Happy Father’s Day

To my own papa, who will live in my heart forever…

…to the best father I could ever have wished for for my children…

… and to all the beloved father figures out there: Happy Father’s Day!

Golden years

My younger brother found old slides in my mother’s apartment, I took them to be digitalized a few weeks ago in a store near me and today picked up the end result on a USB stick. What a little treasure it turned out to be! Memories of the golden years of my childhood came rushing back to me when I looked at the pictures, most of which were new to me.

The pictures of my childhood home brought out such warm feelings. This following picture was taken from the side of our house. We lived downstairs and there were two small, separate apartments upstairs that were rented to other people. The laundry you see drying must have been from our upstairs neighbour. I remember little of her (she moved away halfway through my childhood), I just remember she was an old lady called Frau Barur who liked to eat flowers and she scared me a bit. I remember she showed us pictures of herself as a dancer before the war, I think she was of Hungarian origin but not sure about that. She was also an Auschwitz survivor, I remember the number tattoo on her arm.

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The back of our house looked like this (you can see where the stairs are leading up to the upstairs apartment). We used to play on that little wall under the window. That used to be my bedroom that I shared with my older sister, I later moved to another bedroom. This picture was taken before I was born, though.

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In this next picture my older siblings are seated to the left of that back door to the garden and underneath the window that in later years would be the room I shared with my younger brother and sister. This looks like it was taken in the summer of 1968.

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We looked out over the valley from that side of the house and I used to adore looking at that view, at the houses below us and the rocks and trees and tiny buildings across the valley. I love that there’s a picture of that view in these slides. It’s also the view I remember seeing from my second bedroom at that side of the house. Between the trees, at the other side of the valley, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is located. I remember looking toward those trees, trying to make out the museum and really wanting to visit it. My parents never let me, though, as they thought I was too young for that (we lived there until I was 10). I finally did visit Yad Vashem years later.

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Another picture taken at the end of the 1970s (I think, going by how big my younger brother and sister are here) shows how our back garden matured. We used to love to play there.

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The pictures also include a few with my oldest brother before he died at age 7 from an accident in March of 1969 (a year before I was born). This is him at the back of the house…

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… and planting trees (I think) with my father, my grandfather and other people I don’t know. That blue Renault was ours. I think I have a flash of a memory of it, but not sure whether it’s a real memory or just a memory connected to seeing pictures of it. In my mind it was a darker blue, though. I think these pictures were also taken during the summer of 1968.

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Speaking of my grandfather, there are also pictures of him and my grandmother. I barely remember my grandfather, he died when I was 4, but I do remember feeling a great warmth for him. This picture of him, taken somewhere in the Old City of Jerusalem, may be one of my fave pictures that I know of him! I have no idea who those kids are.

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I also very much like this one of my grandmother relaxing. I think it was taken in the gardens of the nearby convent which had a guesthouse. My grandparents stayed there when they visited. Our house also belonged to that convent, we hired our house from the kind and fun nuns who lived there.

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I think I even know the exact spot where this following picture of my grandfather was taken, right outside the convent’s guesthouse.

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The official entrance to the convent looked like this. The man in the picture is my grandfather, I don’t know who the lady is.

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There are also a few pictures from inside the house. We used to have an old olive press right in the middle of our living room. This picture was taken after my brother died and before my mother’s pregnancy with me showed, I think it must be fall of 1969 going by the sweaters everyone is wearing. The curtains behind the olive press lead to the door to our back garden.

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The next few pictures were taken during Christmas of (I think) 1976 when I was 6 years young. I’m the little blonde girl. We had a load of guests that year and were singing all kinds of Christmas carols. The first picture is of me and my brother performing a song, probably “Little Donkey” which is the only thing I ever remember performing with him.

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There were also some lovely pictures of my dad. In the second picture of all the clergy coming out of the church, my dad is the man in the middle (dressed in black). The third picture is typical of how my dad used to gesticulate when he spoke, I love that picture.

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Last, but not least, when my parents were engaged in 1959-1960 they went to Israel for a year (before moving there again in 1967). My dad was studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a year and my mother worked as a librarian in Tiberias at the ‘Scots Hospice’. They used to visit each other during weekends. This picture was of them during that time…

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The final picture I want to share here is of my mother and some sheep. Somehow this picture has a “the hills are alive with the sound of music” vibe to me. Going by the fact that my mother is wearing the same outfit as in the picture above, I think this may be outside Tiberias.

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There are of course more pictures (79 in total!) but these really were my favourites. It’s been so much fun discovering them.

