Monday, 31 August 2009

Seven on Monday 1


During all my travels, I get to see a lot. But I never see as much as I would wish. My last trip to Italy meant I finally got to see Rome up close, but it still isn't enough for me. I would love to be able to spend more than one day in that beautiful city. Have a great (local) guide who shows me around and not just the 'touristy' bits. So, I've decided to give you a little list of places I've been but haven't really been long enough to see everything. And of course the places I could go over and over again, because every time I discover something new! Here goes...

1. Rome, Italy. Such a beautiful city deserves to be visited for more than a day. And walking behind a guide with 40 other tourists doesn't really do it justice. At all! So, I would love to visit again. Properly.

2. Florence, Italy. I had never really visited this city, because the coach park is quite far from the center of town. Last time however, I managed to see a bit. What a beautiful city and definitely worth coming back to.


3. Leipzig, Germany. It must have been about five years ago now that I was there and I kept looking up the whole day. I never saw what was on street level and I didn't have enough time to see more than the fronts of houses and buildings. Definitely worth going back to...

4. Paris, France. The only time I visited I was so tired I didn't really take it all in. However, next year my parents are taking me, my brother and his family and my sister to Paris for a week. I should have plenty of time to see the sights then.

5. Prague, Czech Republic. Again, I only visited for a single afternoon and it was absolutely freezing! Most of the time we were there was spent drinking coffee, so you can imagine how much I actually managed to see!

6. London, England. I've visited London five times this year so far and I don't know how many times before this year. I find something new to see every time though. My most recent (and brilliant find): Camden!

7. Dublin, Ireland. Though I am always a bit wary of this city, I've never really had a good opportunity to see it properly. Even while there privately, I didn't. It should be rectified!

Now, you may have noticed I haven't got any non European destinations on this list. The reason for that? I've never been out of Europe! And the places I would love to see beyond will be for another post!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Italy


The Swiss Guards. The former army of the Pope, they are now mostly ceremonial I believe. They still guard the Vatican though.


A Fiat 500. As you can see, it's not one of the bigger cars in the world (it would probably fit four times in one Hummer). This one was also quite severely dented, but it looks so cute!


The Trevi Fountain. Probably one of the most famous fountains in the world and it was heaving there. Quite difficult to take a nice photo and I never had the chance to throw a coin over my left shoulder so I could wish to return...


Radishes on the sorting belt. There were radishes everywhere!


One of the statues on the Piazza Signoria in Florence. If you biggify you can see the standing figure holding the head of the other one!


Ponte Vecchio in Florence. A lot of bridges used to have houses and shops on them and some remain (Venice and Bath, England for example). Most of the shops on this bridge are now jeweller's shops.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Camera Critters 11


It might look a bit photoshoppy, but believe me (as A-Ha just sang), I haven't got a clue how to do that. This is the photo as it was taken.

White bear statue shot in Bad Helmstedt, Germany a few months ago.

For more critters from around the world, please check out Camera Critters and join in the fun.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Feline Friday 26

Whenever Linette overnights outside she has to sleep somewhere. She tends to stay close to the house though, especially when she gets a bit hungrier and might be let in by me. This pile of old grass and leaves makes the perfect 'bed' for her!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

You're fired!


After finishing high school and a short college course (which I failed), I went to work at the ripe old age of 18. It was my first job and immediately I was thrown into the deep end: Yougoslavia! All the way by myself. I lasted the season in the Mini-Club and came back home. Stayed for three months and then it was off to Brussels, Belgium for three months as an au-pair. From there it was on to Sicily, Italy and Tignes France, both for six months. And then I had had enough with the seasonal work, I wanted to do something a bit more permanent.

In France I had had a colleague who was from Scotland originally. Andy worked in the kitchen and had worked in hotels in England before coming to Club Med. He helped me compose an application letter (which I completely changed) and I sent it off to six hotels in England. One of them hired me!

I was hired by the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe as a receptionist. It was hard going, especially at first, to alter, to amend, to change all meant the same thing. Other words I didn't know and only found out about when I was there: Christmas Crackers (I thought they were some sort of edible crackers) and Wellies. I learned though and did enjoy my time behind that little desk.

We weren't allowed to read behind that desk. Or knit, embroider, do crosswords or anything else. We had to be on the alert at all times. And that could be so boring! When your shift starts at seven and the first phonecall you get is sometime after midday...

