De Kas

Walked to a restaurant and nursery called De Kas for lunch today with London mates Gary & Steven.

So glad we did. It’s a beautiful space, even on a mid-winter’s day, and a great suggestion, thanks Dom LR.

It’s in a set of modified greenhouses, in a park about 5kms from Amsterdam central.

The ethos is local and where possible, home-grown. Celeriac soup, a small piece of veal with mushrooms, a shared plate of roasted cauliflower, pearl-white cod with bok choy and herbed mash. And a killer dessert.


Night lights

We cruised Amsterdam. At night, even. Suprsised to come across Renzo Piano again. 

He really went with the nautical theme for this one. It’s the NEMO Science Museum.

Pink Point

There’s something nostalgic, and historic, about Pink Point, an information booth and souvenir shop for gay and lesbian travellers in Amsterdam. 

It’s next to the Homomonument, a flat grey marble triangle commemorating the lives of homosexuals killed by Nazis and others.

Empty drink cans and other rubbish is scattered over the monument. A guy jumps up onto it, smartphone in hand; the extra height gives him a better shot of the canal opposite.

It’s a sunny day. Everyone’s out to make the most of it while it lasts. 


Swathes of Oslo shuts down over Christmas and New Year. 

There were couples and young families ice-skating in the park across from the Grand Hotel on the night we arrived, but not much action elsewhere.

It was a different story yesterday, with the sales. Shoppers filled Karl Johans Gate, which runs from the Palace down to the Parliament and on into the shopping district. 

Still, you’d hardly say the joint was jumping. There was more like a murmur of excitement rippling through the street. Norwegians tend to be people of few words.

We joined a guided toured of the opera house (photo above by Eric Berg). It’s a 21st century glass and marble iceberg perched on the harbour front.

Also visited the National Gallery, which houses some of Norway’s collection of Edvard Munch works, including The Scream. 

Modigliani couldn’t be more different. But I liked this one the most. Painted in 1918 and titled Young Woman:

Astrup Fearnley Museet

The pointy end of the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museet is unambiguous.

You’re facing the fjord, gulls wheel overhead. It’s not hard to imagine anchors aweigh and setting sail…

Inside, there’s an impressive collection of contemporary art by Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, David Hockney, Jeff Koons et al. 

God Alone Knows is a tryptich by Damien Hirst,  not dissimilar to Lucas van Leyden’s three-panelled altar piece, The Last Judgement, which we saw in the Rijks Museum a few weeks earlier. 

Chronologically, the two pieces are several centuries apart. Conceptually, there’s not much more than a heartbeat between them.

Here is the night. It is a reflection of the hopeful terror of the day. Be not afraid.

Skiing lesson

Went cross-county skiing today. Puts me in mind of the only other time I’ve done this, 35 years ago with Dom LR in Switzerland, when we were visiting his family. It was as much fun today as it was then, though there’s no improvement in ability. If anything, a little worse…​​​

On our way to Finland

If we’d kept going, along the frozen river, we’d be in Finland in a day or so.

Our dogs sounded keen to run all day, as long as we helped pull our weight. Every so often, when we’d come to a rise in the snow, whoever was driving was supposed to jump off and help push the sled.

They could tell if you weren’t doing your bit. The two dogs closest to you would look back, as if to say, ‘Oi!’

I ran out of superlatives today. It was magic. Amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.

Here’s a short video, made before my hands froze: