My good friend Heidi moved to Ireland
in the beginning of the year and we
haven't seen each other since.

Yesterday she flew over from Zurich
where she'd been visiting another friend
and came to over to stay with us
before frying to Ireland today.

First we went to our local pub for drink,
met KB at the tube station as she
came straight from work and then
wondered over to our local

Frankie & Benny's for a meal.

I'm not a great fan of chain restaurants
but I was quite pleasantly surprised.

The food was excellent, the portions
were huge, the price not too bad and
the service efficient and friendly.

Plenty of el vino was consumed and
loads of laughs had so thanks girls-
all in all a very pleasant night!

Heidi (left) and KB making
sure the wine is OK...



Today on the iPod:

Frankie Goes To Hollywood

"Scooby Snacks"

Hollywood people note: Huey Morgan's
got possibly the sexiest voice ever,
give the man some major movie
roles (James Bond?), pronto!


I must admit I quite like autumn.

I like getting out all of my woollies;
scarfes, gloves, hats and coats from their
summer storage. I love wearing winter boots.
I don't even mind the early dusk, being
a Scorp I like being in the dark! :-)

Here's some autumn colours
from Colliers Wood.

Please click on the images
to view a larger version.

To view the photos individually
please visit



I bought this garlic & herb cheese in
Amsterdam (below). Oh my goodness,
I don't think there is a word to
describe how delicious it is!

Also I found pear liqueur chocolate which
I've never seen anywhere before. I'm sure
it's not a new thing, I've just never come
across it. It's very strong and sweet,
you should've seen KB's face
when she tasted a piece!

I bought the little white and blue clogs fridge
magnet (below in Amsterdam- it had to be done!
I was really good actually, I normally come
home with truckloads of touristy shite!

The other magnets are a
o galo de Barcelos
cockerel from lisbon, a funny Mozart from
Vienna (he moves his arms and legs when
you pull the string) and a
Moomin character
Little My magnet which Tommi bought
for me because thinks I look like her!

Funny enough I always thought she
looks like my auntie Helena but I
guess My looks like me when
I'm pissed off! :-)


Greetings from Amsterdam!

The trip was fantastic, the weather was perfect,
the shopping, eating and drinking sublime
and the company even better!

My good friend Satu flew over from Helsinki
and as we hadn't seen each other for
ages so there was a lot to talk about!

Here are some photos, please click on
the image to viewer a larger version.

We stayed in the Avenue Hotel (below)
on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal.

The hotel was modern and clean, they
have a wonderful buffet breakfast and
the staff were friendly and efficient.

It was a perfect location from which to
visit the city as it's a five minute walk
to the
Centraal Station and two minutes
to the main shopping streets
Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk.

And that's we went there to do: shop.
And boy did we! It's not often I can say
I've shopped 'till I've dropped but
this time it's true. Fantastic!

Klompen aka clogs,
bikes, national
costumes and
rollerskate clogs.

On Saturday morning we got super early
so we would be among the first to get into the

Anne Frank House (below) When we got
there there was nobody there...
it was closed for
Yom Kippur!

It's a moveable holiday and as luck would
have it was Saturday just gone! We thought
never mind and had a cup of coffee in
a nearby cafe while we waited
for the shops to open.

In fact Satu went there again Sunday morning
(I had to leave for the airport) but came
back after half an hour. She got there about
ten to nine and the queue was already round
the block! She went on a river cruise instead.

Dutch architecture
Part One.

Dutch architecture
Part Two.

Many of the buildings in Amsterdam
lean forwards and it's partly due to
subsidence but some have been built
to lean on purpose because
of a taxing scheme.

Many of the houses are quite narrow because each
house was taxed on the width of its facade.
The stairways were kept narrow so goods had
to be lifted in through the windows and in
order to keep the things from smashing the
windows the buildings were built at
small angle (by a 1565 law not
exceeding a 1:25 incline).

Various canals. The leaves were a lovely
autum colour and the sunshine
had a sort of luminous quality.

The Amsterdammers love animals.
Cats were roaming about in cafe's, pubs
and restaurants. Spot the cat asleep
on a restaurant table in the top picture.

Satu named the resident tomcat (bottom pic)
(in an English pub called London Bridge
opposite our hotel) Ginger T*****
for no apparent reason!

He did perform some acrobatic stunts
on the nearby tree trunks when
he went for a wee though.

Amsterdam details
Part One.

Amsterdam details
Part Two.

Amsterdam flowers
Part One.

Amsterdam flowers
Part Two.

Note the little lamp hanging from the tree
in front of the boat in the right top pic.

I fell in love with the lamps in Amsterdam.
Wherever you went, even the cheapest cafe,
they were really interesting.

Selection of photos from the
Amsterdams Historisch Museum.
The bottom right painting of Dutch
children on a beach is one my all
time favourites. The light
in it is just captivating.

The world's scariest staircase in a little
cafe off Kalversraat. This picture doesn't
do them justice in the "oh my god I'm going
to fall down
and break my neck!" stakes,
they were literally couple degrees
from being vertical!

It was like climbing up ladders and after
the buzz from my cappucino I didn't
think I was going get down alive!

The light is on, business is open.
Funny enough was on the news yesterday
that the red light district is going
to be scaled back.

A public housing corporation has sealed
a €25 million (£18 m) deal to buy 18
buildings, leading
to the closure of
one-third of the brothels.

A couple of restaurants we visited. The top
left two/middle bottom pic below are
Oud Holland which is on the
same street as our hotel.

I love what they say on their webpage about
the smoking ban coming into force in July 2008:
"We believe that a astray is part of our
furniture so we will still put them
on our tables but up-side-down."

The food was divine as was the service,
they've got possibly the funniest waiter
in Amsterdam! He cracked jokes
the whole time and made
our evening very pleasant.

