Thursday, 15 September 2016

Back To Work ...

No , I'm not going back to work and I doubt whether anybody would rush to offer me a job these days ;  but I would like a shot , if I could just do it via this place's back-to-work-scheme .

 It was Open Monument day in town last Saturday , dedicated this year to our industrial heritage . Usually only too keen to nose in normally non-public spaces , I couldn't summon up the enthusiasm to admire the  'pancake factory's'   deliveries yard or queue in the sun to have another look at the old jail's smithy .

But as I came round a corner near the supermarket , I almost cycled into this and couldn't resist  .

An old shipyard run these days by enthusiasts to look after old boats and  to provide apprenticeships  .

It's tiny and very run-down but ingeniously cobbled together with whatever was to hand .... one wall consisted of a patchwork of old shed doors . They seemed to specialise in rehousing orphaned windows , too .

 But the boat builders were all overwhelmingly keen to explain every process ,

the tools were impeccably stored , every piece of work glowed as beautifully planed and sanded wood should

and you knew that nothing would ever be wasted . I wandered about wondering if there was a vacancy for a coffee-maker /wood-stroker ... 

The only snag , of course , being that , much as I love all the boats I see every day 

I don't really like the water and am a hopeless sailor . The chances of suddenly getting very wet indeed are just too high .

Thursday, 8 September 2016

What Can I Say ?

I'm becoming boring ... unfortunate in someone who blogs .

It's become so bad that the other day as I walked into a shop , the young assistant didn't even blink and just carried on moaning into her 'phone  , "Yes , I know so-o quiet . Only loads of women with grey hair ." , and didn't notice that , having cast a glance at her bemotto-ed cushions  ( so last year ... a bit like me , obviously )  I'd  left . I can be sniffy , too,  you know . 

Luckily I was in Deventer , a smallish town I like inordinately and promptly found lots of better things to do .

It's full of narrow alleyways , full of nice surprises .

Like the big working river , full of barges , just at the end of this lane

Or this imposing gate in an alley only wide enough for one small passerby

The spray of orchids in someone's window box

or these very blue and very perfect trumpets winding up a drainpipe  .

There are dozens of little shops and they're , all but one , packed with interesting things  ... I liked the way this one , full of bricabrac , even when forced by illness to close for business had found something pretty to write the message on . Who else remembers collecting angel scraps at school ?

The street names ; Long Bishop Street , Short Bishop Street , Behind The Monks  ... 

the tempting bars and the way that just round the corner there are two Cuban cafes and a proper tapas bar for the witch to sober up in ...  

The shop that just calls itself  THE Bread Shop .

And , of course , the best street decoration I've seen this summer ... dozens and dozens of rainbow coloured brollies everywhere .

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Meanwhile , Of Course , They're Probably Watching Me ....

With less free time this summer , I haven't done much exploring , even locally . But it doesn't really matter ... there's still plenty of people about to watch .

Like the solid matron with a wheelie suitcase , the other day . She's heard that they're made to be pulled along behind one but not believing a word of it , resolutely , though slightly inaccurately , pushes it before her causing people to avoid her nervously . Is there a small part of her that wonders why the confounded thing's so difficult to steer ? 

Or the variously-mustached chaps in hiking boots and unfortunate shorts wandering about the station on Tuesday , looking lost . At last two of them bump into each other and hug delightedly , peering at one another in amazement . Then a third wanders up diffidently , and a fourth . Suddenly there are six of them . They can't have seen each other since school or , more likely , National service and seem to be about to celebrate by hiking off to wherever it was they bonded 50 years ago .

But this week's favourite has to be the middle-aged man cycling up the road on the hottest day this week , wearing a traffic cone on his head ....

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why's It So Bright Outside ?

I went to the seaside yesterday , on a tram * . Well , nearly .

In typical fashion , I chose the day when the line was being given its annual overhaul so I and hundreds of others were de-trammed for the last four stops and packed in a bus ( you notice I'm using the singular here . )
Still , I saw a merry-go-round ,

 ate some chips on the prom.

and stood on tiptoe to see the sea . But the really extraordinary thing was ... the sun was shining .

Because apart from that , August's been a bit of a washout , literally .

Still , my tomatoes are ripening .

And Friend took me out for lunch on my birthday .

Great conversation , delicious food and a candle ... and yes, it was this dark at one o'clock on Monday . Something to do with the monsoon season apparently .

 But , oddly , the sun still seems to be shining today and I'm going outside again

*At Den Haag's Central train station , there's a tram that goes out to Holland's most popular and iconic beach resort , Scheveningen , rolling through the city center and suburbs of increasingly ornate elaborate , over-balconied seaside  villas.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ears Like A Horse...

