Saturday, 31 October 2009

Dressing up!


Well, because today is Hallowe'en, I've decided to post a photo of myself all dressed up. I had quite a bit of choice, but in the end I chose this photo. It was taken by a professional photographer while I worked for Club Med in Tignes, France. I am dressed and made up for the "Rocky Horror Show". I was one of the chorus girls, but was completely in the front of the line-up (to the chagrin of the choreographer who was behind me). It had been put together by a German ski-teacher who liked me and my outfit looked absolutely stunning: Madonna bra, hotpants (with gold opaque tights though) and high heels.

I also put up my hair. It was quite long in those days and I would completely brush it forward, put half a toilet roll on my head and then cover it with hair again. Lots of kirby grips and even more hairspray would make it look fantastic. At the end of the evening it would take me about two hours to get it back to normal to avoid a splitting headache! The make-up (as you cannot see) is heavy and black.

Happy Hallowe'en!!!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Les pompiers


Aren't dreams funny things? We all dream in our sleep. And according to the people in the know, we dream so we can rid ourselves of the day's worries and joys and start the new day afresh. Now, I usually have the strangest dreams when I'm not doing much at all. For some strange reason...

Anyway, last night I also dreamt. Now, remember I am Dutch and talk Dutch on a daily basis. I also use a lot of English; watching telly, reading/writing blogs, reading books. I do also speak German fluently, French to a good degree and Italian to get on by.

So, when I woke up this morning I wasn't too surprised, since a few weeks ago I had dreamt in German. Last night however, I dreamt in French. Not a language I use often, which I noticed in my dream as well!

I was with my coach and wanted to park on the side of the road, behind a colleague of mine. As I was parking on the heavily sloping road, the bus tilted and dropped down the hill. I had two ladies on board as well, but they (like me) were unharmed, since the bus landed on some trees and bushes, cushioning the fall. We got towed back up to the road and again I tried to park. Again, however, the bus tilted and rolled backwards down the slope, this time with only me on the bus.

This time I couldn't get towed back up the hill though and I had to call 'les pompiers'. Now, why I had to call 'les pompiers' was a bit fuzzy to me after I woke up, because the bus wasn't on fire and I was able to get out quite easily. However, I phoned 'les pompiers', they arrived and I explained to them what happened. In that instant I showed my lack of French knowledge. I told 'les pompiers' that I wanted to park on the road, but 'la rue faisait comme ça (imagine hand gesture doing a slope of a hill) et l'autocar faisait comme ça (imagine hand gesture doing a roll down a hill) en arrière!'.

I used to dream in French a lot, while I was living in both Italy and France. I dreamt almost exclusively in English while I was living in England and for the last few years I have been dreaming in Dutch. Funny how your mind sometimes decides it gets bored with it all and gives you another language to do your dreaming in...

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

O is for...


Outhouse

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there weren't many houses with indoor plumbing. In fact it wasn't until the middle of last century that most homes in western Europe were fitted with indoor plumbing. Before that, they used outhouses like in the photos, chamber pots (which were often just emptied out in the streets) or holes in the ground. I think I can even remember an outhouse at my grandparents' farm, even though by the time I was born they had indoor plumbing as well.

Families living in cities weren't as lucky as people living in the country. Yes, there would still be outhouses, but they would have to be shared with all families living in the same building or even the whole street. People living in those conditions were usually the poorest of the poor and would not really have enough money for the basics. Combine that with dirty living conditions and near open sewers and you can understand people didn't live to a right old age!

Nowadays most of Europe has indoor plumbing. At least the western part of this continent does, I am not sure about the poorest areas in the east. And I must admit, when it's raining outside and there's a cold wind blowing, I am glad I don't have to step outside to use the bathroom!

For more O-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

How Jane Austen dealt with the stricken


"It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a zombie in possession of brains, must be in want of more brains"

Several months ago (it must have been June), I was wandering in a bookstore in London when my eye was caught by a book. Of course this is not unnatural if you're in a bookstore, but this book was a bit different. It was about zombies!

Zombies and me don't really mix. I've never encountered one, I've never seen one (bar the ones in Michael Jackson's Thriller-video) and have never really felt the urge to read about them. Until...

I am a great fan of Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park (not too fond of Emma or Northanger Abbey), I've read them time and time again. So, when I wandered through that bookstore and saw a book called "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", it wasn't a normal thing for me to pick it up. But, I figured, anyone who can come up with a title like that, deserves my money for the title alone. So, I bought it. Brought it home with me. Started reading it. Put it away again because of the stupidity. Couldn't find it anymore.

