Reflections #16: How I Got to Play a Role in a Wedding Proposal

Dutch Girl in London personal reflections on December 2019 review

Once a month I always look back on what I’ve been up to in the past weeks. Here I share what I have been up to in my personal life. What exhibitions did I visit? And what are my recommendations for films and series? You can find the answers to all these questions in my Reflections on December!

I usually write these monthly reviews on the last Sunday of the month, but to be honest I don’t think I’ll have that many new exciting things to share with you, except perhaps what Christmas snacks and meals I’ve eaten ha ha! Next week Sunday I’ll be reflecting on the whole of 2019 instead so do make sure to come back to find out where life has taken me in these last 12 months!

Making homework, quite literally

They say you’re never too old to learn. Well, at the moment I’m studying for my Life in the UK test whenever I can in my free time. (Which is quite limited unfortunately.) Although I have my Settled Status which should allow me to remain in the UK after Brexit, I would feel more secure after I’ve obtained British citizenship.

My study books for the Life in the UK test

This costly process (both timewise and money) involves many steps starting with an interview to test your ability to speak and understand English. (At least that will be a test I think I will pass with flying colours!) And you can’t start the application process after having passed the Life in the UK test. 24 multiple choice questions about British history and customs. I’m lucky I studied English and also give tours in London so my knowledge of British history is quite solid. However, some of the questions are rather mind-boggling. I did a few mock tests with British friends and I knew even more about their birth country than they did!

I was part of a wedding proposal!

London must be an extremely popular city trip destination for Dutch and Belgian tourists because I had so many requests for my Dutch-language London walking tours this month! These included my first ever Paddington Bear themed tours!

Statue of Paddington Bear in London

But the most special tour I’ve ever given, must be the one I gave yesterday. It was a private tour for a Dutch couple along some secret London sites. However, the biggest secret of all was that the man planned on proposing to his girlfriend at the end and made me part of that special event by bringing them to his dream location! He had found just the perfect spot for this from my blog post Self-guided Historical Walk along ‘Secret’ London Landmarks.

Historical London walk along London landmarks

It’s always nice to receive positive feedback on a blog post, but never would I have expected this kind of response! Even I had butterflies beforehand as I thought it was both romantic and so exciting. Obviously, I felt truly honoured to have been asked to be part of this very special moment.

In December I wrote the following blog posts on Dutch Girl in London

Screenshots of the Dutch Girl in London blog posts December 2019

  • The Dutch Girl Tales #19: Vandaag heb ik even geen zin: In this month’s Dutch-language blog post I wrote about how exhausting and stressful it is being a perfectionist and the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. But judging from the comments and messages I received afterwards, I’m definitely not unique in this.
  • Things to do in London with kids Christmas 2019: Looking for things to do in London with kids for Christmas 2019? In this blog post I’m sharing five fun Christmas family activities, from ice skating to gingerbread house making workshop and my favourite Christmas Market in London!

  • When the Magic of Christmas Is Gone: This is one of my most personal blog posts to date and I was unsure if I should publish it. But I’m so glad I did as many readers (sadly) recognised their own feelings towards Christmas in this. Having lost several family members to cancer, Christmas isn’t that obvious ‘merry’ time for me. In this blog post I’m talking about coping with grief at Christmas.

On the December watchlist: my film a recommendations and series

Our annual cinema passes expired and because of a lack of good cinema releases, we haven’t renewed them yet. However, with the arrival of the last instalment in the original Star Wars saga, I think it’s about time to return to the cinema again.

In these last months, we mostly watched series. It’s incredible to see how much the quality and series have changed since I was young. Back then there was a great distinction between TV and film actors and budgets, but nowadays there’s hardly a series anymore that doesn’t feature a great host of A-list Hollywood stars.

Wondering about those Paddington films in the list? That was my homework for my special Paddington Bear in London tours this weekend! (They were good fun though.)

Films (re)watched at home

  • Bikram (Netflix documentary)
  • Paddington
  • Paddington 2
  • Peacock
  • *Shaft (2019)
  • *Spider-Man: Far from Home
  • Stuber


  • *Fall, The SE01 (Amazon)
  • *Goliath SE02 + SE03 (Amazon)
  • *Modern Family SE02 (Amazon)
  • *Too Old to Die Young (Amazon)

Art tips in London and beyond

  • Andrei Tarkovsky @ Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam (closed 6 December 2019)
    Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam really is one of my favourite museum. I’ve seen various oeuvre exhibitions there now and was lucky to catch the retrospective on Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky just a few days before it closed.
  • Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness @ Tate Britain (until 5 January 2020, £13)
    This exhibition is actually one huge installation featuring a life-size replica of an bridge on the M53 in one of the upstairs rooms at Tate Britain. The room is dark and features TV screens that feature a collection of older and new video works by Leckey. In principle the video topics sound very fascinating, i.e. the investigation between popular culture and technology, but it just didn’t work for me.
  • Nam June Paik @ Tate Modern (until 9 February 2020, £13)
    This blockbuster show is a great tip for both young and old visitors. Nam June Paik is considered an important figure when it comes to creation art based on technology. He has created so many iconic works, including these robot Uncle and Aunt. Apparently similar figures used to be on display in a café in Paik’s hometown of New York. It was curious to see an interactive light installation by Paik which I also saw in the Olafur Eliasson exhibition at Tate Modern in October (and which is used as the main image for the exhibition by Tate)
    . I’m sure Paik came up with the idea way before Eliasson though.

