29 July 2009

* Cryptic message in spanish

I went back to get a better look at the cryptic message which turned out not to be so cryptic, but rather poetic. First I wrote it down in my notebook, then I kind of looked over my shoulder to see if people were watching, then I photographed it because I liked the hand writing and the near invisible girl with ear muffs in the picture.

As I put away my camera, a voice called out to me in Dutch 'so what does it say?'. I looked up around and up, and sitting with his feet hanging off the roof of the building on the opposite side of the street was a man who had probably been watching me the whole time.

So I translated it for him: 'To forget a very big sadness, I will kiss you in a spiral... when no one is watching...'. And the man said 'that's very nice' and smiled. I agree with him, its beautiful.

28 July 2009

When the BFG lost his watch

In Barcelona they are big on their mozaics. Gaudi laid them all over the place in colourful and wonderful ways, I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. But looking down you can also see amazing things, like this mozaic made from metallic wheels. It looks to me like a giant watch just exploded and lost parts all over the floor (spotted in the Parc de Montjuïc). A sweet reminder of the importance of looking around us and seeing the beauty in simple things.

23 July 2009

The joy of receiving postcards

Good news for those who miss receiving good old postcards, handwritten post and mail that is not just bills. We are no longer obliged to send ourselves mail like Mr Bean. I love sending and receiving letters and postcards. A few days ago I received my first postcard from a complete stranger! This wonderful card was waiting for me in the entrance of my house, sent by a German man who used to be a drummer in a band.

I discovered the Postcrossing website whilst surfing the net, it is a site where you can sign up to get in touch with thousands of other people who miss receiving interesting post and want to introduce some randomness in their lives. To me it's like the couchsurfing of mail, you never know what you're gonna get but it leads to wonderful surprises:-) Try it out, it's great to create interaction with perfect strangers and colour your day and their day with an unexpected postcard.

22 July 2009

Things that caught my eye

Last night after having a drink with a friend it was too warm to stay inside, so I decided to head out for a walk along the canals. It was so relaxing and peaceful to be walking alone in the twilight hour, and some special things caught my eye.

1. A saying written on a beam in a dutch house 'Een glimlach is een goedkope manier om je uiterlijk te veranderen' (a smile is a cheap way to change the your outer appearance) - very wise reminder of the power of simple things

2. Four large wooden golden letters with serif that spelled F L O W in a window

3. A blue and red space invader

4. A naked man watching TV in his appartment a newspaper covering his private parts (admittedly it was a very warm evening)

5. A cryptic message in spanish written at the foot of a building*

20 July 2009


The other morning cycling on the way to work I saw some people making a giant street painting on the Prinsengracht (corner with Tuinstraat). When I passed again it was finished... Here it is:It looks great on the corner of these 2 streets. I looked it up cos I was curious. Apparently The London Police were commissioned to paint on this wall that was previously covered in ugly scribbles. They did a great job. I like the 2 guys in the graffiti machine, and the cartoon character is so smiley. Look out for these guys they are busy all around the world!

17 July 2009


Whilst blogsurfing I found this pearl of a blog. Each day the artist draws comments overheard and chooses one to post on the website. Some of the things said are wacky in themselves, but the drawings to illustrate them are really clever and add a whole other dimension. I really admire the creativity, productivity and regularity of the postings.

Stumbling on that blog reminded me of Overheard in Amsterdam which is the same principle, short discussions overheard around town (most are in Dutch) with a funny title added by the eavesdropper. It is really fun to read through a few.

Both these sites remind me of how many absurd things we say everyday and how that is communication, which is vital to human interaction. It also reminds me of the importance of not always having an mp3 player in my ears and listening to what is going on around me.

16 July 2009

Taking my time

Lately I've been thinking about taking life slower. I feel like the last years of my life have been wonderful and very full but I also have a constant feeling that I'm running after time and that I'm really tired.

I came slowly to the realization that I wanted to do things differently. First by the hairs raising on my neck when I am told to speed up (Vite, vite!), or when I find myself struggling to keep up with some of my friends cycling… I wonder what the rush is. But I sometimes rush in my own way too.

For a long time I thought I was quite late at doing things. Now I realize it's better to do things in one's own time. The beautiful expression 'to take one's time' says EXACTLY what it should, it is my time! I don’t need to go at anyone else's rhythm than my own.

So I took a conscious decision to avoid rushing permanently. This actually is the same as living in the moment, which I find pretty hard to do sometimes since I feel like I am constantly about to rush off somewhere else or making plans.

I have listed off the top of my head the things that I feel help me or will help me to live more slowly and I want to try and follow these guidelines in the next months and years, this post being a reminder.
  • taking the time to cook more, trying recipes, shopping at the organic market, trying to chose fresh products grown locally

  • continue to practice yoga regularly, meditate and breathe

  • slow love, get to know people and not rush into relationships

  • slow travelling, staying in one place for a longer period, couchsurfing, getting to know that place better [my ultimate plan is to spend 1 year (or more!) without taking the plane, but more about this later…]

  • writing letters and postcards instead of emails (I have a stack of free cards ready to be filled with stories of daily adventures and sent off into the world), taking those few extra minutes to buy stamps, to walk to the post box

  • plan less, not try to fill every free moment
I don't think the transformation will happen overnight, but I'm curious to see what amazing things will flourish from this decision.

15 July 2009

I'm gonna die with a twinkle in my eye

Monday night I went to see The Cat Empire, one of my favourite bands, Aussie of course (because 'in Australia everything is better'!). As they started they told us it was their 700th concert! and they really rocked the Melkweg like I've rarely seen. They had the crowd shouting and jumping and there was an amazing atmosphere.

They played one of the songs which I adore: The wine song. Everytime I hear these words I get shivers down my spine and it puts a smile on my face, its a wonderful vision of life.

I'm going to die with a twinkle in my eye
'cause I sung songs spun stories
loved laughed and drank wine

09 July 2009

Magic skies in Barcelona

Danish humour

With my Danish friend visiting for the weekend we talked of streetart and she told me of a famous Danish artist along those lines HuskMitNavn (literally Forget my name). His website has a lot of cool stuff on it, though you have to look for it...

This is what I liked the most. It completely cracked me up! Just imagine!!!

01 July 2009

100 Mile Diet

Surfing the net in the calm at work due to the economic crisis, I came across this blog which I found really interesting. The idea is to eat ONLY things produced within a 100 mile radius from where you live. That means only fresh products that you can trace the origin of, no pasta if you live in a region where they do not produce wheat etc.

From what the writers of the blog explain it takes a lot of creativity and research, but it also increases human contacts and is a good investment into the local community... I find it a great idea / challenge and even if I wouldn't push it to this extreme it inspires me at least to buy more locally (at the organic market at Noordermarkt for instance).

It triggers a thought about the Netherlands... Just the distance is not a sufficient criteria here, as it is not really recommendable to buy out of season food produced in greenhouses which consume huge amounts of energy.