Fast forward about three months. During all those boring days on rail replacement service recently, I needed something to keep me sane (apart from chocolate). So, I went out to find the book again. Which I found again in the end and put in my bag to take to work.

What can I say? I finished it, because I wanted to know what would happen to Lydia Bennet and her suitor Mr Wickham. I wanted to know why the zombies were eating cauliflower (there are drawings in the book). And of course I wanted to know whether Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy would end up together or whether they would fall prey to the herd of unmentionables.

Despite the large number of (random) killings, the introduction of a few new characters (needed as zombies) and the killing of a few favourites, the book was actually quite funny. There were even several moments where I laughed out loud.

Now, on account of me telling the world that I was reading this book under the little header of 'on my nightstand', I got an e-mail several weeks ago. Some lady from some publisher's office in the USofA had seen I was reading this book (or trying at the time) and was wondering whether I would like to be put on their mailing list. And then a couple of days later I got another e-mail asking me whether I would like to try 'Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters'. So, I sent an e-mail back with my address and lo and behold: yesterday afternoon a package from the USofA arrived. Containing said book. So, despite me not being a fan of the fantasy-horror-creepy genre, I now am in proud possession of not one, but two of those books. Hopefully the second one will prove to be as good as the first!

Monday, 26 October 2009

What I miss


Skating in Swindon

Last night as I was working, I got to talking to a lady on the bus. Somehow (I don't recall how) we got to the subject of what I missed about living and working in England. Now, first I think I need to give you a little background information.

I moved to England in 1992, almost straight after the Club Med winter season in Tignes-Val Claret. It was the beginning of June and I arrived with two overloaded suitcases. I was shown to my room at the back of the kitchen and loved the fact that I had my own bathroom. By the end of June I hadn't made many friends yet, but it was my birthday anyway. No money, no friends, not even a phone-call from home to wish me happy birthday: I was miserable. Fortunately it picked up though. I was invited to my boss's home for a barbecue, I started hanging out with the other foreigners working in the restaurant (I worked at reception) and slowly I began to find my place.

In early spring of 1993 I got fired from being a receptionist on account of my English: it was too good! I was allowed to stay in the hotel and chose to work in the restaurant, where I stayed until October 1994. I made friends with several of the waitresses and waiters, I always had my lunch at the same table as the gardeners and maids, I passed my driving test and got a car. I was happy.

However, during the summer of 1994, my happiness was diminished. My male Italian colleagues found it quite hard to work for a woman apparently and during work it was often hard for them to do as I told them to. Besides that, because of my elevated status I wasn't allowed to do any of the 'fun' stuff anymore. Every day was the same. By late September the stress was really getting to me. I drank coffee as if it was water, which in turn gave me massive migraines. I had to go home on one or two occasions because of it. When I went on holiday to Ibiza early October, the only thing I could think of was: "I've got to back to work in two weeks". And not in a good way. After my return, I wrote a letter of resignation and on November 1st I left.

I arrived home on November 2nd and immediately knew I had made a massive mistake. During the Christmas period I was homesick and living at home was (apart from getting to know my sister) not all it's cracked up to be!

So, what do I miss? The camaraderie, the togetherness, the fun after work. I had it during my two seasons working for Club Med and I had it in England. And I miss it. I love being on my own, but the fun and laughter and 'we're all in this together'-feeling is something I would love to have again!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Food, glorious food


I saw this the other day on Baino's Banter, a blog I had never read before (but will go to again), but this sounded to good to pass up on.

1. What's your number 1 comfort food?
I don't really have a comfort food, at least not one that stands out. I do love sweet food though, so I will tend towards the chocolate/dessert/sweet end of the food spectrum!

2. If you were stranded on a dessert island, what food would you want to have with you to survive on?
Anything that doesn't tickle too much when swallowing it like bugs and beetles...

3. What are your signature dishes? (What are you famous for making?)
Lasagne, although it's been a long time since I last made it. It takes me three to four hours and I make everything: from the sauce to the lasagne leaves. I will make it soon again.

4. It's Friday night, you don't know what to cook, what do you opt for?
Depending on what's in the cupboard I can go for anything from a fried egg to minute-noodles, from semolina pudding to pancakes.

5. What's your ultimate food weakness?
Cinnamon Icecream. Mmmm, lovely!

6. What food can you soooooo not eat?
Mushrooms! They are so gross! They slither in your throat, they smell awful, they are just yuck!

