5 decades of musical favourites

The latest Mach’ was challenge is to do something with your favourite song or piece of music… That is soooo difficult! Where to start? I have so much music that I love and I have so many, many favourite songs! While thinking this over, I found myself going back to different periods of my life and remembering what songs, artists and albums I liked at different times. As I was born in 1970, it somehow comes naturally to think of music during certain decades: the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, etc. (eek, I’m in my fifth decade now!). So, instead of limiting myself to one song, which I really can not do (sorry, Herba!), I decided to instead recall some absolute favourites in my own personal history.


The 1970s – Childhood 

The first record I remember absolutely adoring was a record of English language nursery rhymes. It was narrated by a man with a deep, melodic voice (is that where my love for deep voices stems from?) and started with a very cheerful “Hello, boys and girls!” This man talked and then constantly broke out into singing nursery rhymes. My poor family had to endure this record endlessly, we only had the one record player in the house… I don’t know who the narrator/singer was but I remember especially liking “Sing a song of sixpence”. A version that comes somewhat close to what I remember is this one I found on YouTube…

Another song I absolutely adored was from my favourite Cinderella movie (with Richard Chamberlain as the prince) called “Protocoligorically correct”…

All the songs in that movie (The Slipper and the Rose) were wonderful, by the way. I blogged about that before here. Take a gander if you like, there’s a very funny one when the prince dances on the graves of his ancestors.

As the 1970s progressed I became obsessed by another song called “Ma Baker” by Boney M., I still quite like it today!

My fave childhood band was ABBA. I lived in Israel as a child where the Hebrew word “abba” means “father” and I always wondered why a band not from Israel would call themselves by a Hebrew name! And why would they want to be called “father”? It was only as I grew older that I realised that ABBA referred to the names of the 4 band members… Anyway, when I got married in 1999, my family performed along to this ABBA song for us at the evening party…

… yelling my husband’s name instead of the word “man”. My mother, in a blonde wig, and a family friend, in a red-haired wig, pretended to be the ABBA ladies; an uncle of my husband’s ‘played keyboard’ on an ironing board and my dad ‘played guitar’ on an old bed warmer. The rest of my family did backing vocals/dancing. It was one of the highlights of my wedding day. 🙂


The 1980s – Teenagerhood

Oh my goodness, the 1980s! That’s when music really started to interest me and I could name about 1000 songs here, still known today, that I loved. We moved to Germany in 1980 (I was 10) and not long after we came, the “Neue Deutsche Welle” hit with German pop songs that also became known internationally. Nena with her “99 Luftaballons” was probably the most famous and I totally loved many of those songs. However, my early 1980s favourites were a bit of a cheesy Italian duo called Al Bano and Romina Power (Romina was the daughter of Hollywood star Tyrone Power, she had moved to Italy to marry an Italian singer). They were very popular in Germany and I especially adored Romina, I wanted to look like her and sound like her… Of course, I could never admit to my friends that I loved them. Wham! and Duran Duran were just getting famous then, and here I was liking this sappy duo…

Around that time, early to mid 1980s, I also came to love an Irish singer called Chris de Burgh. He had a few hits in Germany from his album called “The Getaway”. He’s a little man with odd bushy eyebrows, but he always seemed sweet, he has a good voice and was a great storyteller. We bought the album and I listened to it constantly, then listened to his back log of songs and absolutely loved them. One of my faves was “Patricia the Stripper”. Not a huge hit, I don’t think, but I still love this song…

Later in the 80s he made “The Lady in Red”, which I think became his biggest hit and is one of my least fave songs of his. In fact, after that I soon stopped listening because I really didn’t like the electronic sappy love songs he started making then. He was always somewhat on the sappy side, but I felt that he had sold out to formulaic love songs later and I didn’t like them. I don’t know whether he has become better in later years, I haven’t listened to anything new of his, but I do still love most of what he did up until about 1984.

In the second half of the 1980s, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album hit and, boy, did I adore that album! To this day I can still sing along to all the lyrics of every song on that album and I wouldn’t know which one to choose as my favourite. “You Can Call me Al” (I loved that video!) and “Graceland” are the biggest hits everyone knows, so let me just plug “I Know What I Know” here…

And of course, there was U2 with their 1987 “The Joshua Tree” album that I loved.  I will forever associate “With or Without You” with studying for my 1988 final school exams…

This year U2 is doing a “Joshua Tree” commemorative tour but by the time they are in Amsterdam, we will be away on holiday in England…


The 1990s – College and into adulthood

In 1990 I fell in love with Sinead O’Connor’s song (and video) “Nothing Compares 2 U”…

I loved the album it was from (“I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”) and also bought her first album (“The Lion and The Cobra”) and played those two endlessly. I did lose sight of her after that, though.

