Week 41-2017. Sætre.

Sailing  Sailing.

We, that is my brother and me, were invited to join the family of my niece for the last sailing trip of this year. After this trip, the boat will be taken ashore for winter. My brother and I drove to Størsand. There we met the family ready to go. We set sail with a fair bit of wind and lots of sun. The two little ones, 4 and 6 years old, were playing in the cabin and having fun when the boat nearly went out of control. It was, after all, a very nice trip with lunch halfway before returning to the harbour.

Sailing with family Sailing with family.

The next day, Monday, we celebrated the birthday of my sister in law with a nice meal in the evening. During the day, I went fishing, alone. My brother has been busy fitting winter tyres on his car.

Grandma's birthday Grandma’s birthday.

My brother went to work in Oslo this time on Tuesday. Every now and then, he is asked by former employers to help out and he loves to do that. It keeps him busy and the social relationships keep him happy. I joined my sister in law on a short bush walk, during which I did find a nice big mushroom. The mushroom was cooked and eaten with pancakes and soup.

More birthday More birthday.

On Wednesday, I walked to town with my sister in law. She was going to the gym, while I was looking around. Back at home, I started sorting out remnants of the belongings of my father, consisting mainly of publications, of manuscripts and other written thoughts. When finished, I offered all my family members from fathers’ descent, to make a selection for themselves. In the evening, we had my brother’s son Knut-Erik and his girlfriend visiting. We shared memories, cake and coffee in good mood.

Walking the forest Walking the forest. Coffee and a fire Coffee and a fire.

My brother joined me on a fishing trip for a change. He is mostly too busy with activities around the house. We caught only two fishes. After coffee halfway the day, he stayed at home and I carried on fishing and enjoying the splendid weather outdoor in the boat, on my own.

Botteling beetroot wine Botteling beetroot wine.

Saturday was a day with a variety of activities. My hosts are bottling the beetroot wine they produced, while I watched. As a birthday present for my sister in law, I had given her a gift voucher for a cultural event. She decided to spend it at a very nice restaurant in Sætre, called Spiseriet. The establishment is from the end of the 18th century, with a view across the harbour. They serve very good food, especially a lovely fish soup. Together with a bottle of splendid white wine, we enjoyed the food and the company. It was a lovely week with variable weather and thus also with a variety of pleasant activities.

A&J in Spiseriet  A&J in Spiseriet.

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Week 40-2017. Amersfoort-Sætre.


The Sunday passes as usual; to church with my friend Hanke, driving her back home and from there visiting my family in Eemnes. Hankes’ dog Toots has been terrified by thunder on Friday and that leads to panicking reactions and inflicting damage to her bench and herself. My daughter in law appeared very moody and sad: she went to bed with the first signs of a flu. I watched the formula1 race in Malaysia, won by Max Verstappen.

Not much happened on Monday. Late in the afternoon, I packed my backpack for the journey to Norway.

Station Amersfoort Amersfoort, railway station.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, I walked to the bus to the train station, where I boarded the train to Schiphol. At Schiphol it appeared rather quiet all the way. After the security check, I did have plenty of time to smoke a cigarette, drink coffee e and buy presents for the family in Norway.

Schiphol Schiphol airport.

My plane left in time and the short flight landed at Gardermoen without problems. At Gardermoen, the Oslo airport, I ate a pizza with coffee after which I boarded the fast and luxurious train to Asker. Unfortunately, I did not manage to inform my brother because I had insufficient credit on my phone. I was lucky to find a friendly guy who allowed me to use his phone. My brother was happy to hear me and he arrived at the railway station to pick me up, 20 minutes after my arrival.

After due welcoming procedures we discussed some programming for the rest of the week.

  1. View from home in early morning sun Early morning view.

The first night of sleep started with some nuisance: I was barely asleep when a loud short beep woke me up. It took me nearly an hour to discover the source of the beep and to kill it: a smoke detector laid on top of a shelve as spare, but with a bad battery.

Sætre construction work Destruction of the village centre at its harbor site.

The days go by with walking to town, walking into the wild and making a fire there when drinking coffee with cake, local shopping, fishing (I did catch one only) and work around the house. My brother is trying to trace the main water tap. It is clearly useful to know the location and be able to turn this tap on or off. It is not entirely clear where this tap might be so we have to dig a lot and move tons of natural stone.

Sætre guests harbor Landings for visiting vessels.

One evening we did have a lovely meal with my niece and her family, living at walking distance.

Sætre from walkway Sætre from walkway uphill.

As a birthday present for my sister in law, my brother bought tickets for a concert in Asker. The concert was by a group from North Norway, playing their own music. We went there on Saturday evening. The group of five is called ‘Hekla Stålstrenga’. We did like their performance very much.

Asker kulturhus Central hall from Asker kulturhus.

