Sunday, 29 April 2007


Every time it really matters, Albert Heijn messes my food order up. At Christmas they omitted the cranberries. Today, on my wedding anniversary, they have screwed up the Argentinian steak I ordered. They've substituted a pathetically feeble and tiny piece of something that I assume I am intended to believe is Dutch steak. Naturally, I didn't notice the mistake until I took it out of the fridge to cook.


Albert Heijn, you deserve your nickname. You really are a swine!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Sunset at Noordwijk

Phil likes this photo a lot. It is a photo of me and Michael at the beach in Noordwijk. We went there last night at sunset and I got to try out my funky new purple beach Crocs.

Need suggestions

Phil and I have £40 worth of Lakeland vouchers that are burning holes in our pockets. Any suggestions on what to spend them on?? Help...?

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Virginia Tech

As a general rule I do not comment on international news in my blog because I prefer to keep my opinions private, and also because it is too easy to inadvertently cause offence. However, I do want to extend my sympathies to the friends and families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. It is such a terribly sad thought that yesterday morning when I got up, those students and staff were still safely asleep in their beds and when I went to bed some 14 hours later, they were lying cold on mortuary slabs.


My back is agony. I did a really stupid thing yesterday - I reached down to pick up the folded Quinny in the utility room and pulled a muscle in my back or something. I know how you are supposed to lift things but the Quinny was on the floor behind a few other things and I was in a hurry. I'm really paying the price today. Bending is agony and so is lifting Michael. I lift him all day long so my back is starting to get more and more stiff and painful. I'm glad I never attempted to take the Quinny on public transport - it is WAY too heavy at around 12kg. How on earth would I manage the folded Quinny in one hand and Michael in the other? Thank goodness I have my Ergo carrier which makes public transport a doddle (I can't say enough good things about this carrier.)

Monday, 9 April 2007

Goat farm

Today we did not go to Texel as we had originally planned. We had underestimated the amount of travel involved and, given how distressed Michael was yesterday with his teething pain, we decided to pick an outing closer to home. We decided to go to the goat farm in the Amsterdamse Bos.

We had previously attempted this outing a couple of years ago. We travelled there in the middle of winter when the ground was thick with slush and snow. The area around the farm was swarming with people and when we had to dig our car out of a slushy, muddy hole, we gave it up as a bad job and came home. Today we went ready for the crowds and were hopeful of a good day out because of the glorious weather.

WRONG! Yes, we went ready for the crowds but we didn't expect EVERYONE in The Netherlands to be visiting at the same time. The farm is of a reasonable size but it was ridiculously overcrowded. The central farm buildings housed pens for goats, chickens and pigs. There were a lot of goats and kids in small pens. They looked perfectly well cared for but it made me wince to see how little space they had. I seriously hope they are given some time to graze in the fields, although I doubt it as the farm is open to visitors from 10am to 5pm, 6 days a week. Apart from a chap selling goat milk ice-cream, I couldn't actually see any farmhands anywhere. Because of this, adults were actually vaulting the fences of the pens to get closer to the goats. They were taking their cameras (with flash) and their children with them. The poor goats had nowhere to escape to. The other depressing thing was the smell!! Phew!! I must have turned into a real townie because I couldn't help but wrinkle my nose.

We didn't stay for more than 20 minutes and then we headed off to Amsterdam to get some fish and chips instead.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Zoo photos

I excitedly took Michael out of his pushchair so that he could get a good look at the elephants. He was completely uninterested and instead started smiling shyly at a lady to our right who seemed more captivated by him than by the baby elephant.

The zoo has four Asian elephants. The baby, Yindee; her mother, Thong Tai; her aunt Win Thida and the only bull, Nikolai.

This huge and splendid fellow is a California sea lion. We visited their enclosure at feeding time and some of the spectators got quite a soaking.

We were incredibly pleased with the photo that Phil took of the hippo. He certainly wasn't camera-shy! You can even see the remnants of his lunch wrapped around his extraordinary teeth.

The gannets make a wonderfully eerie noise in their throats. At Artis they make their nests amongst the penguin colony.

