on Wii proved to be too much for me . "Never mind , Granny" . You tried ". )  and was taught by a two year-old the best way to deal with a condescending waiter ( you must turn right round in your chair to face him , pause , smile and repeat your order in exactly the same voice you used the first time ... well , it worked for Small Grandson , anyway . Might have been the smile ) .

 I've eaten fish and chips , watched a waiters' Champagne race in Soho ,

 eaten a fish cake at Muriel's ,  a gingerbread lady in Southwark

and a chicken wrap in MacDonald's .And gone to lots of exhibitions ...

 And it's still only August , which gives me loads of sunlight hours to read , sew , eat tomatoes , find the right chaas recipe and to give the evil eye to whistling neighbour .... or even go for a picnic .

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The World's Gone Temporarily Orange

Well , it has here , at least . The country's gone football mad and , during the World Cup it might be seen as impolite not to sport the national colour . Everywhere you go is covered in flags , lions and giant blow-up footballs  ( the care home up the street , full of very frail old ladies  , even has one above their porch )  .
And nearly everyone has something orange on , though luckily most haven't gone this far ... 

I think the prize should go to this little girl

Anyway , this was Groningen today :

But my favourite was a scruffy cafè down an alleyway . They'd spent nothing on decorations . They just had Pumpkin And Carrot soup on the menu . The way to a man's heart is his stomach ....

Friday, 27 June 2014

Plans For The Weekend

Just as I was coming home last Friday evening , I remembered that I hadn't bought any loo paper , so I  swung by the nearest supermarket , grabbed an enormous Economy pack and quickly joined the queue at the till . After I'd paid , the assistant looked slightly concerned but still said the usual cheery ,
 " Have a nice weekend ! " .
I hoisted the 18-roll packet under my arm , thanked her and ran ... thereby confirming everyone's conviction that her sympathy might not be misplaced  , whereas  I'd only been worried that I'd miss the beginning of Celebrity Masterchef  .

But , this weekend ,  I have a definite agenda ; I'm going to Utrecht to get a wooden jigsaw puzzle   
" not too complicated but not too easy " , a three inch high  Batman ,  some vintage Pyrex if I'm lucky , some fabric just the right shade of orange .... or turquoise , and a big bowl of homemade soup from the cafe on the way to the quilting shop , lots of photos of pretty corners ( these are of Den Haag , last week )

 several coffees and some secondhand books .

 I've got Barbara Vine's latest book to read on the train and , as we roll back north over Friesland , I'll be able admire the sunset and to watch the odd hot air balloon floating towards Joure ... I'm looking forward to it .