Victories, tennis discoveries, and holidays

Last week’s victories

One: On Sunday I got my second Covid vaccination and it feels like such a relief!

Two: My sister in law (well, not officially, but she is my younger sister’s awesome partner) has an autoimmune disease and it was uncertain whether she could even develop Covid-19 antibodies. She’s had two vaccinations and was tested earlier this week and it turns out the vaccination has indeed worked for her and she does have the antibodies now. Yay!

Three: after broad consideration and lengthy discussions my son has decided on a gap year once he receives his diploma in September and we fully support it. He is proactive about it too, has made an initial plan, and we are proud of his ability to follow his gut and do what’s right for him. It was a really hard sell for my mother and aunt, who had all sorts of opinions on it, and then it also became a whole big thing with my mother on other fronts not to do with my son. This has cost me an inordinate amount of energy last week, on top of being ill with the flu, but after a lot of reassurance and explaining, all is right with the world again and I am feeling better (flu-wise and mother-wise). Most importantly, though, my son’s choices have been accepted, which I hope will counteract any possible negative family gossip.


Tennis discoveries

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been following what I could of Wimbledon these past few weeks and there is some really exciting new young tennis talent coming up! I was especially struck by the 18 year old English player Emma Raducanu, who made an impressive Wimbledon debut but had to pull out.

I also loved the 17 year old American quarter finalist Coco Gauff, who had aleady impressed at age 15 two years ago (so, technically not a new discovery for me) and who is only two days younger than my niece in London…

The 25 year old Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won the women’s singles title this year, has also wormed herself into my heart. I probably should know her as she’s the number 1 female tennis player, but I’ve been out of it with the tennis for a long time and didn’t know her before Wimbledon. Now I do and I hope she’ll win more as well.

With the men, the new ones (to me) were the 25 year old Italian Wimbledon runner up Matteo Berrettini who was impressive…

… as was 20 year old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime (who lost to Berrettini in the quarter final).

And 24 year old Polish player Hubert Hurkacz impressed by beating Roger Federer in the quarter final in three sets, winning the last set 6-0!

I think it’s time to dip back into following tennis more again (a long time ago I used to do so avidly). Now that these awesome young players are coming in, I feel a sense of excitement coming back into the sport for me and it will hopefully not only be the same ones winning all the matches anymore (although, don’t get me wrong, I love Roger Federer and I always root for him). They could all theoretically be my children, especially the younger players (Raducanu, Gauff and Auger Aliassime) who are the age of my own kids. Yikes, I’m really old.


Holidays

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, we have plans to go to France for our summer holidays in a month. We were doing really well here with our Covid numbers and then our government let go of many restrictions, and WHAM! Covid infections are on a steep rise again!

Source

65% of the Dutch population has received one dose of vaccination and about 39% is fully vaccinated but by far not enough people are protected yet. So, the infection numbers are sky-rocketing, especially amongst younger people who have been going out en-masse to discos and nightclubs where most of the infections have been happening. Last Friday during an emergency press conference some restrictions have been put back into place. This sky-rocketing of cases means that our country may become ‘red’ in Europe, which in turn means that travel restrictions for the Dutch may be tightened and this whole France holiday we have planned may have to be canceled. I really hope not, I really hope infections will drastically fall again, and I really hope we can still go on our socially distanced holiday as planned… I love my house, am comfortable in it, but I so need that break abroad. Fingers crossed.

The weekend is here…

… and we even were able to all have dinner together at the same time with no kids’ jobs or handball practice or soccer practice interfering. After dinner we walked to a nearby diner to get an ice cream (it’s been pretty warm here)…

… then walked back home again, with the cats awaiting us. Amitzah was playful and Effoh was watchful, hiding in our front garden to observe a passing dog in detail from his safe spot…

And me? I’m smiling, glad that the working week is over and trying to savour these small family moments for as long as they’ll last.

A festive ex-Queen’s Day

Before 2014, April 30th used to be our national holiday (as opposed to now April 27th) when we used to celebrate our then-Queen’s birthday. I’m not really a monarchist but I do love this national holiday for all it’s fun-filled celebrations.

Queen Beatrix’ birthday is actually on January 31st but as that is too chilly for a celebration, she chose to keep Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) on April 30th, which had been her mother’s birthday. Even though it’s 8 years ago since the last Koninginnedag in 2013 (and since the coronation of her son as King), I still need to remind myself to call the new festival on April 27th King’s Day (our king’s actual birthday) and I still need to remember that April 30th, as it is today, is now just a regular day.

With Corona crisis measures still in place, there hasn’t been much public celebrating for King’s Day and today, on what I still like to call Queen’s Day, there are of course no parties to be found either. That doesn’t mean that this day hasn’t felt a little festive to me (and it’s got nothing to do with our ex-Queen)! Some Corona crisis measures have been slightly loosened here two days ago (the day after King’s Day), which means that there is no curfew anymore from 10 pm – 4.30 am, all shops are open again under strict regulations (mask wearing, hand sanitizing and limited visitor numbers) and from noon till 6 pm restaurants are allowed to open their terraces for outdoor lunching. So, today, despite chilly and wet weather, Mr Esther, mini me and I tried our luck.

