Sunday, 23 September 2018

Life's timeline.

It is September. Time for me to hand in the articles for our quarterly newsletter for our Nature Guide Organisation. My husband and I are members of the VvHB ( Vrijwiligers van Hollands Biesbosch). A volunteer organisation which supplies the wo/man power to accompany school groups or other interested people who come visit our National Park. Every 3 months we publish a newsletter for members to keep them updated with happenings and events. I have been a contributor for about 15 years now taking responsibility for 'our' wee groep of fanatics in a special part of the park. This issue was a bit harder to write as I had to add an extra item, that of a memoriam of one of our members.

I have just sent the mailings to the editors. Feel a bit drained - but also quite honoured that this task was mine to fulfill. It was also my privilege to speak at his farewell. We lost a friend and the loss is still raw.

While writing this I received a phone call from another member of the club. He was due to attend a small gathering here at our home to evaluate an outing we went on to celebrate 25 years of our organisation. He apologised he can't make it. His 50 year old son has been diagnosed terminally ill. Appears the illness has been present long before it was discovered. TRAGIC!

The past hour or so has made me aware once again of the preciousness of time. Time we cannot fathom or measure.

R I P Frans
If I look back on the past 18 months, the time when our friend informed us of his ill health, I can but only be in awe of his endeavour to enjoy every last breath he had left to take. The practical as well as the emotional issues he addressed. The intense enjoyment of the daily chores, visits of friends, the attention he gave to those near and dear. Impressive. Not mushy and over the top, but with love, respect and sincerity.

Do I make the most of my moments in time? There is no guarantee I'll have another 25 years of good health. I don't think I am being maudlin or depressive. Just REAL. The reality is, none of us have an exact timeline. None of us have a set number of years in which we can 'do' all that we wish or need to do.

Friday just past saw a tragic accident happen here in the Netherlands. Four children between the ages of 4 and 11 were killed in a most tragic accident involving a train and a transport vehicle carrying these children to their school. The person in control of the vehicle and another child are in hospital fighting for their lives. Now there are many tragic things happening in the world I know. This one, so close to home, just highlights again, how many people are plummeted into grief, pain and despair when they loose someone they love. Such short lived lives. So 'unfinished' one thinks.

Autumn has hit the country. It is wet, dreary and bit chilly. Our summer clothes can be tucked far away deep into the closet. We are entering another change in seasons. Today my husband, his brother and two friends have 'escaped' from home and are on their way to Newcastle for a short stopover. Two dear Scottish sisters spent a week here in Nederland and are winging their way back to Edinburgh as I type. We had such a lovely time together. My grand/ children are asleep Down Under. All is well in my world right now. I'm grateful for this like you wouldn't believe.

Today I just want to revel in the thankfulness of my blessings. Having completed my obligations I am now going to reflect on my next adventure in life- and enjoy it with all my being. My new commitment to making short videos to leave to my grand/children and others on YouTube need updating.  I'm going to celebrate life to the fullest- even when the going gets tough. I won't get to do a re-run! This is my only chance and I'm giving it my best shot.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Live, love laugh!

I see this saying, or collection of words on many coasters, wall plaques and even on bed linnen. Many many year sago I had it on my mirror in the bathroom. In the period I was a single woman, starting my new life alone, back in the country of my birth after a 30 year absence.

I had been advised to surround myself with positive messages, images and people to help me pick up my life and feel good about myself. Something I had a lot of trouble with. After 28 years of marriage and raising 3 children, in my mind, I had failed. Failed at motherhood, at marriage at being a daughter. It took some doing to pick myself up and be active in creating a new life, finding my feet and enjoying all life has to offer. The road bent to the left and right, had highs and lows, challenges and successes. The journey isn't over yet, but my word have I come along way. I have to pay tribute to those who stood by me, held my hand, cuddled, advised and comforted me. I certainly didn't do this on my own. And yes, it may sound blasΓ©, but my stronghold was and is my faith.

Why write about this today? Well, maybe as I look out my window, as I read the paper, message with friends and see photos of my lovely grandchildren, I realise once again how lucky, blessed, fortunate and extremely loved I actually am. Everyday there is more than just 'something' to be grateful for.

My life now is such a contrast to 18 years ago when I returned 'home' to Nederland. I spent 11 years teaching, I've met wonderful people, made life long friends, found a new love, am comforted to know my children and grandchildren are doing well, am on good terms with their father, can smile, laugh and enjoy the challenges and blessings which litter my path. And sometimes, it is just important to stop and realise that.

