I've had the most wonderful couple of months. Firstly, I had a ticket to see Jamie Cullum, a wonderful musician/pianist/singer who was performing in Utrecht in the Netherlands. As I regularly speak to Hilde Van Ginhoven, I mentioned this to her. Her response was wonderful and immediate - 'come and stay with me'! I was delighted and in the end, instead of a quick couple of overnight stays, she offered to have me for over a week. I can't tell you how excited as I was as, as well as seeing Hilde (and her lovely partner, Martijn), we also made arrangements to meet up with Cassandra Van Dijk, one of my long-standing Now and Zen members and wonderful tangler, and a friend of Hilde. She would come to Hilde's on the Saturday!! Oh joy! And on top of that - a whole day to spend with my dear friend, Mirjam Roosekrans. She has a really busy schedule and we almost couldn't coincide but we are resourceful creatures and despite all sorts of complications, we agreed to meet in Utrecht on the day of the concert.
About 10 days before I was due to travel, I went for a coffee at my daughter's cafe in West Kirby and inadvertently left my handbag there. Now, I have told this story already on FaceBook and had a variety of responses. I live in the belief that although I am a bit absent-minded, this is not so unusual - could happen to anyone. However, it would seem that I do take things to an extreme sometimes. If I tell you I once managed to travel to Valencia without my underwear or passport and then when I arrived, I managed to lose my driving licence, which had been my only form of identity and means of returning, then this gives you a bit more of an idea just how fundamentally erratic and irresponsible I can be. But hey! I got back and have only lost my passport once since then - oh, apart from this latest little setback.....I digress. I got handbag AND all the contents back, though there is a story behind it all. Not for here though and happily, my trip to the Netherlands was still on! Hurray!!
I had a great journey there and Martijn was good enough to come and meet me at the airport when I arrived.
It was such a joy to meet up in real life at last! And we laughed and talked and laughed and talked and ate the wonderful food that Martijn prepared for us - and then we tangled and I explored her amazing studio and beautiful new 'Garden Atelier'. What a privilege and a pleasure to find your friends and tribe through Zentangle.
Yes, I did some sightseeing in beautiful Amsterdam, here are some photos!
And then the next day, Cassandra came and joined us. We spent the whole day tangling in the atelier and chatting. What a great time we had. At this stage, I still hadn't received my eticket for the concert and was beginning to care less and less about this! However, it came through on Sunday evening - I was going to see Jamie as well!
On Monday, I set off for Utrecht and when I arrived, I was a bit overwhelmed at the size of the station! It is enormous!! How would I ever find Mirjam? Then I heard a 'Yoohoo' - a familiar sound and I swung round in its direction and there she was in real life!! It's so lovely to be able to give a friend a hug!! Even one who was so much taller than I expected. Zoom is funny that way - you can't get any sense of a person's height, can you!
We had a delightful day together and I fell in love with Utrecht. We walked around and around and never stopped talking, even whilst we were sitting in a lovely place eating, amongst other things, the typically Dutch dish of Bitterballen (which is not in the photo - I just ate them without taking photos..) and drinking 'beer' (mine was non alcoholic but amazing!)
And the best thing was that Mirjam (and Cassandra) were going to come to Hilde's again on the Wednesday before I went home.
Jamie Cullum was excellent but I'm not here to talk about that! But he really was very good...
And so on the Wednesday, the four of us sat and tangled together in real life and played with colours, mosaics and shared our ideas and memories of the past few years since we started tangling together online.
I have to say that in the evenings, Hilde, Martijn and I sat sometimes and watched some British comedy programmes and laughed like drains together - till tears rolled down our cheeks. It is very special being able to laugh like that with such freedom and relaxation. Thank you so much, Hilde and Martijn! And the thing that made leaving just that bit easier? They're coming to visit me in the UK at the beginning of July!! YAY!!!
If you keep reading, I have another wonderful experience to recount.
Last week, I went to Spain to visit my eldest son, who is currently living in Asturias. It was a long journey for me, but I knew that Gildo Sobrino, one of our rare male European tanglers, was based in Gijon and we had arranged to try and meet up for a coffee at the very least - neither of us knew quite what we were going to be doing.
Just the day before I left the UK, Aida Mon Rico sent me a message out of the blue to ask if I was going to the German CZT meetup in October. I said, no, I couldn't but that I was going to be in Spain the next day. She asked if I was going to Madrid and I said no, Gijon in Asturias. How bizarre is it that she lives in Gijon??? Aida had discovered Zentangle at the beginning of the pandemic and had done all my Instagram classes with me.
And we got on like a house on fire and then, suddenly, Gildo also joined us, swooping in on his motorbike in his leathers and helmet! I can't tell you how blessed we all felt - sitting in the sunshine, drawing, talking and realising how Zentangle had brought us all together.
Like many other tanglers already know, it's wonderful to travel and meet up with each other! I'm near Liverpool in the UK, by the way....let me know if you are nearby. Don't wait for an invitation - yes, you are very welcome to just call in!