For me, the end 1980s and early 1990s were all about David Bowie. Yes, I could’ve also put him on my 80s list, from about 1986/7 onwards, but it was in the early 1990s that he felt like a life-saver for me. I don’t recall exactly how I fell in love with him. I remember loving his “China Girl”  and “Let’s Dance” songs in the early 80s and the love slowly developed from there when I went into his back catalogue a few years later. I loved what I heard there even more than that “Let’s Dance” album. I was devastated when he died in January last year. I wrote a tribute post for him with lots of songs I love in it and the days after that kept on posting more videos in tribute to him on blog here… A song of his that was extremely special to me in the early 1990s was a song from the 1972 album “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars” called “Rock’n’Roll Suicide”. I was going through some tough times, trying to figure out what I wanted out of life, and Bowie screaming “You’re not alone!” really helped me through that (the images in the following video are from Bowie’s 1976 movie The Man Who Fell To Earth)…

A week before he so unexpectedly passed away I saw the absolutely wonderful David Bowie Is exhibition that was temporarily shown in the north of The Netherlands. On display were also the handwritten lyrics to that song. Seeing that, some 25 years after those difficult early 1990s, brought tears to my eyes… I probably shouldn’t have photographed it but I just had to…

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I was also absolutely in love with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” at the time. I can’t tell you how often I would lie down on the floor in my room with my eyes closed and let the music just wash over me, I especially loved the first and third movements…

I kinda lost track of music in the 1990s. I liked many songs, but nothing really stands out for me, except maybe Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album which I played a lot. Here’s the very famous “Ironic”…


The 2000’s – New mama years

If the 1990s were a bit of a blur regarding music, the 2000s were that even more so! I became a mother for the first time in 2001, and then again in 2003, and music just wasn’t much of a priority (I’ve always been more of a movie girl than a music girl). I listened to whatever was on the radio and there were good things and bad things but nothing I couldn’t do without. I’d have periods where I listened to virtually nothing at all!

A song from 2001 that sticks out in my memory is one I don’t particularly love myself but it was one my baby son loved at the time! Every time he heard the chorus of this Kylie Minogue song (“La-la-la La-la-la-la-la”) on the radio he’d go all quiet and listen to it in wonder…

I remember loving Katie Melua’s “Piece By Piece” album. Very calm compared to some of the music I have mentioned so far, maybe it’s what I most needed as a new mum. 😉 I already once blogged about the Spider’s Web song from that album. The most famous song from that album is probably “Nine Million Bicyclesbut I have decided to post this song instead. Video is fascinating to watch…

But mostly I think I’ll remember the 2000s for listening to children’s songs, like songs from a Dutch duo called Cowboy Billie Boem who dressed as a Cowboy and an Indian, singing songs like “Toemba Toemba” with the lyrics: “In the forest, Indians live. They don’t know what arrows are and shoot banana’s. Oh, it’s so nice to be an Indian, dancing in the moonshine every evening”. We even saw them live with the kids two or three times!

The kids also liked a Belgian Trio that sang in Flemish/Dutch called K3 (the 3 singers’ names all began with a K). Here a hit of their’s about diversity being cool (“we’re all much more beautiful if we are all together, hand in hand, eye to eye, all the colours of the rainbow”) …


The 2010s – My forties

The 2010s are here and I’ve entered my forties. Again, nothing was really sticking out for me on the music front, although I do enjoy a whole variety of music. Then in 2012, I discovered Muse while watching the first Twilight movie. I really liked what I heard, then went to a concert of theirs in December 2012 in Amsterdam, and the rest is history. The concert completely fanned the flames of Muse adoration and I have been completely hooked since then! The 2010s for me are all about Muse. I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a music act since, well, David Bowie! I listen to them all the friggin’ time and can’t wait for the next time they’ll come to The Netherlands on tour. And now I have to pick a favourite Muse song? Impossible! I’ve already posted links to Muse songs here, here, at the end of this post here and about their latest single here. I even posted about 2Cellos covering their songs here. In all of these links I don’t see a reference to one of their absolute masterpieces “Knights of Cydonia”.  So, that’s the one I’m linking to here 🙂 …

And “Supermassive Black Hole”, the song that attracted me to them in the first place. It was featured in the first Twilight movie, in this scene…

The movie was alright, the song was something else…


So, that’s it, favourite or memorable songs during different times in my life! I’m sure I have forgotten some wonderful favourite music and in a few days I’ll be thinking “oh, I should have also posted this… or that…” But, I’m going with the first things that popped into my head and that’s what you get here. 🙂

More ice ice baby!

