Sunday, December 22, 2019

3 trains, Harwich to Glasgow

Woke a sleepy Stella up, in fact she was so asleep it took her a while to be excited!!!! X and I were both looking forward ro visiting Harwich, where the Swallows started their trip from, and also where the captain of the Mayflower was born.  We had a n initially un lovely but fast improving walk from the ferry terminal to Harwich proper stopping at a train stn en route for breakfast.

We walked along the Channel side of Harwich, looking out to sea, where they didn't mean to go and we'd just come from.  I'd been a little disappointed when I went out early that morning that I hadn't seen us going into harbour.  On the way home with any luck.  It was a calm day with the tide going out.

However, as we were settling in to explore the town a bit, I got a notice from the Greater Anglia train services that a lot of trains were cancelled that morning.  As wee had a train to glasgow to catch that afternoon, getting trapped in Harwich seemed a poor idea.  We headed to the train stn to check and sadly chickened out, making our way to London (2 trains) sooner.  I sat next to a man who chatted about the 7 parrots and parakeets he has.  (friends with Capt. Flint???)

London for a puppy from the pobla was a pretty overwhelmingly exciting thing!!!!! Tremendous pulling on the leash at first but that gradually waned on the walk from Liverpool st stn to St Euston.  We walked along London Wall st for a lot of it, which was cool, because, well, London Wall!!!!

We went by a Victorian era hero's wall, with many plaques like this one,

We then hung out jn Russel Square for about an hour and a half, remember we were quite early, before heading for the madness that is Euston Station.

While in Russel Square we managed to sit on a bench dedicated to a Catalan who was born at the close of the civil war and emigrated to London in the 70s

Got some supplies for dinner and got on the train.  It was a little squishy. But it was fine.  Stella was an angel on the train, sleeping peacefully for the entire trip.  Her onky problem was that she's longer than the seat is so even with her butt against the wall, her head hung out in the aisle.  The man spent a lot of time picking her head up so it wouldn't be stepped on. 

Thing's improved as we got further north as the train emptied out à bit and the man went and sat across from us.  And then we arrived in Glasgow, met by Eldest.  Another slightly hectic walk through a new town and we got home.  Ahhhhhh

Saturday, December 21, 2019

4 trains and a ferry

Well, we're on the move again!!!! Ho ho ho Merry Christmas!!!!

We're off for xmas with Eldest (Youngest is flying up in a few days) this time, the land of sunshine and warm weather.  Not.  Glasgow is darker colder and wetter than the Netherlands, but we'll all be there together and it'll be great. 

So we set off this morning to take the train to the ferry.  But the train to Amsterdam Centraal was cancelled because of a problem with a bridge. Fortunately, the train the Amsterdam Schipol airport wasn't and so we took that, though a lovely girl told us we could change trains at an earlier station.  Managed that. Stella had her first train rides and escalator rides.  Good she liked the trains better cause the escalators were a little panic inducing. 

Got the train to Rotterdam, upper deck!!!! And mostly empty, though we had a lovely chat with a university student who had just written an exam. 

Rotterdam was fine.  The river, Rijn, was far and away the most impressive part.  It looked pretty North American, kinda like Hamilton, but more stylish, to be honest.  Fine. Stella the country mouse who thought she liked the city is not so sure now.  Wait till tomorrow and London!!!! 

So we went into Hoek van Holland Haven on a littler train.  I was excited to visit as The Hook and Harwich where we're docking tomorrow morning as they're where the Arthur Ransom book 'We Didn't Mean to go to Sea' takes place, and we're on the ferry that their father leapt off of when he saw them in the harbour!!!! Hoek van Holland little resembles the books, it was very very badly damaged by the Germans, so is modern and, at least near the station, honestly a little dreary, though they say the beach is lovely.  We may make it out on the way back as Stella will be needing a walk, but it was nearly dark when we got here. There are however a few older houses, and there are still pilot boats, again rather different from those described in the story.

The ferry is enormous, full of trucks, and we have an inside windowless cabin, we'll be mostly sleeping anyway, with a bathroom and shower.  Very lush.  Best of all, there's a puppy cam as Stella has to go in a kennel for the trip.  She hasn't slept all day, so she should sleep at least some of the trip away. 