I heartily recommend the restaurant but go
early or book a table, we went Friday night at 8
and got the last table. The Dutch tend to
eat a bit earlier than southern Europeans.

The left and right pics above are from a
Turkish restaurant Ankara opposite our hotel.
Again the food and the service were excellent,
recommended. The top right photo is of
Satu outside our "local" pub
London Bridge.

So, all in all a super trip and now it's
definitely one of my favourite cities.

Gauw tot ziens!

See you soon again



Put a parrot on your shoulder, strap on a
peg leg, hit the rum and start bellowing
"Shiver me Timbers" -tomorrow
Wednesday 19th of September is
International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

It's your once-a-year chance to don an
eye patch, sport a ridiculously large
hat and keep on saying "Arrrrr."

It all started back in the 1990s as a cult
joke between two American friends -

John "Ol Chumbucket" Baur (above right)
and Mark "Capn Slappy" Summers -
but really took off when syndicated
Dave Barry got to hear
about their surreal festival.

"We tap into that need for whimsy in
people's lives," Summers says of the
24-hour celebration of quirkiness
when they urge all self-respecting
swashbucklers to show "pirattitude."

International Talk Like a Pirate Day
(TLAPD), which adopted Treasure Island
star Robert Newton as its patron saint, now
attracts fans from as far afield as Britain,
Brazil and Australia and even boasts a
Wikipedia site (above)
on the Internet.


(Warning: includes
"Bourne Ultimatum"
plot spoiler)

You know when you have those really
lucid thoughts when you're not quite
asleep but you're not awake either?

Well, this morning about four o'clock I woke
for some reason and I don't why but the
first thing I thought was hang on, in the
Bourne film he buys a pay-as-you-go
mobile phone that he slips into the pocket
of a guy he needs to talk to because
they can't been seen together.

He buys the phone from a shop come
stand at Waterloo station, puts the
SIM in and that's it. Two minutes later
he's slipped it into the pocket and
is phoning it from a distance.

Er, two things. First: a new phone would
need to charge at least an hour or so
to get the sort of talk time out of
it that they use in the film. Secondly,
I was under the impression that UK
pay-as-you-go SIM's have to be
registred/activated before
they work?

But then, it's Jason Bourne so I guess everything
is possible. And it's Hollywood. Funny
what you think of in the middle
of the night though...


Apparently being fluent in two
keeps the brain
sharper for longer.

Good to know. My Finnish is getting worse
though, sometimes I really have to think
about words, is amazing how you forget
your mother tongue...at least I speak
it daily now, before
KB moved back
it was maybe once a fortnight if that.

I speak enough German and Spanish
to get by as well but again I hardly
ever get to use them so I forget words.
And the second official language of
Finland - Swedish...don't even get
me started on that!


Mira The Cat this morning:
"There's something
interesting in the street..."





What a nice little heartwarmer
this story is!

If you go down to the woods today, you
may not find any teddy bears - as dozens
of the toys are ending up at London's
St Pancras station.

Scores of the cuddly creatures are in the
station's lost property office hoping
to be reunited with their owners.

"It used to just be umbrellas, coats and
wallets, but the lost teddy bears are
taking over",
Mickael Boinot, Midland
Mainline's lost property officer at
St Pancras said.
He added "We have
had more than 100 this year and
some have never been claimed.

"I find it very worrying that people
can forget their bears.
It's a sign of the times."

Mr Boinot has resorted to displaying
the bears and other furry toys in the
lost property window in the hope of
attracting owners, but he is
now fast running out of space.



Here's the latest addition to my ever
Muumin mug collection!

Julia brought me this summer's special
edition one called "Dolphin Dive".

Thanks J, I love it!



My favourite track at the moment is
Late Night Session by London
souldiscofunkster Ali Love.

I'm not a great fan of funk but this
retro style track is great!
"It's a family thing!"


Today's nice "sun setting behind the
leaves" picture from our own garden
(well the neighbours actually but I
stood in our garden when I took it!)


Another stunning sunset last
night here in Colliers Wood.



It's less than a week until my
trip to
Amsterdam, yay!

Me and Satu (above (in 2005 at the Live 8
concert in Hyde Park) are staying
in the Avenue (below) right
in the heart of town.

I'm looking forward to seeing Satu as I
haven't seen her since last November
plus loads of shopping, eating & drinking
and generally milling about.

I've never been to the 'Dam before and have
always wanted to go so it's a dream
come true! Can't wait!

And while on the subject of trips it's 25 days
till mine and KB's trip to my mum's in
Los Alcazares in Murcia
(below) Double yay!





A surfer rode a wave on his stomach
to rescue a struggling dog that had
been swept off a pier and into
Lake Michigan in Grand
Haven by a wave.

Matt Smolenski, 25, said he grabbed
the pooch's collar just as the exhausted,
black-and-brown mixed breed
stopped dog-paddling.

"He put the dog up on his surfboard, and
the dog rode the surfboard in to shore," said
Royce Rodgers, an off-duty
Heights police officer who
witnessed the rescue.

As the dog crouched on the board, Smolenski
held on from the water, fighting large waves
and a strong current all the way to shore.

A surfing buddy, Joe Riopelle, 24,
helped pull in the duo.

Rodgers was walking his own dog on the
pier but turned back after seeing the size of
the waves. He said the other dog wasn't on
a lead when the wave swept it over the side.

The same wave knocked the animal's owner
off his feet.
"The dog was trying to swim,
but the waves were very large. It was
struggling," Rodgers said.

"The owner was screaming for the dog."

Rodgers said the owner thanked Smolenski
and gave him a high five. He then "left so fast,
I couldn't get his name," he said.