Volendam… such a pretty place!

We arrived in the Netherlands quite early on Saturday morning, and there were our dear friends waiting for us! Into the car and our holiday began. They took us north to the pretty little town of Volendam, originally a fishing village but now it is a real tourist attraction; we arrived quite early and were able to look round at the charming and attractive cottages and the array of different boats drawn up at the quay without being overwhelmed with other people doing the same thing!

Originally the harbour served the nearby city of Edam, famous for cheese and it is situated on the River IJ. The shops we popped into were full of souvenirs, including cheese. We resisted buying any there – we live near Cheddar the home of Cheddar cheese and we that some of these touristy cheeses don’t really taste of very much!

DSCF3207There was a little canal which ran behind the main harbour side, with pretty little bridges crossing it.DSCF3216 The houses are most attractive, with brighy coloured shutters, planters and troughs filled with flowers and small shrubs.DSCF3217 The water was full of elegant and graceful yachts, smaller boats of all sorts, and there were some wonderful old craft moored along the quay

DSCF3202Apparently some residents wear traditional costume, but we didn’t see any, except for this old gentleman…. we did however see some traditional clothes… and I may post later a picture of what we saw!

Amsterdam Moon

Amsterdam Moon is a most beautiful song by the extraordinarily talented Raul Malo; it has the perfect match of a clever and interesting lyric and a sweet, very sweet, unforgettable melody. Raul was inspired when he was in the Netherlands and travelling to Amsterdam to the concert venue and saw a wonderful moon hanging in the Dutch sky. Lyrics and melody began to tumble into his mind I guess, and when, mush later he was back at his hotel the song itself arrived.

Very early, at silly o’clock, we were on our way to the airport to catch a plane to Amsterdam to see our dear friends. Elly and I met through our love of the Maverick’s and Raul’s music and as we set off a glorious moon hung over our little sleeping village.

“Amsterdam Moon!” I exclaimed and we had to stop so I could take a picture.

We are home from a wonderful holiday with our dear friends, where we spent much time talking about music; on the last night I accompanied Elly to her line-dancing class, and the first song they danced to? Amsterdam Moon!

Who is she? And who is he?

My new Radwinter story is galloping on; I haven’t got my usual access to my computer at the moment so I am writing by hand… it has surprised me, in a way how easily I have got back into it… I have been using a keyboard for so many years now, written so many of my novels onto the computer that putting words on a page is something I haven’t done for a very long time.

My Radwinter story is, I think – at the moment, about someone in a family exploring family history through the internet; there are so many ways now available from your own home by accessing the web. However, it would not make a very exciting read – or maybe it would be a different read if it was just an account of a trawl through genealogical sites so my characters get out and about.

Something which has happened while I have been writing this,  the narrator of the story has changed name; he was Peter, now he’s Thomas. Thomas has gone to visit a woman (the reason is concealed at the moment) He has arranged to visit her but when he arrives at her beautiful house, no-on answers the door so he wanders round to the back garden, and there she is on a lounger, sun-bathing. Suddenly a man appears and accuses Thomas of being a Peeping Tom and chases him off the property after hitting him in the face. Thomas drives quickly away, a mixture of outrage, embarrassment and humiliation churning within. But who was the woman? And who was the man who attacked Thomas?

I do most of my family history research on the net; I have a large copy of a family tree which an aunt did by travelling all round the county where our family lived and actually looking at parish records, and going to other places where she could painstakingly trawl through actual documents. Some people are very critical of people like me who do all our research online; but how else could I do it, I live at the the side of the country from where my ancestors lived. In fact I live on the other side of the world from where my great-grand-father lived, he was born in Tasmania!

My great-grandfather, Louis Walford, looking very handsome and dapper

My great-grandfather, Louis Walford, looking very handsome and dapper

Rudi’s dream

The character of Rudi in ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ was so large that he seemed to overflow the story and become almost real… I don’t mean I think he is real, of course not!  But when I’m writing sometimes I have to have back stories, and future stories which never appear on the page and exist only as notes or in my head, because the characters need to ring true, they need to have an internal reason for what they do and say, and that reason has to be based on their experiences and what has happened to them before.

Somehow, the songs Rudi wrote appeared in my notes…. not the music, only the lyrics, and as lyrics they don’t always read as well as they sound when sung. However, a couple of them, simple as they are, do read almost as poems. Here’s one:

Was it a dream, it cannot be true,

Did you make love to me and me to you?

Did we lie in the dunes, holding each other tight,

Did we kiss and caress as day said goodbye to night?

I cannot believe it, it cannot be true

That you made love to me and I to you.

Did I imagine the touch of your hand?

Was it an illusion, our love in the sand?

Was it a fantasy, me foolin’ again,

Or did your lips touch me like sweet summer rain?

And I must be mistaken to think that you sighed

You wanted me, needed me to hold you tight.

I’ll wake up soon and know it was only my desire

Which set my mind racing and my senses on fire,

And created from dream something so real.

It’s truly impossible that you really could feel

That you wanted my love and wanted me too,

Or could it impossibly be not dream but true?

Word of the day – aubergine

I’m not sure when aubergines first made their appearance in British greengrocer’s, the late 60’s? The 70’s? I’m not sure. I know that I was entranced by their gorgeous appearance, but disappointed when I tried to cook them… a revelation came in about 1979 or 1980 when I went to Crete and our favourite little bar seemed to know a hundred and one ways to render them utterly delicious and I have loved them ever since.

It is technically a berry, very distantly related to potatoes and tomatoes, of the solanus, nightshade family. Does this mean they are related to deadly nightshade, belladonna? I don’t know. They  originated from south-east Asia – where so many good things come from! It comes in all shapes and sizes, from teeny-weeny tiny, to whale-scale! They are called eggplants in North America… um, why? I know them as brinjal because I came across them in Indian food before I met them raw and splendid in their fine and swanky uncooked form.

The  English name of this fruit comes from  the French word, and I thought was derived from ‘auberge’ – inn, and I imagined old French ladies cooking a lovely stew to greet weary travellers, but no, I was wrong. It comes from a Spanish word which was Frenchified into aubergine. One thing I leant from my research, an old English name for aubegine is mad-apple which is an Anglicised form of a very old Greek word!

Just thinking about them makes me want to eat one… mmmm, parmigiana di melanzane