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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #9

Near Mook.

Between Mook and Plasmolen.

Between Milsbeek and Gennep (near river Meuse).

Stork at city hall Gennep.

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – Nijmegen East – University Sports Complex – Railwaytrack towards South [drinks]
  2. Leg 2: Railwaytrack – woodland Groesbeek – Malden – Mook [lunch]
  3. Leg 3: Mook – Plasmolen – Middelaar [drinks]
  4. Leg 4: Middelaar – Milsbeek – river Meuse – Gennep [drinks]
  5. Leg 5: By bus (line 83) Gennep – Nijmegen Central Station.
  6. Leg 6: Nijmegen Central Station – Nijmegen Central Market [dinner]
  7. Nijmegen Central Market – home

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h 58m non-stop walking
  • 35,70Km (23.8 M)
  • 40,634 steps
  • 3,226kCal.

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An artists impression of the Duchess of Cambridge's Chelsea Flower Show garden

This week, Kensington Palace released previously unseen images of the Duchess of Cambridge putting the finishing touches on her designs for her debut Chelsea Flower Show garden. Over the past few months, Kate has been working with the Royal Horticultural Society and award-winning landscape architects Andrée Davies and Adam White to design a woodland wilderness “Back to Nature” garden for families with children. Until now, the details have been kept under wraps – shrouding the most eagerly anticipated attraction of the 2019 show in mystery ahead of its grand unveiling next week. However, we know that the garden is designed to “inspire families to get outside and explore nature together”, and to promote the benefits the natural world brings to mental and physical well-being. And we can now reveal that among the many child-friendly, playful features, the 37-year-old’s magical garden is set to boast both a stream and Enid Blyton-esque, high-platform tree house, clad in stag horn oak and whimsically reminiscent of a bird’s nest. The pictures here show just how hands-on Kate’s creative input has been into the garden, which will also feature a swing seat, a campfire and a rustic den, similar to one used by her own children Prince George (5), Princess Charlotte (4) and Prince Louis (1) in the grounds of Anmer Hall, their beloved countryside home in remote north Norfolk.

When she and Prince William were based there permanently, they planted extra trees, saplings and shrubs to create a natural retreat from the outside world, and in many ways, this is to be a garden shaped by the Duchess’s own first-hand experiences of the joys of playing outside and escaping into nature. Lift the tree stumps, stepping stones and a hollow logs we now know that she will present next week for children to play on at Chelsea, and you will likely find not just ants, worms and woodlice, but an insight into the Duchess’s family values and the causes that make her tick. The Duchess of Cambridge is understood to have been a “tomboy” as a child, has always spoken fondly about her childhood, saying she used to love spending time outside with her parents Carole and Michael Middleton and her siblings Pippa and James in the village of Bucklebury in Berkshire, where you will find the Bucklebury Farm & Deer Safari Park and the pretty River Pang, a gently tinkling chalk stream. And outdoor playtime is exactly what Kate and Prince William want for their own children, too. “As a mother, it is the simple family moments like playing outside together that I cherish,” she wrote in an open letter to support Children’s Hospice Week. It’s no coincidence that the day care she chose for Prince George in Norfolk was a modest Montessori nursery, Westacre, where the emphasis was on “free play”, often outdoors, getting stuck in and getting messy.

The Duke and Duchess of CambridgeRecently, the Duchess also got stuck into the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, helping a group of children to plant spring-flowering bulbs, including daffodils and snake’s head fritillaries. According to Kensington Palace, Kate’s ‘Back to Nature’ garden “hopes to trigger memories of time spent in nature” – but it’s not only nostalgia for an idyllic childhood driving Kate’s appreciation of the fun to be had in green spaces, but also her ongoing campaigning for mental health awareness. Kate is seen as the driving force behind Heads Together, an ongoing campaign she fronts with her husband Prince William and her brother-in-law Prince Harry, who opened up to The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon last year about his own battles with mental health issues as part of their #oktosay campaign. Fresh air, exercise and natural surroundings contribute to both mental and physical health, which the young royals believe are of equal importance. The benefits are proven, and the effects can be immediate: one recent study even found that birdsong can boost mental well-being for up to four hours.  This week, Prince William launched a new ‘Head’s Up” men’s mental health campaign at Wembley Stadium with the Football Association president. Both Kate and William have worked continuously to end the stigma around mental health and “open up the conversation” as a whole. Kate’s focus has increasingly been on children’s mental health, in particular. In February, she visited a number of school’s for Children’s Mental Health Week. “Childhood is an incredibly important moment in our lives,” she said at the time. “It is the time when we explore our personalities, discover the potential that lies within us and learn how to be ourselves. Our experience of the world at this early stage helps to shape who we become as adults, how we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin.” Earlier this month, she also gave a heartfelt speech at the opening of a new children’s mental health centre, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in King’s Cross.  “We are all here today because we care so much about transforming the mental health of children, young people and their families. I have learnt so much about early childhood development and the importance of support from parents,” she said. In her Chelsea garden, interaction with the natural environment will be encouraged through the garden’s “multi-sensory” green and blue plant scheme to offer serenity away from screens and stress, set within a bosky environment traversed with paths. This in itself is revealing of Kate’s concern over the impact of technology on modern childhoods. Apparently, during early discussions between the landscape designers, it emerged that she had been reading Last Child in the Woods, the 2005 book in which author Richard Louv first coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” (£10.99, Waterstones).

In the book, Louv attributes such ills as the rises in childhood obesity, attention disorders, and depression to this deficit – but also offers practical solutions, many of which can be found just beyond the doorstep. Since its first publication, Louv has launched a growing “Leave No Child Inside” movement, and has published updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. According to the palace, the Back to Nature garden “seeks to recapture for adults the sense of wonder and magic that they enjoyed as children, in addition to kindling excitement and a passion for nature in future generations.” Like Anmer Hall, her garden will offer rural respite from urban living as well as an antidote to increasingly sedentary, indoor lifestyles. “The challenge we all have is to make it feel like visitors are in the middle of a woodland,” said Adam White of the design, which the Duchess suggested should incorporate elements of forest bathing, the Japanese practise of immersing yourself among trees for wellbeing, otherwise known as shinrin-yoku.

In many ways, Kate is following in the footsteps of her father-in-law Prince Charles in this respect. A passionate gardener who has long campaigned for environmental causes, Charles has also previously exhibited at Chelsea, designing two gardens in 2001 and 2002, and winning silver both times. Notably, he worked with garden designer Jinny Bloom to create a “Healing Garden”, which featured 125 varieties of medicinal herbs, shrubs and kitchen plants to help with everything from bruises to stress. While cynics may see the Duchess’s debut as a cleverly plotted marketing exercise executed by the Firm, surely anything that aims to get us away from computer screens and paddling in streams or climbing trees again for a dose of “nature medicine” can be no bad thing.

