Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Time To Dust Myself Down

O.K.  While not going overboard , I've done the mumpy bit and  it's time to do something that involves less sighing ... so tiring ...

 Given that Mrs. Laxmi Devi hasn't suddenly appeared outside my front door , rolling up her umbrella à la Mary Poppins , we've just been eating cottage pie or chicken fillets , slightly cheered by the last of the Dutch strawberries for pud. I've stoically eaten the last leaden Polenta Muffin and I've got Yotam Ottolenghi's  "Plenty" out of the library to see if it can inspire me to cook something a bit more inspiring  . I like his recipes ... so unjudgemental and very comforting . And  I do like aubergines .

The trip to the library helped in another way , too . At last I'd managed to creep towards the end of  "Incredibly Loud etc."  and returned it , glad to have read it but in need of something more relaxing . And I found Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" on the New Book shelves ( English books take a while to get up here ) . "Oh , " said the librarian , "you'll love it ! " ,  And I did .

I finally got a haircut that doesn't make me look like an elderly Milly Molly Mandy

But more Christopher Robin-ish , which is an improvement ... I think .

 And today we visited a Care Farm

that Husband liked and seems happy to go to one day a week . Chickens and cows , loads of cats and a beautiful Friesian horse , not too many people and the freedom to help out or just to sit in the conservatory admiring the view . It's beautifully and imaginitively run by a couple who watched their small farm become steadily less viable , while looking for a friendly day care place for a relation , and decided to kill two birds with one stone . The prospect of feeding the calves and the presence of a pair of very fat pigs clinched the deal . He goes for a trial day next week . His clogs and Benny-from-Crossroads wooly hat are ready and waiting . I could see the farmer looking at them with approval .

Thursday, 14 August 2014

What I'm Doing After My Holiday

The same as I did before , really ... without the football avoidance .

 Admiring the boats as they chug past , especially the huge ones whose masts tower above our three-storey building . Cycling through town , down Maria Luisa street and Button street to the gym and the odd desultory bit of exercise . Googling anything and everything ... pig gelatine and what  it's doing in Becel Light , for instance . Cooking rather badly ( does anyone else have spells when they just can't cook anything edible , or is it just me ? ) and sewing something rather uninspired that will end up in the scrap box .
Having a post-holiday dip , in other words .
Luckily I haven't forgotten how to read . At the moment , I'm reading Jonathan Safran Foer's  Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close in tiny bites ... it's Incredibly In Your Face and too sad and weird to read in one go . I've worked with quite a few autistic and ADHD children and  tend to get sucked in , perhaps  . But , while I can't say I'm enjoying it , I'm fascinated .
And , perforce , I'm plunking food on the table , edible or not . Çooking blight notwithstanding , I've found a chaas formula I like ( can't call it a recipe , really , since it's just buttermilk with spices and herbs , but wonderfully refreshing and good for you ) and , unexpectedly , a Cold Cure which I must share with you . In a little book titled Nepalese Kitchen , a Mrs. Laxmi Devi writes
 "Doctor Turmeric ! For instant relief of cold , add 1/2 tsp. turmeric to a glass of hot milk and drink it ." 
Not being fond of yellow milk I probably won't , but do let me know if it helps . She's obviously a splendid woman to have around ... her hiccup cure sounds failsafe , if less technicolour .
"Roast some peppercorns and breathe in deeply" .
 She would probably whip me and my saucepans into shape in a trice  . 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

August ! Already ? !!

It can't be .
 I mean , I know we've been lolling about in blazing sunshine for weeks now , but there are lots of things I haven't done yet . Haven't had a picnic for instance , or got a suntan. I haven't gone swimming ... not that I ever do , if I think about it ... or gone to the beach ( ditto ) , or a barbecue

BUT I have encountered spacemen ,

 seen the odd swan ,

been found wanting by squirrels,

 seen lots of graffiti ,

gone on a guided city walk ,


 eaten bruschetta in a field with half of England's middle-aged middle class ,

(*  No , I didn't do it twice . Blogger's just repeated the photo )

I've been taught how to avoid being annihilated by the Joker ( this wasn't a wild success , the multitasking needed to play Batman 2 on Wii proved to be too much for me . "Never mind , Granny" . You tried ". )  and was taught by a two year-old the best way to deal with a condescending waiter ( you must turn right round in your chair to face him , pause , smile and repeat your order in exactly the same voice you used the first time ... well , it worked for Small Grandson , anyway . Might have been the smile ) .