UK tomorrow!!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mice vs Voles

Our Stella Petronella is a bit of a hunter.  Particularly for the little mice that live in the grass beside the canals and walks.  She's sadly quite good at it, and is managing to reduce the population a little bit most days.  Ho hum.

The wild thing is that she can hear them scurrying underground, and she pauses and waits then pounces right down through the grass and earth and sometimes comes up with them.  Other times she starts excavating digging her face down into the soil, which is very very soft and sandy throughout the Netherlands as it is essentially a gigantic reclaimed peat bot / delta / man made (sand made) land.

She doesn't eat them though, she doesn't seem to be sure what to do with them, so she carries them for a bit and then puts them down.  It does kind of bother me, in all honesty, but some other bird is likely getting a meal out of it anyway.  The thing is though that we've been alternating between calling them mice and voles, not really sure what the difference is, so I finally looked them up.  They're about the same size, but voles are stockier with shorter tails and small ears.  Frankly they're adorable.  They also mostly live underground and in runways they make in the grass, while mice are more often in our houses!

Not my photo, from wiki

However, they only live for about 6 months maximum!  That's a very short lifespan indeed!!!  It also oddly makes me feel a little less bad about Stella pursuing them.  I worried that she was making them burn through precious energy for hibernation, but no.  They mostly eat plant roots, so these are some healthy voles in ideal habitats.

Still makes me a little sad when she catches them though.  Boy does she love the hunt, on the other hand.

Monday, December 16, 2019


Today we called in the professionals....sometimes it's necessary!  On two fronts, first and rather mundanely we had to take Stella to the vet to get dewormed in preparation for our Glasgow Christmas.  Chuck never made it to the UK, but it seems Stella is going to.  Fingers crossed!

The other professional was an electrician.  We have had the absolute worst luck with batteries.  The boat came with two batteries that were rather old, but functioning.  One day in Denmark, the boat stank like rotten eggs.  Now, the man has many strong suits, but his sense of smell is not one of them.  He isn't sure he believes this though and so tends to underrate his family's complaints about stinks.  (indeed we had a gas leak in the house that took some time to convince him was there!!!)  Anyway, eventually the smell was so strong that I started searching for it.

I'll say this now.  If you smell rotten eggs on a boat, and there aren't any smashed rotten eggs? Check your batteries as fast as you possibly can.  They may be boiling over!!! And they can explode.  So that was fun.  The next day an absolutely gigantic viking of a man came over and sold us two new very lovely batteries!  Wonderful!!!

Later, when we got to where we stopped over the winter, we plugged in, but didn't hear the hum from the battery charger turning on.  We commented on this, but got on with our lives.  Mistake number 2.  If you notice something odd, go and investigate it right away!  It wasn't working, and we ran our batteries right down to 0.  (well layman 0, battery numbers are somewhat less intuitive).

Blessedly the damn things took a charge again, and hung in there.  We took the charger off, took it to the boat repair guy who told us it was both ancient and dead and bought a new one.  (oof)  Installed it and everyone was happy!  The battery charger is only used when we are hooked up to shore power, otherwise the batteries charge off the engine, which works fine when we're cruising.  It's only when we get to shore or a marina that we need to use it, and even then our electrical consumption is so low that we don't draw very much.

Fast forward to this fall, we get back to the boat, Bart the boat yard guy has been plugging the boat in dutifully, but....the batteries are dead.  Ho hum.  Brand new charger is dead again, and we have to get another new battery.  3 batteries, 2 chargers, 1 year.  Not a good average.

As the charger was still under warranty, it got sent off to get fixed, and we waited and waited and waited!  Finally this week it reappeared.  I had gone over to ask about it, planning to ask for the phone number of the shop so I could play the bad cop and start to get a little uppity about the piece.  Don't know if it's related, but it showed up 2 days later!!!  While I was talking to Bart the lovely boat yard guy, I asked if he thought maybe there was something wrong with the electrical installation, as much of the work had been done by the previous owners.  And some of it is a little basic. 

We went round and round that, basically thinking that maybe, yes, so an electrician came by today!  Good news, the installation is basically fine.  A little messy, but no problems.  Bad news, the problem is condensation!  (See the previous post about mildew.)  It is basically raining in the cockpit lockers and enough water is getting on this piece of MARINE electrics that it is messing it up.  Ho hum.

