A garden for living in

For the Mach’ Was challenge to do something with gardens, here I’m doing something with mine. We’ve been living in our current house for almost 15 years now, which has both a front and a back garden. Not huge but big enough and green and a bit of an oasis for us. These two gardens have given us so much joy and so many memories over the years…

The summer after we moved in, the back garden became a building ground. We wanted grass and so took out a lot of the stone tiles…

The garden was used as a playground by our children (and our cats) when they were small…

It’s been a bit of a sculpture gallery as well…

Our gardens, front and back, are a place to chill…

… and eat and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and national holidays…

They are places to be worked on, like trimming the overgrowth or making the front garden look nice again…

… and for our cats to enjoy (I’m including my old black and white cat who died years ago as well)…

… we use it for little family photo sessions with the kids, or with some of my siblings, or for recording video messages for someone’s birthday…

… we sometimes do our actual jobs in our gardens, especially during Covid lockdowns (and our neighbour’s cat sometimes comes to visit as well)…

… we gaze at objects flying over our garden, like a police helicopter a few weeks ago, or, preferably, hot air balloons flying over on some evenings in the spring and summer months…

We enjoy the spring and summer blossoms…

… and the winter…

… and magical lights at night…

Yes, we really enjoy our gardens and the lives we get to lead in them. Mr. Esther and I are talking of moving in a few years time to another town and a nice large flat with a balcony when the kids definitely leave the house. I wonder if we really will do that, though – move to a place without a garden. I think we may miss our own outside green space too much.

Somewhere new

After watching junior win his handball match (24-20) this morning and doing a few chores, Mr Esther and I went for a bike ride this afternoon. We biked somewhere I had never biked to before. Well, the beginning part of the route was familiar but then we went left somewhere where I normally turn right and after a while came to this very pretty botanical garden that Mr E had seen before but I hadn’t…

We had a cup of tea, my first chai tea latte in a very long time…

… and then biked back again…

A little grey but quite warm, good weather for a bike ride! I wonder how many more weekends like this we will have before it really gets chilly.

My view…

Finally sitting in our back garden again and this is my view…

My favourite garden statue and my old 16 year old cat are enjoying the sun with me. Shade is hitting us now and it’s starting to get a little chilly, so I’ll be going in soon but oh, how I love that it’s finally warm out!

Counting my blessings

Recently I’ve not been in the best of places and to counteract that I’ve decided that today is for counting my blessings of this past week.

First off, it’s been a short working week as we had a holiday yesterday (Ascension Day) and at my work place the day after that (today) is also free. So, yay, very long weekend for me! It feels like a Saturday for me today but it’s only Friday and what a pleasant thing it is to have this extra free time.

The best news this past week has been that Mr Esther got his first Covid vaccination! He has asthma and is in a higher (though not highest) risk group, so was able to get it yesterday (in a town 20 minutes from here). Mini me and I waited in the car (Junior had decided on a lazy day at home) and afterwards we drove on and just made a nice day of it. It’s so nice that terraces outside restaurants are open again during the day.

Last Tuesday was my final Stephen Macht masterclass on dramatic movie analysis. I couldn’t make the final class but was sent a recording which I will watch this weekend. Those classes have been giving me joy these past 5 weeks and have set me thinking, which I love. In fact, I have requested and have been sent recordings of all 5 of the classes so I can re-watch it all if I feel the need to.

These past few weeks, on Wednesday afternoons, I’ve been doing some volunteer work for the Council of Refugees. Socially distanced with screens and masks and very few people present and by appointment only but I am really enjoying it. It also puts into perspective yet again how very privileged I am that I have not had to flee my country, leave family and other loved ones behind and start life over in a totally different country with a weird language and a huge amount of confusing bureaucracy. On Wednesday I was trying to comfort a woman my age from Eritrea, who doesn’t speak any Dutch or English or German, with a cup of tea. It’s so tough to be a refugee and I am just happy that I can try to make a little bit of a difference.

Another blessing is that I came across these pictures taken of my small family during our holiday to Israel eight years ago last February. All four of us in a picture is quite rare and these were taken by two close friends of ours who came with us on that trip. I really should frame some of these. (Pictures were taken at the Jordan river, Old City of Jerusalem, Ein Kerem overlooking the valley, at the Dead Sea and in the desert near Eilat).

Back to the present day and it’s still on the chilly side here in The Netherlands. It is getting a bit warmer, though, and in the sun it is possible to sit in our garden for a bit again and look adoringly at my two favourite garden statues.

While enjoying the sun in our back garden I decided to listen to some David Bowie again (despite me repeatedly mentioning him on blog I don’t listen to him that often). As my David Bowie song of the day I would pick this one, a duet with Queen…

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking –
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love one more chance
?
Why can’t we give love?
Cause love’s such an old fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance, this is our last dance.
This is ourselves, under pressure

Funniest movie moment of this week was from the animated movie Zootopia. I had never seen it before but mini me watched it and we watched along. The scene with the sloth just made me laugh so much, it was a much needed relief.

I recall seeing this gif often online, now I know where it’s from and I love it…

This evening we had a cosy dinner with just Junior, eating cheese fondue. Yumm!

Despite continued lockdown and getting sad seeing images from India and the Covid tragedy happening there and worrying about Israel & Palestine and worrying about work and not really feeling like myself of late, there are still blessings to be found and that is a good thing.

Finally off and away

On Wednesday Mr Esther put down artificial grass in our elevated and renewed front garden. Getting a lawnmower in there would be a chore, so fake grass it is…

The end result is quite pretty!

Yesterday mini-me and I took my mother and aunt to a small art museum (Singer Laren Museum, to the south east of Amsterdam) and saw some lovely pieces of art…

… and work by a sculptor called Pépé Grégoire was displayed in the garden…

And this afternoon we finally packed up and left for the southern tip of The Netherlands right outside Maastricht. It’s our first summer holiday without my son (he has to work for his internship) which makes me feel a little heavy hearted. It was bound to happen sometime, I know. It’s also the first time in years we don’t have to ask our neighbour to look after our cats, now my son can do it.

Of course we’ll be texting with Mr Esther jr to stay in touch but it still feels a little off to me that he’s not with us. He, on the other hand, is already relishing having the house all to himself. Little baby boys really do grow up, I guess.

Anyway, at just after 5 pm we arrived at the holiday park where we’ve rented a cottage, we unpacked our stuff and went and got some groceries. We then headed into Maastricht for a dinner outside, keeping safely distant from others…

We didn’t stay very long and are now sitting outside our cottage. It’s pretty nice, the cottage has a fireplace that you can see from within as well as from outside. We had it on for a little while…

… but it’s quite warm and today was the hottest day of the year so far, so we switched it off again.

We have decided it may not be a good idea to head into the city tomorrow, on a Saturday, as Saturdays tend to be the busiest days, so we’ll probably head somewhere into nature for a little hike. It feels good to be away for a bit. Time for bed now, good night!