It was an exceptionally warm sunny day in SaInt John in New Brunswick in Canada In the little gallery up one of the hilly streets, Fred and Malcolm were sitting in their usual place on one of the shelves by the window.

‘Malcolm, get ready’ Fred said. ‘I’ve heard that there are three cruise ships in town today and that means lots of people about and you never know they might come in here and see us. And even better, buy us and take us home’.

Malcolm fluffed up his chest and sat up straight.

‘Really, how do you know?’ he asked.

‘Overheard them talking by the cash desk’ Fred replied.

During the morning several people walked past and looked into the windows and one or two came into the gallery, but it was shortly after lunch that two women walked in.

‘Oh, just look at those two sitting there all warm and cozy together’ one of them said.

‘So cute’ the other replied and began to read the labels attached to them both. It made her smile and she read out the words to her friend:

Hello, my name is Fred, and I am a wet felted fox looking for my forever home. I like peaches, stew, and baseball. I have been handcrafted using wool, soap, and water. If I absolutely need a bath, hand wash me then in cool water and let me air dry, but only if necessary!’

The woman smiled even more and went on to read Malcolm’s label:

Hello, my name is Malcolm, I am a wet felted fox looking for my forever home. I like cuddling, a book, and a cup of milk tea. I have been handcrafted using wool, soap, and water. If I absolutely need a bath, hand wash me then in cool water and let me air dry, but only if necessary!’

Both women stood there smiling and remarking on how lovely their stories were, and after a while, one of them put them back on the shelves. Fred and Malcolm felt their hearts sink, they were sure that she was going to buy them.

They left the shop and walked on up the street to the market. Now quite by chance the lady who had made Fred and Malcolm was working there on another wet felted cat and a conversation began. The lady told her that she had seen the two foxes in the gallery, and they were just such fun. The lady said she could not make any animals fast enough and a pile of four were waiting for her to finish and were already sold! Handing her business card, she wished them both a pleasant day and got on with her work.

The two women glanced at one another, and one said: ‘We have to go back to the gallery’.

When the gallery door opened again, Fred and Malcolm noticed they were back. ‘Perhaps it a good sign’ Fred whispered.

And yes, they were both taken off the shelf and saying their goodbyes to the raccoon, Thor, who then was placed where they had been, Malcolm and Fred both knew at long last they had been bought and were on their way to their new home! How exciting and where would it be?

They spent a couple of days somewhere, wrapped up carefully in tissue paper and then they were packed into a dark suitcase. Fred and Malcolm were both afraid, as neither of them could see what was going on. The suitcase was placed into a car and taken off to an airport, they both knew that because they heard the planes.

Through the scanners and then into the cold chilly wind on a truck and taken off to a plane. 

‘Where on earth are we?’ Fred asked.

‘No idea’ Malcolm replied ‘but we are off on a journey somewhere for sure’.

The case was thrown into a plane and a long cold journey above the clouds and Fred and Malcolm felt very apprehensive all the time. It was they both thought, maybe more fun sitting there in the gallery instead of this dark, chilly place and being thrown this way and that. They both decided the best thing to do was to try and sleep and not worry too much. The woman seemed genuinely very nice and friendly, and she had bought both of them and that was of course, wonderful as they would never have wanted to have been split up and sold separately.

A while later the suitcase was opened, and Fred and Malcolm were taken out of their tissue paper wrappings and suddenly found themselves in a new place. A cozy cute cottage with beams on the ceiling and were placed side by side on a mantelpiece above what looked like a log fire.

‘Welcome home’ the woman said, ‘I hope you both will be happy here’.

Two haughty cats looked down from the mirror above and turned up their noses.

Day by day, Fred and Malcolm both decided that they really liked their new abode. There was a friendly big dog, called Mats who looked and said hello every day. There was a real cat too, called Nola who glanced up at the two wooden cats and told them to be nicer and behave, which they both did in the end.

The best bit was in the evenings when the fire was lit, and they would all sit there warming their toes!

A few days later a little girl came. Her name was Reign, and she was three.

‘Would you like to meet Fred and Malcolm? Nana asked her.

‘Yes, please’ she said, and Nana took them off the mantelpiece and handed both of them to her.  She gave them both the biggest hug ever and Fred and Malcolm felt their hearts fill with joy.

They heard later that they had travelled over 6000 miles to another continent and soon became a real talking point, as everyone who came to the cottage looked, and admired them both. The woman (called Jill by the way) was proud of her two Canadian felted foxes and best of all, the little girl came very often and hugged them both every time.

‘I love them both’ she said smiling and Nana told her that one day she could take them to live with her too.

Fred and Malcolm were the happiest felted foxes ever, as they had found their fur-ever home!


Even though I know there will be absolutely nothing more on the news for the next few days, I just wanted to write this short piece as a tribute to the Queen who has been in reign all the years that I have been alive. That’s a strange thought isn’t it, we have not known anyone else, and the Queen has always been there, carrying out her duties and tasks with dignity, calmness, sovereignty, humility and certainly took her lifelong job seriously.

My own personal story is about the time that my mother met the Queen. My father was working at the time at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, a sort of retirement home for ex-military veterans, where they can spend the rest of their days with dignity in a serene place. Those of you who know the area, will of course know that the hospital neighbors the place where the Royal Chelsea Flower Show takes place annually.

Every year there was a celebratory day held there, to mark the passing of the monarch Charles II who was the patron of the hospital. People would be given ‘oak leaves’ to wear symbolizing the moment that the King fled and hid from Cromwell and his men.

My father and mother were invited to meet the Queen. Being a typical English summer day when no one knows what the weather will do, my mother chose a dress and an apple green summer coat. Of course, she had the matching hat, that was the way things were done in those circles. 

The Queen arrived just before the ceremony took place and it was only when my mother stood waiting to shake her hand, she realized to her horror that she was wearing the same colors as the Queen herself! 

As she approached, the Queen raised her eyebrows at my mother, and then when they finally were introduced and shook hands, she said to my mother: ‘we both certainly have good taste in fashion’. It literally made my mother’s day as you can imagine, and she told this story many times until she passed away in 1997. The same year Diana died, which is now 25 years further on. 

