Thursday, June 19, 2008

Charles, Mum, Fred and Richard

It is time for them to go already and it seems like yesterday that they arrived, Mum and Richard leave for Crewkerne this afternoon, taking their Flybe flight from Amsterdam to Exeter at 17.20. We have had a very nice time together and have been remarkably lucky with the weather, only today is it grey and a bit damp (good for the garden) and we have had lots of sunshine, albeit with cloudy periods in between.

Unfortunately, Richard had to deal with being there at the incident on Sunday, this coming after being around when Oona died in Cornwall when spending a few days with Fiona. At least this was a lot less traumatic.

It was my birthday yesterday and, as usual, I gave a party at home, taking the day off work to prepare. I prefer to celebrate my birthday on the actual day rather than waiting for the nearest weekend, even if it means I spend the day buying in food and drink and making pizzas and clearing things up, usually with a spot of Royal Ascot on the TV in the afternoon.

Yesterday was no different, except I had two pairs of wiling hands from Richard and Mum, who were a great help, especially in getting the bottles and stuff from the shops. It is never easy to guess whether guests are going to drink red or white wine, beer or prosecco (which is a firm favourite nowadays). Because of the football and it being summer, we are quite used to drinking beer, so we had three crates, just in case, and I managed to lay my hands on six bottles of prosecco at Gall en Gall for the reduced price of € 5 a bottle, although I had heard, wrongly as it turned out, that it was cheaper at Albert Hein. Further, we made four pizzas, some kofte, aioli sauce, guacamole and fruit salad, as well as having nuts, taco chips, cheeses and soft Turkish bread… more than enough, it turned out, to feed the twenty or so guests who turned up. Always nice after a party to have snacks left over, to eat the next day…

Anyway, the doors were open at 7 and sure enough Annemiek arrived soon afterwards. It was nice enough out on the balcony at the back, with a temperature of about twenty degrees. Couldn’t be bothered to have a party in the garden as there is too much carrying of things up and down the stairs at the back and somehow, the older one gets the longer it takes to get certain things done, and anyway, the balcony is big enough to be enjoyed.

Richard was quite surprised to be congratulated by the people who turned up, before realizing that they were congratulating him on the occasion of his brother’s birthday, this being an endearing Dutch tradition… although by now he was quite used to the triple Dutch kiss…

As usual the party was a mix of old faithful friends with a few new faces and, this time, with Mum and Richard there as well. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the part went on quite late, even getting a bit noisier the later it got, with some music (I was allowed three Eurovision songs) and as people moved onto the balcony, now prettily lit with candles…. No complaints from neighbours (yet…) Well those children make a noise all day when the sun shines, so may the grown-ups be allowed their parties once in a while?

On Saturday, we had another party, this time as guests at Fred’s sister’s 40th wedding anniversary, the party being held in Havelte, above Meppel, up towards the border with Friesland. There was earlier a visit to the folkloric museum in Staphorst, which we decided to miss, Fred going, but me taking Mum and Richard to the touristic village of Giethoorn where you can take electric powered boats out on the canals and lakes, going between the pretty thatched houses and their immaculate lawns and out through the reedbeds to a wider lake, about one meter thirty deep. The party was held in a café, themed on Havana, where we were treated to some excellent locally grown food, whilst it was an opportunity for my Mum to meet Fred’s brothers and sisters again. Richard was very funny at the end, giving everyone the traditional three Dutch kisses on his way out…

I had managed to borrow Eric’s car to drive up to Staphorst and this was, in fact, the first time I had driven a car in Holland for four years (since the Metron company car went back in August 2004. I was quite surprised about the numbers of roundabouts which had sprung up since last time. Plus I had to watch my alcohol intake, which is also something I am not exactly used to…

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