Richard, Agatha and me

Rich is yet again busy with audiobook recording, this time in his at home studio. Apparently now he’s recording Agatha Christie’s first Poirot book. I know Hercule Poirot is Belgian, not French, but the striped shirt Richard’s wearing has a French vibe which suits Poirot. 🙂

2020-05-06 10_35_20-Richard Armitage op Twitter_ _I’ve been hard at work recording two beloved Agath

Maybe he should have introduced himself as Reeshar Armeetahzg.

This ‘good fan’ *cough* (I’m not a little child!) has perked up her ears at the mention of Hercule Poirot. Will he be narrated with a French-Belgian accent? Now that I might want to hear. Reeshar mentions that he will tell us something about a personal connection he has to Agatha Christie and I have one too which I can’t resist sharing here.

My father hardly read fiction, it was mostly non-fiction theology, religion, philosophy and politics for him. He did read Agatha Christie, however. In fact, I still have a few Agatha Christies on my bookshelf precisely because they belonged to my father and I can’t bear to give them away.

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I’m not a huge mystery book reader but my dad encouraged me to read Agatha Christie and so I did and I enjoyed them. He especially loved Hercule Poirot and also the Hercule Poirot movies with Peter Ustinov. Ustinov will always be the definitive Poirot for me.

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Will Richard reading Agatha Christie, and Hercule Poirot specifically, convert me to audiobooks? If my dad were still alive, I’d certainly invest in a Christie audiobook for him to see how he’d like it.

Remembrance

May 4th in The Netherlands is always Remembrance Day for those who have died during the Second World War. In the evening of May 4th there’s a ceremony in Amsterdam where the king and queen come to lay wreaths. Due to the corona crisis the central Dam square in Amsterdam was empty except for the king and queen, our PM, the mayor of Amsterdam and two more people. Very weird, as normally the remembrance is very crowded every year.

This year, for the first time as it’s 75 years since the end of the war, our king also gave a speech and I think it’s the best one I’ve ever seen him give. Our king is not a natural public speaker yet this speech seemed to flow naturally from him. It was thoughful, and even gently critical of his own grandmother’s role during the war, and the line “Sobibor began in the Vondelpark [a park in Amsterdam] with a sign that said ‘no Jews'” felt very simple and very true. There’s a little blurb in English about the speech here.

I won’t go into all this in detail as I’m very tired because it’s been a bit of a difficult day for me where we buried my aunt’s friend, who had also been a bit of an honorary aunt for my family. It was strange doing so with only 20 guests present, everyone sitting a distance from each other and afterwards picking up a cup of coffee and tea and then standing outside with a distance, talking about the funeral and remembering H. During the funeral my father was also referenced several times, which was heart warming and also emotional. H had a beautiful send off, filled with love.

This Remembrance Day for me today is not only about the war but also very much about my father and H…

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May they rest in peace and if there is an afterlife (something I don’t believe in but I would like to believe in), may they find each other there.

Flowers

It’s Good Friday, so no work for me today and over the Easter weekend until Tuedsay. It’s a nice change to not have to do anything for a few days. 🙂

With this beautiful weather here in The Netherlands right now (a little on the chilly side yet in the sun it feels wonderful), I figured it was time to visit my dad’s grave again and get him some new flowers. His resting place is about a 45 minute drive away, so not exactly around the corner. It’s a lovely and quiet place, in the ruins of a church, right infront of the bell tower. In corona crisis times it’s a good place to visit in the sunshine where you know you will hardly see any other people around.

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I took the dead flowers out of the pot and, as I love purple, I got him some lavender and purple flowers that I put into the pot…

It’s a really good time to be in The Netherlands at this time of year with all the tulips and other flowers in full bloom now. My dad’s resting place is not far from the tulip fields area, so we decided to take a scenic drive home. On the way we saw all of this:

We didn’t get out anywhere because it turned out to be a little busy with bikers and walkers already. So, we stayed in the car and just marvelled at the views as we slowly drove by. We rolled down the windows occasionally and the smell wafting in, mostly from the hyacinths, was just delicious. Foreigners often think our whole country is filled with flower fields but that’s not true. Most of the flower fields are located a little south of Amsterdam in what is called the “Bollenstreek” (the bulbs area). We rarely go there, even if it all isn’t that far away from us. So, for us too, it’s a little treat to see the beautiful fields blooming. It’s also a little heartbreaking as the flower sector is also affected by this corona crisis and many farmers won’t be able to sell their flowers. As soon as the current flowers in my house are over their prime, I’ll be sure to invest in some beautiful tulips – a good way to help out the sector and a lovely decoration for the home.