Audrey Hepburn pilgrimage Arnhem

A few days ago, Mr Esther, my mini-me daughter (although not so mini anymore at 15 and only 1 cm shorter than me) and I took a day trip to the city of Arnhem, in the east of The Netherlands, not far from the German border. Mini-me had never been there and was curious to see the city. I was last there with Suzy a few years ago, it’s not such a terribly interesting city to me, but this time I suddenly thought of a new reason to go, one I had never really thought of before.

It’s no secret that I am an Audrey Hepburn fan and Audrey actually lived in Arnhem as a teenager during the Second World War. I’ve been rewatching some Audrey movie highlights recently and it suddenly, and for the first time, occured to me to go in search of where she actually lived during the war, when she looked like this (also pictured: her Dutch mother who was divorced from her English father, source of pictures here).

I once visited her grave in Tolochenaz, Switzerland (near Geneva) back in 2002, 9 years after she died…

Audrey Hepburn's grave

… so why not also visit the places she lived in during her youth? I have several books on Audrey Hepburn, I consulted the biography by Barry Paris for info on where she lived.

AH biography

Sure enough, her movements within The Netherlands were documented in that book and so we did a little Audrey Hepburn pilgrimage on the side while we were in Arnhem.

For the last years of the war, 1942-1945 , Audrey and her mother went to live in Velp, a small town that is right next to Arnhem. They lived with Audrey’s maternal grandfather, Baron van Heemstra, in a villa called Villa Beukenhof on the Rozendaalselaan 32 in Velp.

AH address 3

The Baron’s villa doesn’t exist anymore, there is now a new building on the spot where the old villa stood called “De Nieuwe Beukenhof” (“the new Beukenhof”) which houses apartments for the elderly.

After passing through Velp we drove on to Arnhem. We walked through the centre and not too far off from the station we passed by Jansbinnensingel 8A, which is the second address Audrey lived at in Arnhem. The book isn’t quite clear on when exactly Audrey moved there, but it must have been around 1941, I think. An article in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (a good, serious paper here), which also describes an Audrey pilgrmage in and around Arnhem, says she moved there in 1940.

AH address 2

Jansbinnensingel 8A (here we always state the house number after the street name) is a store now with apartments above it, I’m not sure if it also was a store during the war.

There is a little gold plaque commemorating Audrey Hepburn, which looks to be beside the other arch-shaped door (7c as someone with a marker wrote on the plaque?), so maybe what is now 7c was then 8A? Or was the plaque only placed there because there’s no actual room to do so right next to door 8A?

AH Arnhem Jansbinnensingel3

In any case, the plaque isn’t quite correct as Audrey didn’t live there from December 1939, she lived at another address then (more about that later). When the war ended in May 1945 she did return to this address from Velp for a few months, according to the book, before moving to and around Amsterdam to further her hopes for a career in ballet there.

According to the book, Audrey and her mother moved to a house on Sickeslaan 7 in Arnhem in December 1939.

AH address 1

The house is a terraced house, situated a little outside the centre (we drove by there on our way home) in the Sonsbeek area in Arnhem.

Near the front door there is an “official monument” badge (shimmering at the bottom left of the little window next to the front door); is this because it was once Audrey’s home or because the houses are a special pre-war build in general? The house was apparently just sold this year, see here for a view inside! How cool would that be, to say you live in Audrey Hepburn’s old house? I also notice that the monument badge is there in my picture but not in the picture of the sale website. Looks like the house has only recently been declared a monument and now Mr Esther, who is researching this as I tell him what I’m writing about, tells me the monument was indeed declared for a block of houses and not specifically only for Audrey’s house.

From Sickeszlaan (as it’s spelled correctly) we drove on to another nearby part of Arnhem, a little park square called the Burgemeestersplein (“Mayor’s square”) which houses a bust of Audrey Hepburn that was unveiled there in 1994.

I don’t think it looks that much like her and the plaque underneath is not very legible. It’s easier to read in this picture than it is when you are standing there.

AH statue2

Still, it was nice to see this little tribute to Audrey.

As we drove on home I remembered we had missed finding the newly named Audrey Hepburnplein (Plein = Square; apparently it was named that in 2017) somewhere in the centre of Arnhem. I looked it up on Google Maps and going by the location, I figured we must have walked there. So, we just now checked Mr Esther’s pictures and sure enough, we were there, in front of the big church that was playing a beautiful Glockenspiel mixed with orchestral music (filmed a video as we walked there)

From the church we walked on to what is apparently the Audrey Hepburnplein. I remember noticing the movie theatre there, but it didn’t occur to me to look to the street name sign! The sign is visible in Mr Esther’s pictures, though.

