Reflections #2: Fighting Marathon for Charity and Volunteering for the Elderly

Every last Sunday of the month I tell you about what I’ve been up to over these last weeks for my blog series Reflections. In today’s episode a flashback to October!

The stubborn cold/flu virus that got its evil clutches on me from mid-September still lingered on for the first couple of weeks of October. I’m finally feeling a bit better again and truly hope I’ve had my share of germs for the season. Because of this silly virus, this month was a bit quieter for me with slightly less adventures. But only slightly less of course.

First stop: SynthFest Sheffield

The first weekend of October hubby and I made it back to Sheffield for the annual SynthFest, a chance to meet up with fellow synth and analog modular enthusiasts and have a look at the latest gear on the market. We also unintentionally made an appearance in some of the online video coverages which was quite funny to discover. During that weekend we were also lucky to catch a live performance by the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble (with Will Gregory from Goldfrapp) as part of the annual Sensoria Festival. While the first part of the concert with their interpretation of classical music played on synthesizers was interesting, I found the second half more engaging as they played music I was more familiar with such as John Carpenter’s Escape from New York theme music. Considering that used to be one of my favourite films whilst growing up, that moment was my personal highlight of the concert.

Kicking and punching for charity

On Sunday 14 October I joined almost 200 other participants for a 4-hour body combat (fitness class that combines elements from various martial arts) marathon in York Hall in east London, one of the most famous boxing venues in the UK. The sports event was organised in memory of the late fitness instructor Chris Cerclay who died so unexpectedly two years ago from a heart attack. On a Monday I saw his Facebook update asking friends for venue recommendations for his 60th birthday party a few months later and the following Sunday I read the shocking message on his timeline that he had passed away.

During the event we honoured Chris with a fist and a tear, a fitting farewell to a generous soul who cared about charity and people in need. All the proceeds of the events will be donated to the British Heart Foundation.

In memory of Chris Cerclay

Chris Cerclay // Dutch Girl in London
Photo courtesy of Photography by Paul Ross

Across the Channel

Last weekend we jumped on the Eurostar to Belgium for hubby’s live performance at Festival Solair in Antwerp, a cultural event which proceeds go to the charity foundation Ninafri for a drinking water project in Niger.

Funny how I hadn’t been to Antwerp for years and now visited this beautiful city twice within two months! I wrote about my previous Antwerp trip on my travel blog Done That Been There. You can read my travel story (in Dutch and English) here: City Trip Antwerp: Get Your Culture Fix on a Budget.

Zurenborg Antwerp // Dutch Girl in London
One of the many stunning buildings in the area of Zurenborg in east Antwerp

During my previous visit I discovered the picturesque neighbourhood of Zurenborg which is considered to be the city’s, or possibly even the country’s most beautiful area. Last week we got to peek inside one of those amazing homes as we met a lovely couple during hubby’s concert who happened to live there. Curiously the area of Berchem right next to the elegant Zurenborg is one of the city’s main street art hotspots. We were told that this used to be an alternative area, mostly popular among hippies, which explains why this location is chosen to host the annual street art and graffiti festival Meeting of Styles, organised by the Aerosol Kings.

street art Antwerp // Dutch Girl in London
Stunning mural in Antwerp’s area of Berchem, a true street art hotspot!

Traversing Belgium and the Netherlands by train

After an incredibly sunny weekend in Antwerp, I hopped on a local train to the Netherlands. As always, every minute of my week in the Netherlands was filled with social get-togethers for which I travelled many kilometres across the country.

One day my mum and I visited my brother in the city of Heerenveen (most famous for its ice arena Thialf, host of many international ice skating competitions) in the most northern province of the Netherlands. Another day I visited my bestie in the picturesque city of Den Bosch, or ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the birthtown of the world-famous painter Jeroen Bosch, internationally also known as Hieronymus Bosch, about whom I wrote in my article Bosch500: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Prolific Painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Den Bosch // Dutch Girl in London
The old market square of ‘s-Hertogenbosch with a sculpture of their most famous resident, Hieronymus Bosch.

And by the time you are reading this, I am probably recovering from a way too gezellige (fun) afternoon with friends in the city of Tilburg. It was in this vibrant and culturally rich city where I spent my last years in the Netherlands before I moved to the UK.

Volunteering for the elderly

If you think my week in the Netherlands was just one big party with friends, then you’re mistaken. I also joined my mum at one of her many volunteering activities and assisted the local team of the Dutch foundation de Zonnebloem who organise events for the physically disabled and elderly.

How I experienced it? I absolutely loved it! Not only did it obviously feel good to help create a wonderful and memorable afternoon for 40 people who can’t leave their homes that often, but more than that, their stories and warmth actually enriched me. I got to talk to so many inspiring people who lived whole lives already and from whom younger generations could learn so much. Such as the impressively fashionable 94-year old lady who became a vegetarian and started to study natural medicine and healing in the 1950s, way before the term ‘vegetarian’ was as well-known and popular as it is today. I am hoping to visit her many times in her home where she still lives on her own, and learn more about her fascinating life.

