Wednesday, 31 October 2012

P is for...


When I was 16 I flew for the very first time. Only for about 20 minutes and I remember my Dad nearly having a fit when I got home and told him (not helped by the fact that my Mum knew sort of...). It wasn't a regular plane though: it was a glider. I can't remember much of that flight, although I do recall thinking it fantastic to see things from above. 

When I was 19 I came back from Pula (current day Croatia) to Amsterdam by plane. A year later Brussels-London, London-Catania (Sicily), Catania-Rome and Rome-Paris. Since then I have flown to Malta, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Norway and Canada. 

The thing I like most about the whole flying thing is the speed while still on the runway. You might call me a speed-junkie, but driving along a motorway with that kind of speed, would be a severe thrill... And once you get into the air and are able to see the earth from above: magical. It all looks so tiny. In some cases it looks quite rough and tough, in other cases it looks really regimented. The Netherlands look regimented. All the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. No blade of grass out of place. At least, that's the way it looks from up above!

This is the letter P for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Top photo taken in October 2011 from the plane (Houston-Amsterdam) over the Netherlands
Bottom photo taken in October 2011 of the plane I was due to take from Amsterdam to Chicago

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Crossing off

As most things right now are set in motion for a smooth move to Viking country, I seem to look at the world I live in with new eyes. Plus, I keep mentally crossing off all the things I have to do with 'next time this will be in Norway'. 

Yesterday I had another late shift: starting at a decent hour in the afternoon, but finishing past 2 in the morning (wintertime not included). And it dawned on me: it would be the very last time I had to take those people into or from work. Their season is ending and the next time will be around Easter again. By which time I will be in Norway. 

Today I will have to do a football run. Picking up passengers around town and then take them to their local stadium where a football match will be held. I was hoping of course it would be the last time, but alas: next Wednesday they have another match and that means I will have to do it again. Of course all those weird and wonderful (ahem) working hours do mean extra money, so I am not complaining too hard!

In the mean time it is quite weird to see my home slowly change into a house with boxes and packages. My wardrobe is mostly empty now, my bookcase completely gone and all the books packed, the shelves in my office/messy room are partly empty and I don't even really know what the remainder is! Next weekend I will be starting on the kitchen and living room, packing away everything I don't need on a day to day basis.

The last time I moved, with the help of my parents, a neighbour to my parents, a good friend and yours truly (my sister is usually absent when I move), I was very ill prepared. My Dad nearly had a fit when he arrived in the morning and saw what needed to be done/packed! He didn't know that I had asked said neighbour to lend a hand, but he was still quite dismayed. Don't worry Dad: this time will be different!! 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Water and bread

This was our staff outing this year!
Last night I had to work for a company going on their annual staff outing. They are not usually the most fun jobs, since they mostly involve perfectly normal people on the way in and blind drunk ones on the way back. However, yesterday was different, at least the blind drunk part!

It started off with nobody knowing where we were going. And that included me! I mean, I knew the address and knew where that could be found and I had an inkling it might be the old prison in Leeuwarden, but I wasn't certain. By the time we were at about 400 meters from the prison, we found a closed road! Which was annoying to say the least. But, I know the town fairly well and immediately took another way. 

Unfortunately all the work carried out in the center of that town had changed it from being a thoroughfare to a pedestrian zone! And then the buslane was closed as well. So, I did a u-turn and decided to take the ringroad around the center. Fortunately it's not a big town and it only cost us about five minutes. When we arrived at the prison however, it was easy to see it was going to be difficult to park the coach. Until I had a brainwave: I was going to reverse in!

After a lot of bumps (pavement, more pavement and some other things I didn't want to look up), I had parked and the people got off. They made their way into the prison, while I did some more to-and-froing to get my coach parked a bit better. Fortunately the guys who were working on the road (hence the closure), were helping me out in stopping all other traffic. 

I made my way into the prison after that as well and after a short stop made my way into one of the cellblocks. I immediately had a chalkboard with a number thrust into my hands and a photo was taken of me in my sorry state (hello, I drove the convict bus!). It was to be a show with three convicts and a guard. They sang, did games and interacted with the group. Of course I wasn't of the group and even though it was all very funny, it is harder for me to get into the spirit of things when I don't know anybody!