When the news broke yesterday the initial reaction, I think many people thought that after Prince Philip had passed it would not be long before she did. I think one of the saddest things I have ever seen was the Queen at St. George’s Chapel at his funeral sitting on her own, looking lost and forlorn and that was because of Corona rules at the time. Surely someone could have shown a little compassion and sat with her in her grief.

And now we have a King. King Charles III in fact and Camilla will officially be known as the Queen Consort, which is basically a fancy title for the wife or spouse of the King. I think a lot of discussion with come to the surface again that many people will perhaps never accept her in this role because of how history went between her and Diana. Diana, Princess of Wales was of course, one of the most beloved royals in our history and was the peoples’ princess.

Last evening after switching off the television as I could not listen to another word of what was being said, I realized that since I have lived here in The Netherlands, I am into my third monarch. First of all, Juliana was Queen, then she passed the role onto Beatrix and now Willem Alexander is our present King. Maybe there is a lot to be said for taking a sort of retirement from the role. Maybe not.

It seems strange to me that someone at the age of 73 will be ‘getting a job’ for the first time ever and become our King. Well, the King of the United Kingdom. I am somewhere in the middle of both countries, being a Dutch national too (yes, I have been here that long!)

It was a shock, for sure, that QE II had passed, but at 96 who could expect her to go on for evermore.

She will be remembered by millions as a very special lady who dedicated her life to the service of the country and its people. 15 Prime Ministers, including the great Winston Churchill, right up to Tuesday this week, when she gave Liz Truss the go ahead to form a new Government.

Rest in Peace Lillibet!


Over the weekend someone passed on some information that I thought was so shocking I have to share: This concerns a situation in England (my birth country) and although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these figures, there must be some truth in it, otherwise the names mentioned would be suing for liable.

I will just repeat before I carry on: –

Latest figures published by the Bank of England, there is something very very wrong with the system.

British Gas made a profit of 1.3 billion GBP between January and June this year.

British Petroleum announced profits of 6.95 billion GBP between April and June alone

Shell has profited by 9.4 billion in a year

And not to mention those people at the top:

John Pettigrew, boss of the National Grid received a 6.5 m GBP bonus on top of his salary

Chris O’Shea, Chief Executive of British Gas was paid almost 2 million GBP last year in salary and benefits.

Centrica’s non-executive directors were paid almost 1 million GBP 

Scottish Power’s CEO Keith Anderson is on an annual salary of 1.15 million GBP

E-on Boss, Michael Lewis is on 1 million GBP

And the top executives enjoyed a share of 4.65 million GBP

Peter Simpson of Anglia Water earned a 1.3 million GBP pay package

Welsh Water bosses awarded themselves bonuses of over 930.000 GBP

Severn Trent bosses awarded themselves bonuses of 5.56 million GBP

Thames Water’s Sarah Bentley received a 727.000 GBP bonus on top of her annual 2 million salary


There are people who have not had breakfast and lunch today because they cannot afford it

People are using Foodbanks because food is becoming more of a luxury than a necessity.

Children are celebrating birthdays without presents.

Parents are worrying about purchasing new school uniforms and some school enforcing rules which are not cost effective.

People cannot get to work because they cannot afford to put petrol into their cars, or pay for public transport

People are having to work so much they are making themselves ill, and they still cannot afford to pay their bills

People are getting fined by these water/energy companies because they have not been able to afford or pay their bills in the first place – thus increasing the debt.

Customers are being told to do ‘star jumps’ to keep warm (for crying out aloud)!

Hose pipe bans when gallons of water leak away every day.

Elderly people not drinking because they are worried about running out of water.

And above this energy prices are expected to rise by 75% in October.


Question is: why is customer’s money being used to make life more comfortable for those who are making life more intolerable for the rest of us?

Maybe you have had to read this twice to take in the enormity of not only the salaries and bonuses of some totally greedy people but also the complete and utter madness as the article said itself. Again, these are not my words, merely copied to make a point and the point is, how much longer are people going to put up with this? Big question? Do I have an answer, unfortunately not.

Even though this applies to ex-EEC country The United Kingdom, it is the same here in Europe too.

Here energy prices and petrol prices are rising to levels which have never been heard of. Peoples’ monthly energy bills have doubled. I will use mine as an example. I used to pay about Euro 240 a month for my bill. This is gas and electricity and all the sneaky extra costs. The monthly cost is estimated by the usage in the previous year. Despite the fact that our government (and probably the first best thing they have done in yonks) lowered the VAT on bills. But my new estimation is nearly Euro 400 a month now. Despite the fact that I have solar panels which are generating more electricity back into the net than I am using personally, being on my own.

Health care costs have risen to exorbitant highs. And it’s obligatory. Even though we all agree health care has improved incredibly over the past decade and that our doctors and nurses work flat out to provide said care, the monthly costs are high. A basis package, then extra care for dental work, our own budget meaning we pay the first Euro 385 of any costs, and a very sneaky extra amount of Euro 250 for medication and other costs, even if you have them for a chronic disorder. Not many people know about this, until you check back on your annual summary and find out that the majority of medication you have collected from your pharmacist is not covered and you have to pay the Euro 250 first. What the hell is going on?

Despite extra coverage for dental care which is on average between Euro 30-50 per month per person, any dental charges are sky high. A visit to the dentist involves you since the Corona pandemic in extra cleaning costs, and inevitably they will suggest that you need to go the dental hygienist who charges by the minute! Yes seriously. Dental care is becoming so expensive that people are not going to the dentist.   I have had a broken back molar for some time which is not giving me any trouble but to be honest I have put off having it extracted because of course they also think another tooth should come out too and this will mean having implants.’ Have you any idea what this may cost”?  I asked last time around. “Oh at least Euro 2000’ of which I will only be covered by my insurance for about Euro 450.

And so, the story continues. The price of fuel has risen to figures we have never seen before. The majority of the cost is taxes on fuel. There is actually enough fuel stored here underground in an industrial area to keep us going for ages. The biggest industrial plant ever has been built to process the manure produced by farm animals into biogas. So, what is going wrong? Why are we continually being subjected to this nonsense and why aren’t politicians speeding up the processes to get things moving and that we as a country (and I am talking about the Netherlands here) become more self-sufficient. We have enough gas in the ground here to supply our entire country but what do we do with it? According to EEC legislation and rules we sell it to Germany and Belgium (our neighboring countries). 

