Monday, 11 February 2019

It Happens To Us All

It's finally happened. I've turned into my mother, as we all do eventually.

While she was still alive, we'd usually all come together for Christmas, squash into our old house, eat too much, reminisce and enjoy each others company. Since there weren't quite so many of us then, we could all just about fit into the same car and go off in the afternoon for an outing. My mother would sit happily in the passenger's seat, listening to the radio.

Our local radio station had its firm favourites and a short playlist. That year it, like the rest of us,  had been impressed by Titanic. Wherever we went, the blasted song would come on before we'd reached the end of our road and my mother would pipe up , "Who's that singing?".  And everybody would  chorus, "It's Celine Dion, Granny".

The other day I was sitting in the hairdresser's, trying to remain positive about my fringe, when  there was something about the song on the radio …  "Who's that singing?".

Yes of course,  it was Celine Dion and her new song, whatever it's called…….

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

It Hasn't Snowed All Day

No, it hasn't snowed once today. Had it not been freezing, I would have drunk my coffee on the balcony.  Yesterday we only had a lot of wet white stuff that melted on its way down, at about knee height . The crocus are waking up in the park. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Winter even makes getting dressed in the morning rather boring . Hugely heavy thick green jumper or hugely heavy thick grey jumper? ( Am I the only person left, old enough to remember when sweaters came in a wide variety of colours every year? When we didn't all look as though we'd Xeroxed ourselves?)

 Last week it snowed every day and I spent most of it under a blanket, reading a pile of paper backs. I can really recommend  'The Watchmaker from Filigree Street', 'Half-Sick of Shadows'  and  'Moon over Soho', having thoroughly enjoyed them all, especially the first.

But now I'm all magicked out, I've mooned over a huge pile of American museum catalogues, made a variety of vegetable soups and have started to make myself bacon sandwiches again ( definitely frowned on by the cholesterol police ) so I'd better have my hair cut and go for a Day Out. The Femmes Fatales exhibition in Den Haag sounds good … the Dior exhibition in London sounds good, too, but unfortunately Days Out can only really last 24 hours in the real world.  Never mind, it's Blood Orange time again and three different people today assured me that the snow's finished for this year so it's onwards and upwards. ?? 

Smitonius kindly emailed me a shot of her baking and I thought  I'd share it with you to spread the cheer. If I've been overoptimistic and it snows again tomorrow I'll make some muffins and eat them all before the day's out … after another bacon sandwich.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Perhaps A Little Self-Restraint ...

 The party-ing is over. Huge fun while it lasted; a surfeit of fattening food … TWO Christmas puddings, eight sorts of cheese, three sorts of ham, far too many biscuits and Janet's Bubble and Squeak …. but it seems sensible to stop now before I go pop! 

Though, since it's snowed this week, there's a little voice in my head saying, "You need your calories, my girl" and I think of walking through the snow to school when I was quite small, sucking a boiled sweet my mother had given me 'to keep me warm'  (ironically she later became a dental nurse).

 Fortunately there's a bigger voice pointing out that if I want to button up my jeans, I'd better not eat a large bowl of porridge, two bananas and a leftover sausage every day for breakfast  … oh, alright, just this once, then…      
Trouble is having vivid memories of being housebound the last time we had days and days of black ice, I've stocked the flat with enough food to feed the neighbourhood for a fortnight.

Luckily there have been a couple of good exhibitions locally and wandering round the Fries Museum's  Rembrant And Saskia , Love and Courtship in the Golden Age a couple of times has kept me fit. Add to this a quick skip round Nubia, Land van de Zwarte Faroa's in Assen's  Drents Museum and I'm still only slightly chubby. And I've got a lovely post card of a white Nubian cat on my fridge door.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Are We All Sitting Comfortably ? .....

Has everyone written and posted all the Christmas cards, ordered the turkey, unearthed the decorations, disentangled the tinsel and bought and wrapped all the presents?
Well , good for you. Think of me as you sit purring, sipping a coffee and eating a mince pie or two.  I'm the person you see out of the corner of your eye at the cash desk, muttering to herself and clutching two tins of biscuits and a fancy shower cap.