So, I guess we really did have the full Audrey Hepburn in Arnhem experience after all. 🙂

Recently a new book was published about Audrey’s war years in Arnhem called “Dutch Girl”, which I think I’m going to get myself as a gift. Do I really need another book on Audrey Hepburn, I thought, when I first heard about it a month or two ago? It could at the very least answer the timeline and location questions that were raised for me during this little pligrimage. So yes, now I’m thinking, that I do indeed need to get this book after all.

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The good things in life

Let me start with the bad things in life. Specifically Boris Johnson as new prime minister of the UK and a Burqa-ban which has come into effect today in The Netherlands are upsetting me and so, for my own sanity, I keep my news intake to a minimum right now. Instead, I try to focus on the good things in life. For instance: my summer holiday started on Wednesday, the technique of using baking powder to clean my two pairs of  Birkenstock slippers sorta worked (I walk on them all day every day in the summer, I kid you not), today Mr Esther, my daughter and I will go on a day trip to a city near the German border, and tomorrow I am going to meet my ex-coworker’s two week old baby girl! When we exchanged chat messages earlier this week, she said she was very low on bibs for the baby, so I got her these (that 5th item is a shirt and not a bib)…

baby gifts

It’s always good to focus on babies over politics. 🙂

What also makes me happy is the new Picard trailer. I think I have watched it 10 times already. I love Jean-Luc Picard (and Patrick Stewart as well) and I so very much wish for leaders like him in the real world!

I can hardly wait for this in 2020!

Next up: as I love Roman Holiday so very much, I had to watch last weekend’s Hallmark movie Rome in Love, which was about an unknown actress getting ready to film a Roman Holiday remake and she herself falls in love with an American journalist in Rome. Kinda meta, I know. I watched the movie, it was OK, but had nowhere near the charm of Roman Holiday, which I just needed to watch again for the zillionth time. That movie is always the best pick-me-up movie! It got me back to zipping through some Audrey Hepburn movies again and boy was she good and gorgeous! The last movie she did was a small role as an angel in the Steven Spielberg movie Always. I re-watched her scenes in that and was struck by this image of her in the movie at one point…

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The humanity and kindness in her face in that sunset light is just breathtaking.

And there are more goodies to be focused on! On Guylty’s blog the other day she was asking about ‘other gods’ we like besides Richard. In the comments section I mentioned the other (male) gods present in folders on my computer…

I have several side attractions: Colin Firth, Gregory Peck, Hugh Jackman, but I also have some David Bowie, Keanu Reeves, Pierce Brosnan, Simon Baker, James Stewart, Lucas Bryant (yeah, not known), Richard Chamberlain and Viggo Mortensen folders. However those folders are tiny compared to my Richard Armitage folder. Just did a check, I think the largest folder after Richard is Colin Firth with some 400 items. Richard’s folder has 3000 items… 🙂

This triggered me to check out what my more recent actor-crush, Lucas Bryant, has been up to. He’s been pretty quiet of late, not many new roles to speak of, but I did find out that he’s been doing a few M.A.R.V.E.L. Agents of Shield episodes recently. I don’t watch that show but have watched (parts of) the 3 episodes he’s in last night and boy, did he look fine! The camera sure does like him in close-up.

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Last but not least, I watched the newest Suits episode this morning (season 9, episode 3) and in it there was a Louis Litt dream sequence which was so funny! Louis is a judge and a lawyer in that dream and the jury turns out to be made up out of 12 Harveys!

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Gabriel Macht, who plays Harvey on Suits, directed this episode and I wonder if this court scene was the funniest thing he has ever directed and how much fun did he have embodying those 12 Harveys? The eye-scratching middle finger and the one where he holds a cat like that (cats are Louis’s obsession, not Harvey’s!) are the highlights for me. All of Louis’s insecurities, especially with regards to Harvey, are on display here and that just cracks me up. Rick Hoffman as Louis remains a highlight of this show. Oh heck, here’s the whole scene…

I’m so glad there are also so many joys in this world. 🙂

Good bye Doris

Doris Day passed away today at the age of 97.

I first saw her movies in my teens, I loved her spunk and spark and quick wit, she had a great smile and laugh and a beautiful voice. I share a birthday with her – April 3rd – and that always made me feel connected to her in a way. I loved seeing her with Rock Hudson, especially in Pillow Talk.

Doris Day Rock Hudson

In fact, I loved Pillow Talk so much, I have seen it several times (and I can still recommend it, even if it is a little dated). Some 6 or 7 years ago it was showing in a cinema and I organized a movie-night with some colleagues to go and see it on the big screen.

Two nights ago, on Saturday, I was feeling very tired after a busy week. I took some alone time, taking my laptop with me to my bedroom, and on a whim decided to watch Pillow Talk again to cheer me up. I don’t know what made me pick that, I could have picked any of so many other cheer-me-up-movies, but Pillow Talk it was, for the first time since that movie night. It feels like a very odd coincidence to me today.

Doris Day had great chemistry with not only Rock Hudson, I also really  loved her with James Garner, Rod Taylor and David Niven. She was very expressive and I loved that about her too.