My English improved and in time I even got an English accent. Which in turn caused my downfall. Because my accent might be English, the language spoken might be English, I was still Dutch. After nine months two complaints were lodged against me within the space of three weeks. Both for more or less the same reason: rudeness. I never thought I was rude, but then again, I wouldn't have been considered rude if I had been working in the Netherlands. So what did I do that was so bad?

Someone came up to the desk and had a complaint about something or other. Dutch way: "Thank you, I will note it down and get it dealt with as soon as possible." English way (especially four star hotel English way): "I am so sorry, sorry, sorry, I will get the supervisor, manager, Queen herself!"

Now, if those people had heard a Dutch accent, they mightn't have bothered complaining: I was Dutch and therefore didn't know any better. But because they couldn't hear that, they thought I was just plain rude. So, I got two complaints and a call to come to the manager's office.

I got fired because (here it comes): 'My English was too good!' Have you ever heard such a thing? It must be one of the best reasons to get fired for in the world... All was not lost though: I was allowed to stay in the hotel and pick the department I wanted to work in! I picked the restaurant and worked there for another year and a half before finally returning home to the Netherlands!

So, what was the best or worst reason you ever received for getting fired?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

F is for...


Frysk en Frij

Several years ago my sister and I were on a cycling trip through the North of the Netherlands. It was tiring! I've never been much of a sportsperson and I had to pull the trailer loaded with stuff we hardly needed... Anyway. On one of the easier days (no trailer) we did a poetry tour. The tour consisted of cycling past a number of Frysian farms which had texts on the roof and were part of a particular poem.

"Tusken himel en ierde - Reade rotsen - Anno Domini - Erflik Boerelân - Sjoch! - Tusken blau en grien - Fersliten iistiden - Fryslâns memmeboarst - Achter de streek - Fier fier de seilen - Tusken himel en ierde - Yn 'e azem fan 't wetter - It âlde laach - Frysk en frij - Hark! - Yn 'e ivige wyn - Skiednis en takomst".

"Between heaven and earth - Red rocks - Anno Domini - Hereditary farmland - Look! - Between blue and green - Worn-out ice ages - Friesland's motherbreast - Behind the line - Far far the sails - Between heaven and earth - In the breath of the water - The old tribes - Friesian and free - Listen! - In the eternal wind - History and future".

I am from Friesian descent, my father and all his family are Friesian. The area they are from is in the Netherlands, but Fryslân or Friesland is extended through Germany and Denmark as well. The language has some variations, but generally speaking, you would be able to understand a Frysian from any country.

Of all the Dutch immigrants to Canada, most came from Fryslân, sometimes decimating villages! Frysians abroad tended to stick together even more than the 'regular' immigrant and the 'Simmer 2000' event (Summer 2000) meant a massive reunion all over the province! Thousands came back to go to school, family or village reunions, meeting up with old friends and family.

For more F-words, please go to ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Shuffle


Today was an easy day, all I had to do was pretend I'm a tourist! Not too hard when you are in sunny Rome and sitting somewhere in the back of the bus instead of in front. First off, we went to see the Vatican. As usual, the Pope wasn't home (I don't think he likes me, he's never there when I am), but we did get to see where Pope John Paul II was buried. We also saw the church, which I found a little disappointing. I think I had expected a lot more over-the-topness. So, it really was a pleasant surprise that it wasn't so.

After lunch we did a short tour in the bus, but it was really hard to take photos. I can empathise with the passengers now: not a decent shot to be made! After the short tour, we went back out on the street and shuffled around some more. Trevi fountain (and no, I didn't throw a coin in), the Pantheon and of course lovely Italian ice-cream. Mmmm...

I've taken in the sun today: result is of course sunburn on both my back and my front. My face looks healthy and I feel good. If only the mosquito bites would magically disappear... That would just be fantastic.

Tomorrow it's the turn for the radishes, as we will be visiting a radish farm somewhere south of Rome. I don't like radishes, but for the sake of education, I might even try one!

Weighty Matter!

I found this beautiful poem the other day. Now, I am not much of a poetry person, but with a title like this, how can I not love this. It's written by Brenda Bryant over at what was formerly known as Rinkly Rimes and is now known as BryAntics.


WEIGHTY MATTER!

