Wednesday, 24 January 2018

More failed photos...

Attempt number two:
This is equally hilarious: it is at the wedding of Italian friends, in Torino, summer 2010.
To be seen are Joe in a shaven-head mode, beside him Komal with expressive hands, and Volker standing behind her holding I think, Noe, his second child. I am seated back to the camera in the front left corner (with special wedding hair-effects!).
I am temporarily giving up on the Amsterdam pix (pity, they are very attractive) ... guess I need another lesson in the Amsterdam Apple shop.


Ah, Amsterdam

I feel very privileged to live here, especially to have ended up in this old (monument) house, built in around 1688 for French Huguenots (Protestants) who had to get out of France quick ... before they were murdered in their beds, or met some such dire end: because of their religious convictions and practices. Plus ca change ... indeed, how little the world has changed (in some ways) over the past three hundred and thirty years.
Never forgetting my history (my mother's family, the Deacocks, originally French De Cocq, were among the Huguenots who fled persecution and took refuge in England, and one of whom, I believe, is buried in the Huguenot crypt in Canterbury Cathedral ... have to check that out...) so what serendipity when I found out that the house in Amsterdam which I was living in, was built for some of my ancestors!! Wealthy silk weavers, it seems.
It's in the old heart of the city and makes a good starting point for delightful city rambles. Although I have now lived more than 48 years in Amsterdam, there are still many short twisting alleyways that I have not explored.
Here are a few photos I took a couple of days ago, when out walking near the famous Dam Square.
Oh, this is hilarious ... as you may have gathered, I am not a whizz at computer games! Up pops this pic of David and me taken in Italy (Cinque Terra) about ten years ago, and I find it so amusing I'll leave it. Now to try once more to fly over the Amsterdam pix...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Holding the dream

Amsterdam continues to surprise ... at the moment the city is housing several excellent museum exhibitions, as well as presenting top-rate films (some of which I saw recently in Torino (at the Turin Film Festival)).
First the exhibitions: today I went to see the Nieuwe Kerk's exhibition about three men who had a dream about the society in which they grew up.
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela.
Inside the lofty late-medieval church with its soaring ceiling and intricate carved statues and pillars, the show was staged, giving a totally un-cramped vision of these three men who each burned with the passion to bring justice into their area of the the world (I'm just wondering about that sentence ...)
I found it very moving and often distressing to watch the films, showing police brutality and blatant racism, and to witness so much human suffering.
As always when I see a film or videos like this, I ping-pong between anger at the cruelty shown, and a half-despairing sense of my own inadequacy to deal with the sheer wickedness in the world.  But what triumphs is a longing for justice.
So I leave the church with its resonances from the past four hundred years (racism, Occupation, killings) and I walk home through the cold wet streets still thronged with tourists (I hear their many different languages) to my safe home (built by the worthy wealthy of Amsterdam for Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in 17th-century France) and I go next door to feed my neighbour's cat, because his owner is away and the cat would be lonely. I talk to him (he's a very intelligent animal and knows me) and I ask him how his world is today, and he purrs.
The beautiful, throbbing joyful purr that only a cat knows how to make.
Here he is:
He rarely puts out his claws, and never to me.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sun in January

Taken from my kitchen window. A faultlessly blue sky and a few pigeons puffed out against the winter chill.
Maybe this year it will freeze and there will be another Elf Steden Tocht, the great ice skating race of Frisian winters. Global warming?

Into the second week

Trying to blow away all the mustiness; a fresh wind...
The old patterns stay, often a help (sometimes a drag!).
It is bitter cold, icy winds blast round the corners of the streets and hit you unexpectedly.
But very invigorating, and we just have to remember to dress warmly (happy we have the boots and bonnets needed!)
David and I are into film-watching: borrowed a video from a friend and enjoyed Amarcord one evening. Hilarious, beautiful, (Fellini).
Last night we went to see The Seventh Seal (Bergman, from 1957...). Great classic; about what life (and Death) is all about.
Like a good novel, timeless and still fresh.
I continue The Great Clean; going through boxes of stuff I brought from England, or acquired down the almost 50 years I've lived here. Throwing away piles of words no longer needed.
The house grows spacier... life grows roomier.
This is my new year's greeting taken in the summer in Berlin. Onward towards a united Europe, and hopefully a globeyer world!!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Quiet in a tumultuous world...

New Years in Amsterdam is a blast of bangs and screeches as thousands of fireworks are let off. This goes for much of the Netherlands. Scaring away the evil spirits?
This years it was slightly less noisy than of yore!
So we sleep quietly and give thanks that we have a dry warm house, and sufficient food and above all, many friends.
David and I have just said good-bye to our house-guests and the street is still and outside the soft rain falls.
Time to go on...
Lots of plans for the coming year.
And prayers for good passages.
More tomorrows.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

City light for Christmas

Back from subdued family festivities...
Quite a pleasure to live in the Netherlands, where on feast days the trains continue to run, as well as the trams, and people DO wish you A Merry Christmas...
Here in Amsterdam the city is dressed is pretty lights (I think they copied this from Torino's Luce dei Artisti...)
Above is the Utrechtse straat, quite close to where I live, festooned with light.
The wind, I should add, is bitter cold!
Below, the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, courtesy of my friend Maria.
Goethe would have liked this... (Mehr Licht).