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 Miss Travel Clogs. You can read my travel story 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
Flight of the Conchords: Live in London

Eh, perhaps chose something else…

Night School
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

On Netflix

Better Call Saul Season 4
Great News Season 1

My favourite October Posts on Instagram

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

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

3 thoughts on “Reflections #2: Fighting Marathon for Charity and Volunteering for the Elderly

  1. Still, even though you were ill, you again did quite a lot!
    I had a busy month as well with two adventurous trips to Amsterdam with my Canta 🚗, first one to Buikslotermeer, Amsterdam-Noord, had to take the ferry to cross the IJ behind Central Station. Second one to Betondorp (Watergraafsmeer) in Amsterdam, where I picked up a friend who had two free tickets to Artis, the Amsterdam Zoo. The last time I visited the zoo was with my grandfather when I was about 10, 11 years old. A lot has changed in the zoo, fortunately, for I am not a real zoo fan but it was obvious they did really a lot to create better environments for the animals. Maybe you read my Facebook posts about these trips?
    Also I had two guests, Kamiel Choi and his daughter (5). I met him through Facebook and Twitter and he visited me for the first time January this year. Great that you can make friends this way! They stayed at my place for two days before traveling back to South- Korea where they live after being in The Netherlands for about two months. His wife, Miru’s mother, stayed behind to work on her book. Kamiel is Dutch but he married Yeon, she is Korean. I was very tired afterwards but I really enjoyed having Miru around, we laughed a lot and there were good conversations with Kamiel.
    A good month, unfortunately November started out less good since I fell ill yesterday. Not happy about this at all for my sister who lives in France is visiting me for two weeks and we had some things planned. Hopefully I feel better before Wednesday….

    1. You had quite an eventful month as well! And how lovely to make friends like that through social media! I think we lived near Artis when I was a baby, but can’t remember visiting, not even when I was older. I’m a bit cautious of zoos nowadays as well, but am glad to hear some of them are really trying to modernise and be more animal-friendly!
      Have a lovely time with your sister! I truly hope you’ll feel better by then! I’m feeling unwell again as well, but that’s because we don’t have heating and warm water in parts of the house and it’s been only approximately 12.5 degrees in the living room for a week now… 🙁

      1. That must be hard, no warm water and heating! It takes a lot of time to get everything sorted in a large place like yours, I imagine. No fireplace in the living room? I remember something about you two testing different kinds of wood for a fire? Constantly feeling cold does not do you any good, can make you grumpy as well, I know from experience. I lived in squats without heating and remember winter days I hated to get out of bed because of the relentless cold. Sleeping fully clothed with lots of blankets etc. Still so grateful every winter for the heating system!

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