Saturday 30 October 2010


For some reason the people at Club Med think it's great fun to get dressed up. So, during my two seasons working as a GO, I dressed up on numerous occasions. Sometimes there was a directive as to how to dress: for example black and white, red and white, flowery or male/female, where all the women had to dress up like men and the men had to dress up as women. When you were in a show, you were dressed up with whatever the show required, although there was one outfit that was especially made for me (I showed it last year).

And then there were the living paintings, where they would set a theme and both the decor and the GO's would be in that theme. So, a lot of years ago (1991 to be exact), during the autumn we had a Eastern/Saharan theme. Lots of sand, good-looking sheiks, camels and harem girls. I was one of the harem girls and I was absolutely freezing! Being dressed like this ànd sitting in front of the front door which opened out to minus ten degrees Celsius is not my idea of fun. 

Friday 29 October 2010

Finishing up

Since my dress wasn't fitting enough for the occasion (I don't have a photo of me in my truly fantabulous dress still hanging in my closet and long undersized (like the dress from yesterday by the way: I am so thin in that photo)), I couldn't finish my speech, since I had to get off the stage, because I didn't look like a nice strawberry tart (BREATHE!). But I had a bit more written down on my card, so here goes...

"I want to thank my cats Wuppie, Mathilda, Sophie and Linette for giving me love and cat kisses and waking me up in the middle of the night on occasion because they fell out of the window. I want to thank all my readers and followers for thinking my writing is good enough for them to read and follow. I want to thank all my commenters (in this case of course Anvilcloud gets a special mention), who tell me what they are thinking and keep me on my toes. Which is a stupid expression, since I don't write well while on tippy toes, I do much better while sat down on my behind. 

 I will try my best to continue to be worthy of these awards and be able to keep thanking people in the future. Thank you all!"

Thursday 28 October 2010

I want to thank my first grade teacher...

(Imagine me with a tear on my left cheek and of course this FA-BU-LOUS dress):
 Oh, how unexpected, I am so surprised, the others were so good and I want to applaud them first of all. I want to thank the Academy Lyn at Witch Blog for these awards. Of course I don't deserve them, (but no point in telling everybody else that) and others might have been better suited, but I am not giving them back!

I want to thank Mr Campioni, my former boss who wrote in my reference letter I was always punctual when he knew for a fact I was nearly always three minutes late. I want to thank Mr Visscher, my English teacher, who started my love for English literature. I want to thank Vesna, my former roommate and 'boss' who showed me that not everybody is a nice person (she certainly wasn't). I want to thank my colleagues who put up with  my incessant chatting (unless I don't like them and then I keep schtum).

I want to thank my Dad for giving me one bit of good career advise (become a busdriver) after several bits of bad career advise (eg: become a stewardess). I want to thank my Mum for forcing me to read my books myself (because she hated reading to me). And I want to thank my brother for letting me pound on his back when he was a kid and my sister for letting me boss her around when she was a kid.

(to the side): What? The dress? Well, I made it myself! It doesn't fit in this environment? Who comes up with these ideas? It's too tarty? I like strawberry tarts. Oh, not those type of tarts. Right, I see. Ehm...

Thanks everyone! (she says while running of stage in deep shame)

PS: the awards came with the following attached: thank the person who gave it, tell seven facts about myself and pass it on to .... Grab them if you like.
Another PS: photo taken on December 31st 1992 in Castle Combe, England

Tuesday 26 October 2010

O is for...

Open tour

When you find yourself in a new city, it may be bit daunting. One way to see a new city is taking a tour. You can do that by foot, but if you haven't been somewhere before, how do you know what would be nice to see.

Another way to do it, is by bus. Most touristy towns and cities now have open top double decker buses that show you the sites. So, you won't miss the Eiffeltower or the Notre Dame when you're in Paris.

This was the bus my sister and I took when we were in Paris in May this year. It was cold. It was windy. But we didn't miss anything. We saw everything. We heard what it was and promptly forgot most of it again. We could have gotten off at any point, looked around and gotten on the next one to continue our journey. All for one price! The next day we took a different tour and it was still included in the price. Great value for money!

