Thursday 31 October 2019


I have been hard at work. Both at work and at home. At work I was due to finish today, but I am working tomorrow and several days next week, that may turn into more. I had better contact the temping agency to hold the holiday money pay-out!

At home I have also been working hard. Knitting, crocheting, sewing. And the results will appear tomorrow on my Mice for Mama blog. If you don't know what that blog is: it's a blog where I sell home made mice (and other things as well), part of the earnings going towards charity. 

But, not only did I make things myself, I also got my Mum to help out. She makes lace and there will be several of her works up for sale as well. So go on, have a look! And perhaps you spot something you like the look of! 

There are only a couple of things to remember: 
A. Always use the contact form and make sure you state exactly what you want, using the code from the title. 
B. First come, first serve! If three people want the same thing, it will go to the first person who 'wanted' it.
C. Factor in packaging and posting costs, as those are extra! It goes by weight and where to send it, but it can add quite a bit to the price. 
D. Payment will be in Euros using PayPal.

So, remember to hop on over on November 1st and perhaps you find a nice Christmas present... 

Monday 28 October 2019

Brom mostra di più


No! I didn't learn Italian, just that one sentence. It means that I am showing you more. More of Rome, because you may have wondered about certain sights.

And one of those sights that is really hard to miss is the Colosseum. Or as the guide said: Anfiteatro Flavio. Because I did listen to him. Even though by the time we got to the Colosseum, we were all quite tired. The two and a half hour walk had already lasted two and a half hours before we got to the Colosseum and we were still not done!

Part of the outside of the Colosseum
In the end Mara was defeated and we left the group and the guide to continue on their way. We went to find a place to sit and watch people go by. We chatted to a lovely lady, we saw people go by (jealous of our spot I think) and once we were a bit rested, we walked around the Colosseum ourselves. 

Where the cross stands now, the emperor used to have his place to watch what was going on.
It was big. Like really really really big. The guide had told us that there was room for so many people in the olden days, that if they would have used one door only, it would have taken them a day to get in and find their seats. Wow! But those Romans were clever and made so many gates, everybody could get in within twenty minutes. Much better.

From the inside you could see it was an oval, not a round
In the central area of the Colosseum there used to be trapdoors through which wild animals would have come up. Lions and bears and they would have had to fight with gladiators or Christians or each other. I think. It sounded not very nice, so I didn't hear everything. 

This wavy floor used to be flat before it collapsed.
It was the floor of the dining room and it was about four times what you can see here!!
The Colosseum stands in an area with a lot of other important Roman stuff. Like the forum, although there were a few of those apparently. The guide showed us a ruin that he said used to be the home of somebody. Their dining room was bigger and higher than our entire house! They sure did have some money, those Romans. Or stole some money...

We were quite tired after all that walking around and we weren't yet finished for the day either, because that evening we took a boat ride. More on that soon...

Thursday 24 October 2019

The hospital

As I was enjoying the early morning quiet today, my phone rang. Unknown number. I picked up without giving my name. It was the hospital. Ringing me because we had a phone appointment. I had forgotten all about it.

Anyway, she asked me how I was doing, whether I had had any ill effects of the operation and then she told me that the removed gall bladder had been sent off for examination. They do that with everything they remove from patients. 

Turns out, I had a chronic infection in the gall bladder that had probably been there some time. Weeks if not months or even longer. Had I ever felt sick? Well, after having eaten a bag of marshmallows I might feel queasy, but so do most people. 

Not only that, there was also still a stone in the gall bladder, which meant that if they hadn't removed it, it would have caused the same problems which first landed me in hospital. There was only mention of  'a stone', so whether there might have been more?

On the plus side though: there was no sign of anything cancerous, which is always nice. And of course, as the gall bladder has been removed, I should not have any more trouble. 

PS: Brom will be back soon with more stories and photos of Rome. There is still plenty left!

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Brom sees some statues


Here I am again, with more stories and photos of our trip to Rome! And today I am going to show you some of the statues we saw. I already showed you one the other day of that beautiful sculpture with the angel. I will show the whole thing soon, but not today.