I have  habit of writing down my thoughts to clear my mind, get a better picture maybe of things I ponder on or just generally 'get the off my chest'. Today I felt the need to be thankful - verbally. To publicly say, I do LIVE LOVE AND LAUGH - lots and when ever I can!

Just like in other people' lives, I have highs and lows, gratitude and disappointments. Sadness and joys. All the more reason to embrace life and not waste the time I'm given and make the most of it.

The sun is shining, the sky a pale 'approaching autumn' blue, the trees are sighing a sigh of relief after a blistering dry summer. The grass is slowly turning green again having felt the restoring splashes of raindrops. Schools have resumed after the summer break and we are gearing up to the busy season of autumn and the festivities that lay ahead. It is halfway through September and 2018 has trundled as a high speed train bringing great adventures and memorable moments. I believe there are many people are already planning Christmas dinners, holidays and looking forward to the parcels under the tree. There is nothing wrong with looking ahead - as long a one keeps an eye on the path there, so as not to trip over or miss out on what's happening right now.

Enjoy each and every challenge, be proud, be hopeful and have faith, If not in a God, then definitely in one's self. Life is worth living.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Time flies.....

Oh My Goodness, Really, MARCH?? I had no idea it was that long ago that I made a contribution to this blog. Admittedly, I have been pre-occupied. I also spent a lot of time and energy gaining new skills. I've started a YouTube channel , and am pretty proud how that's going.

Here a timeline of months gone past.

April: Grandson Max arrived from Australia to stay for 2 months.
- we visited my dad's place of birth Leeuwarden, Went to Edinburgh for a week and did lots of in betweens.
Mei: On 30th May I waved Max out on his way home after our city trips including Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and much more
June: After catching up with friends, taking a short 'break' I welcomed my dear friend Annette from New Zealand. We spent a fun and touristy 8 days in Nederland.
July: Arrived in Dover on the 30th June to spend the next 12 days in Wales. After arriving back home- a surprise early call up for hand surgery.
August: All in the throws of re-couperating and also two mini trips away. One to France ( Givet) and a 4-dayer to Sauerland, Germany.

It is now 2nd September. My hand hasn't yet healed ( sigh sob sigh sob) and Autumn is slowly creeping closer. I cannot believe I've neglected this spot but seeing what I have been up to...well, not surprising I have been 'away'. Check out the YouTube channel though if you want to catch a glimpse of all those wonderful experiences I was privileged to share with my grandson and my dear friend Annette. What a beautiful world we live in. Must admit to have fallen in love with Wales. Can't wait to get another opportunity to visit there.

My hubby and his brother are away at the moment. An annual thing. I'm enjoying just being home. As I mentioned, my hand is causing some concern. The swelling after the operation just won't leave the building. My (left)  hand is virtually not participating in my daily activities- including now while I try to type. Thankfully I am right handed. Ever tried decapitating an egg with one hand? Believe me, not a pretty sight. It would make a tough grown man cry!

Yesterday I took to the footpath- and tread my way into town. Saturday market was my goal. On my way home ( I decided if I could walk into town I could also walk home) I met a lovely kiwi traveling couple Sara and Jason. I recognised the accent as I passed their camper and Jason spoke to his traveling and life's companion Sarah. Well, that's like red rag to a bull. I was drawn, like a moth to a lamp, to connect. Such a warm bath feeling speaking to others 'from home Down Under'.

My day was absolutely one to list in the top 10. What a lovely people one meets on the most unexpected moments in life. Travel safe you two. I'll be following your travels from now.

Anyway, as I said, if you want to do a catch up- lots to see: OmaFarAway. I'll be posting more videos there as we do tend to travel around  a fair bit playing tourist in own country. My new home town: Dordrecht also features. I started it as I thought it would be a gem for my grandchildren later- to have instead of the black and white photos I have of my grandparents. Precious as they are mind you. My memory of them is definitely in colour!

I did blog but on my other blog which is bi-lingual ( Dutch/English) Also called OmaFarAway. Mainly bi-lingual because the children and grandchildren don't read or speak Dutch.

Well, that's me for now. Time to rest my overworked right hand. Coffee calling!! Enjoy your day.

Friday, 23 March 2018

The challenges today

At the start of this year I selected a word- I try to actively 'better' myself or focus on something I find important to me. This year my theme is - Persevere. To keep focussed. To not digress.

