maandag 9 mei 2011

A new pet?

When do you call an animal a pet? Could it be when you think he's cute and fluffy, the other pet -the cat- doesn't hunt for him and he's been eating your animal-food and living beneath your roof for more than half a year? In that case, let me introduce you to our new 'pet':


Yes, I do think rats are cute and fluffy. They have a bad name, as they can carry diseases and live in dirty places. But just look at him: he's like a squirrel who had a depilation on tail and ears!

As for my cat: Misha does take an interest in him, like he does in everything that moves, but I think the rat is just a bit too big for him. He's just a small cat and the rat is well-fed, so Misha is only 2-3 times bigger than the rat. When Misha was young and living his life out in the fields, he did bring a few freshly caught rats home. Now he's old, he gets special food for his joints and still spends his days on the pillow in the windowseat.

Last week, when I found a big hole in the garden leading to beneath our house, I was already suspicious that the rat would live beneath our floors. This weekend my husband went down there to check the state of the drainpipes and central heating pipes, as well as the state of the wood and beams down there, as he does every year.

Here he found the rats dining table (collection of green nets which used to contain birdfeed) and his toilet... (the SMELL, but not as bad as that year when he discovered that the drain pipe of our toilet got loose...) I guess the jackdaws aren't as guilty of stealing the birdfood in my garden as I thought they are.

The hole is sealed now, but I would be surprised if that was the rats only entrance. I hope that making the birdfood unavailable for him, will make him go away. As cute as he may be (to me), he still is a rat, and therefor an unwanted guest.

Hopefully not to be continued!
Marit

woensdag 16 februari 2011

Macro-photography in a nursery

Oh dear, I did not maintain this blog very well, did I?


I neglected to show results on my photography course, so here some photo's of a special day we had in a very large plant-nursery. Really my cup of tea, as I love to take macro-photographs. Well, what would you expect from someone with miniatures as a hobby? Some see the world in big-bigger-biggest, but aren't the little things in life the ones that make it special?








To see more: https://picasaweb.google.com/whitecatcottage/Kwekerij#

Bye for now,
Marit

woensdag 27 oktober 2010

Photography course - lesson 1

This winter I take a course in photography at Dies Groot. I love photography so it will be great fun to learn some more about it, and do the exercises. A friend goes to the same course. She did an other course last year and I enjoyed the creative brainstorm sessions we had on her exercises. Also my husband wants to do the exercises. The course will be every 3 weeks until April next year, so this will be a fun winter. Although, I must admit, I'm still a little bit scared of sharing my photo's in group of people who will judge them, and tell me not only what I did right, but also what I did wrong. I know it's a major part of the learning process, it's not personal, etc, etc, but the perfectionist in me can't handle criticism very well.

Anyway, our homework of lesson 1 was to take a subject, make an overview photo, and then 5 interesting detail photo's, using our knowlegde on what makes a photo interesting (light/shadow, contrast, different angle, close-up, composition, etc). It's a assignment to look very well, not only seeing the subject, but to look for possibilities for a nice picture.
I had a holiday in the forest, and close to our cottage was an oak-tree in beautiful autumn colours. The overview picture was in fact the most difficult one: hard to see the tree though the forest and too much contrast!


But the colours of the leaves were awesome!

An other look on the tree (remind: the different angle):

There were habitants of the tree, willing to pose:

And also my husband was taking pictures:
I want to share more of the results of the exercises, and I still need to share pictures of our holiday to Wales in June (the holiday already has almost faded in my mind). I guess I need to blog a bit more often on this blog.

Have a colourful autumn!

Marit

woensdag 18 augustus 2010

Clean & Simple Life


I have been reading about 'A Clean & Simple Life', and I find this very interesting. The theory is when you keep your life basic and simple, it will give you a peaceful mind and happyness. The theory can and should be applied to every aspect of one's life. Here some examples:

Take a deep look inside and tell yourself the truth: what are really your wishes and what do you do because you think that your surroundings expect from you? It's your life and you only have one of it. Don't waste it on trying to fulfill other people's expectations! Don't think about what other people might think (ask them, as you'll find out that you're often wrong, most people are their own worst critic), it doesn't matter what other people think, it matters what you think.

Bring structure into your life, do certain things on certain days, like cleaning the bathroom on Thursday and sports on Friday. It may sound dull, but most people feel more happy if they have structure in their lives and know what to expect. It also makes that you don't feel the whole pile of tasks on your shoulder, just the tasks of that certain day. Be sure to also take fun things into the scedule and leave more than enough room for unexpected and spontaneous things. The scedule is not to cage you, but to free you.

Lessen your amount of obligations, learn to say no. That's a difficult one. It has also much to do with living up to the expectations from other people. There are things in life which give you energy, and things which take energy. Keep the enery-giving things, but don't take the whole world on your shoulders.

