Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Only Resolution To Make This Year

It's early evening here . Everyone's busy putting the finishing touches to tonight's party celebrations ... Nibbles cover every available surface ... Champagne's on ice ... The fireworks are ready . And the die-hards have already made their New Year's resolutions . But this year there's really only one possible resolution to make :

                         To make sure that everyone has shelter and a welcome in 2016


May we all have a lovely evening and the coming year is full of just the right adventures .

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Another Christmas List

It's all under control ... there's enough food to feed twenty in the 'fridge  ( none of it knitted ) , parcels have been sent and received , a  Christmas tree  and Poinsetia have been installed ( the tree is actually smaller than the Poinsetia but some tinsel and little silver bells have revived its spirits ) , I decided against making the recipe for chocolate bars in the health shop brochure ... who needs chia seeds at Christmas ? , YD is bringing up mini Christmas puddings tomorrow and lots of proper chocolate for her father , the Polish Christmas carols CD has been found and sounds as lovely as always , and we have Spain's entire olive production for the last three years in our possession .

I hope that MD will still be talking to me after Elder Grandson opens one of his presents and he's busy making brightly coloured slime out of it . I hope that Julie Andrews isn't appearing on television in any shape or form over the holidays .  I hope that the whistling neighbour has been invited somewhere nice for the holiday .

And Smitonius and I hope that you all have a perfectly splendid Christmas !!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Altogether Now ... I Want To Ride My Bicycle

My annual eye checkup , each December , involves powerful eyedrops that make daylight painfully bright for a few hours till they wear off . I always have to get there by bus since , even wearing dark glasses , I can't open my eyes without being dazzled  .

So this morning , I jump on the 32 for the hospital ,  congratulating myself on being in plenty of time . Bus driver greets us all with a cheery smile , waits for a puffing latecomer and closes the doors . One door stays open . She opens the doors again . Tries closing them again ... and again . Presses a nice silver button . Nothing . Presses all the buttons at once ... whereupon , logically , nothing happens at all   . Presses red button... engine burps .

Lady nearby ( sorry , but she is definitely a lady ... she has a lace-edged hanky , stockings and a tweed suit .  Facinating . ) clears her throat nervously and looks at her watch . I wave goodbye to grabbing  a coffee before my appointment and we all start peering out at the other buses dotted round , trying to work out which one could be diverted via the hospital without the whole system collapsing .
Driver manages to close the doors . Now have visions of being trapped in stationary bus .

Inspector wanders up . Points to his watch . Driver shrugs and presses buttons again .

Everything happens at once ... indicators all flash , water squirts up over the windscreen and wipers swish , radio goes on  , engine vrooms and we ride off to the sound of Queen and Freddie Mercury ...

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Breezing Along

As well as hailstorms  ( lovely photo in the local paper of hockey match brought to a standstill last weekend  ) , there's been a decidely BRISK wind all week ... at one point today , the easterly wind was blowing so hard along the canal bank I had my bike brakes on in panic . It didn't make any difference ... I was jet-propelled . Had it not been for the supermarket entrance , I'd be crossing the German border about now !

 Apart from occasionally breaking the sound barrier , I've been methodically buying presents .
Boxes of sweets and bathproducts ... or , as they're referred to in December , confectionery and toiletries . Stray bits of Lego . Pretty books  and tins of tea . Treats . Basically the things that the people you're giving them to will be buying for you . Even encountered a friend on the hunt for a milk-chocolate iPhone ....

In amongst all this though , I did find the time , at last , to go to the Princessehof and admire the C20th ceramics exhibition . Nothing terribly exciting but if anyone wants to give me this 

or this

or this child's teaset

or these

for Christmas , I'd accept graciously . As always , the 20's and 30's stuff is much more striking than modern china .

But the most cheering part of the week had nothing to do with treats or trips ... it was a ten minute bus ride that ended up taking twenty five . The bus had just pulled away from the stop outside the theater when there was an unholy howl from the back and everyone started shouting . Someone seemed to be having an epileptic attack . The driver stopped and ran back to check ... and one of a noisy , skirmishing group of young lads in hoodies and gravity defying jeans stopped horsing about , calmly pulled out his 'phone , called for an ambulance , gave concise directions and a coherent description of the symptoms and put his 'phone back in his pocket . Even his mates looked impressed . I'd like to see him in ten years time . Once the ambulance had come the patient had recovered , so the crew , finding out that she lived alone , took her back to her flat to make her a cup of tea and settle her in  .

