Natural history in Naturalis

We have a great natural history museum here in The Netherlands, called Naturalis, situated in the old university town of Leiden. They opened their new, much bigger, building last year and we’d been meaning to visit for a while. Especially mini-me was eager to go to see the new T-Rex they have there. So, yesterday we went. The building looks like this from the outside…

… and inside it is quite stunning (click on images to enlarge).

The collection too was stunning, all very nicely put together, but what I think I loved most is that in some parts they displayed the work they do alongside the collection itself. In the two following pictures you can see in the background of the room that researchers were actually busy doing their thing (in this case cleaning off dinosaur bones). The floating skeletons in the middle are of whales.

The assorted animals they had were impressive…

And the dinosaur exhibit was very cool. They were even working on assembling a dinosaur right in the exhibition space.

And I also loved the landscape model of The Netherlands as it was 30.000 years ago during the ice age, accompanied by a skeleton of a mammoth put together from hundreds of different mammoth bones finds.

The early humans exhibit was alas closed to visitors as apparently 1.5 meter distance measures could not be guaranteed there, so that means we just need to come back again another time when it is open again!

We walked into town in Leiden afterwards for drinks, which is always a bit nostalgic for me, as I once lived there for 8 years when I was a student.

Social distancing was doable throughout and judging from afar it was good that we didn’t head into the shopping street as that did look terribly busy. I always long to travel abroad on my holidays, get another perspective and see new things, but this day in Leiden really felt like a holiday as well.

Evil genius & rambling on

So, Richard tweeted this the other day (doing a screen shot in case it gets deleted again)…

… and an evil genius image popped up in my head, I thought it was of a cartoon. Googled it and found it…

Apparently Evil Genius is a video game. Naturally based on the villain of villains, Blofeld from the Bond movies, so it seems…

Maybe Richie has been watching too many Bonds and has been playing a few too many video games during lockdown? Yeah… best to focus on good things (instead of supposed evil geniuses), like Guylty’s RA birthday auction that is coming up in August, see here.

Yesterday felt like the true first day of my holiday, as it was a Monday and I didn’t have to work! Went shopping in the city of Utrecht with mini-me. We figured if the city was too busy, we’d just turn back, but it wasn’t too busy. We started with lunch at a café along the canal (totally overpriced for what we got, but the spot was awesome and yes, that’s a paddle boarder on the water)…

There was this little tunnel next to where we ate which looked awesome (but I wouldn’t wanna be caught there after dark)…

Mini-me finally found the ‘mom-jeans’ she wanted (she had tried ordering online but everything she ordered wasn’t right and sent back) and in the evening we even did face masks. Now, I never do face masks, but mini-me loves them, so we bought a few and did them together for a change. I look so happy.

It was lovely bonding time with my daughter. We also had some interesting conversations about boys and men as she told me that apparently she and her friends had been catcalled by 30 something year old men last week and she had told them to shut the eff up, which she would never have dared to do if she’d been on her own. They quickly left them alone but it goes to show that male chauvinism and sexism is nowhere near gone and sadly a new generation of young women has to deal with this as well. Her fave internet joke this week that she shared with me was: “I went to the doctor today to find out if I’m having a baby girl or an abortion.” It’s cruel but I admit to laughing at that one and how sad is that?

In final news, last night I also managed to finish a third Pimpernel fan video set to Nat King Cole singing Smile (last video up on my Scarlet Pimpernel page). Now that is out of my system, time to move on to other things like tidying up the house today. I hate doing that and am procrastinating with this blog post but Mr Esther has now started the tidying, so I feel guilty now and really have to get going… This was a bit of a rambling post, sorry for that.


At just after 3 pm this afternoon I figured all was under control at work and I closed my laptop and started my holiday. Such a luxury that I have four weeks off now! Mr. Esther finished work yesterday and we decided to welcome our holiday this afternoon in style. I couldn’t leave the house in the state I was in (with a shirt thrown on this morning, unwashed hair and pajama bottoms) so it was a nice hot shower first and then off to a town about 15 km from here. My son is away for a week but my daughter is home, so she came with us.

