Thursday, 30 January 2020

Kamp Westerbork

'Frozen Tears'
Unless you are living under a rock or are totally not interested in our past: this/last week was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A few years ago, my sister and I visited that awful place. Another place we visited during that holiday was Kamp Westerbork in the Netherlands. A transit camp for Dutch Jews and Dutch Gypsies, who were sent to Sobibor, Auschwitz (both in Poland), Terezin (or Theresienstadt in Czechia) and later when the war started to turn to Bergen Belsen (Germany) which we also visited.

Yesterday I made my way back to Kamp Westerbork with a busload of 14 and 15 year olds. As part of their history lessons, they were going to get a tour of the camp. First they visited the small museum (which had a temporary exhibition about the Roma and Sinti gypsies in the Netherlands, next to the regular exhibition). After that they went to the camp itself, where they got a tour and more explanations.

The speaker, Mr Hans Peeper
translation of verse at the bottom
After lunch there was to be a guest speaker. A gentleman who had actually survived Bergen Belsen as a 6 year old boy. He was there to tell us (I asked whether I could join) about his life prior, during and after Bergen Belsen. He was only four when he and his family arrived in Westerbork and after a year there, they were sent to Bergen Belsen. It didn't have gas chambers, but there were too many people on too small an area, not enough food, not enough shelter and no medical care whatsoever. 

Even though he was only a small boy, he stayed with his father and only saw his mother once more, when they took him to see her on her death bed. His father got sick after that and he and his dad stayed in the 'sick quarters', which saved their lives most likely. As the Allied forces got nearer, the Nazis got more desperate and they loaded up a train to be sent on a wild goose chase to nowhere. Not long after that, the British arrived and liberated the camp. 

Mr Peeper told about his life after the war as well. He was by then six years old and he and his father made their way back to the Netherlands, where his father was nursed back to health. He didn't loose all of his family, as one aunt and uncle and their children had gone into hiding and had survived. All the others were killed. 

In the end he made a good life for himself, marrying, having two children and now four grandchildren. It is only lately he has begun to talk about his life and how the war changed it forever. And his message to all who were present: don't let one person tell you that somebody is bad just because of colour, race, religion, gender or whatever. Get to know people and make up your own mind!

Come with stories tonight
about how the war has gone
Repeat them a hundred times
And I will weep for every one

Part of the poem "Peace" by Leo Vrooman

Monday, 27 January 2020

Time flies even faster

1
No, I don't have a cold. Nor is it that cold in the Netherlands. Nowhere near what it should be. Thank you global warming. However, there are places where the temperatures are a bit lower. And me and my parents visited one such place on Sunday.

2
Now, you may remember the sand sculptures we visited during the summer. Beautiful art made out of sand. This time around it wasn't sand however, it was ice. And as you don't want the ice to melt within two days, you make sure it is cold. Very cold. Freezing in fact. So much so, that it was on occasion hard to take a photo as I could hardly feel my fingers!

3
But I managed. The battery held out as well and the photos were (mostly) recognisable. They will pop up during weeks to come, but I thought I would show you some now. 

4
The show was called Travel through Time, which in Dutch sounds a lot better (Rijs door de tijd) as it is a play on words. Either way however, I think the photos tell the story. 

5
Photo 1 is of one of several dinosaurs, but this one was definitely the cutest of the lot. Photo 2 shows cave art by the first humans. It was one of my favourites. Photo 3 is of Stonehenge. We didn't get it immediately, as your eyes focus mostly on the figures of the human and the two pigs either side. 

6
We were not traveling at a snail's pace in any case, because the next period (photo 4) was of the Egyptians and then the Romans. Although to be honest, I am not quite sure what photo 5 should really be about. It's not a Viking as I first thought, perhaps a Gaul (like Asterix or Obelix)? 

7
On we went and straight into the middle ages. Not sure whether they did serve J√§germeister (photo 6) back then, but you could actually buy a drink! My fingers and toes were frozen enough as they were thank you very much. 

8
Someone who wasn't that bothered about cold (ahem) was the lady in photo 7. Witch burning, plague and other nastinesses did not make that an age I would have wanted to live in.

9
Then on it was to the more modern times. Not necessarily better times though, even if Leonardo da Vinci (photo 8), Shakespeare and Rembrandt did their best. A few years on from them and revolutions (photo 9), wars and bloodshed were common place again. 

10
It wasn't only Dutch/European history though. We went across the pond as well: all the way to the Wild West (photo 10). Where there were plenty of hazards like rattle snakes and deserts and Indians. They must have been a hardy bunch.

11
Next period was nearly our own time. Discoveries were made thick and fast, from steam engines to trains to large factories (photo 11) bellowing out thick disgusting smoke and soot. 

12
On we went. And if you thought by now we would have made the place a bit nicer for ourselves: think again. Photo 12 shows you what can so easily happen.

13
Photo 13 is of something a bit more upbeat: the breaking down of the (Berlin) Wall. It hasn't solved everything and probably created some new problems, but the power of the people shone through. 