Monday, 23 November 2015

Online Paralysis

 Up till now , renewing my passport has always been fairly routine  .
 But I've just read the new instructions for those , like me , who live abroad ... and apparently it's no use going off to the Consulate any more . Whether it's a cost-cutting exercise or not I don't know , but these days the staff appear to have more important things to do than deal with incompetent old bats trailing in from the provinces to clog up Reception . Even telephone enquiries would appear to be discouraged .
None of this is helped by the fact that this latest passport-photo-to-be makes me look like someone a vampire might reject  . I'll have to elbow my way into my G.P.'s surgery this week and hope he remembers roughly who I am and has a signature to spare ... Perhaps I should ask about my unnatural pallor while I'm there .
I suppose the proponents of online everything 24-7 will say that with a computer/IPhone I wouldn't need to leave my house  . But it's like internet banking or increasingly elaborate remote controls for the television or ...horror ! the new c.d. player ... it's just a complication . I prefer talking to PEOPLE . 
Still , it would appear that when I've finally completed the online application successfully and been granted a new passport , it will be delivered by courier ... and they're still human , aren't they ?  

Monday, 9 November 2015

With Cauliflower and Motets

I had a free day on Saturday and  plans !
Nothing huge , just a Book Sale and then a quick visit to the local Porcelain museum and their exhibition of Popular 20th Century ceramics  ( I thought it would be fun to see how much of it rang a bell ! ) .
 The sale was in the big church nearby that has an entrance exclusively for royalty ... and a  'trade'  entrance round the back for the rest of us , which had been been gussied up for the occasion .

Friend and I had been to a Brocante fair there a couple of weeks ago and , with difficulty , resisted carrying everything home so I was rather hoping to be tempted by loads of nice vintage books and mags .
 All money raised was destined for a South American charity , the volunteers were all charming , the church looking nicer each year as the restoration of the pre-Reformation wall paintings reveals more surprises from under the whitewash , and the coffee was good but ....
The stalls only had the usual endless copies of well-worn bird books , gardening books , 1970's cooking with margarine books , Jackie Collins and Jeffrey Archer in Frisian  , Teletubbies board books , twenty year-old dictionaries  and the odd antimacassar pattern  . Still , I did find something I liked on the CD stall so at least didn't leave empty handed  , though not having made a noticable difference in South America , sadly . It had started pouring and the winds were picking up so I just went home and left the ceramics for another day .

A big bowl of Madhur Jaffrey's Gingery Cauliflower soup , some raisin bread , my new CD

the last few chapters of Maggie O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox ( highly recommended ) , some desultory knitting

the storm raging outside and the prospect of Doctor Who later ... made for a  very nice Saturday afternoon indeed .

P.S. Can't resist including this advertisement just I've seen  for a dog coat from Pets Place ... an Oasis-style parka to keep your dog extra cosy on walks this winter ... but surely most dogs already have fur collars of their own ?

Sunday, 25 October 2015


Minion chocolate flakes on bread and butter

colouring in , chocolate milk , Ceebebies , banana yoghurt and wooden frogs

 Monkey Town , whirling robots and singing dinosaurs , chocolate sauce , "Can you lick your elbows ?",  Bagels and Beans' make-your-own hot chocolate and topping it with squirty whipped cream , a red rabbit who's apparently really a bear

 Knock Knock jokes , halbardiers and crossbows , theocracies and Ghengis Khan , the Apollo programme and how to make cheese , glowing smiles and roaring tantrums , Animal Inside Out  at the Natuur Museum , "Why-ee ?", Discovery Science , the wooden elephant on wheels and a Dalek jumper , and "I must admit Granny , you have a very nice flat ".

Which is now a rather empty flat , minus two little boys aged 8 and 3 and their parents .

Thursday, 15 October 2015

First Pom-Pom Of The Season

We'd been warned . Winter was on its way . Even Monday's paper got in the mood  .

Bushes full of berries , making even the car park look festive . Skeins of geese were arriving already . Siberian swans had arrived ... not just one as in England , but dozens ! El Nìño was doing its thing . Somewhere in the Amazon a butterfly fluttered . But this morning it was confirmed , winter was here ... I saw a bobble hat cycling up to the college.