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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #8

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – Eastbound to Holy Land Area – University Sports Complex – Railwaytrack towards South [drinks]
  2. Leg 2: Railwaytrack – Groesbeek woodland – Groesbeek – Seven Hills Avenue – Berg en Dal pancakerestaurant [lunch]
  3. Leg 3: Berg en Dal pancakerestaurant – Berg en Dal busstop
  4. Leg 4: By bus (line8): Berg en Dal busstop – Nijmegen Central station
  5. Leg 5: Nijmegen Central Station – home.

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h 06 m non-stop walking
  • 26.05 Km  (17.37M)
  • 33.104 steps
  • 2.439 kCal.

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Prince Harry says fatherhood has given him ‘new focus and goal in life’ as he speaks of loss of his mother

The Duke of Sussex has spoken of how his three-day-old son Archie has “given him a new focus and goal”, teaching him the “miracle” of new life after the challenges he faced following the loss of his mother. The Duke, who was in The Hague for the launch of the one year countdown to the Invictus Games, told of his pleasure in knowing his baby had made “a lot of people happy”, saying he was still “very quiet” at just a few days old. Having left Archie at home in Windsor with the Duchess to return for one day of work, he spoke of the joy his baby son has brought but advised a fellow father-to-be to learn his lessons and not plan too much after the baby’s arrival.

During a bike ride around the Zuiderpark, the Duke had a candid conversation with former soldier Dennis van der Stroom, 31, about mental health and parenting, speaking poignantly of the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales. Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on Monday morning, with the Duke appearing to abandon the idea of paternity leave with one engagement today another already announced for Tuesday.

“Above all, he said he was just The Duke of Sussex (R) makes a bike ride with Dutch athlete Dennis Van Der Stroom (L)  by the miracles in the world, and how his child has made a lot of people happy,” said Mr Van der Stroon. “He also told me he’s really happy that his son is so far very quiet.“ But he also told me not to make too many plans and that there’s no way you can plan for when the baby arrives. The Invictus athlete, who served in the army from 2006 until 2011, described his conversation with the Duke as “amazing and emotional”. “At a certain moment, we just got connected on this level,” he said. “We talked about how my wife, Mireille, is 20 weeks pregnant with our first child, a girl, and he told me how special it was that his son has just been born. “Harry talked about how having a small child was his new focus and new goal and I told him how a couple of months ago, I was struggling with my mental health but my wife’s pregnancy has given me a goal.”

Van der Stroon was a Corporal First Class and served on operations in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. In 2014 his mother, Marion, died aged 58 from chronic lung disease, and in 2015 he was diagnosed with PTSD, triggering what he described as a “domino effect” of mental health issues. “I told Harry about my mother and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mum,” he said. “He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is presented with an Invictus Games baby grow by Princess Margriet of The Netherlands during the launch of the Invictus GamesThe Duke, who had pretended to prop his eyes open with tiredness as he arrived at a sports stadium in The Hague, will travel home with a new soft rattle toy, a stuffed bird, some newborn socks with “I love Daddy” written on them, and a special Invictus Games babygrow for Archie. His branded jacket was embroidered with the word “Daddy”. Chatting to a friend in the arena, he discussed how fatherhood was the “best thing he will ever do”.

JJ Chalmers, a former Invictus star and broadcaster who has become a friend of the Prince, disclosed: “He said it’s amazing but it’s hard work. He said that Archie slept for the first 24 hours like all babies do… and then he woke up.”

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Prince Harry leaves royal baby Archie just three days after birth to head to the Netherlands

The Duke of Sussex will travel to the Netherlands today, just three days after the birth of his son Archie. Harry will visit The Hague to launch the one-year countdown to the Invictus Games 2020, after introducing Archie to the world alongside Meghan in an eagerly anticipated photocall on Wednesday. Leading parenting expert Suzie Hayman said Harry is likely to find leaving his baby son so soon after his birth “agonising”, and said he would feel a “pang” to be leaving his wife and child. But Meghan is likely to still have the company of her mother Doria Ragland at their Frogmore Cottage home while Harry is away on the short trip.

Ernstig gewonde oorlogsveteranen kunnen niet meer vechten in het leger, maar nog wel strijden voor een medaille tijdens de Invictus Games.

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Baby Archie Harrison: Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce royal baby boy’s name – but no title

After months of speculation about the royal baby’s name – we finally have the answer. The Duke and Duchess’ boy is called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. But the newborn will not be given a courtesy title after his parents decided they would like him to be known simply as Archie. The baby will have the title “master” for formal correspondence while a child, instead of being an earl or a lord. The Sussexes could have chosen to give him the title of Earl of Dumbarton, one of the Duke’s subsidiary titles available to his firstborn boy. They could also have opted for Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to ensure gender equality with any future sister. But he will be known as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex take their first steps toward giving the seventh-in-line to the throne the most normal upbringing they can muster.

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is introduced to the world for the first timeA spokesman for Buckingham Palace said that, while there were titles that Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could apply to their son, “they have chosen not to give him a courtesy title at this time”. This could be revisited when the Prince of Wales one day becomes king, under a 1917 convention allowing the grandchildren of the monarch to be known as HRH Prince or Princess. He will also be entitled to succeed Prince Harry as the Duke of Sussex. The Duke and Duchess’s decision is understood to be their own, with the Queen happy to allow them free choice over their children’s names. The Duke has previously spoken frankly about the difficulties he experienced while growing up as a member of the Royal family, with the title carrying responsibility as well as rights.

In 2015, he disclosed he had once felt so disillusioned he “wanted out”, considering giving up his title before conceding he could use it for good. Being in the Army as Captain Wales or simply “Harry”, he has said, was the “best escape I’ve ever had”. He has since appeared to embrace the benefits of his royal platform, using his position to further an array of charitable causes on the world stage. The Sussexes’ decision also reflects the choice made by Prince Harry’s aunt, the Princess Royal, whose children were known from birth as Peter and Zara Phillips. Zara, now Mrs Tindall, has embraced the freedom, which has required her and her brother to forge their own professional paths and enabled her to earn a living via sponsorship as a sportswoman. “I’ve been very lucky,” she has said in an interview. “My parents didn’t give us titles so we’ve been able to have a slightly more normal upbringing. “As soon as you’ve got a title, it’s difficult to shed it. My brother and I have been very lucky like that, being able to find our own way.”

As Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, Baby Sussex is free to do the same, joining his parents on the global platform they have cultivated. By actively announcing the decision to eschew all titles, the Duke and Duchess have also neatly avoided the inevitable comparisons with the Cambridge children, who were all named HRH Prince or Princess at birth. Some had feared the Earl of Dumbarton title would prove confusing for fans of the Sussexes around the world, who could perceive it as a snub owing to the disparity in rank. While unlikely to have been a primary consideration for the couple, the lack of a traditional British title will also serve to simplify matters for the American media which already persists in referring to “Duchess Meghan” and may have used “Earl Archie” for ease. The Duke of Edinburgh, who met Archie at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, may have been pleased to learn that he is taking the surname Mountbatten-Windsor after he famously insisted his descendants bear the family name. He joins Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, in the style. Penny Junor, a royal biographer, said: “It’s exactly what I would have expected from Harry. He would have dearly liked to have been a normal boy growing up and found his title very difficult.”

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Royal baby Sussex: Harry’s reaction was unbuttoned, excited and gloriously himself. I know he will make a wonderful father

It was just after 2pm when the “It’s a Boy” announcement came on Instagram, swiftly followed by a beaming Prince Harry speaking to cameras outside some stables near Windsor Castle. It was classic Harry: unbuttoned, excited, gloriously himself. No formalities here. He was almost boyish himself in his enthusiasm, and here was a reminder of why the public love him so much, why we feel so invested in his story. “I’m very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy earlier this morning, a very healthy boy.” His happiness almost radiated through the TV. “Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined.” And then came the moment that cemented his position as prince of all our hearts – the recognition of the awesomeness and amazingness of childbirth. “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension,” he almost gasped. “But we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful to all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing, so we just wanted to share this with everybody… “As every father and parent will ever say, you know, your baby is absolutely amazing, but this little thing is absolutely to-die-for, so I’m just over the moon.” The television and radio talk shows had frothed themselves into a rage in the last week, caterwauling about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s insistence on having a private birth, as if this might mean we wouldn’t get news of the new baby until it set off for university at 18.

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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #7

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – bus stop (line 14)
  2. Leg 2: By bus (line 14 & 33) – Doornenburg center
  3. Leg 3: Doornenburg center – Ferry station river IJssel (West bank)
  4. Leg 4: Ferry station river IJssel (East bank) – Pannerden – shore river IJssel – Kijfwaard – Ferry station river Rhine (North bank)
  5. Leg 5: Ferry station river Rhine (North bank) – Millingen on Rhine [coffee break]
  6. Leg 6: Millingen on Rhine – Zeeland – Leuth [drinks]
  7. Leg 7: Leuth – Beek [drinks]
  8. Leg 8: Beek – Berg en Dal bus stop line 8
  9. Leg 9: Beek – Nijmegen Central Station – Home by bus (line 8)

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h40 minutes non-stop walking
  • 30.00 Km  (20.00M)
  • 37,654 steps
  • 3,503 kCal.

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Monthly report: April 2019 Figures as per 30 April 2019
  • 370.32 kW  produced;
  • € 72.50 earned;
  • 146.57 Kg CO2 emission saved;
  • equals 0.49 trees planted; total 1.38 trees.

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Starting today, all flash mobs can be seen on the page “FLASH MOBS” in the upper right of the blog header. Just click here.

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Welcome to Frogmore Cottage, Meghan: a locals’ guide to fitting in with the Thames Valley Toffs

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are just days away from welcoming their first child and they have now moved into their new home, Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of the Windsor Estate. Here we look at what life will be like for Harry and Meghan as they start their new life in Berkshire with royal baby Sussex. So, the Sussexes have made the Big Move out of London. Whether this is a result of the rumoured froideur with the Cambridges, or simply that they want more space, it is only natural for the newlyweds to want to do their own thing – this is, after all, exactly what Wills and Kate did when they shot off to Amner Hall, their Queen Anne country house in Norfolk, following the birth of Prince George. The Sussexes have made a very different lifestyle choice, however, by opting to settle in the Stockbroker Belt, only an hour from Kensington Palace, where both are keeping offices.

The move to the Thames Valley is perhaps more forward thinking than fleeing to the provinces: Meghan and Harry could make Frogmore Cottage their forever home, commuting to their day jobs and never needing to uproot again. Not only is the area blissfully accessible but they also have connections to it – Harry boarded at Ludgrove in nearby Wokingham from the age of eight and then at Eton, just across the river. And of course, the pair had their engagement photos taken in Frogmore’s grounds, returning there for their wedding reception, after the ceremony at Windsor Castle. Sue Barnes of Lavender Green Flowers, a Windsor local who regularly does the flowers at events at the Royal palaces, believes the area is the perfect fit for the Sussexes. “Windsor is the most homely of all the Royal palaces, and people here feel hugely protective over the family,” she says. “They will be well looked after.” Plus, this part of Berkshire offers the best of everything, she adds. “When you’ve spent a day in the Big Smoke, it really feels like coming home – you can pull up the drawbridge and enjoy being together.” Which is, presumably, precisely what the Duke and Duchess are planning to do.

The house

Frogmore Cottage sounds decidedly modest – which it is, compared to Amner Hall, which has a swimming pool, tennis court and 10 bedrooms. Yet Harry and Meghan’s new digs – originally a gardener’s cottage and then used to house Queen Charlotte’s unmarried daughters – are a considerable notch up from Nottingham Cottage, where they’ve been housed at KP. Set in complete privacy in the undulating landscape of Frogmore Park, itself part of the Norman hunting forest of Windsor Great Park, Harry and Meghan will be able to enjoy more privacy than they have ever had in London. The cottage is white-painted and gabled, with an understated “private” sign on the gate; and now that the Sussexes have souped it up, it is a modern family home with at least five bedrooms and all the usual Home Counties creature comforts, such as open plan living spaces, a wine cellar and gym – and, of course, a nursery large enough to house all Baby Sussex’s official gifts (Prince George received 774). The couple is also rumoured to be creating a granny annexe for Meghan’s mother, Doria, who is expected to make regular visits from America once her grandchild arrives.

The locale

Outside the Arcadian tranquility of the Frogmore Estate, the Windsor area is awash with fancy hotels, golf courses and polo clubs – perfect for Harry, who is no longer allowed to participate in field sports. This corner of Berkshire is not dissimilar, according to Barnes, from the Cattle graze on the Queen's Windsor estate outside the New York, a highly accessible playground for those who enjoy the high life. While some (Kate perhaps?) might argue that this is not real countryside compared to Norfolk or Anglesey, where the Cambridges lived as newlyweds, Barnes insists that the area is perfectly rural. “You do get a bit of plane noise but you get used to it. It’s smart country – but proper country.” Indeed the Queen’s 3000-acre farm has 200 pedigree Jersey milking cows, a pedigree Sussex beef herd, 140 breeding sows and 1500 Lohmann Brown hens. “Wherever you look there are farms and Pony Clubs and landed families that have lived here for generations,” Barnes says. “That’s why it’s always been so popular.” And, presumably, why it has become so expensive – those aspiring to join the Thames Valley Toffs will be disappointed to discover that £2 million (the price of a Georgian rectory and 100 acres in Norfolk) buys nothing more than a four-bedroom mock Tudor, here.