So, we are now madly investigating insulation and ventilation schemes, and the man is building an eave for it.  I think we should hang a neoprene shower curtain off it too, but we'll see.  We'll be off the boat for 10 days, back for a week then off again for 2 months, so things should dry out a bit.  The biggest issue with the condensation is the combination of the heat we add to the boat + the moisture we give off - humans give off about 2 liters a day each plus cooking and the dog...that's a lot of water!!!!

Get out your drills and I'll be phoning some boat insulation sales people tomorrow.  The old charts wrapped in garbage bags we're using in our clothing lockers are probably not ideal throughout the boat. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mildew, nobody's favourite thing

Well, today.  What a day! 

I mean in the grand scheme of things this isn't a big deal at all, but today was....the battle of the mildew; and I wasn't happy.

I woke up far to early, and lay in bed, realizing I could smell mildew.  Now that's the way to start a day!!!!  Nobody loves mildew, but living on a boat, especially a sparsely insulated boat in a cold climate, you learn to hate mildew in such a wide variety of ways!  The walls in the v-berth are theoretically somewhat insulated, in that they glued on a vinyl backed bit of thin foam.  It is effectively impossible to remove without a grinder, and brilliantly has a weave pattern pressed into them, cause wtf not?  Except when mildew starts to grow, it finds every one of those nooks and crannies the perfect place to hang out.  And makes it equally difficult to remove!  Love.

So this morning, before breakfast or a cup of tea, there I was with an old toothbrush, cleaning fluid and some tp, having a go at it.  We really can never completely get rid of it, but by poisoning it regularly with the cleaning fluid, we can keep it in control.

Headlamp on, cause the Netherlands in mid December doesn't exactly see a lot of light.  (Mildew heaven, rain rain more rain, cold and no sunlight!)

Well, that accomplished, off to breakfast, if not feeling happy, at least like I've accomplished something.  Darned my sweater after breakfast as I was on a roll and we'd gotten up early (insomnia + mildew = not sleeping in!)  and I thought I'd read a book for a few minutes while my phone charged before taking Stella Petronella out for her 2 - 3 hr walk.  Gotta have lots of juice to listen to that many podcasts!

Well, I pulled the book out, and you can probably guess this, it was really wet and mildew-y.  NooooO!

Pulled its neighbours out, yet, active ponding water and lots and lots of disgusting growth.  I, in a mix of despair and rage contemplate throwing out all the books, but reason prevails.  Thankfully!  One had to be tossed, and one I'll read and get rid of.  We cleaned it out back there, again that same stupid foam shit, and Stella and I went on our walk while the best husband in the world continued the battle. 

We decided we'd need some kind of plastic grid along the back of the bookcase to keep the books from touching the hull and to promote air circulation, so we arranged to meet up at the tail end of the walk to go the Karwei - imagine Home Depot, but much smaller and with more furniture.  We may have found a solution there!  Wandering the store and thinking laterally, we found this:

It's that cheap plastic stuff that people put on the roof of sheds.  Just might do the trick, and it was really the only option.  Plus we got some pipe insulation to stuff up behind the ornamental trim to insulate the bolts that hold the hull and deck together.  You see, because they're metal and they go through to the outside, they get horrific condensation, hence the ponding, but a good layer of insulation and hopefully that would be solved. 

Back home, a little lunch, a little struggle cutting the plastic roofing stuff, and it's all up again, well minus a couple of things.

Doesn't look tooooooo bad!  We'll get more of that pipe insulation for all around the v-berth, and likely some more of the roofing stuff for behind the other bookshelf, and possibly between the mattresses and the hull in the v-berth as well.  They get more than a little damp too, and if they don't touch the mildewing walls, they'll last longer.

Oh, and the best husband in the world?  We took turns going into Karwei cause we had Stella Bella with us and she can't go in.  When he came out having bought everything, he brought me a chocolate bar.  This man can totally STAY!

Living on my ja-ch-t. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Amsterdam light show

I had to go into Amsterdam today to get a new chimney for the oil lamp.  That's a whole other post.  (I wanted to type 'a whole nother post' there as that is what we say!)

And it is legit!  I looked it up, cause it does actually make sense, what we've done there is taken 'another post' and inserted 'whole' in the middle of the word 'another' for emphasis, giving us, a whole nother post!  They don't give the explanation - I do, I taught English for years - but they it is a legit bit of informal English!  How cool is THAT!