7. You need a drink, you grab a ...?
Milk. In order for my nails to stay healthy and strong, I need at least one glass of milk a day. During the summer I have to remind myself though to drink enough water as well, otherwise I will get urinary infections (or is that too much information?).

8. What's the most decadent dish you ever had?
Oysters probably, although I think they are highly overrated: either they are salty or they are sour because of the lemon. Either way I don't like them one bit.

9. What's your favourite type of food?
Simple one-dish meals like stews. Hearty and heartwarming.

10. Favourite dish?
Cinnamon ice-cream. Oooohhh...

11. If your partner could take you to any restaurant, where would you go?
Purely on location: there is a restaurant quite close to where I live that is built in a former watertower. While dining the top level slowly revolves and you have to eat to a certain speed in order to get every course, because the doors from the kitchen don't revolve with the rest! On taste? I don't really have a favourite restaurant, probably due to the fact I have to eat out a lot due to my job. I would prefer him cooking for me, provided he would serve a fantastic dessert of course!

12. Soup or salad?
Not a big fan of either really. It also depends on what type of soup/salad. During the winter months I will eat Snert (or Pea Soup), a Dutch dish consisting of peas, potatoes, sausage, bacon, meat, turnip, carrot and other hardy vegetables. It's accompanied by a thin slice of rye bread covered with another type of bacon. If your spoon cannot stay upright in the soup, the soup is not well made!

13. Buffet, take-out or sit-down?
If I go to a restaurant I don't want to make dinner, I don't want to serve dinner and I definitely don't want to do the washing-up! So, no question: Sit-down!

14. What's the most impressive meal you ever made?
When I still lived at home aged 17 or so, my parents were out for the day. I decided to cook them dinner and got all the ingredients (boxes etc) to make a nice Chinese meal. I wrote everything out before hand, so I would be on time with everything and when my parents and sister came home there was a complete Chinese meal waiting for them. It tasted really good and my parents were very pleased as well!

15. Do you consider yourself a good cook?
I am decent enough. I have never poisoned anyone (yet). I am alright in the easier dishes, but if I were to apply myself, I might even be able to prepare harder dishes.

16. Do you know what vichyssoise is?
I think it's a fish soup. But, for the sake of this, I will look it up as well, just so I can see I am right. Ah, no, it's not. So my answer is: no, I don't know what a vichyssoise is!

17. Who's your favourite TV-cook?
I don't really have one. Although Ainsley Harriot (yes, he's a cook)... Yep, Ainsley Harriot!

18. Can you name at least three famous cooking personalities?
Apart from the above? James Martin (great face), Jamie Oliver (annoying little man), Two hairy bikers, Nigella Lawson. Does it in any way show I watch a lot of British food programs?

19. Homemade or homemade from a box?
Hm, tough one. Homemade. Yes, definitely, homemade. Although muffins, cookies and the like are perfectly homemade from a box as well. Oh, it's a toss-up. Either can be really good!

20. Tag three people to reveal all...
If you feel a calling right now to do this little questionaire: please do so. If not: still the best of friends (as we would say in the Netherlands)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Camera Critters 16


This is the last of the photos I will show you of the zoo I went to several weeks ago. But how can you resist this little face? I don't know what type of fish it is, so if anyone can shed any light on that?

For more critters from around the world, please check out Camera Critters and join in the fun!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Grump


I don't often have a really bad day mood-wise, but yesterday was a top one! It was alright until about 10am when I woke up. A few minutes later I got a call from my boss: instead of doing my own shift, I now had to do another shift, doing the same as the day before. Driving for twenty mintues, standing still for twenty-five. So, I was in a foul mood!

Anyway, as I drove towards the starting point, my mood dropped and dropped until I feared it would go underground. I started work and my mood didn't lift. In the end there was only one thing for it: sweets! So, I got myself a big bag of marshmellows and three chocolate bars and went away to become merry again.

It didn't quite work out that way, but eating the marshmellows certainly helped me get out of the doldrums enough to become half way okay again. Not completely mind, that was asking a bit much.

And what's in store today? The same shift as yesterday! Up and down the dike. Fortunately I still have my chocolate bars left over from yesterday...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Goodnight


That'll be me in a minute. Not quite in the same bed anymore though: it's now a kingsize one. I don't stick my thumb in my mouth anymore either and the doll has long ago made room for a teddy (Brom and he wears a bikini) that's on my nightstand.