 I've eaten fish and chips , watched a waiters' Champagne race in Soho ,

 eaten a fish cake at Muriel's ,  a gingerbread lady in Southwark

and a chicken wrap in MacDonald's .And gone to lots of exhibitions ...

 And it's still only August , which gives me loads of sunlight hours to read , sew , eat tomatoes , find the right chaas recipe and to give the evil eye to whistling neighbour .... or even go for a picnic .

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The World's Gone Temporarily Orange

Well , it has here , at least . The country's gone football mad and , during the World Cup it might be seen as impolite not to sport the national colour . Everywhere you go is covered in flags , lions and giant blow-up footballs  ( the care home up the street , full of very frail old ladies  , even has one above their porch )  .
And nearly everyone has something orange on , though luckily most haven't gone this far ... 

I think the prize should go to this little girl

Anyway , this was Groningen today :

But my favourite was a scruffy cafè down an alleyway . They'd spent nothing on decorations . They just had Pumpkin And Carrot soup on the menu . The way to a man's heart is his stomach ....

Friday, 27 June 2014

Plans For The Weekend

Just as I was coming home last Friday evening , I remembered that I hadn't bought any loo paper , so I  swung by the nearest supermarket , grabbed an enormous Economy pack and quickly joined the queue at the till . After I'd paid , the assistant looked slightly concerned but still said the usual cheery ,
 " Have a nice weekend ! " .
I hoisted the 18-roll packet under my arm , thanked her and ran ... thereby confirming everyone's conviction that her sympathy might not be misplaced  , whereas  I'd only been worried that I'd miss the beginning of Celebrity Masterchef  .

But , this weekend ,  I have a definite agenda ; I'm going to Utrecht to get a wooden jigsaw puzzle   
" not too complicated but not too easy " , a three inch high  Batman ,  some vintage Pyrex if I'm lucky , some fabric just the right shade of orange .... or turquoise , and a big bowl of homemade soup from the cafe on the way to the quilting shop , lots of photos of pretty corners ( these are of Den Haag , last week )

 several coffees and some secondhand books .

 I've got Barbara Vine's latest book to read on the train and , as we roll back north over Friesland , I'll be able admire the sunset and to watch the odd hot air balloon floating towards Joure ... I'm looking forward to it .

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Running Wild-ish ....

I'm as lazy as sin and always have been , so retirement sounded ideal . Tailormade , in fact . Days spent lying on the sofa reading , occasionally interupted by meals , with a Day Out now and then for fun . Perfect . 
Of course , it hasn't quite gone according to plan . Husband's Alzheimer's has made us more housebound and Days Out have shrunk to a trip to the shops or a bike ride up the river bank to the nearest field  .

But , thanks to cousins who have whisked him off to his sister's home in France for a month , he's happily sitting in the sun in Provence and I'm able to get away for a while . In a couple of weeks , I'll be going to England to see the older daughters and , until then , I'm rediscovering the world ... I was going to write proper blog entries about everywhere I'm going and everything I've seen . But , as I've said , I'm as lazy as sin . So here are a few of the photos so far ...

An exhibition of weird and wonderful frocks in Groningen .... and something rather more refined in Den Haag

and a couple of pretty corners , here and there...

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tea With The Godwits

Sunday afternoon at the local Natuurmuseum and the last chance to see an exhibition about Gruttos ...  known as Godwits in English  .

 In one corner was a glass case with a slap-up spread fit for a king ... of the waterfowl  sort .

 The best china had been produced and the plates were piled high  .
A little girl going round the exhibition at the same time as me , stared goggle-eyed at the food .  "Mmmm... that looks good ", I said .
Just then her mother came round the corner and called over her shoulder to her husband ,
"Do you want to have tea here , or do you want to go into town ? " .
He didn't get the chance to answer . Their daughter leapt across the room ,
 "Not here . Please not here ! "
 Poor Mrs. Godwit ... she might not be used to picky eaters .