As for a house: it should have enough room for you, but not too much, as you will need to keep it clean and maintain it. It helps when it's easy to clean and maintain. And keep up with those jobs. All the things that wait for you to do them, take energy from you, even before you started on them. It's like a tv on stand-by: on it's own, you won't notice the amount of energy it takes on your bill, but when your house is full with machinery on stand-by, you certainly will pay a price for that. When you look around and see the things which should be done, it lessens your ability to relax and enjoy. You might even only see the things that should be done, and nothing else, and that's very depressing.

Another silent energy-absorbant is stuff, which you don't need or use. Take your wardrobe: it's probably full, but you only use a part of it. The rest is fine, but doesn't fit that well, or doesn't look that good, and you feel it's too good to throw away, but you never wear it either. You might even feel guilty just looking at it, for wasting money on something which you don't use. All that negative energy! Throw it away. And if you're not up to that: put it in a box on the attick and after a year (in which you won't miss any of those things, I sure of that), you bring that box unopened to charity. And while you're in the attick, isn't that ready for a good clearance as well? Atticks should contain stuff you temporarily don't need, like summerthings in winter and winterthings during the summer, holiday-things (but not camping things if you never go camping anymore), precious things that have no place (but not things that might come in handy someday, as that day may never come, and if it comes, you can buy it new), ... etc. Our attick is very small, it's just some space beneath the top of roof, too low to stand, and it's so full, even if we remember things being there, we can't get to it. It doesn't function the way it should, like this.

The colours you use in your house will reflect on your mood. Choose colours that fit the function of the room, but keep it light and airy. Don't pack your house full with furniture and decoration, keep it open and functional (is also easier to keep clean and tidy).



As for a job, be sure to do something you like. In the perfect world it should not feel like work at all, but I guess that's out of reach for most people. But it's a big part of your life and it helps enormously if it gives you joy. Joy is something really precious that money can't buy (although it can facilitate it). Ambition is good, but don't overdo it. Status is a good example of living up to other people's expactations, and it comes with a price.

Invest in friends and family. You'll get it back double.

Don't try to be perfect in any way. It only makes you unhappy. Think about this example: guests don't feel at home in a dirty house, but also not in a perfectly clean and sterile house. The last things to make something perfect, take relatively the most effort. There's an optimum between input and output. Use this optimum as much as you can. Think about what really matters. Don't iron the bedsheets, if you hate ironing more than you get pleasure out of ironed bedsheets. And try to accept things which you cannot change.

The last example is financials: don't let them keep you awake at night. Be up-to-date with them. Fully understand your financial situation. Scedule a certain time every month to do bills and stuff, keep a buffer for unexpectated expenses. Be sure about your insurances, what do they pay when, which riscs do you want to take yourself and which are better to be insured for? Don't borrow money, keep a low mortgage. (And if you get into financial trouble, don't wait too long to get help!)

It's all about getting overview on your life and cutting away the ballast. And I do believe in it, but I don't seem to get there. My life is far from clean and simple! The biggest problem is that there's so much to be done, that there is no room in my 'scedule' for anything else. This morning I wrote down all the things which still need to be done in and around this house since we bought it six years ago:

And I wrote down 162 (!) items without hesitation... Since then, I have been adding another 20 things to the list, other things surely will come. And this is just the house... I shouldn't worry so much about these things, but I do.

It doesn't help that my husbands job is on two hours travelling from our home. Yes, he travels 4 hours a day just to go and get back from work! You can imagine that all he does at home on a working day, is eat and fall asleep on the couch. That is, if he isn't abroad for his job. I have tried to convince him to move to the area of his job, or to search for an other job near our home. But it's not that simple, and I do know that, but this situation is going on for years now, and I'm quite fed up with it.

It doesn't help that I have been chronic tired for a few years, and even though I am recovering now, it goes so slowly!

Today I made a start with my attick-clearance, to find out that we probably have a leak near the old chimney... Oh well, that will be a good number 185 on my list!

I guess a clean and simple life is a good pursuit, an Utopia to wish for and dream about. And I will: dream and try, for a life with less worries.

Marit

zondag 15 augustus 2010

Holiday Wales

It has been a while since my holiday in Wales in June. To be honest: sometimes it feels like we haven't had a summer-holiday at all ... My husband and I are both very fond of taking photographs, as you may have noticed on this blog. Our equipment grows over the years, and this holiday the bag with camera's, lenses, etc was as big as one of our bags with clothes and stuff... :-o. And the amount of pictures we take also seems to grow each year, so it takes time to get through them, discard as many as we feel up to (still difficult throw away photo's which are perfect in light and sharpness, but just not interesting enough) and make a set to show family and friends, or to put on a electronic photo-frame. And I also wanted to show some of the photo's here, in a few posts to come (as I said, there are many, and choosing is so difficult).

First I want to start with an overview, to show you what we like so much about the UK for a holiday. First of all, it's great to take our old English sportscar (MG B GT from 1969) back to the roads it was designed for. It also always leads to spontaneous conversations with total strangers.

And speaking of roads, I mean like this one:

When there are no roads, there are numerous of public foothpaths and bridleways through the beautiful countryside.