On a daily basis hundreds of people seeking asylum in this country are arriving and in a country which is overfull to start with. Are these genuine people seeking refuge from war zones. I have my doubts as they are usually men, all have the latest iPhone and trendy clothes and sneakers, and everything is free here. They have left their women and children behind. They get priority on the housing lists for rented accommodation and a monthly allowance. Health care is free and if they get a house, it is fully furnished and equipped for them. Often, they refuse as they find it ‘not good enough’. If your blood is not already reaching boiling point by this stage of reading … And to cope with these numbers, they are now being placed in hotels??? Or on small cruise ships??? I mean come on !!!

Dutch people are still on housing waiting lists and have been now for years. The entire housing market has blown up to such highs it is ridiculous. A property coming on the market immediately has umpteen viewers a day and the highest offer wins, meaning that people are being guzumpted all the time and first-time buyers are standing at the waiting gate again and again. People take on mortgages for said properties which is way above their heads, meaning that if the housing market (which is inevitable I think) slumps and hits an all-time low, that they are literally ‘under water’ as we say, or in other words, their mortgage is more than that value of their house.

Another sad story to hit the headlines this weekend concerned health care research. A group of doctors are under investigation by a special governmental department (FIOD A very strict tax department by the way!) for accepting bribes for money for health research. What? And one happened to be the major shareholder in the company concerned. Now handouts, or acceptance of bribes is nothing new, it goes on all the time, the finest example of course known to many is the acceptance of money by a Dutch Prince Bernhard in the Lockheed affair, back in the 60-70’s. A national scandal and still it continues. Mafia like practices are the norm apparently. The unfair thing about this story is that other research centers are being targeted for being suspected of the same thing. Even though there are some honest and honorable people who are actually doing it properly. But information like that is not interesting enough for the ‘news’.

After the Corona pandemic, when doctors and nurses had to work flat out to cope, there is so much control by the Managers in their ivory towers, behind desks, demanded targets and goals, that 8% of our nursing staff is on sick leave. Doctors who are learning their profession are having burns outs and dropping out. We have gone beyond the times when a hospital had a doctor in charge. A person who knew and understood the medical profession. They have been replaced by mediocre managers who are greedy and only want to reach their targets and have little or no concern for the patients at all. Have virtually no idea whatsoever what actually goes on ‘downstairs’ on the work floor. What health care is being given and how hard work it is.

And I wonder what bonuses these managers get for reaching said targets over and above their already enormous salaries.

Yes, of course there will always be people who earn more than others, it’s always been that way, but I ask myself what on earth do you need a salary for in the millions anyway? To lead the high life, to have more and more, inevitably leading to the fact that it is never enough. Bonusses which are higher than the most peoples’ annual wage. And probably they are avoiding all possible ways to reduce their tax liability too.

So, when you think what is going on in our world and how do we ever come back to a point when things are fair, and that we all have the attitude that we also take care of one another. Does a boss of some energy company wonder at any time, maybe I should donate my bonus for the greater good of others. Or even better ensure that the costs are kept at a level that people are able to pay their bills. The thing is they are not interested in the slightest. It is a case of ‘I’m alright Jack and bugger the rest’.

How do these people sleep at night? Has their concept become so ridiculous that maybe they think this is the norm. That they are literally in the rat race worrying about having more and more materialistic things. Private schooling for the kids, a private nanny (because let’s face it in their position they don’t have the time to do mundane things like that).

I ask myself often, where is all of this going and where does it end? And even more important how do we, the people put a stop to it? Can we? How much longer are we going to accept that our lives are controlled by people who are in power (and usually the worst) who have not got the slightest care whatsoever for their fellow man. How appliable is the saying then: ‘what goes around comes around’? Are the people in the highest positions those who will have the biggest fall in the end?

Where has the compassion gone? Why aren’t the elderly being helped more, they did the work in the past to make the country great and are now treated as second rate citizens. That they are now afraid that things like one of life’s basic necessities will run out – water.  It is really quite disgusting that this is actually happening and how do we make our world a better place for everyone? 

When are we ever going to wake up?


This morning I read that we can expect the biggest astrological transmit of 2022 when a rare triple conjunction occurs between Mars (strength), Uranus (magic) and the North Node in Taurus (grounding).

It goes on to say that something we have been putting up with for a long time, something we have been tolerating for a long time, something we have been ignoring, neglecting and avoiding for a long time can explode now and said explosion will remove impurities, additions, attachments and everything that pulls us down. (Wow what a prospect and one that has been a long time coming). Everything that keeps us stuck and limited, everything that has kept our wings closed….

This blog has been going around in my mind for a while now and it concerns something almost related in some way to the predictions above. Before I write another word, I would first of all, like to say, that some of the people I am about to talk about are very nice, friendly and make a genuine effort and it is sad to see that the majority don’t and thereby create a situation that everyone tends to talk about them in one group. ‘Tarnished with the same brush’ as we say.

I have a small country cottage on one of the islands off the southwest coast of the country. An island which is proud of its nature, the peace and quiet and the scenery. It is also the hub for many farmers, growing sugar beets, onions, corn and potatoes and also a lot of grazing cattle, including some rare ponies and sea-lions and the occasional porpoises in the sea lakes. Paradise you would think, and it is really, and I consider myself to be very privileged to be here in such a lovely place. But and there is one big but …


Again, I re-iterate this does not apply to them all, on the contrary but it is the majority that literally spoil everything for everyone and give people a bad name when actually they don’t deserve it. These are the minority who come here with the idea that yes, they will attempt to fit in, attempt to speak the language and respect the people and animals who live here.