After dinner I made my way back to the coach and waited for them there. By the time they came back, the roadworks had finished and we could make our way easily (well, bar the pavements) out of town. Another day crossed of my to-do list!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Some houses in Bergen, I especially like the green one
It took some effort today to get the books all packed (11 in total, not counting the photo albums: a further 3!), because this afternoon somebody was coming over to get my book case. Once the case was empty though, I had to take it apart, which took a bit of work, since I always nail in all the nails provided by that Swedish furniture maker. In the end my colleague and his wife helped/did the most part and now there is a big void where the bookcase used to be!

I just have to clean that area now and then stick all the boxes there that I moved to another room only the day before yesterday! After all I need to be able to do my laundry as well!! And I can't reach the ironing board, let alone my clean laundry.

Tonight a friend of mine is coming over for a little celebration. Perhaps I will just run out and get some nice nibbles, because celebrating with some dry toast is not celebrating in my view. Another friend was invited as well, but she is off galivanting on some island apparently, so not much use in tonights celebrations. We will all have to get together sometime in the very near future though.

My colleague asked me when I would organise my leaving do and whether 'the boss would pay?' Well, the leaving do will be soon, but I have severe doubts as to my boss paying for it. Although it doesn't hurt to ask of course...

So, more boxes packed, more things organised and there aren't enough hours in the day. Hopefully everything else goes as smoothly as yesterday and today.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


It has been a bit of radio silence from me. I wasn't far from the computer at all though: I was almost constantly on it! Making list after list of the stuff I have packed so far (about 20 boxes in all, I think about 20-25 to go). Making a list of all the things I would have to do: cancel, request, find out, do, not do! And then this morning I finally was able to quit my current job.

Yes, you read right: I was able to quit my job, since I had received my contract. It was a bit of relief on my part I can tell you. Telling everyone I had a job and then not getting a contract played havoc on my innards, but eventually I got it. And as of now I have so many things to do and settle and whatever. 

I settled on a moving company. I quit. I went to the town hall, to the bank, to the optician's. I requested certificates, notes and whatevers (they are the funny pink doodahs that lurk in the thingymebob). I packed and packed. I booked a flight and I "booked" accommodation for my two monsters. Because as luck or bad luck would have it: they cannot come just now! 

Unfortunately the time span in which the monsters would be allowed on is from April 1st until October 31st. I am travelling at the end of November. The reason: the cold and an unheated hold would mean the monsters might freeze to death. Fortunately I have a very good friend who sometimes goes by the name of Pepperfly who has offered to take them in: either temporarily or permanently. It will be sad not to have them there, but it might perhaps be easier as well. 

Anyway, enough of the bad news. I HAVE A JOB!!!

O is for...

O2 arena

Now, if you watched any of the Olympics, there is quite a chance that you saw this arena come by at some point. It was used for the gymnastics and the final of the basketball games. However, you may not have heard this name then, since due to advertising regulations it was known during the Olympics and Paralympics as the North Greenwich Arena. 

The arena was built later than the dome which meant that any work that needed to be done to the place, needed to be done inside, since no cranes could be used. So, the roof was built and then lifted into place! 

This is the letter O for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Photo taken in April 2011, from the River Thames

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

N is for...


Nagele is one of the ten 'green' villages surrounding the town where I live (Emmeloord). It isn't big, but it has one feature not found anywhere else in the Netherlands: all the buildings have flat roofs!

After the North East Polder was formed in 1942 by closing the last of the dykes, people started to dig ditches (by hand) to get rid of the remaining water in the polder. They planted crops that would help with the drainage as well and after a few years some small settlements started: Emmeloord, Marknesse and Ens, the latter two also being two of the ten villages, albeit the two largest. Here there were baracks to house the men who worked the land and the infrastructure. 

After the war, work started in earnest, the first houses went up in those three settlements and the first farms were built, attracting farmers from all over the country. The village of Nagele and the other villages started their life then as well. Since all the villages in the area were going to be completely new, it was of course a great place for architects and even though Nagele today is different from the original plans, there are still quite a few things that are the same, amongst which of course the flat roofs. Another original plan was the large common with three schools (Protestant, Catholic and Public) and churches. Even though the common and its buildings still exist, due to the smallness of the village, one of the churches is now a museum and the schools have joined up as well. 