Bet was at Mascot Airport
Where many have been before
And she chanced to see a weighing machine
Which gave a compelling score.
Not only did it show the weight
But it added information,
Such as the colour of one's hair
And one's future destination.
Bet stood upon the weighing machine
And read the card it spat-out,
Saying, with wonder, to herself
'How did it work that out?'
The card reported 'You are blonde;
Sixty K's you weigh,
And you're off to visit your Mum in Perth.
Goodbye! Have a nice day!'
Bet was completely mystified
For every bit was true!
Feeling duped and sceptical
She decided what to do.
'If I disguise myself' she thought,
'And use the machine again,
I bet it doesn't get it right!
We'll see who's silly then!'
So she bought dark glasses for her eyes,
And a wig, deep chestnut brown
And she bought new clothes and carried her case
Which really weighed her down.
She went into the Ladies' Room
And made the transformation.
She emerged a totally different Bet
Into the busy station.
Once more she crossed the platform,
And stood on the machine,
Knowing she didn't look like Bet,
More like a Sue or Jean.
She put her coin in the slot,
To see what the card would say,
But when she read this message
She fainted right away!
It said 'You're blonde and sixty Ks!
With a very little brain!
I've made an alteration.....

You've just missed your plane!'

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Say cheese!


More cheese today. After a morning spent in Assisi (not me, my passengers), we went on our way to Rome. But on the way there, we had to visit another cheesemaking farm. This time it was sheep's cheese. Or Pecorini as it is more commonly known in Italy. Again I did the translation, but I didn't have to wear the silly suit. The farm was hard to find: none of the roads were mentioned on my sat nav and in the end we had to be picked up by the cheesemaker.

The cheesemaker himself was on his holidays, but his sons also work there. I don't know what dad looked like, the sons looked quite yummy! As did the cheese by the way...

Tomorrow is my day off and I will be playing the tourist. Going along with the group and visiting the Vatican and Rome itself. I'm really looking forward to it. I don't have a clue as to where my coach is, I parked it somewhere, but don't know where! I just followed someone and he will pick me up when I want to collect the coach again.

Right now I will continue scratching my legs, because I think I must taste like strawberry cake for all those mosquitos out there! I've been bitten everywhere...

Friday, 21 August 2009

Milk

I love mozzarella cheese. On my pizza, in my salad or just on its own. But I had never seen it being made. Until today! Because today, as part of a trip with farmers, we went to a buffalo-farm. I would do the translations, since the tourguide is quite a softspoken man and would not be able to get over the din of the factory. Besides, my Italian is just a tiny bit better than his!
As if the heat wasn't enough (I know, I know), we had to dress up in coats, shoey thingies and hats. Then we were ushered into an area where they were cooking the cheese, for lack of a better explanation, at ninety degrees Celsius (water boils at 100). Needless to say, every bit of water I hadn't lost during the night, was lost there.

It was very interesting to see though. I could touch the cheese when it was still warm and it was very elastic. It isn't until it has cooled down that it becomes the stringy cheese it is. After the cheesemaking we went to see the producers of the milk: the buffaloes! Apparently their milk is twice as good as cow's milk, twice the amount of good stuff in it. Besides, they only eat half the amount a cow would, live and produce longer and are generally better than cows. It makes you wonder why not all cattle farmers have converted! The milk however, tasted great, a bit sweeter than cow's milk, but very nice. I could drink that more often.

During the afternoon we took the inland route to Assisi. Basically it meant taking the mountain roads of the Apenines. Not too steep, but very very bendy and curvy. Beautiful scenery though. We had a bit of trouble finding the hotel, basically because my guide insisted the hotel was located closer to a church, when in fact it wasn't. It also involved the second hazardous drive of the day: driving backwards in a one-way street, then taking a very narrow turn with only inches to spare! The first time had been in the morning, when we (again because of the guide) had taken a wrong turn and had to drive through a very narrow street to get to where he wanted to go. The police gave us permission though, since turning the coach was no option!

Anyway, we arrived, the airconditioning is working, dinner was good, my mosquito bites are killing me and I'm off to bed!

Photos are not possible right now, sorry, I will post one soon...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Feline Friday 25

Two ladies who don't really get along. Hissing and growling especially from Sophie's side! This is one of the rare moments where they sat on the same small bench. Only for about as long as it took me to take this photo though...