The locals

There will be no stilted dinner parties in freezing ancestral piles for the Sussexes. The Home Countries set is altogether flashier than the Turnip Toffs of Norfolk – as Kate knows this only too well, having grown up 15 miles away at Bucklebury. (In fact, the Cambridges were tempted to move out west themselves, in 2011 reportedly looking round Kingston Lisle Park, which used to belong to Prince Harry’s godmother, Laura Lonsdale.)  Meghan can look forward to film screenings in the private cinema (complete with popcorn machine) at George and Amal Clooney’s £20 million pile near Sonning, and lavish parties chez Elton John, who has a house in Old Windsor and holds Gatsby-esque balls with Oligrachs and sports stars on the Wentworth Estate. The area is surrounded by landed families: there are the Oppenheimers at Waltham Place near Maidenhead, which they run as a biodynamic and organic farm, and the Benyons at Englefield on the other side of Reading, where Pippa Middleton married James Matthews. And then there are the Phillimores and Schwarzenbachs at Henley, who host enviable garden parties. The area is increasingly attracting young guns from the Gloucestershire set, who are now embracing a Staines postcode. “It suits young parents,” says a source, “they can make big bucks in the City, yet still be back home for bath time.”

Sentebale Polo CupThe lifestyle

Much of the local social scene revolves around polo, with regular play-offs at Guards Polo Club and the Royal Berkshire Polo Ground, where in June, Meghan cheered Harry on in the Sentebale Polo Cup. Golf is another big feature; Harry can work on his handicap at Sunningdale and Wentworth, while Meghan, like every other local golf widow in Henley-shire, heads to one of the area’s five star spas – Clivedon, perhaps, or Coworth Park, where she stayed before her wedding, and which is more opulent than the Hurlingham Club in London where Kate has her tennis lessons. There is no Bond Street equivalent in Windsor – no bother when Knightsbridge is near enough – but as a keen chef Meghan will enjoy having the Windsor Farm shop down the road, which sells fresh produce from the Royal farm.

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“Our marriage is based on a lie,” my mother always says.

“Hey, you still have the plastic around your fridge,” I told a Syrian friend I was visiting. “Yes, for my future wife,” he answered. I knew what he meant. He is still single, but if he ever gets married, he has to show his future wife new furniture. It is a thing from our culture. The man takes care of the house and the furnishings, the woman comes to inspect everything, even before the wedding. My parents still talk about that period of their lives on a daily basis. “Our marriage is based on a lie,” my mother always says.

When she visited my father’s house, before the wedding, there were beautiful furniture, kitchen appliances and a radio. She approved it. A few days after the wedding party, my mother’s family left for her native village. My mother started her new life with my father in Aleppo. The neighbors came to congratulate her. After the congratulation, they took a piece of furniture or other object in the house and left. My father, that smart guy, had borrowed the most beautiful things in the entire neighborhood to persuade my mother. As a poor man, he did not have much to offer himself. After the wedding, all those borrowed items were collected. My father is still laughing in his chair when he tells this. My mother harasses him that she should have known by then what kind of meat she had in the tub. “I should have left you, but I am so stupid that I stayed,” she always says with a smile.

If you want a Syrian woman, you better leave the plastic around the fridge. Then, even after ten years, it still looks as good as new.

A party full of drugs in this watertight country full of rules, how is that possible?

I had a party. One that you would think took place in Cuba. Between drug bosses, traders and other top criminals. In reality it was a student party in Arnhem. Upon arrival I could choose: pay 5 euros for an evening with drinks, or pay 15 euros for an evening with drinks and drugs. All kinds of drugs were displayed on the table. I received a complicated explanation. All kinds of powders that had a different name and effect. I was shocked. I already knew in Syria that the Netherlands is known as a drug country, but drugs at a student party? What a chaos.

The party looked like a scene from an action movie. Drugs on the table, half-naked women and lots of drinks. Every moment I was expecting the police who, with my Arabic accent, would take me away. I quickly looked into my phone. Was the invitation to the party still in my WhatsApp? With that I could at least prove that I was not the organizer of this spectacle. It just kept going through my mind. If even students have and use this stuff, then anyone in the Netherlands can easily get it. In this watertight country full of rules. How is that possible? Is the government turning a blind eye?

I think freedom in the Netherlands is beautiful, but does it also mean that people are allowed to know for themselves whether they are breaking? Is it good to wait for people to report homeless and addicted to the municipality for benefits? As a government I would promote freedom, but above that: safety and health. Simply because is involved.

Our integration system only works for the language schools: they get rich asleep.

Foto ter illustratie.

Happy! From 2021, newcomers will no longer be in control of their integration. The municipalities are taking over. It is high time, because the integration of many refugees runs into the hundred. Everyone with a residence status now receives a maximum of 10,000 euros from DUO, and must complete a language course within three years. Is that not possible? Then you pay back the borrowed money. The latter is now the case. For many newcomers, the three years have passed, while there is no diploma. So they now have a debt.
The system only works for the commercial language schools: they get rich asleep. Furthermore, it works for nobody. The newcomers do not feel any guilt that is hanging over their heads. It’s not for nothing that there is a queue at the ATM every month, because Syrians want to have their money in their hands. It must be tangible, otherwise it is not there. A debt that only exists on paper, or that can only be viewed through a complicated system with a DigiD login code, is not a debt for many people. It is not tangible.
Of course, newcomers would also have to complete their studies on time without that imminent debt. Appointment is really an appointment here. We newcomers have to get used to it and make mistakes.
A Syrian friend went to visit relatives in Austria. He had not seen them for years. Despite this, the Austrian Syrians simply left for school in the morning and left their Dutch guests home alone. That’s where the deal is: every school day that has been missed is a 40 euro deduction from your allowance. See, that is tangible. That works! I hope that municipalities will think about that when they are in control. Comprehensible and tangible agreements.