For more O-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Photo taken in May 2010 in Paris, France

Monday 25 October 2010

Just call me Countess of Holland or Queen of the Franks

Do you see the resemblance?
Did I just tell you my ancestors were poor? Well, right after I wrote that, I started digging around for one of the last ancestors I still didn't have any information about. I was able to go back another few generations and I hit another wall.

Well, I was able to scale that wall. Boy, did I ever! Poor? Us? Well, not all of my ancestors. Because I found counts and dukes and even kings in my past. I am a descendant of the Count of Holland (Floris II), the count of Friesland, of West Friesland. Dukes of Worms (Germany), a senator to Rome and a proconsul to Africa in 395aD!!

I thought I was (nearly) done and then I stumbled upon this treasure. Again a lot of work, but I am loving it!


Isn't it weird how you become more interested in your ancestors once they are no longer there to ask questions? My maternal grandmother had offered snippets of her (hard) life, but I never followed up on the remarks she would occasionally make. I should have done, I don't think she would have brushed me off, but some misguided sense of 'that's not something you do' took over and now I still don't know and she is not here anymore to answer any questions.

During my holiday a few weeks ago, I tried finding out who my mother's ancestors were, where they came from and hopefully even what they did and I've made some remarkable discoveries. Now first I have to tell you that if you were planning on finding out about your ancestors: prepare to wade through site after site after site (if you are lucky) with information. Or (if you are not so lucky) paperwork with illegible handwriting. Nothing alphabetic and sometimes it's just plain educated guessing. But, once you have done that, you can find some great things. A few examples:

The backside of the book containing all baptism, marriage and death records of a certain church. I had to sift through page after page to find Abraham (I did)
One of my forefathers who was born at the beginning of the 19th century was a redhead. He had an oval face, a round forehead, blue eyes, a big nose, an ordinary mouth, a round chin and freckles. And he stood 1.58 (5'3") tall! The reason I know this is because this was the description of him in 1836, right before he joined the Infantery. In those days every male had to be registered and if you were lucky, you didn't get called up. He wasn't lucky and spent the next five years in barracks learning how to be an infantery man. I want to find someone now who has a better sense of drawing and painting than I do and who can draw/paint him in what would have been his uniform! I would also like to know more about his time in the Infantery, since his life after the Military consisted of so many different jobs, that I have the feeling he was a bit of a short tempered guy who kept loosing his jobs.

Another of my forefathers studied Theology in Leiden (still a very well known university in the Netherlands) in the early 1600's and became a minister. He held several posts before starting to write a book which was called (translated):  "Meditations and Harmonia or similarities of the four gospels concerning Jesus Christ". It was published in 1661, three and a half centuries ago!

What I want to do now (apart from a little more research) is trying to put all this together in one book, with a few stories like the ones above. It will also include the history of my country, of which I know virtually nothing, to put the stories in their time and to show that even though most of my family was at the lower end of society (poor), some national or international events did have an impact on their lives as well.

Sunday 24 October 2010


Of course there was a massive chance of winning since I had six calendars to give away and there were only eight comments. I would have liked to give everybody a calendar, but I only had seven and I want to keep one myself!

But here are the winners: Kay L. Davies, Anvilcloud, K(Banterings of a Basketcase), Misfit in Paradise, Lyn and Ginny Marie! Bad luck to the ones who didn't win this time, try again next time please.

If you could please send me an e-mail with your address, I will mail them out next week.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that I can only curl my tongue one way? Now you do!

Tuesday 19 October 2010

N is for...


A small country that is bordered by Germany on the East, Belgium on the South and the North Sea on both the North and West. The country as it is now known has existed from 1839 onwards, when what is now Belgium became its own country.

The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam. Governmental seat is in the Hague. Radio and television are based in Hilversum (if you live in Europe and you have a really old-fashioned radio, you will find it on there). The Netherlands are sometimes called Holland but that is very very very wrong, since it's only part of the country. Only one sixth in fact. So, don't do it again!

People in the Netherlands don't live in windmills (well, a few do, but only a few). We don't wear clogs on a daily basis (well, a few do, but only a few). We don't all smoke dope (I never have). We don't all live of prostitution. We don't all wear the Dutch 'national' dress, since it's not. It's the dress of Volendam, a tiny village just north of Amsterdam.

