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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Tuesday 6 January

There is outrage over the fact that there are people who don't know who Paul McCartney is. Oh bliss. I so hate the entire celebrity thing, not to mention those reheated hasbeens like "Macca". Not to mention the "Stones" who were resurrected from their musical sarcofagii to perform at some pop-do over here in Holland in 2014. Listen guys. You've made oodles out of us all way-back when. Give way to new talent. Erm, what talent?
Been for a 5 mile walk through the woods and the periphery of the heathlands. It's a cold day here, but little wind. On the fringes of the heathlands, which are fairly high up (about 300 feet), there were still vestiges of snow in the eaves of the surrounding forests. However, temperatures are set to rise to as much as 12C / 54F by the weekend, so that snow will soon have gone. 
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Monday, 5 January 2015

Sunday 4 January

On New Year's Day I came down with an ear-infection, which was very painful. I therefore didn't show my face outside for the next couple of days. Also, this left me partially deaf. I am told this is temporary, but it's a flipping nuisance. Today, I went to church to start with. It had been frosty in the night, and upon walking to church, about a quarter of a mile away, Jack Frost was in evidence with his handywork on car windows. The church service was one for Epiphany, but also about New Year. The service itself was followed by a social event, highlighted by poetry, images of sculptures, and music. Went for a walk in the woods during the afternoon. The sun was out, as were many Sunday walkers.

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Thursday 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

The New Year came in with a nationwide letting off of fireworks; in this neck of the woods, it continued until about 1am. Got up at half past nine, to visit and be visited. Quite a nice day, ice and snow are melting fast.

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Wednesday 31 December - New Year's Eve

Here we are again, on the final day of 2014. Fireworks are a major thing here in Holland at this time, but the government now only allow people to let them off between 6pm and 2am. Nonetheless, we did spot some young folk letting off carbid bangs. Went for a walk in the woods, but a nagging cold is precluding us from making major forays at this time. In the evening, we watched some entertainments, until midnight struck.
A thaw is now well underway, and the ice on the pavements is melting.

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Tuesday 30 December

In view of the dicey state of pavements around town, we only went as far as the Castle Country Park. The council didn't do its job properly, and failed to sweep our street. It is pretty hilly, so an icy situation is not desirable. Had a closer look at the Tricky Fountains, but the shell galleries are all wrapped up against frost.

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