Anwar meets the animal ambulance: “Two large men with special clothes”

I step out the door, on my way to the supermarket in Arnheim Presikhaaf. On the sidewalk my neighbor is sitting on her knees. I walk over to her to ask what is going on. Then I see what she’s doing, she’s bent over with a cat. She talks to the animal. With a pathetic voice, as if she has a lot of compassion. The cat has wounds on its body, I see now. It is such a sad face, the woman and the injured cat, I would almost shed a tear. My neighbor picks up her phone and calls someone. She says what’s going on and gives us our address. Then she walks the cat to her house.

I went on to the supermarket to do my shopping. When I returned there was a big car in front of her house. “Animal ambulance” stood on the side. Two large men with special clothes got into the car, with the cat and a large bag in which they transported the poor beast.

I was reminded of my friend Basel when he was sick. We had to pass on all his details, look for a pass and come up with a pathetic story to convince the GP that he was really ill and needed help. We were hours later when a doctor finally looked at him. Looking at the sick cat, who was picked up within the time of a supermarket visit at home, I thought I would take a different approach next time. The Dutch believe in the theory of evolution. Humans and monkeys are almost equal and descend from each other. The next time I have a sick friend, I call the animal ambulance. ,, I have a very smart monkey here, who doesn’t feel well. Can you come quickly? “

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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #6

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – by bus (line 99) – Gennep bus terminal
  2. Leg 2: Gennep bus terminal – along the river Meuse – Linden (drinks}
  3. Leg 3: Linden – Katwijk – Cuijk (drinks)
  4. Leg 4: Cuijk – along the river Meuse – Oeffelt/Ferry house (lunch)
  5. Leg 5: Oeffelt/Ferry house – Gennep bus terminal
  6. Leg 6: Gennep bus terminal – by bus (line 83 &2) – home.

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h44 minutes non-stop walking
  • 32.59 Km  (21.73M)
  • 38,217 steps
  • 3,203 kCal.

0765

Inside a royal rift: what’s really going on with William and Harry?

Inside a royal rift: what's really going on with William and Harry?

When they were boys, Prince William and Prince Harry were travelling to Highgrove with their mother, when they began bickering in the back of the car. An increasingly irritated Diana, Princess of Wales, finally snapped and told the squabbling pair that they would return to Palace if they did not stop misbehaving. It was Harry who piped up first. “I don’t care what you do,” he retorted, in front of nanny Olga Powell and Ken Wharfe, the princess’s bodyguard. “I’m not going to be king so I will be able to do whatever I like!” exclaimed the mischievous youngster. “All the adults in the car looked at each other and thought, where the hell did that come from?” Wharfe has recalled. “There was a sense that from a very young age Harry thought he could do whatever he wanted, while his brother had to shoulder all the responsibility.” Fast forward 30 years and the once inseparable royal brothers are forging separate paths. William, 36, is preparing to realise his fate as the next Prince of Wales and future king, while a newly married Harry, 34, is carving out the latest phase in his role as the ‘spare’.

Much has been written about a supposed rivalry between the siblings, as they set out on the next chapter in their royal lives. Indeed, to onlookers, their appearance alongside the Queen at an Easter service at St George’s Chapel Windsor on Sunday – also the occasion of the monarch’s 93rd birthday – appeared somewhat strained. It coincided with reports that Harry and Meghan, 37, plan to live abroad, in Africa, following the birth of their first child – due any day now. In what should be a momentus week for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with the pitter patter of tiny feet fast approaching, the headlines are once again rife with reports of rifts and tensions at the heart of the House of Windsor. Eyebrows were raised when the @RoyalSussex Instagram feed released seven previously unseen wildlife photographs, taken by Harry, just hours before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge published new images – taken by Kate – to mark Prince Louis’ first birthday on Tuesday. Just a happy coincidence? Or an ominous sign of the kind of oneupmanship Diana was determined to avoid when she insisted on bringing up her two sons as equals? The late princess made no secret of the fact that she lavished attention on Harry to make sure he didn’t feel overshadowed by William. “I have to,” she once told a friend. “Charles and I worked so hard to ensure both boys receive equal amounts of our time and love; others in the family seem to concentrate on William.”

As a child, Harry reportedly complained to his mother “it’s not fair” that William was “made a fuss over” when visiting their great-grandmother – so much so that Diana was forced to confront the Queen Mother over her alleged favouritism. The friend added that Harry used to love it when he was alone with Diana at Kensington Palace. “Once, when home ill from boarding school, he gleefully told one of Diana’s friends: ‘I have got Mummy to myself… and I don’t have to share her with William!’” No wonder then that a source close to both Princes recently told The Telegraph: “Harry has always complained about being sidelined by William, but now I think they see this split as an opportunity to really spread their wings.”

Explaining the recent separation of powers – which has seen Harry and Meghan move their court from Kensington to Buckingham Palace, following the £3 million renovation of their new Windsor home Frogmore Cottage – the source added: “There is a sense that sometimes the Sussexes think the world is against them.” Hence why they are reportedly planning a long stint abroad? Although reports of them living overseas for several years appear wide of the mark, Buckingham Palace has not denied speculation that they are eyeing up a bespoke international role for the next stage of their work in the Firm.

As president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, the royal couple are determined to make a positive impact on the world in a bid to harness their star power. But where would such a lengthy secondment leave the Cambridges, Prince Charles, now aged 70, the 93-year-old monarch and Prince Philip, who turns 98 in June? As one insider put it: “In the old days the Queen would have put her foot down. But at her age, and with the Duke of Edinburgh now retired from public life, they haven’t really got the energy to put up a fight.”

The Telegraph understands that Kensington Palace was left ‘bemused’ by reports that William’s private secretary Simon Case would play a As they set out on the next chapter in their royal lives, much has been written about a supposed rivalry between Prince William and Prince Harry‘pivotal role’ in negotiating the proposal, along with Sir David Manning, the princes’ former special advisor, and the Queen’s former private secretary Lord Geidt, who is chairman of the Commonwealth Trust. A source close to the Cambridges said: “In the end this is what the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex want – they commissioned the work and something for them to work through with Buckingham Palace and Clarence House [Prince Charles’s office]. “Although William will have views, he is not the decision maker.” Another source was keen to scotch rumours of a serious fall out between the siblings, pointing out that they were both “laughing and joking” outside the church on Easter Sunday and revealing that they sat next to each other in the pews. “It was the Queen’s birthday,” added the insider. “Everyone was in good spirits”.

