Friday, January 12, 2018

The First Post : 2018

I can hardly believe the year is already nearly two weeks old and I am only writing my first post of the year now.

I wish I could say it's because I've been doing some amazing things, but I can't really. We had a very enjoyable Christmas with the family we have here in the Netherlands; in other words, my two daughters and their other halves. It's the first time I've had a vegan Christmas dinner and I'm sure it won't be the last as it was quite yummy. Not your usual fare, but just as festive and anyway, the company was excellent (who needs cold turkeys, anyway?).

One of my lovely sons-in-law
Christmas dinner, vegan style
The following week, Koos and I embarked on the grand 'cellar project' at the crumbly cottage. It's been a damp and unsavoury place for many years. A dive in and duck out hole. We've always kept it reasonably organised, but there were no shelves, too much stuff piled up and too many mosquitos inhabiting the dark and dank space (this is Holland after all). So in December, I took the bull by the horns (being Koos) and we cleared everything out. Koos manfully re-plastered one of the walls (maybe not expertly, but really well, I must say) and I put a waterproof cement coating on the outside wall.

Between Christmas and New Year, we painted it, put some lino down and put up some shelves in something of flurry. We still need to do more, but here is a photo of the work-in-progress. It already looks so much better than this now, but I don't have more recent photos of it yet. I will have soon (I hope) and if I can, I'll add them to this post (update 14 Jan. Newer photo added). It's been a huge job and taken more resolve than I would have thought possible. The only thing that's kept me going is my dislike of the messy overspill on the patio and in the sun room. The only thing that's kept Koos going is his desire to stop me from moaning...haha.

The cellar in progress

On New Year's Day, we did our traditional walk on the beach. It wasn't a particularly nice day. In fact, it was bitterly cold, a bit dreary and windy too, but we did it and loved it as we always do.

The traditional NY Koos photo 

Since then, I've visited a friend for a few days to celebrate her birthday, and now work has resumed in earnest. I am delighted to be teaching a group of Syrian refugees twice a week; they are just a joy to be with. They are open, friendly, lively and boy are they sharp?! I have rarely been asked such searching and challenging questions about language and expression. They are doing a foundation year to prepare for university in the Netherlands and I'm so pleased to know I'll be teaching them until May.

enjoying a New Year’s drink together, my oldest and dearest friend, Moira
Moi and me, friends for nearly thirty years

So that's me for the beginning of the year, allemaal. The Christmas tree is down and life is back to normal. How is your 2018 panning out now?


  1. Lovely to read about all your hard work and seeing the pictures. I have been hard at work knitting, going to the theatre and lunching with friends! I really dislike the grey, wet days we have been having, longing for the spring and brighter days.
    It was lovely to read about your Syrians, I am sure you will be a great inspiration to them - are you teaching in English or Dutch? Will look forward to hearing about their progress. Best wishes
    Jude 😀

    1. Thanks, Jude! I am with you on grey, wet days! My Syrians are doing English for Academic purposes with me. They’ve already had intensive Dutch lessons and they are doing really well! I’ll keep you posted :)

  2. Hi Val - sounds like an ideal Christmas season in so many ways - with friends and family, Vegan - why not ... and obviously it was good ... home doing things with Koos, and then New Year brisk walk deserves rewards and your visit to your friend.

    The Syrian boys sound amazing - I hope you can post more about their learning curve etc ... it'd be really interesting to read up ...

    Cheers and happy new year - Hilary

    1. Thanks, Hilary! I’ll keep you posted about my students. The first week has been super!

  3. Glad you’re all set for 2018. Mine ... well. I’m travelling, so anything could happen!

    1. Oooh, Jo, I’m looking forward to hearing your news!

  4. Happy New Year Val. It seems to me you have been very busy this new year, and well done on that cellar project. I enjoyed seeing your lovely family Christmas pics - isn't it lovely to know we all do much the same thing on Christmas Day, all over the world? We were in Canada having our first White Christmas which was so special, and a change from hot Australia. We have come home to a torrid heat wave, so actually, I have been doing almost nothing!!

    1. I've been hearing about your terrific heat wave, Patricia. That sounds exhausting. Take good care and I'm glad you had a lovely Christmas with your Canadian branch!

  5. Well, Val good for Koos in managing to plaster the walls, for I have never made a good job of doing that regardless of the mix I can never get it right.
    I have been informed by Mrs H that the winter decorations are coming down today and I think that it was the sight of the snowdrops in flower that brought her to make that decision.
    Wishing you all the very best of success for 2018.

    1. Thank you, Mel! We have just taken down our decorations too – a little later than usual, but they've kept the brightness up on these dull days. Have a lovely start to the year too!


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