I had to get away for a bit yesterday . What with snow and ice , it's been difficult to leave town for the last few weeks and I was beginning to feel antsy .
So off to Groningen on the train . Even easier now they've added a fast train to the Saturday service . Not that I'm ever unhappy on a train .... I take a book and a crossword and the other passengers can sometimes be rather entertaining too . Except the chap yesterday who whistled ..... he was that horror , a warbling whistler . More trills than a budgie .
This is a little onetrack country service though , if one had the stamina and made the right connections , one could end up , a few days later , in Vladivostock . The couple in front of me were speaking Polish , which rather increased the whole Great Escape feel to the day . Mind you , the family behind were from Cap Verde . Bits of Portugese mingled with Polish , Fresian and even a little Dutch to make , whistling apart , a comfortable white sound and the crossword began to fill up nicely .
Why do I love Groningen so much ? It's very pretty , but then so is Leeuwarden . It's got lots of cafes , but then so does Leeuwarden . I think it's the people . They're chattier and , at the same time , quite happy to leave you alone to wander about , peering into doorways , take photos .
And wonder at odd things
It's full of nice corners , too .
But the big reason has to be The Souk . One of the best North African shops ever . The snows meant that our larder was bare so I stocked up . They have everything . Turkish bread , mint , quinces , Camargue rice , dried Broad Beans to make Byesar ( Morrocan hummus ) , prunes from Agen , bulgur , Turkish figs , 3 kinds of lentils , almonds , a vast array of olives , marinaded anchovies , 6 different sorts of Ras El Hanout , stuffed peppers , 5 different sorts of Feta , about 12 different flours ....... But not meat . For that you have to go down the street to the Halal butcher .
And it was COLD . I stood by one of the canals admiring a weird mosaic of broken ice between the houseboats , wondering how well-heated they'd be . I even took a photo
but the quality leaves something to be desired .
That can happen when you're passing the time of day with a charming woman in a fur coat , green wellies and Day-Glo orange earmuffs . ..