Archive for the ‘ Culture ’ Category

A meet & greet with Suffolk

Last week Wednesday I had a day off (they are rare!) and I was invited by the lovely Natz and Steve to join them and their friend Richard on a trip to Southwold, Suffolk, for some sea views and fish & chips.

Southwold, I think, is the furthest north in the country I’ve been so far. In Colchester, the day started out to be mild in temperature and quite sunny, but in Southwold, the sky was grey, the wind was freezing cold and the streets almost deserted. Apart from a few people who dared to brave the wind, there was no one on the beach. We resorted to a stroll around town, where I saw the sign below (interestingly, Southwold’s ‘seal’ bears Dutch flagged ships, referencing to the 1672 Battle of Sole Bay in which the English and the French fought versus the Dutch).

We then had lunch at Munchies before strolling back past the beach to the car. I’m still amazed we survived that trip, I can’t remember ever having been so cold! Having been in Southwold for only a short amount of time, Natz decided we should go to Aldeburgh for fish and chips, which apparently is “possibly the finest on the east coast” according to The Times (as quoted on it’s Wikipedia page).

On our way to Aldeburgh, we passed the ruins of the Leiston Abbey, so we stopped off there for some cultural education and some pictures. The sun was more present there, and there was barely any wind, and on one side, the sky was stark blue and crisp. The ruins seemed so permanent; they seemed enveloped in the stillness of the area and as far as you could see there would just be nature. Except for a few birds, and our cackling, it was quiet, and we were the only visitors.

Then finally off to Aldeburgh, which was also full of brightly colored cute houses and has a pebbled beach. As seemed custom, the wind was unbearable and the streets were deserted. Apparently, it is a traditional custom in Suffolk to close the shops early on a Wednesday, as they are also open on a Saturday, but some places, like the fish & chips shop, then re-open around 5 o’clock. Another thing we noticed in Southwold as well, is that almost every shop seems to leave out a bowl of water for any dogs? Aldeburgh had a plaque that offered an explanation for this.

Unfortunately my phone started playing up at this point, so I couldn’t take many pictures here. Natz  luckily was up for the task of being my replacement photographer. We ended the trip with a visit to their famous fish & chip shop (when it re-opened), before we commenced the 2 hour drive back.

What I found so interesting was that the architecture seemed so different. The houses seemed more cheerful, more colorful and more stacked upwards rather than sidewards. The high streets seemed cheerful places to be; the sort of towns that have a population that is largely holiday folk with a second house by the sea, with people that rather go to butchers, fish mongers, greengrocers and bakeries rather than a quick stop at Tesco’s (which is not a bad thing at all!) – which, again, seems such a different way of life compared to what most people seem to do in Essex.

Except for Felixstowe, I don’t think I’ve been to any other seaside towns in the UK. It’s been a welcome change from the normal urban environment I’m in, and it’s been great getting to know England a bit better. After all, I know a tiny bit of London, a tiny bit of Essex, and a bit of Kent from what I’ve seen from inside the Eurostar. Hopefully we get to do something like this again soon!

Chrisje x

Ketjap Manis and Skittle Bombs

This weekend has been the proverbial sunshine after a heavy storm for me. Last weekend, my partner of 2,5 years and I decided to go our separate ways, and even though it was a joint decision, I’ve felt pretty terrible throughout the week.

Luckily, I was invited over by my good friend Natz  and her boyfriend Steve to spend the weekend over there. I thought having fun and going out were the last things I was interested in, but the contrary seemed true, and I’ve had a fantastic weekend.

The Friday evening was spent on the sofa, watching a bad Valentine’s Day themed film with Cookie Dough ice cream, and talking about my past, present and future. Luckily Natz is a great listener so I had the chance to pour my heart out.

On Saturday, Natz and I went into town to check out some shops, after which Steve joined us and we went for lunch at Sloppy Joe’s, which is an American-styled diner type place, including the stereotypical menu you’d expect in a place like that. The food was great though, and the whole look and feel of the place made me feel like I was in one of those themed restaurants that you find in Disneyland.

After a quick stop home, we decided on a trip to Waitrose to pick up some shopping for dinner, and because it was such a beautiful afternoon, we took the route through Castle Park, earning me a few stunning pictures on the side.

The Castle in Castle Park

I’d never been to a Waitrose before, but I was told that they sell Ketjap Manis, which is an Indonesian Soy Sauce. Indonesia had been part of the Dutch Colonial Empire, and their food is almost as important to us today as curry is in the UK. I was so very pleased to find a connection to my native culture – this is certainly making my life in the UK a bit more like home!

