Monday, 29 October 2018

Life's ups and downs

As exciting and uplifting as the first part of 2018 has been- so eventful and worrying it continues.

I do however have good news about my hand - I can drive the car again. I'm not out the woods yet, but at a snail's pace, I have had some improvements happen.

For others near and dear to me, there were however some more unfortunate occurrences which have also impacted on me and my activities.

My adopted mother in law had a nasty fall. At 88 any fall is nasty and this one was no exception. The bone high up just below the hip joint broke in a most nasty fashion. All jagged and deep. Ambulance, hospital and surgery was necessary for her to be able to now work on rehabilitation and hopefully a return to the independent lifestyle she is accustomed to living. Thankfully my left hand is not a deterrent to being helpful in her time of need. Lovingly I take care of some of the needs she has, along with her son. He lives quite a distance away- so the on the spot stuff I take care of as soon as the needs arise.

Meanwhile I am also working hard on the rehab of my hand. Slowly but surely things are looking more positive. I'm wearing a pressure 'sleeve' and that has helped enormously to reduce the 'burning stinging nettle' feeling I was experiencing. I can bend my fingers a wee bit more- making an arch. All looking promising I have to say.

Last Wednesday was another shocker. My brother in law had a heart attack at work. I'm still trying to get my head round it. Due to the immediate and most effective actions of one of his colleagues, he received the right treatment and was whisked of to hospital with flashing lights and screaming sirens. Straight to surgery and an immediate placing of a shunt saved his life. Such a dramatic event cause lots of emotional backlash...! We are ever sooooooo thankful at the outcome. He is now home and recuperating. It'll be months before he can return to work- but thankfully he lived to tell the tale.

It has been a rollercoaster year all in all. Hoping our last few months of 2018 are a wee bit more relaxing and stress free.

Each and every day is a gift- the unexpected is always around the corner. I'm thankful for every sunrise - and try to live life to the full. The experiences shape me and always will. The thing is to learn from everything that comes on my path. And as long as I keep my experiences in perspective - and know when to laugh and when to cry- I'll be just fine.

Signing off now as I am due at the physiotherapist shortly.

If you want to know how I got on at physiotherapy- Click on this link

Monday, 8 October 2018

Friendships and an energy boost

I am going to boast, again, about our weather. It's October, in the northern hemisphere that means Autumn. Our temperatures range from 16 to 25 degrees and loads of sunshine with little wind. Some of my friends had already banned their summery cloths to the back of the wardrobe, with the idee that they wouldn't be needed again for 6 months.

Last Friday we, a group of 8 friends, embarked on our annual weekend away. We have been doing this for 12 years now, with a turn about couple arranging the place and activities to keep us occupied from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. This year we strayed from our usual timeframe of early July to early October. Keeping our fingers crossed for good weather. Well, mother nature obliged. We had sun all weekend and temperatures of 24 and 22 respectively with Sunday being slightly cooler at 18. No complaints here I can tell you.

We travel in pairs. As friends Harry and Hinriette wanted to take their bikes, we traveled with them. All 4 of us had no work commitments for the Friday so off we went after coffee and a relaxed start to the day. Our destination was Nunspeet in the province Gelderland. Very green, slightly undulating due to the ever present sandy underground, which for century has altered it's shape after heavy storms and windy weather patterns. You can read more about it on Chris Booth's Website. Chris, a New Zealand sculptor is responsible for a beautiful creation depicting the area's identity.

On our way we stopped off at a lovely wee 'Inn' called 't Hilletje in Kootwijk, where we enjoyed lunch while sitting outside reveling in the sunshine. As we went on our merry way we also took in the sights at a Sculpture Park. Items of wood, stone, bronze and sand in numerous shapes and forms greeted us there. We were most impressed and pleasantly surprised. Had no idea such a beautiful park was relatively close to home ( about an hour's drive).