In October I also wrote the following blog posts

  • The Dutch Girl Tales #7: Heimwee: my monthly Dutch-language blog post (each first Sunday of the month). This month I wrote about homesickness.
  • Rocktober Special: My Most Memorable Rock and Roll Moments: in celebration of ‘Rocktober’ I shared three of my funniest and memorable anecdotes from rock concerts and festivals I’ve attended. They are quite funny so give it a read if you haven’t done so already!
  • I Got 99 Problems, but the Free Paper Ain’t One: an account of a very bizarre interaction with fellow train passengers. This was unfortunately not the first time I found people’s behaviour utterly rude and unnecessary (and such incidents aren’t limited to the UK either as I experience them so often whenever I’m back in the Netherlands too), but I found it quite telling for today’s society and felt I had to get it off my chest.

Overview blog posts October 2018 // Dutch Girl in London

More October-related articles

October is of course the month of Halloween! In recent years I’ve written two articles related to this ‘spooky’ event:

What did I watch this month?

Clearly not as much as last month when I had some sick days and spent whole days on the sofa, sleeping and watching films, but still some good recommendations for you here!

I recommend…

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Bad Times at the El Royale
Arizona
Flight of the Conchords: Live in London

Eh, perhaps chose something else…

Night School
Anon
Broken City

Not sure about these, but quite entertaining

T2 Trainspotting
King of Thieves
First Man

I have no shame to admit I quite enjoyed these!

The Man Who Invented Christmas
Overboard

On Netflix

Better Call Saul Season 4
Great News Season 1

My favourite October Posts on Instagram

I’ve been experimenting with making flatlay photos for my Instragram travel account @zarinatravels and I’m really loving it! Finally all the ‘crap’ I collect during my travels, such as beer bottle caps, museum flyers, restaurant cards etc, actually come to great use!

View this post on Instagram

(Scroll down for English.) De laatste collage van mijn 'found souvenirs' van de stedenreis naar Antwerpen die ik onlangs maakte met mijn bestie. Behalve mijn vieze was vind je ook altijd een stapel bonnetjes, folders, toegangsbewijzen enz. in mijn koffer nadat ik terugkom van een reis. Sommigen noemen dit 'troep', maar voor mij vormen deze voorwerpen mooie herinneringen. Hier zie je de agenda van Antwerp Art met de tentoonstellingen voor 2018-2019 in aangesloten musea, kunstgalerieën en non-profit kunstruimtes. In Museum Plantin-Moretus vind je de oudste drukpersen ter wereld en als je net als ik een boekennerd bent, dan is deze voormalige drukkerij en woonhuis (waar je ook een aantal familieportretten geschilderd door niemand anders dan Rubens kunt zien) een must-visit! Aangezien we een culturele citytrip Antwerpen maakten, mocht ook een bezoek aan de mooie Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal niet ontbreken. En dat bierviltje, tsja… ik houd nu eenmaal van goede biertjes 🙂 • The final collage of 'found souvenirs' from my recent city trip to Antwerp with my bestie. Besides dirty laundry, my suitcase also always contains tons of receipt, brochures, tickets etc after a trip. Some might consider these as rubbish but for me these items are great memories of trips and holidays. Here you see the Antwerp Art calendar listing exhibitions at dozens of connected museums, art galleries and non-profit art spaces. At Museum Plantin-Moretus you can find some of the oldest presses in the world. If you're a book nerd like myself, then a visit to this former printing house and family home (where you'll also find a few family portraits painted by none other than Rubens), is a definite must! Since it was a cultural city trip to Antwerp, we obviously couldn't miss out on a visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady. And as for that coaster? Well, I just like my beers! 🙂 • @antwerpart #knolling #knollingphotography #travelblogger #travelmemories #pink #flatlay #floral #reisblogger @antwerpen #inspiredbyflowers #flowers #visitantwerpen #collage #reismeisje #bestoftheday #pastel @chouffe_belgium #beer #lachouffe

A post shared by Done That Been There (@zarinatravels) on

Picture of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona taken last month but edited and posted on Instagram only recently.

View this post on Instagram

Flashback Friday to 6 weeks ago when we were in Barcelona. Tried to go return to the Sagrada Familia to see the difference with our last visit a few years ago, but unlike then it was completely impossible to buy tickets on the day. Ah well, it looked just as nice from the outside and it allowed us to go on impromptu city explorations, which resulted in a great day actually. Sometimes spontaneous and unplanned things are just the best 😊 • • • #barcelona #visitbarcelona #glorious #sunset #sagradafamilia #dutchgirlinlondon #architecture #cathedral #sunshine #sunlight #cityscape @visitbarcelona #barcelonastravel #nationalgeographic #lonelyplanetbarcelona #lonelyplanet #travelgirl #shetravels #nomad #reismeisje #reisblogger #travelblogger #donethatbeenthere #travelphotography #amateurphotography #bestoftheday #instacool #cometravelwithme #flashbackfriday #tbf #tb

A post shared by Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks (@dutchgirlinlondon) on

What did your October look like?
Feel free to share a little anecdote or tell me about something you’ve done or seen!
Until next month,
Zarina xx