Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A slice of Pisa

Here's just a small taste of where I've been for the last few days, courtesy of Mo and Craig. I'll blog more about it tomorrow, but the photos below were taken yesterday morning in Pisa, a town I've fallen in love with. Since last Thursday, I've also been to Livorno, Florence and Lucca, but Pisa remains my favourite. When I've sorted out the photos and all the notes I wrote, I'll do a proper job, but as you can see, the sun shone hot and golden on this lovely town.
Piazza dei Cavaleiri. The view that most tourists don't take

They hardly have posters for rock, rave of pop concerts in Pisa. These are all about classical or choral music concerts, or cultural courses, of courso
Maybe the best of all my photos this trip, the lovely smooth and peaceful Arno river that runs through the city. No boats, no activity, just the quiet progress of an ancient waterway set against a backdrop of Tuscan mountains.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The quest is over

I've found it! At last! And of course, you are all asking what this great discovery might be. In truth it probably doesn't sound very exciting, but to me it's the answer - well almost - to a question that's been nagging at me ever since I came to the Netherlands.

The question is this: how does the Dutch word gezellig translate into English?

It's a question that many of us English imports ponder as it's such a great word, and it covers so many situations. You can be gezellig with your friends, or have a gezellig house. You can also find the atmosphere somewhere very gezellig, and gezelligheid is something to aim for when creating urban dwellings and their environs.

You've probably got the idea by now, yes? Well, no. We've tried all sorts of possible adjectives to describe the obviously pleasant feelings attached to being gezellig.

For example, there's 'cozy', but tell your corporate friends their conference is cozy...hmmm, I don't think so. On the other hand, your house can be cozy, yes, but a wild and wonderful party? Perhaps not.

Well what about atmospheric? The same applies.."I went to such an atmsopheric party last week...". Not quite hey? Then there are others, such as friendly, charming, comfortable etc but none of them works in every situation.

Then last night, I found the truth. I thought so, anyway. In a marvellous moment of sheer enlightenment. I was teaching a class of business students, and at the end of the lesson one of them said he'd heard this word used last week and wondered what it meant. Scratching through his note book, he carefully read out the word 'conviviality'. I looked at him, I thought for a moment and then I smiled the smile of one who has found the meaning of life itself.

"Willem," I said "it means gezelligheid, and when you find yourself in convivial company, that's the same as finding it gezellig."
"Aaah," he said, sharing the sweetness of the moment. "I've often wondered what word to use for gezellig."

Now, though, I'm sitting here, imagining Willem's future with his newly acquired language skill and insight. Our Willem will be going to people's houses, and looking around admiringly, he will say "hmmm, very convivial, what!"

Okay, I agree. It does sound a bit pompous doesn't it? It may well be true,of course, but not really what you'd say to your bosom buddies and life long friends, and after all, can a room itself be.....?

Maybe the quest isn't quite over yet.

Does anyone out there know the informal word for convivial?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Life giving history

Meet Roelof Lucas Mur. A handsome gent isn't he? He was born on the 21st June 1855 in Loenen aan der Vecht, a full century before my own birth. He died in 1920 aged 64 and his occupation was 'beurtschipper', in other words the skipper of a barge. In 1898 he is recorded as having bought a 'motorschuit', and the family's website state that this is now being maintained as a museum ship. There is a small picture attached, and guess what motorschuit it is? Yes, you know, don't you? It is my very own Vereeniging.

So there you have it, a face and a name to go with the old photo I also possess. This is quite an exciting development for me as although I know a lot about my ship, I didn't have this information before. I feel more connected now. It's a good face, isn't it?

On another note, the video below (apologies for the poor quality) was one I made with my little compact camera yesterday. It shows an 80 ton tugboat being lifted by crane off the slipway to be lowered onto blocks in the yeard. It was quite an event here, and quite a sight to see as well!

On top of that...if it isn't enough...today, we went with the Wandering Snail to Schiedam. It was a gorgeous day and I took a few photos of course. You can find them here or in my sidebar further up the page. Definitely the best way to close their visit to Rotterdam! Goodbye Snails...we shall miss you.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Festival magic

What a lovely weekend it's been. World Harbour Days have been and are now almost gone, and this year we stayed here in Rotterdam to welcome the Wandering Snail to our city. They couldn't have picked a better time to come as the harbours are full of life and colour with exhibitions, shanty choirs, folk music bands, lots of stalls selling boaty artefacts and books and above all, lots and lots of boats!

This is an old Humber Sloop that sailed across the North Sea a few weeks ago to be here for the festival. It's a gorgeous old tub and beautifully converted for living aboard.

No introductions required by now, but of course, the Wandering Snail has a special spot in the festivities.

Just a shot of the Leuven Harbour with a few boats pottering around.

And here is the collection of tugboats that always arrives - a bit like rent a crowd - for these festivals. They are the boating equivalent of groupies ;-)

We've had a great time with Anne and Ollie, as the pics below will testify, and we even took them on a tour of the harbours on the Vereeniging. What joy to have my lovely shippy on the move again...

In the last pic below, you can see the famous Blauwe Vis belonging to our friend Philip

All photos were taken with my phone, so apologies for the poor quality.