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2011-01-08 21:31

Well done, Mar!

It's going to be a rubbish year for saying "For shame, Danmark!" when we live in a country whose government (such as it is, and it isn't much) relies on the formal support of Nasty Geert Wilders, so we'll go instead with congratulations instead to Mar and the Kronprinsfred on the occasion of their conspicuously unidentical twins.

Touchingly, they have chosen to share a birthday with our own spawnling, Boris van 't Blad, whose birthday we have been exceptionally busy celebrating today. (He is now three(3) and therefore old enough to know and care about such things, and we are older enough to have moist-eyed "they-grow-up-so-fast" moments. Clich or not, they really do.)

(Also, is our Varied Reader occasionally still Australian? We have one(1) or two(2) remarks we would be glad to make about recent cricketing events if so.)

2011-01-03 21:28

On not learning Italian

We're largely indifferent to Old Stuff, and Italian newspapers are also notoriously opaque to anyone who isn't deeply embedded in the local parapolitical conspiracy theories of at least one(1) faction, so we had tended to assume we wouldn't have much need of more than a phrasebook's worth of Italian. (We do need that much since we sometimes have occasion to go there and they are among the last great neglectors of Engleesh as the vehicular language of Europe, bless them.)

But then we found an online vendor of fumetti and we are considering reconsidering a little.

Having dug out our stash of aging Dylan Dog's from the library stacks ("attic"), we were pleased to find that given pictures, a willingness to leverage Romance cognates, and a heightened disregard for all forms of subtlety, we could actually more or less follow along.

This isn't a productive use of our time, by any means, but it is clear that if we are in fact foolish enough to attempt a new language this year it will be comic-book Italian.

2011-01-03 21:15

The Boat People

The people, that is to say, on the overnight ferry crossings from Hoek van Holland to Harwich and vice-versa either side of Christmas.

The boat isn't particularly expensive, but it sells out early: we booked in July and ended up with a (slighltly more expensive) outside cabin because that was all that was left. (Cabins are compulsory on night crossings.) At least, it isn't expensive for a family of four and a car, when you contemplate getting small children around England any other way.

As a result, the boat is packed with resolutely cheerful and organised Volvo-driving parents and remarkably well-behaved bilingual children.

The parents amuse themselves with beer and their own sandwhiches and the totally inappropriate reading matter in the shop (which is probably more interested in the truckes anyway, and they have their own bar-restaurant away from the touristes), and the children play amiably in their designated corner where a nice lady was making balloon animals, until they are tired enough to sleep in unfamiliar beds.

It's all actually terribly nice, and we actually mean that in a good way.


2010-12-21 21:33


1. Got one!

Le chaos provoqu par la neige inacceptable pour lUE

2. Snkaos, my role in its thwarting

Tomorrow, we set off in a heavily laden auto for Hoek van Holland ("Hook of Holland") and the boat to Harwich and then Banbury.

What could possibly go wrong? (Please don't answer that.)

3. Fumetti

We recently discovered a potential source for e-shopping of Italian comics. Thus inspired, we dug out a copy of Julia from our archives and learned - to our surprise and pleasure - that we could in fact now follow along, despite having invested no effort at all in learning Italian since the last time we tried and failed.

If our Varied Reader has neglected fumetti so far, we would urge a reconsideration: they have stylish and accomplished black and white art, and come in volumes of over a hundred (>100) pages that tell a complete story, and are significantly less infuriating and risible than American superhero comics.

4 Kinderkontrol

Boris van 't Blad recently had a check-up with the child-approval agency, which is to say that we and the Countess had one since they are actually mostly checking-up on parenting.

The highlight was when the kinderarts - knowing that he is being brought up bilingual - tried talking to him in Silly Engleesh: "Nee engels!" ("No Engleesh!") was all he would say.

He finds it a violation of the natural order of things when Dutch people speak Engleesh to him, and quite right to, although at the kinderdagverblijf they always try to get him to sing in Engleesh, because his accent is considered cute. (Apparently Jingle Bells is sung in preference in Engleesh - remind us to tell our Varied Reader of the time we were in a French school on an exchange visit around Christmas and they invited us to sing the actual verses of Jingle Bells. We had, to their chagrin not the slightest idea how they went, and we still don't - and Happy Birthday is sung in English, Cherman and Dutch. Our present-orientated cosmology being what it is - and it is - Boris has been warming up for Christmas by singing Happy Birthday to Sinterklaas, whose saint's-day is after all the occasion for the Dutch celebration on the 5th of December. The inconsistencies don't bother him very much, so long as there are going to be cadeautjes, and please don't remind us to discuss the time they tried to adjust the spelling of "cadeau" to "kado" and then back but leaving the spelling of "kadowinkel" (un)changed: we might weep.)

5. The joy of standing

Egberdina (with a "d") van 't Blad has discovered the joys of bipedalism. Being - as she is - absurdly strong, she can and soes pull herself up using pretty much any support. Being also, however, impressively uncoordinated, her exit strategy to date mostly involves hoping for a soft landing, and this hope is not always fulfilled.


7. It is in fact never a race against time as such

In this instance it is a race between a glass of delicious armagnac and Egberdina (with a "d")'s night-time feed.

But this post isn't going to be there when it gets to the wire, so Merry Twinkletree to our Varied Reader and theirs, and we'll see if Eng-ger-land can manage connectivity. Otherwise, also a happy new date-overflow condition!

2010-12-20 10:09

A surfeit of snkaos, although the French don't have a word for it

There's been so much snkaos in Yoorp these last few weeks that we've abandoned hope of keeping up with it.

What we haven't yet abandoned hope of is Francophonia coming to its senses and reporting it properly. We've had any number of "pagailles" and the frankly derisory "perturbations".

Today Le Temps ("The Weather"), one of the Switzyland's many Francophone news sources, manages LEurope est paralyse par les intempries, but it's just not the same.

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