Thursday, 29 November 2012

You don't have to put on the red light...

So, in between the madness of new jobs, resignations, house sales and packing box assault courses, S and I went to Amsterdam for our Anniversary on 18 November.

We landed early at 9.30 but what should've been a straightforward train journey straight from the airport to the centre of Amsterdam took quite a bit longer as the airport train station was closed for the weekend and we had to get a bus to a different train station instead.  We had to queue for over an hour as one bus after another filled up (not helped by folk randomly walking to the front of the queue feigning ignorance whilst we fumed in polite British queuing style at the back!)

Anyway, that was the only hiccup the whole weekend.  I had been to Amsterdam once before for my sister's hen weekend but hadn't really seen much, to be honest.  This time, we walked and walked and walked.  It's so big and every block looks the same as the one before it! Don't get me wrong, the canals, the bridges, the stunning tall, skinny houses are all so beautiful but I was very glad that S is so good with maps and directions or I'd still be wandering around looking for the hotel!

Tiny doors!

More tiny doors!

Our hotel, Die Port Van De Cleve, is in the location of the old Heineken brewery and is just off Dam Square.  Much like Krakow, Amsterdam catered brilliantly for vegans with several vegan/veggie restaurants dotted about.  We visited TerraZen three times for lunch - run by a Caribbean man and his beautiful Japanese wife the choice of food was amazing and everything we tried was totally delicious.

TerraZen - the best veggie lunches in Amsterdam!

We went to another  three veggie restaurants for dinner and again all the food was amazing.  The thing we noticed was that in each restaurant there was a resident cat or dog who just wandered around amongst the diners.  I know some people wouldn't like that and it certainly wouldn't be allowed in the UK with all the hygiene regulations but I guess that folk who eat in veggie restaurants are animal lovers and so, it didn't seem to bother anyone.

How anyone remembers where they parked their bike is a mystery!

I'd been given a tip by someone at work to pre-book the Anne Frank House as the queues were always really long.  We were glad that we did as we arrived at the pre-booked time slot and walked straight in whilst everyone else queued right round the building!  It was really interesting to see although I had ignorantly assumed that after she hid she must've survived so I was gutted to learn that in fact they'd been found when someone told on them and that Anne Frank and her sister and mother had all perished in Bergen Belsen after all.  It just seemed even more tragic after hiding all that time.

The Van Gogh Museum was closed for refurbishment while we were there so we went to the Rijksmuseum instead.  It was brilliant to see such amazing work by Rembrant and many other Dutch artists that I'd honestly never heard of before.  One of them, Willem Craesz Heda did incredible photorealistic still life paintings and as soon as I saw them I immediately thought of Sandra and her amazing glass paintings!

We visited the red light district on the Saturday night - so many people milling about (mostly men!) I like to think I'm fairly broad-minded when it comes to the ways of the world but I couldn't help thinking how young most of the girls seemed to be and how very skinny.  It was funny how as we went away from the main streets with their prime window positions, the ladies became ever older and less nubile - such is life, always to be replaced by younger models!

A strange thing happened one evening just at the edge of the Red Light District when we were waiting to cross a road and a man walked towards us with his little French Bull Dog, which we saw quite a few of during our break. I did my usual melting 'aw look, she's so cute' and Steve made that sort of clucking/clicking noise you make to encourage animals (not to be mistaken for the tsk tsk noise when something annoys us!) Anyway, the man came right over to us and started making the noise too.  I didn't think anything of it but then he stopped just a little past us and kept looking over.  I was still cooing at his dog and totally oblivious but eventually wondered why he was staring in our direction.  We started to walk on then and he said (in a voice exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger even though he's Austrian and not Dutch!) 'Yes, you better walk away, very quickly'!! It was only then I realised he was talking to us and that S had obviously offended him by making the clicking noise! Anyone have any ideas - is it offensive to admire someone's dog in Holland??

Anyway, apart from the strange dog man, it was a great short break where we saw plenty of culture, history and slightly sleazy reality which gave us a much needed break from house sales and packing boxes if only for a couple of days!

I was going to try to do a quick watercolour sketch from our photos so I could legitimately take part in Paint Party Friday but I just didn't find time.  So, I'm going to be cheeky and link up anyway, even though there is no actual art to speak of (unless I can count the really cute owl cushion we found in a craft shop thinking it was an unusual Dutch souvenir only to discover exactly the same owl cushions in a little shop in Scotland when we were house hunting the following weekend!!)

Not such a unique owl cushion after all - still at least we can get it a partner in Scotland!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A new beginning...

I haven't been around much recently what with our lives having been turned upside down (in a good way!)  Just by way of an update, S is getting on great with the training in his new job and currently travelling all over the North of Scotland learning the ropes.  I've handed in my notice at work and will finish up on 14 December which is also the day we're scheduled to hand over the keys to our house.