But the rest, particularly the youth of Germany are a serious problem. Not only are they suffering with complete deafness, but the tone of their voices is at such a high decibel pitch. They cannot talk normally. Talking on the phone, which they don’t really need, as they can be heard perfectly in Germany minus a phone, but the belligerent attitude they bring with them.  Unfortunately, a lot of small holiday homes have been bought up by the Germans, as they one thing they crave for is a sea coastline. They have one too, at the north of the country, but it is nothing compared to the North Sea coastline here and the islands as well. The end result is that small hamlets and villages are turning into ghost towns as the actual owners are probably here maximum per year 6-8 weeks a year. Thank goodness I might add! Close to my own cottage, the majority of the neighbors are elderly Germans, but one man has bought three houses here and his only interest is making money and renting his houses out to all and sundry. He is rarely here apart from having to come and clean at the ‘turn around’ moments, but never is present to hear the awful racket they make. The German youth around the ages of 20-30-ish have one goal here and that is to get as drunk as possible, take the necessary pills and stuff to ensure they have a good time, which basically means they are out of their skull 24/7 and play music louder than festival level. Is it because they go to so many festivals at home that they think it is the norm to play music so loud that you are left with no alternative than to close the shutters and windows and stay indoors on a lovely summer evening, if you don’t want to hear them? This week there have been a group of them in the house behind mine and I think it was a ‘black day’ in history when the previous owners sold up to him. This is the worst epitemy of a German you can image. Arrogant, pigheaded, disrespectful, makes no effort whatsoever to mingle in, never replies to e-mails when complaints are made about the noise his holiday guests make and generally the worst of all types and the ones we would like to forget and wish they would never come back. Including him.

It is sad, so many years later that this same ‘Caesar’ type mentality still exists. You know, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ The liberation of this country from the Germans was more than 77 years ago and yes of course, we respectfully remember the brave who fought in this awful war, but is the same arrogance literally embedded in their ancestral DNA? That same idea that when arriving here, it all belongs to them. I despair when I see local shopkeepers speaking German to them. Why they hell should they? They definitely would not do that if you were in Germany, speak to you in your own language. So why are we doing that here? And not to mention that any form of misbehavior would not be tolerated in their country so why here?

Of course, it is good for the local economy but how far do you go? I would add that I learnt to speak and write Dutch fluently when I came here.

I have a very good example of something someone told me recently and that is: There is a lovely beach here and in the summer months quite crowded with the tourists. They all go there in the morning and stay until late afternoon. Despite the fact, that during the summer season, dogs are forbidden on the beach and they often arrive with ones the size of ponies, there is a certain lackadaisical tolerance on this subject. A person from the village took her Jack Russell to cool his paws on an extremely hot day in the water and was told in no uncertain terms: ‘We don’t want dogs on our beach!’ Our beach? Her reply was: we don’t want Germans on our beach!’ which I thought was pretty fair comment. She told me that she is glad when the season ends, and they all go home and that the people have their village back and their nature too. I agree even though Spring and Summer are my favorite times of the year. But why do we have to put up with these people coming here and literally overruling the place? Good question and believe me, everyone is totally fed up with it. Where are all the norms and values? Where is the basic upbringing which we think they must have had, (or not) that they react this way? I don’t have the answers. I am sorry.

In one of the popular coastal villages Renesse, we even have to have the German Police here to patrol and keep the rowdy, despicable youth under control. I despair.

This week I have been subject to deafening awful music every evening, them attempting to sing along (which sounds worse than cats wailing) and which is not easy when you are totally plastered and stoned, loud talking in the garden, going on into the middle of the night and total disrespect for anyone else here and all because some dreadful man is earning money renting out these houses for an astronomical amount per night.  I look forward to the day when he sells up and buggers-off back to Germany again. I think some of the worst people who come here are his own children, who throw all caution to the wind and give their birthday bashes here, meaning that other residents are subject to a whole weekend of this shit. And it doesn’t matter whatever you say, how many times you call the police to come and control the noise, they still carry on. I would be so totally ashamed if my own children behaved this way. Our so-called Resident’s Association does f*** all to stop it and is it that we just have to accept and put up with it. I don’t think so! Enough is enough, isn’t it?

The Dutch law actually says that you cannot make a noise and disturb others after 10 pm which makes their presence a complete and utter joke and why do they keep getting away with it? One of my neighbors has now written two strong e-mails in his own language and has not even had the courtesy of a reply and I told her she won’t get one because this man and his guests are the worst ever. He is basically brain dead and arrogant too. Maybe he can’t even read? Sometimes families rent the houses and these weeks are fine but when the German youth arrive, forget it.

What is the matter with these people. Are they deranged? Are their brains so damaged by noise, drugs, drink and rock and roll, that they cannot think anymore?

Again, I don’t have the answers only this, we don’t miss then one iota when they leave and look forward to their time here being over and hope that they go somewhere else next year.

I will just add that my own nationality is British, and we all know the stories about the Brits abroad and what chaos they can cause, but some people have actually been brought up to respect others and to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.

Shall we just allow the astrology to take its course? Probably the best way!


You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the products by Salimbeni in Italy. Fragrances for you and for your home. I talked extensively about them and what a great discovery it had been that they are available in my country. Since then, I am huge fan and have tried other products which I would like to tell you about:

Respiro di Mare (car perfume).

As you know the words ‘respiro di mare’ mean a ‘breath of the sea’ and it describes this perfectly. I have had the reed diffuser in my bathroom for quite some time now and the bottle is only just half empty. To me this is a sure sign, that these products are extremely good, and the oils used are of the highest quality. Furthermore, the perfume blender is just a genius!

Every time I get into my car, the nostalgia washes over me from days spent in the past at the beach. The freshness of the wind coming off the mighty sea. The sweet and saltness of the air. Quite simply, it reminds me of summer days at the beach, which after all is the best place for everyone and also for our soul. A day spent at the beach replenishes you.

Ancient Woods (soy wax candle)

If you are lucky like me to have a log fire, you will totally understand what I am about to say about this candle and the perfume it eludes when lit. It is the first scent of ignited logs, especially from fruit trees that almost reminds you of incense. The candle fills the room with warm autumn perfume, which is not overpowering, quite the opposite in fact. It reminded me of the wood fires we had a home, when my grandfather cut wood from the orchards and that first smell as summer turns into autumn. The scent of turning leaves, dewy mornings and that nature is preparing herself for the autumnal days and nights. Shedding her foliage, ready for the winter when nature will rejuvenate. Highly recommended and of course I am saving mine for a later date when the evenings draw in, I begin to light fires and then can enjoy the fragrance of this candle.