My life's motto ( amongst a few others) is, Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make the  most of life and what it offers. Live, love and laugh A LOT!

Somehow some of life's to-do's are deferred to - Tomorrow. I have tried to grasp the concept of tomorrow and found- it never comes. Like the new zip needed in the pants, the recipe still not tried out, the phone call to that friend still not made, the photo album still half finished, the film not yet seen, the drawer still cluttered, the painting still not on the wall, the letter left unanswered. Stuff like that. It is so easy to say- I'll do that tomorrow, till I got to thinking, "heck tomorrow is already fully booked". And which tomorrow did I want to do all this stuff in?

Today I have managed to write up 3 blogs, chat with my grandson, send him an email with a list of stuff he needs to pack before he boards a plane to visit me. Read the morning paper, we just had local body elections and the outcome was interesting. I've recovered all the info I need for a dinner for 15 people I am helping a friend prepare. All this before coffee. I'm trying to not become distracted by other stuff that is also fun, enjoyable and worth spending time on. Like the WhatsApp chats I need to answer- but will have to wait till this blog is done. I am PERSEVERING and it feels so good achieving stuff. Actually being able to tick stuff off and not add to my 'to do later list'.

What is also very rewarding is the jobs left 'to do' list is shrinking. I am not that naive to think I will never have a 'to do' list. I am however pretty positive about how short a list it will be. I want my in tray as minimalistic as possible and my out tray full of ticked off chores. DONE and DUSTED today!

Have you ever wondered in which  tomorrow you'll do all those pushed to the background and out of sight chores you've saved up or avoided?

Last night I closed the (to)day on a positive note. It was reasonably warmish, was pleased I finally got my hair cut which was a week or more overdue, had a positive result after the tax man filled out out tax form and actually got the ironing done within 24 hours of the pile being made. Then I slept fitfully and woke up to 'TODAY'. Not tomorrow. So you see, had I planned stuff for tomorrow- I'd have to wait and wait some more πŸ˜‰! Because it isn't tomorrow- but today!! Confused? Don't be. I'm keeping on keeping on. Persevering. Doing today all I can achieve and working on my staying power, my tendency to divert my attention to 'other stuff'. And you know what- I'm enjoying my efforts to date. It is almost the end of March and my year is shaping up to be a great one. How is yours coming along?

It is 10:50 am. I'm happy as I can be. Time for coffee!!

Monday, 5 March 2018

New Season, new month, new tricks

Well hello there it's March 2018. Are we ready for spring? Heck yes we are. Well, actually we thought spring had sprung a few weeks ago but that was a farce. Mother Nature threw a spanner in the works and called Winter to come back and hit us hard. And Winter obeyed. It was fierce, cold and uncensured. Still, we survived to live to tell the tale and re-welcome the sunshine into our lives. Yippee for that!!

I have been busy at my desk- seeing I had more inside time due to the weather. My desk is right by my window and the sun shone on it- thankfully. So it was lovely to see the snow and ice on the other side of the glass while I attempted to acquire new skills. Still working on them - the skills as I have committed to something new.

My year of birth was 1953. Here in Nederland a year to remember. Devastation floods killing many and destroying the south western part ( Zeeland) of our country, changing it's structure forever. Change. Lots of it.

Change is a key word too in our society I would say. Even though we want to hold onto what we know, the comfort of familiarity, we are sometimes forced to change with what development offers us. Sometimes forced upon us. One change I felt was not a sound move was when governments around the world decided to sell off their money making, or sometimes not, assets. Like the postal system or the public transport to name a couple. Sure, the sale brought money into the coffers, but that was soon spent. Once all the pots of gold were empty there were no sources of income anymore to pluck from- so they started plucking the people. We are faced with the changes that came with this huge blunder.

Then there is the topic: communication. We are a species that want to communicate. Yes, some more reclusive than others, but communication is what binds us. We all belong to the animal kingdom. Those four footers, those with wings, those that crawl close to the ground, and we two footers, we communicate. We send messages to each other, our own kind, and let be known how we feel, what we need, what we know.

Talk about change. Smoke signals, Morse code, pigeons, sign language, languages. The way humans have communicate over the centuries has changed dramatically. The options now are amazing, some easily mastered, others a mystery to many.

My first two children came into the world before microwave ovens and home computers were a common item. My third child had both those at his disposal. Huge difference.