On the left it's Linette, on the right is Sophie.

Stupido!


The 'best' view of my day

Venice. The city of the canals. The carnaval masks and the gondolas. Glass, expensive drinks on Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge. And what did I see? Right, the parking lot on the mainland, the hypermarket and more parking lot. Because I didn't quite understand what was going on and the situation had changed at the parking lot.

When I was last in Venice two years ago, you paid through the nose to cross a bridge and then you parked. Now, you still had to pay through the nose, but it was only a set-down/pick-up area. Which meant I couldn't leave my coach there. So, off I went in search of a place to park. I followed an Italian coach who knew his way around (and whose driver afterwards 'complimented' me on my driving, because after all: I am a woman...) and found a nice spot. Near a hypermarket with a restaurant and nothing else really.

It wasn't until I returned to pick up my passengers that I spoke to another Dutch driver: if I had dropped them off, driven about 100 meters/yards, I would have been able to park and go along to Venice!

As it was, I spent my afternoon getting hotter and hotter, while the temperature went up and up and up. The temperature inside the coach also got hotter, I think he wanted to move into the sauna business: it was 51 degrees Celsius when I needed to go get them! It took me an hour to get it down to 29. Mind you, the outside temperature was in the high 30's! If I was that hot, I would be staying at home, feeling very miserable.

The hotel we're staying in is a farm-hotel. It used to be a farm, but they've done the place up to become a very nice hotel. Even the sockets have the name of the hotel on them! The food was all home-made and lovely, even if the spinach came well after the main course. The main problem with this lovely hotel is the A13 motorway which is situated right outside! But having the windows closed means stifling temperatures in the room, despite the airconditioning.

Next time I go to Italy I want normal temperatures!

PS: I will stop going on about the heat, it will stay hot for the rest of our stay anyway, so think of me while I'm slowly dissolving behind the steering wheel or while walking around in Rome!

Adipose


Now, people who never watch Doctor Who will probably sit back and wonder: what on earth is she going on about now!? Well, during the season where Donna Noble joined the Doctor on his travels (2008), the first episode was about the Adipose. An alien-race who had lost their planet and therefor had no place to breed their children. A sollution was found in sending a nanny to earth, handing out lots of pills to overweight people and every night one little Adipose baby would come loose from the overweight person and return to the Mothership. In the end however, a person would be completely turned into Adipose babies, one baby for each kilogram!

The Doctor saved the world of course, the Adipose babies left earth with their Adipose parents, the nanny fell to her death and Donna brought her suitcases on board the TARDIS.

Now, the reason I tell you all this is not my fandom of Doctor Who, but this sign I saw in the Open air museum in Arnhem a few weeks ago. Adiposetten weight loss tablets for safe weight loss! Now I know where they got the name from!!!

Brilliant...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Day 2


Well, today went a lot better than yesterday. Up to a point of course. The new coach arrived bright and early and didn't overheat. Not once did he get over 92 degrees (which is good), so really good news. Even if a colleague had to drive all through the night to get the coach to me on time.

However, I was (and will be) in serious danger of overheating. According to the website I checked out before leaving, the temperatures in Venice and Rome would be about 30-32 degrees Celsius. Today we reached 36! Tomorrow is going to be more of the same. The passengers are okay, the airconditioning is still keeping up (although it will get harder as the week progresses). I am sitting under glass, facing the sun! I drank three half liters of water in half an hour. I usually forget to drink!!!

Anyway, I shouldn't be complaining: I've got a working coach, airconditioning in my room, the internet is working and the people are still great.

Tomorrow Venice...

PS: new theme: restroom, bathroom, toilet and wc signs during this trip. The one at the top was taken in our lunch-hotel. Isn't she just elegant?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

E is for...


E-roads

Every country in Europe has its own way of naming their roads. In Great Britain and in Ireland they use the letter M followed by a number for their motorways. Most mainland countries use the letter A followed by a number for their motorways. This of course can lead to some confusion. If you drive from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Rome in Italy, there are a number of motorways you drive on and there are different names and numbers for them. Netherlands: A2-A12, Germany: A3-A67-A5, Switzerland: A2, Italy: A9-A50-A1.

So seeing that we are one Europe, they have decided to make it just that tiny bit easier for us. Instead of having to follow all those different names, we only have to follow one: E35! That will lead you directly to Rome!

