Monday, 17 May 2021

Preparing

We tend to have a good time together as well.
The last ride was done on Friday and then: HOLIDAY! Only a week mind, but it is nice. It would have been nicer had my sister been able to be here as well, but as she can't, me and Brom will have to enjoy ourselves.

As I will be away for a couple of days this week, staying in a nice cottage somewhere, things had to be sorted beforehand. Like a Corona-19 test. Or actually 2 of them. Not necessarily to do with the cottage, but mostly to do with Eurovision.

The Eurovision shows are so-called 'field lab events'. Basically test events to see how things work with larger groups of people. Distance (not necessary once inside), face mask (not necessary when seated or eating/drinking), testing (on the day of the event and five days after). All those things are tried and tested and evaluated.

Which meant that I had to order two tests. One can and will be done close to home, the other one for obvious reasons not. So, I had to find a place where that was possible. Once found, I ordered the test and I am now booked in. 

Something else that needed to be sorted was parking. As I am not in the city itself, I need my car to get 'home' again once the show has finished. But parking might be a tad difficult and in the end I paid a bit extra to have a guaranteed place. 

Then of course there is my allotment. I have planted all but the last two plants outside now and it looks quite fantastic. There are two guardians, one of which I showed you yesterday, a rabbit in the salad patch and a frog. There should be a bit of rain each day according to the current forecast, but if not my Mum or Dad will have to water the plants. I will be back before they know it.

Other than that I just need to pack my suitcase, get my car loaded up and gooooooooooooo....

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Friday, 14 May 2021

The head (oh yes!)

I always wonder: do animals get headaches?
For those of you who have forgotten, as I don't mention it every week, I do suffer from headaches and migraines and have done for as long as I can remember. In fact, some of my earliest memories involve me coming down the stairs in the middle of the night (likely about 11 pm) and my mother waiting at the bottom of the stairs with a glass of water and some children's aspirin. 

Another memory is from about 1979 I would guess. A cold and snowy winter and the school I went to had organised a skating competition on the local pond. The only thing I did that day was cower in a corner with a head ready for splitting waiting for my parents to come and pick me up. 

Black-tailed Godwit (grutto)
I can't remember many attacks during high school. Not to say I didn't have any, but they just didn't seem to have made impact enough to remember. My first few seasons abroad were also okay. It was only in England that I started to have more and more headaches again. Mind you, alcohol, coffee, late nights...

Over the years I have done plenty of things with a headache. I went to see 'Lord of the Rings' in the late '90's with my sister and a friend. With a pounding head. I went to see a pantomime in Belfast only two years ago with my sister. With a pounding head. I worked. I went on holiday. I did everyday things. With pounding heads. 

It wasn't until I had had my operation in Norway that I decided that perhaps listening to my body was a good thing. Pain is not normal after all. It tells you something is wrong. Not sure what in my case as even after nearly 50 years I don't really know what causes it. And in fact, most doctors don't really know where migraines (in particular) come from. 

Anyway, long story short: from last week Thursday to yesterday, I have had head trouble again. Bad as well. So bad in fact that on Saturday I went back to bed for a couple of hours. It didn't work, but at least I wasn't awake for the pain. On Sunday the pain subsided. Coming back on Monday. On Tuesday it was so bad again that I actually phoned in sick. And spent another while in bed. On Wednesday I thought I could go back to work. It turned out, I would have been better off phoning in sick again. On Thursday it finally started to mellow out. 

My old high school.
There is a whole new bit at the back of it: enough for 1600 pupils.
Friends and colleagues (not close family, they just accept) have given me plenty of ideas of helping me. From take an aspirin to eating nuts. From not eating cheese or chocolate (still catching up on all the missed chocolate) to not drinking coffee (over 25 years now). A hypnotist told me he could get rid of the headaches once and for all. I didn't take him up on his offer, feeling it was a bit quackish. 

On the plus side though: I have seen a slight difference in how often the attacks occur. Which is less often. And often when I do start feeling my head (which I am very quick to do of course), the pain isn't as bad as before. Regular hours do work best for me, albeit they are no guarantee. Regular walking is also great, but once the head is pounding: no chance! Drink enough, eat well. But again: once the head is pounding, I don't want to drink and food is often out of the question too. 

Recently when I had had a bad attack and had lost some weight through it as well, somebody said to me they would love to have a migraine so they could lose weight as well. Let me tell you now: I would much rather be back on 106 kg and never lose it, if it were to mean I would be headache free for the rest of my life (I am now on 92). 

