Sometimes things just align up perfectly. In this case, getting home from the hospital at lunchtime, the sun shining and Jen visiting. We both had the same idea – to get up into the hills. Loch Brandy, at Glen Clova, is a perfect destination for a short afternoon walk being just an hour’s drive from Dundee. Jen and I had visited here before almost exactly two years ago, so it was certainly about time we paid it a return visit.
By the time we reached Glen Glova the clouds were coming in and our destination wasn’t looking quite as sunny as we’d hoped. Never mind, at least it was drier and less windy than on our previous visit. The initial climb is a bit of a steep slog, but photographing the atmospheric clouds over the neighbouring hills gave us plenty of excuses to stop for breathers.
Eventually the path levels off and things get a bit easier.
Just a little way further and a few steps to climb and the loch is in sight, every bit as attractive as I remember (although the best way to see it is surely from the air, which is how I first found out about it).
Within minutes, we were surrounded by mist and could only see a few metres ahead of us. Not a problem, though, the path is very clear so there was no danger of losing our way on the walk down!
It seems that I have a knack for only seeing my family in other countries these days. Dad had to Copenhagen this week for business, so what better reason to then meet up in Berlin?
We had a pretty lazy weekend, especially since it was very hot, and spent as much time just catching up, as being tourists.
U-Bahn. Or maybe it was S-Bahn. The distinction remains confusing.
We spend quite some time in the Museum at Checkpoint Charlie.
Seriously? A museum dedicated to currywurst. We gave it a miss.
We had a long Italian lunch, under a red umbrella. And finished it off with a lemon sorbet.
Esplanade – an old hotel, with a glass front. Above are some new appartments, which are held up by an ingenious bridge construction.
The Sony Centre
Playing around with the 3D tv.
Right opposite our hotel – an official Book Crossing zone. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to send off the book I picked up at the airport to a new home.
Since we didn’t have so much time on Sunday, we decided to take an open topped bus tour, and get a better idea of the rest of the city.
That 2009 would be an eventful year was already obvious in January, when Jen became the youngest ever recipient of the T. S. Eliot prize.
5 days later, I turned my own life upside down, by taking in 3 cats – Rupert, Zephyr and Rasha-Ba. The house hasn’t been quite the same since.
At the start of the year I joined a new choir in Amsterdam. 12 months later, I’m still happy with my choice, though missing the contact with my friends from my old choirs in The Hague and Bowdon, neither of which I’ve been in touch often enough with.
I also finally got round do something I’ve been thinking about for a few years – starting the RSCM Voice for Life program. I’m still very proud of my little bronze medal!
With the encouragement of friends Emmy and Emily, I took up running again. I managed to clock up 124km and completed two 5K events, a 6K, a 10K and, biggest achievement of all, the 16K Damloop.
On the studying front, I kept myself more than busy (too busy, in all honesty) with two Open University courses, in Human Biology and Biological Psychology. The Human Biology course finished with an exam, the Biological Psychology course with a rather bizarre experiment involving chocolate digestive biscuits.
In terms of milestones, I was shocked to realise that 2009 marked 15 years since I left school and 10 since I graduated from university with my Masters degree. (This also rather alarmingly means almost 10 years in gainful employment. I think this means I’m supposed to be grown up now. But I’m not entirely convinced!)
It was also my first full year of house ownership, and I’ve traveled less this year than any other year recently. By my reckoning I made:
- 4 trips to the UK (London for the TS Eliot, two birthday visits, and a week long trip to York with the choir)
- a trip to Slovakia, for a landscape photography course
- a trip to Canada, to see family and to photograph wolves
- a trip to Prague with Auntie Janet
- and of course, the biggie, the trip to The Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, with a (very) brief stop in Argentina
My last choral evensong before the holiday – when I return it will be time for Christmas music! It was nice to have mum in the congregation, perfectly visible from afar in her bright pink coat.
- Introit: Come my way, my truth, my life Harris
- Responses: Nardone
- Office Hymn: Lucis Creator
- Psalm: 138
- Canticles: Moore 3rd service
- Anthem: Expectans expectavi, Wood
Mum has come to visit for the weekend, and one of our first jobs this afternoon, as part of Antarctic preparation was to visit the knitting shop to buy yarn for my Antarctic project (Boogie Vest). Of course, we couldn’t leave the shop without Mum picking up something too – the makings of a couple scarves.
On the train up to Amsterdam for choir practice we took out the needles and the trusty instruction book, and learnt how to make cables, which fortunately turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. Along the way, Mum picked up a mistake I was making, which also explained the odd effects I’d noticed in my practice pieces the last couple nights. It just goes to show that if you haven’t done something in a while, it’s maybe good to double check the instructions again!
… especially if you’re a kitten.
Way back when, round about this t
ime of year, Jen, Dad and I took a trip up to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears. We travelled from Toronto – spending 3 days on the train. On the way, Jen taught me how to knit, patiently putting down her own knitting (a hat for Dad) every time I dropped a stitch. My plan had been to make a scarf to wear whilst we were in Churchill, but I didn’t actually manage to finish it until we were back in Winnipeg.
Anyhow, after that I started a sweater, and actually made some decent progress with it, until a
certain point when I got confused, put it to one side in the hope that someone could tell me how to fix it, and forgot about it.
Now that I’m about to head off to Antarctica, I’m contemplating having a go at a new knitting project. Nothing too complicated (famous last words) but something to get my teeth into on the “at sea” (and hopefully not seasick) days. First of all, though, I thought I should take out the knitting needles again and see if I could actually remember how.
After a few false starts, I finally managed to cast on, only to discover that Rasha had chewed the yarn right through. Another attempt, and I manage to create a few rows of stockinette stitch, before giving it to Rasha to kill.
My cousin Ali was attending a conference this week in Ede, and made a side trip to visit me on the weekend. Despite the grey (and wet) weather we had a nice time wandering around Delft on Saturday, and stopped for lunch at De Waag, the town’s old weighing hall, in the market square. Last night we made a pizza (from scratch), shared a bottle of wine, and caught up a bit with each others’ lives. She left this morning to visit a friend in Utrecht.
As long term readers will know, on Jen’s last visit she fell in love with that humble Dutch snack – the kroket.
As an incentive to last the journey home from Amsterdam, I promised her that we’d pick one up during the stopover at Hollands Spoor station, as we’d done on her previous trip.
Imagine therefore our shock on arrival to discover that the Kiosk on platforms 3 & 4 has been completely renovated – all very nice and beautiful, I’m sure, but not a kroket in sight! Fearing mutiny, I led her out of the station, and braving the tram lines with the wheely-suitcase, took her across the road to a snack bar. Krokets in hand, we made it back on to the platform with a minute to spare before the train arrived…
… it was delicious!
Jen’s interview on The Verb will be available until next Friday (23rd) on the BBC iPlayer.