We have given rise to the word Apartheid. Were one of the first to establish slavery (and one of the last to abolish). Invented the cookie (Dutch word is koekje), introduced the ginger cat to the United States (apparently they all stem from one ginger cat that hitched a ride on one of the boats) and have an ongoing battle with water.

Our head of state is Queen Beatrix. There are over 16 million people living here, which makes it quite crowded. We used to own New Amsterdam (now New York, big mistake in selling it, everybody might otherwise have been speaking Dutch), Surinam and Indonesia. We were for a long time the only country that was allowed to trade with Japan.

We have Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Karel Appel (all painters); Jan de Bont and Paul Verhoeven (directors); Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé (actors); Famke Janssen (actress); Dick Bruna, Harry Mulish and Xaviera Hollander (writers); Willem Barentsz and Abel Tasman (explorers); Desiderius Erasmus and Baruch de Spinoza (philosophers); Raymond van Barneveld (darts player); Pieter van den Hoogeband (swimmer); Johan Cruijff (football player); Anton Geesink (judoka); Richard Krajicek (tennis player).

Oh, and there's me!

For more N-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Dutch Flag and detail of windmill: July 2009 in Open Air Museum Arnhem; Wuppie: January 2010; Tulips and clogs: It's a small world attraction in Eurodisney: May 2010; Nijntje/Miffy by Dick Bruna; me in May 2010

Monday 18 October 2010

Back to work

I could have done with another week holiday. Jellybeans on toast, I could have done with another three weeks holiday, but alas, this morning my alarm clock started playing the radio at 5.25. And five minutes later the other alarm clock started beeping. I only hit the snooze button twice, because I knew I had to go to work.

When I got outside it was cold. There had been a groundfrost and I was happy I had my gloves still in my coat. It's a good thing though that I cycle to work and by the time I got there, I was quite warm and toasty. Unfortunately however, my coach wasn't. The windscreen was frozen and I couldn't find the windscreen defroster fluid anywhere. Now, don't worry, I didn't need to get the ice scraper out (which is probably at home), I just put the defroster at full and used the windscreen wipers. By the time I had to leave I could see out of my windows.

The rest of the day was okay. Nothing major happened. I told one group of screaming children to tone it down a lot. I didn't hit the mirrors of a car that was parked midway in the road (which I was happy about), I waited more than I drove and I got home at a decent time.

Now, about that holiday...

Monstrous Monday 14

Sophie loves being in front of the heating on a nice soft pillow! She would probably love being in front of a roaring fire. On a nice soft pillow of course.

Sunday 17 October 2010


Filling the muffin cups
I had visitors yesterday. My friend and her two children dropped by in a a whirlwind of things to do and things I want because you have it. It was good fun though, although a proper conversation gets lost a bit among all the demands for more cake, drinks, visits to the toilet. Sophie had decided she didn't like them one bit (even though she stayed downstairs for the duration, the only one not budging from 'her' home!) and would on occasion hiss at the little boy if he came too close.

The little girl (well, she's soon to be six) and I made muffins for everybody. I had matching aprons and the result was really good. By the time my friend and her children left, the muffins were all gone, I had two drawings to hang on the wall and lots of photos of me that my friend took of me (I deleted most of them, this time they were awful, nothing like the one in my header).

Tomorrow it's back to the real world: work work work. And I so don't want to...

Tuesday 12 October 2010

M is for...


Do you remember when you last wrote a letter to somebody? And they would write one back to you? I used to write long rambling letters to a cousin of mine. Full of nothing-stories about what happened in class. Forty of fifty pages were perfectly normal! And she would write similar stories back. Also extremely long and full of nonsense. When I started to be a bit more fluent in English I had a penpal. From South-Africa. His name was Douw (pronounced Doe) and from what I could gather he lived out in the sticks somewhere.

I have had several penpals over the years. From Austria to the USofA to Morocco. And I still have all those letters ever sent to me (apart from a few from Morocco, because the guy creeped me out and I threw them away).

Life has become easier nowadays with internet and e-mail. But nothing beats getting home after a hard day's work and finding a letter or a postcard on the doormat. Or the doorbell ringing and receiving a package from the other side of the world containing apple jelly!

For more M-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Photo taken July 2009 in Adare, Ireland

Monday 11 October 2010

Another give-away!