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Week 39-2017. Amersfoort.

Autumn Autumn.

Luckily I did have a companion this week: the Springer Spaniel, called Toots (from Toots Tielemans, the world famous Belgian Jazz musician). Toots is the dog from my former neighbor, who went on a trip to Switzerland on which she was unable to take the dog. Toots and I go on very well. She, yes it’s a bitch, needs to walk a lot and that means I do have to walk a lot as well. Without the dog I would have stayed at home, behind my desk with laptop and joints. The outbreak of shingles I suffer from, makes me physically very inactive, I sleep often but not a lot. With Toots around, I must move and that keeps my mind off the body ache and the tiredness coming from it as well.

My laptop is old and running extremely slowly, which is a drag. I hired a student to try and mend the working of the laptop. After an hour of work he came to an advice: buy a new one. The graphics card in my laptop is no longer supported for updates, so that is why the machine is no longer running properly.

During the many walks with Toots, I realized that autumn has started. There is usually quite a bit of wind with rain and the air temperatures are rather low. Yes, it’s autumn.

On Friday afternoon I am asked to pick up a turtle from the animal sanctuary. The turtle is in the Netherlands an invasive species. They are often found here however. A specialized sanctuary is based in Alphen a/d Rijn, where I am asked to take it.

Redcheek turtle Redcheeck turtle.


From there I am not far from where my sister lives, so I went there to see her and her husband. I know the way very well but decided to follow the instructions from my TomTom. Those instructions guided me straight through the center of town, where they are busy preparing for the festivities around the 3rd of October (The day Leyden was freed from the Spanish hundreds of years ago): many roads appeared blocked off, so I was guided through uncommon areas of town. I should have been better off choosing my own well known way.

Leiden, de Zijlgate Leyden, The Zijl tower.

Anyway, my brother in law produced a lovely meal and we exchanged some latest family news.

Back at home I started some activities related to my next trip, next week, to Norway.

I am glad to notice that the effects from my inflamed nerves are decreasing.

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Week 38-2017. Amersfoort.

Akkrum, signs of autumn Akkrum, cobwebs with dew, signaling autumn.

The prospects are not too good, not for this week and not for a string of weeks to come. Since the outbreak of Herpes Zoster or Shingles, my body is aching around the affected areas. Of course I did search the internet for information and friends in New York did supply me with very interesting information as well. Basically it all comes down to the conclusion, that I could take specific drugs to considerably reduce the annoying effects called Post herpetic Neuralgia. Muscles are aching and half of my body feels numb, or itching, or stinging, or all of it together with gusts of feverish feelings at the same time. Fact is however, that I don’t develop a headache and that I manage to get sufficient sleep per twenty-four hours. The description of the available repressive drugs and their possible side-effects made me decide not to take any of them and just sit it through as long as possible. I do take a variety of pills to strengthen the resistance of my body as natural as possible and I use an external crème called Calendula, aimed at southing the itching. The crème may or may not help, I don’t know, but it does not hurt: the staining of my T-shirts is acceptable.

So much for that!

Keeping busy with other things, help me to push the whole issue a little bit to the background.

On Sunday I did the usual things like going to church, have coffee with my friend in Hollandse Rading and visit my family in Eemnes. There, in Eemnes I found a number of other visitors this time. I did help my grandson with his homework for school: German language and after that I went home, because my former wife with her husband were there as well and I am not too happy to see them or join dinner with them.

Akkrum, center Akkrum, centre of town.

I decided to visit an old friend in Akkrum, in the county of Friesland. This old friend was my landlady for a year during a job there. She is now 89 years old, still very active, driving her car only on daytime and only in the known vicinity. She writes books and short stories for local newspapers, in the Frisian language.

Getting back from Akkrum, I went to ‘t Harde where another friend is living. This friend stopped communicating with me since two years now. I had thought about a variety of reasons, the most likely one being that she might have a relationship again. This appeared to be the case, not unexpectedly, as I was told by a neighbor.

Maarsbergen, crossroads Maarsbergen near Woudenberg, cross roads.

On Wednesday I visited a longtime friend in Woudenberg, not far from Amersfoort. Here I meet her two children, both teens and both well behaved. We share coffee and tell tales, about our own doings and about the whereabouts from the many mutual friends. I was asked to join for dinner, but I did not feel like accepting that, not today, because my friend suffers from ‘cluster headache’.

At home, the many tiny apartments that have been unoccupied for a long time, are now let to two organizations dealing with single people of various ages, with a variety of social problems. It leads to considerable population growth and a much more lively community. I do like it since they don’t disturb me and the fact that they are coming gives the ordinary tenants a bit more the idea that this facility may remain alive much longer than foreseen.

My laptop, the one I am working on, shows signs of decay. I may be forced to buy a new one.

Parking violation Big SUV: we park where we like, bluntly.

