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Tag: Family

I recently joined a group on Facebook that shares interesting music videos, and that got me thinking about the music of my youth.

Most kids (at least those that I have met) tend to rebel against their parents musical tastes, forging a personal sound from their social groups and media surrounding them, but I was somehow different. My core musical taste came directly from both my parents. Outside influences came a distinct second.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still loved the music around me growing up. I listened to Roxette, Bon Jovi, Queen, Michael Jackson and many more of the (then) current bands, but the music that truly defined me came from an earlier period.

I had just become a teenager when the 90′s started, but my musical taste was stuck in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, and not to mention classical, thanks in a very large part to my parents. I remember spending hours playing with my father’s hi-fi, and the sounds of Glenn Miller, Laura Branigan, Beach Boys, Traveling Wilbury’s and the soundtrack to Caravans are forever etched into my mind.

I also remember listening to Wham in a mix tape my mother had in her car when I was six years old.

When my father passed away in 2004 (already 8 years ago – I can remember it like yesterday), I found his collection of tapes in his estate, and for the next year, the only thing that played in my car’s tape player (yes, my car had one of those even in 2004), was these old tapes which my father adored.

My father and I never really got on very well, with some periods where I barely saw him for months or years at a time, but I did share his love for his music, counting those bands I had listened to on that hi-fi as among my favourites.

I miss him terribly sometimes, especially when I have those songs on…


Bobbie Beer himself

Bobbie Beer himself

Cole turned 10 yesterday, so, to celebrate, we went out for dinner at Bobbie Beer in Almere. This was our first dining out experience as a family since we moved to the Netherlands, not counting places like Burger King, so it was quite exciting for us.

Now, I can tell what you are thinking, and no, I did not take my 10 year old son to a pub for his birthday dinner. Beer is the Dutch word for bear, so in fact, we went to a bear-themed family restaurant. To be fair though, you are able to buy beer there too.

The restuarant has a lovely atmosphere, and is great place to go to with kids. It is also perfectly situated with a perfect view of the Weerwater, a large lake bordering on the edge of the Almere city centre.

Some of the decor

Some of the decor

Being a Friday night as well, you would expect the place to be bustling and unpleasant, but the noise levels were low even though the restaurant was rather busy.

The food was good and came in fairly large quantities ensuring that we did not starve. Cole and I had spare ribs that we perfectly tender and absolutely delicious, while Claudia treated herself to a scrumptious chicken salad.

The service was also excellent, and Cole even got a surprise for his birthday. The staff came to sing to him while bringing his dessert.

The most surprising thing of all though, was the affordability. Restaurants in the Netherlands are not known for their low prices, but Bobbie Beer certainly cost a lot less than we would have expected, especially compared to the quality of our experience.

All in all, they score full marks in my book for a value-for-money family-oriented restaurant.

Me and the birthday boy

Me and the birthday boy


I got a phone call from my mom today that is the one type of phone call that everyone dreads. She had called to let me know that my gran had passed away.

This is not a complete shock, as my gran has been steadily declining for the last few years, but it is still not great when it finally happens. We are going to miss her, even though we didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

So, who was my gran?


My gran, Olive Johanna Levine, was born in Cape Town, South Africa on the 15th Feb 1930, to Joseph Asmus and Johanna Reid. She married my grandfather, Robert Levine, in the early 1950′s, and had 3 kids, one of which was my mother (rather obviously).

My gran was a person who was never scared of hard-work, and all through the years she could never sit still for a second. She always had to be doing something.

She also had very strong opinions about everything, which, since I was young, I used to my full advantage. I used to enjoy winding her up by asking her controversial questions, often just to get her strong reaction. This particular trait earned her the unofficial nickname of “The Old Battleaxe”.

My gran has never had particularly good health while I was growing up, but in recent years she had really deteriorated quite badly.

We spoke to her via Skype a few days before Christmas, and Claudia and Cole spoke to her again on Christmas Eve. We remarked that my gran really looked like she has aged severely in the 8 months that we have been in the Netherlands, and the last time we got to see her.

We will miss her…


I adore opera music. I really do. And I have my mother to blame for that.

You see, when I was 6 years old, my mother took me to see a ballet, The Nutcracker Suite, and ever since then I have had a love for all things theatre, and that includes opera.

The downsides of this of course is that opera is not exactly seen as an “in” art form. People tend to give you strange looks when you sitting next to them in traffic with an Aria from Carmen or The Magic Flute playing loudly in your car.

Well, I, unfortunately, have repeated the mistakes of my mother. I have introduced Cole to opera and ballet, and he now loves it too.

This raised it’s head this weekend. Cinema Nouveau have over the next few months planned to show several recorded versions of operas at the cinema, and I was planning on taking Claudia to go watch a few. Cole, however, told me in no uncertain terms that I dare not leave him out of it. How many 7-year-old’s willingly want to go watch a full opera?

Maybe opera will never die….