Cats in odd places

This tweet came across my timeline…


… and I could completely relate! Yes, our cats also like to lie on our laptops when we’re using them and they like to lie in other odd places too. An overview:

It’s always a struggle with the laptop and with some luck they finally settle down near us and the laptop. For instance, in the two top pictures on the right I was struggling to keep our black cat off my laptop and she finally settled for sleeping on my shoulder. What these pictures don’t show is that this black cat will slowly, in very small increments, slide down until she is indeed lying half on the keyboard and half on me (pretty much as in the bottom right picture).

Mr E struggles with cats and his iPad and ends up using them as iPad stands.

It’s not only technology they like. It’s bags and suitcases too…

Of course there are also boxes, big or small. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a cat that doesn’t like boxes. Quite a few years ago I figured I’d let the kids decorate a box and have it be our red cat’s bed. He slept in it maybe three or four times and then never again. I guess, when the new box smell is gone, it loses its charm…

… but hey, if there is no box to be had, wrapping paper will do as well!

Modified to add that I shouldn’t forget cats and newspapers!

Cats also like lying on baby bouncer seats that are put to the side and car seats and toy strollers…

They like sleeping in bowls and on trays…

… and they like to ‘help’ with the laundry when I try to fold and use the bed as a sorting station or when Junior tries to load the washing machine, it is absolutely paramount that he be aided by a cat…

They like to find a spot in a cupboard or underneath a bed…

… and I once even found our cat sleeping in the car! We were packing for holidays, if I recall correctly, so the car was open and he figured, “why not?”.

It’s always an adventure with cats! It certainly contributes to why I love them so much. 😻

11 things that made me smile

So friggin’ busy of late that ‘real’ blogging is really falling by the wayside. Making time this evening to share a few recent highlights that I meant to share over time but never got around to…

1- The town where I live has been celebrating its 750th anniversary and the old church has opened its rooftop to visitors. We finally went up two weeks ago to take an eagle-eye peek at our town. It was beautiful.

2- Cats. One sleeping on a tray, the other cuddling on top of my daughter’s head.

3- Speaking of my daughter, she has started her applied sciences university and is studying nursing and loving it. She’s bang in the middle of this group picture taken the other day.

4- Honourable mention for my son. Since the fall of 2019 he’s done internships, finished his vocational college online and had a gap year, so he basically hasn’t been in school for three years. He has now started applied sciences university in The Hague, studying sports management. Going back to school again is a bit of an adjustment for him but it looks like he’s off to a very good (albeit exhausting) start. We’re very proud of him for giving this a real and serious shot.

5- Rainbow last week.

6- I thought I’d play the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon thing the other day. I thought I was four degrees removed, then three but now I realize it’s two!

Apparently even Kevin Bacon himself reacted to this one…

7- Nicola Walker is joining Richard Armitage in narrating the audiobook Geneva that he wrote! It can almost tempt me to listen to an audiobook, because I think Nicola Walker is awesome…

…. but just like some other fans already requested, I’d love to see a print version of this book too.

8- While I’m at it, this picture of Richard as Father Quart appeared. Don’t think I’d seen it before but it’s fascinating. I can’t seem to take my eyes off it.

9- So yes, I watched Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at the beginning of the week. Fascinating and impressive pomp and circumstance with so many impressive and some touching images but I think I liked this image (by artist Eleanor Tomlinson) best, made just after the queen died.

10- I was clearing photos off my phone camera and came across this image that I snapped very quickly back in June or so. I was leaving the metro to go to the office and saw Anne of Green Gables infront of me! That’s who she reminded me of in any case.

11- The situation in Ukraine remains depressing and very scary but I did enjoy this bit from a Dutch comedy programme offering a referendum for all Russians (made by the same people who made the ‘America First, The Netherlands Second’ video after Trump was elected president).

Right, off to bed now. Another busy work day awaits tomorrow.

Done and dusted…

… my first full working week since our summer holiday, that is (last week I just worked half a week). It’s been a very busy week (also including my Wednesday afternoon at my volunteer work for refugees) but good. Last year I was dreading going back to work because I really didn’t like my job. This year it was fine getting back. Of course, endless holiday wouldn’t be bad but as jobs go, this was a good one to get back to.

I worked from home today and started early this morning. I pretty much worked non-stop and decided at about 4.30 pm that it was enough. The weekend has started and Mr E and I went for a little bike ride to unwind. It’s been cloudy today but while we were biking the skies cleared, so now it’s time to enjoy our front garden…

Mr E, red wine, cats, admiring Richard on my laptop desktop before I started blogging and soon dinner with the kids once Mr E gets up to cook. Not a bad way to start the weekend. Have a good one, dear readers!

