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 ....

Sunday, 31 January 2016

How To Survive February

What have I been doing this week? I'm implementing my new winter plan .

Instead of tramping through rain , hail and a different-named storm on odd days of the week  and trying to stock up on groceries , library books and dry washing on even days of the week , I'm planning to stay indoors altogether till the end of February . In fact  , it's dawned on me that I could perhaps replace most activity altogether by simply choosing the right jigsaw puzzles .

Instead of  sewing , knitting , reading anything apart from the paper or exchanging anything but the bare essential greetings with anyone , I've spent the last three days doing this

 A Charles Wysocki puzzle , "Maggie , The Messmaker " .

But now it's completed  and I'm determined to get the next one in the collection , "Ethel ,  The Gourmet "
I can live on cottage cheese till it's finished ... and there's always the chip shop round the corner ...

And after that the puzzle shop in town must have dozens of gardening and flower arranging  puzzles ... probably even a Mary Berry one .

The only thing that might draw me out in a few weeks time would be if these enterprising people get enough crowd-funding for their cafe . It would be difficult to resist a good cup of coffee and a friendly resident purr . In fact it could only be better if they opened one downstairs ...