Thursday, 6 December 2018

Writing thoughts...

"Although a writer does not always know what he has written, he cannot write what he does not know."
Just read these words by Ian Watt when speaking of the English novelist Richardson.
Absolutely. That's why I need to sort through this Blog and give it some shape. Or maybe not...

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

winter light in Amsterdam

Very busy these days. (It's Sint Nikolaas evening tonight ...)
The city is also preparing for Christmas. Fairy lights adorn the bare branches of the trees lining some canals :

These two pix of the fairy lights are not quite the same!
This is the canal at the end of my street.
I am continually aware of how lucky I am to live in this location. It is always alive, and happily I love talking to the tourists (wonderful excuse to practise my languages!).
Yesterday in the midst of many rainy days, we had a stretch of sunshine; so not only did I sit on a bench outside a small cafe and drink a cappuchino, I also walked along the Stadhouderskade near the Rijksmuseum, and took some photos.







Five minutes' walk from my house.



Almost rus in urbe... what the Romans longed for: the countryside plus the city, all combined.
But I do notice the air pollution.




















Happily, there are still cheerful water fowl; my friend Jenny thinks these are coots (as opposed to moorhens, which have red on their beaks):






Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cold comes to Norway

But we are prepared. First some very rainy days in Bergen, but the wet no problem, lots to see.
Excellent Ship Museum and good art galleries. We walked along the damp grey streets and found some excellent places to eat at not too astronomical prices.
Here a lovely pic by the painter who taught Munch; a wet scene in Norway:
 I feel the northern wind and quiet rain...
Returning home we took the ferry from Bergen to Stavanger and enjoyed a day's watery journey and had some fine fjord views.

Dramatic effect of light over water. Below, lighter and greener ...

So we wended our way home to Stavanger, heads filled with "cool" pictures, and happy memories of succulent codfish meals, as shown below:






To the right is the menu, in genuine Norsk, and I enjoyed not only the "plukkfisk" which is shredded salted cod mixed with mashed potato, but also the "persetorsk" which is shown above. This is cod marinated in salt and sugar and then pressed (whence the perse bit in the name of the dish, I assume) and then I believe, either baked or steamed.
Delicious. The two of us ate for the equivalent of about €40, which included a small glass each of splendid home-brewed dark beer.

Back in Stavanger we watched the huge misty evening creeping in from the lakes and softly covering all the low houses and dripping from the bare branches of the still trees. Next day the sun was swallowed at around 3 p.m. into a white sky. No more sunsets. 
Then quiet night and no dogs bark.






Saturday, 10 November 2018

And this is autumn in Norway

Went for a wonderful warm quiet walk around one of the many lakes here in Stavanger.
The scenery utterly photogenic!!
And as the walk was about nine kilometers we are feeling pretty fit.
For the rest of David's stay here, the forecast is rain, rain and more rain...



To our delight we found a solitary cormorant, perched on a boulder in the lake.

As we walked round the lake the light changed continually, until at last there was the most glorious sunset.



















Then we reached home and beheld the full glory, evening light across the water.










Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Halloween 2018

More children on the streets in Amsterdam (and England too, I hear) than ever before, and mumbling "trick or treat" without knowing what this means (I asked them, but of course many of the little ones don't speak English!)
But they made a goodly show in their costumes as witches, vampires, skeletons and ghosts ... and I fed them tangerines and pepernoten (which are small crunchy cookies tasting of ginger) and it was nice to see so many young people in our somewhat ageing neighbourhood of Amsterdam.
Here's me and a splendid pumpkin carved out by one of the neighbours:
And here is a close-up of the pumpkin (much admired: thank you Chris, neighbour from the US who has lived across the road for several years)








Just behind the pumpkin you can see the edge of the step leading up to my front door.

So nice to join in the pagan traditions, even when they have returned to Europe via the New World ... curious...

A few days later we packed and set off for a few weeks in Norway, visiting Judy and Christiaan and the grandchildren.

And here we are in Stavanger, in a wide clear world, full of wind and water.










Friday, 19 October 2018

The gold is paling...

Autumn sun still cheers us every day, but the mornings and evenings ask for warm jackets, and the daylight grows shorter with each passing day. Coming weekend the clocks got back, and then an end to sunlit late afternoons, sipping tea or drinking beer on a street terrace or a friend's balcony.
We continue to walk the leaf-strewn streets and watch the light glinting on the canals.
David and I fill our days with many inquiries connected with the unsureness surrounding Brexit, the unsureness in connection with what's going to happen with the monumental building beside David's house, (the new owners maintain silence regarding their plans...)  and the definite intention of keeping the body fit despite the onset of creaking age!
We go for walks through this beautiful city, always discovering yet another hitherto unknown steegje (narrow street or alleyway) and rejoicing in the infinite variety of urban architecture that is to be seen here.
Watching the light glance upon the water, and soaking in the abundance of colour (see photo above!), forms a compensation, a kind of balance to the pictures of brutality and sheer ugliness that the media present us with. What to do with these images? I am glad not to have a television or take a daily newspaper. Always plenty of "news" to find via the internet. I often remember what the writer Saul Bellow said, many years ago: We are troubled by too much knowing. This was in the early days of internet, before Facebook, Twitter, whatsApp and so forth.

How about the Metaphysical poets?
Only a sweet and virtuous soul
Like seasoned timber, never gives.
And though the whole world turn to coal
Then chiefly lives...

Words to ponder on as autumn departs.




Friday, 5 October 2018

Summer returns

Or perhaps, glorious golden autumn is here once more...
Now we are enjoying days of delicious sunshine, 22 degrees Celsius, people in short sleeves, and here in Amsterdam, boats filled with happy relaxed folk ply the sun-flecked waters of the canals.
I am busy with houses and family and friends and much to-ing and fro-ing; so little time to write. 

Below, two sunset pix (actually, one is a sunrise)
The sun seem rising over the river Vilaine, in south Brittany, photo by David.
The sun setting by the Maritime Museum Amsterdam, photo by Machteld.
 Misty sunrise:
 Below: sunset