On Saturday I parked my car at the supermarket. Still in my car I saw an expensive SUV arrive, parking at a place for disabled people. Two young women, Asiatic types, very slim and delicately moving gracefully, jumped out of the car leaving it rather raggy placed. I did like to watch the women, but not the way they parked.



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Week 37-2017. Amersfoort.


Two things bothered me last week, my car and my body.

The exhaust from the car rattles against the bodywork of the car and I notice the smell of unburned petrol. Rattling from an exhaust means it to be lose somewhere and that will damage the construction. Fumes from unburned petrol in the car are giving me a headache and unburned petrol in the engine compartment may cause it to catch fire. These things ask for a visit to my car mechanic. I left the car there for these unwanted situations to be cleared. They solved the rattling and renewed a number of porous petrol tubes. One item they did not renew and we discussed it. This one item is a leaky switch at the fourth cylinder. A new one cost a lot and we agreed that that it was well worth looking for a secondhand one. The garage will call me when they have found one.

Most of the petrol fumes are gone, so I don’t have to worry about that for now.

Demolition hospital Demolition of nearby hospital.

The other worry is about my own body, itching red spots around my waist at the right half of my body. The family doctor is clear: I suffer from a virus called ‘Herpes Zoster’, remains of the virus from my childhood inoculation against chickenpox. This particular virus is asleep in most people’s body and just might emerge at a older age when the physical resistance is at a lower level. The virus attacks nerve ends just underneath the skin and causes redness, itching and fluid filled bubbles. Approximately 1 in 300 elderly people are affected by it. There is no cure and the only thing you can do is to wait for it to disappear, which can take a couple of month, and to use dope to stun your nerve system with Paracetamol or similar medication. I don’t take that medication but bought lots of pills to support and to improve my resistance.

Demolition nurses quarters Demolition of the nurses quarters.

I am getting fed up and tired of it, so I do sleep a lot. Fortunately the constant pain is not such that it affects my sleep.

So that was my week this time.

Fortunately there was a very positive item as well: a couple of hours with a good friend, lots of talking, a fair bit of beer and a good lunch together. I have to consider doing that more often, at least as long as that damned virus is causing me problems.

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Week 36-2017. Hummené-Amersfoort.

AliBaba lunch Lunch in Ali Baba.

The planning this week is to leave Slovakia on Tuesday. This means that I will have to prepare for it. On Sunday I first go to the usual Roman Catholic Church. Again it is surprising to see, like previous times, that this community manages to fill the church completely during three consecutive services in the morning, with people even standing and participating in gangways and even outside the church.

After the service I am invited to join the family for lunch, always with soup, this time with rice and stew with mushrooms finishing with a dessert from redcurrant cake. After the lunch I stay in the nearby apartment which I am allowed to occupy and where I can watch the formula 1 race in Monza without being distracted by others.

On Monday I quietly start cleaning the apartment and taking most of my luggage to my car. Halfway the morning I go to the veterinary practice. It was, for Lenka, her aunt Maria and Lenka’s daughter a stressful morning. Hanna, Lenka’s daughter went to childcare for the first time. This morning it was actually only for half an hour and meant to introduce Hanna to the staff and the surroundings. It was not easy because Hanna is extremely cautious in her approach to unknown people and situations. After this first step I was asked to bring Hanna and Maria back to Medzilaborce because Lenka had some appointments with clients. The idea failed completely because Hanna did not accept it, so after a while Lenka decided to take them there herself. On return of Lenka, we went to hotel Ali Baba for lunch. I tried something unknown, with king prawns. When I got my plate, I lost my appetite immediately: pitch black rice with 5 prawns on top. The rice was not even sufficiently cooked: it did look like the residue from the bottom of a gearbox. It did even taste like that, so I ate the shrimps, tried some of the black rice and stopped eating rather soon. Lenka had to laugh and offered me some of her plate with pig meat and spinach.

On Tuesday, after finishing the cleaning and packing, I went to see Ivan, Lenka’s father, to say goodbye. We shared a cigarette and he produced some good wishes in German, written down. This reflects actually the main problem when I am here: communication is hardly possible.

After the emotional departure, I start my TomTom and follow the given directions.

Slovakian scenery Scenery in East Slovakia.

At first I drive through the very quiet rural parts of North East Slovakia and South East Poland. The roads there are narrow, with often rather bad asphalt surface but with an interesting view of the country. After approximately four hours I hit the A4, which is the motorway taking me through the rest of Poland unto the German border. On the way I am met with some very heavy rainfall during short showers. Close to the German border I take the decision to go to Bautzen in Eastern Germany and find me a hotel room there. I know Bautzen reasonably well from the year I stayed close to Bautzen during my trip through Europe in 2007. Nothing in Bautzen appeared to have changed; I recognized the hotel, the bistro and the centre of town. I arrived in Bautzen around 8 o’clock in the evening and hired a room in a Best Western hotel. The only luggage I took up to my room was a toothbrush and a bottle of whisky. In town I found a bistro where I ate dinner, with a small beer. Around 11 o’clock I was back into my hotel room and went to bed after a short period of watching German television.

