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….
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. )
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.
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.
The 'fridge echoes. I've hunted the cupboard shelves. Quinoa (Heavens, how old is it?), a half full, plastic container with a hand-printed label saying "VERY wholemeal flour" which I remember made some depressingly healthy buns and some elderly raisins. A tin of sardines in water, but I'm not quite that hungry. Oh, I have found a small tin of sweet corn … is that nice on toast?
Perhaps not. And a pot of Marmite dated January 2003, does everybody British have one of these ? Trouble is, I don't like tinned food so I rarely buy it except for tomatoes which I then keep for an emergency, but I've even eaten those. And all the pasta . Since I have now dared to get back on the bike again, I'd better find a couple of shoes that match and go to the shops.
All I really want is some grapefruit juice now I can't, of course, but a bag of mandarins do. Three pots of cottage cheese and a pork chop. Peanut butter, some smoked mackerel and sweet peppers. Meuslibollen ( yes, they really do have meusli in them and they're lovely with cheese in ). And some more tinned tomatoes for the next emergency.
The reason for the food shortage is Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour. Thoroughly enthralling and the reason why I've been glued to my sofa. But I have been doing a jigsaw, too. A recycling shop challenge which might or might not be complete, though since it only cost 25 cents it probably isn't. The edge pieces are all there anyway and hundreds of frogs.
(Sorry, I've resorted to the manufacturers online catalogue photo since posting my own photos has become very hit and miss.) And I'd like to post this before 2019.
P.S. I've finally finished the puzzle and it was complete !
You know those surprise weekend breaks that people have been rushing off for for the last couple of years? To Munchen or Bratislava ? Well, I had a variation this week ....
Food-wise it couldn't be recommended, eight cheese rolls being rather too much of a good thing and I don't know about you, but I prefer to take my toothbrush and a nightie away with me , but everyone was terribly friendly and the coffee was very good. It was a couple of rather busy days, not recommended if you wanted a rest, but it did make a change.
Last Saturday I felt a little peculiar and I still felt strange on Sunday, so when Youngest Daughter phoned on Sunday evening I couldn't really talk to her. Then Friend 'phoned and I didn't do much better but had luckily already decided to talk to the doctor on Monday or Tuesday. It's all right. Next time I'll just call an ambulance straightaway and put everyone's mind at rest. I'd had a TIA.
I now sound fine, have had every test known to man and seem to be condemned to taking another form of Statins but I've been told that I might not react so badly to these, they're milder.
Since it seemed that I wasn't going to get home till I did, I'm swallowing them and keeping my fingers crossed. These are quite gentle which might be easier for both me and my great-greatgrandmother to put up with … apparently even vaguely Keralan people can only tolerate them so well.
I definitely don't want to be difficult. (The young specialist looked about twenty but I feel she and her gang looked as though they'd be bossy and I was determined to get out before series 3 of The Good Place was going to begin.) Besides, I'd read all the magazines and I'd eaten two lots of salmon and broccolli… I felt I'd wrung the whole experience dry.
Until last weekend I had no idea that my life was missing something so fundamental. Other people had cats or canaries, Guinea pigs or ant farms. A mouse in the skirting board. Dandelions on the lawn or mushrooms in the cellar… But Gloria and I soldiered on without any of these things.
And then I went down to Amsterdam on Saturday to have lunch and a wander round with YD. We went to Hortus, the Botanic Gardens, and mooned over endless beautiful ferns and palm trees of all shapes and sizes. We're not gardeners; between us we have five plants, one of which is the balding, albino Basil in my kitchen. But we loitered by the purple Velvet plants and the little signs inviting us to stroke them, and we crushed mint and verbena leaves. We stabbed ourselves with an armoury of needle sharp cactii and admired our reflections in lily pad filled ponds. We were enchanted by the Butterfly house and peered through the windows of the Caterpillar House ( No Entry, presumably in case one inadvertently treads on a few). And just as we were beginning to feel hungry and reckoned we'd seen our moneysworth of greenery, I saw what my balcony's been missing , an Elephant's Foot Palm, otherwise known as a Ponytail Palm.
I know that Gloria would love one as would the pansy that grew after I'd planted some paprika seeds and the pink daisy-things that seem to be growing horizontally next door …
SmitoniusAndSonata is a mother and daughter collective blog.
London based Smitonius (Jessamy) makes one of a kind jewellery using vintage buttons, as well as a combination of beads from all over Europe: from lampwork ones by a range of UK artists to vintage and modern glass beads.
Sonata is a miniature quilt maker based in the North of Holland (Leeuwarden). Geraldine Keyzer is already known to collectors of Hitty dolls and owners of vintage dollhouses. She likes to use vintage as well modern cotton to create a range of quilts from simple One Patch to the more complex Grandmother's Garden.