Mortgage free!

This chart shows the rapid decline of my mortgage. That large, final drop was due to the sale of my garage, so thank you to my lawyers and the buyer. The deal was concluded in a day and so once the paperwork is done, that will be me. It’s gone seven years early and the first time since 1986 I will have no monthly expenditure for rent or mortgage. “And relax……”




When I Heard the Learned Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

Homophones or homonyms?

I love the idiosyncrasies which arise between and in languages.

For example in English the sentence; “My orange is orange” could be translated into Dutch as “Mijn sinaasappel is oranje.” Oranje is not repeated in this instance because the Dutch distinguish between the fruit and the colour.

Going the other way, “Mijn bloem is geel” translates as “My flower is yellow.” But consider this sentence from a recipe; “Schudt de kip met een paar stukken tegelijk, in een plastic zak in de bloem met wat zout en peper door elkaar.” Which translates as “Shake the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in a plastic bag containing flour with some salt and pepper.”

“Flower” and “flour” are homophones of each other, sounding the same but being spelled differently. “Bloem” is a homonym, being a word which has the same spelling but different meanings.

I find it a fascinating coincidence that the Dutch use a homonym for an English homophone.

Although etymologically is should not be that much of a surprise as bloem and bloemen, originate as does “bloom” from old Norse while “flower” and “flour” originate from Latin florere to flourish, to thrive and of course to bloom.

Languages are connected in so many ways.

Dutch Ted Talk

Ted Talk by General Peter Van Uhm Nov 2011

Speech given in English.
Translated into Dutch by Rik Delaet Reviewed by Axel Saffran
Translated back into English by dkpw.

And if you see an underlined word in Dutch, that’s one I had to look up in my Van Dale dictionary! It was a fun exercise, not quick by any means but still a far more enjoyable experience than translating Latin when at school. If anyone with Dutch would like to correct my translation, please feel free!

Als hoogste militaire commandant van Nederland, met troepen over de hele wereld, ben ik echt

As the highest military commander of The Netherlands with troops over the whole world, I am

vereerd om hier vandaag te zijn. Als ik rondkijk op deze TEDxAmsterdam locatie, zie ik een heel

really honoured to be here today. When I look around at this TedTalk in Amsterdam, I see a very

bijzonder publiek. Jullie zijn de reden waarom heb ik ja heb gezegd op de uitnodiging om vandaag

special audience. You are the reason why I said “Yes” to the invitation to come here today.

hierheen te komen.

Als ik rondkijk, zie ik mensen die een bijdrage willen leveren. Ik zie mensen die een betere wereld

When I look around, I see people who want to contribute. I see people who want to make a better

willen maken, door het doen van baanbrekend wetenschappelijk werk, door het creëren van

world, through the use of ground-breaking scientific work, through the creation of impressive

indrukwekkende kunstwerken, door het schrijven van kritische artikelen of inspirerende boeken,

artworks, by writing critical articles or inspiring books, by setting up sustainable businesses. You

door het opstarten van duurzame bedrijven. Jullie hebben je eigen instrumenten gekozen om deze

have chosen your own instruments to carry out this mission of creating a better world. Some chose

missie te vervullen van het creëren van een betere wereld. Sommigen kozen de microscoop als hun

the microscope as their tool. Others chose dancing or painting or making music like we have just

instrument. Anderen kozen dansen of schilderen of het maken van muziek zoals we net hebben

heard. Some chose the pen. Others work through the means of money.

gehoord. Sommigen kozen de pen. Anderen werken door middel van het instrument van het geld.

Dames en heren, ik maakte een andere keuze. Bedankt. Dames en heren – (Gelach) (Applaus) Ik

Ladies and gentlemen, I made another choice. Thank you. Ladies & gentlemen, I seek the same.

streef naar hetzelfde doel. Ik deel de doelen van de sprekers die aan het woord zijn geweest. Ik heb

goal. I share the goal of the speakers who have already spoken. I have not chosen the pen, the

niet gekozen voor de pen, het penseel of de camera. Ik koos voor dit instrument. Ik koos voor het

paintbrush or the camera. I choose this instrument. I choose the gun.



Continue reading “Dutch Ted Talk”

Gone Dutch


Well after 222 days, I’ve managed to finish the DuoLingo Dutch course. “Conquered” as the certificate says, is definitely overstating my proficiency, especially in the spoken language but it’s been fun. DuoLingo has provided me with a hopefully solidly wide foundation which will aid in future studies. I’ve bought a detailed grammar and dictionary as well as some dual language books, and a couple books wholly in Dutch; De Achterhuis literally The Annex in English known as Anne Franks’ Diary and Meisje met parel, The Girl With the Pearl (Earring) by Tracy Chevalier. Having had a brief skim through the first few pages it is easy to determine which has been translated from English and which is written in native, although colloquial Dutch. The Chevalier was easier to translate.

Reading is all very well but the trickiest thing will be thinking and speaking in Dutch. On-line resources will help, as will another trip!

Mission achieved


Well, this year of the big save has not gone quite as smoothly as I would have liked. The financial vicissitudes of the past nine months have meant my new saving was rather short of the desired target. The main cause was a weakness, once again, for watches which caused resulted in financial recklessness, buying too many books, both electronic and physical also contributed. I suppose there are worse items to “waste” money on.

The good news however, is that enough has been saved with assistance from the long term savings to put a good dent in my mortgage, which comes to an end in September. Before I renew for another fixed term, I’ll be able to splat it. Whether it’s a wise use of savings or not, is an interesting question. One could retain them for a rainy day, one could head off and buy a lovely new watch with low depreciation or even moderate appreciation and possibly make some money when selling it in the future. Interest rates are the key consideration. Currently being so low but about to rise, so they say, it seems to me to be the best, most sensible, if incredibly dull option to pay off a chunk of my one debt.


Seeing it visually helps. This line chart shows in the last three years, how the remaining balance on my outstanding mortgage has halved. That big leap downwards at the end is the effect of applying the big splat. This is the joy of a simple repayment mortgage, once you get over the interest hump at the beginning of the loan, the remainder quickly diminishes.

The ultimate intention is to get shot of the damned thing as quickly as possible, hopefully within 3 or 4 years which would mean that it’s paid about five years ahead of schedule. I dream, speaking entirely selfishly, that on the day after I make my final mortgage payment, the then Chancellor will regrettably announce a massive interest rate rise. One should have dreams, and if they’re based on a solid reality so much the better. Being mortgage or debt free “’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!”