Sunday, 29 April 2012


It's the May holidays , and the schools are closed for a week .

So I've stocked the pantry ( don't go to the market when you're hungry . What else can I chop parsley over ? ) . I've downloaded a new audio book ( Steff Penney's The Invisible Ones ) and got a copy of War and Cinema , The Logistics of Perception by Paul Virilio in case my brain turns to mush before I go back to work , sewing stuff is spreading like spilt syrup over every flat surface and I'm making a dog ( no walkies needed )

I've rediscovered a CD of John Betjeman reading his poems in a wonderfully diffident voice , a real blast from the past , this , and there's a Day Out in Leiden planned with friends . So now I'm going to put my feet up and relax .

P.S. I haven't forgotten 's request for a translation of the vegetables in coconut milk recipe but I need to get the definitive list of ingredients from a colleague's DIL , who's yomping round Scotland at the moment . I'll post it when she's back and has thawed out .

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A big shark or is it a whale?



This is disconcerting... No, not the whale (introductions to follow below), but blogger has changed its look within since I last posted. I am having to learn a new system at work too, having been used to one virtual learning environment we are now being trained in another. Although the difference in practice is often slight, it is odd how reliant one becomes with the look of a programme or virtual environment, isn't it? But then again, I am not 4 years and 11 months of age....


Anyway, I was actually meaning to blog about my nephew's first attempt at drawing on my iPad. This is a boy who did not really get on with pencils and paper until quite recently, but he was quite happy managing a drawing ap which has the tools (pencil, paintbrush, eraser) to select from and white pages. He erased most of them out very quickly, but I managed to keep a copy of this one. A big whale with teeth and big eyes. But then he went on to talk a lot about sharks with invisible fins when we all pretended to be animals. I was a hamster, by the way.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More flowers!


So we travelled up to Amsterdam in our trusty campervan (though we had left it too late for a space at Zeeburg and slept in one of the huts instead). It was good to plan to do lots of walking because we eat like this little pig:

The 'rice-table', Sonata mentions, looked like this:

And that is not all that was served. My partner, as a precaution, had taken an extra bottle of gas in the campervan as unsure how much there was left in the canister. Suffice to say we did not cook in the van at all.

We saw plenty of beautifully decorated windows:

And some which had live residents, such as this cat. In fact, we even saw a cat in a bakery... mouse sandwich anyone?

Amsterdam was as stunning as always, and we walked by canals and through markets. But a real highlight was the Keukenhof flower show. I hadn't quite realised that my little sister was not particularly flower friendly, so she was a real saint coming to the show, but, heck, it must be dreadful to live in the land of tulips if flowers are not your thing: they are everywhere after all. This was outside an antique shop in Amsterdam:

Unfortunately, at the flower park, the variety of tulip that was called Zombie had not yet flowered, but we saw plenty of other varieties. Some were planted in rows:

But often flowed like a beautiful indigo river of hyacinths:

And did you know they could dye roses like this?

There was also a special display in honour of Poland. And there was a portrait in flowers of Chopin. A couple who had climbed the rostrum without reading the sign eagerly discussed who it might be, and decided it had to be Bethoven. At least it was another composer!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Less A Blog Entry .... More A Trailer

As always , we had a lovely weekend in Amsterdam . We wandered and chatted and ate , admired pampered dogs

and avoided any danger of therapy in the Jordaan , even a tempting foot massage

Guided by Y.D. , we ate wonderfully well .... everything from rijsttafel and a Turkish feast to courgette and basil soup , catfish ( superb on a bed of lightly steamed mangetouts and tiny runnerbeans ) and wortelstampot ( a sort of carrot mash with smoked sausage ) and a tapa of perfect cheese in chunks , dipped in mustard .... perfect with ice cold beer .Perhaps influenced by a lovely bit of grafitti

we went to a flower show .... no , THE flower show if you're a tulip fan .... the Keukenhof , and I'm leaving it to Smitonius to show her beautiful photos of the plants . Y.D. discovered that she liked orchids and I discovered pushkinias . We all saw rather a lot of Romantic Roses

including a pale pink one the size of a dinner plate , that you'd have to stand guard over with a an umbrella when it rained . ( Meijer Roses , "Pearl Avalanche ", best of show , if you want to own one ) . I even bought some tea called Silver Rose , with silver tipped Oolong and rose petals which is proving to be just right for rainy afternoons .

So now it's back to work and doing my own cooking again . I'm never going to get to Kantjil 's rijsttafel level but , with the help of this book out of the library

I made Sajoer Lodeh ( vegetables in Coconut milk ) tonight to have with chicken skewers .... rather nice and worth trying again .

And so to bed ....

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Happy - If Rather Chilly - Easter !

While Middle Daughter sits at home , lovingly dabbing calamine on Eldest Grandson's impressive collection of chickenpox itchiness , Smitonius and partner , Youngest Daughter and I will be trekking round Amsterdam from restaurant to restaurant , exhaustively cataloguing the availability of ethnic and local delicacies in the city .

We might visit a museum or two , will inspect the trams , check window displays ( though maybe not those in the red light district ) , admire moored barges , vintage clothes shops and the Farmer's market . Yes , I know .... same old , same old . In our defence I have to say that we don't do it that often and there's bound to be a corner we missed last time . And we are toying with the idea of going further afield on Sunday ... Delft maybe , or Gouda .

As long as we don't freeze to death .... it's really rather chilly . I hope you , too , enjoy the Easter break and have sufficient Easter eggs to survive being snowed in , wherever you are . ( We'll all be wearing thermals , I fear ).

P.S. The bird house was made using a free pattern from the Amsterdam quilt shop , Bird Blocks , which they issued for their 5th anniversary in 2008 .

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Bob the cat


No, we still have a cat called Toots, who has settled in most splendidly. She has learnt how to use the cat flap, has recovered the garden (mostly) from the other cats who marked up the territory as their own once Pocket was gone, and made clear her preferences (of cat litter, brand of cat food, times to be fed, places to sit and to sleep, etc..). All in all, the cat approves of the humans she chose at Battersea.

This post is about another cat, one called Bob. You might have seen him on the news, because his owner James has written a book about their friendship: A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets.

A few weeks ago, I stood in a very long queue in order to have the copy of his book signed and pawed (well, rubber stamped) by the pair. In the bookshop, Bob was either sitting on the table by the pile of books or taking a well deserved break in his own armchair, he just behaved as if all that attention was the most natural thing in the world.

He wears a lead and is known to ride on the bus, walk alongside James or travel on his shoulder. Watch them here online. The book is a good read about that bond between humans and cats in challenging circumstances... I wish the both