Elisir di Bergamotto (Eau de Parfum).

This has to be one of the best perfumes ever and literally everywhere I go, when wearing it, people ask me what fragrance it is. When you first spray, the freshness is your initial impression but then it tones to a sweet summery perfume, which I love and use every single day. When parcels arrive and there is a sample, I have passed this on to family and all of them are now using it as their signature perfume. Me included.

Reed Diffuser – Fico dell Elba

To truly appreciate this, you have to have been to the island of Elba, just off the Italian coastline between Pisa and Grossetto. There is just something very special about this place, the history of course, hangs in the air. But the smell of picking ripe figs, firstly the slight bitterness of their skins, which when cut reveal the sweet fruits. You can only reach the island by boat from Piombino to the harbor village Portoferraio. The steep streets with stairs takes you higher and higher with break taking views of the bay, the harbor and the greenness of the island, which sort of reminds me of the skin of the fig fruit.

Elba of course, famous for the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte and a lot of his artefacts can still be found here. One of the places which is a must, is Capoliveri, where you can buy traditional products in picturesque shops, and this brings me back to my first impression of this diffuser. That warm, sweet, deep aroma of fruits which have ripened under the Italian sun. Highly recommended.

Salimbeni are definitely making an impression on the market and a lot of people have told me how much they, like me, just love these products. At the moment there are incredible summer offers and it is a great chance to acquaint yourself with their product range.

If you haven’t tried them yet, then do. You will be so pleasantly surprised and grow to love their products like many people have in the meantime. This is the link to the website.



Eerst, wil ik iedereen bedanken die op mijn verhaal heeft gereageerd, op mijn website, Facebook en Instagram. Ik denk in totaal over een paar dagen ruim 25.000 reacties (vooral op mijn website, met allemaal hetzelfde verbazing over dit verhaal).

Nou het vervolg.

De volgende ochtend heb ik een brief geschreven naar Marit van Egmond, zij is Algemene Directeur van Ahold Delhaize in Zaandam en met email verstuurd naar haar assistente.

Onmiddellijk reactie van haar assistente dat ze zeer zeker de brief zal meegeven.

Dan ineens weer bericht van klantenservice, dat het allemaal wat langer zou duren want ik ben ‘een case; geworden en trouwens, het email begon met 

Beste Jill,

Bedankt voor je reactie over de koopzegels. Excuses voor het wachten maar er gaat gewoon veel tijd in zitten. De case staat in behandeling, er wordt dus aangewerkt.

Veel sterkte met het verlies van uw partner

Klantenservice 14 juli 2022

Ok ik ben nu een case! Heeft mevr. Van Egmond actie genomen. Geen idee.

Tot mijn verbazing! En dan dit …

Beste Jill

Onlangs heb je contact met ons opgenomen over het overschrijven van de koopzegels van jouw overleden partner. Onze excuses dat het wat langer heeft geduurd.

De koopzegels zijn nu bij jou bijgeschreven. Als het goed is, zijn ze nu in je app zichtbaar.

Klantenservice 16 juli 2022

En jahoor, ongelofelijk maar waar! Inderdaad ze zijn bij mij in de app bijgeschreven.

Ik vond de reacties van mijn beide kinderen zo leuk en het zegt alles: –

Min dochter: Nee joh, echt? WTF

Mijn zoon: Perfect, aanhouder wint.

En zo is het ook.

Al dat gedoe en heel veel irritaties en zo, maar het was zo simpel als dat!

Een vriendin zei tegen mij, ik ben benieuwd hoeveel verloren zegels in aanloop zijn in Nederland?  Vergeten boekjes, vergeten bonuskaarten, en misschien hetzelfde situatie waar ik zat en wie is dan de winnaar? Albert Heijn natuurlijk. En over hoeveel geld zou het gaan?

Moreel van dit verhaal is: check of je ergens boekjes hebt? Zorg dat je de passwoorden toch weten van elkaar of schrijf het ergens op.

Nou bedankt Klantenservice Albert Heijn, zo moeilijk was het ook nog niet en het is belangrijk om bij je standpunt te blijven en te weigeren documenten op te sturen (privé bedoel ik hiermee).


Normaal schrijf ik mijn blogs nooit in het Nederlands, maar omdat dit gaat over iets in Nederland, dan een poging om jullie iets te vertellen.

Nou, als klanten van Albert Heijn, ja de supermarkt keten, hebben wij allemaal denk ik, een Bonus Kaart en wij sparen zegels. Of voor diverse acties, of de wel bekende ‘koopzegels’.

Toen mijn man nog leefde, ging hij regelmatig boodschappen doen bij AH en hij spaarde koopzegels. Eerlijk gezegd na zijn overlijden in november 2021 heb ik geen seconde aan deze zegels gedacht, tot dat ik zijn pasje vond. Ik moest toevallig naar de winkel in Sommelsdijk en daar stond ik dan aan de service balie. In eerste instantie zei de medewerkster dan ze niet kon kijken in zijn AH app. Ik ook niet, want zijn telefoon is inmiddels afgesloten en hij had codes op zijn IPad veranderd wat ik of de rest van de familie niet wisten. Zijn Gmail heb ik na maanden discussie met Google eindelijk ook kunnen afsluiten, maar helaas nooit aan de AH-app gedacht. Zijn kaart werd door een andere medewerker aan de balie uit haar handen gehaald en ze zei: ‘dat kunnen wij wel!’.

Maar hij had volle boeken op zijn bonuskaart en wat zegels. ‘Kan je ze uitbetalen?’ vroeg ik. ‘Nee’, helaas moet je met klantenservice bellen want die kunnen in het systeem meer dan wij’.

Nou bellen met de klantenservice is een heel belevenis, en vraagt heel veel geduld, soms meer dan 20 minuten met e.e.a. irritant ventje die zegt dat ‘je veel zaken online kan regelen, als het wachten je te lang duurde’ elke paar seconden. 