There are others as well: Cork in Ireland to Omsk in Russia: follow the E30. Lisburn in Northern Ireland to Seville in Spain: follow the E1. Kaaresuvanto in Finland to Gela on Sicily, Italy: follow the E45.

All E-roads are crossing borders. Sometimes one, sometimes more. And not only in Europe: there are some routes even into central Asia! Some countries use the E-numbering as their primary motorway numbering, like Belgium. The United Kingdom doesn't aknowledge the E-roads at all. Ireland has only recently (2007) started incorporating them in their road-system.

For me as a professional driver, using E-roads makes life easier. As long as you know where you're going that is...

For more E-words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Noooooo!!!


The day went perfect. I was on time wherever we had to stop and everything went swimmingly. Everything except the temperature of the cooling water of the engine that is. That went up. And up. And even further up! I never noticed it until the light came on and the beeping started. I couldn't get to the hard shoulder (there wasn't one: roadworks) and drove on for a bit more. The beeping stopped, the temperature went down again. When I stopped about twenty seconds later and checked the water, there was enough, it wasn't spilling over and everything was fine.

At our dinner stop I phoned a mechanic. 'Not my department, phone this number!'. So I phoned this number. And he gave me fantastic news: either find a garage and get it sorted or get a new coach. So, I phoned the emergency number. Who phoned me back. Then my boss phoned me.

Just over an hour ago, a colleague left with a bus. I hope he will be here by 8 tomorrow morning. That's when we're leaving for Venice! He has to drive for about 720km (about 500 miles), so he should be okay.

Isn't it a great start? Mind you, me being on time everywhere, the group being really nice and a good bed and internet, albeit slow, makes this day still a 7!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Preparation


It took a bit of anxiety, food and an open door to get Linette back indoors. She had been really good the last few days, coming back home every night, but last night, she refused! I don't mind so much when I've got one-day trips, but when I'm going away for eleven days (Venice, Assisi, Rome, Siena, Florence), I don't want her outside. She doesn't eat when not inside and coming back to a cat skeleton isn't my idea of fun!

The only thing left for me to do now is to close my suitcase. Which is going to be a task in itself! It's a good thing I won't be flying: it will be way too heavy...

So, I'm off to Italy! Don't despair however, I will have several posts coming out (I know how to prepost now) and if I can I will post on the trip itself.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Weekend

Have you ever met anyone who is perfectly nice and yet... Well, I have. I was invited yesterday to a little gathering/small party for an old colleague. Now, I say old colleague, but he left three years before I came, so why I was invited was a bit of a mystery, but never mind, I did know him.

The former colleague who had organised the party is a nice guy (he never let me start earlier than 6am) and his wife is really nice as well. It's just... she gets on my nerves, I don't know why. It might be because she has those strict views on things. And I know where she's coming from, it's just that I am so not that type of person and I feel she's judging me and finds me lacking.

I shouldn't really be bothered by it, I know. But it does annoy me a bit. Her being slightly patronizing and myself for being bothered by it.

The rest of the weekend passed okay. I only had water yesterday at the party and didn't really go to bed too late. I did however wake up with a heavy head and today my arms have occasionally felt as if they were made from something other than what they're really made of. I spent my time today preparing for Italy: figuring out which routes to take, finding out where the hotels are and then writing it all down, just in case my sat nav gives up the ghost on me!

Tomorrow morning a colleague will pick me up at 07.30am (!) so we can go clean my coach and I can get some bottled water for the road. The thing is, I still have to prepare for Scotland as well. I've known about Scotland for over two weeks now, so I could have been preparing for a lot longer, but hey, it's me! Last minute is my middle name. Well, actually Maria is, but ah, you know what I'm babbling about and I will stop now...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Camera Critters 10


'I know it's around here somewhere'

Mallard hen photographed in the Open Air Museum in Arnhem, caption by my dearest sister!

For more critters from around the world, please check out Camera Critters and join in the fun.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Feline Friday 24


"Hey, this vet lark isn't so bad! And this is a perfect set of scales, very comfy..."

(even if he was weighing in at well over 6 kilograms (over 13 lbs)).