I live in Nederland, my children and grandchildren in Australia and New Zealand. We communicate. Through every which way possible and available. Not daily, though we could. At the drop of a hat I can send a message and it arrives at it's destination almost faster than I can send it.

I've learnt how to use Facebook, SnapChat, WhatsApp and FaceTime to name a few. I Blog and have just started my Instagram account. I've had a Twitter account but cancelled that a while back. Recently I've added another communication means to my repertoire. I have a YouTube channel. Why? Because it is there. Because I can. And more importantly, I want to be part of the world my children and grandchildren are growing up in. I want to know what things they experience, learn about, avoid, master, utelise. I want to understand about their experiences, their language. And to do that, I need to embrace the changes and find out how I can use them to make them fit. To fit into my life for the benefits that they offer.

I have no idea whether I will keep it up for years and years but while I can and while I'm learning, I'll try to leave behind videos for my children and grandchildren, family and friends to have as keepsakes for later. A verbal photo album you could say.

Now, I'm not one of those young razzemataz youngster that posts fast fleeting videos of fashion, music or daily doings, but an OmaFarAway that will share some of my 'stuff'. Should you find it interesting feel free to subscribe or visit when I post a new video. Share with other OmaFarAway's in your surroundings. I know I am not alone in that! It may bring comfort or some form of community spirit.

Anyway, that's my communication for now. Have a great day- enjoy what comes on your path and make the most of life's opportunities.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

That's what you get for being distracted

Well I never. Almost two thirds of the way through February and this is my first post in 2018. Oh me oh my. So I suppose I could say, " happy New Year dear readers". How is your year going by the way? Full, rewarding and interesting?

Mine certainly is. It isn't as though I've left the planet for a while either. My dutch blog, Ik zie dat zo was updated 4 days ago and has 4 posts to date into 2018. My oma blog, Oma ver weg ( far away) has had 5 posts and was updated today. This is my bi-lingual blog about being a grandmother  at long distance. Then last but not least is my cooking blog, In mijn keuken ( in my kitchen) also updated today and counts 4 posts this year as well. So you see, I have been active, only not HERE!

Why so many different blogs.?Well, think of it as a bookshelf. I'm keeping the topics separate. Makes more sense reading I think. Otherwise you'd be going from oma stories, to baking to thoughts on life and a variation on that mixture of topics. Should you want piece of all the action, feel free to use google translate.

Anyway, I procrastinate. My English blog is there because all my children and grandchildren and many friends don't speak or read Dutch. And I am Dutch by birth and by nature. However, I am also a Dutch -Kiwi and proud of it. So therefor I honour both languages and thinking. There are issues I feel need venting here in Nederland as I do keep up to date with 'things' Down Under or stuff I can translate and makes sense in both worlds. Do you follow? 😊

My goal is to add something worth reading once a week. In all blogs. Some may occasionally get more attention than others. Like my Oma blog. Lots happening there shortly. My then 18 year old Australian grandson is coming to visit me for 8 weeks. Obviously I'll want to empty my thoughts on this matter more regularly. Not only to clear my head but to relate our adventures for others to follow.

Why blog? I have an overactive 'thinking' process. This is quite wearying if one can't offload what one is thinking. As a child I kept exercise books and note books with my thoughts. They've long been discarded due to the many shifts I've had in my life. And, they were seen to be more of a personal possession. Diary like. As these are, but not that personal that others in my family or amongst friends, can't be shared. Having two 'homelands' is this medium ideal to be used to share experiences, happenings and life's insights.

The year is shaping up to be full of exciting happenings. In April, like I mentioned, my grandson is visiting me for the first time. Lots to look forward to and plan. Then in May I turn 65. A milestone. No pension yet as the Dutch Government has seen fit to delay the receiving of that till my 66th and 4 months age. Bother it all. I'll survive but half the fun of becoming 65 is gone. Then there is the summer. My friend Annette is due here from New Zealand. She and I are going to play tourist in my homeland and after that we are off to Wales via Dunkirk. I'll need a holiday after that I am sure!!

Earlier this month my hubby and I had a week in Portugal. Just to get re-acquainted with the sun. Wonderful. Calm before the storm you might say. Now it's time to put the finishing touches to my wish list for my 8 weeks visit from my grandson. Book a few events and get the diary sorted so we don't double up. And as I said, I'll be 65 in May so some days at home wouldn't be a bad thing πŸ˜‹.
I'm also going to see if I can pass on some favourite recipes while I'm at it. Be fun to be in the kitchen together.