If you enlarge the last photo, you see that there's a ruin beneath the trees. Those places intrigue me. What stood there? Who lived or worked there? In the remote parts of the country, there are many of these abandoned places, often easy accessible by a public foothpath like that, to take a look around and fantasise about its past.

And it's not only houses and barns, but also castle-ruins, set on the most strategic places, meaning a good view on the surroundings. This one in Manorbier is also known for its beautiful garden.

And again much to discover on foot here: there's a stunning walk alongside this coast: the Pembroke Coastal path. Our B&B was very near to this castle, also close to this path, so one evening I walked from the B&B to the top of the hill which you see on the right, to make a picture, only to find out that the castle wasn't clearly visible from its background, as it was already too dark. When I walked back, I encountered a bull on the path... I had past him on my way up on a spot where it was width enough, but now he stood on the narrow part above a steep cliff... Most stories about bulls are made up. Bulls are often very friendly, just not aware of how their weight and strenght can harm us, and not always very reliable in their mood when they feel trapped or annoyed, by for instance a walker coming closer and closer... It took a lot of time and patience, but in the end I could pass him safely.

My country is very crowded and very flat. There are no hills...
(this is taken from the summit of Snowdon, again you can walk to here, 3 differents paths, but we took the (steam)train :-) )

or falls...

In fact, I don't think there is a spot in the Netherlands where you don't hear cars. And we do have sandy beaches, but just not like this:

I also want to show you two old, but very different cities. First Chester with the medieval looks one would expect in the UK:

And then Tenby, which has the medieval features like city-walls and -gates, also many gorgeous Victorian houses, but also subtropic influences from the sea and a French feel about it, with all the light coloured houses and tropical plants:

I finish today with the cottage we rented: Bryn Awel near Llandrillo. It's the link with the ruins which I mentioned before. Some abandoned places are saved from becoming a ruin. They are transformed into holiday cottages, on unique remote places, with a great feel of history. But let me tell you more about this cottage in a next post.

Coming to the end of this post, I must admit that at the end of our holiday we both agreed: Wales is beautiful, but Scotland will always be our number one. Wales is too 'crowded' and too 'lovely' (how silly that may sound), not as empty and 'rough' as Scotland. But I guess that is a matter of taste.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!
Bye for now,
Marit

zondag 11 juli 2010

Moths

Lately the wheather here has been very hot, and in the evening, when it get cooler, I don't want to go to bed. Great nights for another hobby of mine: attract moths with a special light and determine which one they are. You might think that moths are dull greyish and brownish creatures, but some of them might surprise you. So here some of the results of some recent nights:



The previous one is very big, the next one is very tiny. So tiny, that I thought it to be completely orange until I saw the photo I made.




I have a book to dertermine which one is visiting my garden.


My set-up:

Now I just showed you a few moths visiting my garden on two separate nights. None of the are rare (although I do get some rare ones in my garden, but not this nights). I left out the dull coloured ones. Can you imagine how many are flying out there? While there are just about 10 different kind of butterflies to be seen in my garden. It keeps amazing me! And it depends on the season which ones are flying. So these are here now, but in August I can show you some other beauties.

Do you know who are happy to accompany me on my moth-nights? Todd and Ted, the toads living in my garden, especially when I put a light on the terrace-floor, so I won't step onto moths, or them. Those lights make their meals literally fly into their mouths!

I hope you enjoyed me sharing this.
Marit

zondag 16 mei 2010

Birds

The institution for the protection of birds in the Netherlands has a website with webcams in birdsnests, see here. I love to watch, see what's going on in the nests. There are a little owl (=steenuil in Dutch), a stock dove (=holenduif, actually this one is nesting in a nesthouse ment for a kestrel=torenvalk), an eagle owl (=oehoe), a great tit (=koolmees), a white stork (=ooievaar), a swallow (=boerenzwaluw), a barn owl (=kerkuil) and a nuthatch (=boomklever). The great tit, white stork and nuthatch have chicks. But is has been a very cold and wet spring and the chicks suffer from that. The great tit has 3 chicks left of the 7 they started with (yes, you can see one of the dead, the female didn't succeed in getting it out of the nesting box). The white stork lost 2 of the 4 chicks. Hopefully now the weather is getting better, they remaining chicks will survive.
'My' birds are doing better, maybe because I still feed my birds. I don't know if baby-chicks can eat seeds and peanuts, but I'm sure it helps the parents to get a fast meal themselves. This week the first nest of 'my' sparrows have left the nest. I counted 6 of them, quite a successful number. They are so cute, with their short wings and tail, and yellow beak! Well, see for yourself:


The chicks who left the nest surely can eat the birdfood I give them, but they must get it from their parents. They won't eat themselves yet.

"Mommy, I'm hungry! Mommy, come, feed me! Mommy, where are you? Why do you say I have enough food, I'm hungry! Mommy?"


"Oh, there you are, mommy! Hungry! Feed me! Mommy?"

Besides the sparrow-family, the other birds fight over the food as well, even though there's enough for everybody.


My husband always tells me: "When it itches, it will be scratched!"

Have a nice Sunday!
Marit