You may recall that the Vatican is situated within the Roman city boundaries, but it is actually its own city state with its own head of state which is the Pope! Right now the Pope is Pope Francis who originally comes from Argentina, but before him there was a German Pope (Benedict XVI) and a Polish Pope (John Paul II). He has been made saint already and this statue we saw close to Termini, the central station of Rome. 

Over the past couple of days I have shown you some smaller fragments of statues as well. Those we found in Saint Paul's Basilica, where they had lots of them. They found them years ago and they have embedded them in the walls of the cloisters. We saw a foot, several heads, bits with writing and some animals. I loved this one and it reminded me a bit of Jonas and the Whale.

Almost all the statues and sculptures we saw were either Roman or Christian, but there was one piece that had a more recent influence. Italy during World War II sided with the Germans at first and during that period, Jews, Gypsies, Jehovas Witnesses, Homosexuals and political opponents were taken away to camps to perish. This was the only monument we saw, although Mara said there were some stones throughout the city, outside the houses Jewish people were taken from. And even though we always looked downward so as not to fall, we didn't see any.

On our walk along the Via Appia, we came across the bathhouse remains and in that same area we saw this. Mara said it looked like four birdies have a conflab, but I think it looks like the claw of one giant beastie! What do you think?

Sometimes small is actually quite big. On that same Via Appia walk, we came across this statue of Tarcisius, patron saint of altar servers. We thought it best that Gera posed next to him, as he was quite large(!). Tarcisius was killed by pagan Romans for not wanting to desecrate Holy Communion which he brought to sick and imprisoned Christians in Rome. He was probably stoned to death, although that is not certain.

My last offering of today is a scene on the Arch of Titus (Forum area). In the first century there was an uprising in Judea against the Romans. The Romans won and destroyed whole cities. This image shows the triumphant arrival of the Menorah from Solomon's/Herod's Temple in Jerusalem. Most of the gold, silver etc that was taken from the Temple was sold off to pay for the building of the Colosseum. The Menorah was probably melted back to gold before becoming something more precious to its new Roman owner. Perhaps a little gold teddy bear?

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Brom walks the old road


Did you know that all roads lead to Rome? Now that may not be true anymore, but back in Roman times, the major through roads all led to or from Rome. They all had their own names as well and we walked on one of them. A very famous one!

The road as was, with a pedestrian area to the left and right.
Chariots, carts and large platoons would have used the center.
We walked on the Via Appia. Mara had found it on her phone/gizmo thingymebob and had led us straight to... the Via Appia Nuova. The New Appian Road and we wanted the old one! Fortunately there was another bus and we ended up on the Via Appia Antica, which was one of the earliest roads built by the Romans (starting from 312BC by Appius Claudius Caecus), connecting the Forum in the center of Rome to Brindisi, a town about 550 kilometers further south. 

Not much is left today of the road, as its stones have been used in houses and farms along the way and in later years, the road itself has just been asphalted over and completely ruined. There are still some bits that are original and we found a tiny bit of it. 

Can you see the wheel rut?
That is over 2000 years old!
In fact, in the top photo you can see me sitting on the road. The road wasn't only used by foot soldiers, carts and chariots also used it and all those wheels made ruts in the roads and I am sitting in one! The stones used to be really flat and flush, but over the over 2000 years of its existence and sometimes repairs, it now ended up as quite an uneven road. Great fun though.

Part of the bath house with a beautiful mosaic floor.
In Roman times it was not allowed to bury your dead within the city walls, so there are a fair few mausoleums, graves, crypts and catacombs along the Via Appia. There were also temples, bath houses, inns and farms. We saw the remains of a bath house and after watching countless episodes of Time Team, it was great to see it 'live' so to say. Gera was even able to point out some of the features!

The mausoleum of Caecilia Metella.
It was really really really big!
Because it was Monday, we didn't get to enter the site of the mausoleum and a stronghold/keep/castle as it was closed, but we did get to finish the very first catacombs. If you want to read more, Mara has looked up where to go. Click here to do so: HERE

San Sebastian Basilica from the outside
We were not allowed to take any photos inside, but I can tell you it was big! Every time I thought it was the end, we saw another corridor filled with graves and holes for graves or urns. And we found out later it was one of the smallest!!!