OK, back to Amsterdam and the oil lamp I'm not going to tell you about today!

So, I was planning on going in today and yesterday evening as I was scrolling through Instragram I noticed that there is an outdoor art exhibition on right now in Amsterdam, all installation pieces featuring light and lights.  Well, how cool is that!  So I decided to go in later in the day than I otherwise normally would, though honestly not that late as it is pretty much full dark by 5pm which is a mite dreary.  Not this evening though!  I was psyched!  They have a website with a route map on it, so all I had to do was follow along!

Here, you can see some of it.

Honestly, the last two shown were the best.  Most of the exhibits were very cool in concept but not so much in execution.  Basically, it is hard to be impressive outside, when there is so many other lights, and people are fairly far away.  Hard to make it look big and like you're involved. 

See Amsterdam, and the moon tonight were also pretty cool


It's a neat town.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Leaf blowers AKA instant rage machines

Honestly, the title alone pretty much sums it up.  They are the machine the devil invented.  On. Every. Level.

First of all, using fossil fuels for a task that is so easily completed with a rake!  Really, these hellish inventions are not necessary.

Second, the noise they make.  Really?  They can't put a muffler on them??

I am constantly astonished by the level of rage I achieve in under a minute when one of them is near me.  Why are these not outlawed?  They've dealt with jet skis, they're still offensive but not like they were.  These infernal machines?  I have nothing that does not involve swearing to say about them.

They should be banned.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A typical day?

Well, as I comb through the day to think about what to write, in many ways, today is pretty typical, a good day on the whole. 

Got up and ate breakfast, at a leisurely pace, chatting with the man, reading the news, patting the dog, drinking my tea.  Not like sometimes when I'm out the door at 5am!!  Off to walk the dog around 10, a three hour walk, which is not unusual when we are stationary!  Lovely one today, off up to the Markermeer walking along a canal, on a bicycle path and a park for the majority of the route. 

They're building new land here, the dutch are formidable at this, you can see it in the background.

Stella, my determined and delightful and increasingly good on the lead walking companion was every curious

and we saw an old fort, which we might explore another day, but it was already well past lunch time and we were still a long way out. 

Got home, after the man ran past us and took Stella gleefully with him, had a lovely lunch...(mmmm, those ikea cookies to top it off!)  and a nap! Chatted on the phone with a friend for a couple of hours, that's not so typical, but it was great.  Her Mom, my dear dear friend, just finished sailing across the Southern Ocean, and was reveling in hot showers, toilets with doors and flushes and dry salt free beds, we hoped while we chatted about all manor of things!

Dinner, after being on the phone so long, it was quick but delicious, spaghetti with red sauce with bacon and olives, a boiled egg and salad.  Mmmmm

A little work, a little reading, a little blogging, some more reading and ready for tomorrow!  NO RAIN TODAY!!! YIPEEE!!!!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Read the f·&·%·&ing manual

Apparently if you phone for tech help, less of a thing now, but still, they had an acronym... RTFM.  Read the effing manual. 

Teachers have a similar one.  RTFI.  Gonna guess?  Read the effing instructions!!!!

Honestly, there are two elements at work here.  One is that the hardest thing for a teacher to do is to get the students to think.  I mean really think.  It is easy to bore them, and they sit and gaze out the window.  It's a little harder to get them to pay attention, so they take notes.  It is even harder to get them really engaged.  (I'm not talking about little kids here, they are constantly on, engaged and thinking unless you're REALLY EFFING UP!). So, moving back to what I was saying, it is harder to get them engaged, but the very hardest thing to do is to get them to think.  Really really think about something.  Deeply.

Daniel Kahneman wrote a book, Thinking Fast and Slow, in which he described (at aching horrifying length, he must have had the same editor who worked on Moby Dick, honestly, that book was sooooooo much longer than it needed to be) how there are basically two gears to human thinking, one is semi-automatic and based a lot of 'gut' first impressions, associations, assumptions and preconceived notions.  This is generally pretty effective and saves a ton of time and energy.  Anyone who's spent time with a child who will stare and stare and stare at anything new will realize how much of our day would be taken up by this if we didn't start generalizing knowledge.  Then there's really thinking hard and we are reluctant to do it.  Partially, he argues, cause it is so calorie dense in its requirements. which is an interesting take.  It's also work, plain and simple. 