Eindelijk iemand aan de lijn, ik vertel mijn verhaal en ze kon zien dat je inderdaad er waren volle boeken en zegels. ‘Is het een idee misschien om de zegels over te zetten naar mijn app en bonus kaart?’ Simpel vraag zou je denken en slechts een klik in de computer maar nee!

Ik moest een jpg (lees foto) van de Akte van Overlijden om te bewijzen dat hij was overleden. Nou gelukkig krijg je echter zo’n document van de Gemeente maar is het niet een beetje veel gevraagd dat je dit soort documenten ook naar de klantenservice van AH moest sturen over een paar onnozele zegels? Ja dat moet.

Er gingen wat dagen, weken voorbij en ik kreeg een email dat het helaas iets langer zou duren voordat ik een antwoord zou krijgen en excuses daarvoor.

Vanmorgen kreeg ik een email van e.e.a. Sandra van de Klantenservice dat helaas de door mijn opgestuurde document onvoldoende was en dat ik een officieel document moest sturen waarin ik word genoemd als erfgenaam (lees weduwe). What the fuck?

Op de Akte van Overlijden staat mijn naam ook op, het adres, de datum en het is overduidelijk dat ik de partner/echtgenote was en zoals de wet zich voorschrijft ben ik de langslevende van ons en daarbij erfgename.  Klinkt allemaal logisch denk je niet, maar niet voor de klantenservice van AH en ja, trouwens wilde ik een enquête invullen over mijn tevredenheid hoe mijn vraag was beantwoord. Jahoor dat wil ik doen, hun letterlijk vertellen met een heleboel meldingen van ‘ontevreden’ en ‘waardeloze service’, en is uw vraag met tevredenheid beantwoord? Nee! Teruggestuurd.

Ik was geïrriteerd hierover en belde weer met Klantenservice. Weer 20 minuten wachten, hetzelfde vervelend ventje tussendoor en heb uitgelegd precies zoals ik had gedaan in mijn antwoord op de email, dat een document ‘Recht van Erfgenaam’ is een document die je kan maken bij een notaris (kosten rond Euro 1000). Ik heb deze document nooit laten opmaken want ik had het niet nodig bij alle officiële instanties: bv, De Belastingdienst, SVB, Pensioen e.d. maar voor de stomme zegels wel. Nooit never niet! Ik was op het punt om te zeggen tegen die Sandra waar ze de zegels konden plaatsen maar ….

Trouwens de andere medewerkster van de Klantenservice vond het net zo belachelijk als ik en ze zou met haar collega praten. Ik citeer haar antwoord, wel die van die Sandra, dan als gevolg:

‘Beste J,

Ik snap echt uw frustratie, en dat die documenten heel veel geld kosten. Misschien had uw man een testament laten opmaken? Helaas hoe graag ik ook zou willen kunnen wij hier niks mee doen. Wij kunnen en mogen niet gegevens/zegels overzetten zonder de gevraagde documenten. Dit is zo geregeld als beveiliging in het systeem waar wij verder niets aan kunnen veranderen of versoepelen.

Om mijn service te verbeteren hoor ik graag hoe je het contact met mij hebt ervaren. Het beantwoorden van de vraag duurt ongeveer 1 minuut. Alvast bedankt!

MVG Sandra

Ok Sandra je denkt dat ik serieus overweegt om zijn testament naar jullie te sturen. Dat is privé en zou een schending op zijn en mijn privé situatie punt 1.

 Jouw service? In een woord K** en tijd voor je enquête, ik dacht het niet.

Welke service? Een stel belachelijk regels die nergens op slaan. 

Zoals ik in de winkel heb gedaan, kan ik zijn bonuskaart laten zien, ik kan mijzelf legitimeren en je weet dat hij heeft wel voor deze zegels betaald. Niet een mega bedrag maar toch. Zijn geld voor jullie domme zegels, met andere woorden, weggegooid omdat AH zulke stomme bureaucratie hanteert.

Dit is zo ongelofelijk en ik hoop dat de mensen die mijn blogs lezen (alle 2 miljoen) dit lezen en denken, net zoals ik, welke service van Albert Heijn. Antwoord: geen.

En ik zal jullie taggen op de socials ook. Stelletje onbenullen!


Well after weeks of waiting, finally the day had come to install my solar panels. Perfect timing, I thought, a day after the Summer Solstice and long summer days and evenings. It’s been weeks, if not months planning this exercise. Solar panels are trending here at the moment and literally everyone wants them. With the exorbitant rises in the prices of electricity and gas, thanks to totally stupid wars (in this day and age?) and supplies from Russia which have been affected by sanctions. The strange thing is that here in The Netherlands we have enough gas for our national demand, but we sell the largest part to Germany. What? How ridiculous is this? Yet another example of typical useless EEC ruling.

Anyway enough, back to my panels. When I first noticed the opportunity here, I filled in the form. A long telephone conversation following, and it surprised me that they seemed to know about my house. Angle of the roof perfect. 4 older solar panels (which would be removed and later placed on my shed) and yes, they could install 8 panels. Several administrative things later, someone came to inspect my roof, and everything was fine and ready to go. Installation date: 22nd June 2022.

The day before I tidied up everywhere as the cables will have to pass through the room to get to the meter cupboard and a new group of fuses (a group box) will be installed, as it is a definite requirement that the entire electrical system can be switched off instantly the so-called main fuse.

They arrived on time, and it was a perfect summer’s day with no weather implications, no snow, no ice, no winds and not too hot. They were nice and got going straightaway. First job, remove the older solar panels, all four of them before the new ones could be put up. Three were removed and then I suddenly heard a yell and the installer coming down his ladder very fast. He was agitated and looked shocked. ‘Sorry’. He said, ‘have to stop all work as there are three wasp nests under the final panel’, which was now lying loose on the roof. 

I got him to sit down as he did look a bit shaken and let’s be honest who wouldn’t be if you have disturbed a wasp’s nest and they are buzzing everywhere. Many phone calls later the company who were installing, said, the first priority is to arrange for an imker to come and secondly the loose panel must be off the roof as soon as possible as rain was forecast and winds the next day.

Easier said than done, as this is ‘full-on wasp season’ now and the imkers are very busy and the earliest one could come was on the following Thursday (i.e., a week away). Crickey what now?