So, what is the one new thing you need every year? Clothes? Shoes? Husband? Well, I am giving away one thing you need new every year: a calendar. Filled with photos of places I visited and photographed this year.

What you need to do? Ehm, leave a funny, insightful, serious or ordinary comment of course and then you could be one of six lucky winners to win one of those desktop calendars for next year! You've got until October 23rd midnight GMT!


Sophie is not quite sure what I am doing
It's been a bit quiet on the Mara front lately. No new posts and hardly any comments on your posts. So, what happened?

Well, I didn't fall off the face of this earth if you were wondering. Nor did I take a break to go to some fantastically sunny and warm place in the Carribean (ooh). I was home all this time. Well, not the whole time, since I had to visit my Dad last week who was in hospital after a hernia operation (he's home now and doing fine). And I visited a friend one evening, since I had my parents' car to use.

Otherwise I have been spending my time at home. My garden still looks great and the only thing needed was a good brush-up to remove all the fallen leaves. So, what else have I been doing with my time?

Scribble upon scribble: all my maternal ancestors
I have been trying to find my mother's ancestors, which is a horrid and painstaking process. Writing all those names down, finding the right strains and following them up further down the line. Losing family relatively early because I can't find their name anywhere. So far I know there are skippers (both ferry as goods skippers), farmers, a publican and two council men in my family. There might also be a resistance worker from World War II, but that still needs some work to find out. Seeing that my mother's family is a deeply protestant family, I found Roman Catholics and traces of Jews, the latter also needing some work which I hope to do this week. As soon as I have more data, I will write a proper post about it. For now, I have sheet upon sheet upon sheet of names and dates and finding a particular name is like finding a needle in a haystack!

The other thing I have been doing last week is clearing the last room. I am not the tidiest of people, not by a long stretch. So, when I clear my living room for example, I will put everything that is not needed in a big crate, take it upstairs and put it in the biggest room. You can imagine the amount of stuff building up in there! I could hardly move in there, so if I needed anything I was risking my neck. Literally. There was just too much stuff and it needed clearing. Besides that my bookcase was full to overflowing with books, most of them I had only read once and would never read again.

Books, books, books
Well, four crates of English chick-lit books found their way into crates to be taken to the second hand shop. Two Christmas trees, a loom, knick-knacks and more books followed. Six boxes and paper bags filled with paper went to the recycling thingy. As well as an old matress and electrical stuff. The car was full to overflowing, my room was seeing some air for the first time in a very long time!

My tidy book case
I am not done yet, a bit more clearing and a lot more cleaning are needed, I still need to do my laundry, I want to visit an uncle and some archives. So, a busy week ahead again. I might need another week's holiday to recuperate!!!

Tuesday 5 October 2010

L is for...


Now, I might shock you here, but London doesn't exist. Yes, I know it's on all the maps and it's on all the signs leading into London, but once you get there, you're not there! There aren't any signs saying you have entered London! There are signs for Peckham, Lewisham, Wembley, Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and lots and lots more, but the closest one to London is 'City of London'. So, I always tell people London doesn't exist!

Yet, it does. Because London is the collective name of all those villages and cities. You could almost say that everything that lies within the boundaries of the great and awful M25 (the surrounding motorway) belongs to London.

Either way, whether it exists or not, London is a fantastic place to visit and since over 8 million people call it home, it mustn't be too bad to live there either!

For more L words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!


A few weeks ago I read a blog and saw a link to our very own Dutch shop 'Hema'. This shop started as a cheap shop where they would sell everything for a quarter (or a multiple of that). Of course the prices have gone up over the years, but they still sell good products for not so high prices. Something often heard by Dutch expats is: I don't miss anything, apart from the Hema. You can get anything from baby clothes to plates, from sausage rolls to make-up, everything being their own brand. 

So, about this link. Well, when you click on this link, you will get to one of their product pages. Wait for about five seconds before closing it though!

PS: forgive me: I can't remember where I first saw it!

Monday 4 October 2010

Blogging is fun!

When I first started blogging ooh, five years ago now, I started to blog to mainly keep my family informed about my emigration plans. However, my blog quickly turned into a place where I would keep my family and friends informed about what was happening in my life in general. They sighed with me when there was something to sigh about, they laughed with me (and sometimes at me) when there was something to laugh about and perhaps they even cried on those occasions when there was something to cry about.