If I ask you what 4 x 4 is, you can tell me, no problem.  16 x 16, most people will work that out, but sorta groan about it.  3579 x 42?  Almost no one wants to work that out in their head.  That's really thinking hard about something. 

See?  (I would be inclinded, based on experience with lots of different age groups and lots of different students, to argue with this binary description of thought, I think there is rather more nuance to it - see engagement as a different level - but this is not the place for that arguement).

Well, back to students and getting them to really think.  It is HARD to get them to think that thoroughly about something.  It can be done, don't get me wrong, but it is tough and usually requires a fair amount of either brutality (see university physics exams) or creativity - my preferred method.

This ties into getting them to read the instructions, and to learn from their mistakes.  If they don't take a moment to really think about what feedback they've gotten, and what the instructions are, they make mistakes, they screw up, the get lower marks, they burn up a lot of their time uselessly and a lot of the teacher's time too.  All to save a couple of minutes of thinking.

I'll tell you something else from years and years of teaching.  The students who read the feedback automatically, and then maybe even sometimes come up and ask about it?  Always the most successful.

Always.  Cause they're thinking.

Now read the effing instructions!!!! OMFG. (AKA; THINK!!!!)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Holy Sh*t, we leave in 10 days

OK, Christmas has kinda leapt up on us!  We leave to go have xmas at Eldest's place in 10 days!!!! How did that happen?????

Fortunately I've been thinking about this quite a bit already, so I have a fair idea in general of what I'm getting for folks, and Eldest's two room mates are going to be there to expand the festive fun, and substantially lower the average age of the event!  Should be a blast, honestly, and at six, we'll have enough people that Xmas dinner will be maybe more than a chicken.  We'll see.

Sitting here, planning what to buy and where to buy it!  We're taking trains and ferries to get to the party, so we're carrying just a knapsack each as we'll also have a slightly skittish dog with us.  A bunch will be bought there, and gifts must be small or edible!!!! 

I adore Christmas, I have to confess, pretty excited.  Keen to cook too, this year, feeling motivated!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Walking the dog

Stella Petronella and we are thoroughly settled in, I'd say.  Obviously over time it will all evolve, but we're all pretty comfy and we have our routines in place!  (Good thing, cause we're about to start travelling with her a LOT!)

But, there is one thing that we are still really really working hard on, and that's walking on a leash.  She's bigger and heavier than Chuck was, about 5 kilos more and is seriously strong.  When she wants to she pulls like a monster.  Truly, it's like having a rope around a horse. My back does not love this.  It goes out from time to time, and I try hard to do all sorts of exercises and sleep right etc etc etc to avoid it springing out on me, but Her Stella-ness if she's in a real mood, can do it to me.  So, she absolutely must learn to walk well on a leash.

My sister in law came to visit and as I've said before gave us the miracle tools to teach this to Stella, now it is mostly persistence, and she has come a million miles and can walk for quite long periods of time with the leash actually loose, no tension at all.  This is my goal for 100% of the time. 

We're not there yet. 

This morning was pretty horrible.  NOTHING like when we got her and she pulled like an absolute train All. The. Time, but still, she was towing me around.  The biggest difficulty was that it was Saturday morning, everyone was out walking their dogs and she wanted to go into town rather than over to the off leash park in the next town. 

Now, she is seriously fascinated by other dogs and wants to watch them, smell them and go up to every single one of them.  So every time we see a dog, or cat, she starts to pull.  We're working on this, but it's a battle.  I may get her to sit instead, but eventually she needs to learn to not drag us over towards whatever she sees.

By the time we got back from our walk this morning, we were both a little grim around the edges, it had been a trying time.  This afternoon went soooooo much better!!!!!  So much better.  We went into town even and it wasn't tooooo bad!  Not so many dogs out, which definitely helped.  Over Xmas the kids will have to be equally consistent with her, I'll have to show them how, cause she simple has got to learn this, or I can't walk her.

Tomorrow?  We're going to the off leash park.  No questions asked.  She's off leash for 90% of a three hour walk, and we need a little joy after the hassle of today.

