Isabel Adventures: through the eyes of a tourist



Melancholy & Nostalgia, Fun & Silliness in Scotland with a wonderful young Nederlander...

Day 1

After picking up Isabel at the airport, surprised hugs and excitable chatting ensued.

At my place we had tea (no milk for her) whilst sitting on my garden steps in the rare spring sunshine.

I had missed her, and it felt a bit surreal to have one part of my 'Dutch life', sitting in the living room of my 'Edinburgh life'.

We went for a walk around town, wandered down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament building. Had a good look inside the debating chamber, wandered back up and took in the sights, as well as the overload of tourist shops...

After that it was time for a cup of tea, so we went to the Fruitmarket Gallery near the train station, where they had an art book event on, which was pretty cool.

Over tea, and a gradually fading amount of energy, we discussed our families, our names, and a really cool (and admittedly, super hippie) thing that her mum did with giving the children their own colours and symbols.

Isabel exclaimed that Edinburgh seemed to be full of superstition, which, I suppose - although I had never thought about it - is true. There is so much history, tradition, strange stories, urban myths and oddities steeped in everything that is Edinburgh.

We ended the first day with sleepy chatterings, tea and watching bad/silly television like 'The Voice' and a not so bad Belgian crime series called 'Salamander'.

Day 2

A lazy morning, a walk in a crocus-filled Princes Street Gardens (the first sign of spring), exploring the art galleries in the centre...

At the National Portrait Gallery there was an exhibition on about Scotland, old and new. It was really interesting to watch the video installations, look at the sculptures etc with somebody to whom the independence debate was almost alien.

We stopped for coffee and (gluten-free) cake for Isabel (humous & pitta bread for me).

I went to my photography analysis course at Stills Gallery (which I will post about later).

Afterwards a little vintage shopping and an introduction to Irn Bru.

Isabel asked me "why is Edinburgh so arty?" - which is a good question.

We chatted about UCM on the bus and how funny it is that kids have to wear school uniform here (it's not really a thing in the Netherlands...).

Day 3

A bit of a bus fail on my part, which led to an impulsive Starbucks visit while we waited for the next one.

There was something more honest in the air, and we both admitted to some difficulties.
A cute kid at bus stop, deep chat on the bus about men and the past, and eventually we reach Gullane.

We discuss travels to far away places like New Zealand in the low sun, whilst blowing the cobwebs away.

Plenty excitable dogs run around while we sit on a bench to ponder about word pedantry, family, languages, future, relationships and what could have been.

Reminiscing on the beach...

We caught the bus back along with a load of north berwick high school pupils, and, although tired, discussed uniform again, then moral issues: legalisation of drugs, alcohol/cigarette buying legal age, prostitution and countries going more right wing politically.

We make fish and veg and soup for dinner and do rather badly at answering the questions on 'University Challenge'.

Day 4

Isabel finishes her Japanese book.

Then we made a (gluten free) cake.

The recipe is here.

The evening was spent swapping old expressions and comparing the differences/similarities between dutch expressions and english ones while listening to harp/clarsach music (the CD of the person who used to be my harp/clarsach teacher :) ).

I can't remember all the expressions now but will comment them below when I do.

Day 5

Isabel reads a short book of mine about an autistic boy (called The Boy Who Ate Stars).

Over some coffee and tea we listen to dutch music and talk about poetry.

This was the first time I had heard of 'De Beste Singer-Songwriter Van Nederland'.

I really love this song. (And it turns out another Dutch person I know, knows her - small world!).

The lyrics are here:

Je kust me, Je sust me, Omhelst me, gerust me
Je vangt me,
Verlangt me
Oneindig ontbangt me
Je roept me
Je hoort me
Je redt en verstoort me
Gelooft me,
Berooft me
Verstikt en verdooft me

Je ademt en leeft me
Siddert en beeft me
Vertrouwt me,
Beschouwt me als mens
En weerhoudt me
Van bozige dromen
Die op komen dagen
De eenzame vragen van eindig geluk

Met je krullen
als nacht
Hoe je praat, hoe je lacht
Hoe je stem zo dichtbij als een engel verzacht
In mijn dromen doorstromen,
Oneindige leegtes
Je remt me
Je temt me
Je roert en beweegt me

Ik mis je
Ik mis je
Ik grijp je, ik gris je
Ik wil je
Bespeel je,
Ik roer en beveel je
om bij me te blijven
In donkere nachten
Niet meer te smachten naar jou

Laat me los
Ik moet nu alleen
en houdt me vast als het nodig is
In gedachten
ik zoek je in alles om me heen
maar al denk ik soms dat het zo beter is
Kan ik het niet helpen dat ik je soms mis

Ik smoor je
Bevroor je
Verlos, en verloor je
Weg naar een andere plek maar ik hoor je
Omarm je
Verwarm je
Ik zie je en voel je
Ik aai je
Ik streel je
Ik knuffel en kroel je