All photos taken during recent walks

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Green

The big leaves at the bottom are the cucumber plants.
My garden continues to grow and become greener. It is really nice to think on day three that nothing is happening and a day later, four green dots are becoming visible. Soon growing to leaves. And when you have so many different plants, everything comes up at a different rate.

Most of the plants are now residing outside, with a few still waiting inside. Although they are now being hardened (outside during the day, inside during the evening and night), so they will get used to being outside. 

Spot the tendrils and yes, there is one on the left plant as well...
Some of the things I have already planted are slowly showing growth, which is great to see. The radishes are doing great and are forming new leaves all the time. The snow peas have started to form some tendrils they will use to hang on to the small sticks to keep them upright. 

There are a couple of plants that look like they might not survive. The bell pepper was a plant I had bought from some children, but I think it got drowned and has not survived. I used the pot for the courgette and that can be planted in an even bigger pot on the weekend.

The courgette needs three leaves at least before being relocated to its permanent home.
The Swiss Chard is barely hanging on at the moment, but I have several more plants coming up and being hardened as I speak, so I should get some crop out of it. Fingers crossed. The cucumber is doing fine right now, but they need fairly large pots to help them survive. Once they can be relocated, as they are still living in their 'birth' pot at the moment. 

So far, so good!

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Life and death

Not a dead sheep, she just couldn't get up anymore.
Sometimes when you walk, you come across slightly less pretty sights. Like dead animals. So, warning up front: this will show you some of them!
 
Recently I came across a dead bird, which was blue. It took me a bit to realise what it was though, as I couldn't think of any blue birds at all. But on carefully turning it over (hoping there were no maggots crawling about), I thought it was a tit.

On another walk, I came across some white in a ditch. On closer inspection (look, no touch), I realised it must be a dead swan and had been there for some time by the looks of it. Slowly decomposing and going back into the cycle of life.

And yet another day, I saw this tiny little mouse, lying at the side of the road. It looked quite peaceful really. As that walk was well over two weeks ago now, I doubt there is anything left of it now. 

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Tuesday's Travels 4

You knew it. Of course you did! It was the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles near Paris, France. Well done to Yamini, Gera, Millie and Walter, Debby for guessing/knowing it. One point to you. Gattina thought it could be several places, but did mention Versailles. A quarter point to her.
My own story? Ever since I had seen the episode of Doctor Who called 'The Girl in the Fireplace', I had wanted to visit the palace and when my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Paris/Eurodisney, I finally got my chance. Me and my sister made our way to Versailles and visited that place from top to bottom. My own highlight though was not the palace itself, but the gardens. Definitely one to return to one day.

On to this week's challenge though. Where is this? Have you been? What is your story? Answer next week!

Monday, 10 May 2021

Eurovision

Oh, the joy I felt when Duncan Laurence won Eurovision back in 2019. Finally, Eurovision was coming back to the Netherlands. (Fun fact: the Netherlands were the first ever nation to sing at a Eurovision Song Contest, back in 1956). The joy I felt when both my sister scored two tickets and I scored two tickets for the contest in 2020 was equally as big. And then...

Well, you all know what happened then. A tiny little virus that has kept the world in its grip for a good while now. And everything got cancelled because of it. My parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary party, football games, the Olympic Games and yes, even Eurovision. 

Roll in 2021 and Eurovision was back on. With or without public, nobody knew at that point, but the show would go on. Then a couple of months ago, the news was pretty good: there might be a chance of actual public being present. Only a chance mind. 

On April 1st, I got the news personally that Eurovision was going to have public present. And no, it was not an April Fool's joke. Then I got the news that as I had had tickets originally, I would be eligible to try again this time. Certain groups would be excluded (high risk groups), certain groups would most certainly experience severe trouble in coming over (from abroad, like my sister), so the chances of me actually scoring a ticket for the Jury show of the second semi-final were getting better. As were my sister's, who had been ordered by me to try for the Jury show of the first semi-final, for which she had held tickets.

For the original show, over 16,000 tickets were sold, this time there would only be 3,500 of them. Would I be lucky enough to get a ticket? Last Saturday I was ready and waiting. And the result?

Yes! Yes, to Jury show for the first semi-final (thank you Gera) and Yes, to Jury show to the second semi-final. They had better have Eurovision face masks...

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Photo on Sunday 2021-13

Tree becomes house


Pole becomes tree (again)

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Recognising the plants

All these pots on our living room table, holding seeds and mud, trying to become plants. It's a good thing there are small markers there so I know what is coming up. Because one green leaf looks much like another green leaf to me. Especially right at the beginning.