We drove to Noordwijk, which is on the coast to the north of The Hague, and tried to find a terrace that is covered so we could eat out for the first time in over six months and stay dry as well. We found an Italian place and filled in the health check form…

… and although it was chilly and we had to keep our thick coats on, it was lovely to be able to eat out again! We warmed ourselves with hot chocolate and omelettes and a sandwich for Mr Esther…

Afterwards I wanted a glimpse of the sea but as we were cold and it was wet, we didn’t do any more than just glimpse.

Despite the cold, it felt like a little feast to be able to do this again on an ex-festive day such as ex-Koninginnedag. On a little side note: this going for lunch outside thing will be even more fun when the weather gets warmer but for today I will take what I can get.

King’s Day in quarantine again

It’s King’s Day here in The Netherlands today where we celebrate the king’s birthday (he’s 54 today). Normally the country errupts into one big orange festival but we’re still in Corona crisis quarantine lockdown, so it’s all low-key yet again. Last year we already spent an even more low-key King’s Day in lockdown at home. Quarantine isn’t as strict and as new as it was last year so this year we opted for a little more mobility.

Junior was picked up by three friends at the end of the morning and they spent the day having their own little party amongst themselves and walking in a nature area where they saw this…

Meanwhile at home mini me had some studying to do for exams tomorrow and I had some homework to do for my Stephen Macht drama masterclass that I hadn’t gotten around to earlier. I first watched a bit of our royal family on TV visiting the city of Eindhoven in the south for a socially distanced birthday celebration where they participated in a socially distanced talk show setting and played a virtual quiz game. It was good that I could fastforward a lot of it (hadn’t watched live from the beginning) as it wasn’t that interesting but I did get a bit of an impression.

I then turned to my homework, watching the drama Tender Mercies from 1983, a movie I hadn’t really heard of before, despite the movie earning an Oscar for best script and for best actor Robert Duvall. Thankfully, it really was a good movie…

Afterwards Mr Esther, mini me and I decided to drive to Den Haag and take a walk around there. Some cities were apparently very busy and people were asked to leave according to the news but Den Haag wasn’t bad at all. The sun was out, we got some fish to eat at a fish stand, the trams even had little Dutch and orange flags and it was at least a little bit festive as we walked around for maybe an hour and a half…

When we got home again, Junior was back and sitting in the sun in our front garden (yes, we have the flag out for the occasion, a thing Mr Esther always likes to do) with the cats around as well…

At 7 pm I had my third Stephen Macht drama masterclass which was again interesting (a longer post will follow at some later time). I do notice in the background that he has what looks like Billy bookshelves from Ikea (we have the same but in a lighter wood colour and in white).

After a late dinner the family reunited in the living room again to watch soccer on TV (Madrid versus Chelsea in the Champions League).

The day ended with some gazing at the beautiful full moon. Couldn’t get a good picture yet as it is still quite low and obscured by trees but I got a little something…

I hope next year we can have a real King’s Day with the country turning into an orange street party again with open air junk sales, music in the streets and cafés and restaurants open again to all the celebrating people. I hoped the same last year and look where that got me. Still, a woman can wish, can’t she?

Strange dreams

Man, I just had a strange night with two very weird dreams.

In the first one I was getting married to Mr Esther, not as we were 22 years ago but as we are now and we were very happy. Everything had been arranged at some minimalist low-key venue / restaurant place but then I found I had forgotten something essential (flowers? dress?) and Mr. Esther and my oldest brother went off in search of it. The next moment it wasn’t me getting married but my younger sister and we were at the speeches part. My father stood up to give his speech and I was really looking forward to that as he always gave well thought through speeches. He walked over to another open area and we all followed with interest (strangely, my sister didn’t have a partner there, so who she was actually marrying was unclear). My father started to address my sister but after two sentences some very corny song started playing (can’t remember which one) and my dad transformed into a walrus! He was wearing a walrus suit and lying on the ground, holding a microphone pretending to sing that song to sister. He had no tusks and looked pretty much like this…

Everyone was laughing as it was so out of character for my dad to do this, he was not a performer and certainly not someone who liked to dress up. “I need to film this for Mr. Esther!” I immediately thought as Mr Esther wasn’t back from his errand yet and I took out my phone to do so. When my father ended his act everyone applauded and I just felt very sad because that really hadn’t felt like my father at all; I really missed the thoughtful speech he could have given. At that moment I woke up, feeling very out of sorts.

It took a while for me to fall asleep again and then I had my second weird dream. Due to Corona restrictions all restaurants here are closed and dining indoors or outdoors at one is prohibited. I was walking in a town and saw that outside a restaurant some tables were occupied by diners. A lady waiter in passing said that it was just the staff taking a break but it looked like there were too many people there to just be staff servicing take away orders. Then Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) from the TV show was suddenly there, looking very much like this…

… and he started asking the same questions, intending to enforce the Corona restrictions. He wanted everyone to disperse but first started grilling the waiter about why so many people were eating outdoors and clearly didn’t believe all the people there were staff. I didn’t want to stick around for that, mostly because I suddenly found myself standing there in just my underwear without a bra! I turned around to leave and just then a tram arrived. I quickly hopped in, feeling very self conscious about my state of undress (even though I did have a lovely, trim body very unlike my own). I walked to the back of the thankfully almost empty tram and there found a bra and a trenchcoat which I quickly put on. At this point I again woke up.

Yeah… I’m still trying to figure out what all that was about… Showing your true self? Missing my father? Missing family parties? Desperately wanting to eat out again? Wishing law enforcement looked like William Murdoch? I think I’m going to be feeling a little weird all day.