Monday, 30 November 2009

Getting around in the Netherlands without owning a car

Not owning a car has its drawbacks. Whenever I want to visit family and/or friends, I have to rely on public transport and the goodness of said family and/or friends. Like last Saturday...

On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (not by choice I have to add) and after having a shower and my breakfast I made my way to the busstop for the first part of my journey. It was 8am. On arriving at the busstop with my suitcase, handbag, knitting bag and presents bag I realised the first bus wasn't to leave until 9.21am!!! So, home I went again, got online, played a few games and an hour later I made my way again to the busstop.

After arriving at my parents' place just before 11am, my mother decided to come with me to my niece's birthday party and off we went in their car. We got to my brother's house at 1pm and were met by a great number of children aged between 1 and 8. The birthday girl was still in bed, as was her big sister (who is three), but all the other children ( I'm guessing there were about 12, but I could be way off) were making enough noise as it was!

A few hours later we had to leave again, since I had another birthday party to go to. So, we got in the car again and drove back to my parents' home. From there I would be picked up by my friend. I had to wait a bit because he had lost his way a bit, but in the end I arrived at my friends' place and was able to celebrate with the birthday boy who had turned 2.

Aren't my family and friends just the best?

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Saturday Archive 4

At the beginning of my driving career, I wasn't much good. Yes, I had my driver's licence, but that didn't mean I could drive. For the first three months I felt the coach was lording it over me. But slowly, as time passed, I got used to driving such a large vehicle. And one day I realised I was in charge of the bus.

Being a busdriver is however completely different to being a coachdriver. The first is just driving people from A to B, the second is driving them from A to B, but A might be Amsterdam and B might be Rome (since that's where all roads lead to).

The first couple of months I worked for the company I was usually doing the public transport runs and the school runs. Then I got the chance to do a schooltrip. Not on my own yet, but still, it was a start. Then it was a schooltrip on my own. Then I was allowed to go a bit further afield. Still nothing abroad though and that was something I really wanted to do.

In January 2003 (nearly four years after I started), I got the chance to go on a study trip through Europe. On that trip we would learn how to deal with people, how to get to know your way and what paperwork to use. Our first stop was Paris (France), our second Trier (Germany), then on to Prague (Czech Republic) and finally Berlin/Potsdam (Germany). All this in only six days, so you can imagine it was a lot to take in. Every night after dinner we would have an evaluation of the day.

This photo shows me together with our then highest boss (on the right) and a colleague. He had a soft spot for the tours part of the company and I was sad to see him go several years later, as were many of my colleagues.

The result of this week of training (fun mostly) was that I should start off easy: short trips in the local area or as third driver on a long distance trip. That last option was unfeasible, but the first was a bit easier. Ever since the summer of 2003 I have been driving my way through Europe. The trips are longer and further now, but the fun is still there (mostly anyway). All thanks to that very first study trip!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Apparently it's Thanksgiving Day today. It was in the papers over here, it was in the news on the radio. And whenever I open another American blog I read about it!

Now, since we are a first world country, we never had to deal with Injuns (First Nation Peoples or Native Americans) and were never given a turkey to help us get through the winter. As a matter of fact, whenever we were invaded by those Spanish blokes, we would escape on skates (in winter) or just flood the place! We were able to look after ourselves, as long as we kept the dykes high enough!

This post however is not to make other people look silly because they couldn't look after themselves (they have proven themselves in the mean time), it's just to explain that we don't know much about it.

The award at the top is because Cry is thankful I am her friend! I am thankful for all of you who read, comment to and come back to my blog every (or nearly every) day. Happy Thanksgiving to all who do celebrate!!

Things that make me smile!

Sparrows taking a sandbath in the summer.
A little girl taking a bowl of water to her rabbit who is in his cage in the field.
A huge rabbit pushing a push-chair.
Little children giggling over some silly joke.
Teenagers on the coach have the silliest conversations about nothing.
A horse chasing a dog around a field.
Looking at old photos and remembering.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

S is for...

Search and Rescue

In May I had to drive a special group of people: plane spotters, but that day it wasn't the planes but the other flyers: helicopters that were the main attraction. Plane spotters from all over the country had come to see, photograph and enjoy the Search and Rescue helicopters from several European countries. Since they all had huge lenses and state of the art cameras, I thought they wouldn't mind me taking a few photos as well.

