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Fun things to do in Amsterdam in January:
Go to the zoo- expensive, but there's an aquarium, planetarium and butterfly house in it as well. The herons hanging out in the penguin pool were fairly cool to see, also little lizards that looked like they were made of filigree, and some teeny teeny starfish, and baby llamas. (They could do with cutting down the number of species- there's an impressive amount of space for a city zoo, but one of the elephants was rocking.)
Go to the botanical gardens; the palm house was good, but the three-climate greenhouse with informal trails was worth the admission cost, and they had some butterflies I've never heard of with wings as transparent as dragonflies' except for white markings at the ends which made semicircles in the air as they flew.
Exhibition of Islamic arts at the Niewe Kerk. There was one set of door-knockers that for all the world looked Viking.
Rembrandt's house; catch the demos of printmaking and paint-grinding.
The Rijksmuseum; the rebuilding means the bit that's open is more doable in one go! Dollshouses with teeny delftware, as well as the Rembrandts, Vermers, etc.
Look at the canals.
Not buy anything at the flower market.
Eat winter pea soup, pancakes with slices of apple cooked into them and served with chopped candied ginger, raisin doughnuts, appelbeignets, bread with chocolate sprinkles, bami goreng, etc.

Less fun things to do:
Drive out to the beach in freezing rain- but the hot chocolate was worth it.
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Sightseeing at the weekend with lots of walking around in weather where the sensible response is to stay indoors with a fan and a cool drink (it was 29 degrees, can you imagine?), and the town smelling of smog-and-flowers, has reminded me strongly of holidays in America. Although in America I'd have had ice for the gin and tonics.

Our concert went OK on Friday; )

Saturday morning was a bit of a rush, trying to get the ordinary shopping done and get into London; we would have about managed it if I hadn't been a twit who doesn't know her Borough from her London Bridge. Borough Market was enjoyable as ever (one day I need to go there deliberately to have lunch... some oysters, a mutton pie, a slice of pizza bianco, a bag of mauve tomatoes, a bottle of cloudy fresh-pressed apple juice- or something completely different.) The decoratively draped octopuses at one fish stall were amusing.
A leisurely half at the Market Porter- just because it was nice and cool in there, obviously- and off to St James's Park to eat lunch. Apart from the tree we were sitting under deciding it didn't like us (the bruise was superficial) it was a very pleasant spot to spend a few hours sitting and reading. So we did. A look at the ducks, a wander round the National Gallery (mmm, Dutch trompe l'oeil), a bite at the cheapest Chinese restaurant in Lisle Street, and off to see Donkey's Years, which was a very funny farce with moments of more subtle comedy as well. Of a great cast, I think James Dreyfus was my favourite as a sarcastic civil servant.

Yesterday we went to Chelsea Physic Garden. This is a fair walk from the nearest tube, and middling expensive, but it was lovely. We spent several hours alternating between looking at the pretty flowers (see [personal profile] sigmonster's photos over here) and flopping in the shade- well, B. and I did more flopping and [personal profile] sigmonster did more striding round energetically looking at stuff, but it came to the same thing, namely, a good way to spend a hot afternoon. We fed a bold young robin, and found out why medicinal plants are so often called "Somethingorother officianalis", [*] so a new fact to top up the heap of trivia that is slowly trickling out of my head, under pressure from... well, from other trivia, now that I think about it, but more trivial trivia about TV and the like. The sort that people are more interested in but less impressed by.
Home, a roast chicken dinner, a lot of washing up, and a general agreement that that was a nice weekend but oof, we're knackered.

The students are barbequeing something outside. Smells goooood. I shall eat my salad.

[*] Medieval Latin "officina"- shop- implying plants that you bought from an apothecary.


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