I have done some re-planting now though and those small markers have not been used. Mainly because they are made of thick paper/thin cardboard. Paper and rain don't really mix. So, I planted the first couple of things and left them without a marker to indicate what was what. 

Which is okay if you have 2 pots outside with a total of four different plants. It becomes a different matter altogether when there are over a dozen large pots containing beans and carrots and whatever else I am aiming for. A solution was needed. 

Come in potato salad! Honestly, the potato salad saved the day. It could have been another type of salad just as easily, but this one was the first I got to. The potato salad was eaten quite a while ago, but I had kept the container (washed of course) and now it came in really handy.

All Dutch names of course
You take said potato salad container and start cutting it in strips. Make sure you make a nice sharp edge on one end as well: this will be used to plant the marker more easily. Take a black marker (isn't it annoying how it is all called the same?) and write the name of the vegetable or herb on the plastic marker. Stick in pot.

So, now I am not only growing my own veggies (which is good: less food miles), I am also recycling, because these markers can be used again and again. 

Photo taken last Sunday. More pots will follow...
In other news: I did buy the strawberry plants I wanted: five different types. These I stuck in two wicker baskets and hung on our fence (thank you Dad for the screws). The radishes, buckwheat, cabbages, dill, clover, Swiss chard and rocket have been rehomed already. As are the bell peppers and chamomile. So far the radishes are top of the class.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Remembrance Day

On my walks through town and country, I do come across some monuments that are reminders of World War II. There may be fewer and fewer people who actually remember the actual war (my Dad for example was born a month after the war had ended), but it should still be remembered. 

The photo at the top may not look like much, but those pylons were not there on June 22nd, 1944 when a Lancaster Bomber from the 50th squadron of the RAF came down right where those pylons are now. It was the middle of the night and the bomber had just returned from a night raid on Scholven-Buer, near Essen in Germany, when it got shot at by a German night fighter (likely to have been a Heinkel) at 2.20 am. 

Two of the air crew were killed in the crash (JF Lane, the air gunner and FH Shorter, the mid upper gunner), the other six made it out alive by using their parachutes. One member (KHC Ingram, the flight engineer) was captured and shot in October with 6 members of a resistance group. Three more men were also captured and ended up in POW camps in Poland (TB Cole, the pilot; AG Beresford, the bomb aimer and PFJ Hayes, the rear gunner). The remaining two members made it back to England (J Craven, the navigator and EJ Blakemore, the wireless operator). 

An ordinary house with an ordinary couple living there.
It just so happened that couple was Jewish.
On another day I walked through town. I had missed the turn I should have done and had I not retraced my steps, I would have missed the two sets of stumbling stones (Stolpersteine in German) in the pavement. Those stones are used in a fair few countries in Europe and show you where a Jewish family lived and were taken from to be sent East. To destruction. 

I did see those two sets of stones, not neighbouring, but in the same area. They would have known each other most likely, even if only from seeing each other in the synagogue as they were different generations. But both couples were taken from their homes and ended up far away from home. 

Dora and Bram 
Abraham (a draper) and his wife Theodora Hekscher-Bachrach were ordinary people. Abraham and Theodora were captured on November 18th, 1942 at a quarter past midnight. Later that same day they are transported to Westerbork, the transition camp in the Netherlands. From there they are put on transport to Auschwitz almost immediately and killed on arrival. He was 76, she was 59. Their three children spent the war in hiding and survived.

Menno (a sales supervisor) and his wife Annie Troostwijk-Hijmans lived in the ordinary house in the photo. On March 2nd, 1943 at 2 in the morning he and his wife are captured. Two days later they are transported to Westerbork. Less than a week after that Menno was sent to Sobibor. He was not killed on arrival, but was one of the forced labourers tasked with sorting clothing, jewellery etc. Around the middle of April he and 69 others were killed on 'suspicion' of trying to escape. He was 35. 

Menno and Annie
Annie was sent to Sobibor together with her husband. On arrival there, Menno stayed and she was sent on to Lublin where she had to sort clothing that arrived from Sobibor and Belzec. From October 1943 she worked in a jam factory. A month later she is sent to Trawniki with several other Dutch female prisoners. Between November 1943 and June 1944 she died of TBC. She was 26.

We mustn't forget the sacrifices made for us by all those airmen, soldiers and sailors who fought to save Europe. Nor must we forget the sacrifices made by all those Jewish, Sinti, Roma, Jehova's Witnesses, Homosexuals, Polish, Russian and others who were killed only because they weren't 'normal'. Whatever normal is!

Information and photos of Dora, Bram, Menno and Annie were found on joodsmonument.nl