    Nam June Paik exhibition at Tate ModernOne of Hubby’s best friend, Stephen Vitiello, worked for Paik and this current exhibition at Tate features works from Paik’s archive that Stephen discovered. Stephen has so many great stories on Paik and I’d love for him to write down all these amazing anecdotes and publish a book!Nam June Paik exhibition at Tate Modern
  • Curious Things: A Glimpse into the International Mail Art Archive of Michael Leigh and Hazel Jones @ Manchester Metropolitan University (until 3 September 2020, FREE)
    After you’ve seen this show you will want to run home and create your own mail art!Mail Art Exhibition Manchester University Library

    Mail Art Exhibition Manchester University Library
    What about sending some pink crusty underwear in the post?


  • Vital Fragments: Nigel Henderson and the Art of Collage @ Tate Britain (until 5 April 2020, FREE)
    And after seeing this small exhibition, you’ll be inspired to make collages too! It definitely inspired hubby and myself and we’re tempted to set up our crafts table this Christmas and make some collages. That is, if we can be bothered to move from the sofa, TV and snacks…

    Nigel Henderson collages and photography at Tate Britain
    Nigel Henderson’s collages also include his photography of striking street scenes.
    Objects Nigel Henderson would use in his collages
    Nigel Henderson would also use miniature objects he found to make collages.

    Nigel Henderson exhibition at Tate Britain

  • Steve McQueen: Year 3 @ Tate Britain (until 3 May 2020, FREE)
    This project by filmmaker Steve McQueen must be one of his most adorable works. Spread out across the huge corridor upstairs at Tate Britain you can see school photos of hundreds of London year 3 school kids. I bet these kids and their parents must be super proud!

That’s it for my personal Reflections on the last month.
Tell me, what have you been up to in December?
Wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas!
Best, Zarina xx

5 thoughts on “Reflections #16: How I Got to Play a Role in a Wedding Proposal

  1. Glad you enjoyed our Curious Things show in Manchester. A labour of love for us – taking two years to sort our archive in the coal shed! Still half of it still in there! The show in Manchester has been extnded to the end of August but even then we don’t know if we can collect it during this lockdown! All the best with your UK travels. Michael and Hazel

    1. I’m so pleased you found my blog post where I mention your wonderful show! Wow, two years, incredible! I hope you can collect your items soon then. Good luck with it and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  2. This ‘Life in the UK’ test sounds a lot like the ‘integratietest’ that is used here in The Netherlands when people apply for a ‘verblijfsvergunning’. A lot of Dutch people would not pass for this test either!
    And so nice, this wedding proposal! Really great he found the perfect place through your blog post!
    Again such a busy month! I have waited to react on this post after the month of December was finished, for I had a busy month as well.

    I made several visits to my father in Haarlem or he came to me. I said goodbye to my pulmonologist, he was my specialist for 19 years, so I had a hard time with this. We have been through so much together, and his knowledge about me and my lung history is not something I will find with another specialist.
    But, when leaving the hospital after his farewell reception, I met someone at the entrance of the hospital. I thought it was a very good friend that I hadn’t seen for almost 40 years, but it was her younger sister, a spitting image! After talking to her I heard she still talkes about me and wonders how I am. My mother actually told me, when I was 18, that she didn’t want any contact with me anymore. And I believed her, why should I not? It was imprinted in my brain in such force I even wondered whether I would call her name at that moment and talk to her, words of my mother in my mind.
    End of the day, we were on the phone together, crying and both so happy we found each other. Unfortunately she now lives in Brussels, and doesn’t travel anymore, so this is going to be a new adventure for me this year: a trip to Brussels somehow… 🙂

    I made a trip to Lisse with the Canta, never done that before. Here I visited a friend from Jim’s lung revalidation programme in 2012. Had not seen her in a long time and finally could keep my promise to visit her at home.
    I went to VUmc in Amsterdam, my friend Margreet had to go see a specialist there and had no transportation so I drove her there.

    X-mas was really great, the children and grandchildren visitied me the first day, the second I went to see my father and had dinner at my sister’s in Vijfhuizen. The Friday following X-mas I went to ‘De Grote Suriname Tentoonstelling’ in de Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam with my ‘chosen family’, Han en Rossend. Thorougly enjoyed that!
    New Year’s Eve I spent at home alone, not being able to go outside December 31th and January 1st due to the air pollution. It really makes me sick and even though everything in the house is closed of, I can still feel my breathing is influenced by the fine dust of the fireworks. It potentially can kill me.

    Second last day of the year I had to start antibiotics for a week, which was a bit frustrating after a year completely without it. But on the other hand, my GP complemented me on the sound of my lungs, that even with this minor airway infection, I never before sounded so good! That set it right for me!

    Not only good days though, it was a hard couple of weeks remembering the weeks before Jim’s death, the culmination will be Thursday next, January 9th, when Jim left this life.
    Overall, a good month…
    Liefs, xx

    1. You had quite a month yourself, wow so impressive! It’s awful what an effect fireworks can have on one’s health! Another reason for banning fireworks in NL.
      Sterkte as well for the next days. December isn’t a good period once you’ve loved ones as we know but for you the pain lingers on a few weeks longer. Remember that we’re thinking of you and send you our love.
      Hope the antibiotics worked and you stopped taking them by now. A minor setback but nothing compared to your health problems just a few years ago!
      All the best for a new fresh month, new year and new decade even! 🙂 xx

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