The song of the common blackbird makes me happy. Daisies make me happy. And blossom trees in bloom make me happy.
This morning Joasia and I cycled to the Amsterdamse Bos in the morning to go for pancakes at the Meerzicht, which is kind of like a farm, petting zoo and a playground in one. We met Eva, Scott and their kids there. (As I’m writing this, I realise I promised Jim that I would take a photo, which I totally forgot. Sorry, Jim!)
The bike ride over was lovely as it was early enough for it not to be too warm yet and the city to be very quiet. The only people that were out were super healthy people who were out for a jog and people who’ve got their shit together and got up early to read their newspaper in the morning sun on the terrace of a café. I even saw a bunch of people playing table tennis in the park.
The farm was kind of cool and was also quiet, with only a handful of people there. When the kids arrived we spent some time feeding the deer, which was cool. We looked at teh peacocks, the chickens, the ducks and the geese. We also played in the playground, which I enjoyed a lot.
When the pancakes came, we had a great brunch. Afterwards we said goodbye to the kids and cycled back. It was a very pleasant morning. When we came home, we watched Game of Thrones. Also great. Great day altogether.
Last night I arrived to jiu jitsu rather late due to some work obligations running late and I was greeted by an unexpected tournament. To my big surprise I performed rather well, getting five wins out of five matches. Four submissions and one on points! The first submission was a very quick collar choke, the second two were bow-and-arrow chokes and the last was a modified Ezekiel choke from half guard. Quite happy with the result.
Recently I started to be more mindful of when I go to sleep during the week. I try to sleep 23:00 until 07:30, which practically means that I sleep from 23:30 until about 06:45 or so. I wonder if this is the natural amount of sleep I need, or if I am still adjusting. I’ve been doing this for the last couple of months now.
There was a spell during the last couple of months where there was a lot of work related stress, more than I have ever had to deal with before, and it definitely jolted my sleep a little bit, and I started to notice that I would wake up in the middle of the night and be awake for about half an hour to an hour before falling back asleep. It still didn’t affect how I felt the next morning, so perhaps the regular surplus of sleep helped.
Yesterday I returned for another ten days in Exeter after having not been there in months. Joasia’s research sabbatical meant that she’s been in Amsterdam and we’ve rented out our apartment to a work acquaintance. It’s been really nice to be together more steadily and it seems like we are in a good place together.
Going back to Exe was nice; seeing some of the friends we’ve made, throwing a party for Joasia’s birthday, going to some of our favourite places to have food. It was really nice. Are apartment is also nice, and a small change we made to the interior, one we should’ve made a long time ago, made it even nicer.
The only thing we didn’t get to do is venture out of the city into the countryside, which is lovely around there. However, springtime is so beautiful around here that we didn’t need to go out of the city to enjoy the green and the flowers growing everywhere. At one point we came by a rugby field — and it sucks that I wasn’t able to take a photo of this — which was peppered with daisies and dandelions. Speaking of which…
I really think daisies are the flower that bring me the most joy. A beautiful grassy lawn with daisies erupts happiness inside of me that few things manage to do so consistently. Below are some photos a few photos I took. Including a couple with daisies in them.
Here’s a quick brain dump of my trip to New Orleans:
Last week, Joasia was in New Orleans for a conference and I decided to join her by flying out on Friday. I flew out through London in the morning and arrived in the early evening. It was quite a long flight, but the flight was comfortable so I felt okay when I arrived.
I made my way to the hotel, got my key, got changed and headed to the conference dinner that Joasia was at. I arrived halfway through dinner, got a quick bite to eat (something light because I was feeling a little dirty inside) and had a few drinks as we socialised a little with some of the people at the conference.
The following morning, Joasia was off for the second day of the conference, while Jim arrived at the hotel. He was gracious enough to fly in for the weekend. We went to get some breakfast and I think this is where things went off the rails for me a little bit.
When visiting the United States, I always have to get used to the food. It’s easy to eat heavy, greasy and too heavy foods. The breakfast I chose was heavily lathered with hollandaise sauce (which seemed to be a staple for breakfast foods in New Orleans, because it was part of a lot of dishes, I noticed) and I suspect my stomach decided to start protesting, and it didn’t stop protesting throughout my trip.
Jim and I spent the rest of the day going through the World War II museum, which was very interesting, although a bit coloured, especially in regards to the Pacific theatre. The museum was set up in a way to convey a particular narrative, which is something I’ve been seeing more lately. Most notably, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I’m not sure how I feel about it, because it becomes very hard to draw your own conclusions instead of adopting the conclusions provided to you through the narrative.
The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city, especially the city’s multitude of restaurants and bars. We also went to Jean Lafitte National Park for a two hour hike through the bayou where we saw a dozen alligators, which was kind of awesome.
We had arrived in New Orleans just after Mardi Gras, and the city was still a mess, with certain streets being a war zone of plastic beads, discarded cups and just general junk everywhere. That, coupled with the poverty of certain parts of the city, gave me the feel that there was little going on in the city which wasn’t based on binge drinking.
We went to The Presbytère, a museum on the edge of Jackson Square, which had two exhibitions; one on Mardi Gras and one on hurricane Katrina. I went to check the Katrina exhibit while Joasia and Jim checked out the Mardi Gras one. It wasn’t amazing.
Jim departed early in the morning on Monday, and Joasia and I went to the Whitney Plantation, about an hour outside of New Orleans. There were several plantations to consider, and Joasia decided to go for this one because it was less about visiting a beautiful plantation, and more focused on slavery and the dreadful economics behind it. It was an incredibly insightful, educational, horrible and beautiful visit. The tour guide was an amazingly knowledgeable and passionate man by the name of Ali.
When we got back to the city we decided to visit the garden district and admire the beautiful houses there. Sadly we just missed our chance to visit the Lafayette cemetery, but we went through that on a self-guided tour the following day.
Throughout all of it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, a terrific video game I played when I was in my teens, which is set in large in New Orleans. I recognised and knew about a lot of things because of this game. I’m sure when looking back on the game now a lot of things are probably horrible tropes, but I still remember it fondly.
The flight back was okay until we arrived back in London to find that our flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to weather. When we finally made it home, we had been up for 35 hours and dead tired. And my stomach was still giving me trouble.