Great reads


A few days ago I read a post on Fat, Frumpy & Fifty, which I loved. Basically because it was about one of my favourite subjects: books. At the same time it was quite a daunting post. Because would I be able to narrow it down to fifteen? So, after quite some deliberation, I decided I would give it a go.
In no particular order:

The first time I read this book I was still in High School. I had to read nine books for my English class and this was one of them. I didn't get it. I didn't understand it. I thought it was so difficult. In the end I found a Dutch translation and then I finally understood. After that I read it again in English and I've read it many times after that. And if I start it tonight, I would want to finish it tomorrow, just because it's so good!

When I first read this book in Dutch, I cried. It was this sad and joyful story in one and it really got to me. I loved it. Ever since I've been trying to find the English version and last year I finally managed to buy it. I cried again when I read it! Yes, I know it's a children's book, but if it's well written, it doesn't matter.


'Jan en Janneke in Canada' by K. Norel
This is a Dutch children's book I received from Sunday School when I was about nine. It didn't really do much for me then, but when I chucked out a lot of books several years ago, this was one I kept. It's about Jan and Janneke who emigrate to Canada with their parents. Very fitting for a wannabe emigrant I should think!

The first play I ever read. We had to read it in class and everybody would get their turn reading out loud. I never did! I was way ahead, chuckling to myself the whole time. I loved it and I think I must have been one of the few actually understanding it! The teacher must have seen this and never gave me a turn. Thank you..."

One of the first series of books I read when I lived in England. I read the whole series of five and although the fourth part was a hard slug, I did finish them. I've never really read anything else by her, mainly because I felt it would diminish this series.

I never actually read this. I had it read to me by the author himself! He read out the whole trilogy in five parts on tape and I loved it! I have the book as well, but have only ever managed to read the first part myself. I prefer the voices of Douglas Adams! This was also the first book that got me away from the chick-lit books and into the more surreal, sci-fi area.

When I first bought this book about the kidnapping of Jane Eyre from her book by Hades, I could only get halfway. It was so silly and boring. I took it with me on holiday to France though and after I had read all my other books, this was the only one left. I finished it and for good measure read it again from the start. I loved it! As soon as I got back home, I bought the second in the series and loved that as well. You need to know a little bit about English language literature, otherwise, most characters won't make any sense at all. And after rereading the series for the fourth time now, I still manage to find new things!


'Wipneus en Pim' by HG van Wijckmade
This was the first series of books I ever read. Two little men (a prince and his best friend) roam their world and meet all kinds of fantastical people: witches, princesses, fairies. They always come out on top, beating the bad guy. The books were written by a succession of authors and hence the initials always changed. When I was about 13/14 I wrote to the author via the publisher and got a reply! The then author told me, that whenever an author wanted to stop, another would step in, using one of the old initials. He also told me the series was coming to an end and he actually sent me a signed copy of the last book!

Well, anything by Enid Blyton really. I know she churned them out at an incredible speed, but at the same time, her books kept me reading all through my childhood. The adventures of all her characters were very far removed from me, but I think that's the power of a good book: it takes you someplace else! Her three series about boarding schools caused me to want to go to one (my parents refused) and I longed for adventures. I had to be satisfied with reading about them!

I've never been a massive Stephen King fan, not liking horror very much. Also, watching films like Christine gave me the heebiejeebies big time: the music alone caused me to flee the room! So, when I decided I would buy this, I wasn't too sure. What a great book it was though. A little girl lost in the woods, surviving mainly because she talks to Tom Gordon, a baseball player. I would love to see this made into a film, because it could very easily become as spooky as Christine!

This is a film and I saw that first. But then I saw it was based on a novel and bought that. Sometimes a film is a weak reflection of a book, sometimes it's the other way round. In this case, they complimented each other a great deal. There was a bit more in-depth explanation about some of the characters in the book, the film added a visual dimension that didn't diminish your own imaginary images.


The lost recipes of Private Igor is the subtitle to this book, so you can imagine what this cookbook is like. I love cookbooks that are just that bit different. I have never cooked anything from this book, but the dishes in it, remind me so much of the series I love so much. They are real recipes, albeit with silly names like Spam Lamb or Sidney Freedman's Nervous Breakdown Breakfast. Besides the recipes there are quotes from the series and letters from Igor to his mother. Absolutely a must-have for any M*A*S*H-fan who likes to cook.