Towards the end of the afternoon we arrived at the hotel. We walked, biked ( well I stayed back at the hotel as I still can't use my hand so couldn't steer the bike), ate, drank, laughed, chatted, discussed, agreed and disagreed, slept, and enjoyed just being together. On the Sunday we left the hotel and spent a short time in Apeldoorn, this to kill some time before our organised tasting and tour of the local beer brewery, De Schavuit.

We love playing tourist in our own country. One doesn't have to go far to have a great break away and learn more about one's homeland. And how wonderful to do that with friends.

After the recent 10 weeks of laying low and being hampered after my hand surgery, this boost to my morale and the effects of the laughter was an energising tonic much needed and gratefully received.

Click here for the link to my videos
I'm going to work on the video of this great weekend adventure. This is a very appropriate activity as I recall and relive some of these precious moments. By committing this weekend to video I am also able to share my fun time with family and friends highlighting Nederland and it's scenery to boot. The next couple of days wil see me splicing, editing and adding sound to my still somewhat amateur skills as a movie maker. Never too old to learn.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

My Autumn leaves

Officially, it's autumn. And if I look at the barometer, it confirms this seasonal turnaround. The sun is out, quite bright too, though the temperature won't reach more than 15 today. I'm protected from any chills by the double glazing. Not venturing outside today, except for Wednesday this of week. The furtherest I stepped outside was our balcony. I have a heavy cold. Most unusual and unexpected. Wednesday was a 'had to' step out as I had a physio appointment followed by a new coating on my nails. They have also taken on a more autumn look.

Funny really, I don't get colds much at all. I recall having one when I was in New Zealand last in april/may 2017 - again in an autumn season. Messed up my intended Easter activities there. Was more a bronchial attack. My daughter looked after me extremely well and pampered me which made my recovery all the more pleasant. This episode totally took me by surprise. Never mind, it's only temporary so no big deal. Just limiting in what I can and want do. Like today. It is 13:23 on a Saturday afternoon and I am still as snug as a bug in a rug wearing my warm comfy dressing gown. When I've posted this I'll jump under the shower and wrap myself up warm in comfy 'indoor' regalia. I would have preferred to have gone to the local market for some fresh fish and the enjoyable hustle and bustle.

We have a most enthralling view from our apartment. Looking down a river on which pleasure craft glide past, the local rowing club practice their skills and the bridge in a distance which allows the traffic to cross the watery divide. On both sides plenty of trees which house numerous birdlife, a path for pedestrians to enjoy the ambiance of the river and a setting sun presenting us with breathtaking view most evenings. A delight to live on this lovely spot.

With the falling temperatures, and the results of a long hot summer, most trees are in the process of shedding their leaves. The deep colour green has now faded to a paler version. There isn't much orange or yellow yet but that won't be long in coming. Each morning a new palet of colour greets me as I step outside for my early morning breath of fresh air. Invigorating!

Sometimes I too feel like those leaves. I try to make the most of what the day brings. As a person I am very optimistic with the added dosage of realism. Lately though, I have let my negativeness get the better of me. The struggle to regain the use of my hand after surgery got me down. My body didn't change to autumn but dropped into the unfathomable darkness of winter.

Now that I have reset my button, re-gained my composure and will to improve... I've arrived back into colourful and vibrant Autumn where the leaves ( = my disappointments),  which have had their moment of sadness, are being shed, falling off me in a breeze of renewal. I have literally turned over a new leaf.

When I look out my windows during the winter months, I visualise the leaves back on the trees in all their glory. I imagine the sun's rays on the raindrops and the return of the birdlife in spring. My turn around has me imagining the re-use of my hand, the new strength I'm given after the surgery and am making plans for the stacked up chores I've been 'saving' till I am 100% fit again.

Seasons are wonderful for giving new perspectives on life, bringing other experiences, challenges and possibilities. And in my lifetime I've experienced many seasons and gained lots of experiences and triumphs. I'm up for the challenges, looking forward to new experiences and will revel in my triumph.

Carpe Diem! Not just today but every day!

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 ( Vereniging Vrijwiligers 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.