And what of that unfortunate photo clash? According to insiders, the Sussexes’ new PR guru Sara Latham had not expected the Instagramming of Harry’s amateur photography to have quite such an impact on Earth Day – although having reached one million followers in a record-breaking five hours and 45 minutes, they were always likely to make a splash. Suffice to say feathers were severely ruffled at Kensington Palace. Likewise, the Sussexes ‘freelancing’ on the issue of mental health – which seen Harry join forces with Oprah Winfrey for an Apple TV documentary on the subject – has not gone unnoticed, not least as the original seeds for the Heads Together campaign were sown by the Duchess of Cambridge, 37. News of Harry and Meghan’s planned secondment undoubtedly piles more pressure on the Cambridges’ to ‘step up’ at a time when they are desperately trying to get the balance right between their private lives and public duty. Kate’s private secretary, Catherine Quinn, reportedly wrote to a Lord Lieutenant who had requested a royal visit by the Duchess, saying that she was being increasingly “selective” when planning engagements in a bid to be as hands-on as possible with her three young children. That delicate balancing act was in evidence on Tuesday, when William spent the morning having a family birthday breakfast with little Louis, before flying out to New Zealand in the afternoon to represent the Queen at meetings with those affected by last month’s Christchurch mosque shooting.

As William increasingly finds himself standing in for Her Majesty, will Harry – once his brother in arms – still be around to fill the void?

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Nijmegen Byzantine Choir, conducted by Svetlana van Wielink.

Celebrant: Father Ivan Moiseitsiik (Иван Моисеитийк)

Ivan Moiseitsiik is married and a priest for the Belarusian Greek Catholics

Anyone who believes that married Catholic priests is something for the future is mistaken. Ivan Moiseitsiik is married to Alina, father of four and formally belongs to the clergy of the diocese of Antwerp, although he serves as a priest in the small Belarusian Greek-Catholic community in Belgium. Moiseitsiik was born in 1972 in western Belarus (Belarus), a country east of Poland and then part of the Soviet Union. So he grew up in the tight, atheistic Soviet traditions. The Greek Catholic Church – ‘Catholics of Greek law’, is said in Poland – had been excluded from the law by the Czars and the Soviets, but in the fall of communism they rose from its ashes. Ivan Moiseitsiik: “With the disappearance of communism in 1989, openness, independence and freedom grew in my country. I was happy about that, but then came the economic crisis and poverty. I never thought we would end up in a dictatorship again, but that is exactly what happened. ”

Moiseitsiik studied with the Capuchins, married, and was ordained a priest in the Greek Catholic Church. The canonical law of the Eastern Churches allows that, in that order. He had to deal with odd jobs and jobs, to the toil of construction. In 2003, he established a Greek Catholic community based in the Holy-Heart Church in Antwerp. A fairly large diaspora of emigrants from Belarus lived in Western Europe after 1945,” continues Moiseitsiik, “but none of them were left when I arrived in Belgium. We gathered newcomers from the Soviet Union who were often not brought up religiously. For Westerners, our history is hard to understand. Say that we are Orthodox who came to the Catholic Church long ago, in the sixteenth century, while preserving our traditions and liturgy. The Belarusian Greek Catholics do not have a bishop or seminary, but are directly supervised by Rome. We are not numerous, we are like a bird in God’s hands.”

The Byzantine liturgy dedicated by Ivan Moiseitsiik takes a long time, is particularly sacred and takes place in front of and behind an impressive icon wall. “I create the Byzantine liturgy not only in Antwerp, but also in Drongen and in Zelzate, or everywhere else in Belgium or the Netherlands where I am asked. Belgians are also fascinated by our liturgy. I celebrate in Belarusian, Slavic or Dutch. I always pray the litany in several languages. Westerners do not understand much of our tradition, even though it is essentially Catholic. Many also do not understand that a priest can be married. Sometimes I keep silent so as not to confuse people.” The majority of the twenty Greek Catholic priests in Belarus must work as a laborer or servant for his livelihood. Their believers are usually poor. To assist them, Moiseitsiik founded the non-profit organization Martyria, also because in Western Europe hardly any attention is paid to that population group in Belarus. In the meantime, Ivan Moiseitsiik and his family have been living in rural Wachtebeke for several years and are registered as a parish officer, although the modest wage is tight for a family with four growing and studying children. “Sometimes something needs to be added,” he says.

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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #5

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – by bus (line 2 & 33) – Doornenburg
  2. Leg 2: Doornenburg – along the river Waal – Gendt (drinks}
  3. Leg 3: Gendt – Bemmel (lunch)
  4. Leg 4: Bemmel – Lent – the Crossing – Nijmegen West – home.

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h26 minutes non-stop walking
  • 26.45 Km  (17.63M)
  • 33,716 steps
  • 2,529 kCal.

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Memory, a short play (two person) featuring David Belrose and Gloria Dowton. Part of ten plays presented at the annual 10 x 10 showcase Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay. Three performances of the plays over two days April 12 & 13 2019. Story revolves around a long married couple and the humour and drama in issues with regards to remembering things.

Photo by courtesy of Marty Mascarin.

David Belrose is the partner of Brian Holden. I know them since 1999. They were the first house guests we had when we moved to Nijmegen, back in September 2003. Pierre moved Friday 12, I moved Monday 15, and Brian and David were picked up at Amsterdam Airport Wednesday 17. Apart from visiting Dutch highlights, we had a house in Bruges (Belgium). From Belgium the two Canadians visited Paris, and returned to Nijmegen.

Amsterdam, 20 September 2003, after an exhausting “touristic” day: dinner at our favourite Mexican restaurant; from left to right: David Belrose, Brian Holden, Pierre Bormans and Luke Barkhuis.

0761

In case her Ladyship gets bankrupt because of the continuing story of cruising, there is a solution to earn some money: she is a master make-up artist for musicals. As in a recent production of CATS in Somerset.

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Probably there has been a contact between the house owner and the tenants. The green container has been placed on the parking of Graafseweg 215, so on the property of SSH&. Meanwhile the bag with the curious white (plastic???) pebbles is still on the ground and the pedastrian has to walk through it.

However, Nijmijgen City Community, the DAR (garbage collection service) and the Environment Council are busy with the case, as well as the owner of the student housing, SSHN. There will be an inspection next Monday.

But over the weekend we can enjoy this:

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Meghan Markle home birth: Will Meghan give birth at Frogmore Cottage?

Meghan Markle, 37, and Prince Harry, 34, have taken the “personal decision” of keeping their birthing arrangements for the royal baby under wraps. And it seems that decision has fuelled rumours the former actress has opted for a home birth in order to keep the magical experience private. Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby. Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.” Bookmakers have slashed the odds on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opting for a home birth at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor from 5/1 to 7/4 following the palace announcement. Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “Harry and Meghan want all things Royal Baby to be kept private, and you can’t get much more private than a home birth – so we’ve taken the scissors to the odds of exactly that happening as a result.” A home birth led by a midwife is believed to be the “favoured choice” of the royal couple, a source told the Daily Mail. But the same source added Meghan and Harry not had totally ruled out a hospital delivery, however.