Any book that can still make me cry after having read it several times already is a good book. This is a good book! Bigamy, two sets of families, Catholicism, shell shock, World War II, Liverpool: they are all in it. It's a saga, but well written and as I said: it makes me cry every time!

I love fairy tales, good triumphs over evil and the guy always gets the girl. My favourite story is Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother, the handsome prince, the glass slipper. How can you not love that?

Another classic and a book I can read again and again. Usually after seeing yet another film or series made after this beautiful book. Reading it now also makes me thankful to Thursday Next (see the Eyre Affair) who changed the ending so beautifully, it would have been a real downer had Jane Eyre gone off with her cousin!

There you have it: my fifteen favourite books. It was hard to pick and choose from all of them and I know I have left some of them out. Some other time perhaps?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

D is for...


Dead

When archeologists discovered the ancient site of Pompeï in the 19th century, they didn't really know what they had or how big it was. Over the years both became apparent while the archeologists uncovered more and more of the old Roman town. They did however stumble upon one slight mystery. Sometimes while digging, they found a void in the ground. One day, one of the men decided to pour liquid plaster in the void, wait for it to harden and then unearth it again.

What he found were outlines of people. Adults and children and on occasion even animals. Sometimes alone, sometimes in a small group, huddled together in fear of the great unknown. All died not knowing what had just happened, since nobody had ever seen a vulcano!

Over the years the process of plastering was abandoned as they found it did quite a lot of damage and wouldn't keep for eternity. New methods of preserving the unearthed are being looked into. However, the old method has done one thing: it gave Pompeï a human touch, it added feeling to a place of ruin, it gave the town a voice!

For more D-words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

PS: This is my first entry to my second round of ABC!!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Update


Occasionally I will get the question about whether I'm still on for my emigration to Canada. From my parents, from my neighbour, from my colleagues.

Well, I am still going. My goal is still my birthday next year (June 30th), but even I know that is quite unlikely to happen, unless I win the lottery. Because I need quite a bit of money and have only managed to save up 1/12 of the amount needed. Then when I have the amount needed, I will need a job, because Canada isn't just going to let me in because I have blonde hair and blue eyes (I wish).

As I've mentioned before, there are some people not believing in my eventual emigration. I can't blame them really. Some don't want to believe it, because they don't want me to go (most notably my parents), some don't believe it, because I've been talking about it for so long and nothing has happened so far. Well, not as far as they can see anyway.

So, what have I done in the last five years? Well, I've paid off a massive debt (€19,000) and have only recently been able to start saving up. I've narrowed down the area where I might want to live. Turns out Alberta is the only province that might actually have me, so the narrowing down was easy. Now of course I have to decide whether Edmonton or Calgary might be the better option. Or whether I would be better off moving to a smaller town. Or it might just be a case of where they will hire me!

I don't know what the future holds for me. I hope it will include Canada in some way.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Wanted!


Some things are perfectly alright in Dutch, but when showing it to English speakers, it is not so innocent anymore. What they're looking for in this photo is a Doctor's assistant...

Photo taken yesterday while waiting for a red light (don't you just love them) in Arnhem.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Camera Critters 9


This is Pete. He sits and poses for everyone and when everyone is done, he will fly off. He won't stay away for long though, he knows there might be some food in it!

Photo taken in Ireland on the 'Slea Head Drive' on the Dingle peninsula.

For more critters from around the world visit Camera Critters and join in the fun!

Friday, 7 August 2009

We're sorry

Well, that's what I get every time I want to see my own blog! And everyone else's for that matter. Apparently I'm a computer or a robot and very dangerous! So, they won't allow me to do anything!! I can post this, I can use the search part of google, I can visit any site not to do with google, but I cannot visit any that do have to do with google!
Grrrr....

Nepotism with tea bags


I've got several ways of staying awake behind the wheel after a very tiresome day. I eat. Sandwiches, sweets, apples, anything really. It's not really good for the waistline though! So, I chew. Chewing gum that is. I look like a camel on occasion, but it keeps me awake. I turn up the radio really loud, but I can't do that with people on board. I put the airconditioning up to freezing and open the window. But again, with people on board that doesn't really work that well. My last resort would be to actually stop the coach, get out and splash my face with cold water. And yet again...