Christmas has come and gone and for me and my little family that means that we head off for some peace and quiet at the little family cottage my parents bought in the north some 12 years ago or so. December is so full of parties and being really busy, that we crave that down time here!

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Some months ago I wrote about the importance of ice in The Netherlands during the winter season. Alas, it isn’t cold enough yet for the water in the canals to freeze here, but what we do have is speed ice skating championships. It’s one of those sports that ‘we’ excel at here, our skaters win gold medals at Olympics and world championships! Every year at the end of December the national Dutch speed ice skating championships are held here, not that far from where our cottage is at. We’ve been to the championships before but that was quite some years ago so this year we decided to go again.

So, yesterday we went to Heerenveen, to the Thialf stadium, and we saw our greatest speed skating heroes live!

First up was the women’s 3000 meters race. The coaches on the sideline for this race were right near where we were sitting and one of those coaches was Gianni Romme who has won gold medals (also in the Olympics) some years back…

Participating in the race was Ireen Wüst, our most succesful winter sports athlete who has won pretty much everything there is to win several times! We saw her do some warming up rounds…

… and she did her race…

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… which she also won! She waved and blew kisses to the audience after her win…

No one could beat her time, so she had earned her umpteenth gold medal! In the distance we could see the medal ceremony and we all dutifully stood up for our Dutch national anthem.

The next race was the 1500 meters for men with our other speed skating superstar Sven Kramer in it. He too did some warming up laps…

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The start for the 1500 meters was right near where we were sitting, so we were able to see Sven Kramer getting away up close! A lot of power goes into that.

The race was fast…

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… and he too won his race…

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… he waited on the side opposite from where we were sitting to await what happened in the other 1500 m races. Another skater who had come in 3rd overall, Patrick Roest, joined him for a bit…

When it turned out Sven Kramer had won the 1500 he was congratulated by his coaches…

And there was another medal ceremony with the Dutch sports news TV crew situated right in front of them…

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The last race was the 500 meters for women. I didn’t take great pictures of those races and they were over really quickly too but nonetheless fun to watch!

I felt very Dutch yesterday with an afternoon spent on the ice. 🙂

Ice ice baby!

So, the latest Mach was’ challenge is all about: ice! I think Die Pö meant ice cream more than just ice and I did think of related images to share from this past summer. For instance, we did have very nicely shaped vanilla ice cream in Wroclaw (Poland):

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And I did have the most delicious iced tea there that I’ve ever had!

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However, these things didn’t seem like enough to really blog about. Then my mind made the leap to what ice means in The Netherlands and that in turn brings on thoughts of winter! Natural ice and The Netherlands have a, well, warm history together. We are now at the end of summer and it seems a little soon to be talking of winter, but when it gets hot outside, maybe just thinking of ice in the winter can help with cooling off as well. 😉

The Netherlands has a close relationship with water. Without our dikes, dams, dunes and floodgates 2/3 of our population, living in flood-prone areas, are at risk. Draining ditches, canals and pumping stations (windmills in the old days) keep our land dry. It’s not only the North Sea we have to consider (a large part of our country is at or below sea level, including where I live), we also have the big Rhine and Meuse rivers that flow through our country into the North Sea. Without protection the rivers can easily flood our lands as well. It’s safe to say, we have a lot of water here. So, when winter comes the whole of the country hopes that it will be cold enough for ice to form on all the canals, rivers and lakes here. 16th century painters have already captured the joy the Dutch feel when winter brings ice: people go out and skate! When you google you can find many paintings like this one:

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Hendrik Avercamp ca. 1585

Although the buildings and the fashion have changed, this is pretty much an image you can still see here in winter when all water outside freezes and turns to ice.

Every year when it does get cold enough for ice to form on our canals the whole Dutch nation starts hoping for the “Elfstedentocht” (“Eleven Cities Tour”) which is an ice skating race on canals covering 200 km, passing through 11 cities in our northern province of Friesland. It needs to stay cold enough for about two weeks before the ice is safe enough to hold this race.

