Once a month I always look back on what I’ve been up to in the past weeks. What were my personal highlights? What films and series did I watch? What exhibitions did I visit and which countries did I travel to? Find the answers in my Reflections on October.
When there’s a family emergency, expat life isn’t that fun and exciting anymore
Early this month I returned to the UK after having spent two weeks with my family in the Netherlands. All was fine when I said goodbye to my parents. As I probably wouldn’t see them until Christmas again, I gave them extra big hugs. But then everything changed dramatically when I woke up to worrying WhatsApp messages in the morning.
My mum wrote us that my dad had suddenly fallen seriously ill in the night and that he had been brought to hospital by ambulance. The photos she sent of him froze my heart. He looked truly awful. The situation was alarming and that first day was even critical. I hadn’t unpacked my suitcase from my last trip yet and I was already looking into plane tickets to fly back home again. I could barely contain my emotions. Was that hug I gave my dad the day before going to be the last one?
Thankfully the situation improved and my return to the Netherlands wasn’t that imminent anymore. And thus I could afford to meet some urgent work deadlines (which I can’t believe I managed to fulfil!) and fly back home a few days later.
It was only recently I wrote a special blog post in celebration of my sweet and fun dad. It’s in Dutch, but you can automatically translate it into English by putting the URL in Google Translate: The Dutch Girl Tales #16: Nog even over Vaderdag.
Warning: have a tissue at hand!
Subsequently I spent most of this last month in the Netherlands
As I wrote in my personal review of September, my 2-week long trip to the Netherlands started late last month. In that blog post I already discussed in detail my visit to the engaging contemporary art museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar and my visit to the hideous ‘museum’ Moco in Amsterdam.
If you need a reminder, here’s the link to that article: Reflections #13: If You Don’t Hear From Me Again After this Message, Call for Help.
I also announced I was going to the immersive art maze Doloris in the city of Tilburg, my old hometown. However, I hadn’t shared with you yet how that visit went! As I mentioned in that blog post I was quite nervous about it as the only things I knew about the maze was that you enter it individually, without a phone or even watch, and initially even blindfolded. I also knew it entails a lot of climbing and crawling and finding your way ’round claustrophobic spaces. I’m okay with small spaces, but this description did make me go *gulp*.
But you know what? It was amazing and so much fun! If you get the chance to visit, do make the effort! I plan on writing more about Doloris and Tilburg on my cultural travel blog Done That Been There soon for some more inspiration.
Besides spending quality time with friends and family, one of the reasons for my trip was to see metal band Machine Head play live in 013, an amazing music venue in Tilburg. Although I don’t listen to metal that much anymore, Machine Head’s album Burn My Eyes is still one of my favourites.
In celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary, the band is doing a special tour this year. During the show I realised I barely knew other songs besides from that classic album so I was thrilled when they played it in full, with the original line-up, during the second half of the concert. It’s funny to think that I was 17 when I first saw Machine Head live. Although I’m quite happy my teenage years are well in the past, I’m sure my 17-year old self would’ve been better at coping with the 3-hour long gig! (Which was on a Monday night by the way…)
But at the moment I’m in Braga, Portugal
I’ve been spending these last days in wonderful Braga in Portugal. I had never heard of this city before but I fell completely in love with it on day 1! It’s so quiet here, the people are super friendly and the city is blessed with the typical picturesque streets you’d imagine to find in Portugal. Again, a full report will follow on my travel blog but in the meantime you can see my Braga Stories in my Instagram Highlights: @dutchgirlinlondon.
Hubby and I are here courtesy of Semibreve, a 3-day electronic music festival where hubby will be performing tonight. So far everything’s been terrific. The organisation is amazing and we are looked after so well in every possible way. And all the other artists have been really cool to hang out with too so I’m definitely taking away many great memories from Braga with me!
Travel tip: Visit the Roman Baths in Bath
Imagine what it’s like to be able to walk around an old Roman bathhouse that lay buried underneath the city for hundreds of years. On my bilingual travel blog Done That Been There I wrote about my visit to the Roman Baths in Bath and shared tips to help you plan your own visit.
My travel story about Bath is available both in English and Dutch:
- 🇬🇧 The Roman Baths in Bath: a must-visit in Somerset, England
- 🇳🇱 De Romeinse baden in Bath: een must-visit in het Engelse Somerset
My October watchlist: film recommendations
October’s been a great cinema month. I saw three of the five films I had listed in my previous blog post, 5 Films to Look Forward to this Autumn. Absolute winner was Joker, as I expected (or at least hoped for).
Not in the list of aforementioned blog post, but a surprisingly touching film was Judy, starring Renée Zellweger in a brilliant role. Chronicling her concert series in London a few months before her death, the film gives a moving portrayal of Judy Garland’s dramatic life.
The Netflix mini series Unbelievable and When They See Us deserve a special mention here too. They’re both extremely grim and especially the latter one will leave you rather depressed and frustrated with the injustice in the world. (I sound like such a fun person, don’t I?!)
Here’s an overview of all the series and films I’ve seen this month. I’ve indicated my recommendations with a * in the list below.
In the cinema
Films (re)watched at home
In October I wrote the following blog posts
- What’s in a Name? Dutch Government Bans ‘Holland’ in Favour of ‘The Netherlands’: Tell me, do you use the name ‘Holland’ or ‘The Netherlands’ when you speak of my mother country? Despite its common usage, the Dutch government recently announced they want to ban ‘Holland’ and rebrand the country’s name internationally. Why are they so eager to initiate such a huge and expensive undertaking? Find out in this blog post!
Reflections #13: If You Don’t Hear From Me Again After this Message, Call for Help: In my personal review of September I wrote about my trip to the Netherland that included a visit to an immense art maze for adults and also one of the most exploitative museums I’ve ever been to.
The Dutch Girl Tales #18: Heb jij Nationale Broer en Zus Dag gevierd?: In the October edition of my monthly Dutch-language blog post I wrote a special post about my brother in celebration of the annual National Brother and Sister Day in the Netherlands.
My London art tips for this month
- Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life @ Tate Modern (until 5 January 2020)
- Shepard Fairey: Facing The Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent @ StolenSpace Gallery & The Beats By Dr Dre Residency (until 31 October 2019, FREE)
That’s it for my personal Reflections on the last month.
Tell me, what have you been up to in October?
Best, Zarina xx