The men cleared up their things quickly and left. I was in total agreement with them about stopping for the blasted wasps because if you get multiple stings and don’t know if you might react allergically, then the only thing you can do is dial for the emergency services as you need an epi-pen really fast. This could even involve the arrival of the trauma helicopter as this is a remote area and no one wants to be subjected to that, if possible.

My phone went non-stop for the next couple of hours as everyone was trying to locate an imker who could come immediately. ‘Oh’ I said, does this mean they can come back and finish off the work?’ Er no, the new appointment for installation is now 15th July, three weeks away and to be honest I am pretty pissed off about the whole thing now. Not that it was anyone’s fault but just the frustration of yet another wait.

There would be a slight chance that if they could come earlier than the 15th (which I very much doubt myself) then they would ring me, and it would be short notice. I agreed saying I would cancel any other appointments if necessary.

A full day later and late that evening a good friend had arranged for the imker to come and the panel to be removed as there was heavy rain forecast during the night.

Well, you would never believe what happened next. The imker who is perfectly used to dealing with these wasps, took a look before taking all his equipment up onto the roof. Two of the three nests empty and the third had only a few wasps in it, so with a waft of his gloved hand, all three nests in the gutter and the panel is now off the roof too. It took less than 5 minutes total.

The imker left and I chatted on with my friend. It was one of those glorious balmy summer evenings and we sat out in the garden until around midnight. What a bit of serious bad luck it all was, but I do realize that always and each and every time safely comes first.

So, roll on to the 15th of July, which by the way is St. Swithin’s Day and notorious for rain. I will be having a ‘heated conversation’ with them upstairs if it damned well goes and rains on that day. So, finger’s crossed and hope all goes well and then I can join the huge number of people converting to solar energy.

My older panels were installed in 2001, that is the birth really of the first solar panels in this country and even though they are ancient compared to today’s standards, they still collected on average 10 KwH on solar energy (a month, not daily). The new ones will collect on average something around 3500 KwH a year, which is more than half of my consumption, which of course has changed now too due to personal circumstances.

Solar panels are trendy and in great demand and who begins to wonder why we don’t make them here, but the majority of them come from China and I won’t even begin to talk about transport complications etc., due to the dreaded ‘C’ word.



I thought I would start this week on a positive note and write a blog which I hope you will find interesting. Not a moan about this and that but about the discovery of something really lovely!

Recently on the socials, the Italian based firm Salimbeni have been advertising their perfumes, reed diffusers and saying, ‘once you try you will want more’. They even offered free trial samples where you only paid the postage and when another offer came up to try three of their reed diffusers I jumped at the chance.  I have to say it was a bit tricky as my country (and why I don’t know) wasn’t in the choice list, so I sent a quick IG message asking if it was available here too? A very helpful friendly reply and this is quite a treat in this day and age, when you seem to spend more time on chasing things up or complaining.

So, Alice Almeida, the Customer Service at Salimbeni replied immediately and said: yes, and she would be happy to take care of things. Would I send my details and she would email me a link to pay (Euro 27, — for three 100 ml bottles) and the postage was free. It literally all took less than a couple of minutes and within two days, they arrived. This is customer service and how it should be.

I have three different perfumes. Respiro di Mare (which means ‘breath of the sea’) which is now in my bathroom and smells divine. It’s not overpowering, just lovely and refreshing and conjures up thoughts of the Italian coastline, Portofino, waves, freshness, wind – just perfect for bathrooms.

The others are ‘Erbe Aromatiche’ obviously Aromatic Herbs and ‘Fico dell’ Elba’ (Fig trees of Elba). I have actually been to this island off the Italian coast and it’s beautiful and I instantly see an image in my mind of brilliant blue skies and sea, sunshine, figs and sweet ripe melons.

Salimbeni is based in the heart of Rome, Italy just off the Palazzo Borghese for those of you who are familiar. They say they only chose the very best certified quality materials, and the Master Perfumer composes the elements with wise skill to create excellent perfumes. He (or she) does, I can vouch for that!

Apart from reed diffusers, there are waxed soy candles, car refreshers and one of the most exciting things, an intense Cologne or as I prefer to say, Eau de Parfum. This is comprised of five non invasives aromas to wear on the body, but with a strong personality. I have a sample of the Elisir (Elixir) di Bergamotto (Bergamot) and it the most sensational perfume I have smelled in a long time. The first aroma is delicate but powerful and lasts all day. Not overpowering but present and I love it. And will definitely be ordering it next time around.

Often perfumes can smell ‘cheap’ which really means that their ingredients are sub-standard, and the more expensive ones reiterate the phrase: ‘you pay for what you get’. True. Quality comes at a price, but there is nothing worse than having an overpowering cheap smelling perfume and people almost backing away if and when you come close. Surely everyone would want to feel that they are eluding a perfume which tantalizes the senses.

I am impressed and being a big fan too of Rituals, I have to say: ‘move over Rituals’ some very big competition coming from Salimbeni.

I personally love the Italian language, it’s one of my favorites and love the country too. The words flow like waves on a sea, sensual and sexy. And that sort of describes the perfumes by Salimbeni. Sensual, sexy, and just delicious.

If you are interested in their products and want to have a look at their range and website: go to: www.salimbeniprofumi.eu or if you are lucky enough to be in Rome, pop along to the Via Fontanella Borghese 74 in Roma, 00186 and visit the shop itself. I guarantee you will not leave without a bag of something.  It makes me want to get on a plane and go and sample all the aromas made here.

Can’t wait to try and other perfumes too!


Yesterday, when I read my daily horoscope and tarot reading, it warned me that the day was going to be frustrating and challenging concerning finances and plans. How true was that! 

It all started when my washing machine decided after 9 years of daily faithful service it was time to say goodbye and the motor stopped. Ordering a new one online, if you know what you want, is easy-peasy these days. So, I did just that, taking the option for a new model which was slightly damaged for a much-reduced price, after all it said: thank you for helping the environment and saving the life of a perfectly good machine with slight damage. Sounds good doesn’t it. I paid and within minutes got a confirmation back, that it would be delivered the next day.

