Sunday, February 15, 2009

shepherd, shepherd, leave decoying.

We're at Marion's place again, and two nights ago her daughter Evelyn, who's about six years older than I--the only cousin I hadn't then met--came over, which was really lovely as she is a really nice girl. Mlein also had a friend over from school that afternoon, so it was doubly fun. We visited Linda at her house yesterday morning. Also, we've just decided that although we're leaving here for my uncle Rik's house today, we'll be back for a day later on; and I get to see Sophie and Wim once more this afternoon, which I'm really glad about as I'm seriously going to miss them. The last week has been nice.

A few days ago Sophie got the day off school and we went with our dads by train to Amsterdam. When I say by train, that also means by bus to the station and on the back of a bicycle to the bus--scary the first time, but fun as well! It's so different in Amsterdam to the rest of Holland that I've seen so far, being very much a city; it's very busy, and with trams and cars and especially thousands of bikes whizzing past everywhere the place just buzzes to walk through. There's a lot of history there and it's beautiful, and of course there's a tacky tourist vibe as well. It was only Sophie's second time there, so we found it interesting. It was a long day and a fun one.

The first thing we did was take a canal boat for an hour, looking at much of the city from the water. The boat's captain was good (very Dutch humour and also an amusingly blunt way of talking about things, it was funny), and there really was a lot to see. Next we walked around a bit and ended up spending over an hour in the Anne Frank house; it was so strange to be there, to see footage of those things and realise they happened on the same streets we were walking that day. It's too big a thing to really understand or feel. It was good to go there.

When we came out it was raining, so we went to a café with two little cats in it (sweet!) until it was dry again, then walked around the streets and decided to go to the Rijksmuseum where the Rembrandts and such are. It was really cool to see all that art, especially for real. You do kind of get the impression of the excess and pride of the 'patron' class at that time as well, and some of the attitudes and religious or cultural sentiments of the time become clear through the pictures probably even more than the writings. Of course certain works are beautifully composed and really masterfully painted. We spent a while there. After that we caught the tram back to the train and went home, stopping at a little pubfor dinner on the way, which was cosy and nice as it was quite cold outside and we were all tired. That night Sophie slept over in her room at Wim's house where I'd been sleeping (she's normally at Simone's). The next night she slept over again, after we went out to a Chinese restaurant for our last dinner together; she had an English test the next morning and had to learn two pages of irregular verb forms and also be able to recognise exactly which tense any verb is in, which is very hard, so I tested her for a while and that turned out to be quite funny. She's so nice to hang out with--my cousins are great :)

At the moment I am sitting in the lounge room, out the window of which I can see a small, distant window on the house behind, obscured a little by smoke from the chimney. For about twenty minutes now two silhouettes, of a girl with long plaited hair and a young boy, have been dancing across the room together--and now with teddy bears above their heads (sometimes flying). It's amusing, and nice.

Last night we went to a Valentijnconcert put on by the choir that Marion conducts, beautiful. It was in a little candlelit hall with stone walls and pretty design, and she arranged it so they sang classical love songs chronologically, composed from the sixteenth to the twentieth century in mostly English and German. The parts sounded lovely, and twice a harpist played a few songs in between the singing. So that was something of a treat.

This afternoon the whole family here is meeting because they waited for us to be here so they could sprinkle Opa's ashes where Oma's were placed; I don't know how I feel about this. We'll have to see.

And then this afternoon we're going to my other uncle and aunt's place, who are the only close relatives I haven't yet met here.

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