Friday, 16 January 2015

Friday 16 January

Today, I am embarking on the first stage of my journey back to Stornoway. The Shell Gallery is going under wraps once more, until my next visit to the Netherlands. I have immensely enjoyed the past five weeks, gathered up many memories to take back with me. I am looking forward to returning later in the year.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thursday 15 January

A dank and dreich day, with some light rain about. Since it's my last full day in Holland for this visit, I had to start making preparations for my journey to Scotland, tomorrow. As in previous visits, I went to the cemetery and placed some flowers by my mother's grave. She would have enjoyed our little ceilidh at Warnsborn yesterday. The graveyard is slowly filling up, but I'm just bemused at all the little adornments that are placed by the new graves. They won't last very long. Even new gravestones tend to become overgrown by mosses large and small.

I shall miss the familiarity of the village, woods and heathlands. The Shell Gallery is going under wraps as of tomorrow, and I shall update here again upon my return later in the year.

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Wednesday 14 January

Although it started off pretty wet, it did dry up after lunchtime, and the sun even put in an appearance just before sunset, now at 4.45pm. We went to a restaurant at the Hotel Groot Warnsborn, on the northern outskirts of Arnhem, about 5 miles to the west. My father, two sisters and I had booked a high tea for ourselves, which was very nicely done. Staff were most attentive, and the food excellent.

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Monday 12 January

A very wet day, but fortunately it did dry up by mid afternoon, allowing us to go for a brief stroll around the village. Television was not interesting, so I helped my father with some admin stuff he is doing for the church.

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Sunday 11 January

Attended church for the last time this visit to Holland. Joined in the Holy Communion, and said good-bye to my fellow choristers over a cuppa afterwards. In the afternoon, we went on a longish hike to the Zijpenberg, a 340 ft high hill in the woods. We passed the old swimming pool at Beekhuizen. It is now a nature reserve, for watching pondlife. Only thing is, it's January, so any pondlife will be hibernating. The walk was rather up-and-down, but it took us about an hour to get there. It is a good viewpoint, with undulating hills tumbling down to the river valley in the distance. We went back along the periphery of the heathlands, a little way to the north.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Friday 9 January

Got up early to get a doctor's appointment. I'm still quite deaf as a result of last week's ear infection, so I nipped down to the surgery to have my ears checked. The doc said it was just some fluid which needed to drain away naturally - which could take several weeks. Oh well. What did you say?

A violent storm struck Scotland last night, with Stornoway seeing gusts of 113 mph, and a sustained windspeed of 79 mph. That is hurricane force. Most of my Hebridean contacts have disappeared from the Internet, phones, electricity and other communications are down. Later in the day, images appeared of considerable damage, with roofs lifted off buildings, trees brought down and windows blown out. Ferries are not running anywhere in the islands, so they're having a bad day.

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Wednesday 7 January

Got up earlier than usual, so my father suggested we take a hike to the river. The river is the River IJssel, an offshoot of the river Rhine, flowing north past Deventer, Zwolle and Kampen into Lake IJssel, formerly the Zuiderzee. It's a pretty big body of water. We walked there on the outside of Velp, past Biljoen Castle and across the floodplain to the old stage for the ferry to Lathum, on the eastern bank of the river. We returned through the centre of Velp, a pretty big town of about 20,000. The weather was beautiful, starting out frosty but warming up to some extent by the time we returned home, at midday.

Upon our return, the news came through that twelve people had been killed by two gunmen in Paris. Ten journalists and  two policemen. NOS TV felt it necessary to show us the execution of one policeman - so we knew what it looked like. We don't need to know, thanks. The journalists all worked for a satirical publication called Charlie Hebdo (Charlie's Weekly), which had published some cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed back in 2006. Now, Muslims do take exception to taking their Prophet being lampooned (like Christians don't particularly like Jesus Christ being lampooned), but there is no justification for this sort of action. #JeSuisCharlie was the hashtag that cropped up as a mark of respect and support.

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