Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The canals of Amsterdam

This year it is 400 years ago the counsil of the city of Amsterdam, by then the richest city in Europe, agreed that something had to be done about the city. Many people had moved to the city, including lots of immigrants, and the medieval centre had become too small and cramped.
The medieval city (upside down)
It was deceided that there would be a belt of 4 circular Canals (grachten) around the medieval towncentre. One canal would be for defending the city, the other three were for the houses of the rich. The canals were constructed in such a way that all the dealings of the servants and the tradesmen would be in the little streets between the canals, so the rich merchants and regents living there would not be bothered.
Amsterdam with the first part of the canals around the medieval centre.
Today the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht are still beautiful. There are still people living in these houses, but most of the time the houses have been converted into apartments.
Here are a few impressions of what the Canals look like today.

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Rosemary and Thyme (2003-2007)

Rosemary and Thyme is another one of those great British series.
Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme meet eachother by accident. Laura, who is a former police officer is just left by her husband, and Rosemary just lost her job as a horticultural professor.

Together they start a business as gardners, solving problems with plants, but in the meantime they also manage to solve murders wherever they come.

It is a crime series, but don't expect difficult plots with lots of twists, or realistic and depressing every day life (you can watch the Scandinavian crime series if you want all that)

This series you watch for the amazing actresses and the beautiful gardens. In short, for the quintessential English atmosphere. Murders never were more calming and fun.
Felicity Kendall as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris as Laura Thyme.
Photo source here

This is Rosemary's trusty Jeep.
Photosource here

Strange things always make Rosemary curious
Photosource here

They do all the dirty work themselves
Photosource here

And they also design gardens
Photosource here

Some episodes were set abroad, in France or Italy and Spain.
Photosource here

An amazing team!
Photosource here

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Guerilla gardening

I was very inspired by the book called The rurbanite, by Alex Mitchell. (you can find what I wrote about her on my bookblog here)
In this books she writes about creating a greener and better environment in our cities. By gardening, not just in our gardens and on our balconies and windowsills, but by making plants grow in the places you would not expect them to grow.
You can put pots on your doorstep and on the stairs of your house. But you can also go a little but further. That is a form of guerilla gardening, claiming bits and pieces of the city to grow a few plants. By a tree, along the pavement. Don't ask permission, but if you do it right, the counsil will probably let you get away with it.
When I was in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, suddenly I saw examples of guerilla gardening everywhere! When you are looking around, you see how people tried to make the city greener in all kinds of creative and beautiful ways.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Cary Grant

My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best as I can.

Cary Grant (actor, 1904-1986)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Some essentials for Spring (and Summer)

When the weather changes I dive into my wardrobe and see what I can still wear, what needs to be thrown out and what needs to be replaced. This Spring I needed quite a few new items, and here they are

White blouse. A classic white blouse is always a must, since you can combine it with everything.

Summer shoes. I have some comfortable summer shoes, but I also wanted a pair that could be worn with skirts, dresspants and jeans. These beige suede wedges tick all the boxes.

Trenchcoat. Again, a classic. For a few years I did without a summercoat, because I could not find the right one. When I saw this one, I knew it was right. It is the right lenght, and it fits very comfortably.

I love this stiching on the sleeves and the trim.

New pair of trousers. Dark chocolate brown trousers, in a cotton/linen mixture. They look very nice when I wear them.
And as you can see, these trousers combine very well with my new wedges.
Cute cardigan. When I saw this on the rack, I knew I was lucky. It was the only one left on the rack, and it fitted perfectly. And I could buy it for half the price, since it was sale.
The colour is not as purple as you might think when you look at this photograph, it is more fuchsia-pink.

You can see the colour better in this photograph, and you can see the details in the knitting.

Pink lipstick. Nothing says Spring more than a pink lipstick. I love this shade.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tsar Peter of Russia in Amsterdam

The Hermitage in Amsterdam is the only other Hermitage in Europe, working as some sort of an affiliate museum for the Hermitage in Sint Petersburg, Russia. The building in Amsterdam used to be a home for old people in the 17th century, but since 2009 is became a museum.
Every few months there is an exhibition, with all kinds of items from the original Hermitage in Sint Petersburg.
Since I really love Russian history, I am a great fan of the Hermitage and every time there is an exhibition, I must see it.

Right now there is an amazing exhibition about Tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725). He was a tsar who wanted to make Russia a modern country. He came to Western Europ to learn crafts, and he was taught how to be a ships carpenter here in the Dutch Republic.
The exhibition is amazing, varied and it showed a lot of the different aspects of this great tsar and amazing man (can you tell I have a soft spot for Tsar Peter?)

This year is Russia year in the Netherlands and it celebrates the close relations between Russia and the Dutch. The exhibition about Peter the Great can be seen until September 9, 2013.
Link to the Hermitage Amsterdam is HERE.
These photographs were made by me.

The Amstel river, that flows before the museum

Another look at the Amstel river, with the Hermitage on the left.

A closer look at the Hermitage in Amsterdam

The garden at the back of the museum. Really lovely.  

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mark Twain

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

Mark Twain, (American author 1835-1910)

Friday, 10 May 2013

These boots are made for walking...

Some times you need to cheer yourself up, and what better way to do that than to buy kick-ass boots? I saw these bright blue suede ankle boots and I just knew they were right for me. So I bought them. And I felt instantly happier! But who would not be in a good mood with a pair of amazing boots like these on her feet?
They look great with a pair of jeans, and they brighten up every outfit. 

The hight of the heel makes them perfect, I can walk in them very comfortably, but they do give that little lift that makes you taller and stand up better.
Do you have a pair of boots or shoes you absolutely love and that make you very happy when you wear them?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A balcony in Spring

I love going to a gardening centre, although I do get very greedy when I am there. There are so many beautiful plants to choose from, it is very hard to stop myself piling up my cart with tons of plants.
Last week Spring finally arrived in the Netherlands, and I was inspired to clean my balcony and make it ready for Spring and Summer.
First, I had a lot of cleaning to do. Unfortunately I left some of the cleaning last Autumn, so there was still a lot to do. I did not clean it all in one go, but I paced myself a little. An hour a day for a couple of days was more than enough. (and better than five hours of cleaning on one day!)
Anyway, despite the dirty hands, I finally had cleaned the bannister, the floors and all the pots. I was really proud of myself.
Dirt hands as you can see, but dirty because I did honest work!

Clean pots, ready to be used again.

Last week I went to the gardening centre with my mum, who also needed plants for her balcony. We went with Hugo, my green Citroen and he was packed full of plants when we were finished.

Amazing selections in the gardening centre

Beautiful roses. I did not buy these, but I get greedy and very tempted when I see something like this.

The boot of Hugo (my car) already full of plants
But I also had to find room for these as well 

And for the plants my mother bought!
I spent the rest of the afternoon putting plants in pots and putting them in the right area. I am very fond of blue, pink, white and purple flowers and I rarely buy other colours. I also want beautiful flowers to attrackt bees. I love bees and they already have a difficult time, so if my balcony gives them something they like, all the better!

Gorgeous isn't it?

Absolutely beautiful.

Lovely combination

A great view from the living room

I also planted some seeds, I like to call this my vegetable garden. I want to grow runner beans and peas, artichoke, fennel and chamomile. I am not sure how well they will turn out, but we will have to wait and see.

We shall have to wait and see how well these will do. Last year thet did fine, so I have good hope for some great results.
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