Je rijpt me
Begrijpt me
Verwart en misleidt me
Het schrikt me soms af
Hoeveel ik op je lijk nu

Mijn glimlach
Mijn tranen
Mijn liefde voor leven
Het spijt me van alles
Kom help en bevrijd me

Laat me los
Ik kan het alleen
maar houd me vast als het nodig is
In gedachten
Ik vind je in alles om me heen

Maar al denk ik soms dat het zo beter is
Kan ik het niet helpen dat ik je soms mis

Ik kus je
Ik sus je
Ik doof en ik blus je
Je blijft heel dichtbij me
Maar in mijn hoofd rust je

Rough translation:

 (it sounds less cheesy in Dutch haha)

You kiss me, you soothe me, you embrace me, you put me at ease
You catch me,
Desire me
Indefinitely make me less scared
You call for me
You hear me
You save and disrupt me
Believe me,
Steal from me
Suffocate and numb me

You breathe and live me
Quiver and tremble me
Trust me,
Consider me as a person
And deter me from
Angry dreams
That come up
The lonely questions of definite happiness

With your curls
like night
The way you speak, the way you laugh
The way your voice so close softens like an angel
In my dreams indefinite voids flow
You inhibit me
You tame me
You stir and move me

I miss you
I miss you
I grab you, I snatch you
I want you
Play you,
I stir and command you
to stay with me
in dark nights
To not long for you anymore

Let me go
I have to be alone now
And hold me when it's necessary
In thought
I look for you in everything around me
But even though I sometimes think it's better this way
I can't help it that I sometimes miss you

I smother you
Froze you
Relieve, and lost you
Away to another place but I hear you
Embrace you
Warm you up
I see you and I feel you
I stroke you
I caress you
I hug and cuddle you

You ripen me
Understand me
Confuse and mislead me
It scares me sometimes
How much I resemble you now

My smile
My tears
My love for life
I'm sorry for everything
Come help and free me

Let me go
I can do it by myself
But hold me when it's necessary
In thought
I find you in everything around me

But even though I sometimes think it's better like this
I can't help it that I sometimes miss you

I kiss you
I soothe you
I extinguish and I quench you
You stay very close to me
But in my head you rest

It's about her parents, who died in a car crash.

We walk to The Forest Cafe - a super hippie but super nice cafe and kind-of give each-other
'future advice'.

Here are some Instagram snaps from The Forest Cafe & the beautifully decorated tables:

Isabel got me one of the most beautiful presents ever. It was a poem printed on a sheet that can be stuck on your window.

 (oops. I really need to clean my windows...)

The light shines through it in the evening and glows the words:

vergeet je niet te leven
dacht ik laatst
de tijd hield stil
een adempauze even

en als je nu eens zonder haast
buiten de tijd om wil
slagbomen neergelaten
dolgedraaide wijzerplaten

onder je door of langs je heen
ze laat voor wat ze zijn en dan
meer lucht en ogen van

het goede aardse zien
een beetje ruimte worden en misschien
iets meer gericht alleen 

 I would translate it roughly as:

do not forget to live
thought I the last time
the time stood still
had a breather

and if you now one time without haste
out of your own time that you want
lowered barriers 
spun dials 

going under you or past you
let it be what it is and then
more air and eyes of

the good earth to see
to have a bit of space and maybe
only something more purposeful alone

But any Dutch people please feel free to help me with a better/ more apt translation - as I am sure I am not conveying it properly...Google Translate translates it rather brutally so I didn't want to use that translation...

Liefs uit Schotland,


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  1. Moment of fame ^^

    Here's another one for you, and a personal favourite. See if you can translate ;)

    Een streep
    Ik trok een streep;
    tot hier,
    nooit ga ik verder dan hier.

    Toen ik verder ging
    trok ik een nieuwe streep,
    en nog een streep.

    De zon scheen
    en overal zag ik mensen,
    haastig en ernstig,
    en iedereen trok een streep
    iedereen ging verder.
    (Toon Tellegen, 1941)


    1. Aww I love this one too!!!

      Ok I will have a go:

      A line
      I drew a line;
      to here,
      Never do I go further than here.

      When I go further
      I draw a new line,
      and another line.

      The sun shone
      and I saw people everywhere
      hastily and seriously,
      and everyone drew a line
      everyone continued to go further.

      Or something? How would you translate the last sentence? Because I wanted to convey that it was both about continuing and going further - both are kindof insinuated in 'ging verder'... I think... maybe..?

      Also 'trok' is past tense, but I can't really say 'When I go further, I drew a new line' - or should it be 'When I went further'? You know what I mean? Like the time / tense is kindof important I feel.

      Oh well I probably messed that up.

      I don't know.

      I love the poem anyway.




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