We’re going on an adventure…

Well, sort of. Mr Esther and I are on our summer holiday right now.

As I type this I’m in a little cottage at the bottom of the Vesuvius, near Pompeii, in Italy. Mr Esther and I drove here, we arrived Saturday evening and it took us seven days to get here. This is our first summer holiday for just the two of us in 21 years and I admit that especially at the beginning it felt very weird to me to not have at least one kid with us. But we’ve been keeping in touch, so that is something. Missing the kids doesn’t mean I am not loving our time away, though. Mr E and I do really enjoy each other’s company and that is no different on this holiday.

Day 1 was Sunday, July 17th. We covered the longest distance that day, some 550 km to Würzburg, taking turns driving and eating our first Käsekuchen (German cheescake) of the journey in a little village called Münzenberg just off the highway to the north of Frankfurt.

We arrived in Würzburg at the end of the afternoon, dropped our things at our hotel and then walked into town to do our first exploration. After dinner we sat along the Main river and read while we also chatted and watched the people stroll by.

Incidentally, that was the last evening my e-reader worked! It has since died… Luckily I also have loads of books on my laptop and was able to transfer a few to my phone to read from there. Not that I particularly like reading from my phone but needs must. Anyway, we had booked two nights in Würzburg and good thing too because I was tired after working so hard leading up to my holiday, then of course the Ed Sheeran concert, then Saturday packing and Sunday travelling all day.

Day 2, Monday, was also spent in Würzburg. We slept in for a bit and then walked around town, visited the castle (no pics allowed to be taken inside) and also bought cheap but functional summer hats because we really needed them to protect us in the heat. I was annoyed by some of the tone in explanatory texts pertaining to last century’s German history (or lack thereof) in one of the churches, the cathedral and also the castle, which left a slight bitter aftertaste. Despite that, Würzburg is quite beautiful. Then in the evening we got a few groceries and sat down for a picnic on the other bank of the river Main for our dinner. It was lovely.

Day 3, Tuesday, we were back on the road again for our next leg of the journey which was about 420 km. We were driving past München and I had always wanted to visit the Dachau concentration camp, having studied the Holocaust and read so much about it. I just wanted to get an idea of the place and so we stopped there for a few hours. I did take a few pictures but it doesn’t feel appropriate sharing them in this post, it needs attention all on its own. Such concentration camp visits are always sobering and deeply depressing visits and a reminder of how low humanity can go.

From there we drove on to Austria. We stopped just across the border in Kufstein at the end of the afternoon for a little break and an ice cream…

…. and in the evening finally arrived in Innsbruck. Our hotel was in the center of town, so we walked into town for a late dinner there. Innsbruck is really beautiful, right in the valley between some mountains in the Alps.

Mr E had had a few days off work before our summer holiday started but I hadn’t and it was taking its toll. I wasn’t sleeping well, was finding it hard distancing myself from thoughts of work (even though I know I left everything fine and under control). I think I found it hard to let go because I am still new at that job and just needed to make sure over and over again in my head that all was fine. That and the travelling left me exhausted and so the next morning, Mr E let me sleep in a bit while he did a little sightseeing in Innsbruck on his own for an hour or so.

Day 4, Wednesday, we walked into town in Innsbruck again for lunch and a last look around…

… and then left town to drive through the Alps on the Brenner Pass road. We took the old road, not the highway and it was beautiful. When we left Innbruck we drove by one of the the oldest still functioning companies I have ever seen (Grassmayer Glockengiesser, i.e. maker of bells since 1599) and left the pretty city in the valley for our trip through the mountain pass. Pictures never seem to do the views justice.

Our drive that day was 275 km and we drove to Verona. That is, Mr E drove as I wasn’t feeling too well. We dropped our things at the guesthouse in Verona, freshened up and then walked into town for dinner and our first impression of the town. Especially the old Roman amphitheater is impressive! We saw that there was an opera festival happening and saw all the equipment for an upcoming performance of Aida already stored outside the theater. We walked around after dinner and also passed by the little courtyard to “Juliet’s house” but it was closed. It’s a bit weird that a fictional character has a real house but whatever. 😉

With the whole opera festival going on, Mr E and I decided to see what would be on the next day at the amphitheater. It was to be opera Carmen. Full disclosure – neither Mr E nor I have ever been to a live opera. There were still cheap tickets availabe so we figured that trying out opera in an old Roman amphitheatre would be the perfect thing to do! And so we booked tickets online for the next night as were staying in Verona for two nights anyhow.

Day 5, Thursday, turned out to be a perfect day to not be travelling on. I was really not feeling well by then, so I decided to stay in bed in our guesthouse for the whole day and nap and read. Mr E had to further discover Verona on his own that day and he did. He came back for a little rest himself at the end of the afternoon and by the early evening I felt fit enough to walk into town again. Mr. E pointed out a few more highlights, we had dinner and then headed off to the theater.