The Search and Rescue helicopters in the Netherlands celebrated their 50th anniversary and had invited several other teams to come and do an obstacle course. There was quite a strong wind, but most of the teams didn't have any problems to get through the course. I now know that if I ever get lost at sea and need to be rescued by a helicopter, the teams on board are more likely than not able to get me off my little pink dinghy and airlift me to safety! The chances of me actually getting on a little pink dinghy and being way out at sea are of course pretty slim, but you have to be prepared...

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

Monday, 23 November 2009

Bearded lady

The things you do while working for Club Med are many! This was during a boy-girl night and every single woman was supposed to be showing up as a man and vice versa. The smoke in my hand is only for display purposes!

I'm still against most toplipgrowth though!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Who are you calling Mara?

While reading my bloglist I read Fat, frumpy & fifty and found this word game. And however you want to pronounce it, I loved this one. So of course, being the ripper-offer that I am, I decided to throw in my cent's worth! And because it's fun of course!!

1.Your rock star name (pet, current car)
Cat Bova - Chorus Girl
2.Your gangsta name (favourite ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe)
Cinnamon Boot - Fearsome (not!)
3.Your Native American name (favourite colour, favorite animal)
Blue Cat - Eeehhh...
4.Your soap opera name (middle name, place where you were born)
Maria Boalsert - Acting suds
5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name)
Jelja -Pronounced Yelya please
6.Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
Pink T - Pink Lady meets T-bird: Grease is the word
7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers)
Cornelis John - Look out Michael Schumacher
8.Dancer name (the name of your favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy)
Miss Dior Chocolate - Dancing stripper
9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Orchard Orlando - Liquid sunshine and rainbows
10.Spy name (your favourite season/holiday, flower)
Autumn Carnation - License to ehm.... weed?
11.Cartoon name (favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now)
Melon Socks - a little green kitty set out to discover Mars
12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree)
Toast Oak - Peace and peanutbutter
13.Movie star name (pet, street where you lived)
Sophie Saturn - Glitz and glamour

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Saturday Archive 3

I haven't been on many sun-holidays where I've just lounged all day by the sea or swimming pool. Not because I don't like them (I quite do actually), but because for the last few years I've spent my money elsewhere. But about ten years ago I went to Malta with three friends.

We spent most days by the swimming pool on the roof, but we wanted to do one excursion. We decided to go to Gozo, a small island just off the coast of Malta. I don't really recall what we did in the morning but during the afternoon we had a jeep drive and we went snorkeling.

I am not the best swimmer and when I first put the snorkel equipment on I thought I was going to drown! However, after first testing it in the dry (ie above water) and finding out I wasn't going to drown just yet if I went below the water, I went down and looked at amazing colourful fish. It was brilliant! I spent about half an hour just below the surface just enjoying all the life in the water, before we had to come out again and we continued our trip. Definitely not long enough!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Just wrong!

I am not too fussy (I think) when it comes to the looks of a man. But if there's one thing that turns me off, it's moustaches! Granted, there are a few men who look better with one, but most men should step a little bit closer to the razorblades! To illustrate: check out this site. The only one who looks decent with a fuzzy upper lip admits to only having it a limited amount of time due to divorce threats! The others look as if they have just stuck them on (numbers 1, 4, 5 and 9) and creepy or if they've grown them themselves and creepy.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I've had black socks in white laundry and I've found coins in my laundry. And as of this morning I have smelly laundry. Now, don't get me wrong: the laundry is clean, but it smells.

I usually do my laundry with a generic washing powder. It does its job and cleans my dirty linen and that's all I ask. But then, several weeks ago, I bought some things at the drugstore and received a bottle of laundry detergent (Ariel) for free. I finally used it yesterday.

Well, today I noticed I used it yesterday. I wore freshly laundered trousers and all day long I smelled them. And hated it. And know I still have a big bottle of detergent left.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I could hold the pieces of paper in one hand. After shuffling them about, I picked one of them and the name on the piece of paper was: Cry!

Congratulations, I will get Holly/Ivy to you as soon as possible.

R is for...

