Thursday, April 30, 2009


Any Dutch readers will know what I'm talking about.

Today is Koninginnedag, the Queen's official birthday. Her real birthday is in January but to have the advantage of nice weather, her birthday isn't celebrated till 30 April (which is actually her late mother's birthday). It's a national holiday, most people have a day off. Streets are decorated with flags and bunting. People are dressed in orange. Lots of towns organise flea markets and open-air concerts. The Queen and several members of her family visit one or two towns or cities where they receive a warm welcome and attend the celebrations.

I was working in the office today and we'd organised a picnic with some Dutch and orange food with our department for lunchtime. Halfway through the morning I received an email from my mum, to go and read the Dutch news website At first it looked like an accident had occurred: in the town where the royal family was visiting, a car had driven through the barriers, hitting several people, then careered off and crashed into a monument near to where the royal family were travelling in an open-top bus. During the course of the day the news gradually became more grim: 2 people dead, then 4, and just now a fifth person has died. It is now clear that the driver of the car did this deliberately and that his actions were aimed at the royal family.

I can never quite understand why people would want to do something like this to other, perfectly innocent people. People who were there just to catch a glimpse of members of the royal family, wave at them, enjoy the sunshine and the festivities. It just makes me so angry - if you have a point to make, make it, but don't involve innocent people in it. The lives of the families of the victims will never be the same again - and why? what purpose?

I may have lived over here in Britain for almost 14 years now, but on days like this, I still feel very connected to my homeland. I was hoping to take I. and N. to Holland one day for Koninginnedag, as I think they should experience it for themselves as part of their Dutch identity. It remains to be seen whether Koninginnedag will ever be the same though.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Snowflakes, socks and spring daisies

Well, that's what you get if you cut out snowflake flannel pj bottoms in December but then have no time to sew them up for another 4 months: snowflakes in daisies!

Very simple pair of pjs, bottoms are from Ottobre, top is RTW but appliqued a little snowflake on front to make it a matching item.

School socks for N. He's a very grateful recipient of handknitted socks and when I finished the first one, he wore it straightaway. Of course it's now really getting rather warm for handknitted socks, but chances are he'll wear them anyway. 56 stitches on size 2.25 needles, garter rib, can't remember the yarn! I think it's Trekking. I can't believe how big his feet are getting, these are a perfect fit, but I doubt they'll fit for the Autumn term in September....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

All in a day's work

Work has been manic the last few weeks. And working from home is all well and good when the kids are at school, but when it's holidays, it's a slightly different matter. They're now old enough to let me do an hour or so fairly uninterrupted, but not much more than that. And to be honest, I enjoy having them around so I don't really want to be stuck behind the computer while they're at home. So the holidays were a mixture of birthdays (I am now the proud mother of a 10 year old and a 7 year old), days out and trying to fit in a few hours of work here and there - mostly early mornings and after they'd gone to bed.

Things have calmed down ever so slightly this last week, and as an antidote to all that brainwork, I needed a weekend off. B. has been doing the landscaping around his house and started laying the bricks for the driveway. Yesterday as I came out with a coffee, he asked if I wanted to lay a brick too. I gave in, mostly just to please him, thinking I'd do one or two. That was at 3.30 pm. At 7.45 pm we finished for the day - and I'd laid most of the bricks. I did a bit more today, and now every muscle aches, including ones I didn't know I had, I seem to have wiped the fingerprints off my fingers, and my back is sunburnt. But it was the perfect activity for a relaxing weekend - creative and strangely enough, slightly addictive.

More photos on the whole landscaping over on Flickr (link on the right).

This is the view from the master bedroom. I'm always amazed by how big these farm machines are.

I'll leave you with a picture of one of the cats, Snickers, who's watching the wildlife at the pond (mostly the ducks nesting). I know it's a bit blurry but I love it when cats do this and couldn't resist taking a photo.