Lockdown Armchair Travel – The Netherlands – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, and The Hague

More lockdown armchair travel and today, N is for The Netherlands, and some memories of a few visits to that delightful little country over the years. So, what do you think of, when you think of The Netherlands? Probably here:

AmsterdamAmsterdam, Amsterdam, de stad waar alles kan. So sang Maggie MacNeil in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. But The Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam. Leiden, for example, is a beautiful city – home to (amongst other things) the Windmill Museum.

LeidenYou can see the workings of a windmill really close up – and it’s a fascinating experience.

Windmill workingsWhen we were in the Netherlands in 2009, we also visited Rotterdam, famous for its cube houses. They’re an extraordinary feat of architecture!

Cube Houses

We also visited The Hague, seat of government and a pretty grand place all round.

But with humour

Horses

and superheroes!

But most people just want to see Amsterdam, and it is a pretty special place. Lots of bikes…

Bikes

Churches

Cheese

Partygoers

Did I mention the bikes?

Possibly the best way to see Amsterdam is from the canals, and on our last morning we took a canal boat ride. The things you notice…

You expect Van der Valk to walk around any corner. I’ll leave you with a look at our canal boat

Some old Delft tiles

and a pleasant drink on a street corner.

I know there’s much more to Amsterdam and the Netherlands than I’ve been able to share with you today but hopefully this gave you a little insight into what some of it is like!

 

Eurovision Song Contest 2020 – the show that never was – Semi Final One

EurovisionGreetings gentle reader, and welcome to this slightly different version of my usual Eurovision Preview. As you know, this year’s Eurovision has gone the way of The Great Soprendo’s magic – piff paff poff. So here are the contenders for the first Semi Final – and what you have to do is listen, appreciate, enjoy, but also employ your critical faculties and come up with your top ten songs. Then simply send me an email, awarding 12 points to your favourite, 10 points to your second favourite, then 8, 7, 6, etc in true Eurovision style. I’ll then add them up and we will have a grand Opening the Envelopes ceremony next week.

SnowdropBecause the draw for the order of performance was never officially made, all we can do is look at the first half and second half allocations and ask Snowdrop, the Psychic Bear, to guess the order that the songs would have appeared on Tuesday 12th May. Over to you, Snowdrop.

Snowdrop has rubbed his temples and concluded that the first song to be performed is North Macedonia, with You, performed by Vasil.

Next up is Slovenia, and it’s Ana Soklič with Voda. Thank you, Snowdrop.

Psychic Snowdrop’s third choice is Australia, whose song is Don’t Break Me by Montaigne.

Fourth in the running order is Ireland, with Story of my Life by Lesley Roy.

Snowdrop’s temples are really throbbing now. He’s going to be such a diva when this is over. His next choice is Russia, with Uno by Little Big.

Snowdrop started to waggle his hands over his head which can only mean one thing: his next choice is another of the favourites, Lithuania, with On Fire by The Roop.

The seventh of these 17 songs comes from Sweden, it’s Move by The Mamas.

And the last song from the “first half pot” of countries comes from Belarus – Da Vidna by VAL.

So, whilst Snowdrop has gone off for a massage, it’s time for me to head to the Green Room to see how the stars are coping with the pressure.

Montaigne, tell me, if I said that your whole career depended on this moment, how would you react?

Montaigne: DON’T BREAK ME!!

Oops, didn’t realise she was so tetchy. OK, Lesley Roy from Ireland, is this the first time that you’ve had a big disappointment like this, or is it…

Lesley Roy: STORY OF MY LIFE.

Ah I’m beginning to see a thread here. OK. So, Little Big, what was the first car you ever owned?

Little Big: Un –

Sorry, have to stop you there before you reply because Snowdrop is back from the massage parlour with a strange sort of self-satisfied smirk on his face…. Better get on.

Starting off the second half of this semi-final it’s Norway, with Ulrikke and Attention.

Snowdrop’s rubbing his temples again. I hope he’s washed his hands. He’s chosen next Malta, with Destiny and All of my Love.

Snowdrop’s now applying a moisturiser. He’s such a strange bear. Next is Israel, with Eden Alene and Feker Libi.

He’s now got cucumber poultices over his eyes whilst relaxing over a manicure. I’m not sure he’s taking this seriously. His next choice is Ukraine, with Go_A and Solovey.

Snowdrop has just knocked back a double vodka, from which I deduce the next song is Roxen’s Alcohol You for Romania.

He’s also demanded some Brussels paté, so I’m guessing it’s Belgium next, Hooverphonic with Release Me.

Snowdrop just said “Croatia” with a dismissive stare. I hate that bear sometimes. Just cos he’s got psychic powers he thinks he owns the place. Here’s Damir Kedzo with Divlji vjetre.

I’m going to demote Snowdrop from this important task for the next semi-final. He won’t see that coming. Here’s Efendi for Azerbaijan with Cleopatra.

Apparently his psychic powers are pretty good, because he did see that coming and has just stuck two fingers up at me and stomped off. That’s what comes of getting a rescue bear. No pedigree. Never again. Anyway, that leaves just one song to play – Running, by Sandro, for Cyprus.

So your task now is to whittle down these songs into a top ten and send me your decision. You know the score – 12 points to your favourite, 10 to your second, 8 to the third and so on. You can email me at therealchrisparkle@yahoo.com – or send me a DM on Facebook, if we’re pals. Or you can put your scores in a comment on this blog and I will redact your answers! Please DON’T openly write your scores down as an open comment on Facebook or Twitter for everyone to see because that would be SILLY. You’ve got until midnight (UK time) on Sunday April 5th to make your mind up. I’m off to settle Snowdrop’s psychoanalyst’s account. Pain in the arse, that bear.