just an old-fashioned girl

Hello and welcome. I'm glad you dropped by. If you´re looking for something a little nostalgic of bygone eras with a timeless elegance and a little modern twist – in other words, something slightly “retro” – then you should feel right at home here in my shabby chic room. Month by month, there will always be something new to see so I hope you´ll enjoy your stay and come back again soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Whole Truth!

I was just thinking that those of you who haven´t managed a summer break this year will probably be madly envious of me after watching the video and viewing my beach page both of which make my stay in Domburg appear idyllic. However, appearances can be deceptive, and in my case selective, and I feel guilty about misleading you so here´s the whole truth as it appears in various emails to friends....

We had a great holiday. Well, partly. It was mostly sunny and breezy though the weather was freaky at both ends. Herbert arrived with Dora on the first Sunday right at the start of a horrendous heatwave. It was well over 30°C and humid too which is very unusual at the coast. I left the beach soon after he arrived leaving him to play with Dora and I actually got blisters on the soles of my feet from walking barefoot on the hot sand between our beach shelter and the board-walk. The following day was more of the same. Herbert left on Tuesday - as he did every week - and the weather finally broke in the afternoon and we had some rain, after which the temperature went down to the tolerable low 20s with mostly sun and stayed like that until the Thursday of our final week. That day was sheer horror for both Dora and myself. It rained in torrents all day. Never let up, never stopped. It was accompanied by gale force 8 winds. In case you don´t know how bad that is it´s the kind of wind which makes seagulls fly backwards and almost sweeps people and dogs off their feet. It also makes every raindrop feel like a needle piercing your skin and makes your mascara run and drip off your chin. As if that combination wasn´t bad enough there were thunderstorms all day too, either directly overhead or in the near distance. Very scary and very dangerous to be out in. I only went out to let Dora relieve herself and got drenched to the skin each time. Even my expensive rain jacket and trousers got soaked through and my shoes were like wet cardboard. I had to change my socks 5 times and since I´d already given H most of my clothes to take back I actually ran out of dry socks and had to resort to retrieving some from my laundry bag. They weren´t actually dirty as I´d only worn them to the beach and back but they were stained brown from the sand but anything´s better than going sockless in wet shoes. After I ran out of those I had to find a way of drying them. I eventually came up with a solution which dried my socks and also kept us both warm (it was only 13°C and not much warmer indoors) which involved suspending my sock dryer over the four gas flames of the cooker by hooking it onto the pouch at the front of my sandwich box.