There is of course one other way. It doesn't involve food, it doesn't involve noise, heat or cold, but it is quite effective. Provided there are vehicles on the road that is. I make words out of the letters on the numberplates. The words have to contain all the letters on the numberplate and in the right order as well! Today I made lots of words, but two that stood out because they were so close together were 'nepotism' and 'tea bag' (well, the Dutch word for teabag: theezakje).

This 'how to stay awake' remedy has an added bonus: sometimes I make words that do exist, but I don't really know the meaning of! So, as soon as I come home, out comes the dictionary.

Tea bag: ~noun. A container of thin paper or cloth holding a measured amount of tea leaves to make an individual serving of tea!

Just so you know...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Feline Friday 23

What do you mean I'm inside? Don't you see my front paws: they are outside! So, I am outside...

Chocolate


Chocolate and I don't mix. I know that. But it still doesn't stop me from having the odd bar now and then. Which in turn doesn't stop to give me a massive headache a few days later! Which just will not go away...

For four days I've had this thumping head now. Yesterday was reasonably okay and I didn't need any aspirins, but on the other days (including today) I've swallowed several aspirins just to try and control it.

Working with the sun blaring away (it was about 30 degrees Celsius today: we call that hot over here in the Netherlands) is not a great idea either. Getting up early (4am) also wasn't that fantastic.

Hopefully when I wake up early tomorrow morning (4am), my headache will have gone. And no more chocolate for me! I have learned my lesson (for now anyway...)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

C is for...


Collection

When I visited the Open air museum in Arnhem last week they had a small exhibition about what people collect. And that small exhibition showed one thing: people collect the strangest things. Anything from salt and pepper shakers to Wedgewood, from moneyboxes to bicycles, from religious relics (photo bottom) to matchboxes, from cat statues to silver spoons, from farming tools to Pinocchio, from autographs to air sickness bags (photo top).

You wonder about why people collect. Is it something to do with our 'welfare' states? Just because we can or has it something to do with when we were children? Some people have to move house in order to show everything. Others use only a few rooms in the house, giving over the rest to the collection.

I used to collect bottlecaps. I had thousands of them. No really special ones, just loads and loads of the same. A cousin collected paper bags and (according to my mum) toiletpaper. I've since stopped collecting bottlecaps. It took a big bin to clear it all away. I've never started another collection. If you don't count books that is...


What do you collect and why?

For more C-words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

PS: little update after reading the second comment: I actually collect Christmas films, I've got over seventy so far...

Late


I hate getting up early. Especially if early means 9am when I only got to bed at 3.30am! And no, it wasn't because I couldn't be bothered to go to bed earlier, it was because I didn't get home until 2.45am!

You might be wondering why then did I get up early if I only got to bed at 3.30. Well, I had run out of milk! And several other things come to that. I had meant to get up later (half an hour), but having a headache, a hot room and 4 monsters dancing on the bed and me didn't really give me the opportunity.

I've got milk again now though. I checked the cartons to make sure they weren't leaking in any way. I've got enough vegetables to last me through the month. And I've got enough washing powder for white loads to last me to the end of the year. Unfortunately it's the colour version I've nearly run out of...

In a minute I will get myself an aspirin since the headache hasn't lifted yet, I will prepare my sandwiches for today, I will have a shower and then I will be off to work again. It won't be as late as yesterday, but I will miss the fantastic series 'A Town called Eureka'. Good thing it will be repeated twice this week!

Monday, 3 August 2009

I don't wanna...


I don't want to go back to work today!

I don't, I don't, I don't!!!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Milk


If you look at the picture and think: milk on the right, scrambled eggs on the left, you're half right! It's milk on the right. And milk on the left!

When I put feed in the cat's bowl this morning, I saw some watery liquid on the floor next to the bowl. It's not unusual for one of the cats to throw up, so I got some paper towels and cleaned it up. And then I saw more liquid on the cupboard. When I opened the cupboard, I quickly discovered the culprit. No, it wasn't a cat. It was a carton of milk. It had a hole in it somewhere I guess, the milk had turned sour and during the night it had finally burst open properly and all the liquid drained out. It was everywhere!

I started cleaning up the mess, in the process spilling buckwheat everywhere as well. So, not the best way to start the morning!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Camera Critters 8



A Dutch hen and rooster ('Hollands hoen' is the proper name of the breed) as seen in the Open air museum in Arnhem last Wednesday.

For more critters from around the world, please check out Camera Critters and join in the fun!