Saturday, May 04, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Life in the flatlands has gone a bit stale on me of late and I am lacking inspiration - feeling flat as it were. I've been meaning to write a post all week, but that 'can't be bothered feeling' has assailed me every time I've thought about it. I'm not sure what it is except possibly what they call here 'voorjaarsmoeheid', meaning spring tiredness. Maybe it's also because I've just finished a long and intense edit on the first draft of a new book, which has left me a little down. I found so much that I didn't like on re-reading it, not to mention a whole heap of repetitive expressions that have all (at least I hope they have) been exterminated, eradicated, eliminated or whatever else you can do with such literary mannerisms. Now, I'm wondering whether it's ever going to be any good. I'm having a few copies printed and sending it to a number of trusted readers who I know will give me good, honest feedback.

So, in the meantime and just to pull myself out of sloth, I'm presenting a post of bits and pieces from my phone camera.

The marvellous thing about these smartphones is that wherever you are, you can always whip your phone out of your pocket and snap something, and the results are not all too bad now. I don't carry a real camera around with me all the time - unlike Koos who would feel more naked without a camera than his shirt - and so the phone is an ideal pocket snapper. The result is that I often accumulate dozens of pictures on my phone before I get round to importing them to my laptop.

These first two pictures are of one of my bookshelves. I was going to write a post about my somewhat eclectic reading tastes, but it was a post I never got round to doing. Are there any books you can see here that you recognise, and any you have read yourselves?  I confess I haven't read absolutely all of them as a few come from Koos (you'll note those - they either have Dutch titles or they're about Poland). I will also acknowledge I haven't enjoyed all of them, but seem to keep them anyway. Notable among these is the one about Atila the Hun, which was all a bit too gory for my tastes. One I have enjoyed very much is by fellow blogger, Christina James. I wrote a review about her In the Family some weeks ago, which you might remember. By the way, the books are two deep, so I'm afraid you can't see the back rows.

These three photos are from a conceptual art event we attended last weekend. The artist is Christa van der Heide who is well known in these parts for her original and fascinating approach to the use of waste   items from industry in her art. It was at this event that my new profile picture on Facebook was taken. We all blew bubbles that floated down and mingled with the glass 'bubbles' on the floor. It was a moving and special event prompted by the artist's desire to confront her own internal conflicts and traumas. The middle photo is one of her pieces of industrial waste art.

And this is my chair in my tiny garden at my escape in Zeeuws Vlaanderen. I have a very small house which is where my sanity is restored after a week in the hectic environs of the middle of Rotterdam. I love it here and below you can see why. The two photos immediately beneath this text are what I see when I sit in my chair. The very last one is the current state of my spring flowers at the front of the cottage. It is of course nothing like the boat, but the boat lies in the heart of Rotterdam's social centre and the overnight noise can drive you to the desire to perpetrate lasting evil on your fellow men. Not good for the soul or for my advancing years, and hence the need to escape to this. 

So there you have it - my bits and pieces for the last week or so. Next time, there will be a proper post suited to the title of this blog. Have a lovely sunny weekend everyone!


  1. Hi Val .. it looks wonderful and we can all have blank patches - love the depth of your books being two deep - can see one or two of them ...

    Just wish proper spring would arrive .. it's damp and chilly again today - still the light makes a huge difference ...

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Thanks, Hilary. You're right. The spring is being very fickle. This morning it was beautiful, but now it's positively cold with wind and rain clouds building up.

  3. This is a lovely post and gives an insight in to you. I love Eats, Shoots and Leaves and use it often in my classes (do you have the cartoon version too?), I also love Morse, in writing and on the TV. I can see why you would want to spend time at your little house. The opposite for me, I live in the country and enjoy a weekend in a city or big town from time to time. Have a good weekend xxx

  4. Sounds like an escape to your retreat for a week or two might be needed. Even though it would mean leaving those wonderful bookshelves (how do you keep them so tidy?)

  5. Fran, I haven't seen the cartoon version of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but I think I need it! My Chinese students have real trouble English punctuation because they don't use the same marks in their own language. Do you think it would help?

    Jo, I'd love a couple of weeks there, especially as we have a huge ship canal close by and I love sitting on the bank and watching the massive cargo ships going past on their way to Ghent. I also love sailing on it too. Are my shelves tidy? I've never thought about it. I just shove them in wherever they will fit :)

  6. What a lovely restful view in your bolthole.

    I am though astonished at the idea of being TIRED in Spring - and they even have a word for it! I wonder what the thinking is behind that - perhaps a reference to the fact that winter is such a struggle sometimes?

  7. I recognise that post edit exhaustion. I had to stay up for two nights to meet a deadline once with my Jewish Voices book. I love your little garden. What an amazing view. I was expecting to see water!

  8. Thank you, Ros! I love my little garden too, and I can see water, but not when I'm sitting in my chair. See my new post!

  9. Oh Jenny, I missed your comment! Thank you fo dropping in again! Yes, it is odd, this idea of spring tiredness, but I think you're right. It's suggested by the weariness we tend to feel after a long winter.

  10. You have my copy of the Mists of Avalon ... ;)

  11. I don't know how I missed this post, but I did. I feel very honoured both to have 'In the Family' in your picture of your shelves and to have had it mentioned, too!
    I'm not surprised that you love this place, with views like these. If the boat is in the heart of noisy Rotterdam, is it easy to park? Do boat owners get a special place? Sometime, I'll tell you my parking story from my fiftieth birthday trip to Amsterdam! ;)
    It was good to see the background to your bubble art photo; I understand better now. :)

  12. Christina, a comment from you is always welcome whenever it arrives.

    And yes, parking is a nightmare. If you are registered as a resident, you can get a permit, but we often have to park some distance from the boat. What can happen is that we forget where we've left the car, or one of us will go out and forget to tell the other where we've left it! That can be fun :-) I'd love to hear your parking story in Amsterdam. I never even attempt to go there by car!


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