Saturday, May 04, 2013

Daft Punk cover by George Barnett

I've been posting about George Barnett for years... and it astonishes me that he hasn't had his big break yet.  I think maybe it's happening for him.  As few days ago he posted a cover of Get Lucky, originally by Daft Punk, on youtube.  This morning it has nearly half a million plays.

I hoping that all the publicity and likes for the cover will get attention for his music, which is amazing, and well produced.

Edited to add: French comments on the YouTube stream indicate that George's cover appeared on French tv this evening (Monday May 7) and he is featured on a LOT of trending and viral tips websites, as well as Gizmodo and News 24.  I hope all these new fans listen to his own stuff too... the rising numbers on the YouTube vids indicate they are exploring his other stuff too!

Rotterdam market

Went out to the Binnenrotte market this morning to get a few things for our dinner this evening, and because it is the most interesting market I've ever been to.  It's a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and so I went out without a coat or jumper... while E was wearing a t-shirt, polo shirt and fleecy hoodie.  He's a cold soul, needs to warm himself on some rocks before he can lose the layers!

The market is very varied... there are junky stalls which have everything from pots and pans to rugs and washing machines... you don't really get the wide variety of goods anywhere but car boot sales in the UK - some stalls are almost like antique shops, others have a lot of toys, christmas ornaments and plastic in them.  They're mixed in with the usual types of clothes and household stalls, like the ones you would see in English markets too, selling phone covers and batteries etc.


There are quite a lot of foodie stalls, selling things ready to eat.  We stopped for chips and mayonnaise, which is the traditional Dutch treat, from a van which was doing brisk trade.

There are serious cheese stalls, with a wide variety of Dutch cheese... I do not know why they give the impression to the rest of the world that they only produce Edam and Gouda - there are fantastic, wonderful cheeses in the Netherlands.


We bought courgette for the meal tonight, and mango for pudding.


At the end of the market street, there are flower beds which have been planted up in the most bizarre way.  The corners of the bed had been filled with pansies, and then there was a sort of wasteland between that and the other corner which had been planted with small lavender plants.  Now, I know the lavender will grow, but it still seems a bit bizarre.


There are exotic fruit stalls with papaya and fruits I don't even know the names of, bread stalls, stall with Turkish bread and pastries, a jumble of clothes - some new, some second hand. 


At one end there is a flower market which had breathtaking flowers, and *so cheap*.  They had some flowers which were obviously only going to last the weekend - three dozen roses for 5 euros though, armfuls of lovely flowers that would cost £30 or £40 in the UK for seven Euros.

 I resisted until I came to a stall with peonies and ranunculus, and so I bought five pink hyacinths, a bunch of white ranunculus and a bunch of the peonies for 7.5 euros...they'd have been a lot more in the UK.


We popped into Marqt, which is the lovely organic supermarket on the corner of the street where the market was, to buy some yoghut and bread.  I snapped a picture of E pulling our purchases home in his box on wheels.

And here are my flowers.  They are a bit small for the vase, which we bought on one of the junk stalls.  E has a vase of just the right size, but it's worth a bit and he declines to have me juggling flowers in it... can't think why.

On the way home I snapped my favourite tree.  There isn't much green in this part of Rotterdam, and I miss it, so have adopted this tree, and I give it a pat when I pass it. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Queen's Day

I arrived in Rotterdam yesterday evening.  Today is Queen's day in the Netherlands, and an extra special occasion as the Queen has abdicated and her son, the new King, has been crowned.

This is the second Queen's day I have experienced.  Queen's day has a large number of traditions associated with it.  The population wears orange clothing to show their support of tradition, and it isn't unusual to find men in orange suits, women in orange clothing, and either with orange wigs or accessories.

It is a national holiday, and children traditionally set out their toys and bric a brac to sell.  a lot of the stuff to sell is children's clothes and toys - I would think it is possible to kit out your baby for the first four years at a bargain price on Queen's day.   In Delft there are streets full of children selling things, as well as market stalls with professional traders selling everything from records to boxer shorts - like one big mediaeval market.

There's lots of street food, lots of entertainers, and lots of sideshows...children posing as living Vermeers seemed popular in Delft.  We stopped off in a dark cafe, Het Konings Huys, to have a hot chocolate and a slice of Dudok apple pie.  It was rather nice, just the right amount of sweetness and a very generous portion.  As a result we weren't that interested in the other food on offer around the town, and there seemed to be a great deal of both traditional Dutch fare and a lot of spicy foods from the Far East.

The central square in Delft was filled with people sitting in the street cafes, and listening to a live band that was playing the national anthem among other things.  The ceremonies from Amsterdam were streamed live to a huge screen over the stage in Delft.

We spent four hours touring the stalls, but I bought very little - some tiny bare wooden clogs, and some Delft blue and white pottery.  we visited the Vermeer Centrum and had a personal tour by a very nice guide, who did the whole thing in English for me.  She explained the symbolism of Vermeer's paintings - the positioning of jugs and windows in his painted is extremely significant and would have completely passed me by without the explanation.  By two o'clock Delft was getting very crowded indeed, and as neither of us much like big crowds, we decided to come back to Rotterdam.

The feeling of the day is one of absolute unity, positive about their country and seeing the Queen and now King as the head of state, without the mystical class-ridden quality royalty seems to have in the UK.  I asked if there is any anti-royalty movement, but there doesn't seem to be a strong anti-royal movement... people are reconciled to the idea of a mutual benefit, and quite practical about it.  The Guardian interviewed people whose views seemed to be summed up as "if he does a good job, great, if he doesn't we'll think again."   And it has to be said that the Dutch don't treat their royal family as a race apart.  They are used to them cycling and doing ordinary stuff like real human beings.

It seems to me a shame that the only time I have experienced this sort of feeling in the UK was during the Olympics... an event I didn't really have any interest in, except for the interesting effect it had on my fellow countrypeople.  I'm especially sad that there isn't really anything in celebration of being English that equates with this positivity - the Scots, Welsh and Irish all have a distinct national identity and celebrate it in various ways, but the celebration of anything English seems to have become something shameful - as though to celebrate Englishness is to be racist, or celebrate trampling on the countries and rights of others, somehow.

The Dutch seem to manage to celebrate their country without any of the triumphalism - well, as far as I could see.  And it feels like a whole country comes together to have a party, to celebrate being themselves. 

We travelled back on the upper deck of a double decker train - the first I have ever been on.  It rocked rather alarmingly when it entered the stations, but gave you a great view of the countryside.

We had Patatjes in the station, which are like chips, with mayonnaise, and made our way home with sore feet.

The club underneath E's apartment is holding a party and the bass is booming through the building.  I'd always assumed tall buildings were rather quiet, but the sound is often louder up on the 27th floor than it is on the ground - the sound has nothing to stop it in between.  Not sure how loud it will get....

One of the amazing things about Queen's day is that there is mess and broken glass in the streets on the day... and the following day everything is spotless again - rubbish and broken glass cleaned away.  The Dutch know how to party - but also how to clean up.