In the winter of 2007-08 my kids for the first time experienced a winter cold enough to see the canals freeze. We have a little lake very close to our house, and the kids walked on natural ice for the first time. My son was 6, my daughter had just turned 4.

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But the ice didn’t stay thick for long and it was a year later when at our holiday cottage in Friesland (yes, the same province that hosts the Elfstedentocht) we had ice again on the little canal next to our cottage. First the kids walked on the ice..

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… and then we bought them tie-on ice skates so they could learn to skate! And they learned like many Dutch children learn to skate: holding on to chairs on the ice…

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I can’t skate by the way (I didn’t grow up in The Netherlands and I’m too chicken to learn now) so my husband taught them. The ice stayed long enough for the kids to skate on a big lake not far from our home town after our Friesland holiday…

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… but this time the ice didn’t hold long enough either for the Elfstedentocht.

The following year we again had a very cold winter and we were in Friesland again when the ice came. There were blocks of ice on the coast of the IJsselmeer (a huge sea between our mainland and the islands in the north)…

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… and yet again the ice stayed long enough for skating back home, but not long enough for the Elfstedentocht to be held. It’s not good for the ice if there’s snow on it, the ice can’t get hard enough to sustain a whole race.

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The next winter, back in Friesland again, the IJsselmeer was completely frozen and now that they were older my husband took the kids skating quite far out. This picture, next to a buoy frozen in the water, was taken just before they set off…

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The winter after that, in January 2012, the ice came later, so there was only skating (and clearing snow off the ice to make an ‘ice rink’) for my husband and the kids back home and not in Friesland…

The ice didn’t stay long, it was already starting to thaw while people still hopefully continued skating…

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So far, that was the last cold-ish winter we had! The past few years our winters have felt more like endless autumn. Our last Elfstedentocht was in january 1997, it’s about time we had another one! Maybe this coming winter? Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, the Dutch will indulge in their ice-passion on TV, following all sorts of ice speed skating championships.

The Dutch are quite dominant in the speed skating scene. During the last winter olympics in Sochi the Dutch wons tons of medals, mostly for speed skating and the nation loves it. Due to our history with water and ice, it’s become a Dutch tradition. We’ve been to the Dutch speed skating championships in Friesland ourselves a few times (nowadays only held indoors)…

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… and if there is no ice outside yet again this winter, I guess watching speed skating inside will have to be enough for us!

The end of the affair

And by “affair” I mean the love affair with my vacation… The fun we had in the first half of our vacation, continued during the rest of our vacation as well. The most difficult part was the visit to Auschwitz, which my son doesn’t want to talk about any more, and we had some drama too.

The drama… we had a bit of an adventure with Cracow. As Cracow in Poland was quite far from our campsite in the Czech Republic we had rented a self catering apartment there for two nighs. The drive that was supposed to be 4 hours took 8 hours due to several traffic jams… so, no scenic stops on the way like we had originally planned. Then the next morning, my nice Canon EOS camera was stolen from our apartment, while we were inside having breakfast in another room! Who thinks to lock the front door when you’re all inside? That meant that instead of sightseeing we spent a few hours trying to get the camera reported stolen at the police station. First police station we went to no one spoke anything other than Polish. We got to speak to a translator on the phone who asked us to be at another police station two hours later. Once there, we had to wait another hour. This is the family at the police station making fun of having enough of waiting…

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Being interviewed and having the report made up took another hour but as the office was too small, the kids and I had to wait outside. So, nope, never saw an actual Polish police officer’s desk myself but the officers we met were very friendly. After finally being able to make that report (we need it so we can claim the loss from our insurance), we had some time left to walk through Cracow for sightseeing and in the evening after dinner we took a little carriage ride through the city. All’s well that ends well.

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The kids had a little more adventure than I did on our vacation (I’m not so much of an adventurer when it comes to this speed & climbing stuff): they went motor-karting and tobogganing, they went down fast waterslides at a waterpark and my daughter even perusaded my husband to go climbing with her.

What makes this vacation extra memorable are the beautiful mountains and the beautiful views they provide. We usually have very cultural vacations visiting cities, churches and castles. While we had done some of that as well, it mostly was a nature vacation this time around and it was great! We went hiking a few times; one time we hiked down a ski slope (but without the snow)…

Another time we went up the highest Czech mountian Snezka (1600 m) in a cable car. The views going up were beautiful…

… and the views from the top were awesome.