I'll have a starter of fish followed by a main course of trainers, please. And waiter? Bring me the wine list, there's a good fellow...

Totally... underwhelmed by the big cat enclosures behind him.

It being mating season, we got to observe the storks bill-clattering. It was a very impressive sight.

Catherine Howard

When I was at the Tower of London last year, I was told by a beefeater in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula that Catherine Howard's body was sprinkled with quicklime on burial so that no trace of her would remain. Having her executed was not enough of a punishment for adultery as far as Henry VIII was concerned.

My question is... why have I never read this information in a book or been told it by a history teacher? This is the kind of gruesome gossip that gets people interested in history.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Update on our Easter plans

So how are we doing with our Easter plans?

DIY on Friday
Zoo trip on Saturday

So far... so good! We had a fantastic time at the zoo this afternoon. It took us about two hours to get the picnic packed and ourselves and Michael ready to leave the house so we got to the zoo in the early afternoon. I immediately turned into an oversize toddler and starting pointing and saying things like "Phil, look, look!" and 'Phil, look! The camel is yawning!" Phil, being the nice guy that he is, always turned to admire whatever it was I had pointed out. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with zoos. I hate seeing any animal in captivity, especially in enclosures as small as those at Artis. However, I appreciate that in order for the next generation to learn compassion for animals that they will possibly never see in the wild, a zoo is necessary. Their breeding programs for endangered species are also admirable.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I love elephants. Some of my earliest memories are of going to Twycross Zoo and staring for ages at the elephants. I don't think I have seen an elephant in a zoo in over 20 years. I saw four today and one was a baby - only one year old and the first elephant ever to have been born at Artis. Her name is Yindee. There was also a baby gorilla at the zoo but the baby is less than a month old and kept away from the noisy crowds at present.

Michael was largely uninterested in the zoo animals - who were equally uninterested in him. I think that I enjoyed seeing the sea lions best. They were in a tank with a raised viewing platform. I was with the Quinny so couldn't go up the steps. Phil went up to take a look whilst I peered into the murky darkness of a window in the tank. I nearly fell over backwards when a pair of dark eyes zoomed towards me out of the gloom. Two small sea lions and one larger one took it in turns to zoom around the tank at the nosy spectators. The way they move is just fantastic. Their keeper was feeding them (I didn't know this, being below the platform) which probably explains the show.

Phil was captivated by the penguins and we sat and ate our lunch on a bench with the penguins and gannets in front of us and the llama enclosure behind. A few of the penguins were very friendly and came up to the fence to nibble at the shoes of the onlookers. Phil made a video of them and took a lot of photos. Speaking of photos - we took 163 in total which is perhaps a tad excessive. Phil is currently wrestling his computer to get them uploaded and when he does I will put a select few in the blog. The bench in front of the penguin enclosure now rates as the most unusual place I have ever breastfed Michael. I find it difficult to imagine that any location can top that but you never know.

I'm looking forward to having a peaceful day tomorrow - I'm exhausted!!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Easter plans

It may only be Thursday evening but Phil and I have already planned out what we want to do over the Easter weekend. Normally on a long weekend we just go where the wind blows us but we want to be a bit more organised now that we have Michael to think of. Otherwise the weekend will pass with Phil not getting as much done around the house as he would like and me not spending enough time out of the house (really important to me now that I am no longer working). So, the weekend will (hopefully) go as follows:

Friday: DIY during the day followed by a trip to the beach at Noordwijk if the weather is good. There is a strong possibility that I will drag Phil into the pancake house but then again it will probably be full of German tourists.

Saturday: A trip to Artis Zoo in Amsterdam. I'm going to pack a picnic for us and make a beeline for the elephant enclosure (I have always loved them).

Sunday: No real plans. Probably more DIY.

Monday: We're going to Texel to take part in an organised walk to see as many lambs as the island has to offer. Phil, the crazy lamb fan, will almost certainly try pestering a farmer into letting him adopt one.

I will be fascinated to see how many of these activities fall by the wayside because we are notoriously late risers on the weekend and Michael's top front teeth are threatening to make an appearance imminently.