Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Amsterdam Expedition

The school holidays always run at a slower pace so I tried not to feel too guilty about not working flat-out on the next phase of the totems. I kept adding a few beads to the fuchsia-pink leather, ordered some muted pastel fabrics for the bed version of “Dunes Duet” to check my pattern draft and worked on a second “Magic Spirals” customer quilt. This one was in vibrant turquoise and hot pink so it got some large swirly motifs, a loopy background, then piano keys and spiky borders. 

I spent a day doing videography for my Ebook with a media studies student. At first I was a little disappointed that some of the clips were a bit shaky and I certainly did not look at all glamorous. I needed a “director” to order me to do retakes, use a tripod and stop me from rambling. However, it was a valuable exercise in fine tuning what to include and making sure that all of the gadgets and aerials for each “scene” are properly organised. It has now been decided to aim for a Christmas publication date, with promotion to be done at FOQ. I am secretly relieved about the new deadline since it allows me to concentrate on the totems during May while continuing with editing and making up the last few projects.

Suddenly, it was Friday and I was chasing around buying Euros, ordering last minute travel insurance, making cakes and buying chocolate for Freya’s trip on a tall ship. She kept asking me, “Have I got everything?” We flew to Amsterdam on Saturday morning and Schipol Airport lost her luggage for an hour. Finally we made our way by train to the central station, figured out how to buy 48 hour tram tickets and successfully located our little hotel on a quiet street overlooking the Bloemgracht canal. I insisted on heading straight to Amsterdam’s premier patchwork shop, Den Haan & Wagenmakers where I amazed myself by buying a gorgeous quilt kit. After supper at the Hard Rock Cafe, we wandered around for hours just loving the feel of a city with cobbled streets, flower pots of tulips, canals and thousands of bicycles. 

I did not sleep terribly well, partly because the Westerkerk clock tower did a little tune every quarter of an hour but we were determined to get up early and head straight to the Anne Frank House just around the corner. The queue was impressive an hour before opening time but we waited patiently and were very moved by the experience. The warehouse and attics are almost exactly as described in Anne’s Diary except that the rooms have been deliberately unfurnished to reflect the sense of loss following WW2. 

We took a tram to the other side of the city and waited in another LONG queue to visit the Van Gogh Museum. It was pretty busy but we saw most of Vincent’s paintings. Freya was fascinated and made a great tour guide since she has studied him in art at school. It is ironic that he was so unsuccessful as an artist while he was alive yet Amsterdam celebrates him posthumously with a state of the art museum and commercial gift shop.

Although we would have loved to visit more museums and shops, we only had time for Dutch apple cake in a cafe before going to collect Freya’s bulky sailing bag so we could catch a ferry to the docks where the Gulden Leeuw was berthed. She was apprehensive about meeting her fellow sailors for the first time but they all seemed friendly and we had a little tour around the 1930’s 3-masted yacht. The central mast is 40m/131 feet high and I would not fancy climbing up it to be the look-out! I wished her a “Bon Voyage” at 5pm then made my way back to the hotel. She would be given some training then sail from Amsterdam back to Aberdeen on Tuesday. I picked up a takeaway from a Moroccan deli and sat at my hotel little table overlooking the canal. A black cat casually wandered on and off the boats below and I decided that I would love to visit this atmospheric city again before too long…

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