I needed to remove the old one and place it outside so that it could be returned once the new one arrived and couldn’t even untwist the tap and water connection. Thanks to a great friend who came and helped, all ready to go, old machine outside for re-cycling and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new one.

I started to get slightly worried and sorry if this sounds racist, when I read that driver Mehmet was on his way and would deliver to the door stop. I thought they were going to install, which is normally the case ordering from this company, but sorry no, this was a slightly damaged machine and to the door delivery only. I thought, as my son was coming that afternoon, that to be honest, we would be able to install it together, I mean how hard is it to attach the hose for the wastewater and add the hose to the water tap? Child’s play, yes?

So, a van pulled up and Mehmet and his colleague were standing at the door with a huge box. I mean huge, it would never have gone through the front door. ‘Fridge/freezer’ he said. ‘No’, I replied, ‘washing machine’. It was quite hard to convince them that this delivery was wrong, they got aggressive and stormed off muttering in some incomprehensible language, nearly knocking over my very large vintage terracotta pot with eucalyptus in the process. The packaging was left strewn on the street and all I could do was then get on the phone to find out what was wrong.

Thanks to a helpful person at the online store – Bol.com – the product was reported as ‘refused at the door as the wrong product’ and she phoned the supplier several times. This is unfortunately one of the problems becoming more and more apparent when Bol works with other partners, they are not as good as the service Bol provides. As I had already paid, I would have to wait for a refund, but no machine and the washing basket getting fuller. Because, let’s be honest, you really miss a normal household appliance when they have gone and left you….

To cut a long story short, the lady from Bol called me back three times and she had put things into motion. Where the washing machine that I had ordered was, no idea but a pretty good guess would be that Mehmet and colleague were probably trying to deliver to the person waiting for the fridge/freezer.

My money would be refunded, and it was on my account next day and I ordered the same product, this time new and a little bit more expensive and they will deliver and install tomorrow and take my faithful old machine away, which has been out in the rain last night on the drive, poor thing!

It is a sign of the times that when things go well, they do, but any form of problem involves you in several hours on the phone and praying and hoping that things will be resolved and put right. The compensation email from the Bol partner has by the way still not been received as they were offering me a financial compensation for the ‘f*** up’. Only fair!

Next issue:

For a while I have been looking at getting a new e-bike and considering a couple of things. I have, as I have told you in earlier blogs had a total hip and knee replacement on opposite sides so being able to get on and off a bike in a sudden emergency is crucial and even though it seemed a simple exercise to find one, the phenomena of the ‘frame size’ came up. What the hell do they mean by that? Well simple, it’s based on your height. So, all the easy get on/get off bikes are designed for poor old shrinking elderly people and the frame height is 49 cm which is basically a child’s size. As I am 1,78m this is not the right one for me. Seems a bit judgmental don’t you agree that the easy get on/get off bikes are small frames!

Anyway, one the best-known e-bike specialists (Stella) had got in touch with me and had arranged for one of their representatives to come to my home with a bus full of bikes in all sizes and models for me to try. Not only getting on and off but riding as well. It all sounded too good to be true and it was!

The time of the appointment was changed three times, same day luckily and when the man phoned me from the bus when he was literally in my street in front of my house asking whether or not he was at the right address, should have been the sign for me that this was not going to go well. He got here and managed to drive the 100 meters further to the parking spots and came to the door. I followed him out and he was huffing and puffing getting bikes out of his bus. A cocky little man from Amsterdam who then went on to moan about the long drive. I told him what I was looking for and virtually every model in the bus, he told me was unsuitable for me, because of my handicap. What handicap? Just that little bit of extra caution as I have other surgical parts in my body. I told him that I ride on the home trainer every week at the gym, and it was really important for me to be able to get off and on the bike safely and in an emergency, a sudden stop for example that I would not literally have to throw myself off the bike to get off. It was like talking to a complete idiot who treated me like a senile demented elderly person, making remarks all the time. I was well and truly p***** off by the whole procedure, let me tell you.

Eventually he got out a bike, which to be honest was very nice and sleek and said try this one. It was really difficult to get onto the saddle, which he then changed for a child size saddle (for goodness sake how dumb is this) and I said I could have a ride. ‘Off you go’ he said. ‘Could you at least show me how the bike works?’ I asked. He tutted and moaned a bit more and when I came back and I asked the price, this was much more expensive than I had been told on the phone and he had about a thousand excuses why the bike I was originally interested in would not be suitable for me. It was when he called me tall and force in stature (this is the polite version by the way) that I was done to be honest. A typical boring stupid little salesman who went through the normal bullshit and had nothing to say at all which was relevant to the entire idea suggested by Stella in the first place. He put all the bikes back into his bus and then came into the house. I had several questions which he did not really want to answer and when I asked about the special offers which Stella put out every single day on all social media, he told me that I should be grateful that he was offering me a better battery. 

I was so grateful that my son was here and said: ‘right we will think about it’. To that, this beastly little man (and such a good example of a man with small man syndrome), stood up and left the house. What a wanker (excuse the language, but he was).

My son was also spoken too like a nobody, this guy remarking on his Tesla car etc. which had nothing whatsoever to do with an e-bike and talking about me to him. No way!

My son rang Stella and told them that under no circumstances whatsoever will I even consider getting an e-bike from them. They were shocked by what had happened and asked my son: ‘what do you expect us to do?’

Well Stella have a think about this for starters. Ensure that the people representing your company and visiting clients have a basic good idea about normal manners and grace and realize that they are there to help a potential customer, not to ‘slag them off with bullshit’. Not to try and be some cocky little nobody, when informing a potential client about the possibilities and which bike (from a large collection) would be a good investment for them. It’s irrelevant if they had a long drive to come and visit and basically were then fed up because they did not make a sale, and he was very pushy about the battery offer only today and tomorrow. Come on how stupid do you think we are? It’s downright insulting. If I was the CEO at Stella this guy would have been out of a job by 9am this morning!

Later when we were talking about it all, I was reminded about my horoscope that very morning about encountering difficulties and obstruction on financial matters. That it would be a frustrating day. It was.

So, my advice, take notice of messages you receive (horoscopes or whatever) and I know many people don’t believe them, but always read them. There is some truth in that kind of synchronicity. Always!