And if you want to know what the other 'green villages' are called, here they are: Ens, Marknesse, Kraggenburg, Luttelgeest, Bant, Rutten, Espel, Creil, Tollebeek and Nagele. None of the villages are any more than 20 km removed from Emmeloord. All of the villages are named after former areas or villages on or in long forgotten places. 

This is the letter N for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The list!

Yesterday was not a good day. Sometime before 11am, the internet went out. And the telephone and the television! Highly annoying of course, since I wanted news from Norway. Doubly annoying since I was waiting for a phone call from a moving company and they couldn't get in touch with me! Ah well, I will get in touch again on Monday and deal with it then.

More and more boxes are being packed, things are being sorted out and I have made a list. A list of all the things I have to do from now until the actual move. After that of course a new list needs to be made with everything I need to do after the move!! But first the befores. I need to cancel my subscriptions, quit my job, quit my home, get them to forward my mail, figure out whether I will go full organised move or diy move. If there's only 200 euros in it, I will go organised, if it is more I might go diy! Of course I need to pack, clean, get rid of everything I am not taking along (selling first, donating the left-overs), I need to get health checks for the monsters, cancel my bank accounts, organise a small leaving party at work and a gazillion things I have probably forgotten about and will encounter if and when.

Fortunately I have friends and family who have already offered their help for packing and/or cleaning. And another fortunately is that in two weeks time it's autumn break over here and work should be easing off for that. At least I hope so, because if I have a whole day, I can get an awful lot done!

By the way: I hadn't had any new news from Norway yesterday. Pinning my hopes on Monday now!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Oh my, oh my!

After I let it sink in yesterday and told my colleagues about it, I got on the phone today to talk to the manager over in Norway. I can't say I understood every single word he said, but he understood what I said, which was good. He asked me again when I could start and I told him: December. He said November would be good too, but I stuck to my guns: I need the time! We talked a little more, most of which (I am sorry to say) went right over my head, but when he asked whether I needed help with a house search I did tell him yes, and mind the cats as well!

So, now I am waiting for a contract to sign, because I will not quit my current job until I have written proof that I have a new one. No point in ending up on the dole! I've already told my boss that I have a new job, pending the contract of course and I have already contacted two moving companies. One has already sent me a quote, but it needs a bit of revision and the other one needs to look at my stuff and then give me a quote.

Right now I can still hardly believe that the thing I have worked towards for so long (seven years I think it is, even if it was Canada before Norway) is about to happen. I am about to start a whole new chapter of my life. And I can tell you already: I will have several sleepless nights coming up!


Several years ago I took a three day sailing course. I shared the room with several unknowns, shared the boat with some more of those unknowns and was absolutely terrible at sailing. There was hardly any wind and it was therefore very difficult in deciding where the wind actually came from. Besides that, having the steering in the back goes against everything in my nature! And to top it all of, I got seasick! Yes, a tiny little boat, hardly any wind and I got seasick. Not my best time I can tell you!

On the night before I got sick though, we had to learn our knots. Me and this other woman were trying our best, but we only seemed to get the knot completely knotted and as a result we were in knots as well. It was a great night and we enjoyed ourselves very much. The photo proves it as well: a lot of joy we had! Unfortunately I don't remember her name and we obviously didn't stay in touch either.

This is my 40th entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Isn't it always the case?

As you know I have been looking for a job in Norway for a couple of months now and in August I even had an interview and a test drive in Bergen, Norway. I felt the interview went fine, didn't think I did too badly on the driving part and was eagerly awaiting the result. Which I wrote about here! Ever since then however, there was complete radio silence. Which was annoying to say the least, because you want things to be moving along. Fast, faster, fastest!!!

So, this weekend I started looking for another job. In Lillehammer (where they speak Bokmal) or Horten (also: Bokmal). It took me hours to come up with an application letter, but on Sunday night I emailed two of them, together with my cv. And again I expected news within a day. Preferably even sooner, but that would be ridiculous, even I know that. 