I’m not going to go into a whole filmography and obituary of Doris Day, others can do that way better than I can…

But I am going to say thank you, Doris Day, for the smiles and laughs and touching my heart. I’ll leave you with her greatest hit…

Rest in peace, Doris Day. Your memory already is a blessing to me.

Smiles of the week

New jobs are exhausting! The amount of information and complexity of issues and getting to know the people and trying to get a feel for the place with its (unspoken) rules can be somewhat overwhelming at times. But I can also safely say it’s been good, the people have been very nice to me, they have waited to start certain projects until I’d be around and I feel welcome. A new manager started the same day I did, had a talk with her yesterday, and she feels worlds removed from being a micro-manager, which is excellent news. Two or three clients (internal colleagues) who were frustrated because no one got back to them on certain issues (due to someone else leaving and there being no back up) were made happy by me because I was either able to solve something for them or at least able to listen to them, promising to look into the problem. I worked on Wednesday because they wanted me along for a work field trip, so I changed my day off to today without any micro-manager giving me shit about it. Heck, even the view from the 10th floor where I work is good! This is the view from the elevator hallway…

View

Yes, first full week at my new job has been exhausting but good, which makes me smile!

But there were more smiles. Richard had a lovely little Twitter exchange promoting his The Lodge movie…

RA Chills1RA Chills2RA Chills3

… which means that for 3 days now this has been singing around in my head…

I’ve never been a big Grease fan (I know, sacrilege!) but I do like this song, not bad having that in my head and making me smile. 🙂

Another smile this week is the new second-hand car we bought and picked up on Wednesday, late in the afternoon. We had a guzzler for a car that could pull our caravan and, strictly speaking, we didn’t need it anymore, as we don’t have the caravan anymore. So, to make things a little cheaper for us (gas, taxes and insurance) and to be a little more environmentally friendly, we bought a hybrid Toyota Auris. My daughter had been with us when we bought the car 10 days ago but she was in Berlin with school for the week, so it was only our son who was with us when we picked it up.

The car has a ‘panorama roof’ (just glass, you can’t open it, but wonderful for gazing at the sky and daydreaming) which my son fell in love with. Yeah, the rain couldn’t take the smiles away.

Of course, the big smiley news is the news of Baby Sussex being born. Yes, Harry and Meghan have a son named Archie, who was born earlier this week. Pictures of the happy couple with baby were shared, which is worth a smile of its own…

… and Harry was in The Netherlands yesterday for the Invictus Games which are apparently coming to The Hague next year. Het got a little onesie from Prinses Margriet (former queen’s sister, our king’s aunt)…

However, the best part was the jacket he was wearing during a short bike ride, which also said “I am daddy”…

Harry daddy

Yeah, big time smiles for that one as well!

Early this morning my daughter came home from Berlin (they drove through the night)…

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She’s been exahusted, napped through most of the day, and she is out now with Mr Esther, giving the new car a little exercise. 🙂

And finally, Simon Baker. After The Mentalist ended I lost touch a bit with what he’s up to and while he does have Instagram, he doesn’t post that much on it. But he did post this today. My first thought was: “oh my, he’s looking so good”! And that smile, he has one of the best smiles I have ever seen on anyone. Then I looked closer and see that his Mentalist co-star and the person he ends up marrying on the show, Robin Tunney, has reacted to his post…

SB Insta1

… and then a short little exchange follows in the comments…

Now, wouldn’t it be lovely if these two meet up and take cute pictures together? A sort of happily ever after, after The Mentalist? Ah, the memories this brings back!

I’m totally up for a reunion with some pictures for the fans. Here’s living in hope!

Audrey’s 90th!

Today would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday! She was born on May 4th, 1929 and died of cancer, way too young, at the age of 63 on January 20th, 1993. I was introduced to her via Roman Holiday in my teens (which to date still is pretty much my favourite movie) and have loved her ever since. Yes, I have Audrey memorabilia in my house, although that link doesn’t show the big Roman Holiday poster in my bedroom (with an apron hanging on it), or the calendar I once bought on a visit to Rome in 2010 and can’t bear to throw out, or Audrey Hepburn on a tin card in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, positioned between pictures of my children when they were little.

I will forever regret not trying to get a glimpse of her at a UNICEF event she attended in The Netherlands not too far from where I lived, a year or two before she died. She was a lovely actress and a warm humanitarian, who has touched my heart in many ways.

To celebrate Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday, here’s a Roman Holiday fan video to help convince you to see that movie if you haven’t ever done so already…

… and here are some lovely Audrey Hepburn pictures…

… and this link to the Audrey Hepburn Fund, where her sons continue her legacy of helping the less fortunate children in this world.

I have loved her for most of my life and she will live on in my heart forever, I hope. Happy Birthday, dear Audrey!