As far as the other preparations for June/July are concerned. Just need to book the ferry for the cross over between Dunkirk and Dover! We've planned the route already. I've bought the map, the selfie stick and tripod. We'll be digital oma's having a ball. Must get rid of heaps of photos off my phone and get more practice making short videos. Never a dull day- that's us!

I'm going to sign off now. Been online most of this afternoon and early evening. Time to rest my eyes and hands. Ttfn ( tatafornow) and keep smiling.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Online and on paper

In May 2012 I elected to start blogging. My intention was to note down something every day of my 60th year. Well, a hard act to follow. It didn't happen every day. Pity but practically it just wasn't 'do-able'. Still, we are quite a few years on and I do manage to post a blog at regular intervals. Some pauzes wider than others but I do try to keep the momenten going. Occasionally I re-visit the previously posted blogs. I re-read about events, thoughts and even long held beliefs. Interesting. Some thoughts and ideals were obviously raw, long held or newly formed. I can see changes here and there too

My writing style could be described and 'verbal'. I tend to hold a conversation in my mind and place those words on paper, so to speak. Well not only so to speak. I do actually commit my blogs to print. So much joy and pride in receiving my books when they reach my mailbox. I have quite a few blog books adorning my shelves now. The process isn't hard, the prices even for me, as non earner, within reach. The satisfaction I experience is priceless.

Recently I 'went to print' not wanting to wait before I closed off the year. Felt bit fake to write just for the sake of writing so I could print my work. The program I use for this is available to many blog programs. It is called Blog2Print. Not sure whether there are other options available. I've even lent the books out to friends who aren't very internet minded but still want to read the fruits of my imagination. Very flattering.

The shortest day is approaching as is the feast of Christmas and the leap over into a New Year. Both these festive moments have reached their fair share of doom and gloom. My mother dying in the first hour of 2011 and my dear sweet father in law dying 19th December and not being able to be laid to rest till after Boxing Day. It has taken some time to regain that child like enthusiasm to freely and with unbridled joy celebrate these days. This year, which is one of few, I won't be cooking for Christmas dinner being happily tempted to eat out. With my children en grandchildren half a world removed from mine, missing family somehow affects me more than most days ( except for their birthdays when all I want to do is cuddle them and be physically part of the celebrations).

Despite the "missing them" I am surround by others whom I also care deeply about. Yesterday our home was filled with laughter, chatter and lots of noise. It was 'cousins' day. My husband and brother in law have a close family bond with these cousins. We decided to invite them to dinner. Feeding 16? Some thought it a chore to avoid, be afraid of or not even entertain. I reveled in the preparations, the oohs and aahs when they saw the buffet loaded with dishes. Ending 2017 on a high note- well this was certainly one I wouldn't have wanted to miss.

Time has flown. It has been a full on year with lots happening. We celebrated New Year with friends over from Scotland. My brother in law kicked off 2017 by deciding to purchase an other apartment and now lives in the same building as we do. I travelled to see my children and grandchildren in New Zealand and Australia. We, hubby and I, made a trip in the MG to Italy. Most memorable. I am involved in a training for become a Nature Guide for school groups who want to visit our National Park. Hours and hours of our time was spent helping paint, pack, sort out and help brother in law get settled into his new home. I can honestly say, 2017 was full of surprises, joys and sorrows and some events planned but altered at the last moment. It also brought good news and sad! A dear friend has been told that treatment is no longer an option, another is in hospital and my dear, darling, love her to bits aunt died in September.  I also discovered that a friend from years gone by had died at an early age quite affecting me more than I thought possible. Death, when it comes to those close, has a habit of emphasizing one's vulnerability.

But is wasn't all bad news. My grandson from Australia is preparing to visit for 2 months this coming year and a friend from New Zealand is arriving mid June. After a wee while here she and I are off to Wales. My hubby and I have a special celebration in the offing and my 65th birthday is happening while my grandson is here. With all these events in the planning I will have lots to look forward to, share and write about.

This is my last blog for the year 2017. Not quite one a week, 40 in total. Who knows whether I'll meet my weekly target next year. Time will tell.

Wishing you all every joy, fun, laughter, friendship and love this season and the year 2018 to come. Thank you for reading my stories, sending messages and somehow being part of this wonderfully colourful life of mine. Blessings to you all.


