Archives for posts with tag: Amsterdam


Our last day In Leiden – a lovely city – with Els, our host. We cycle into the centre, park the bikes with the hundreds of others, and stroll into the crowds on the canalside, thick around the fish stalls: today is market day. But fish later – we walk down the narrow alleys past quirky little shops, until we enter a really nice shoe place. (Yes I have a thing about shoes, but not in a fetishistic way, or on the epic scale of Imelda Marcos, but… oh, some other time.) So I compare two loafer styles – not much in it, you may say, but it’s the details that count. I’m not buying (€259.00!) just observing.

And so to lunch – herrings! Wedged onto a bench with a lovely view of the canal but encompassed by a steel sculpture that is a bike rack, we drop the maatjesharing smothered in onion bits down into our mouths in traditional style (Els is most amused) and bite into smoked eel broodjes. (In the early 70’s I suffered a surfeit of eels – and white wine – from the rack of my friend’s cycle in Amsterdam; it did not endear me to her. Or to passers-by.)

Back at Els’s, we sit at her garden table and eat Jakob’s almond cakes – gevulde koeken – which are the best I’ve ever eaten. And Els is trying to manage the fallout from a newspaper splash about her government department…



I first came to Amsterdam in July 1968, courtesy of my new friend Paula, and stayed with her on Brouwersgracht. It’s still my favourite city. Now, Tiemen, our friend Els’s son, brings us to the Eye, the striking new film institute, across the water behind the central station, shining white under a heavy leaden sky. Inside there’s an exhibition and installations of the stunning works in light by Anthony McCall, artist, and fellow student of mine, who I believe was also on the same trip to Amsterdam back then…

Outside the Eye, on the terrace, waitresses are straightening the chairs, while I try to draw them at angles before they get there.

Later I have white beer and ‘Grandma Bob’s’ croquettes in a toasted sandwich. Then onto the new Stedelijk Museum to see Marlene Dumas’s huge and moving exhibition. I love this place!

If you like Amsterdam it’s worth getting the City-Pick anthology of writing about the place, for which I designed the cover. Highly recommended.