We sat down outside a cafe next to a river and watched boats go by, while we had drinks and a snack…

We walked through town a bit, then drove to a pancake restaurant we knew where we could also eat outside and this evening we took a scenic route home…

It’s a good start to our summer holiday!

I’ve been looking forward to this holiday so much, I’m glad it’s finally here.

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…


… 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!

RA cheers gif

AnnewithanE 2x06 cheers

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

Andalusia, the grand finale

We’re home again and missing the deep blue Spanish skies. It’s cooler here, we’ve had our first rain in 15 days, and we’re thinking back to all the beauties of Andalusia. To round things off, here are some final Andalusia pictures from our holiday (as always, you can click on images to enlarge).

We drove through the mountains down to the coast, to Marbella. We actually drove through that cloud that we could see from afar.

We visited the town of Marbella and after we had lunch there walked down to the beach to take a look.

We then drove on to just outside the actual town of Marbella, to where the villas are located, parked there and made our way to a beach there for some swimming and lazing away in the sun and reading. No celebrities spotted. The water was far colder there than what we remembered from Greece last year, but I guess that’s because we were closer to the Atlantic coast as opposed to the Mediterranean.

We stayed in ‘our’ village of Montejaque the next day, which was also Assumption of the Virgin Mary day in Spain. There was a procession in town with 4 Spanish ladies dressed in their finery leading the procession to church where a service was held after.

That evening, after spending time at the pool, we went into Ronda for dinner (and did that Armitage forensic walk). By the time we went back it was dark and we had a beautiful full moon.

We went to Antequera to visit Dolmens there, prehistoric burial grounds that are some 5000 years old! The entrances of the Dolmens are directed at hills that are shaped as a face profile of someone lying down.

We also visited the town itself where we had a late lunch…

… and on our way home we caught sight of a flamingo colony we had read about, the only one in Europe apparently, where wild flamingos come to breed in summer. We trudged through an empty field to get a closer look but didn’t want to get in too close for fear of disturbing them.

06 Flamingos (3)

We were back in the village in the evening where there was a procession with the Virgin Mary statue, with marching band and all.

We also went to Sevilla again to visit the castle there, called the ‘Real Alcazar’. Very beautiful, also with Moorish influcences, and a center for explorers like Amerigo Vespucci at the time. It was busy but less overrun than the Alhambra and maybe that is why I may have liked Alcazar more than the Alhambra…

… or maybe I liked it more because of the initials on their souvenirs?

I didn’t get any of these Richard Armitage… erm… Real Alcazar souvenirs, though.

It was so hot in Sevilla that day (41°C) that we decided to not hang around there for dinner after all, but return to our apartment and take a quick dip in the pool before closing time. We were also planning on going to Gibraltar for a day, but while researching found it all too expensive (with parking fees, bus shuttle fees, cable cars, entrance fees and meals), so ditched that plan and opted for another cool poolside day instead.

Festivities were still happening in Montejaque (last day), so took a peek again at the final party.

And, almost before we realized it, our last day came! Our flight was going in the evening and we had to vacate our apartment by 10.30 a.m. As we were flying from Malaga, we spent that last day in Malaga. When we got there we found ourselves in the middle of a 10 day festival, the Feria de Malaga! Very festive and we also discovered that Picasso had been born in Malaga, so we walked by his birthplace (the last picture in this collage).

What was fun about the festival is that many ladies and kids were dressed in fine Spanish dresses. It was a great way to end our stay in Spain before we caught our plane back to Amsterdam.

Now that we’re back home we’ve been busy with family visits and laundry and sorting through pictures. Luckily work doesn’t start again till next week, so we have some days left to hold on to that holiday feeling. 🌞