A castle & brown eyes

First off, my vertigo is subsiding, woohoo!! Not all gone yet, but definitely improving. This means that on Sunday, after visiting my mother, I was well enough to take a day trip with my daughter and we visited my old boarding school which used to be situated in a castle near Utrecht. In my day (35-33 years ago… that sounds so old and long ago!) it all looked a bit different – in the second picture with the red arrow is the ‘Blokhut’ where I used to board with the school nurse and 4 other girls.

Mini me was curious about my boarding school years and as the grounds were open, we were able to walk around and look around. I always loved the driveway up to the castle and it still looks lovely…

The old coach house was still looking good from the outside, it used to be the girls dorm, where most of the girls lived…

There used to be a little wooden building to the left of the coach house that we used to call “The Chambre”. There we could buy evening snacks, play some pool (although I rarely did that) and socialize; it is completely in ruins now…

To the right of the coach house, the “Blokhut” was situated where I used to live. I first thought it was not there anymore as it is now almost obscured from view by shrubbery overgrowing it. I remember it like this (red arrow is pointing to my room)…

On Sunday the Blokhut looked like this… Only when we came up close could we see the entrance, the side of the building where I’d lived was only partially accessible around the back. Through the door I could look into the hall but my old bedroom window was boarded up.

The castle itself was still very pretty (although I don’t like the white plaster as much, it used to be all red brick)…

It was a lovely trip down memory lane and now my daughter wants to go to boarding school as well (even though I told her that boarding school also had its downsides).

The kids have spring break this week and I am off for the most part as well. Today Mr Esther and I decided to go for a walk somewhere further east and Junior was the one to join us for a change. He’s pretty busy normally with school or his girlfriend, but today, while mini me decided to spend the day with a friend, he had no plans. He decided to join us for our walk and it was lovely to have him alone with us for a whole afternoon for a change.

Besides vertigo, work and socially distanced outings here and there, I’ve been keeping busy with the Sue Thomas obsession, making two fan videos (now also up on the Sue Thomas video page that I set up).

I’ve also been re-watching bits and pieces of Suits again as Yannick Bisson’s brown eyes made me long for Gabriel Macht’s brown eyes again. I still love how the character of Harvey Specter developed and changed in the nine seasons that the show had.

Bisson’s Murdoch Mysteries season 14 is now airing, so I’m also watching the new episodes of that show as they come out. Nothing too challenging but a lot of fun, especially last night’s episode with the return of the whacko Newsome family.

I swear, I’d watch a spinoff sitcom with just Ruth Newsome-Higgins (Siobhan Murphy, a character that was introduced in season 10 and appears occasionally), she’s brilliant.

Another thing that has me fascinated is the Mars landing and the images coming from there…

Following NASA Perseverance on Twitter is cool.

Speaking of space, I know, I know that I should watch Richard Armitage’s new movie Space Sweepers over on Netflix, but I can’t quite make myself do so yet. While I enjoy some scifi, it’s not my go to genre and Richard’s role isn’t that huge, is it?

I’ll watch in time, maybe someone in the comments can let me know if it’s worth it? Maybe if his eyes were brown (my current obsession is kind, brown eyes) like in My Zoe I would be more tempted? Although, I admit that seeing brown eyes on Richard instead of his blue eyes is a little weird to me.

When I’m in obsession mode, normal online activities fall by the wayside, which means I have a huge backlog of blog reading to do. I don’t think I can or will promise to catch up on all, so my sincere apologies to those readers who are used to me commenting on their blogs! I’ll probably start coming around again more but not this evening, I have some more brown eyes that I need to get lost in after I post this…

Winter has come

It doesn’t snow often here and the past few winters have only on occasion given us a dusting here and there, but yesterday evening and last night, we got some real snow (and yes, we still have twinkle lights up in our garden as the evenings come so early here in winter)…

And it’s still snowing today, which has made it all somewhat thicker…

Mr Esther and I took a little walk through the snow while Junior is away with his girlfriend for the weekend and mini-me had enough of the snow after she had a little fun with it around our house…

It was a bit of a test for my vertigo and I’m back to reclining on my couch again but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. The snow is too powdery for snowballs or snowmen but maybe that will change as the week progresses? The forecast is that it will remain this cold for at least the rest of this week. It’s different for my brother in the southern tip of Israel. While we were sharing snow pictures in our family chat, he shared this view from the kibbutz where he lives…

That feels like a different world and, although I am enjoying our snow world right now, it also makes me long to travel again.

Winter wonderland

It was snowing this afternoon, our first snow this winter. I love a winter wonderland, even if it is only a dusting of snow, as here in our back garden…

Had some chores to do but the afternoon became good when the mail came and finally, finally my winnings from the RA Christmas auctions arrived! It took close to 6 weeks to get here but that didn’t take away from the awesome Christmas decoration (thank you Rachel!), my lovely mini Pride & Prejudice brooch and earrings and a fun Christmas card (thank you, Guylty!) and some nice reading to look forward to on Jane Austen related subjects.

At the end of the afternoon, Mr Esther and I went for a nice little walk in the little bit of snow we had…

This evening, the house looked like this, still just enough snow there to make it look wintery…

Junior now has a friend over to play videogames with him in his room, while Mr Esther and I enjoy some wine and mini me has been enjoying some hot chocolate, with our cat trying to get to the whipped cream she still had in her cup.

We’ve just been watching Michael Palin on the BBC walking through the desert with a camel caravan in his travel programme Sahara from 2002 (very different from a winter wonderland!) and now some blogging before I put my nose into a either book or a movie. Some quarantine days are quite lovely.

A quieter Christmas

Christmas this year was quite lovely albeit a little more low key than usual due to Covid 19 restrictions. Thankfully everyone I know is in good health, so we actually could still have a nice Christmas and see a few people.