Meghan Markle and Prince HarryHarry and Meghan’s child will be seventh-in-line to the throne once he or she is born, meaning there is less pressure on their arrangements. At present, an announcement is expected to be made once the Duchess has gone into labour. A second one should then follow after the arrival of the newborn. This will include details of the baby’s weight, gender and place of birth. Meghan and Harry are believed to want to escape the media spotlight and royal photocall that accompanied all three births of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Kate posed outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in London with blowdried hair and immaculate makeup hours after giving birth to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Harry and William’s mother Princess Diana also participated in the same tradition after having both her sons inside the west London hospital.

There is still a strong chance Meghan might opt for a birth at a hospital but one located much nearer to her home than the Lindo Wing. The most obvious choice is the Mulberry Centre at the NHS-run Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Frimley Park is located 15 miles away from Frogmore Cottage, compared to a 23-mile journey to St Mary’s. Ladbrokes has current odds of 4/1 for St Mary’s and 8/1 for The Portland Hospital.

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People, who own a private house and live also in it, are not very amused when their (direct) neighbours are students or young people who may have studied in the past, but stay in their former student housing. SSHN / SSH& provides such housing in Nijmegen and Arnhem. Here is a quotation of their website. In the meantime, ordinary owners have to live with the nuisance.

 

 

 

  • SSH& is the premier student housing provider in Nijmegen & Arnhem…
  • …“SSH& is an active organisation that stands for good, affordable housing and the services associated with it for young students in Nijmegen and Arnhem as well as for related groups and individuals staying in these areas for short periods of time.”…
  • …the growing number of students without wealthy parents find decent rooms…. 
  • …SSHN primarily purchased townhouses in the popular neighbourhoods of Nijmegen Oost and Bottendaal as well as Nijmegen city centre for various student associations… 
  • …student living involves more than just renting a room…. 
  • …We provide the room & the student creates the wonderful experience inside it… 
  • …Students who are eagerly looking for housing in Nijmegen or Arnhem for the short or long term…

0757

Smart meter:

The smart meter is needed because the network is under pressure. We use WiFi everywhere and at all times, drive electrically, want as much renewable energy as possible, generate energy ourselves and want to deliver this back to the network. These technical innovations make a lot possible, but also set high demands. The smart meter gives us insight into where the network is under pressure and the network needs to be weighted. A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters typically record energy hourly or more frequently, and report at least daily.

Combination with a solar panel system:

Usually solar panels produce electricity at a time when you do not use any electricity yourself. That power is then supplied to the electricity network. The energy company then settles the supply with the electricity that you purchase from the network (this is called netting) and pays the same price for this for your electricity (on average of € 0.23 / £ 0.20 / CA$ 0.35 per kWh, price level 2019). This set-off scheme applies till 2020. Starting 2021, a feed-back subsidy will probably take its place. With this you earn back your solar panels in an average of 7 years. The subsidy will also apply if you already have solar panels.

  • You take 2,000 kWh of electricity a year from the network and you supply 2,500 kWh to the electricity grid through your solar panels.

  • The energy company must pay the current electricity tariff for 2,000 kWh of supplied electricity (21 cents per kWh, contract price level 2019).

  • It may pay a lower rate for the remaining 500 kWh (this is often referred to as the feed-in charge).

  • The energy company may determine the lower rate itself.

  • The reimbursement is € 0.07 per kWh.
  • If you produce a lot of electricity, it is therefore worth comparing different companies. There are overviews on the internet, for example, search for ‘returning power and offsetting’.

Exemple:

In our personal situation the consumption level is about 3,800kW. Our solar panel system can produce 2,700kW max per year. So -also considering that an electric boiler will be installed to reduce the gas consumption- we will always pay for electricity, although the -now very expensive- gas consumption will decline. Electricity: 3,800 kW @ € 0,21 per kW = € 798 consumed last year (not including all fixed costs per year), and we did not deliver back to the grid. Gas: 3,304 m3 @ € 0.81 per m3 = € 2,676 consumed last year (not including all fixed costs per year). Our monthly instalment was € 323. So the year bill (not including all fixed costs) will say:

  •    € 0,798 electricity consumption
  •    € 2,676 gas consumption
  • – € 3,876 monthly instalments
  • – € 0,402 balance in our advantage, as it will cover the not included fixed costs.

Next year there will be an other situation:

  • Electricity consumption will incline, because of the new electric boiler.
  • Gas consumption however will decline.
  • We will deliver back to the grid the overproduction of electricity.

With the result:

  •    € 1,000 electricity consumption
  •    € 2,000 gas consumption
  • – € 0,150 back delivery from solar panels
  •    € 2,850 total due (not included all fixed costs per year)
  •    € 0,250 fixed costs
  •    € 3,100 total due (all revenues and costs included)
  •    € 0,260 monthly instalment

0756

The fire on Arnheim moorland is almost under control, the fire brigade says. Altogether, a moorland with trees with a size of approximately 25 hectares has been lost. The  fire started on the Defense  Training Site in the flanks of the Deelen Av. and the King Av. in the north of Arnheim. The fire brigade turned out with four platoons with a total of sixteen extinguishing vehicles.

De natuurbrand bij Schaarsbergen.

Strong wind

The fire was reported around two o’clock in the afternoon. Initially it was a plot of 50 by 50 meters, but the fire spread rapidly due to the strong wind. Firefighters released air from the tires of their vehicles to get a better grip in the loose sand on the moorland. About an hour and a half after the report, the fire was under control and the after-fire could begin.

The Military Police will investigate how the fire started.

VIDEO

0755

First tree planted!

 

At 04:00pm today there was our first tree!

 

1 tree = 298.88Kg not emissioned CO2 =

€ 135  / £ 116 / CA$ 202 earned = 760kW produced electricity.

01 April 2019 (no joke!) was our most productive day so far: first input at 07:15am 12W last input at 07:30pm 8W, day revenue 16.766kW. Considering that the panels were out of order for 33 days between 31 January and 22 March, we could have surpassed the 1,000kW.

Where sunrise at the moment is at 06:55am and sunset is at 08:20pm, there is 13h 15m daylight. In June the longest day will start with a sunsrise at 05:17am and end with a sunset at 09:59pm, there will be 16h 02m daylight. (All times are in GMT+1 and for Nimwegen only, as the data varies by longitude and latitude).

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WIMBLEDON 2019:

As a VIP, during the opening days of this classic British sports event, enjoy top tennis at the famous Center Court, excellent hospitality in a luxury suite at Wimbledon and also meet one of the top players.

