Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Just One Last "Big Day Out" Before I Get Down To Work Again


Antwerp , yesterday , was cold and wet , boarded up and covered in builders rubble . Even one or two of the hundreds of statues of Our Lady , which grace every corner of the city , weren't immune .

But Pain Quotidien still provided a tasty sandwich and big bowl of coffee plus the usual interesting dive down steep cellar stairs to the loo .

Boogkeers and the area round it had been prettily yarnbombed

and the recycling shop round the corner had , as always , a pre-dieu for sale among the flotsam of unwanted chairs and a couple of very quiltable '60s remnants .

This cat tried to persuade me that it needed to be adopted

and I would have adopted these tiles , if I could .

A good Day Out to finish off the summer holidays . Only one more year to go , now . This time next year , I'll be relishing the prospect of sitting with my feet up , coffee and crossword in hand , all winter long .But now it's time to gird up my loins , dust off the recipes for wholesome soups and knit the annual wooly scarf . ( In Noro Kureyon in a mix of charcoal , chestnut and spice ) .

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Any Excuse To Have A Blow-Out


Cue flags and choir ... I'm a year older ! Ever the party animal , I've chosen to celebrate my birthday this year by going to Ikea . There will even be a sandwich and as-many-cups-of-coffee-as-we-can-drink involved and Husband will have a slice of apple cake as well , because he's Dutch and Dutch people eat apple cake at every opportunity , even after prawn sandwiches .

I will even be giving myself a present .... a scarf-hanger . I seem to have acquired thousands of really pretty ones this summer ( it's Recession Chic , apparently , to jazz up last year's wardrobe with affordable accessories . They're kind to the somewhat older neckline , too . Not that that has anything to do with it ... that's next year .) Anyway , I've got tired of searching through a pile of silky slipperiness every time I want to add a touch of glamour to my Uniqlo white tshirts , so a proper Storage Solution seems sensible .

Youngest Daughter has recently turned thirty and said that on Saturday she got her first Older-Person -Alert !! reaction from some people at a party . She'd remarked that she remembered watching the fall of the Berlin Wall . Stunned silence .... "You remember the 198os ? Wow!"

Well , as one who remembers the 1950s .... ALL of the 1950s... I'm off to wrap a scarf artfully round my neck ... and PARTY!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Out And About , Slowly

Sonata :
It's my last day in London , so I'm off to have a wander .
I've got a bruise the size of a demi-tasse saucer on my right foot , where I stubbed my toe last week , so I'm positively ambling along at the moment . But it's quite handy really . It makes people watching better .
Yesterday , on my way to the bus , I was overtaken by a tartan shopping trolley , pulled by an extremely elderly woman in an outsize t-shirt with " Don't call me John . I'm Juan " printed on the front . She'd got it tucked into skin tight jeans pulled up to her armpits and she was wearing lime green baseball boots with no laces . I suddenly felt dowdy .
A young woman in wooly hat and pixie boots zig-zagged past with a huge pink wheelie suitcase . She was carrying an empty white ornamental bird cage , holding it on high like Florence Nightingale's lamp .
I had lunch in El Rincon Quiteno ( sorry about the missing tilde , can't find it ) in the Holloway Road and , while I enjoy their delicious vegetable soup and chargrilled pork chops , shamelessly listen to the other customers . Two men nearby are having the usual "Take the A4 as far as ... " conversation . " Well " , said one , " I won't be doing that again . I ended up going faster and faster , like a bear running down a hill ."
An expansive chap rushed in for a sandwich . He looked round at us all . " I've been all around the world . Greenwich . The West End ..." . The Ecuadorian owner looked unimpressed .
The discussion at the next table trickles ever onwards , " I don't get it , we started off with ten each . Then Kiesha gave me back that £2 , then we got chips and Taylor wanted a drink , and I only fancied a coffee and you had an ice cream , but it costs £4 to get into the pool so Kiesha needed a pound and .... Anyway , where's that 10 p. come from , then? " Friend looks as lost as me .
So now I'm off to Hampstead . I think . Or Notting Hill . I want to see "Arriety" later .
Anyway I'll decide at the bus stop .
P.S. The rioting stopped by the middle of last week , fortunately . Now it's the cleanup and people are being urged to shop in affected areas to support local businesses. There do seem to be more police about , though . Not necessarily a bad thing .

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Not The Day Anybody'd Planned


London seems to have decided to become wildly exciting, just as I arrived for a few days .
There's a new buzzword suddenly . On Sunday night Smitonius's local MP , hastily shoved in front of a BBC news studio camera , talked about the looting and disorder kicking off ...... today we're all saying it . The very nice young woman in the mobile shop in Islington asked us , as we paid , whether we were going straight home , " Because we'll be closing at 4 . It'll be kicking off then , we've been told . "
Having seen an exhibition at the Brunei Gallery advertised , I went off to see that , leaving my trip to the bookshop till another day . And loved it . It's only tiny but the jewellery exhibits are exquisite and the photographs fascinating . I ordered the catalogue , so will show you a couple of pictures when it arrives ( had it posted straight to Holland . It weighs a ton !)
Leaving and fancying a coffee and bun , I tried to go to the Brunswick Center , only to find that it was all closing down too . Police were urging people to go home early . The buzzword was used again .
And then I suddenly entered the Modern World .
My pocket started to play a perky little tune . I looked round , mildly surprised , and realised . I Had A Mobile .... and this was My First Call!
Fumbling madly through a pocketful of Oyster card , various cards , more cards , even more cards and a ballpoint .... Oh , that's where that was ..... I found it and answered . It was Smitonius and we met up and went home . Safe and sound and listening to helicopters circling nearby . It's kicked off somewhere else instead .
And , of course , despite the air of unreality , this is horribly real .Small family run businesses will be protecting themselves as best they can from groups of masked yobbos on the rampage , acting as though they're on Supermarket Sweep .
I wish everyone a safe and happy evening , wherever they are .

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Zoo late


Last week we attended one of London zoo's late evening openings. For adults only, with bars open across the zoo and pop-up food village plus animals on parade, what is not to like? We were among the relatively few people over 40 present, as the place was packed with 20-something's drinking cocktails, some with painted faces (tigers were popular) others in full animal costume, partying away. I think the animals must have been a bit bemused!

We saw the new penguin enclosure, which is a definite improvement, and admired their looks (they seem to love the attention), and were amazed by the corals in the aquarium, as well as visited some nocturnals like the armadillo (faster than you would imagine).

We, by the way, did not wear animal costumes....