Happy 5781!

This evening the two day festival of Rosh Hashanah starts, which sees in the Jewish year of 5781. The song I’m sharing here is called “BaShana Haba’a” (“Next Year”) and is a popular, secular, new year’s song, a joyful song filled with hope for the upcoming year.

Every time I hear it (which is not often) my heart swells up with cherished memories of my childhood with my parents and siblings in and around Jerusalem. This family photo was taken in a field right behind our house in the village we lived in just outside Jerusalem, a few months before we moved to Germany when I was 10…

My father’s life’s work as a Dutch Protestant theologian was devoted to dialogue between the three large monotheistic religions. He taught us to be anti-missionary and pro understanding of the other in their faith, specializing in Jewish-Christian dialogue. Our own family technically was a multi-Christian-faith family (not that we ever paid attention to that ourselves). My parents were Dutch Protestant, my older siblings were also baptized Dutch Protestant, my younger brother and sister were born as Arab Christians in Nazareth and, like me (born in Jerusalem), were baptized in the Anglican church. My Ethiopian brother and sister entered the family as Catholics.

Because of my father’s work, we had Jewish friends and were often invited to celebrate Jewish holidays with them. I loved Jewish holiday celebrations at the homes of those friends and sometimes even hosted in our own home, with Hebrew prayers and good food and a lot of singing. Almost all of us became non-religious as we grew up but I always think that if I ever were to choose a religion for myself to follow, it would be (liberal) Judaism. There is something about Judaism and hearing Hebrew and the Hebrew songs (even though I barely speak Hebrew myself) that make me feel completely at home.

I have two siblings who did convert to Judaism (my older sister on the left next to my mother in the picture above and my older brother with the black and white dog) and so, because of them, I am always quite aware of when the Jewish holidays come around. So, to them and to anyone who is Jewish and reading this I want to say: Shanah Tovah! I hope the coming year will be better than the last….

Happy 2020 from Frankfurt!

Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, Mr Esther, my mini-not-me daughter and I spent strolling through the center of Frankfurt. Mini-not-me is tired of Mr Esther’s and my preference for older looking towns, she wants to see modern skylines and buildings and such, so we stuck to the newer part of town. We all especially liked the Zeil shopping mall.

One store called Saturn stocked an amazing collection of cd’s and dvd’s, the likes you rarely see in The Netherlands anymore, where streaming online and digital copies are I think overtaking the cd and dvd collections. Mini-not-me found a collector’s item BTS cd + booklet she really wanted and I was amazed at how many classics were to be found on dvd. I took a trip down memory lane from when I lived in Germany in my teens, when we used to watch these shows on TV as a family (and bought myself an old Rock Hudson & Sidney Poitier movie I’ve never seen before)…

We strolled some more, then mini-not-me and I returned to the hotel for a rest as mini-not-me has been battling a flu, while Mr Esther went to the historical museum.

Our experience last year in Hamburg had taught us that it would be good if we reserved a restaurant for New Year’s Eve dinner. A few weeks ago we had called a few restaurants and finally found a spot at an Italian one that we thought would be nice. On the phone at the time they told us they only served a special standard New Year’s Eve menu and we said fine and didn’t think anything of it. When we arrived at the restaurant at 7 pm we felt slightly under dressed as it all looked fancy. We were welcomed with champagne…

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…  they only served wine per bottle (not per glass) and the courses started coming. There were six (!) courses in all! Halfway through the evening we figured out the actual standard menu price per person (hadn’t thought to ask beforehand) and as the fancy courses started coming we figured it would probably cost a pretty penny. We were right, it did cost a pretty penny, probably close to what our hotel stay was costing us. Oops! Honestly, though, we just laughed it off. Our own fault for not asking more details in advance and the dinner and all the courses (mostly marine-themed) were absolutely delicious! We figured, what the heck, we’d just enjoy it and that we did. It was long, though, we sat there for close to 4 hours!

We then walked down to the river and crossed one of the bridges to the other side of town (just outside the main party area, an area that was too busy for us to want to brave). A lot of fireworks were already going off but we found a nice spot at the end of the bridge, near police and security, where we felt safe enough to stand and enjoy the fireworks that were already lighing up some of the Frankfurt skyline.

Then at midnight all hell broke loose with people setting off their fireworks. Seriously, I think I have rarely stood in the middle of such a mighty fireworks explosion before.

I made some gifs from the small video I made, you’ll just have to imagine the deafening noise along with it!

It was a little scary but also exhilirating and beautiful at the same time, despite the air polution and the garbage. The atmosphere was festive and not grim, which was also cool. Things calmed down relatively quickly, I found, and we were back in our hotel rooms by one am.

This morning we slept in a bit, took it easy at the hotel after breakfast and then in the afternoon, in glorious albeit cold weather, we walked down to the beautifully reconstructed Alte Römer area. We first went to the river hoping to secure tickets for a Main river cruise at the end of the afternoon (the website had said the cruise was also available on Sundays and Feastdays), only to find that there were no cruises on New Year’s Day. And yes, the trash in the picture was trash from the night before. Wow.

We then visited the cathedral where Mr Esther had hoped to go on a guided tour only to find that the tour had been cancelled for the day. Oh well, we enjoyed looking around anyway and Mr Esther was able to photograph some coats of arms as well (his hobby is heraldry).

We walked through the Alte Römer area…

… but couldn’t find many cafés open for tea and cake. We finally did find the café at the Hauptwache open (closer to the modern part of town) to round off our afternoon. We had another little hotel rest after (mini-not-me is still not feeling great), then dinner at an Italian fastfood kind of place (cheap, compensating nicely for the evening before) and then went on another evening stroll around town.

