Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The wonderful support of We Love Memoirs

This week's post is a bit of a departure for me. I don't normally write about my books or even the books I've read. My review blog is for those and I prefer to keep this one about life here in the Netherlands, my boating world and our various travels.

This week, though, I want to pay tribute to a group on Facebook without which I wouldn't have half the readers I do have either for my blog or for my books. That group is We Love Memoirs founded by Victoria Twead and Alan Parks, two memoir writers who brilliantly saw the opportunity to start a community on social media for both readers and authors to get together. From this group alone, I have gained many, many lovely friends across the world just by being a member of a community where reading is the glue that binds us. I've also 'met' dozens of brilliant authors, some of whom have also become dear friends in real life.

I can't remember exactly how long I've been a member of We Love Memoirs – it's been several years now – but I have to say it's my favourite corner of Facebook. In fact, it provides everything I personally want from social media: likeminded people in terms of both readers and authors, and a wonderful platform on which to share stories, photos, reviews and events. I get most of my reading recommendations from WLM, not to mention numerous free books from promotions, competitions and giveaways.

The other thing I love about the group is that it's strictly non-political and non-denominational, so the discussions are all completely without any rancour; exactly, to my mind, what the 'social' part of social media means.

We Love Memoirs is, for me, the perfect example of what a well run group should be. It has getting on for 6000 members, and because of that, there are numerous moderators, all of whom seem to have special focuses. They are amazing, they really are. They don't only make sure the posts members put up conform to the group's rules; they organise daily features, competitions and promotions, all of which must take a huge amount of time and dedication, and guiding them all is the endlessly inspiring Victoria Twead. 

For those of you who've never read much in the way of memoir, I was amazed to discover the wide range of genres that fall within this umbrella: everything from lighthearted travelogues to inspirational accounts of people overcoming the most appalling difficulties. There really is an enormous selection of possible books to choose from. My Kindle is positively bulging with all the books I've bought, won and found through the various recommendations, games and links on the group's page. 

In this lockdown time, especially, I think WLM has been a huge boon to me and so many of the members there, and so I just wanted to say thank you to We Love Memoirs, to Victoria and Alan for founding it, and to all the marvellous moderators, members and authors for making it the truly great group that it is.

And as if you haven't already noticed, the link to the group is here: 😁

Many of my friends say it's their happy place on the Internet, and I agree with them. Come along and make it yours too!

Enjoy the rest of your week allemaal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

My Crazy Life Full With Books: Author in the picture: Valerie Poore

An interim post. I really enjoyed answering these questions on Kathleen vam Lierop’s blog!

My Crazy Life Full With Books: Author in the picture: Valerie Poore: Valerie Poore is the lovely author of many books mostly wonderful memoirs such as Waloon Ways (about Belgium), Faring to France on a Shoe, A...

Monday, February 15, 2021

Dutch winter play

 I'm not going to write much today (I hear you all sigh with relief) because this week, I think the photos and film clips will simply speak for themselves.

As portented (is that a verb?) last weekend when it snowed so heavily, we were subsequently hit with a week long period of intense cold. The upside (if such there can be) was that the sun came out as the temperatures dropped and even I can admit the scenery looked very beautiful. But what was even lovelier was that as the big freeze went on, ponds, canals and even large lakes froze up all over the country. 

As the night time temperatures plummeted to -10C and below nationwide, the Dutch dug out their skates and gleefully dusted them off. It's been several years since there's been a freeze prolonged enough for skating on natural ice. Locally, we saw it back in 2017, but I think the last big one was in 2012. Of course, everyone gets excited about the possibility of an Elfstedentocht, that famous Dutch marathon on ice that passes through 11 towns in Friesland, but sadly, it wasn't freezing for quite long enough this year. That apart, last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, saw the Dutch glorying in their favourite winter sport, and it really was a joy to see despite the breathtaking cold. Below are my own photos taken of the nature reserve ponds not far from the crumbly cottage.

It was such a delight to see whole families out on their skates with tiny tots as well as grannies and grandpas too. As for the teenagers and young adults, I could see how at home they were on the ice, spinning along as if they were born to it – which I suppose they were, really. I've only ever tried skating once, I must admit. However, since I spent more time on my backside than on my feet, I decided I was better suited to a sledge, preferably on flat ground and pulled by several strong huskies!

Anyway, I sadly no longer know how to embed a video here from anywhere other than YouTube, but the one in this link is well worth a look. It's from the Dutch news site NOS and I think it's quite magical. It shows how throughout the Netherlands, happy Dutch people took to the ice in vast numbers to enjoy a mini holiday from Covid and all the other cares that have come with it. I hope you enjoy it too. And if you want another look (I find it so compelling) here's another video I found on YouTube.

By Sunday afternoon, it was all over, though. The thaw had set in and Ice Skating clubs were warning people to get off the canals and go home. As for accidents? Sure, some people took a dunking when they literally skated on thin ice; others fell and had various bumps and bruises, but no one was seriously hurt as far as I know. The vast majority of people enjoyed the break from everything and just had good, old-fashioned, joyous fun. Today, we're back to the usual: grey, wet and gloomy, with +5C, but what a lovely weekend it was. 

Oops, sorry! I seem to have written a lot anyway. I can't be helped...

Enjoy the rest of your week allemaal and I'll be back with more sundry news and views soon!

Sunday, February 07, 2021

And so came the snow

I'm shivering in my timbers here in the flatlands this week. You all know how much I loathe the cold and the snow, don't you? Well, it's really come to get me this week. 

Last night we were supposed to have had a blizzard, but  (to my relief) it didn't really materialise in our part of the world. However, it did snow quite substantially. Here's a photo of my Vereeniging in her new, fluffy white coat.

Apparently, it will snow again tomorrow, but then it will simply freeze for a few days and won't even make zero centigrade until next Saturday. Fortunately (or not) I have now escaped to Zeeland where it is a) a couple of degrees warmer and b) easier to manage than skating over a frozen foredeck and negotiating a snowy (and long) gangplank before leaving my own premises. However, I hope I can get back again before it all thaws as I'm very anxious about frozen pipes and pumps. Since being a master worrier is my most advanced skill, I can dream up worst case scenarios that none of you would never have thought possible (oh yes, I can do that and more). So, I shall be distinctly uneasy until I can check on my lovely barge's bits in person.

I did my best to prepare for the big freeze by unplugging the water pump, emptying all the pipes, emptying the cistern in the loo and leaving an electric anti-frost thingy on. Then I wrapped my water pump in a quilted cover and any exposed pipes and stopcocks are swaddled in disposable nappies and towels. Now, I can only hope for the best and say a few prayers to the water gods. We don't often get prolonged cold spells, so I sincerely hope this won't be one of them.

For the time being, I'm still trying to get out and walk but today's efforts were a bit feeble. All the same, I captured a few photos just to prove we have snow here as well (and that I went out in it!). I must say, though, I'm very impressed with our municipality. They always manage to salt the roads to make sure everyone can get out if need be. I did a bit of salting myself in front of the crumbly cottage but mine was table salt and not the real stuff. I'm proud to say it worked a treat and our pavement is completely clear. I can imagine it looked funny to see me there with our salt pot, but hey...whatever works!

Have a good week allemaal, wherever you are. Tomorrow, we shall have to go and check on the Hennie! Who'd have them?