Romeo and Juliet

Who doesn't know the most famous work by Billy S? The tragic lovestory of two teenagers who were not allowed to spend any time together because their families hated each other, resulting in the end in the death of both!

This balcony can be found in Verona where the story took place. Of course it's not the real balcony, for starters it was built years after the story/play had been written and the story is fictional. It is a real nice tourist attraction in Verona though and lots of people flock to the site to take a photo.

'Romeo oh Romeo, wherefor art thou Romeo?'

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

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Jolly versus distinguished

He arrived last Saturday on his steamer all the way from Spain. He brought with him his faithful white horse Amerigo and his army of Black Peters. Who he is? Well, Saint Nicholas of course! Where the rest of the world is going potty over the jolly fat bloke with flying reindeer and elves (how probable is that?), we have a distinguished looking older gentleman with a horse and Black Peters.

So, for three weeks there will be adverts all over the place with all of those Black Peters popping up willy-nilly, every life show will have Saint Nicholas in and while in the shops, you go mad with all the 'Sinterklaas' songs! And after he has returned to Spain, the jolly fat bloke will take over!


Sunday, 15 November 2009

K1P1 to give away!

Now, for most people the post title will mean absolutely nothing at all. The few amongst you who occasionally hold two knitting needles in your hands (or have done so in the past) will know it means 'knit one, purl one'.

It was my mother who taught me to knit and I remember sitting in their bedroom with my two needles and a bit of yarn going: 'insteken, omslaan, doorhalen en af laten glijden', which means as much as insert, make a loop, pull through and slide off. I knitted! Well, over the years I've knitted many a thing: sweaters, cardigans and even cotton pj's!

When I moved to England in 1992, my knitting days were virtually over. But in England, my days weren't filled with work and people. They were filled with nothing at all, not even tv! And then, one day as I was shopping, I saw this little booklet about knitting. Since I was quite bored at that time, I bought the booklet and some needles and some yarn. When I sent the result (a little bell-hop) home, my parents thought I had bought it! A massive compliment of course!

But those days ended and I moved back to the Netherlands. I kept my needles close and whenever I found a new booklet (while I was on holiday for example) I would buy it. I made a nativity scene, frogs, toothpaste, paintbrushes, rabbits, and dolls. Then for the Christmas Ornament swap hosted by Lisas Chaos, I also knitted something. And while gathering all the necessary coloured yarns and other materials, I found that I had in the past also started on a little Topsy-turvy doll: two dolls in one, Holly on the one side, Ivy on the other. So, after I finished my present yesterday (I will post that one as soon as Michelle in the USofA receives it), I decided to finish the Misses H and I. And here is the result.

But, I have a small problem. I would love to display Holly and/or Ivy, but there is Wuppie. And Wuppie likes nothing better than playing with any handmade dolls I have made! So, I thought: why not give it to one of my faithful readers?

Here's the deal: you leave a comment about what you like about the Christmas season and out of all those weighty comments I will draw one winner! You have until Wednesday, November 18th, 18.00/6pm CET (one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time). Good luck!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Saturday Archive 2

The very first home I lived in on my own, paid for by myself and had to take care of myself was a small two bedroom place. Now, I say two bedrooms, but one bedroom had to hold the fridge and had a door to the garden and the bikeshed. So, not much of a bedroom.

After I had lived there for several months, one night I got the scare of my life, when I saw someone standing in front of the window. I was scared stiff and didn't move until the legs had moved again. I phoned the police, who came out, and told them what I had seen (two legs). Of course they couldn't do much with that information, but they did tell me two things: a. if something were to happen that night, my information might help and b. I had to get better security, since the back of my place was quite open.

A few weeks later, I got working on my backyard and my sister came to help. The first thing we had to do was get rid of the few awful looking hedge. Then we had to build a fence. So, we got to work. We nailed and screwed some planks to the existing concrete poles and then we nailed more planks to the first planks. And after all that, we had to stain it (for which my dad also helped). It looked quite horrible, but it was sturdy and my sister and I could both climb it without it falling apart.

The photo shows us both after finishing the job. Take note of my outfit: thick home-knitted socks and lovely Dutch clogs!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Feline Friday 30

Whose scratch pole is it anyway?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Q is for...


