Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Things I Haven't Done This Week


Well , obviously I can't list everything I've neglected to do this week ... we'd be here all night . But , leaving aside my failure to dust the top of the wardrobe or take enough exercise , there have been a couple of omissions that I do regret .

In common with nearly everyone south of Inverness , for instance , I didn't see the eclipse . The cloud cover was complete ... it just got a bit gloomier mid-morning . The ducks , much too busy eyeing each other up to care ,  ignored the hype and quacked raucously through the whole thing . It's a bit like Grease here , at the moment ...
Meanwhile , it was the Provincial elections on Wednesday and while , as a foreigner , I didn't have a vote , like every resident , foreign or home-grown , I was allowed to vote for those responsible for water management . Considering how important the dykes and land drainage are to Holland , it's astonishing that we're all allowed to have any say in the matter at all . It was a pity though that I had to cast my vote in the old dears'  home round the corner and couldn't cast my vote in this rather cool  'vote-boat'  . It went round a  constituency in the south , whose inhabitants are too scattered to reach the election stations by road.



 And what I definitely didn't do this week was go to the local Intratuin garden centre with my kitchen garden-ette . These children did , having taken up its offer of free advice and the chance to repot their burgeoning Moestuin  veg. crops



Given that mine , having been planted a little late , are barely visible yet , I felt the comparison might  crush my Lamb's Lettuce's self esteem altogether, not to mention mine . 






About the only thing I did achieve all week was learn a new way to describe my unKondoed clutter . A young , highly popular interior decorator , interviewed in the paper this weekend , described his collection of robots as 'a cluster' , which does sound quite contained and attractive ... almost gives me a spark of joy .
Perhaps , I could cluster my 'clusters' ...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A Bit Of Peace

It's been rather busy , lately . I seem to be running a drop-in centre for ergo therapists , case workers and community nurses at the moment and lovely though they all are , it's left me with a temporary reluctance to drink any more coffee or the mental agility to string more than three words together .

In an attempt to escape any more conversations about Track'n'Trace insoles , I jumped on a train the other day and went to a museum .
 


The Secret Of Dresden isn't a huge exhibition , more a sort of family collection had one's ancestors done the Grand Tour and brought back a Canaletto and the odd Watteau


 
 
 
 




 I was particularly interested in the boats since , now it's warmer , our river is getting busier again , though not usually with quite such pretty craft .

As usual , The Groninger Museum had mounted it beautifully and there was peace and space to admire the details .

I want a velvet pelisse now , though not fur trimmed



and a fountain like this would be nice ...


It wasn't busy so I sat and relaxed in borrowed comfort for a moment or two .

   Afterwards I went into town for lunch and , given that I'm busily reading my way through all the Kate Ellis detective stories I can get my hands on at the moment , it was serendipitious to look up  and see this






 Oh good , a reason , were one needed , to go back ...

Monday, 2 March 2015

A Garden Is A Lovesome Thing ... However Small

Now it seems possible that Spring might on the way , one of the supermarket chains has a new promotion . For every 15 Euros you spend , you get one of these tiny grow kits


( it's potluck and there are twenty different kinds , so one would have to spend rather a lot to become Capability Brown but how my heart yearns for the aubergine one  ... )
It's aimed at children and their mums but everyone , including great-grannies with perms and rainhats , has a glint in their eyes as they queue at the cash tills .
I , too , have invested lavishly , stockpiling rice , potscourers and jam and now have 3 sets AND , having thrown caution to the winds ,  the instruction booklet for an extra .49 cents .



The scarecrow was free , I had a loo roll middle already and all I need now is a lolly stick to prop him up .
My Own Vegetable Garden should will have chives , some salad leaves and spring onions so far . Perhaps I can even  make the Light Spring Onion Soup from the recipe cards from  WWW.WITSHOP.CO.UK I got at Christmas .
It does call for three bunches of spring onions though so , just to be sure , I should go shopping again .....

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wolf Hall ... Jane Austen's version



Having , on occasion , got slightly lost in Wolf Hall , thanks to the BBC's take on Tudor indoor lighting and my Catholic upbringing , I thought I'd do a bit of homework for episode 5 .
 By this time I've worked out that the man in black with a expression like a disappointed dog was Cromwell ... though not a Cromwell that my history teacher would recognise  (she , after all , had been given the name of one of the English Martyrs on becoming a nun) . Quite a few of the people remain a mystery .
Luckily Hilary Mantel is not the only writer to deal with the period , so I decided to go straight to another woman whose books have  inspired many a successful costume drama , Jane Austen .
"It would be an affront to my Readers were I to suppose that they were not as well acquainted with the particulars of this king's reign as I am myself . It will then be saving them the task of reading again what they have read before , and myself  the trouble of writing what I do not perfectly recollect , by giving a slight sketch of the principal Events which mark his reign ."
In the interests of saving you the task of reading it ,  I'll give you Miss Austen's opinion on his reign in a sentence ,
"The Crimes and Cruelties of this Prince were too numerous to be mentioned ... "  . I have a feeling it's going to end in tears ....