Well, it wasn't a day, it was two days. But it wasn't from either the company in Lillehammer or in Horten, it was from the first company, saying (drumroll please!): Have received your paperwork. Have opening for bus driver. When can you start? Please contact me! Well, I did a lot of air punching I can tell you! I just need it to sink in a bit and I will then contact them about when and where and what and how and all the other question marks involved in a new job and new surroundings. 


M is for...


The mermaid in Copenhagen harbour to be exact! When I was in Denmark in July of 2011, the statue of the mermaid was really the only thing I wanted to see. Everything else would be good, but the mermaid was top of the list. Despite the heavy rain of that day, me and two colleagues made our way towards the harbour, by bus and on foot. By the time we arrived at the harbour, the rain had almost let up and when I got my first glance of the mermaid it was dry. The sun even came out for a minute!

I had been told in advance that the mermaid wasn't very big and I must admit, I expected something the size of 'Manneken Pis' in Brussels, but I was happily surprised when it was a good deal bigger than that. The mermaid is sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and his wife Eline was the model. And before you ask: yes, the statue is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen!

This is the letter M for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Whipping it

I had decided I wanted to make eclairs this weekend. I have made them before and they were yummy, so I thought I would make them again. I had decided on a raspberry and whipped cream filling and a white chocolate cover, which of course is a perfect combination. 

First I had to go to the supermarket and buy all the ingredients. Then, as I cooked the water and the butter to melt the butter, added the flour and then the eggs, everything was alright in the world. I squirted large eclairs on a tray and stuck them in an oven. And then it was the turn for whipped cream. Unfortunately I had forgotten to get lemon juice, but I thought that washing the bowl and the mixing thingies would work just as well. Wrong! After ten minutes I still had a liquid with some scummy stuff on top. So, off I went to the supermarket for the second time.

I came back with more whipping cream and lemon juice. I cleaned out the bowl real good with the juice and starting whipping again. Ten minutes later I threw it away: liquid and scum does not equal whipped cream. Fortunately I also have glass bowls, so I cleaned one of those and poured in more cream to whip. Two minutes later I had butter!

By now I was fed up and I made a third trip to the supermarket. This time to get the ready-made stuff! Fortunately that worked very well with the mashed raspberries and I was finally ready to start filling the eclairs. But then the next problem arose: how was I going to do that? I have one of those pastry bags with a lot of nozzles (for lack of a better word), but they were too big and the size I needed, I did have, but it didn't fit in the pastry bag!

Well, finally I was so fed up with it all, I accepted the suggestion of my friend: slice them open and fill them that way. Not the proper way I know, but by then I was ready to bin the whole lot! After having 'filled' the eclairs I set to melting the white chocolate and cream. However, I didn't let it cool off enough after and the eclairs we enjoyed stuck to nearly everything! They were yummy though!!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Where I should be...

Taken back in June
Right now I should be driving somewhere in the North of France on my way to Paris. Where I would probably battle with the traffic trying to get into Paris. Where I would wonder whether I would be able to make it to the Eiffel Tower and back to the hotel within my 10 driving and 15 working hours. But instead, I am home. Because the trip got cancelled due to an incident on another continent, which might influence the trip. 

Now I have enough time to tidy, clear and clean my work room. Which it very desperately needs, since there are boxes everywhere. Filled, half-filled, closed and open. I nearly knocked one down the day before yesterday. It looks a bit like a hoarder's home: piles and piles of stuff through which you have to wade before getting to the computers. I wonder if I can find some more treasure that way as well. After all, I found a cd of the best of Pink Floyd the other day. Never knew I had it...

So, I will be getting to work and hopefully find some treasures...

Thursday, 4 October 2012


When foreigners come to the Netherlands they always want to see the things that are so typically Dutch: like everybody wearing clogs or the national dress, the windmills and the cheese markets. Well, despite what every tourist seems to think and what the photo seems to suggest: not everybody in the Netherlands wears clogs. As a matter of fact, I know only a few people who actually own them! And most of them are farmers or have large vegetable gardens. I own a pair, but only wear them when I work in the garden. Which most of you know is a rarity!

