Back in Bern!

During November Milady was called to the Jury at Leeds Crown Court and those two (harrowing) weeks were followed by a week busy visiting family and friends in Norwich, London and Surrey and last week preparing for Christmas – writing cards, shopping and buying presents – and planning and packing for THIS week in Switzerland!

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Amsterdam Made By Hand – De 9 Straatjes en De Noordermarkt

For quite some time I have had my eye on this lovely little book and as soon as I knew about my trip to the city I could not resist buying. To me there is something very special about these travel publications from the Little Bookroom. Here’s a press comment from their website :

“The Little Bookroom…wants travelers to slow down. They’ve carved themselves a niche in the over-crowded travel book industry by thinking small with titles that define the character of a city.”—The Pittsburgh Tribune

There’s an area of Amsterdam, very near to our digs, called The Nine Streets  [De 9 Straatjes]. On our first morning we found ourselves wandering along the nine streets, popping into cafes for sustenance and to warm ourselves, calling into boutiques, shoe shops, design shops, galleries and studios, trying things on and generally having fun spotting the unusual. We also took lots of photos.

Antiquariaat Culturel

Gasthuismolensteeg 4

Culturel is run by Hans and Ina Cramer, who I like to imagine spending their non-working hours amid a snug muddle of crosswords, sleeping dogs and homemade cake. Their business oozes quintessential second-hand bookshoppishness, with precarious towers of tomes and ceiling-to-floor shelves crammed with literature, art and history books hand-picked by Ina. None of them is catalogued; there is no computer, let alone a website, or even a till. Among other books, I have bought an Esperanto translation of The Little Prince here, and also a copy of The Diary of a Nobody, mainly because I liked the fact that on the inside cover Hans has written ‘very funny’.”  From an article in the Guardian in 2008 : Amsterdam: literature’s capital city

De Kaaskamer – The Cheese Shop (7, Runstraat)

The Noordermarkt celebrates its 25th birthday on 5 May 2012.

Akelei on the Noordermarkt

The Noordermarkt, also very near our place, lies in the shadow of the Noorderkerk just by the Prinsengracht. Mainly it’s an organic farmers’ market with stalls of mouthwatering fruit and vegetables, spices and herbs and homemade honeys and preserves. It operates on Saturdays and in addition to the food stalls there are several secondhand and ‘made by hand’ stalls, including Akelei (jewellery),  Anne (recycled clothing and stuff) and Anna Maria Preuss.

Anna Maria Preuss stall, Noordermarkt

Anne’s Stall, Noordermarkt

On our Saturday morning the sun shone and we sat outside by the church where a band of musicians played Russian music and we watched the world go by.

Then it was on to the famous daily Flower Market by the Singel canal – a good place to stock up on bulbs to take home!