Sunday, 24 September 2017

Operation Stonebreak



Sorry , it sounds less clunky in Dutch ,"Operation Steenbreek "... or maybe it doesn't , but anyway , whatever you call it ,  it's in full flood .

It's a nationwide scheme to make towns and cities in Holland greener . Leeuwarden did a survey and discovered that up to 77% of the gardens in some neighbourhoods were totally covered in stone slabs , with a resulting decline in wildlife . Hedgehogs , bees and butterflies are becoming scarcer ...

So this weekend , all you have to do is dig up one of the flag stones in your yard and take it along to these young people and they'll swap it for a fruit bush  .

All of which sounds admirable ...  but I live in a flat  .  Neighbour and I pondered how to hack a chunk off our respective balconies and totter down the road with them but couldn't quite see ourselves managing it .

It'd probably be simpler to buy a couple of bushes at the local nursery ... I wonder if we asked at the town hall , they'd even give us a grant ? Two Euros fifty each ?

Friday, 1 September 2017

You Know It's Bad When ...




You know it's bad when you get a birthday card like this from one daughter , the second gives you a calendar from the year you were born that she'd found at an antique fair , and the third just gives you a giant pot of miracle-promising body lotion .

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Shortbread , Swans and Morris Dancers

That's right , I've just been to England .

Fish and chips , country buses , lots of Red Leicester , the V&A , London pubs , amassed aunts , the biggest and best pizza I've ever eaten , Rosy Pig cider , a folk festival and ( temporary ) tattoos .


It was all great fun and ended far too soon .

I think I'll probably be doing it again next year .

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Ritz Is So Last Year ...

Well , it will be next year when Leeuwarden will be European City of Culture along with Valetta .

 I don't know about Valetta , but we're not really a tourist Mecca and those who come are mostly really keen sailors , who , rather naturally , tend to bring their boats with them . Hence a slight shortage of hotel space .

But a couple of local farmers have had a brainwave  et voilĂ ...............................



 They've reckoned that they can fit around 5,000 huge drain pipes on their land and are planning to fill each one with a comfortable layer of straw . The guests can put up a curtain if they want but you'll be cosily grouped together and , in theory ( though this hasn't been tried yet ) pipes could be stacked up to make bunk beds for groups . Showers and loos will be dotted about and breakfast ( farm fresh eggs , bread and cheese and milk from the farm ) is included in the 20 Euro per night price . 

 You'll be woken at cockcrow , of course , but there'll be plenty to do . You can cuddle the cows  or just learn how to milk one ,  ride a horse or help to clean out the stables . Those who want to get into town for a concert or event can use the farm's planned tractor taxi service ...

 And where are all these drain pipes coming from ? Apparently they're all to be used in various projects locally in 2019 and the building firms are happy to have a place to stash them till then . Now , all we have to hope for is that next summer's better than this ....

Monday, 26 June 2017

A Week ...




A perfectly normal week , really .

The sun shone , then it didn't . I discovered that you don't want to be cycling as fast as you can over a metal bridge when a huge clap of thunder makes the whole world rock . Then the sun shone some more . Then it rained again and the bread ran out . I discovered that peanut butter doesn't go with raisin bread .

Went out to dinner with friends and had some very nice Balinese chicken in coconut milk , some satè skewers and pickled vegetables . As the restaurant gradually emptied , people drifting off to the open air concert in the middle of town , we sat and watched a tiny mouse , not much bigger than a lemon seed , dart about clearing up the crumbs . It deserved a medal . Left up to him , Leeuwarden will be more than ready as European City of Culture in January .

 One daughter flew to Malaga for an old schoolfriend's wedding , another broke her toe and is now learning to walk in one of those huge shovel-shaped shoes A & E give you , and the third was looking after a friend's cat . I offered commiseration , enthusiasm and sympathy by 'phone .

I read five books , enjoying them all , especially Kate North's Land of my Dreams and Roddie Doyle's Bullfighter . Thought of making some muffins . Didn't . 

And didn't go to the Agricultural College's Apiary's Open Day , yet again . That's right ... it rained .

Monday, 19 June 2017

Four Birthdays in Five Days ...

Four birthdays in five days and not one of them mine , but I don't mind at the moment . I think I'm quite old enough for the time being .

 
One of the birthdays was for a young lady who seems to have turned fifteen and  5'11" overnight and who plans to become an interior designer ,  and another was for Elder Grandson who astonishingly , is now ten and wants to be a skateboarding dude .

This , when I heard it , seemed startlingly unlikely since he'd much rather stay inside and explain mediaeval history to you than go outside but his parents took him at his word and Sunday saw him looking long and lanky on a skateboard ... in a helmet and some shin pads his mother had unearthed from somewhere . His Alexander Technique aunt spent the afternoon helping him to find his balance , his mother promised to get him proper knee-pads to replace the improvised shin pads before  next weekend and he was off ...  

And I can clearly hear his two year-old voice , snuffly with a cold , telling us a joke about a dinosaurus and dissolving into giggles long before the punchline ...


Monday, 29 May 2017

De-Cluttering



You might not be surprised to hear that I didn't take part in the potato peeling competition . What can I say ... I didn't go to the Haka workshop , either . I did wonder if I should go and find this rather fine statue but the sun shone , instead .

I sat on the balcony and admired boats , canoes , sup boards , cruisers , yachts , Zodiacs  ...
     I particularly admired the young couple who live on the third floor opposite my flat , who man-handled their giant , already fully inflated Zodiac up the stairs to their flat on Friday evening and down again in the morning , especially since between them they probably don't weigh more than twelve stone . ( Perhaps that's why ?) 

More than 140 row boats went past on Friday evening, too , at the beginning of a watery Elfstedentocht ; more than 250 kilometers from town to town through the province , overnight by lantern-light . It would have been wonderful to stand alone on a bridge out in the fields at midnight and watch the lights approaching , with only the sound of the oarlocks ... a bit spooky , perhaps .

Browsing among Audible's new releases for something nice to listen to , I discovered "The Vampire's Legacy" :  A Vampire Pregnancy Romance by Samantha Snow . Good grief !
Blurb says : "But no-one could have predicted that within just 48 hours of meeting this mysterious stranger , she would be giving birth to his baby ". ( Sister Ann Brigid might have warned you ... and did , regularly , if I remember ) . Mind you , the 48 hour pregnancy recommends it as I remember our Firstborn arriving three weeks late , though , to be fair , she's never bitten anyone . Still , I chose a Barbara Vine ,instead .

 Our supermarket's now labelling their tubs of olives , 10 Calories per Olive . You have been warned .

 And finally , a middle-aged daughter excusing her father's non-responsiveness to the doctor's receptionist today , "Sorry , he's as deaf as a canary ... or aren't they deaf ?"

So , now I've de-cluttered my head slightly , I'll go out and see what else is going on ....