Boy, was it special experiencing our first live opera there! We bought little pillows to sit on and sat up on the old Roman stones to watch Carmen by Georges Bizet. It started at 9, after the sun had left the theater, and lasted four hours, including two 20 minute intermissions and one relatively quick scene change where we were asked to not leave our seats. The supporting cast was huge, we think there may have been around 200 people on stage at times, which made the choir portions of the opera sound absolutely stunning. This was an experience I won’t easily forget.

Day 6, Friday, was a travel day – about 300 km to Siena. I was still not feeling great, so Mr E did all the driving again. We stopped in a little town not far from Siena called San Gimignano, which is apparently sometimes referred to as the ‘Manhattan of the middle ages’ because of its still intact 12th -14th century towers. It’s quite small and sadly overrun by tourists but still beautiful.

At the end of the afternoon we arrived in Siena. At the guesthouse we had booked I sat down on the bed for ‘just a minute’ and promptly fell asleep for an hour! That did the trick, though, as I felt refreshed enough to walk into the old town after, which started basically around the corner from our guesthouse. We had dinner on the main square, which is so pretty! Late in the evening, just before we were to go to sleep, a drummer and guys waving flags, followed by a whole group of people, with some men wearing women’s wigs and dresses, passed by our window. It looked like it could have been a gay parade but the banner with coats of arms is usually associated with the horse racing in the streets of Siena on two days in the summer. so we had no idea what it was about. We waved and enjoyed the little show, though.

Day 7, Saturday July 23rd, was yet another travel day but we couldn’t leave Siena before first visiting the Duomo (cathedral). I especially loved the ceilings and those 15th century hymn books.

Near where our car was parked in Siena I saw this statue which totally reminded me of my tattoo! Spot the differences…

We had another long drive in the afternoon, some 450 km to a little cottage we rented at the foot of the Vesuvius right outside Pompeii. Mr E again did all the driving, even though I am starting to feel better. We got there in good time, at around 6 pm and it sure is very pretty here. It’s a little, simple, one-room cottage in the middle of a vineyard and we were welcomed by cats, which to a cat lover such as myself, is paradise. On one side of our cottage we look straight up to the Vesuvius mountain that once spewed its lava and pumice over Pompeii and on the other side we can see the bay of Napels! We have this cottage for a week.

Humid heat and mosquitoes do take a little away from the charm but we have airconditioning too so we will happily survive here. More adventures to follow in later posts…

Paws and plans

I was driving into work yesterday morning and I was about to clear smudges off my windscreen, when I saw what they actually were. I stopped myself and smiled and drove to the parking garage where I tried to capture those smudges with my phone camera. It’s difficult for the camera to actually focus on smudges on glass…

Yep, cat paws! Not from my cats, I don’t think, they don’t climb cars, but I have seen neighbourhood cats on parked cars here regularly and these prints must be from one of them. Soooo cute! On my way home, I alas did need to clean the windshield, so they’re sadly gone now.

We have a long weekend coming up (Pentecost) which means we have Monday off and I have taken Friday off work as well. Some years ago, when Junior was finishing his secondary school, he and I spent some time together in London and he got to pick all the things he wanted to do. It was a nice little early graduation gift for him and at the time I decided that when my daughter graduates, I would do the same with her. In the summer of 2020, at the height of Corona, she graduated from an intermediate level secondary school and there was no chance whatsoever that we could even do a London trip. She went on to do two more years of a higher lever secondary school and she just finished her exams last week. We are still waiting for results but she has been doing really well in school, so I think she will be fine. No matter what, now was the time to do her London trip, I figured.

We booked plane tickets three weeks ago and we’re flying off to London tomorrow evening and returning Monday evening (June 6th). We’ll be staying with my brother again and, as chance has it, it will be his birthday that weekend too! I don’t think I’ve celebrated a birthday with him in person since we were teens. My niece is doing her final exams too and will probably be studying a lot but we will at least get to see her as well.

Like Junior at the time, mini me gets to pick what we do in London. She chose Mamma Mia as the musical she wants to go to, she wants to wander through Harrods and she wants to do a museum. We picked the Victoria and Albert museum, which I first visited during my last trip to London for Uncle Vanya and loved. Of course, there will be scones and Oxford Street (she likes to (window) shop) and she wants to go up Tower Bridge and we’ll be doing more, but we’ll figure it all out as we go along. When I called my brother three weeks ago about the dates he said, “Ah, that means you will be here for the Jubilee weekend!” I hadn’t realized that, so we may go with the flow with that as well.

I work from home tomorrow and then we fly in the evening. We’re both very excited for our tip.