14
So, what does the future hold? Will it be aliens (photo 14) and space travel? Or will it just be same old same old? 

Unfortunately none of the sculptures had any maker's names, nor did I see them anywhere. So, my thanks to all those talented artists who worked that snow and ice and made all this beautiful art.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-04

It may have looked a bit like styrofoam, but was in fact concrete. Not sure how comfy it was though...

Photo taken in Artis, Amsterdam

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Time flies

Isn't it amazing to think that it's nearly February? I have been working some, I have been knitting some and in the mean time, time flies indeed. There are some fun things on the horizon, like an outing to a large amusement park. Provided the weather is good of course. Another fun thing I am still hopeful for is Eurovision, but I will need to keep my fingers and everything else crossed for that, plus I will need the help of several others if I want to get tickets. We will see what happens.

On the not so fun side: Miss Oswin had a problem back in the summer with her licking her belly a lot. It had to do with a urinary tract infection, which got sorted and she stopped licking. But only for a short time. So, out came the plastic pellets again and off to the vet the sample went. Imagine my surprise when he told me her pee was fine. And that is quite likely stress-related.

I bought a stress reducing plug-in pheromone bottle. Which seemed to work. Although the licking didn't really stop, she became a bit more calm. Of course we couldn't really check it just yet, as New Year's Eve in the Netherlands is 'celebrated' with lots of fireworks and this year was one of the worst my parents said. On we went in January. And we finally started noticing something else.

According to my mum Miss Oswin is antsy during the day. She will miaow, she will walk around, she will not sit still for more than a few minutes. She wants to be petted, but not for long. My dad says the same. But when I'm at home: she is quiet, she sleeps, she can easily be petted for half an hour at a time. Perhaps she has abandonment issues? Even though my mum is home most of the time? 

At least the pheromones seem to be working. Now she just needs to stop licking excessively and the fur needs to grow back...

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-03

Okay, it's already three weeks old, but hey, Brom really wanted to show his face. Going so far as to photobomb!! This was taken on January 1st as we were traveling home from Belfast to Amsterdam. 

Friday, 17 January 2020

Job

As you know I am temping at the moment. Not the best of situations for several reasons. One is that I have no set income each month. It all depends on the amount of hours I make and sometimes that is around 20 (this week, with four days at work), other times it hovers around 30 or more. In fact, since I started working last April, I have had 6 weeks of 40 hours or more, 3 weeks of 37+ and most of the rest has been between 20 and 32. 

The second reason it is not good, is the fact that without a set or steady income each month, it is nearly impossible for me to find a place to live. Rent and utilities and food and everything will come to more than I earn at the moment. 

The third reason is that there is no guarantee. If there is little work, the people who have a contract get first dibs and I get the dregs. I understand, but that doesn't mean I like. So, for all those reasons I have already tried to find other jobs. 

Last year I did a lot of the tourist line 270. I met with some people who knew me from days gone by and that made it easier for me to slot back in. But unfortunately at the end of the season, there was no work for me and the chances of me getting work there were slim. 

Imagine my surprise today, when I got a phone call from the temping agency, wondering whether I would like to work for that company (as a temp again, but with a view to eventually get a contract). Ah. Well. Yes. No. Perhaps. 

Because as luck would have it, there is another company that I approached myself that is hiring this year after winning a large tender. Not only that: it is actually right here in my home town. Plus they are hiring directly, instead of using temps. 

I am still in the early stages of the application, but I have good hopes of getting accepted. Fingers crossed. 

But it is nice that people are thinking of me! It made my day even better (the other things that made my day were not having a headache today, almost finishing a cabled hat and taking my mum home without her being bandaged up*).

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Knitting, knitting, knitting

Recently I have been knitting like mad to get stuff made for Mice for Mama. I had started a lovely bear back in 2019, but had not finished it yet (it is now), I bought plenty of yarn in Northern Ireland I was dying to get started with (I did) and of course I have plenty of yarn myself to make more than enough things with. 

Then last week my parents came home and asked me about something crafty. Apparently the choir my dad sings in (Great Zwolle Men's Choir), is organising a sort of fair where people can sell their crafty stuff. It wasn't official just yet, but will be pretty soon. Hm...

This sounded interesting, especially as they assured me that all proceeds were to be mine. Another good thing is that it is about a month and a half away, giving me plenty of time to make more things. I still have some mice and other things that I made last year and haven't sold, and now I can make even more. 

I think I might say yes to this offer. Better tell them at work that I am not available that day!

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Talking about zoos...

You may remember that last year my sister and I made our way to a great zoo right here in the Netherlands. If not: click here. Now, that zoo was originally situated in the center of town. Almost like Artis in Amsterdam, but even more central. They had a big problem though: they wanted to expand and couldn't.

In the end, a site was found for them not far from the center, but with great potential and that's where they moved to. And you all know what happens to prime real estate in the center of a town, don't you? 