It's all learning, but sometimes learning is more fun that others. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

ooops! Sinterklaas

Well, you make your plans!

We had the day all laid out, had an idea of what we were going to do...and it mostly went according to our plan, except the last little bit!  I ran a little late finishing some work for the uni, and we left the boat at around 4.30.  No biggie, stores close around 6ish, and the grocery store later still, around 9.

We get up to the hardware store at 5:15. Closed up tight as a drum with a note on the door.  OK, well.  As we walk through town, a lot more stores are closed.  We start to wonder, is it a holiday or something?  We get to the cheese shop, closed.  Hmmm, what day is it?  Dec 5th?

Jeez, it's the day all the little dutch kids put out their clogs for Santa (sinterklaas) to put presents in!  Ah haa!  How did we forget!!

It's one of the wild things about living in another country, you just don't instinctively know when the holidays are!  Even after all the years we were in Catalunya there were some that came as a surprise every year.

So, happy sinterklass to all the Dutch kids, hope you were good, cause apparently if you weren't he'll put you in a sack and take you back to Spain to teach you to be good.  (echos of slavery????? though honestly, the weather's better there, so you know, it wouldn't be all bad!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

And, continuing with the food theme, cooking!

I've suddenly found myself collecting recipes to cook at Xmas when we're all together!  I saw a mention of Shaker Lemon pie, which sounded amazing, it uses two whole unpeeled lemons as the filling!!!!  Plus a lesson for making almond torrons, very simply....then I mentioned that the to man and he said he'd like beer nuts, well, while looking for that recipe I came across about 6 different seasoned nut recipes!!!

OH my.

Let's hope this holds on, we're staying with eldest for 10 days and we'll have to do something to keep them from getting totally sick of seeing our faces before we go!

I'll post if I make something other than Xmas dinner.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


One of the lovely traditions we've created living on the boat is a cookie with tea (or coffee, or a decaf mocha or even miso soup, as the case may be) in the afternoon!  Hello Peggy!!!!

That of course means that we have to buy cookies, baking them is not a reasonably option on the boat. We've had a bunch of Dutch cookies, particularly the windmill cookies that I remember the dutch kids bringing from school.  They're fine, but I do think they taste slightly undercooked. Plus, they're called 'speculaas' which honestly sounds like a gynocological instrument to me. 

Don't get me wrong, I'll happily eat them, but variety is good too.  Plus there is the packaging, some of the cookies here are so heavily packaged I cannot bring myself to buy them.  Ikea however, famous for their minimal packaging, makes really good cookies.  Honest to goodness, those suckers are delicious.  So today was the day, got on my bike and made the excursion to Ikea for cookies.  10k each way, and well worth the ride.

Got ginger snaps and oatmeal chocolate.  Mmmmmmmmm

Bring on tea time!!!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reading in a muddle.

How many books do you read at once?

Me?  One at a time.  I read quickly, but I read one book, finish it and go onto the next one.  The man, no, he reads a lot of books at once, at least three of them on the go at any given moment.  Also, he doesn't read as quickly as I do (and remembers much more of what he reads.  Ho hum.)

Right now though I'm reading seven (7!!) at the same time.  I'm not really sure why.  I think a slight dissatisfaction with all of them, so I get irritated and then read something else.  One of them was really good to start with, but has faded.  Another is a weird premise and rather grim, but well written, another not very well written, but part of a series I'm somewhat invested in, so I persist.  Another is great, but a little violent for late at night.  Yet another is a series of essays, fascinating, but not meant for steady reading through, more like snacking.  One looked really promising, but is turning out to be too deeply in the (frankly uniteresting) weeds, and on and on and on.

I'm finding it uncomfortable.  I wish I could find one to settle on and see it through.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

to cabbage head or not to cabbage head

Take a moment to have a look at that image.  It's pretty weird.


To me what is weirdest is how calm everyone is!!!!

Well,  I saw this image at a castle near where we're staying, and did a little homework on it.  It's apparently to do with a 16th century Dutch legend about the Baker of Eeklo.  There's a whole write up about it at this site  if you want to really dig into it, but basically if you aren't happy with your head from some reason, you can go to this baker, they'll chop it off for you replacing it with a cabbage as a temporary measure, then they'll kneed it a bit, maybe a glaze and a rebaking and put it back on for you!  According to the story, though I don't think it shows in the painting, sometimes the reworking doesn't go well, and you just have to live with a misshapen head.