It's time to stop stabbing celery and carrot sticks into pots of hummus and living on cottage cheese ... it's braised beef , baked apples and coconut muffin time again . 

And it was definitely time to stop padding about the flat in bare feet . The Rich in Years slippers were nearly ready . I'd assembled and blanket stitched the first one ... time to try it on . TahDah !

They lived up to their name ... in the '50s the average woman of pensionable age probably did have a bunion or two . The slippers are the oddest shape !! Tight round the toe and hugely wide round the big toe joints , loose enough round the ankles to allow for swelling and breathtakingly warm  , they are Tardis-like in their ability to whisk one back to the end of sweet rationing . Anyway ,  they didn't get their promised pom-poms ... instead I pimped this one up with a glittery bow and gave thanks that I never have to blanket stitch another thing as long as I live .

P.S. I didn't go and have a free breakfast in my pyjamas , I'm afraid . I couldn't quite face it , wearing a bright green nightie with Christmas Pud on the front , as I was

( MD is , for some reason,  responsible for my nightwear and takes a fiendish delight in finding the least flattering . ) .
But anyway , apparently only those under eight wore their pyjamas ... almost exclusively Frozen or Superman-ish .... and Disney-pink's not really my colour .

Thursday, 1 October 2015

I Did Things

Having sat like a blob for rather too long , I've got to my feet and started doing things .

The twice-yearly Fabric Fair's always worth wandering around , for the people-watching alone . Like the rather harassed woman who was buying meters of fleece , tricot and other hard wearing stuff . When someone wondered what she was planning , she just said , "I've got five children " . Everyone winced .
 But I must say , this Autumn , the general impression was rather gloomy . Five hundred shades of grey only slightly livened up by dozens of grey/black/white busy little prints ... for all the world like Italian grannies' housedresses .
This was the liveliest thing there .

"You could perhaps use it as a wall-hanging against a deep purple wall ... " said Friend . We pondered ... and thought better of it .

I've been to the cinema , too . One of my keep-fit class companions , an avid film fan , wondered if I'd like to join her at the Film House and we saw 'Dheepan' , a French film about Tamil refugees in a ghastly drug-infested  'banlieu' in Paris . Hair-raising but beautifully filmed . Next week there's Anton Corbijn's film about James Dean . I could become an avid film fan , too ...

And , having thoroughly enjoyed the BBC 1's Sunday evening's adaptation of Cider With Rosie ,  I was definitely in the mood for even more country prettiness and charm on Tuesday .

The Glasgow Boys had opened in Assen's museum and I was ready to wallow in nostalgia . So , obviously , is everybody else ; it was very busy ,  even on a weekday morning .

  Lots of lambs , cabbage patches and fruit trees , misty hills and glens , pretty children ... with all the rough edges smoothed away .
 Even a sturdy veg. stall , like the one my great-great-granny is supposed to have supported her family with  ... maybe even the same carrots she grew ?

Unfortunately the artist , William York MacGregor ,  is supposed to have painted out his unsuccessful attempt at depicting the stall-holder and replaced her with some onions , so we'll never know .

But , now Autumn has really begun , the local high life is just beginning . I see in the local paper that one of the cafés in the center of town  is going to expand its breakfast menu and , to celebrate , will be serving a free breakfast to anyone who turns up in their pyjamas , this Sunday . I might just  give it a miss ....

Sunday, 13 September 2015


It hasn't been very interesting lately . So much so , I've had time to wonder whether that first sentence should have a comma after 'interesting'.

And to read articles on whether Eating More Than 6 Bananas At Once Can Kill You (  from the BBC online magazine ) . It seems that you'd have to eat more than 400 in a day to reach unsafe levels of potassium , so that's alright then . Then the writer spoilt the whole thing by adding that the levels of radioactivity  , on the other hand , are negligible ,
" Bananas are not so radioactive as Brazil nuts and can be eaten in moderation ."  Well no , that  hadn't been keeping me awake ...

Luckily there's been the odd splash of my favourite colour to cheer me up , including some berries , Mata Hari perching on the wall of our local Bagel & Beans ,  a sunflower , a very nice little boat  and a fly on the other side of a window .


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Catching Up Fast- ish.

It takes a while for things to filter this far north . I mean , we have electric light and vending machines and things , but the first hipster I saw was in London , this summer .
But now there are at least three young men in town with the right kind of beard and cap ,,, and one of them has bicycle clips .
Cold brew coffee hasn't appeared yet but there's a new sandwich shop with 'artisan bread' , which  is a start .
So , naturally, this pair gathered quite a crowd when they started performing a while ago in the square .

