Sunday, 17 June 2018

Photo on Sunday 2018-15

Ulster Orchestra

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Telling a bit more

Going down into the caves
Well, as you know I have been busy lately. Mainly due to the fact that once they got me on that coach, they didn't want to stop and I have been driving the larger coaches now for a few weeks. I have been doing the Glasgow Express quite often, to the degree where I get recognised when entering the truckers lounge! In fact, this week I will be doing that journey four times! 

But, it hasn't been all work. My sister and I had a lovely day out a few weeks ago, where we visited some caves. We had hoped to use a little boat to get into the caves, but the water was too high due to heavy rain the night before, so we had to walk. It was still very beautiful.

A natural path made through the rocks by water
After that we drove up to Belleek Pottery. I love small vases and I wanted to see whether there was any to add to my collection. Unfortunately they were all too big to my taste, but my sister did come away with one. Then we had a lovely scenic route home. 

I also found out that where Norway 'works', Northern Ireland doesn't. Norway has a system that works very easy. You have your own personal number and that can be used to do most things. Open a bank account? Done. Taxes? Done. Sell your car? Done. And I don't mean having to wait for three working days for it to be done, it's done in an instant.

Just a service ladder, it didn't lead anywhere
I had opened a bank account here in NI, but I also wanted a savings account. I used the same bank, which should mean my information was on file (it was, sort of), yet I had to give the exact same information as I had to before! Plus a whole lot more. How much was I to put into my savings account? Where would the money come from? The what???

Well, I struggled through those 45 minutes and we were finally done. Although I did NOT have my account number yet, that would take a couple of days. I now have to manually add my savings account to my online banking! They blame it on new rules and such, not sure I agree, since Norway has to adhere to the same rules. Anyway. It's done now, I have the number and I can now start saving for a rainy day. 

Atlantis. Well, it was the reflection of the stalagtites in the the still water
On Tuesday I will be visiting my new place and then hopefully after that I will be able to move in. It would be so good not having to drive half an hour to my sister after a long shift. Instead, it is just a five minute ride and I can jump straight into bed. Bliss....

Friday, 15 June 2018

Just so you know!

No, I haven't fallen off the grid. I have not crashed a coach/bus. I have not disappeared into thin air. 

I just have been extremely busy at work. And as a result of that: tired. I make long hours nearly every day and when I am off, I just hang about doing nothing really. 

I am still living at my sister's, although the apartment is nearly ready and I hope to be moving in next week. I might have to ask a few days off though, just to get everything sorted. I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again. 

Other than that: I will try and give you a better update tomorrow or Sunday. I hope...

Friday, 1 June 2018

On repeat

After last Tuesday's successful trip to Glasgow, I got another chance yesterday. This time with a coach that was a bit smaller. Not necessarily less wide, but definitely shorter. And this time I also managed to be on time everywhere. Not that that was hard to do: it was so early in the day, most people were still asleep I think. My own alarm clock had gone off at 3.45 am!!

Anyway, I made my way to Glasgow and I felt I did okay. I arrived at the bus station and once the passengers had gotten off, the new lot came on. Including the same colleague who had traveled back with me on Tuesday. He showed me another way to get out of Glasgow and another way to get into Belfast as well. Always handy. 

After we had gotten back to base, he told me he felt I was more secure this time around. I will still need a lot of practice, but I am doing fine so far and getting more comfortable for every trip I do. I just know I will need to remember to take a book or (when it's possible again) some knitting for that ferry ride. Two and a half hours one way is quite long to just stare at the sea. 

Today it's back to the mini bus and a completely different trip. I have gotten the details and have looked through them. It doesn't sound too difficult. Famous last words of course, but so far, I have managed everything they have thrown at me and I do have a sat nav with me as well (gps system). I will pick up passengers at two different places before driving them to a large venue in Belfast. 

I will then be waiting until they come back from whoever/whatever they will watch and drive them back home. I hope to be back home and ready for bed at around 2 in the morning! Tomorrow I will have another job (not sure what it is yet) and then on Sunday my sister and I made plans. Hopefully the weather will be okay then, since they are forecasting worse weather from today onward.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018


The first thing I wanted to show you today was the little video I wanted to put in Monday's post, however it was too large to be put in directly (a whole 10mb), so another solution had to be found. So, if you hit play, you should be able to see a bit of the match between Antrim and Down and how it goes about. And yes, one of them scores, I think it was Antrim.

That is not the surprise though. The surprise was completely different. I knew I had to do a certain run yesterday: Belfast to Glasgow and I knew I would do it in the mini bus. Well, I assumed so anyway. However, when I got to work, they pointed me towards a large regular coach and told me that was the one I was taking out! 

My heart sank.

Not this one!
They had wanted me to take a smaller bus (but bigger than the mini bus), but somebody else had had to take that one earlier in the day and that left me with the large one! 

The first bit to the motorway is narrow and windy and it's hard to see what's coming. I so didn't want any mishaps, scrapes or whathaveyous and drove at a snail's pace, coming to a complete stop whenever a car came from the other direction. I made it! Phew! On to Belfast.

View towards NI from the ferry
I got to Belfast in one piece, I made it to the terminal in one piece (with passengers), got on to the ferry (tight!!!), got off it again and drove a very windy narrow road to Glasgow. Fortunately I was stuck behind a few lorries who weren't going faster than 40 miles an hour. Perfect for me! 

Once we got to the motorway it got a bit easier again and I relaxed the teensiest bit, but soon we hit Glasgow and in to the city I went. I arrived at the bus station a few minutes late, but still in good time before the return trip. 