And what about our national dress? It's not! It's the dress of a small village just North of Amsterdam. Because where I live close to, they wear something completely different and when you go down South, it's different again. Those windmills then: well they are still here and do actually operate. Most of them were and are used for our ongoing battle against the sea, although they are now mostly monumental museum pieces, only to be used in dire times. Others were used to mill flour, mustard, rape seed oil and plenty more. 

And then the cheesemarkets. Well, there still are cheesemarkets being kept, but only for the tourists. The cheeses there are mostly sold to the tourists, because if we go to the supermarket, market stall or cheese shop, we can't buy those little round edam cheeses! We buy large wagon wheels or parts of it, probably about 40 cm in diameter!! 

Never mind about all that though: several years me and my parental units (otherwise known as papa and mama) went to the Edam Cheesemarket. The weather was nice, a local celebrity opened the proceedings and men in funny looking clothes ran up and down with those wooden slabs full of cheese. Just like in the old days. 

This is my 39th entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


He finds his comfort anywhwere: like the linen cupboard!
Well, it's official, it's autumn. Last week we had our first autumn storm of the year, today is a day of rain, rain and more rain. I managed to cycle between the raindrops more or less while going home from work this morning, but I doubt if I will be so lucky this afternoon. I think the Tweety suit is needed then!

But, for all its rain and strong winds, I don't mind the autumn. As a matter of fact, I think it is actually my favourite season. The unbearable heat of the summer has gone and Christmas is fast approaching. Now admittedly, this summer wasn't too hot or even too good, but still, putting on an extra pair of socks to lounge around in at home, makes me feel happy. I enjoy life's simple pleasures...

L is for...

Lindy at Lake Louise

A blog is a great medium, because it was through my blog that I got to know Kay who lives in Canada. And when I went to Canada on holiday, she invited me to stay in a hotel with her and Lindy, her dog, and see some sights. I took her up on that offer and our first tour was of the Rocky Mountains. We walked around a bit in Banff and then we made our way to Lake Louise, a beautiful turquoise lake at the foot of a glacier.

Kay told me that when she first saw the glacier years earlier, it had been much larger. However, it was still very cold with the wind coming over the glacier and the lake and my coat didn't really warm me up enough. Fortunately Lindy didn't suffer from that at all, she had a very nice coat on: her own fur!

This is the letter L for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

On the blonde side

Over the years I have fought very hard against all the prejudices about blondes. Because apparently we blondes are of the silly variety. The dumb sort. The not so clever nitwit type. And I don't think I am one of them. Since I have encountered silly, dumb and not so clever women who didn't have blonde hair. So, I have started referring to the silly, dumb and not so clever as 'blonde on the inside'. With the brain of a castrated peanut! 

Anyway, to cut a very long dissertation about being blonde and all it entails short: I was blonde this weekend. On the inside unfortunately. Which makes it doubly bad, since I am also blonde on the outside! Oopsie!

What happened you ask? Well, I had an idea for a lovely blogpost on Saturday, but couldn't really be bothered to go up to my office/workroom/messy room to write it, deciding it would keep very well until Sunday. Which it did. It didn't go off, it didn't grow mould, it was still as fresh as on Saturday. Come Sunday however, my internet connection was playing up. It does that more often and there is a very simple solution: unplug the modem, wait fifteen seconds, plug modem back in and Bob's your uncle. 

I trotted down the stairs, nearly stepping on the big red monster and unplugged the modem (which is situated in the living room). I cleared some cat toys, emptied the snot-bucket, made myself a cup of tea and went back upstairs. But whatever happened: the internet didn't. I tried the baby, but here as well: no luck. I was grrrr'ing by this time, decided I would play a game and go back down. The story would have to keep until Monday.

Monday arrived and as I got back from my morning shift, I saw the lights of my modem weren't on, nor on the wireless doohickey. So, I phoned my dad, who had to trot upstairs to get the internet going, so he could find out whether they were doing maintenance on the line here. Which they didn't. He then asked me whether the modem was plugged in? Well, of course it was and I would walk up and show myself it was....

All you clever people have already noticed of course that between cat toys, snot-bucket and tea, I never plugged the modem in. I plugged it in and lo and behold, the lights came on (in the modem) and after I started the computer I could even get online again.  

The story that could keep? Nowhere near as good as this post unfortunately...