Last weekend I abandoned the assault course of packing cases waiting to trip me up all over the house and headed off to Amsterdam for a romantic weekend with S to celebrate our 2nd/7th anniversary (More on that later - S currently has all the photos on his camera in Scotland so I can't do my usual travelogue just yet!) Just so I can legitimately link to Paint Party Friday I am regurgitating a sketch I did of houses in Amsterdam for the Sketchbook Project back in 2010 (sorry if anyone from back then remembers this - I promise to have some new art soon!)

Anyway, I'm massively excited because on Friday I'm flying to Inverness to meet up with S and travel up to Thurso where we're spending the weekend looking at 8 different houses - hopefully one of those will be our perfect country cottage.

Now, what with all the new beginnings coming our way, I got to thinking about my blog and how, when I started it, I focussed mainly on 'pointy' paintings.   I think I've come quite a long way since then, even though animals are still my main inspiration, I've discovered different mediums and different inspiration from nature, like my rainy windows, and much as I wish I had a definite and easily recognisable signature style, looking through my blog, it's clear that I don't!  So, I figured I needed a new name for my blog - something that better reflects my art and my inspirations as they are right now.  I wracked my brain trying to come up with something and finally settled on Nic's eARTh because this is my blog about not only my art but about my view of the world that we live in, coloured as it is by my love for animals and all things nature.

I thought it would be doubly appropriate because we're moving to such a different, remote, part of the UK where we'll be surrounded by more nature than you could shake a stick at and I'll no doubt want to bore enthral any loyal readers with the trials and tribulations of relocating to the wilds of Scotland!

So, please don't adjust your monitors, Pointy Pix has become Nic's eARTh and I'd love it if you would follow me on my new adventure! (I'll still be under for a while until I figure out how to change it over)

Monday, 12 November 2012

And the winner is...

I typed everyone's name in a list (some 2 or 3 times if they also became new Facebook and/or Blogger followers which is what took it up to 52).  I googled for a Random Number Generator and found this one - sorry it's a little blurred but after messing about for ages trying to copy and paste it as a jpeg I had to do a screenshot of the whole web page and then crop it down!  Anyway,  the winner is........*drum roll*....Laurie over at I love a cloudy day

Laurie, if you could email me at pointypix[at] with your postal address, I'll get those cards off to you tomorrow!

Thanks to everyone who commented and thanks again for so much positivity  - I can't wait to get moved to Scotland so I can start painting properly again!  I will take a small watercolour kit with me to my folks' over Christmas so I can at least keep my hand in but apologies in advance if I'm not around too much until the New Year - I will still be visiting everyone else's blog though!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Power of Postive Thought & a give away...

4 x Christmas Cards 

I just want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who sent positive thoughts and good vibes out into the cosmos for me on my last post here, when I mentioned our life changing move to Scotland and the hope that I wouldn’t be stuck in Northern Ireland too long waiting for our house to sell. The power of positive thought obviously works because, that very day, we had an offer on our house which we accepted!! Yay!

It is now all officially official – the sale should hopefully complete mid-December and I’ve handed in my notice at work to finish up at the same time. I’ll then have to move back in with my folks for a few weeks but we’re going to look at some houses in Scotland at the end of November so hopefully one of them will be perfect for us and we get fully relocated in the New Year. I’ve even finally been able to update my Facebook status to let all my friends know that it’s actually happening!!

Now, because of all that is going on, I doubt if I’ll get much time to be creative (other than creatively trying to find ways to fit all our belongings into as few packing boxes as possible!) so it may be the New Year when we get relocated to Scotland and I unpack all my paints and canvasses before I really get back into art again.  Then I promise to be back with a vengeance as I won't be working, not full-time anyway, so will hopefully have all the time I ever dreamed of to get creative and blog about it!

3 x Walkies Note Cards

Next weekend we’re off to Amsterdam to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary/ 7th anniversary of the day we met and, to be honest, we’ve hardly given it a moment’s thought what with the whole Scotland move overshadowing everything. Still, it’ll be lovely once we are there and we plan to see all the cultural things I didn’t get to see the last time I was there (on my sister’s Hen weekend!)

3 x Purrfect Nostalgia Note Cards

Now, this is after all an art blog and by way of thank you to everyone for all their positive thoughts, I thought it was high time I did a give away as I’ve never done one before. So, what with all things Christmas already having made their insidious way into the shops and our subconscious, I thought it might be appropriate to include 4 Christmas cards as well as 3 ‘Walkies’ and 3 ’Purrfect Nostalgia’ greetings cards as well. If you'd like to be included in the give away just leave me a comment at the end of this post and all the cards will go to the first name I pick out at random (using one of those random pickers!). (If you aren’t already following my blog and/or my Facebook page and wanted to start doing so, I’ll add your name in twice *she bribes to push her follower numbers up!*)

I’m linking to Paint Party Friday and will aim to get round as many folk as I can this weekend as I know I have been a bit remiss with my blog reading as well as my blog writing and art-making!!

I’ll announce the winner of the give-away next week before we go on our trip so stay tuned!!


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