Finally, some good news! After a little bit ( OK a lot) of ranting throughout June and July, August finally saw a turn in fortune. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s that summer feeling, or maybe it’s the fact that I had a fair few holidays and trips away lined up (indeed I write this from a sofa in Italy in that special gap between one pizza and another), but I have emerged from the month of August feeling more than a little bit victorious.
In August I caught up with old friends, spent time in my favourite city, took the plunge and started a new hobby, felt the sunshine on my skin and somehow even found the time to whip up some falafel. Not bad at all.
- BBQ-ing up a storm. It’s taken me a while, but I’m starting to realise that one of the best things about living in Amsterdam is the sheer abundance of activities on offer every single week – you just need to know where to look. This month, we popped along to a BBQ festival at Mercurisplein in the north-west of the city, just behind Westerpark, to get our fill of good food, excellent conversation and sunshine-soaked beers.Oh, and did I mention the food?
- A new signature dish. Falafel is an obsession that B and I share – it is probably one of the bedrocks of our relationship – and in August we finally took a stab at making it ourselves. From draining the chickpeas to mashing it up with a sprinkling of cumin, we were more than a little astonished at just how good it turned out. Surprisingly easy to make and healthy to boot, we’ve found a new dinner staple.
- Back on court. It’s been a fair few years since I last took to the court for a game of netball, but it’s still a passion of mine. In August I finally summoned the courage to cycle along to a training session with a team I first contacted many moons ago. It’s pretty difficult for me to go to new things and meet new people, and my heart was pounding when I first stepped into the room. I needn’t have worried. Everyone was lovely and I was already looking forward to the next session on my cycle home. Sure, my muscles ached and I couldn’t walk without waddling for days afterwards, but it was worth it for that sense of accomplishment.
- Dinner in Vondelpark. This month we grabbed an impromtu dinner at De Vondeltuin, a beautiful little cafe/restaurant/bar nestled in the Vondelpark. Decorated with flamingos, fairy lights and al fresco benches, it’s somewhere I’ve been meaning to check out for a while – and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. We opted for a flammkeuche each with a couple of drinks, spending a long and lazy evening chatting, laughing and casting an eye over the latest Olympic action (I am obsessed). Not bad for a Wednesday.
- Paris, je t’aime. Thanks to a rather snazzy deal on Paris-bound trains, this month saw us swap the canals of Amsterdam for a weekend in the big lights of Paris. I’ve written about it in more detail here, but we went with a couple of friends who were seeing the city for the very first time, and it was a wonderful feeling to show them around and take it in through their eyes.
- A day in Delft. As part of my ongoing mission to master the Netherlands, this month I hopped on a train to Delft to meet up with one of my dearest companions. Sometimes I forget just how tiny the Netherlands is; you can pretty much go anywhere in the country within a couple of hours, making it possible to visit any city you choose for the day. Delft was beautiful in the way that most Dutch or Flemish towns are: tall and mismatched buildings, winding streets, pretty canals and bitterballen. This is not the last you’ve seen of me, Delft.
- Exploring Westerpark. Even though we have lived on the cusp of the Westerpark for almost a year, it is only now that we are really starting to recognise just how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep. Not only is the Westerpark itself beautiful, but the adjoining Westergasfabriek is quickly becoming my favourite evening haunt, with a number of bars, restaurants, cinemas and cafes to choose from. The atmosphere is decidedly laid back and unassuming; you can sit on the grass with an ice cream listening to jazz, or you can get dolled up for a gin and tonic, or you can go to the brewery to explore the local wares – the choice is yours.
- Neighbourhood graffiti. It’s an ecstatic cat. A really happy cat. It’s pink. What’s not to love?