 I knew December was coming. It always does after November. There's no excuse………….

P.S. With thanks to Younger Grandson's archives. He would like me to point out that he's grown since….

Monday, 26 November 2018

Take Off

An article in this weekend's paper explained why the train from Leeuwarden to Groningen suddenly slows down to a crawl and can dawdle along for five or ten minutes before speeding up again … The train to Utrecht sometimes does the same . Come to that Dutch trains as a whole are prone to it and it's simply because we're all in a queue. Apparently more than eight thousand animals were reported on the tracks from January to September this year alone. More than two thousand deer and an astonishing  one and a half thousand swans plus hares, cows and the odd lama.

Well, I can vouch for the swans since the driver sometimes tells us passengers what's happening, though when it's a sheep it's not usually considered exciting enough to interrupt the conversation. Swans tend to see the track as their own airport runway and like to take off from it. What sheep, deer , cattle and an alarming number of dogs and cats are doing is unclear or, come to that,  the red panda seen in Rotterdam racing along the line. Best of all was the kangaroo seen just south of here a few months ago. Too fast to catch, he was finally beaten by the clients of the Spoorzicht ( Railway view) Cafe … they lassoo-ed it.
 ( with thanks to Saturday's De Volkskrant. )

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


Thanks to Free-Space*, I've got two tea-bag size bruises, one on each knee.

Like everywhere else our town is evolving. The old library , together with the equally old bank building behind it, is becoming an off shoot of Groningen University, something to do with commerce or tourism , I think, and once the builders have gone will have students running up and down the steps all day. So recently the streets and spaces around have been reorganised. Buses, cars and delivery vans still use them … and so do people both on and off bikes. But FREELY!  No more white lines or traffic lights, no boring traffic signs .

The traffic, apart from buses, can drive in the general direction of  its destination as long as it looks where it's going. And that's where I and a young girl went wrong. Both trying to go along the top of the bridge in a hurry but in different directions , we collided. Mind you, she wasn't to know that I'd just come back from England where everybody'd been driving on the other side of the road or that I'm not really fit to be let out alone on wheels at the best of times. Anyway, a nice young man picked us both up and we both hobbled off. And  I'm going back to cycling through the red light district again; it's much easier to navigate during the day.
* Officially called Shared Space, apparently.

Since it's suddenly winter and nearly freezing, I'm back to cooking industrial quantities of baked apples and the flat smells of cinnamon, I've hauled out the Annual Scarf … well, the Triennial scarf actually since it's been on the needles for ever … and Masterchef and Strictly Come Dancing are on television again. I can't watch one more young chef forget how to make Beef Wellington when watched by Marcus Waring … I can do that myself.  And it's easier to cherish the belief that I can tango when not actually watching people doing it.

Thank heaven for Netflix.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Remembering ....

When I was little, the occasional riotous behaviour of my father and uncles and their friends seemed rather fun and I used to feel sorry when Granny  and the aunts would look disapproving. It's only years later that I realise just how much all these young men spent their twenties putting themselves back together again after the war.

I've recently read my eldest uncle's diary, in which he describes how he found himself catapulted into the war and how, at first, being at war just meant scrubbing a decidedly scruffy boat from one end to the other endlessly. His main worry was how his mother would cope without his wages, which helped her feed and clothe his younger brothers and sisters. That it would be years till he found himself at home again never occured to him or that he'd be at sea, in one way or another, till his sixties.

 Much as I loved him, Matthew was no literary giant and the diary wasn't an easy read but a lot was fascinating. If nothing else it explained his lifelong reluctance to bow to authority.

He mentions their attempt at tailing the Graaf Spee and how it was perhaps as well that they never got too close given that their 6 inch guns had been installed in 1901 and definitely not up to the fire power and range of any modern ship. Perhaps it was just as well that my grandmother didn't know anything about what exactly her eldest son was up to just then. Never one for quietly accepting her fate, or anyone else's, she'd have been banging on the Admiralty doors, demanding better arms for them all at the very least.