Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Great Escape


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 . ..


rachel said...

My mouth waters at the description of The Souk.... we have nothing like that here.

Am going to consult my Christmas present mini-atlas now and locate where you were. I've only really been to Amsterdam....

Tania said...

You know I always wholeheartedly approve when you take photos of Nice Corners. The same approval rating goes for dayglo orange earmuffs.

Rattling On said...

I have some nice earmuffs. Sadly they co-ordinate with my hair so are virtually invisible.
I bet the houseboats are very cosy.

Kate on Clinton said...

Isn't train travel so civilized compared to the alternatives these days? But I wouldn't know what to do with 3, much less 12, different kinds of flour!

Penny said...

My grandson would SO like that
Playmobil figure. It does all look remarkably chilly, roll on Spring!

Anonymous said...

ooo how i would love to have gone on that trip, inspite of the cold, and i love the idea of interesting corners.. yes, i like that concept, i shall be finding and peering myself now for ever, thank you!

laurie said...

what a great trip! and maybe vladivostock once the weather improves.

mountainear said...

The north African shop sounds fantastic - the right antidote to the bitterly cold weather. Ear muffs - Day-glo or otherwise what a great idea.

Liz said...

I loved the lego man but then I saw the skeleton! How wonderful!