Steve made us a lovely home made pizza and unfortunately after that the fun was over for me – my homework had to be done this weekend. After trying for a few hours, I realized I couldn’t even bring up the urge to type a word, let alone an essay, so down to the pub we went for the legendary ‘one drink only’. ‘One drink only’ turned into ‘I’ve never had ale before, and I don’t really like it, so this doesn’t count as one drink. I need a new one, and that one can be number 1.’ Which turned into three drinks because the previous drink was so good. Then all these people came to introduce themselves and you start chatting and before I knew it it was 1 o’clock in the morning and we were making plans to go to the next pub.

To cut a long story short (it did turn out to be a very interesting evening), I didn’t wind up in bed until about 10 to 5. Needless to say, I didn’t touch the essay anymore that evening.. To my surprise I also found myself wide awake at 9 o’clock the next (well, the same) morning. The rest of today has been spent trying to get rid of the aftertaste of my last drink of the morning (Skittle Bomb) and finding a hundred excuses at once not to finish my essay. So far, with the help of Frasier, breakfast, Facebook, travelling, blogging and watching a film, I’ve managed to lay it off for quite some time.

Tomorrow will be dreaded start of a new week and also Valentine’s Day, which I will try to avoid having to acknowledge at all costs. I’ve never really been a fan before, but being ‘freshly’ single on a day that everyone else is using to emphasize that they’re not, really doesn’t ease the heartache there. Hope I will survive!

Chrisje x

Hup Holland Hup!

Last Friday I went into our local 99p shop to buy some planting pots and garden feed for my strawberry plants. For some reason they are the only shop in Witham I know (except for the garden centre of course)  that have started selling these products so early on in the year. When I finally took my place in the queue, something caught my eye. To my surprise, I saw this:


Not only was I so surprised to see orange Pringles tubes in the 99p shop; they’re also DUTCH Pringles, to cheer on the DUTCH team during the last World Cup. How would they end up in Witham, of all places? And can you even still eat them? And also; Paprika is not considered a flavour in the UK, last time I checked. I’m slightly confused.

Suffice to say, it needed to have its picture taken, but I was somewhat hesitant about actually purchasing a tube or two. Maybe next time I drop in I might be convinced..

Chrisje x

Que Sera, Sera

Since my last post, I have had a near-endless To Do list to follow up that has miraculously appeared with my re-awakened inspiration. My days are now filled with a new enthusiasm to excersize and be healthier, my work life has had an adrenaline injection, my evenings home are always too short now that I have new hobbies and things to pass time with.

For hours I have browsed for online shops for running gear (one of these new ventures), entertaining tips and recipes (the new season begs for casual dinner parties), and the most influential change: Sex and the City season 6 was dusted off and watched again. Tears have spilled, smiles have cracked, fists have punched the air, the boyfriend has been forced into stand-by mode to hug me back happy.

And it doesn’t stop there: next week, the 12th of June, I will also celebrate my 21st birthday. My little sister is coming over from Holland to celebrate this with me, my boyfriend has planned me a surprise birthday party, and I will have five heavenly days off work to enjoy the (hopefully, great) summer weather.

The things I would like to do over the next few weeks would be: 1. go home and see my family, 2. make a family tree, 3. gather old pictures of me and family (to show my boyfriend and friends here), 4. bring new fire into old friendships.

That’s one of the things I dislike about this whole moving-to-a-different-country thing. I’ve not only given up a fabulous life, but I’ve also lost contact with a lot of great people. I feel like I’ve lost really good friends and an array of experiences that bear no relevance in this new life, because there seem to be very little people that can relate to the lifestyle I led.

My life was drenched with pleasure, in a way that some people might consider it to be far from grown up, but hey, I considered myself a student, and ‘we’ do not do ‘grown up’ – yet. I worked a job I loved, for very little money, I lived in a fantastic room in a house close to the city centre, I studied art and I studied International Business and Management. In my free time you could find me at gigs or in the pub, or I would be promoting bands and venues, practising photography, web design or writing free reviews or articles to create a name for myself. My holidays to Belgium and London were far from extravagant, but always fun and definitely something to look forward to.

Now, these things seem to have passed, and I seem left with fractions of memories, pictures and videos, emotions and quotes, that I share with no one but my laptop. The people in the picture are now leading their own lives, geographically closer than they’ve ever been, but ever so far away.