Well, not in this case. The town council decided that even though the zoo was no longer there, the area would remain as was, more or less. You can still see some of the animal enclosures and even though quite a few of the buildings were removed, plenty remained. 

The whole zoo area is now used by galleries, acting/art schools and classes. It is a park still with plenty of people using it. And yes, there are even some animals in a small petting zoo/pet rescue. 

There was also a tea house where my friend Pepperfly and I enjoyed our tea and nibbles. It may not longer be a zoo, but I am so glad no property developers were allowed in! This is much better.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Artis

I showed you some photos yesterday of several different animals. Not animals I would encounter in every day life (apart from the gold fish, which would be quite possible). And in fact, I did see them all in the zoo.

No, not that long ago...
It was a zoo I had only been to once and that was so long ago (I was a small child I believe), that I couldn't really remember anything. The zoo is called Artis and is located in Amsterdam. Not a city I want to drive a coach in, but that was exactly what happened last Friday.

Stone coral
I had looked up how to get there and I did. Just don't ask how, because I don't think the route given to me was the route taken by me! It kept sending me to small streets adjacent to canals where driving a car is bad enough, let alone a massive coach! But, as I said: I got there and parked and everybody got off. While I prepared to wait until they came back.

Well, wait? I was going to visit the zoo myself, no way was I sitting on that coach for several hours! Now, Artis is located in Amsterdam as I said. Not in the center itself, but close enough. And it is surrounded on all sides by houses, so it is not that big a zoo. But it was quite a nice zoo to spend a couple of hours. 

There was a large aquarium housing smaller and larger fish, but also fossils and the like. Very interesting. There were birds of all plumage. There were some camels (no photos), monkeys, lions, elephants and several other animals. As I said: perfect to spend a couple of hours and there were plenty of people with toddlers doing just that. 

There were also some bronzes about and there were two that really stood out for me: one of an animal keeper and one of a giraffe. The latter was one that I wouldn't mind having myself, as it was just a fun sculpture.

When all the children and the teachers had returned to the coach, we left and took a different route back. Not quite sure how or where that went, but we made it to the motorway and back to the school. 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-02

Blacknecked swan

Beaver rat

Fennec fox

Gold fish

Star fish

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Good thing

Well, after two whole weeks off (paid no less) and an extra day to recover from all that off-ness, I was back at work yesterday. I was on time, the journeys went well and all was good. But all that work (I finished one book and started another), did require a recovery day apparently. 

Which means that today I have a day off. Basically we are back to 2-3 days a week, the way it looks now. Not the best, but it will have to do, at least until the end of March, when the tourist season starts again. 

These buttons were bought a few years ago and are still waiting to be used
Mind you, today is filled with those tiny things I need to do: buy buttons. I bought a lovely Christmas cardigan while at my sister's, but the buttons are a. too big and b. not red, but a dull grey/black. Which means new buttons. I also want some buttons for a hat/mittens/scarf combo I just knitted. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see how they came out. Show and tell will be done once finished. They will be for Mice for Mama. 

Talking about Mice for Mama, last year's total came to 77,45 euros, which I doubled to 154.90 euros and sent to MIND, a Dutch charity for mental health. I hope they can do some good with that money. 

This year's charity is one that deals with sports for the mentally and physically disabled. Very often those people are (not able to be) accepted by regular sports clubs, making it harder for them to build friendships in their own community. The charity's main aim is to make provisions for those children/adults to actually go to the regular clubs. A ramp might be enough to get people through the door, so to say.

A bottle cosey in the making
In turn this means that I will be making and selling mice this year as well. I have also branched out a bit into other things and occasionally my Mum Janneke will put some items forward to be sold as well. 

This all means a busy day today. It's a good thing they gave me the day off then...

Monday, 6 January 2020

Money

Ever since I moved back to my parents, I have been saving a lot of money. I reckon I am on about 30-35 percent of my income that goes into savings. That is a lot, although some of the money is just put on hold elsewhere, until I might need it. I have a piggy for Miss Oswin's vet bills, a piggy for the dentist and a piggy for Eurovision (fingers crossed for tickets). Plus several other piggies. 

Then my sister told me about something she had read on Facebook. About saving money. Basically, you equate the x-th day of the year with the same number of cents/pennies/whatevers. So, January 1st equals one cent, January 2nd 2 cents etc. February 1st would be up to 32 cents already and so on and so forth until December 31st equals 366 cents. 

According to this method, you could save well over 600 euros/pounds/whatevers in one year! Around 667 my sister said. Hm...

I am up to 21 cents right now! 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-01

During our Christmas holiday, we decided to make some decorated cookies. My sister made the dough (she is good at dough), we baked the cookies and then...

...we had to decorate. We had never done it before in our lives, but the icing was easy enough to make (yes, we made it ourselves) and once we had gotten hold of some tooth picks, it became a bit easier as well.

The first photo shows my sister starting to decorate, the second my decorated cookies and the third my sister's batch. And they tasted yummy! Definitely something to do again...