On my return trip I had a colleague with me to the ferry and we chatted the whole way. I stayed between the lines, didn't flinch as much and according to him, I was doing fine! Just the last bit (the windy bit) was again a bit tricky, but I made it back to the ferry safely. 

The island of Aisla Craig in the distance (through dirty windows). This is where the curling stones came/come from.
Once off the ferry again, the lovely sunny day was rapidly changing into a lovely cloudless night. That was especially tricky during the last few miles on the country roads, but I made it safe and sound back to the depot.

I was exhausted! However, I am quite pleased I did that well. I might have been thrown in at the deep end, but I managed to come out unscathed. Literally. I didn't hit anything, I kept clear of all parked cars and made it home in one piece. 

Today I am back on the mini bus. Relax a bit again!

Monday, 28 May 2018


In November 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in Ireland. A country that was at that time still part of the United Kingdom. Its main focuses were on Irish sports, but music, dance and language are also high up on the list. The sports they champion are Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie. 

All the sports are played on a strictly amateur level, although the better players can get some advertisement money and/or sponsorships. Other than that: no pay! However, some of the football players do cross over to rugby, where they can go professional. 

Last Saturday I went to a football game in Newry. We could have seen both the games on that evening, but we left after the first one, which featured the under 20's. It was still great fun to watch though. If you are ever at a game where you don't understand a lot, ask the person in front, chances are they do! So, that's what I did. I asked the man in front of me, about the scoring, about the teams and about several other things. 

Now, the term football is quite a strange term for the sport we watched: the only time the ball ever touched the feet was when they were doing a keepie-uppie while running and when they tried to get the ball either in the goal or through the posts over the goal. Other than that: it was carried in their hands!

The names on the scoreboard were in Gaelic, which got me a bit confused as well (like it confused Yamini). Aontroim is indeed Co Antrim, but An Dun is not an island off the coast of Ireland, but a county called Down, both in the province of Ulster (which contains all of Northern Ireland and some counties in the Republic). 

Anyway, the game was great fun to watch and even the scoring was quite easy: between the goal posts over the goal: 1 point. In the goal: 3 points. However, instead of adding them all up immediately, they went for how many times they scored a certain way of scoring. At the end of the match, the points are totalled and a winner declared. In this case it was County Down who got a total of 29 points (they had 5 goals and 14 points, photo was taken a bit earlier), whereas County Antrim got a total of 22 points (3 goals and 13 points).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Photo on Sunday 2018-14

Yet another little teaser.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Of overs and wickets and such

A cricket pitch with a view
Having lived in the Netherlands most of my life and a stint in Norway as well, I have not come across cricket that often. In fact, never! Football (or soccer) yes. Cricket never. Even during my time in England a lifetime ago, I never came across it. 

A couple of days ago I had a bunch of school boys who were playing another school in a cricket tournament. I didn't watch it, even though I probably could have. Then yesterday, another group of school boys playing another school, but this time there wasn't even the possibility. 

Today I went to yet another school with the group from a couple of days ago and I felt it should be possible for me to catch some of the game. First of all, the sports grounds were fantastic! The school basically had the sports grounds in front of them and then: an uninterrupted view over the hills beyond! Not a bad place.

The weather was quite lovely as well: sunshine with a bit of a breeze and perfect to sit in a chair and watch a game of cricket. If only I understood what was going on!

I asked some of the boys on the bus to explain, and they did. I think. There was something about a rolling ball and four points and six points and knocking the wicket. I didn't really learn that much! However, some of what they said started making sense after a while and other things I figured out for myself. 

After the first half (I know it probably isn't called that, but that's what it felt like), my group had set a benchmark the other school had to beat. They didn't! Which meant my group had won. 

I understood it eventually. I think!
Cricket will never be my go-to-sport-to-watch, but it is quite nice. I think. With the sun shining and a light breeze and nice cup of tea...

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Getting settled

Taken on a trip to Derry back in 2008
I had another trip today. Same school again, different destination again. Tomorrow I will do another trip. Again the same school, but again a different destination. After my knock last week, it has been nice to do relatively simple jobs to ease me into the new job. 

I get to see a bit of the country as well. Which definitely helps me getting used to routes and such. Today it was Armagh's turn. I live (at the moment anyway) in County Armagh, but its capital is also called Armagh. A lovely city where the boys I had on the bus today were going to play cricket. 

Tomorrow yet another place to get to: Derry. My sister and I visited there several years ago on a holiday, but since I have the same school as today (and Tuesday and last Saturday), it is most likely to be another cricket trip. 

Another photo of Derry in 2008
For some people that might the most boring thing. But for me they are brilliant. I get to see new things, meet new people and in the end that will all help me in my new job. And as the lady in the office said: we give you all of this now to build up that confidence again and then we will slowly get you onto the bigger buses/coaches. 

For now though: I am doing fine!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Week 4

Last Monday I had been in Northern Ireland exactly three weeks. In those three weeks a lot of things have happened. I got a car, a bank account, my stuff arrived, Miss Oswin arrived and I started work.

That last thing wasn't without its problems however, as you have probably read last week. I must admit, it really did knock my confidence for six. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing of driving here, but I never thought it would be that difficult. Everything I thought I knew about driving a coach was basically thrown out and I had to start again from scratch.

In the mean time however, I keep driving those mini-buses. They may be only slightly wider than a regular car, but they do give me some confidence in my abilities to drive and make sure people arrive safe and on time. Which was very much needed. 

There was another thing that was quite welcome today: my first pay. Well, I haven't received it yet (probably tomorrow) and it isn't that much, but pay is pay and on a monthly basis it seems to be enough to pay for my rent, electricity, insurance and whatever else. Plus I have some money still (coming) from Norway that will help tide me over as well.