The coffee break is , apart from the salary , the best thing about working . Once you retire you'll need to find a substitute  .
You know how a horse can point one ear to locate a sound ?  Well , when you don't meet so many people  every day , you'll find you need to develop something similar . Think Lady Bracknell ...  actually if you've ever had or worked with small children  , you already have .

 However busy your hairdresser's is you're never really going to hear anything truly entertaining , holiday destinations apart .
In good Supermarkets , the queues are not allowed to be longer than three customers anymore , so there's less time to  'news-gather'/earwig .  

The local paper's quite good ... I know , for instance , that  they're collecting money for new gnomes for the city farm  and which children have got their swim diploma . Or that if you buy a new bra in Stien's lingerie shop , you'll get a discount if you donate your old one ( they''ll send it to Rumania ... no , I can't think why either ) . But our paper's  going on holiday for a couple of weeks .

Which just leaves listening shamelessly to people in cafes or trains

" I'm allergic to everything . I can't help it , I can't eat anything at all ... I don't eat chicken , I don't eat beef , I don't eat pork . I only eat mince ." said the woman in yellow ... but then the bus arrived .

 There was the group of women sitting next to me as we all ate sandwiches in the park , who were discussing some their exes   ,  "Well , once he said that , I could see the message behind the message ... "   Everyone in a quarter mile radius nodded ...

Or the young girl on the train chronicling her food poisoning over the weekend to her mates , "I'd only had a few vodkas and a Berenburg earlier on Friday and Joris had made something with coconut and cider but I threw up the pea soup straight away on Saturday . Even the tiramisu made me queasy ... "...

In fact , sometimes there doesn't even need to be a conversation .
A young girl waiting for a train in Utrecht was carrying a large bag printed with "Awesome Shoes Take You To Awesome Places "... I hope they had , she was now wearing flip-flops and a BandAid .

I know , I'm just nosy ...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

An Eighteenth Century Grand Tour Updated

By dint of working through endless weekends over the winter , supervising the rehousing of her firm's headquarters to larger premises the other side of town , Youngest Daughter earned two extra weeks holiday this summer .The offer of a flat in Budapest , a friend's desire to go to the Opera in Vienna and a love of Italian food ...  and she was off on a 2016 version of the Grand Tour .

I'd get 'phone calls from minor airports  , Alpine river banks , libraries , forests or street corner cafes ( preferably next to a tram line )  .
She was having the time of her life ,  and not even a superfluity of " potatoes and pig's elbows " on Munich lunch menus was daunting .  A couple of German castles revived her spirits swiftly .

The fact that Prague smelled of forests , had a municipal diving center in the middle
of the city and that the people all seemed to love living there made her want to stay for ever .

A huge park in Salzburg , breakfasts in Budapest , chocolate cakes in Austria , the Kunshistorisches Museum in Vienna and  having the Vermeers to herself ...  surviving the Marriage of Figaro in a 38C degree Opera House  , ...  the apericena in Venice with Aperol spritzers and buffets of endless delight  , five hours in Florence's Uffizi and some risotto ,

the market and food in Milan and a treasure hunt in its Salvation Army thrift shop made it all most uplifting and every bit as educational as any Grand Tour could hope to be  .

The first card is a self portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola  , "Her eyes look like mine in a Viennese cake shop "
And the second is Agnolo di Cosimo's  portrait of Giovanni de'Medici as a child in the Uffizi ... is it possible to adopt a postcard ?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Well , At Least There's Not A Hosepipe Ban

It didn't rain on Thursday so I sat on the balcony and took stock .

The lavender hasn't died . The two cherry tomato plants are looking pale but brave and when I got down on hands and knees  and squinted , I counted five tomatoes . One this size , O and four this size   .

My Wildflower Plantation , a large-ish earthenware pot , sewn with a packet of Bee and Butterfly attracting plant seeds that the housing association gave each of us  this year

 has burst forth into one white flower too tiny to identify ,  two pink ditto  , a pretty purple sweetpea affair and a cornflower .

 Local bees seem to be reluctant to venture forth  however , though I have seen two hoverflies doing their silent best to fill the gap .

Never mind , with a balcony 10 by 6 foot , I was hardly hoping to be self-sufficient but yesterday's paper has a large article on page 2 telling us that due to flooding and hailstorms spinach , paksoi , lettuce and rocket will be in short supply till September , at least ... and I'm already a little tired of carrots ...

 It's chicken barley soup for supper and a kiwi fruit .

P.S. The plant pots and labels aren't mine . Not even I am  that optimistic . They were stacked ín a corner of the Orangery in Utrecht's Hortus , where the cactii were sheltering from the rain .