Tomorrow we head back home again. Our son, who’s been at home working and celebrating New Year’s with friends, has also come down with the flu, poor thing! He’s never ill and I hate that we’re not near him while he’s feeling bad. He did go in to work today but left a bit early and is now crashed at home. Luckily he is free tomorrow and can hopefully recuperate a bit. And apparently I mind him being on his own more than he does. 🙂

Before we leave tomorrow (or really, later today – I see it’s 1 after am now!) we want to go up one of the towers for an overview over the city (also closed today). Despite stuff being closed it’s been a great few days and it was nice having mini-not-me to ourselves for a bit. She really liked Frankfurt, by the way, and says this will be a trip she will always remember fondly. That makes my heart very happy in this new year. We’ve started 2020 well (despite illnesses) and I hope you have too!

Guten Rutsch!

The German title of this post literally means “good slide!”, which is what Germans wish you at this time of year: have a good slide into the new year! We (Mr Esther, our mini-not-me daughter and I) drove to Frankfurt am Main today to spend a few days here. Our son is at home, taking care of the cats. He’s doing an internship at a hotel and has to work; he’ll also be going out with friends to welcome the new year and is thrilled to be spending a few days all alone at home.

After a little detour past the towns where I had lived not far from here in the mid 1980s we arrived at our hotel at the end of the afternoon, right in the center of Frankfurt. We’re close to the main shopping area.

We walked around a bit, stopped for dinner…

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… and then strolled back to the hotel where we played a few games. Now it’s time for unwinding a bit before we go to sleep.

We’ll be out and about tomorrow, so I don’t expect to be online much. That means that now is the time to wish you all a good beginning to the new year and the new decade. Have a “guten Rutsch” and cheers from me to you!

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May 2020 be a good year and the beginning of a decade where we do better for our fellow human beings and our planet!

A Richard Armitage happy new year!

For me 2017 is starting out quite well! We’ve just been away for a week with the family to our little cottage in the north of The Netherlands that belongs to my parents. The week was lovely; we went to a speed skating competition (national Dutch championships), my brother visited us at the cottage for a few days and helped welcome the new year with us, a very good friend of ours came by and spent a night and we had some rest and relaxation as well. The downside for the kids was the lack of good wifi, but they (and we) survived well nonetheless. 🙂

When we got home Thursday evening there was a note from the post office, letting me know I could pick up a package. I was giddy with anticipation, because I knew what it was going to be – I had, after all, won a Christmas bauble in Guylty’s 2016 Christmas raffle! I never win anything, so I was very excited for this. I picked up the package yesterday and it did not only contain the bauble but many other goodies!

When I opened up the package it looked like I was receiving some caramel sweets…

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…. but I knew that little box would contain this…

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Such a gorgeous little thing (the bauble and RA)! We packed away all our Christmas decorations yesterday but this item will not be packed away… I am finding a nice little spot somewhere so I can look at it year round. 🙂 The package did not only contain the bauble, but several other lovely small goodies as well!

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The package also contained a “Summer of Love” Crucible postcard, Thornton’s chocolate with pistachio (I’ve never had pistachio chocolate before, but I love pistachios and pistachio ice cream, so I’m guessing it will taste great!), some small RA stickers and a Love Love Love playbill because I haven’t been able to make it to NYC for Richard’s play. How thrilling is all that!! Last summer I bought this little case/hatbox at a flea market for next to nothing….

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… and have decided that that is the place to keep the few playbills I already have, including my upside down signed The Crucible one…

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The Love Love Love playbill will find its home here as well. 🙂

Just before Christmas I also received another Richard Armitage gift from fellow fan Suzy. We met up at the beginning of 2016 and she came to spend a weekend with me and my family at my home last fall. Her very unexpected but wonderful gift also made me very happy…

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… a Richard Armitage as Daniel Miller puzzle!! Such a lovely surprise! And yes, in the near future I do actually plan to sit down and make it, I love this.

Thank you so very very much Suzy and Guylty for your generosity and kindness and warmth!!!

The new year has also started with Richard Armitage announcing a new project he will be doing, a movie called Miles

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… inspired by this proof-of-concept film:

I do wonder what Richard’s role will be in this. Will he voice the robot or play a scientist? He’s been biking for Berlin Station and has played a youth in Love Love Love but I don’t expect him to be a dirtbiking youth in this one…

In any case, Richard Armitage related news but especially the Richard Armitage gifts I received help make this year 2017 start out well for me. Let’s hope it’s a good omen for the rest of the year! I say this even as I already feel the dark clouds gathering with a deeply depressing US presidential inaugurarion coming up (not to mention other depressing news items about shootings and attacks)… Still, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and that even in dark times we will be able to find some light and hope that goodness is still possible!!

2016 annus horribilis… and 2017…?

Well, even Christmas was not left untainted by 2016 with George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds dying!! RIP to all three of these very talented people!

I came across this video today, which sums up 2016 nicely – as if it were a horror movie!

Let’s hope 2017 gets better…

I’ll probably be AWOL for the next few days, maybe a week even, so I’m already sending you all my best wishes for the new year. May it be a better one than 2016 was!! If it could start off with something like an image of Richard Armitage on a snow-covered mountain, I wouldn’t mind…

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In honesty, though – while the world may be falling apart, for me personally not all of 2016 was bad. I had some lovely times with family and friends and meeting new friends and I still do continue to enjoy blogging. So, thank you to all of you who drop by here for reading and  commenting, you helped me make it through 2016 OK! I wish you all the following…

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