Pretty weird.  Honestly.

Oddly, if you click over to the site there is quite an adorable dog looking out at us looking rather amused at the foibles of the humans.  He's sitting next to the basket of heads in the foreground.  Sadly, in this version, he's missing.

See?  There he is from the other page. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Off leash

Well, well, well...

Today was a lovely day indeed!!!

I managed to throw my back out about two and a half weeks ago, much assisted by Stella Petronella.  We had gone for a lovely long walk, and were almost back when the man ran up behind us at the end of his run!  Stella was delighted to see him, and delighted to run on with him, which wasn't the idea.  So I called her back, put her on leash and the man headed off again.

Have you ever seen footage of sport fishermen with a tuna on the line leaping the tearing, and tail walking?  Yeah.  Like that.

For 20 minutes.

I had to sit down after the first few horrific jolts, and we sat there for 20 minutes, waiting for her to call down enough for us to go on.  All the while, my back was tightening up.  Ho hum.  Once she settled enough we could walk on with her off leash, cause she pulled hard at the best of times and like a train at the not so good.  Not something I wanted to deal with.  I messaged the man and he came and met us for the last section of the walk where she'd have to be on leash.

Surprisingly my back wasn't too bad after  I lay down for a bit, and so I took her into town that afternoon and she pulled like an absolute tank. The. Entire. Time.  Got home fine, but after I sat down for a bit I was all seized up.  Ibuprofen and a walking stick for a few days.  Blessedly I got better pretty quick!  Then Stella got spayed, so she wasn't doing any serious walking at all, what with stitches and then not being allowed off leash, running or jumping so she could heal.

As a bonus though, my sister in law came to stay for four days and we had a lovely time visiting Amsterdam and the Netherlands!  The real gift though is that she has a new dog and has been to doggie school and she got us and Stella trained in the course of about a day and a half so that she doesn't pull on the leash!!! (much)  (most of the time)

It has been less than a week, but she will walk, with no tension at all on the leash, for long stretches, and the tension on the leash when it is there is light, though I am aiming for none as the norm.  This alters when there is another dog around, (utterly captivating!!!) but we're getting there.

Friday she got her stitches out, and today, bliss, she and I headed out for a lovely long walk, about 2.5 hours, most of it off leash and she was pretty good while she was on leash too.

Bliss - and many many thanks to my sister in law.

Monday, November 25, 2019

My favourite colour

I thought for years that my favourite colour was yellow!  I think it's lovely, bright, cheery, sunshine-y (if you'll allow me that half word).  Then my kids made me realise that I was wrong.  We were in a gallery, and I rounded the corner into a new room and exclaimed spontaneously, "Oh, isn't that painting lovely!!!!"  One of them turned to me and said, with a slightly weary tone, "Of course you love it mom, it's blue." 


Well that was a shocker.  Really? Do I do that?  Then again, I adored being on the boat in the Bahamas and let me tell you, there, between the sea and the sky, let's hope you like blue!!

So I started looking out for myself doing that, and yep, they're right.  If I complement someone on a shirt or a sweater, it's usually a lovely shade of bright blue.  Strangely, I wear very little blue myself.  Wonder what that's all about.

Anyway, this is all to say that I did it again today, rounded a corner in the Rijksmuseum which I was visiting with my delightful sister-in-law and gasped aloud, "Now that is lovely!"   Allow me to show you.

I apologize for the blurry photo, and more so to the artist whose name I didn't write down, but it was very large, very bright and very very blue!  


ps.  We also saw an exhibit called Velazquez and Rembrandt.  Rembrandt...oh my, I adore every single thing he's ever painting or etched or drawn.  There is a sense of kindness to his work, a reverence for the people and animals and a feeling of caring.  Velazquez still leaves me a little cold.  

Rembrandt's son Titus

Vermeer, famous for his paintings of young women in window sills, actually paints the most astonishing landscapes, we saw one in The Hague, and there was another today.  They are truly amazing.

Sadly slightly cropped by the phone format.

And then there was this.  Now, still life paintings, meh.  But this?

Honest to goodness, it just glows.

All the above much more amazing in real life, but still!!!