Last Saturday I saw a show with Tilly, in the V&D in Leiden. De Veenfabriek performed “Haar Leven Haar Doden”, a play that is performed throughout the warehouse and also in the areas where shopping visitors can’t go. I never knew that this warehouse houses an additional staircase that is reminiscent of old-style hotel staircases, but is hidden from the masses and resides in a dark place behind the counter at the shoe and sock department. It is rather exciting to climb it as it creaks and you have absolutely no idea where it is heading.

It is a bit too complex to capture on a blog, but I found a small youtube video of the song they perform in the middle of the toys department (but that does not show on the video):

One of the fun things about this show was that people were still shopping when it was going on: there was one scene next to the escalators, where people were coming down throughout the scene–to find two actors in front of them and 60 people looking at them. Most of them had to laugh, some were very shy, and there was one little girl who stood aside and watched the rest of the scene wide-eyed with interest.

The show lasted 2 hours but was not tedious at any point. Changing location for different scenes helped in this respect, but the fragmented story of Anne carried enough momentum and information to keep me interested anyway. It was the first time I have ever heard a woman say “Long live porn!”!

I’ve spent the better part of this afternoon in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, visiting the Boekenfestijn. John and Anik (and their son Rowan) met me there and they drove home with me. We spent well over two hours roaming the bookstands, going through thousands of titles. Making a first selection is pretty easy; you just scoop up all the titles that you find interesting, and put them in your trolley. Then, when you think you’re done, you shift them into the standard software-feature categories: must-have, should-have, would-be-nice-to-have, don’t-bother-with-this-one, and I-didn’t-put-that-book-in-there! It’s up to your budget and carrying facilities to decide which categories to leave behind.

My first round harvested books leading up to 65 euro, so I made a stricter selection and ended up with the following:

  • Polish language, a quick-guide;
  • Vernon God Little (DBC Pierce), a novel;
  • Continental Drift (Russell Banks), a novel;
  • Travels in the Scriptorium (Paul Auster), a novel;
  • Ojo (Sam Kieth, Alex Pardee, Chris Wisnia), a comic book;
  • Oversight (Phillip Hester), a collection of short stories in comic format;
  • Wide Angle (National Geographic), a photography book;
  • Holland From the Top (Karel Tomeï), a photography book;
  • Binder folio;
  • Agenda 2009.

That’s not bad. Not as spectacular as some visits to the Boekenfestijn have been, but not bad at all.

I saw Hellboy II yesterday with Carlijn in Den Haag. What a wonderful movie! I thought it missed some of the originality and humour of the first instalment, but was nonetheless a surprising movie with a lot of action and special effects. Carlijn disagreed and thought the second instalment was better than the first.

I had some problems getting home, though. My bike was in the secure section of the bike-parking facility, and they close at 1.30 am. The trouble is, trains from Den Haag back to Leiden leave with a one hour interval from 0.30 am onwards. I thought I would take that 0.30 am train, but the movie finished at 0.32, much later that I had anticipated. There was no way to get back to Leiden in time to collect my bike. And I always thought I live in a well-organized urban area…

After considering our options we decided to have a few drinks.

We leisurely walked to the station at around 1.45 am (after the terrace was closed), said goodbye for the evening, and I waited for my train. It was a bit weird as the hall was almost empty, save for a few souls waiting for their trains:

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I got to Leiden at around 2.50 but had to walk home as I couldn’t get to my bike. Normally that isn’t a problem but I was wearing my Sunday shoes and they’re not cut out to walk on comfortably for more than 15 minutes at a time. It took me almost 35 minutes to get home, but I really enjoyed the solitary splendour of Leiden in the deep of the night. It surprised me that there were still people around–although admittedly one of them dead drunk trying to bike in a steady line, or at least roughly between the edges of the pavement.

Today I collected my bike after getting a free ride on the bus (carried only a 50 euro note and had to pay € 1.20, so the driver kindly let me in without paying), and hung around in the city as it is really lovely weather. If I’m not too tired tonight I think I will take out my camera and tripod and capture night scenes again.

Another thing I did yesterday was book a flight to Warsaw. More on that later : ).

I’ve been using Windows Live Mail (WLM) to manage my hotmail accounts ever since Microsoft launced it, and I like the lightweight feel of the application and its ability to handle multiple hotmail accounts in combination with ordinary POP3 accounts.

But, I’ve hit one problem that I find seriously irritating. I like to use smilies in my emails, but I don’t want the MSN-type icons to replace the good old  : ) . When WLM sees a colon and a right bracket it automatically replaces it with an icon, which usually results in an enlarged lineheight and messes up the format of your paragraphs:

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It looks really horrible.

There isn’t a switch for this. It just happens. But I have found two ways of keeping the characters in your mail and not having them swapped by WLM:

  1. Use a plain text format for your emails (but that means you can’t use Italics, Bold, Underline, or any neat formatting at all);
  2. Use the Undo function just after WLM has swapped the : ) with the MSN icon. You can press Ctrl + Z to do this. The characters : ) will reappear.

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After getting myself together on arrival at home, getting some sleep and doing some household chores, I’ve taken the time to organize the pictures I took and reflect on the experience of hiking in the Lake District.

Though it was (very) wet, cold, and sometimes very lonely, I had a wonderful time being by myself! The silence of valleys, lakes, mountainsides and small villages is such a relief from the noise of everyday. The physical exercise emptied my mind completely and I feel as though I’ve been away for two months. The people were very friendly, most of the accommodation was good, some of the food too (an English breakfast, for example, is best left to the English), and the pints were all great except that pint of Strongbow cider at the airport.

Here are some of the highlights of my holiday:

  • Climbing the 1,000 foot Stake Pass and entering the Langstrath valley;
  • Crossing flooded streams in that valley by jumping from stone to stone;
  • Travelling from Lancaster to Ulverston by train, along the coast of a dry Morecambe Bay;
  • Being attacked by a bird of prey defending its hunting grounds between Bassenthwaite and Orthwaite;
  • Losing my way in Lowick and feeling very lonely when it began to rain;
  • Crossing the Skiddaw mountain range in the mist;
  • Playing scrabble in the Royal Oak in Rosthwaite, where allegedly Wordsworth himself has stayed;
  • Meeting Alexandra at John Lennon Airport.

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A view into the Langstrath valley from the head of Stake Pass

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Me in the Great Langdale valley

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A view of the village Grange near Rosthwaite

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Ruins of the Howk factory near Caldbeck

My Picasa album: Lake District 2008

I’ve just finished my last working day before hiking across the Lake District. Tomorrow is left to get a haircut, buy some last-minute things and pack my backpack. Then on Friday morning Easyjet will fly me to Liverpool!

I’ll take Norwegian Wood by Murakami with me for company, and I’ve bought this lovely Moleskine journal to write down what I did every day. The picture of the Cumbria Way route I have added for decoration:

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I’ve visited Cronenstein park yesterday evening. I had wanted to make pictures during the “golden hour” (when the sunset spreads a golden light), but I was just a little bit too late. That didn’t stop me, though. I think I’ve made some pretty pictures using the fading sky as a backdrop for silhouettes:

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I did catch something during the golden hour, but it wasn’t the park. There’s a small patch of green across the canal and alongside the tracks, and I was lucky enough to see this lightbeam. Not so lucky capturing it, but here it is anyway.

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