I am going to catch you yet Mousey!
We did get to see one mausoleum from the outside and a church right across the road from it. The church was in ruins, but it was a great place for cats to catch mice. Although the cat never caught it while we were watching it...

The last thing I want to show you today are some trees. When the road was constructed, trees were used a lot to shade the users of the road. I call them umbrella trees and they would be on both sides. Because of later building and such, most of the trees along our stretch of road had disappeared.

Monday 21 October 2019

Brom sees the sights of Rome


Here I am again, with more of our trip to Rome. Not only did we see five churches on the inside, we also saw lots of other things. Yesterday I showed you a car belonging to the Caribinieri in Rome. The Carabinieri are a police force with a military background, but do share quite a few responsibilities with the regular force. Some of you may have noticed that the car I showed yesterday was not in the best of conditions. In fact: the front tyre was actually flat! 

One of the soldiers is hidden behind the car (between car and wall)
A sneaky fag?
Something else we saw a lot of was the proper military. There were cars and soldiers at most of the major intersections in the tourist area and they had been there for a few years now to minimise the risk of a terrorist attack. Most of them on duty were very attached to their phones and cigarettes. Besides carrying a very severe looking rifle.

Trevi fountain
There were plenty of fountains as well in Rome, but not all of them were in great working order. Some of them did not work at all, others only had a trickle of water. The most famous of all of them however was working splendidly. Mara had seen it before, but it looked a lot better this time around as they had cleaned it up beautifully, she said. 

Ready... Steady... Go!
On the Sunday we went into town after our church service and we ended up on the Piazza Navona. A really pretty square with some lovely working fountains and a lot of locals. They were running, they were jumping and being very active. 

I always like when there is something local going on, it makes it feel like a proper place instead of just a tourist spot. Despite all the classical architecture and statues.

When we visited the Saint Paul's Basilica on Saturday, we saw a smallish sculpture in its grounds. When we visited Saint Peter's square in front of Saint Peter's basilica a few days later, we saw a life size version of that same sculpture. It was beautiful. 

Fortunately the smaller size we had seen a few days earlier had a small plaque as well, which explained the sculpture and gave the name of the artist who made it.

Right, that's it for now. I will leave you with a photo of a shoe shop. But not just any shoe shop. A real Italian fancy schmancy shoe shop! See you soon!!

Sunday 20 October 2019

Brom's Photo on Sunday 2019-29

I don't think this car is going to give much chase...

Saturday 19 October 2019

Brom goes to church


Well, we didn't just go to church once. Or twice, or thrice. In fact we went four times! We visited four different churches and actually attended a service in one of them as well!

The first three Popes
Saint Peter, Saint Linus and Saint Cletus
The very first church we visited on Saturday was Saint Paul's outside the gates. It is a Vatican basilica, but outside the city gates. In fact it isn't even that close to the Vatican itself and it took us nearly an hour by bus to get there! 

The last four Popes
Pope John Paul, Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis
Inside the church there were pictures of all the Popes right up to now, starting with Saint Peter who is generally accepted as being the first Pope and ending with the current one: Pope Francis who originally hails from Argentina. As there were mostly no pictures of Popes during the early years, or at least none have survived, those Popes were all modeled on Saint Peter, with little differences between each. We even found our 'own' Dutch Pope: Adrian IV.

The Friesian flag in the Friesian Church
On Sunday we went to visit the church of Saint Michael and Saint Magnus, for the Dutch more commonly known as the Friesian Church. It is located within the Vatican and we attended the service there, which was a Roman Catholic service, but in Dutch. Afterwards we wanted to see the Pope, but we only heard the last words of his blessing, the square being chock-a-block and impossible to get onto.

Saint Bonifacius, one of the missionaries who tried to bring Christianity to the Friesians.
They killed him in 685 aD
On Monday we were not planning on visiting a church at all, but the tour through the catacombs of Saint Sebastian on the Via Appia ended in the church itself and it was a lovely church. They are always completely different from what Mara and Gera are used to. Having always attended Protestant churches, they are quite austere compared to Roman Catholic ones. 