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Lots of the same - lots different.

I have 2 places I can call home. My country of birth where I once again reside, and the country I learnt to call home, where my 3 children were born and was my home for 30 years.

In the country of my birth I have been to primary school, had my first job and have a wonderful group of friends. Not to mention all the family connections. I can visit my birthplace and that of both my parents and 3 out of 4 of my siblings. I celebrate the cultural and national festivities and enjoy a wintery Christmas where hot chocolate, oliebollen and fairy lights spread their cheer everywhere you look. Public transport is a much used asset of getting from A to B - and anything more than 35-50 km away is considered a world trip. However, that traveling a certain distance does mean you may need your pasport as the borders of Germany and Belgium are easily reached. The culinary delights of smoked eel, raw herring, zuurkool met worst, stroopwafels and sate met pindasaus are a delight to my palet. My expanded food knowledge and experiences from my adopted homeland have extended my dishes here back home. Gladly some things have changed and informal visits to friends and family are no longer frowned upon or found to be awkward and uncomfortable - impromptu visits are more acceptable and a welcome change to the formal approach from yesteryear and have improved the less impulsive 'drop in anytime' mentality.

In my adopted home country I also enjoyed the fruits of education at both primary and tertiary levels. I completed a university degree and experienced a professional development which has helped form me and paved the way to a rewarding job. When visiting I can pay homage to my parents by visiting their final resting place, visit family and enjoy the memories of a time gone by. My youngest sibling's birthplace is in the 'new homeland' something that cements our family's connection to the new land. I can visit the cities where my children were born and grew up, I am able to shop at familiar stores and frequent shopping malls some refurbished and expanded but I still feel 'at home'. I have a wide circle of friends- wide also in terms of widely spread throughout the country. I do not however miss the hot Christmases but do miss the ease at which I could acces and walk barefoot along the beach. The bonds of friendships formed are that strong that when we meet up - we pick up where we left off. The scenery between A and B, no matter where one travels, is breathtaking! The changes appearing after each bend. I love the gingernuts my biggest coffee/tea accompaniment "I miss them heaps". I also miss the 'real' brown and icing sugar. The taste and result after use of these just aren't the same at home. Oh and being able to purchase a piece of pork - as large as you like without having to go to a specialised butcher......! Need I say more.

Lots of the same - lots different. I feel extremely blessed to have had the life I've lived so far. Not that it all went according to plan. My childhood dreams haven't all turned out to be how I imagined. Even though I've enjoyed huge highs and joys- the sorrows were trials to battle through and survive. Re-reading this it only underlines once again my blessings and richness of the privileges I've had. The choices, were at times, inevitable given the circumstances and while it hasn't been an easy ride, I stand by my decisions knowing I did the best I could during those moments.

Leaving one's homeland, one's safety net, one's cocoon is not something one does lightly. There are many who have no choice in this - being forced away due to war, drought, famine or persecution. I feel for those being violently uprooted and replanted in a world so alien to their customs and lifestyles. I cannot begin to fathom how lonely they must feel.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Looking at life from a different angle

Tino and Angela on Facebook
In August I wrote about a young couple ( Dutch Nomad Couple)who decided to follow their bliss and discover the world beyond their own horizon. Their commitment, enthusiasm and almost enviable conviction that this was their way to go and would succeed in realising their ambitions was cause of great admiration from my point of view. How many of us are that steadfast and committed to making dreams come true?

There were hurdles to overcome, farewelling a lifestyle that brought comfort and pleasurable moments. Financial security was let go and swapped for the freedom and self supporting lifestyle they had embraced. I am sure they felt moments of doubt quickly to be erased by the prospect of all that awaited them- known and unknown. Leaving their families behind wasn't easy - but each and everyone of them realised that there was no stopping them, nor did they want to. Everyone has a right to their own dream. As parent myself I could so identify with the emotions that they ( the parents) must felt when the day dawned when the adventure truly began.

Last night they graced our dinner table. The stories, their experiences their hopes and plans. It all passed the review. But they weren't just full of their own story. Interested in people and their lives, Tino and Angela have a way of stimulating the conversation in all directions, wanting everyone to be able to share their thoughts. A lovely, enthusiastic, openminded and thoughtful couple who make this world a more beautiful planet to be part of.