How´s that for ingenuity? Desperation? (and, before you ask, no, I won´t be scrapping that photo!) I attempted unsuccessfully to dry my jacket and trousers after each outing using my hair dryer and I used the newspaper H had left to stuff into my shoes. I had lots of sandals with me but only 2 pairs of shoes and one pair had to be kept dry for the journey home. If we´d been at home this kind of situation wouldn´t have been a problem but in a small cottage with limited facilities and few waterproof clothes...need I say more? Dora was really fed up and kept looking at me expectantly as if to say Are we going to the beach soon? Every time she got up and went to the door I opened it and we were both immediately engulfed in water and driven back a few steps by the wind. I said On you go then and she gave me a resentful look and went back to her rug. I felt really guilty. I´m sure she thought it was all my fault and I could conjure up sunshine if I really wanted to. Anyway, that day after I got bored with reading I numbed my mind by watching Nat Geo practically nonstop and learned more than I ever wanted to know about the US prison system/how not to smuggle drugs through customs unless you want to be caught/dog training/the causes of air crashes and lots more. I was glad after I´d taken DD out for her last toilet break and finally got into bed. Next morning I awoke to a clear blue sky, 22°C and a nice little breeze. Perfect! When we left the next day it was showery but cleared up as we approached the German border. In fact it was so hot and sultry that Dora started panting so badly I stopped at a service station and got her some water...at which she turned up her nose. She´s so contrary sometimes. The only thing I could do for both of us was to turn up the ventilator which is noisy but even if it doesn´t do much more than fill the car with hot outside air at least it´s loud enough to drown out the panting from the back seat. Once we got off the motorway and close to home I drove to one of her familiar walks and she brightened up, then we got back into the car and she was OK again. Sometimes I think that the panting has less to do with the heat than with stress. She doesn´t like the car and far prefers her kennel in the bus. We´ve since decided that in future we´ll all drive to Domburg and back in the bus. It´ll mean missing one day of my holiday as Herbert is busy on Saturdays but that´s OK. He´ll have to get up really early for the journey home but he says he doesn´t mind. I´m relieved about that, not only for Dora but for me as I hate driving in the Netherlands. Something frightening happens every year but I´ll spare you this year´s narrow escape. I´d just like to say - between clenched teeth - to all you folk who tow caravans (Am. trailers) please try to remember that a) you´re driving a long vehicle and b) If there´s a woman in a red Mazda already in the overtaking lane, it´s quite a good idea to signal your intention to overtake the vehicle she´s overtaking BEFORE you start, not when you´re halfway out. Almost forgot...and c) When she´s recovered from the heart attack you caused her and managed, by leaning on the horn for 20 seconds, to get you to go back to where you belong before you made a large dent in both her and her car DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT HER, you old fool. Get some driving lessons, pass a driving test, get a valid driving licence and throw away the one you found at the bottom of a cereal packet back in 1955.

Don´t you just love having a good rant?

Well, that was the whole truth about our holiday. You can fill in all the pleasant gaps yourself...Dora´s fun on the beach, Herbert´s fun with her, my fun with her, my fun at the weekly market etc. Nothing much changes each year although the strange weather this summer was a nasty surprise. The incident on the motorway was also nasty but no surprise.

Still envious?


  1. This made me laugh and I especially love the ingenious sock-drying invention. :o)

  2. Yes, you gotta laugh at your adventures or should I say misadventures...so glad you and Dora both survived! At least there were some good days in the mix as well! How funny, we here in Texas would have been out dancing in the rain for joy. We are on day 43 of straight 100+ degrees with 7 more in the forecast.

  3. Well, I knew that you Texans would be envious of only the bad weather! Wish there were some way I could send you the extra 10s of 1000s of gallons we get. By the way, just to make you even more envious, there´s a thunderstorm raging overhead as I write and the rain is coming down in buckets. Maybe if I blow hard enough the rain clouds will move over in your direction...Sorry, I forgot for the moment that only Dora believes I can perform weather miracles.

  4. Oh Helen, When I saw the thumb nail of your photo, I thought you were making Indian Dream Catchers... socks was not what I was expecting when I got to your blog! What a great rant about your holiday! I'm so sorry you didn't have sunshine and nice weather the whole time you were there. Your rant about the driver reminded me about of the stand up comedian George Carlon... he did a funny skit about drivers that was so hilarious, although, I think you have him beat! I bet you are glad to be home with your beautiful garden!

  5. My personal favourite is Bob Newhart´s Driving Instructor monologue: http://monologues.co.uk/Bob_Newhart/Driving_Instructor.htm
    It´s even better at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3JvGyj8pI8
    (Too funny about the Dream Catcher! More a Nightmare Catcher in my opinion!)

  6. I don't know, I'm rather fond of the sock drier photo - are you SURE you won't scrap that? Your misadventures have given us a welcome diversion. I can see the temperature in this room from the keyboard and it is down to 90 F. What a strange range of weather you had. Thanks for the story!

  7. I think you must have met my dad! LOL
    He scares the daylights out of us when he drives. Sorry to hear about the weather though, but I just got inside from sitting on the balcony, watching the rain come down, but no wind, so that makes A WHOLO lot of difference. Saw the thumbnail of your blog on mine and I wasn't sure what it looked like, but I was definately curious LOL

    Glad you're dry, and got home safely.