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We also hiked up to the spot where the river Elbe starts. Basically that spot is a few pools of water and one pool that is walled and marked officially as the start of the river.

Even nuns hike up to the source of the Elbe… 🙂 I have a bit of a soft spot for nuns, I like seeing them around, but these nuns didn’t stay long to admire God’s miracle of creating a river (10 seconds at most) and quickly continued on their hike.

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We also went back to Wroclaw again and on the way stopped at an old medieval church with beautiful murals and painted wooden ceilings.

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In Wroclaw cathedral we lit candles remembering my dad and for my mom.

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I had the best iced tea ever there as well!

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I was also pleased to run into this little grafitti image of one of my heroes, David Bowie, on a wall in Wroclaw!

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Oh, and popping bubbles was fun too.

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We also visited a cave with an underground lake…

… and I played around with my camera (we bought a replacement camera even though we’re still awaiting an insurance refund) capturing the reflection in my son’s sunglasses or my daughter jumping into a ballpool…

The most heartwarming part of the vacation is that our kids still like to occasionally hug us, even though they are (almost) teenagers and basically too cool for this world…

And so the sun sets on our vacation (left is a view from our campsite, right a view from the pizzeria we had dinner at during our stopover in Germany on our way home)…

Yesterday I took my daughter and her bff to the beach (while my husband stayed home and my son went to see his girlfriend)…

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… and next week it’s back to school for the kids, back to work for my husband and on with job searching for me (my contract to my last job ended this past Wednesay, just as I finished my accumulated vacation days).  As always, I love these weeks I get to spend with just my husband and the kids and it’s always also a little sad when it’s over… seems like I will have to turn to Richard Armitage news (there’s been lots around lately I gather!) to soften the blow. 😉

I love holidays!

We’re a good week into our family holiday and having a marvelous time! We’re trying to strike a balance between seeing lots of things but also ‘just hangin’… Today (well, technically yesterday!) has very much been a ‘just hangin’ day (I finished my 2nd book in a week!), which is why I can get around to typing all this…  and I can ogle the latest gorgeous Richard Armitage selfie! Thud!

However, I hardly have time to catch up with Armitage news (and there seems to be a lot of Berlin Station stuff now that I will only get around to reading/watching  when I get home again) as our holidays are taking up all of my attention!

We’re staying in the ski region in the north of the Czech Republic. We haven’t gone up to the highest mountain yet, but plan to do so probably next week. We have more than enough things to keep us happy in the meantime!

We first had a two day trip coming here… quite long in the car but everyone held up well…

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… we set up our campsite and for the first time my son has his own little tent which he loves…

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The first day here we just hung out…

Then, the next day, my husband and I had our 17th wedding anniversary (& exactly 24.5 years together)!

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The kids only reluctantly pose for me for pictures…

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… so I photograph them from behind a lot, like here when we hiked along awesome rock formations and had to wear emergency plastic raincoats that we bought as we hadn’t counted on the rain!

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One rock formation had an entrance that somehow reminded me of The Lord of he Rings : The Return of of the King when Aragorn has to enter the mountain to summon the dead spirits…

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I also melt at the beauty of wild flowers, like here in a field in front of a town castle not far from our campsite…

… and these yellow flowers look like a stock photo from somewhere but I swear I photographed this one myself!

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We’ve also been to Poland to see the villages where some of my ancestors lived in the 16th & 17th centuries before they emigrated to The Netherlands. We found the site of the old church & graveyard of the largest village where 2 generations of my ancestors were buried…

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… and although there are no old graves there anymore, there is a plaque that commemorates the people who lived, worked and prayed there and were buried there. That includes my ancestors!

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These villages lie in the valley of what my husband calls ‘the lonely mountain’ – lovely little Hobbit reference there. 🙂

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In a little graveyard we also found an alternative spelling of the name “Richard” (which coincidentally is also one of my son’s middle names)… it is spelled “Ryszard”.

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We went to Wroclaw, also in Poland, where my daughter splashed through water and once you left the central square there were enough old apartment buildings that reminded us of the communist era…

… and we came across these little gnomes throughout the city that are little statues made after grafitti drawings that used to be found painted on walls to protest the communist regime!

Oh, and we have also photographed our shadows and have had nicely shaped ice-cream…

Yes, I love holidays and hearing, seeing and experiencing new things and I especially love this quality family time!

Ack, it’s close to 2 am by now! I need to go to sleep…