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Grateful For Any Mercies At All , However Small




The weeks trickle by . It's February , when every day seems to last thirtysix hours and all desire for hearty soup has waned , everything is brown and I can't imagine ever taking off my polo neck jumpers again ... do they make polo neck nighties ?

Still , there is some consolation in the fact that almost anything at all can cheer one up instantly . As I came home the other day in the drizzle , a shambling  , redfaced drunk bellowed a compliment after me  , "Woahhh ! Lekkerrrrrrrrrrrr ding !! " and then fell flat in a heap , burbling appreciatively , making me grin all the way home .
I survived a talk about town development in Leeuwarden , while sitting behind a middle-aged man who seemed to subscribe to the theory that baldness could be staved off by vigorous and constant scalp massage  ....  and was rewarded by a short video about local events in the '50s . The clothes ! The hats !
I had lunch with two dear friends who always amuse and can window shop to perfection .



It snowed and I've got a photo to prove it , though it was shortlived and no one needed these .



Celebrity Bake Off has begun and , last night , Joanna Lumley was at her giraffe-like best .
I seem to be able to do press ups , much to my astonishment ( and no small pride ) .
And best of all , I bought and used a C.D. player cleaning disc and Lorraine Hunt is restored to her full glory this afternoon .

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Phoney Winter




If only they'd bring you a menu .
" Rain again , Madam ? Gale 'n Hail ? Or chef has some very fine wet snow ... that comes with a side dish of icy slush ." Then at least you could plan the next few days .


 I mightn't have found myself travelling through banks of fog on a nearly empty train , peering out for some sign that I wasn't an extra in a next season's Dr. Who episode .  Still , I was rewarded by glimpses of a deer and a very large flock of geese . Three grey Shetland ponies  stood expertly camofluaged in a frosty field . The odd hawk stared beadily out over the frozen ditches . A red bulldozer and a couple of men with a theodolite loomed out suddenly , like ghostly Bob the Builders .... they could probably have done with a menu , too .
Once in Groningen it was only slightly better , and someone had been knocked down on a corner of the market square . He lay in a puddle of blood  , under a pile of table cloths ripped off a nearby cafè's tables , a couple of building workers giving him first aid . An ambulance tah-too-d  round the huge square ... and stopped on the wrong corner . A bunch of people , coats flapping , ran up trying to redirect it , confusing things further .  A tall foreman walked towards it waving his yellow helmet and order was restored , the man loaded into the ambulance and a policeman tidied up . We stood feeling a little lost . Luckily there was a clue


" At least we know where the tower is ", said a woman clutching her coat closer , before disappearing in the general direction of  the shops ...
 On the return journey we were suddenly treated to sparkling hoar frost  , just  till I'd found my camera and we'd hit the fog again . That night all the weather maps had Amber warnings . No , not snow but sheets of rain  and rough seas .
Still , Middle daughter reported a light dusting of snow yesterday , when I  'phoned .  Small Grandson the Adventurer,  had apparently already put on his wellingtons , grabbed the binoculars and was ready for action .


"It's snowing ! I'm going to build a NoMan !! " he yelled to me and went to the window in case any more fell   . Daughter laughed and finished her coffee first, as we chatted . Perhaps the teaspoon might come in handy when they went out .

The curly kale still had a few snowflakes , later in our market .  
Today we've got blazing sun  and there's a fine display of snow shovels outside the hardware shop .

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Warm And Fuzzy Feeling

My grandmother used to grasp my hand firmly every time we crossed the road ... even after I'd grown up and become a mother myself  . And when she had to take her eyes off me for a minute , I apparently had a Guardian Angel , who she'd personally vetted and passed fit for service .
The warm , fuzzy feeling of being safe from any slight harm carried on till my teens , when I promptly made it my life's work to avoid the sensible and safe .
But now it's 2015 , the world has changed and Health and Safety have taken up Granny's role .

This last few days I've been warned about 'functional sharp points' on an otherwise perfect packet of colour pencils ...


and of the possibility of a problem with my box of Free Range Eggs . Under Possible Allergens , it baldly said EGGS .
Good to know , though I was more alarmed by the fluorescent white shells  . Perhaps next time , they could include the word Leghorn prominently on the box , as well  ...

 
The new packaging on Hema's cold meat range pulls no punches either  The smoked chicken fillet might , apparently , have traces of , among other substances  : fish, shellfish , beef ,  carrots , coriander , invertebrates  , kamut and oats . Fish  ??

 
 
I briefly wondered about the warning on the folder in Husband's new medicine , too .



Unsuitable for people with beards ?
No .  It seems to be  "Avoid if you can't swallow tablets" ... just in case you'd missed the word TABLETS on the box . Husband has survived .

But I think the leaflet in a sample tube of  Diaclin foot cream , being handed out the other day at the chemist , wins this week's prize for customer care . Should I  ever overcome my reluctance to indiscriminately firebomb any and all bacteria that might find themselves on my insteps , I hope I'd be able to work out how to apply the stuff all by myself .



But I'm still comforted to think they care  . I feel cocooned , in fact ....