This year we didn’t get to go to a Christmas market in Germany with two good friends of ours from college, like we do every year. At the Christmas markets we sometimes keep the commemorative mug from the Glühwein (mulled wine) that we usually drink then. This year there would be no Glühwein in mugs at markets like we’d been having for more than 20 years. So, I had our own commemorative mugs made with selfies from Christmas markets past, for Mr Esther, myself and for our two friends.

The text translates to “Due to Covid 19, a mug instead of a Christmas market. Merry Christmas 2020!”

We were going to try a socially distanced get together instead of a market at one of our friends’ houses about a week before Christmas but then the other friend canceled because she had some cold symptoms. Good thing she did too as she tested positive for Covid 19 a day later! She and her husband both had it, although luckily only mildly. I still wanted to get my mugs to our friends, so last Monday mini me and I drove to the healthy friend, handed her her mug and spent half an hour drinking tea with her at a distance. On Christmas Eve Mr Esther, mini me and I drove over an hour north and dropped off the other mug. We set it down infront of our other friend’s door and then, keeping a good distance outside despite her not having any symptoms anymore, we chatted across her front garden with her for about 15 minutes. It was good to bring a little Christmas cheer that way.

We had a nice drive back home coming through some typical Dutch landscapes and the picturesque town of Volendam, which was quite deserted due to the lockdown we’re now having…

Back at home again, we had a quiet Christmas Eve dinner with Junior’s girlfriend also present and we unwrapped a few small gifts with her as he wouldn’t be seeing her for the rest of Christmas. Afterwards I dedicated myself to finally reading the rest of my Michelle Obama “Becoming” book that I had bought second hand a while back and had started reading the first 3 or 4 chapters of but still needed to finish. The cats seized that opportunity to lie on and next to me.

One of my favourite things that day was my brother sending us a video of my mother reading the Christmas story from our old family bible. On Second Christmas Day (or Boxing Day, December 26th) we usually have a big family get together where she does that but, as the whole family get together wasn’t happening this year, I loved that my brother (who’s temporarily living with her) made that little video and sent it out. It’s one to cherish for the ages.

On Christmas morning, Mr Esther made us a nice brunch, we then unwrapped our gifts. I got lovely cat socks that I adore and chocolates from mini me, Junior got me Barack Obama’s “Promised Land” that I had wanted and Mr Esther got me a Audrey Hepburn calendar and a portable record player, so that I could play my old Bowie records. My fave thing that I got for Mr Esther was a “Blessed are the cheesemakers” t-shirt (a line from the brilliant Monty Python’s The Life of Brian). As Mr Esther is a cheese nerd, it felt like a very fitting gift for him.

Mr Esther has no siblings so we could adhere the ‘no more than 3 guests’ rule easily by inviting our in laws (whom we hadn’t seen in months) over for dinner. We table grilled. On Second Christmas Day in the afternoon we went to my mother and my brother and had a low key delicious turkey buffet dinner at her house.

In between these social activities we played a game or two and I read and read and read, really enjoying the Michelle Obama book. Today is a lazing around day, I finished the book a few hours ago but, even though I love the Obamas (even made a video once as they left office in January 2017), I need a little Obama break before I start Barack’s book.

Anyway, I hope all of you who celebrate in one way or another had a nice Christmas too. Now it’s back to the real world again, I guess. For me that means that from tomorrow I should become productive again (we have some storage clearing out to do). For now I’m loving the down time, though, so we’ll see if that happens.

Nostalgia

My younger brother is at my mother’s now (he was gone for a few months but is back again) and has been sorting through all kinds of things in her flat. He came across more old family pictures (just like he had back in the spring), some of which I don’t think I’d ever seen before! Among other things, he found some pictures of what apparently was my christening when I was two months old. I think I have seen that first picture here below before, but I always assumed it was a picture of another baby a year older than me who my parents had fostered for three or so years (I vaguely remember her), but nope, apparently that little baby is me.

Three things about these pictures: everyone is so young, I’m so tiny, and oh my goodness, I adore my older sister’s outfit!

On a side note: I am the daughter of a Protestant theologian, baptized by an Anglican priest from Jerusalem’s St. George’s Cathedral, in the Catholic chapel of the convent which was neighbouring our house. A truly ecumenical event. We rented our house from nuns in a little village just outside Jerusalem and my mother chatting away with these nuns in the following picture tells you just about all you need to know about the warm, happy relationships we had with them.

Anyway, my parents weren’t photographers and took very few pictures, I’m not sure if they even had a working camera. They must have had something, as pictures do exist, but my mother always said that most pictures usually came to them via others who visited us (and we always had many visitors). So, there are virtually no newborn pictures of any of us. This means that, apart from the above baptism pictures where you can’t really see me, the earliest pictures of me that I know of are these two that my brother also came across (with on my cheek the remnants of a birthmark that faded away over time). I haven’t seen these in forever.

There are so many more discoveries my brother made while sorting through my mother’s apartment, such cute pictures of my siblings as well, but I can’t share all of those here. I’ve got to say I was especially pleased with those baptism pictures, they are so beautiful and it’s hard to imagine that that tiny baby in my mother’s arms is me.

Every year for Christmas I make a photo calendar with pictures of my family (my parents, siblings, aunt, my kids, nephews and nieces) for the following year. As we have all barely seen each other this past year due to Covid-19 and as there just aren’t too many new pictures available, I decided to make a “nostalgia calendar” for my family this year which features many of these cute treasures that my brother found.

It’ll be a surprise for them to receive a different sort of calendar this time around and I’m already looking forward to getting it to them. And hey, if you have now become a little nostalgic as well, feel free to share your baby pictures via blogs, Twitter or even e-mail. I admit, I’m curious. 🙂