Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Indian Summers, West Indian Food n Bike Theft in Amsterdam

Well there went any thoughts of blogging regularly as soon as I started traveling; I’ve been having a good time and well, good intentions just haven’t turned into blog posts…so now I have to either write a saga or pick n choose what to tell y’all about... Ok, well, here’s a little pick: I was blessed with an absolutely gorgeous Indian Summer the week after I arrived in Holland, so my initial multilayer sleep clothes instantly dwindled to much more comfortable levels and walking in the park almost caused me to break a sweat; As I described it to a friend, it’s like a lovely cool n sunny Caribbean day :-) We went to see a Dutch artist Theo Jansen talk about and demonstrate one of his ‘Strandbeest’ – Beach creatures…I’d seen them years ago on something like Make Magazine maybe, so I was thrilled to know I’d get to see one in real life.
Strandbeest - Theo Jansen's kinetic sculpture animal
Lunch at Scheveningen
The day was beautiful, walked to the Scheveningen beach via the dunes, all covered in beautiful wild flowers, had a great lunch at a beach restaurant with Wieckse Witte beer of course ( white beer – a summer necessity in Holland ) and then walked down to see the beest in motion.

Paths on the dunes at Scheveningen

It was a day of lots of sun but little breeze so the beest was not planning to walk too much on it’s own, but with the help of artificial lungs of PET bottles, filled with compressed air, he (she?) had no choice but to perform for the guests assembled…the artist was charming, half eccentric inventor, half eccentric artist..it was fun and once the beest gets going, it truly is fascinating to watch.
Traditional Dutch Food with a modern twist
I’ve lost count of the tasty dinners and eats I’ve had already – traditional (ish) Dutch, Italian, -) Wagamama Thai-like, Hema –Worst (they even have a FB page:-), Surinamese Lamb Curry, and all sorts of munchies – and of course, special mention to the Saoto Soep, Cassava and Telo (saltfish) and Spekkoek (delicious layered spice cake) made especially for me by Denny. And the Italian Ice-cream at the Beatrix Park, from the Pisa stand– even the pit-stop at the V&D café was delicious…so I better keep up walking in the park if I don’t want to be rolling back home!
Surinames Munchies

Early Sint Nicholas -Kruidnoten...mocha...YUMM!

V&D Snack
Then Sunday just gone, Liz & I cooked up a whole heap-a food West Indian Style- had a bunch of friends over and ate ourselves to oblivion – with a little bit of help from a wicked Rum Punch and Pink bubbly :-) Introduced them all to our super-delicious special Lucian Cocoa Tea – Saint Lucia, we have to make more of this treasure of ours; you know I went into a Hotel Chocolat shop in Basingstoke and enquired if they had our cocoa sticks on sale (as I’d heard they had been, and for a princely sum of about £50 in a wooden box) well, they didn’t have them anymore, but they are selling a grated version; haven’t bought one to see if it is the real McCoy, but my Cocoa Tea at Sunday’s lunch was, and as always, people wanted more…
Accra & Mango Chow...lol, nearly finished!

Creole Fish, Channa, Curry Goat, Plaintain, Sweet Potato and Mango Chow
So my sister had been planning for months leading up to my visit, to get a bike so we could both ride round Amsterdam and enjoy the Amsterdamse Bos, the Amstel and just plain bike around…after much searching she found a great deal online – well it came very un-put-together and we realized we didn’t have the tools…friend came by and gave it a try…but nope, needed tools…so I went up to the bike shop on the Beethovenstraat and enquired what it would cost to have my bike put together and they quoted ‘about €75’!!! Big long explanation of how well they’d give it a going over, but shit man, all I wanted was a basic put-together…So I walked back dejected and thinking I was doomed to be on my feet all my holiday…but no, we were in luck - a little hidden away shop just round the corner with a guy who neither spoke much English or Dutch said they’d do it for a mere €20…and a day later I was cycling back home with my new bike… So we locked it up tight and headed off the the UK for a week, got back and went shopping in Amsterdamse Poort for our West Indian meal (you can get pretty much everything you’d need there for West Indian cooking) and planned that we’d go cycling the next day…somehow the next day disappeared and the bikes stayed put…so on Saturday after a morning of cutting and mixing and putting to season all kinds of things in preparation for Sunday’s lunch, we finally put on fleece jackets, scarves, gloves and went downstairs to take a bike ride……me, in a quiet voice: “Liz…my bikes not there”
The space where the bike should be :-(
As she later put it, I was now a real Amsterdamer – my bike had been stolen!!! Well what can you do? These are the times to believe everything happens for a reason and I was being saved from something bad … ok, yeah, I still can’t help wishing the perpetrator a big ze-kak and a mess-up gweejee! (roughly but not so colourfully translates to a big knock and a nasty scrape). We drove to the Amstel and had a lovely walk along the path and realized we would not have had time to notice the birds and the plants, the details of the houses and the lovely views that popped up between them if we’d been whizzing by on our bikes…all things for a reason eh?
View along the Amstel
XO from Amsterdam