The reason I am going to bed so late (3am)? I got home from work just over an hour ago. I wanted a little snack, needed to harvest some trees (Facebook: so addictive!) and just chill out a bit. Now however, it's time to go to bed!

Goodnight...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

N is for...


Nissen hut

Whenever I read books that have their story take place during WW2, they often talk about Nissen huts. And I never knew exactly what it was. Until I went to the Imperial War Museum Duxford (England) earlier this year and as well as all the old aeroplanes, there was this hut. And it turned out to be a Nissen hut.

So, what is a Nissen hut exactly? Well, it is a hut invented and built for housing troops during WW1. Due to its semicircular shape, the hut deflected shrapnel and bomb blast, making it a perfect bomb shelter. It is the first pre-fab building and it would fit on the back of a three-ton truck. It's built up of a metal frame, covered with corrugated iron. The door is made of wood and the windows are not glass, but oiled cloth. Six men could have it standing within two hours!

They were used for housing troops, kitchens, Mess rooms, storage rooms, bathrooms, small hospitals, stables and of course bomb shelters.

The hut was invented in 1916 by Peter Nissen, a Norwegian American who joined the Royal Engineers during WW1.

For more N words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Update: the Quonset (USA) and the Romney (UK) hut are both derived from the Nissen hut.

You can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs...


I always check eggs before I put them in my shopping cart. After all, I don't want to pay for cracked eggs. So, a few weeks ago, I checked the eggs, saw they were fine, bought them and brought them home. And when I tried to make myself an egg sandwich a few days later, I couldn't use them. Because somewhere between buying them and putting them in the cupboard for further use, one of them had cracked and spilt and all the other eggs were now stuck to the box! I managed to crack one while it was still in the box, but it produced such a mess, that I threw the rest in the bin.

This morning I needed new eggs. So, I went to the store, checked the box for broken eggs (none), paid for them, put them in my shopping bag and cycled home. At home I put the shopping bag on the stove and took my coat off. And whether it was one of monsters being monstrous or me not having put the bag on the stove properly: it fell off! The egg box looked fine however. Until I looked inside!

One egg had a crack through the middle, but I managed to put it in a bowl. And another egg was slightly dented, so I put that one in the bowl as well. You wonder why you bother with all the checking...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Lazy

Good thing I've got my weekend right now!!!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Camera Critters 15


When I was at the zoo last week there were several animals definitely not indigenous to this country. I mean, I don't get to meet penguins on every street corner. So, it was great to see one at the zoo. It's a Humboldt Penguin and I was so lucky when I got home and saw this one had actually come out great!

For more critters from around the world, please check out Camera Critters and join in the fun.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Shiver!


Okay, forget not putting the heating on (it's been on for nigh on two weeks now), forget about still wearing summer clothes (it's autumn) and forget about having ice-cream after dinner (although a nice cinnamon ice-cream with whipped cream...).

Last night it was freezing in the Netherlands. Literally! Temperatures dropped below zero (Celsius, not a clue about Fahrenheit) as far back as minus five! But I was still wearing my summer coat, even though my gloves were already in my pockets. And my duvet was only the autumn one, albeit with an extra blanket.

I can tell you that as of today: it's the winter duvet, the winter coat (including gloves and blue scarf) and an extra pair of socks and a cardigan when I'm home alone. Now I'm just waiting for the proper frost and snow and don't worry: I've got plenty more blankets to keep warm...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

M is for...


Maria

When I was in Rome the very first time (2007), I also visited the Vatican. After my group had gone off to wander the streets of Rome a bit more, I still hung around the square in front of Saint Peter. There were fences everywhere and people were gathering alongside those fences. The majority of those people was female and they were all wearing flowers, special shirts, special scarves and tears in their eyes. So, I got myself a good spot and waited, because what else can you do?


After an hour or so the tension was mounting. The speakers blared Ave Maria over and over and women were crying and chanting along. And then, all of a sudden, a helicopter appeared. The women got into a frenzy now, trying to get the best spot to see. I let some of them stand in front of me (on account of them being on the smaller side), but they hardly had time to thank me, because it was coming!


Now, I still didn't know what was coming, but it was great to see it all unfold. Underneath the helicopter was a statue! After the statue was brought to earth safely, the procession started. Now, any Catholics out there, please forgive me if I don't know which is which, but in some order there arrived Choirboys, Priests, Cardinals, Chaplains and after they had all passed, the women (and men). In one big line towards Saint Peter for a special Mass!