After our guests left, my husband and I re-lived some of the conversation. We are in no way jealous of this lifestyle - but in awe and have respect for the decision for this couple to have gotten rid of 90% of their possessions, freed themselves of the shackles that wearied them and tied them down. We, hubby and I are approaching retirement. We have about 3 years to go before the pension replaces the wages. It will also provide us with freedom of movement without having to schedule holidays between jobs. Our destination wishes aren't at great distance. The wishes we have are modest - it is health that is our number one priority in as far as we ourselves are responsible. Exceptions are or could be the rule. I do however aspire to visit Down Under at the regular intervals I have been these past 17 years. My children and grandchildren are still a source of great joy for me and while I am able, those trips stay on my 'to-do' list.

Shortly Tino and Angela leave these familiar shores again exchanging the known for the unknown. We wish them well, and will certainly be stopping by on their YouTube channel to follow them on their travels. It is one way of getting to see places in the world we will never physically frequent.

Bon Voyage you two, travel safe!

Do you want to travel with Angela and Tino, then click on this YouTube link and enjoy the sights.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Double dipping

I'm bi-lingual. Born in Nederland and at the age of 8 went with my parents and siblings to start a new life in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. I had already been privy to being a student at primary school in Nederland, and can honestly say, that I had a reasonably extended vocabulary for my age group. My only English words I learnt prior to leaving were, 'Yes, no and please'. Things like 'My name is..' were easily learnt as they sound almost the same in dutch ( mijn naam is..)! One could almost 'cheat' as the difference in pronunciation is slight.

I was 8 years old and very uncertain of myself. To actually communicate with classmates was unthinkable. I was scared of saying the wrong things, expressing myself with words unfamiliar was a definite no-no! I coped, I grew, I learnt. Many will have helped me along the way, both teachers and fellow students alike,  to come to grips with my new language. My parents were advised to not speak dutch at home- so we children and obviously they too, would blend in and become the model new citizens we needed to become.

I picked up the kiwi accent without any bother at all. The 'th' sound gave rise to some teasing. That, I have to say, was probably the hardest part of learning to get it right. And, following the advise my parents were given- dutch was almost never used at home. I say almost, as we still communicated by letter with family and friends- so we received letters in dutch. We had a few dutch friends - and it made for comfortable coffee and tea sessions for my parents. As children we tended to communicate in English only but we could easily understand the Dutch language.

Then we moved back to Nederland. To re-learn one's native tongue is quite a challenge. It fits like a glove- yet is feels as if one is swimming in the wrong pool.  You know you can - but you doubt your ability to stay afloat. The languages mingled and became entangled. The 'new' words, the extended vocabulary, hadn't grown in the years we had been away. I had matured but my language skills hadn't. Catch up time. Does one think translate - or think in the language one speaks? I have come to realise my method is to think English and speak English when visiting Down Under. And I reverse this process when back in Nederland. I am told I have no accent in either language- which is quite a compliment. Not sure why that is- maybe the secret is, that I don't translate in my head. I use one language at a time.

From my experiences, the to-ing and fro-ing between New Zealand and Nederland ( I returned again staying almost 30 years this time), I now understand the inner conflict many refugees have when settling in a safer environment with the possibility of being repatriated at a later date. How deeply ought they to immerse themselves in the new language, customs and history of this new but maybe temporary homeland? For the children it is a given, they will adapt. Give them the opportunity to speak or at least understand their own mother tongue - they will pick up the verbal aspect again when placed back in their old surroundings. I would make a plea however for the parents- learn the language of your new homeland - and become enriched by it's customs. When and if you return to your country of your birth you will be the richer for it.

I know my parents felt more part of the community as a whole by embracing the language - yet never forsaking their language by birthright. Your language: It is who you are. There is no escaping it. And why should you want to? By becoming bi-lingual it broadens one's horizon, extends one's vision and helps you understand the world around you. I work hard at keeping both languages alive. It has enriched my life in so many ways. Not to mention that my children and grandchildren all communicate in English - and not in Dutch. Next year I will have the opportunity to teach one of my grandchildren more about his heritage when he comes to visit his oma. And yes, there will be the odd Dutch language sessions to help him feel comfortable in company - so he can in some small way feel more part of the group and less and outsider.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Life is like that.....

A change in seasons. We here in the Northern Hemisphere see the leaves turning every shade of autumn one can imagine. I have banned my summery dresses to the back of the wardrobe and even though we are still privi to some sunny and balmy days, the real summer is well and truly behind us. Change happens.

