Our second day in Amsterdam started with a tram trip to the Hermitage Museum, an off-shoot of the one in St Petersburg. There were two exhibitions, the first linking Napoleon and Josephine to Alexander of Russia. Accounts of the retreat from Moscow made it clear that the Dutch were part of the French army at that point. Dutch and Polish engineers worked through the night to construct bridges to cross the freezing rivers. This sort of detail was curiously juxtaposed by the glittering artefacts- Alexander's ring, gold rimmed china and so on. Most surprising was the family tree showing that Josephine's descendants - not Napoleon's - now include most of the crowned heads of Northern Europe.
We enjoyed the civilised environment of this museum, once a home for the elderly.
The second exhibition could hardly have been more different: huge group portraits of the civic dignitaries of the guilds, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The commentaries surrounding these made them surprisingly interesting.
After lunch, I took a stroll along a rather seedy street leading to this fairytale building, once the weigh station. On my way back, along a more respectable street, to meet my husband, I spotted a yarn shop, something I can never resist. Inside, skein after skein of well-known yarns on display.
And upstairs, the joint owner, Stephen West.
Remember this unusual scarf? This is Spectra, one of his designs, quite a conventional concept compared to his current output.
As chance would have it, I had happened down that street on the very day that the shop opened, having relocated from another street in Amsterdam. What are the odds on that?
Did I buy some yarn? Of course I did. This is Malabrigo Rios, and Tosh Merino Light. The colours in these fairly make my heart sing.