This 2-day package includes:

  • 1 seat on the 100 level of the famous Center Court for 2 competition days, including the opening match
  • 2 days access to the exclusive American Express Gold Suite in the competition park, inclusive catered lunch and afternoon tea
  • a variety of facilities in the suite, including air conditioning, comfortable seats, a private balcony and screens to watch the matches
  • presence at a conversation, a meet & greet and a photo moment with one of the tennis pros
  • luxury transfers from and to London (every day)
  • opportunity to purchase special Wimbledon items

Dates: July 1 – 2, 2019, location: London,
Price: £ 3,978 / € 4,639 / CA$ 6,956 per person

NOT INCLUDED:

  • eventual hotel accomodation in London,
  • transportation from/to your city/country to London
  • transportation from/to your arrival/departure location to your London accomodation.

Call the Platinum Lifestyle Service for more information and to book, +31 20 504 8737.

0753

Teacher Jade Groves explained that it was when the children practiced their balance by standing on one leg with a plastic disc on their head. “Do you guys want to show him?” she asked the children, as Prince Harry gamely joined in on one leg for a pose onlookers likened to the yoga move “tree pose”.

“You wobbled,” one child pointed out.

The Duke, who introduced himself to the children’s parents, crouched down to chat to three-month-old daughter baby Naz, just a few weeks ahead of the birth of his first child. Maria Ahmad, the baby girl’s mother, said: “He was so excited and happy about the baby. “He was asking about her sleeping. I think he’s worried about that – if the baby sleeps at night time.”

Prince Harry meets children at a ballet class YMCA South Ealing

The Duke also spoke of the necessity of charities telling their success stories, giving others inspiration that their lives can improve. “Most of the people I’ve met who’ve been through a really dark place, 99 per cent of them have come through it and found mechanisms to carry on with their normal life or have made serious adjustments in their life to be able to cope,” he said. “You, as charities, I don’t believe necessarily put those people forward. Those are the icons, the people that young people need to see and hear their stories.

0751

I am starting to look like you and become a real frugal Dutchman

In the Netherlands, the Prime Minister goes to work by bicycle. I know that image. Slowly I got used to the sober Dutch culture. Dutch people who are powerful do not have to show that with things. What they say or do is important here, not the size of their house, palace or car. I was hardly surprised when I recently saw the mayor of Arnheim shopping in my supermarket in Arnheim Presikhaaf. I thought it was a beautiful sight.

Now that I, as a newcomer, think I know the country and its habits, I suddenly see events that surprise me. I was invited on a public holiday for all volunteers from Refugee Intermidiate Workers. The party was at the Burgers ’Zoo in Arnheim. Half the zoo was rented and we were allowed to eat and drink as much as we wanted. Free. I didn’t understand anything. There is never any money at Refugee Intermidiate Workers? That’s why volunteers don’t get paid? Then why suddenly such a huge party that costs so much money? And what should we do at the zoo?

I had experienced it before. As a volunteer at the Eusebius Church in Arnheim we worked for three days on the preparation of an event of the municipality of Arnhem. A truck brought chairs, posters and special websites were designed, all for one afternoon. The municipality had something to present and wanted to do it at a special location. But the town hall is next to the church, the halls are beautiful there and the coffee is free from the machine. A good idea does not suddenly improve if it is presented at an expensive location. I am starting to look more and more like you. I am becoming a real economical Dutchman.

A goal in mind

I wanted to become an architect from an early age. I didn’t have enough points on my final exam in Syria to be able to study architecture, so I studied law. Once in the Netherlands I was advised not to study architecture here either, because there is not enough work to do. Well, everyone who reads my columns more often knows that I shall die because I am not able to find work as a lawyer, so I chose a different study program: Industrial Product Design at HAN. Some students in my study are allowed to do an internship with interior architect and product designer Kees Marcelis. Oh, I am a fan of his work. Sometimes, if I have no inspiration, I swipe through his designs for a while. At HAN it is a reason to walk with your nose in the air, if you can do an internship at Marcelis. I sent him a message on Facebook, to compliment him on his work and to ask if I could come and talk. “The Dutch never do that,” he told me later when I came to see him. ,,That is why you are very welcome. Nice that you just ask directly.”

His house, near the central station in Arnhem, was a work of art in every corner. He designed everything himself, from the stove to the lamp, to the walls and tables. I think that is great to do. And best of all: he said that as interns he prefers people from our education, because we are technically focused but we can also think creatively. I went to him uncertainly and without much hope for the future and went home as a proud IPO student. I have seen what I want to achieve and I feel it will work.

How can the people here not go to paradise?

Muslims go to heaven. Non-Muslims do not go to paradise. I always learned it that way. I thought that was fine, because I didn’t know any non-believing people in Syria. It was easy to believe that “the rest” would not go to paradise with us. The war in Syria changed the plan for my life. No longer do I spend my days between Muslims alone, because I came to the Netherlands. Here I live among “the rest”. Here I meet lovely people who take care of me, invite me into their house, cook for me, help me start up in the Netherlands and I even met a couple who took me home. All non-Muslims. Do they then earn nothing through these good deeds?

My Syrian friends in the Netherlands struggle with the same thoughts. How can the people here not go to paradise? They can’t help it that they were born here? That they don’t know Allah and can’t read an Arabic language?

When we pray, we all ask that question. We do not want to question the doctrine as we know it, but we feel so much sadness when we think of all the lovely people who do not go to heaven with us. “Together out, home together,” we joke. A Dutch friend said to me: if you look at it that way, it will be much nicer in hell, right? I thought of my friend Gijs, who makes me smile every day. When he comes to hell, it is indeed very pleasant there.

I’d rather go to heaven together with everyone. Our God is known as the great forgiver. I hope he is so forgiving that he turns a blind eye to the Dutch.

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Monthly report: March 2019

Figures as per 31 March 2019

Considering, that the installation was out of order during the first half of the month, and that the technicians repaired the installation on 29 March 2019:

  • 122.858 kW  produced;
  • € 23.36 earned;
  • 18.16 Kg CO2 emission saved;
  • equals 0.16 trees planted; total 0.89 trees.

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Walk of the World edition #103

Training #4

Itinerary:

  1. Leg 1: Home – Polder of Ooij – Ooij [coffee break]
  2. Leg 2: Ooij – Kekerdom [sanitary stop & drinks}
  3. Leg 3: Kekerdom – Millingen [lunch]
  4. Leg 4: Millingen to bus stop
  5. Leg 5: Millingen to Nimwegen by bus 80
  6. Leg 6: bus stop at Emperor Charles Sq. to home

The app on my smartphone reports as follows:

  • 5h34 minutes non-stop walking
  • 26.33 Km  (17.56M)
  • 34,283 steps
  • 2,555 kCal.