Right before everybody disappeared however, I grabbed hold of one of them and asked who and what. In 1917, at the height of the Great War, two children were playing when all of a sudden they saw a statue of Maria weep. It made headlines of course and the town where it happened (Fatima in Portugal) became a place of pilgrimage. Ninety years later, the fact that Maria had weeped was celebrated in the Vatican!


For more M words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Award!


Oh my, oh my, oh my! Another award! I love it and want to thank Carolina at Brinkbeest in English for it. As usual there are some rules and regulations attached and I will try to follow as well as I can.

1. As a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging.
The person who first got me blogging is my lovely sister, who unfortunately doesn't blog very often any more. But she is the one responsible in a way for all my blogging and cyberfriends I have found so far.

2. To seek the reasons why we all love blogging.
The reason I love blogging is quite simple: venting! My anger, my rage, my joy, my happiness, my work, my cats and my life! Writing about it gives my mind some rest after a hard day at work and stops me from knocking holes in the plaster walls at home (which by the way, I have never done!).

3. Put the award in a post as soon as you receive it.
Of course I did, I am still too proud of any award to not do so!

4. Don't forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
Didn't I just do that at the beginning? Hold on, scrolling back now.... Yep, I did, but to be on the safe side: Carolina at Brinkbeest in English gave me this award!

5. Answer the award's question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
Venting, friends, new things and people and places. Those are the main reasons, there are probably some more, but that means I would have to dig deep into my resting brain! Not a good thing to do on a day off...

6. Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
I will stick to one this time and it will be Crystal at Thru My Minds Eye. She always has the strangest questions she wants answered, which by the way I love doing, because they are fantastically thought off (does this still make sense?). Anyway: Cry, come and get your award!

Santa is coming!


Well, of course not quite yet, but I've already watched several old and new Christmas films. And then the other day I found Lisa's Chaos. A blog, what else? Anyhow, Lisa is suggesting a Christmas Ornament Swap! Basically, you get partnered up with somebody and you have to send them a store-bought or home-made Christmas ornament! And the funnest part is: you will get one back as well! How brilliant is that???

So, if any of you out there are as Christmas mad as I am, why not go to Lisa's Chaos and follow her instructions by leaving a comment and sending her an e-mail with your snail-mail address! You never know, you might get paired up with me (although to what extent that would be a good thing I don't know...)!

Just remember to sign up before October 31st!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Mara


My dear readers and followers will know that my name is Mara. But apart from it being my name, it is also an animal. A hare-type animal that roams in South America and is also quite often found in zoos. So, when I went to the zoo last Saturday, guess what my quest of the day was! Right!!

Unfortunately the mara didn't feel like meeting its namesake (me) that day and decided he would much rather stay indoors, watch some telly, drink some hot cocoa and eat some crisps. Leaving me with the above sign!

*Grumble*

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Camera Critters 14


A little Barbary Macaque, found in the South of Europe (most famously Gibraltar) and the North of Africa. This was only a baby and I saw it yesterday in Ouwehands Dierenpark in Rhenen, the Netherlands. Isn't it cute!?

For more critters from around the world, please visit Camera Critters and join in the fun!

PS: the jellyfish in the header I also saw there!

Friday, 9 October 2009

HELLO!


Yes, I am still in blogland. I just haven't had much to write about lately. At least not anything I found interesting enough to write about. Work has been okay: not too busy, not too slack; home life has been okay as well, quite boring actually, so not really that interesting. Unless you are all interested in how I iron my shirts (back top left first, front top left, back top right, front right, back, front left, left sleeve, right sleeve. Just in case you did want to know)...

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, I have been writing a variation on a theme. Sounds vague doesn't it? And it is, but I promise you, the poem I am varying on sounds quite good. At least to my ears it does. You will have to wait a while though, it won't appear until Christmas, since it's a variation on one of the most well-known Christmas Carols! I won't tell you which one, because that would be letting cats out of the bag and I can tell you: they don't like to be kept in bags, so best not tell them they're in one...

Anyhoo, that's it for now. Tomorrow I am going to the zoo. I might even get a photo of a Mara!!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

L is for...


Lunch

Since my job means I work at the funniest hours, it also means I eat at the funniest hours. Sometimes I don't get the chance to make and take my own lunch, for example when I have been staying in a hotel for a few days or when I've run out of bread at home. If I haven't been able to make my own lunch, I have several options: go to a restaurant and have a small lunch (not always possible), don't eat (no option), go to a supermarket/petrol station and get a sandwich or get a packed lunch.