Of all the people who read my blog on a regular basis, I've only met a few people in real life. Pepperfly (who keeps a Dutch blog), my sister (her blogging habit has almost died out), my parents and a few friends and family. Until Carolina that is. Who, even though never having met me, was willing to make the trek in Bob to come and insult my curtains and help me with my garden (and really putting a lot of work into it). I think we hit it off, having the same taste in (British) comedy shows and a similar sense of humour. 

Of course it's more difficult to meet others. And the reason for that is of course the water. A small stretch to the British Isles (they swim across it, haven't they heard of boats?) or the large stretch to the North American continent (no swimmers here). You don't cross it just to have lunch. Yet, that is exactly what will happen in the spring next year! 

Kay Davies who claims herself to be unfit, will be travelling to Europe with her husband then and she wants us to meet up for lunch! How brilliant is that? She can't be all that unfit if she is willing to spend hour upon hour on an airplane to meet me (oh and then go and holiday in France, but that is just a minor thing). 

So, I just want to say: Gera, I love you for setting me on to this blogging thing. It's fun!!!  

Monstrous Monday 13

I think I may have passed on the telly watching bug to Linette! Although she specialises in small things flying across the screen!

Sunday 3 October 2010

10. Tattoo (reprise)

It was uncomfortable, but didn't hurt. It wasn't as big as Johnny originally planned, but still looks great. It was done in under an hour and I now know that if and when I move, I won't hesitate to get another one on the other shoulder!

For now though, this one will be enough. Right now it's covered in vaseline and clingfilm (I feel like a chicken about to go into the oven) and I can't take a bath or go to the sauna for two weeks, but I like it.

Saturday 2 October 2010

The shopping experience

See how those shoes curl up at the front? Yuck!
My parents have declined offers to go shoe shopping with me since I was only 16 or 17 on account of being too difficult! And why? Well, I want my shoes to be:
a. black
b. low heeled
c. wide
d. no boots (don't fit my calves)
e. no laces or velcro
f. no buckles
g. nothing to do with Suske and Wiske shoes
h. quite closed
i. leather on the outside
j. and on the inside as well!

So, when I managed to find two pairs a few weeks ago, I was really happy. Until I tried one of those pairs on and they just weren't comfy. When I kicked them off again, I noticed I had forgotten to take the cardboard out!

Lovely red and slightly curly short hair
Something else I am not too fond of is getting my hair done. I would love some colour or lovely flowy curls, but fortunately my hairdresser knows better since I:
a. squeal when they wash my hair
b. squeal when they brush my hair
c. squeal when they put a perm in
d. squeal when they pull my hair through a swimming cap to make streaks
e. squeal when they put a hot towel in my neck.

So, nowadays I just stick to having it washed (gently, they know me!) and have the dead ends cut out.

When all my clothes were still bought for me!
And what about clothes shopping? Well, I won't even go there. Looking at what I'm wearing now: the shirt used to belong to my sister, the jumper I found on my coach, the socks were knitted by my maternal grandmother and my trousers are really comfy but not the height of fashion. I went shopping with my Mum once and she took photos after every outfit was tried on. There was a dress we both liked, but it didn't go up to my size exactly. Later I was told I looked like my paternal grandmother!

So, is there anything I do like in the shopping department? Well, stick me in a large bookshop like Waterstones or Eason's (Ireland) and I can spend hour upon hour in there!

Friday 1 October 2010


The replica of a bridge built between the north and the south. What's now grass used to be water!
I've written about Schokland before in this post in which I told you how it stopped being an island. But when it still was an island, island life was hard. The people on the island were poor and the chance of flooding was great. Most of the people on the island made their living of the sea, meaning they were fishermen, some had shops or had a bit of farmland where they would grow wheat.

Over the years the island had been battered with flooding so often, that it almost became two islands, only a small strip of land existing between the north and the south side. Since that strip of land was quite low lying, it was dangerous to cross and they constructed a bridge. The bridge wasn't very wide, in fact there was no room to walk side by side.

The Schokker Dance
However, people crossed the bridge from both sides (and in all types of weather) and sometimes needed to pass each other. And that's when they did the Schokker Dance. You grabbed hold of each other and turned. This practice was very popular with young men and women of course!