I look back with much appreciation to the last rays of summer warmth. As far as I am concerned my days were wonderful, cheerful, eventful en worth repeating. All in all a good summer. My hubby agrees. No matter where we were, the good weather followed or went before us. Yes, we had rain too, thankfully. The plants also need the nourishment as do the trees, insects and birds. Humans too can't do without the wet.

Unfortunately some don't agree with me. They moan about a washed out summer. True some of the school holiday weeks weren't as dry as they might have liked- but I thought summer was longer than just those 6 weeks! Anyway, enough about the moaners. Life is too short....!

Autumn. How absolutely charming, enchanting and refreshing. I love the colour scheme, the vivid orange colours and the leaves that gently float down to the earth where they will decay and nourish the ground.

Autumn, a time to allow the body to cool down after the warm months. A time to take stock, reminisce on the summer escapades. Create dreams for the coming months to fill the longer evenings. Candle light, warm rug on the couch. Soup and toast, hearty meals to ward off the winter chills that await around the corner.

I love salads and light meals- to a point. Now the weather is changing and other vegetables are abundant a change of dishes appear on the table. I tend to use more eastern spices and herbs to fill the air with warm scents wafting out the kitchen. Other cakes on the menu now - the 'fluffy' stuff can wait till next year - I'm now into Lemon meringue pies, Walnut and caramel cake, apple crumble. All things that make a smile appear on hubby's face just hearing about them!

It's good to get some of my warmer clothing out again. Forgot what I had. I'm quite warm blooded and prefer still to wear things with short sleeves. Can always add a cardi or jacket if I get cold. That's a problem in summer. I get so warm I need to put my feet in a bucket of cold water or hold my head under the cold tap. Now I can dress to keep my body temp comfortable. I am sure y skin sighs with relief.

As our days shorten, and the clock will be turned back an hour next weekend I look ahead and feel content. Changes happen. So too will this season make way for more changes... and so the cycle continues. I live for the moment. And that moment in NOW.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Smile and experience the happy moments

Tuesday- 10th October

- 1st Happy moment today was sharing breakfast time 🍴with my hubby
- 2nd Happy moment was seeing the 🌞 break through after 4 days ☔. I was going to accompany/escort a class of young children in our National Park. Theme 'Autumn'.
- After a splendid morning I managed to complete 3 blogs - I had run out of time in the weekend.
- Tried a new recipe 🍲 today. It was worth the effort. πŸ‘

# Best happy moment was seeing a video clip of my 4 year old grandson on his skateboard - like a pro! 😍😍😍😍😍

Not bad all those happy moments. Then things got a bit more blurry. I'd not been feeling that bright and perky for a couple of days. Now the 'not so perky' dropped to feeling lousy. It was almost like I'd tempted fate by saying there were so many happy things to be grateful for that I was going to have to work harder to experience them. So even in the extreme down times there were things to be happy about. I was in a warm environment. I didn't have to do school runs or kindy pick ups. The cupboards were stocked, the washing was done. I could actually feel lousy and have a clean house and filled pantry. The most important thing was- I had no appointments to cancel or rearrange - which can cause hassles and delays at the best of times.

My lower back played up too - and I had the fortune of having the bathroom to myself for long hot showers which eased the tense muscles. Hubby, his brother and a friend had taken themselves off for a few days R & R. Kitchen duties were dispensed with till further notice or should the urge to cook arise. I was inundated with happy moments. Because I was alone there was no-one to moan to! So no, I didn't become a grump. Yippee!

The sun shone, the outside temperatures were lovely despite us already being well into Autumn. Laying on the couch on the balcony, cup of tea at my elbow, pillow in my back, iPad om my lap and music gentle filling the air through our outdoor speakers. How awesome - being quite unwell and being comfortable at the same time. I also slept many a daylight hour and it didn't interfere with anyone's plans or wishes.

Keeping track of happy moments is in fact quite revealing. What constitutes a happy moment? I guess it's having that peace of mind and insight that any given situation has benefits - and if you allow them to be larger than life, the negatives go unnoticed or at best disappear.

My week of 'happy spotting' has also made me aware at how little I took notice of them before. Not that I ignored them. But I didn't celebrate them like I ought. Being aware of this and also knowing that one's view of the world at large becomes clearer and prettier when the attention goes to the happy moments, I'm working on it to stay alert and more appreciative of the little things in life. Being happy is a state of mind!