The upside to this story is, obviously, the new experiences, the new friends, the new family I gained. I’ve grown up so much in the last year and 9 months – I’m in a full time job, live in a beautiful apartment with my beautiful, successful and smart boyfriend, my first attempt to get a driving license is coming up and for the first time since my move, I feel confident enough within myself, and also proud, that I have made the right decision moving here.

Luckily, we are blessed with the Internet, the medium that enables me to have most of the things I had when I was still in my old house. Via Facebook, Hyves and MySpace I can still chat with the people I used to chat with 2 years ago, via Skype I can call my sister and speak with and see my family. It’s not as great as the real thing, but it has shown me how important it is to have a firm home base. Something to fall back to.

My mum used to sing Doris Day’s Que Sera, Sera to me and my sister.. Hearing that song reminds me of seeing her sat down in our living room, in the corner near the heating, reading one of her 800+ page books with a cup of coffee. It’s one of the best memories I have from being young. Knowing I have made the right decision has given me the freedom to reminisce without feeling guilty. Good times 🙂

xx Chrisje

Francis publishes extracts from coming novel

George Francis has posted 3 extracts from his coming novel ‘Smiling at Strangers on Trains’ on his blog which you can find here.

Please take your time to read some of his work and give him some feedback.

I personally love his writing style and can’t wait for more extracts to be published!

Chrisje xx

You know what you’re drinking is for eye surgery?

It has actually been too long since my last post. To be quite honest, I seem to have even forgotten, just for a little while, that I own a blog. I’ve been so preoccupied lately, though!

I’d like to make a fresh start. Go back to regular writing. At this point, I’m more into regular reading and viewing. I’ve recently bought Sherlock Holmes on DVD, which has been a huge inspiration when it comes to fashion.

You might or might not have noticed it, but the film has had a big impact on the dress sense of today. In my group of friends, we have people wear trousers, smoke pipes, wear t-shirts embroided with lace patterns, flash similar jewellery and flaunt similar hair styles. It’s OK to put time and effort into your look, it’s OK to wear delicate looking clothing, and it is certainly OK to look sophisticated.

Granted, you don’t need to don the ‘typical’ Holmes outfit of shirt, waistcoat, jacket and leather shoes to own the ‘look how stylish I look smoking a pipe’ look you’ve got going on, but to me it’s going back to the good old days of playing dress up. Not too many seasons ago, we were urged to dress to not impress with, for instance, the fresh-out-of-bed look or the cowgirl look that edged more towards ‘gardener’ classification.

I personally love to see more people neatly groomed and effortlessly chic, however, I’m not sure if Adler’s dress would work as well in modern day London as it did in the setting of the film. What do you think?

xx Chrisje

Homesick

It’s almost 10 pm, and I’m still sitting on the sofa on my laptop. My alarm will sound at an ungodly hour to wake me for another pointless Saturday at work. I can’t pull myself away from my laptop, even though at first sight there is nothing special on there.

Recently I’ve felt a bit lost. I know where I am and what I do, I do intentionally, but sometimes I stop and I’m surprised at the situation I am in. Tonight I had a little switch flick in me and I’ve decided to go for a complete overhaul. I used to be straight forward, down to earth, ready for action. I used to make my reputation count for itself. ‘Never regret anything’ used to be my motto. I never did.

Ever since I got into a ‘proper’ job, and got saddled up with all the responsibilities that come with such a job, I’ve been miserable. Lately, I’ve got the feeling I’m slowly burning out. So in my attempt to overhaul and research the internet for ways to cheer up and get back into my old exercise regime, I found back some stuff that used to define me.

Sikth - In this Light

Music. And now listening to that music, it all comes back to me. Who I used to be, what I used to do, what I used to stand for. What I stand for now, but am too tired to fight for. Some people might think I’m being childish, irresponsible, but I don’t care. In my opinion, I should work to live, not live to work. And I’ve cheated a lot of people out of their happy days by pretending otherwise.

Tomorrow morning at 5.30 am I will start the first day of the rest of my old life. I’m going to get back into shape, I’m going to have fun, care less and worry less. I’m going to stick more time in the people I call my friends, I’m going to follow up my ambitions, and if I get rejected or snubbed at or laughed at along the way, I’ll shrug and move on.

Life’s too short to constantly worry. And it is certainly too short to care about if anyone likes me or not.

Thank you for reading.

xx Chrisje