Part of the ceiling in the Basilica of Saint Sebastian
The last church or basilica we visited wasn't on our list either and even when we were right in front of it, we nearly didn't enter. Until I told those two girls, they had better get in, despite their aching legs and knees and toes. This time it was the Basilica of Saint Peter, right in the middle of the Vatican. We had visited the Necropolis underneath to see where Saint Peter had been buried way back when and now we went into the big church on top.

Basilica of Saint Peter
The five people on the front were canonized on October 13th
It was beautiful. It was big, like really really really big. There were statues everywhere, paintings and people. Mara said to me just now how it didn't feel like a place for quiet contemplation though, which she had felt more in the other three churches. It was just too much of everything. 

This image was repeated quite often on the marble pillars
Well, too much or not, I loved to see all those churches. As I loved to see everything else as well, because you know I love traveling and seeing new things. Another time I will tell you more about what else we saw...

This image of the Road to Crucifixion was found in the Pantheon
PS: I nearly forgot, we didn't just see four churches on the inside, we saw five! The Pantheon is another one we visited. It started off as a temple of Pagan Gods, but once Christianity took hold, it was modified to a church. I just never want to visit it when it rains, as it has a big hole in the roof! Mara says that is how it's supposed to be, but I am not so sure. 

The Altar in the Pantheon

Thursday 17 October 2019

Brom went to Rome?


Well, after a long week, we made it back home and are now enjoying home-cooking again and giving our feet some serious rest. We (well, Mara and Gera anyway) walked at least 87 kilometers every day!

Mara had told me that we were going to Rome, but for a moment it didn't look like it, because all of Easyjet's computer systems were out. In the whole of Europe! There was a massive queue at the airport and when we finally got moving, we nearly had to run to the plane to make it. But we did...

That's Gera and me all the way to the right of the photo
Day two
Now, for those of you who don't know: Rome is in Italy. And as we were going to Rome, I thought we would be going to Italy. But then they showed me a pyramid, which I KNOW is not in Italy, but in Egypt. I may only be a teddy bear, but I do have some education you know. And before you say that it was only a photo: I could touch it. 

A real cactus and I could sit in it!
Day four
And then, only a few days later, I saw a cactus. Not a tiny one like Oma has on her window sill, a big massive one! I know those grow in Mexico. And this time I was sitting in it. So, I was wondering whether they were just taking me on a long trip around the world and not telling me.

You will have to wait until another time to hear what else we saw though. Because we saw plenty and we were very very very tired at the end of it all! 

Monday 7 October 2019


That is a sentence I have been telling people on the bus a lot the past couple of months and during the past week, I have been able to use it again. So, how was it? 

Well, the first day I was absolutely exhausted, even with a short shift. After that I sort of got into it a bit more and I wasn't as tired. Yesterday was my first day on a long shift and that went well as well. I did get them to change today's shift to a short one though. Especially as I had two long shifts coming up tomorrow and the day after (that has been changed now for some reason: tomorrow off). 

In other work related news: I knew the contract was only until the end of this month, but a week and a half ago it became a big slap in the face: the contract would be finished by October 31st. I was just so happy to be at work when I accepted, that I never thought about what would come afterwards. Well, I am thinking about it now and am no nearer to the answer than 6 months ago!

I have enquired at the place where I thought I might end up, but they don't have any vacancies. Well, either that or they don't want an expensive driver and opt instead for a driver who has only had their license for a few months and starts at the bottom of the pay grades whereas I am at the top. I will get in touch with my contact at the temping agency and see what she has to say for herself regarding a job for me. 

First a good thing though: a trip to Rome coming up later this week. I am really looking forward to it and even though I have to be a bit savvy with money, I should be okay as flights, accommodation and excursions are all paid for already. There is plenty left to pay for (food springs to mind), but I did save for it as well. 

So, that's it. My first week back at work went well, my trip is coming and in the mean time I keep knitting!