Packed lunches come in all shapes and sizes. The worst one ever looked as if they had just given me their home-made lunch (not the drinks and yoghurt): two slices of bread with jam (jelly), squashed together and stuck in aluminium foil! The best ones are usually two or three rolls (brown and white) with cheese, ham or another cold meat, a piece of fruit, a small drink, a bar of chocolate.

This was the packed lunch I got last Sunday (Open day for the 90th anniversary of KLM). The bread tasted fantastic, the desert is not in the photo anymore, it was too yummy and an orangy drink. Oh, and a small raisin bun. Well, for me it was nowhere near enough, but that was all I got!

For more L-words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Monday, 5 October 2009

I don't like you!


Since it was World's Animal Day yesterday, I thought I would show some photos I took yesterday. The KLM doesn't just transport people across the world, they also transport animals. However, they didn't have any animals 'in stock' for the open house, so they must have raided a local petting zoo! Here we have two billy goats. They reeeeeaaaaaally like each other...


Here they are locking horns to kick one another out of the ring!


This went on all through the pen, they were chasing each other and it didn't matter if other animals (like the camel, walibi, rabbit, ducks, sheep, cow, llama, donkey or pig) got in the way...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Swan


Watch out: planes crossing!

Since a few years the symbol for the Dutch airline KLM is a swan. Well, I didn't see them this weekend. I saw lots of other things however, all to do with the 90th birthday of the airline. Which meant that lots and lots and lots more people had been invited. And they could bring four people along! Meaning a lot of buses were needed to ferry all those lots of people from one end of the airport to the next. I got the reserve shift, meaning I had to sit and wait until I had to do something. Booooooring!

Anyway, day one started off okay, but soon deteriorated. The wind was picking up something terrible. A tent which had been erected for the stickerers (the guys who put the stickers on the buses) and for us, was in danger of blowing away, so in the end it had to be taken down! After the day was finished, we didn't have to go home, but could go to a hotel. Seven of us during dinner: I bet other diners must have been a bit annoyed, although we didn't get a complaint.

This morning we left early again, for again a reserve shift! Well, after a while we all decided (or were told to) to start driving. Again crowds and crowds of people showed up to be shown the engines, the planes themselves, the nerve center and lots more.

And now I am home again and I will go to bed early. There!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Flat? Where?


When foreigners are asked what they know about the Netherlands, the answers are usually something like this: windmills, tulips, clogs, bikes, drugs, red light district in Amsterdam. Oh, and flat, very very flat!

Well, yes, the country is very flat. For the most part anyway, because where I am right now is anything but flat. Last night we were staying in the smallest mountain village of the Netherlands. It is also the only one and not even that is really true. The highest point of the Netherlands is in Vaals, which is about 15 km from where I am right now. That point measures 322 meters above sea level (in comparison: I live 4,2 meters below sea level). So, technically it's not even a mountain. For some people that would be a mole's hill. But for us? It's a mountain!

Now, I didn't go there today, although I would have liked that. The group I have with me is now golfing. Farmer's Golf! Up a mountain!! I wonder who will win...

Anyway, now you know why I sometimes introduce myself as a mermaid, you know the Netherlands aren't completely flat and by the way: I don't live in a windmill, I just bought some tulips, I do own a pair of clogs which I use when working in the garden, I bike almost everywhere, the ladies of the red light district pay taxes, have a union and can retire at age 65 and I have never ever taken drugs (not counting aspirin).

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Fun in the sun!


Well, not really: I've hardly seen the sun these last few days: drizzle and rain on the other hand...

Yesterday my whole schedule was changed last minute. Instead of one trip (which was cancelled), I had to do another trip. Which lasts for three days! So, instead of sitting at home with my cats around me watching Grease on television, I'm sitting in a hotel near the German and Belgium border, but still in the Netherlands watching Grease on television! It's quite a small family hotel in a small mountain village (280m above sea level) in the south of the country.

Last night it was a Golden Tulip hotel with a television that was hard to work, but with a gorgeous dessert which I had in a lounging chair in front of said television!

Today I took the group to a brewery and that was about it. Well, this morning I picked them up from the base and took them to their digs for the night: a whole 80km away! Tomorrow we're going somewhere, but I don't know where yet and after that I will take them back to base again.

So, my three day trip turns out to be quite easy! Even if I have to sleep in hotels...