We all listened politely and and applauded . A tatooed gent joined the line-up . For a moment we thought he was going to sing , too , till we saw that he was just retrieving his dog .
But before we could all move fast enough , the duo had launched into their second number . Roughly translated :

" He lay under the ground  ,
He lay under the ground ,
He lay under the ground ...

And he didn't mind ,
And he didn't mind ,
And he didn't mind ...

A garden on his stomach ,
A garden on his stomach ,
A garden on his stomach ...

And he didn't mind ,
And he didn't mind ,
And he ... "
Whereupon the woman from the neighbouring organic veg. stall leapt to her feet , picked up a tray of strawberries and ran round offering us all one . The tatooed man's tatooed wife took photos of her husband and dog ...

and I left to do my shopping . 

Though I do now wonder if  I'm quite the person to report on current trends , here or anywhere else . I bumped into a charming young girl this week , who looked vaguely familiar ,
"Oh ", she said , " You used to be my juf in playschool ! " . Then followed the usual catch-up conversation about schools and future plans .
"I'm hoping to go to the Police Academy next year " . Dear Heaven , I'm feeling my age !

Sunday, 23 August 2015

My Local Museum Read My Mind

I've just spent a week looking for knitting groups , since my first choice had turned out to include Bible study .
A very nice wool shop just did crochet and sock knitting courses ( "with 4 needles" the owner warned  , having sized me up accurately )  ;  and Leeuwarden's Stitch'n'Bitch seemed to have died  , though there was a brief hope that they'd come back to life in the old jail . This would have offered a spectacular backdrop to k.1 p.1 . but sadly it wasn't true .

Just as melancholy was setting in , the local free paper provided the solution .It turns out that the Fries Museum has an exhibition , Breien ! , opening on October 17th

Reading the article , it will include everything from a wooden C16th sock knitting frame , old fisherman's jumpers , knitted lace pieces to wear with the gold caps worn for centuries as the Fries  national costume , C18th fingerless mittens for the poor and C21st fingerless mittens for the trendy ...

There's going to be a walk-through route where you can handle exhibits . A  completely knitted room by  Isabel Berglund , Victorian beaded reticules , things knitted with human hair by Chrystel Rijkeboer , Starsky and Hutch sweaters ...

BUT , more to the point , there will be a drop-in knitting area with coffee and resident experts to advise on one's knitting disasters works-in-progress . A sort of 6 day a week Stitch'n'Bitch for nearly a year , just round the corner , in fact !

( Meanwhile , Hermione's slippers are taking shape in a rather more sedate shade of red than planned . It's too early to stock scarlet , I was told ... )

P.S. The exhibition poster stubbornly refuses any of my efforts to hoist it upright . Sorry !

Monday, 17 August 2015

Where's It Gone ?

Vanished .
Sun , boats , ice cold beers , vast salads , picnics and freckles ... All gone overnight .

So it's now time to roll up my sleeves for winter .

Making warming one-pan meals again . This , for instance , from Nikko Amandonico's "Una Bella Spaghettata "

is startlingly simple , involving little more than mixing good Italian canned tomatoes with herbs , olives and capers with olive oil ( lots of olive oil ... to feed 6 she recommends using 500 ml . I didn't . ) , stirring this into some barely cooked pasta , tipping it all into an oven dish and baking it in a hot oven for 20 minutes . Eat a large bowlful and and relax .

Enrol in some class or other ... I've found a craft class which includes crochet ( yes , again ... well even I must get the hang of it eventually ) and lunch .

And start at least one ridiculous frivolous project . This winter's is from an ancient P&B booklet of Senior Knitteds for The Rich In Years .

Since I could hardly cycle while wearing a muff and can't knit gloves  , I thought that I'd have a bash at these slippers

or house shoes as they would have been called when the pattern was written . In scarlet , perhaps , for Christmas ? Perhaps I should arm myself with one of these , too ?

I've got the latest Bryant and May who-dunnit on audiobook .... I'll be rather put out now , if Summer returns .

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Summer Colours

Doesn't our weather man look surprised ! As well he might ; summer has taken a while to get going ....

Still there has been colour here and there

even though it has been more subdued .


London was very pretty this year .