Bautzen Bistro Crossroads in Bautzen.

I did not sleep well and was wide awake around 3 o’clock, watched some TV again and managed to fall asleep again for 4 hours.

After breakfast I walked around a bit to take some pictures, before leaving Bautzen and starting the second leg of my trip.

Bautzen clock tower Clocktower in Bautzen.


During this second part I had again to deal with heavy rain but otherwise it all went well and I arrived back at home around 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday.

On Thursday I was my friend Hanke and her dog Toots. Toots had been very ill, but she greeted me with a lot of enthusiasm. After that I went to see my family in Eemnes, where we ate cheese fondue.

Friday and Saturday I was at home, washing luggage, talking to my fellow tenants and just getting into the usual practical daily grind.




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Week 35-2017. Hummené.

Veterenarian ambulance in Hummene with docter Lenka, her daughter and clients At the veteranarian ambulance.

The Springer Spaniel from Hanke appears to be very ill. This Sunday we exchange information about a possible treatment, given by Lenka on the basis of information from Hanke.

When my friend Dr.Mw. Lenka is ready sterilizing a cat and cleaning her shop, we move to her living with aunt Maria in Medzilaborce. There we have lunch, diner, coffee and a quiet time with Lenkas’ daughter trying to copy all I am doing.

Monday and Tuesday are public holidays, shops are closed and in town it is even more quite then on a Sunday. It is splendid weather, but still Lenka is going to her shop in Hummené to treat a variety of animals: cats, dogs, rabbits and rats for instance. The Monday I stay in Hummené, but on Tuesday I join my friend in Medzilaborce again.

Cheese fondue Fondue cheese.

On Thursday I went shopping for the items I need to produce a proper cheese fondue. The cheese I bought in Holland and took it with me, safely stored in the refrigerator here. I needed to buy white wine for the fondue and white wine to drink. I did buy a wok earlier last week and in that wok I am going to brew the fondue, but I need a slow burner and that seems to be a problem here. After a lot of looking around and a lot of thinking, I remember having been to a hardware store, years ago already. I went there and had to work very hard with the whole staff there, before we managed to get some sort of understanding from what I needed. They came firstly with a huge gas canister, but close to there I saw an ‘instant grill’, It appeared to me that the wok could well be put onto that grill to keep the cheese fondue hot enough but not too hot. These items are comparatively expensive here considering the cost of living in general, but I was content with it. Later that day, around ten in the evening, I walk to the town centre where it is pretty busy with lots of young people chatting, laughing and getting drunk. They seem the high school age and are clearly sort of celebrating the end of the school holidays.

ivan-first-experience-eating-cheese-fondue.jpg Eating cheese fondue for the first time in his life.

Friday was again a national bank holiday. During the morning a couple of volunteers came to the veterinarian ambulance. They came to help cleaning out the shed now in use since half a year. I was an ‘over complete’ activist there, since most people are unable to communicate in another language. One woman however appeared to have studied in Venlo at the school for international businesses. She quit the study because she did not like all the ‘dreary’ dry mass of material to study: now she joined the army. We agreed: that’s international business as well. I took the one dog from its sanctuary and managed to make it walk. The poor bitch appears to be pretty traumatized. In the afternoon I picked up Ivan, the father of Lenka. We drove to Medzilaborce, where I prepared the cheese fondue. None of them Slovakians had ever eaten something like it, so I was very curious about their reaction. The whole wok was however emptied rather quickly and they seem to love it very much.

Medzilaborce, back yard and terrace Medzilaborce back yard.

Medzilaborce, front garden Front garden Medzilaborce.

On Saturday I picked up Ivan again, a bit early because he had to mow the lawn. I was supposed to help them cooking again. This time it was supposed to be meat-fondue. My friend Lenka had told me that they did have everything that was required: she had Googled it. However they produced a large amount of sausages and in no way something like meat for fondue. So in the end we had a barbeque. I think I have to teach them eating ‘strange’ food.

Medzilaborce, Andy Warhol museum Medzilaborce, Andy Warhol museum.

I did have a couple of hours before we would hit the BBQ, so I decided to have a go at visiting the Andy Warhol museum in Medzilaborce. I am happy to have done that, because it was a surprisingly rewarding experience. Entrance fee: €2. Cue: none. Amount of other visitors: approximately 6. I did have plenty of time to study the displayed artifacts with listening to the music of the Velvet Underground, and oh wonder, the record I actually possess myself. It was a lovely experience.

Hummene, view from my kitchen Hummené, view from my kitchen.

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