It’s been hot, too hot for the usual market shop and too hot for flowers. The temperature is better this week for having flowers in the house, and summer flowers are big on colour. I ended up with white lilies at the back in the first photo, keeping it simple.
Today has been declared a National Day of Mourning, as the bodies of the victims of MH17 crash are returned to the Netherlands. Of the 298 people killed 193 were from the Netherlands. In a country of 17 million, that’s a lot, it feels like everyone knows someone who was on the plane. Many people are affected by the loss of a family member, friend or colleague. Impromptu memorials have been created around the country, for example by people leaving flowers at Schiphol – the plane’s departure airport, and outside the Asian Glories restaurant in Rotterdam which was run by victims of the crash.
The country has been horrified, first at the crash, and then at the treatment of the deceased and their possessions. News such as this is absorbing, but I had to turn it off when people at the crash site were showing the passports of those who died – I couldn’t imagine how upset someone would be if this was how you found out your friend, relative, classmate was killed – and some of those passports belonged to children.
The speech by Frans Timmermans to the UN summarises beautifully the emotion in the country, and the determination of the Dutch government and the Dutch people to do whatever is possible to bring back the bodies, help the families grieve and see justice done.
So today there will be a minute’s silence at around 4pm when the first plane carrying the victims’ bodies arrives in Eindhoven. Church bells will ring out for five minutes, flags will fly at half-mast. TV and Radio (at least the state channels) will run without ads and have a modified schedule with reduced entertainment. Even non-state channels are modifying their programme, with subdued music choices (currently Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven is playing on English Breakfast Radio) and all display references to the day of mourning.
Today I am Dutch; I’m going change my avatars for the day, and I’ll look for a memorial service outside a local church or go down to the Dam square before 8pm, there’s a silent march of remembrance which will end on Dam square where white balloons will be released followed by a minute’s silence.
I have been watching the coverage on the news of today’s day of mourning. In stark contrast to the early pictures from Ukraine, the Dutch have treated the bodies of the victims with great respect. Flags all over the country have been at half mast, on public and private buildings. People observed the one minute’s silence across the country – including in shopping centres, public squares and at the beach.
The planes landed at 4pm, there was a short ceremony at the airport in Eindhoven, and then the bodies of the first forty victims were taken, each in its own coffin and in its own hearse in a cortege from Eindhoven to Hilversum where the identification process will take place. The route was lined with people there to show their respects, some throwing flowers. Flags along the route were at half mast.
At the entrance to the army base where the identification will be done stood a row of flagpoles, each bearing a lowered flag from one of the countries of the victims.
I am impressed, the Dutch are not a sentimental nation in general, but with such simple symbols the Dutch have shown great feeling and given dignity to the deceased.
Flags around the Netherlands are at half mast today in memory of the victims of the crash of MH17 in Ukraine, 173 of whom are reckoned to be Dutch citizens.
This is a flight I’ve taken more than once in the past, so seeing it come up in the news like this was somehow extra shocking. The reasons behind this accident aren’t clear yet, there will no doubt be multiple investigations. But today I’m thinking of all the families, friends and colleagues of those who died.
I haven’t been doing market shopping in the last three weeks, I got a bit carried away today. Luscious pomegranates caught my eye, teamed with scented fresh herbs and couscous. The juice of the pomegranate does turn the couscous slightly pink. It’s a delicious fresh combination for summer. We’ll be having it with lamb chops tonight.
1 1/2 cups couscous, added 3 cups of boiling water and let it soak up the water, fluffed it with a fork and added about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Then added the pomegranate seeds and about a cup of finely chopped mint and parsley (about 1/3 parsley to 2/3 mint). I finished it with a little lemon juice to taste.
So last night the Dutch Football team played their first match of the World Cup. Yes, this is another football post. The match was against Spain – who beat the Dutch in the final of the last world cup – so expectations weren’t high.
The Dutch won.
By 5 goals to just 1.
Before the match had even finished the jokes had started on twitter.
Which references the incredible goal Robin van Persie headed, to equalise the score. I don’t know much about football, but it looked amazing to me! You can see the relevant six seconds here;
The jokes kept coming, this is a tweet from a local police station; it reads “There are lots of Spanish visitors to the police station to submit a claim for a lost match”. The hashtag #Helaas, translates literally as “Alas” or “what a pity”, here it’s a little sarcastic.
My favourite joke relates to Sinterklaas, who lives in Spain and visits the Netherlands in December. Unfortunately I can’t find the original tweet now, but it went something like “I guess Sinterklaas won’t be visiting this year #worldcup”.
There was a lot of “orange-fever” around last night, and I’m guessing it will continue – the next game is next Wednesday against Australia who lost to Chile last night.
One of the local cafes has already hung out their Dutch flag.
At the last World Cup four years ago the Netherlands made it all the way to the final, with each stage of the competition orange-fever increased in my neighbourhood. Bars set up large flat-screen TVs on the square, there was orange bunting and a party atmosphere. Actually not just a party atmosphere – but street parties across the city. Everyone wore orange, including me.
And then the Elftal, as the Dutch national team is known in Dutch, lost to Spain 1-0 in the final. The country plunged into mourning.
So today the World Cup begins, and approximately 50% of the ads on TV are trying to exploit it. The best I’ve seen so far shows some Dutch fans looking for something to eat; they look at the menu for a German restaurants – and recall the 1974 final when the Dutch lost to West Germany. Then they see an Argentinian restaurant – but recall the 1978 final when the Dutch lost to Argentina 3-1, they walk away and consider a tapas bar – but decide against it considering the last World Cup result. It seems hopeless, but then they spot McDonalds.
The Netherlands has the sad record of qualifying the most often, without ever winning it. Perhaps this is the year. Wall Street journal came up with the World Cup of everything else. Netherlands already wins for most number of internet users and the most water within its borders. It would also win for the lowest country but that wasn’t included.
The first game for the Dutch team is the Netherlands vs Spain tomorrow night. Let’s see how long the orange-fever lasts.