This is the Golden Carriage, which is used every year on the third Tuesday in September for Princes Day, the day when the new financial plans for the coming year are unveiled. The carriage is used by Queen Beatrix and (when he was alive) Prince Claus or (nowadays) Crown-Prince Willem Alexander.

If you look closely, you can see the Queen on the right hand side of the carriage. You don't? Disappointed? Well, so was I after I got back home and got these photos developed! The only reason I stayed and watched the whole parade of soldiers and airmen etc and got cold all over (it wasn't a nice September day) was because I would get to see the queen! So, imagine my surprise when I got the photos back and saw a bunch of fingers and no queen!

Anyway, we don't have a President, we have a Prime Minister and we have a Queen (does this sound like the commercial for a Canadian beer brand now?). We've had a Queen for over a century now, but it's coming to an end: our next leader will be a man! The Netherlands was one of the first countries where the eldest child would automatically become the reigning royal, be it male or female. We sure were emancipated!

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

Monday, 9 November 2009

Strange goings-on

Sometimes you do have to wonder. Why do cats prefer cardboard boxes to nice and soft blankets and baskets (Wuppie)? Why do some cats lick you over and over and over (Mathilda)? Why do some cats like to sit on your lap, but only if you've got a towel on your lap where she can sit on (Sophie)? And why oh why do cats have to pee on your lovely couch cushions when there is a litterbox in the hallway (Linette)?

Result of last night: one scatter cushion in the bin and one sheepskin in the bin as well (this morning) and me slightly worried!

Don't you just love cats?


Just Breathe thinks I am a friendly blogger. At least, she's given me a friendly blogger award, so I guess that must mean she thinks I am friendly.

Anyhoo, another award and this time no strings attached! No truths or dares, no funny photos, no silly questions. Thank you Debbie!

Now, there is someone I think of as friendly as well and if I were to live closer, I would definitely go and visit her someday. Until then: I think you are a friend and a friendly person, so Cry, come and pick up your award!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

In honour

It's been twenty years this weekend. Over here in Europe there are documentaries all over. Why it was built, how it came down. What am I talking about? Well, the wall of course. That dreaded wall between East and West Europe. Between the Russian influenced states and the American influenced states. Between East and West Berlin. And it came down!

You would think that people learn from the past. But alas, other walls (physical or mental) have gone up in the twenty years since. In the Netherlands we have a saying: an ass doesn't in general stub its toe twice on the same rock. An ass of course being a very stupid person. Well, the world is full of asses in my opinion. Because we keep doing the same stupid thing over and over. It didn't work then, it doesn't work now. Knock the walls down, be they physical or mental! It worked in 1989, let it work again!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Saturday Archive 1

Well, with all those photos being scanned and cropped and named and things, I have so many photos now. And it would be a shame not to share them with you. Of course I can't show all of them: some are just showing me in a not so decent light, others have other people in it. But there are still plenty that I can show.

Now, I don't want to show you those photos every single day, that would become boring pretty quickly I think, so once a week I will show you a photo from my past with a little story attached.

The first photo of my new weekly thingy is quite a mundane photo. From 1992 until 1994 I lived in England. First in a room at the back of the kitchens of the hotel I worked in and later in a room in a house on top of the hill. The first was good because it had a private bathroom, the second was good because it had a kitchen and a washing machine in the house. This is a view of my second room.

It was on the ground floor of the house (called Serendipity) and was located between front door and garage. It was only a small room and L-shaped, but I liked it. So, let's go through what you can see: On the far right you can see a little doll hanging on the wall. I knitted it myself and represented the uniform worn by my male colleagues in the restaurant. I also had a little female doll. As window covering I occasionally used black tights. Not the most fashionable, but living with four men, they weren't too impressed if they would be drying all over the house. So, curtain rail it was.

My bedside table wasn't too big and completely covered. The alarm clock was a working one, although I do think my boss must have thought otherwise. At one point I was actually on time and all the gardeners thought they had come in for morning coffee early! But, I have also slept through four alarm clocks in one day! You can't see the other three, but they were scattered about the room to make me get up and get them to be quiet. It didn't always work though...

One other thing that is quite Dutch is plants. I always had them and you can see two in the photo. When I returned home in November 1994, I stuffed all of them in my car and drove them home. They survived for quite a few years after.

Apart from the white folding chair, all the furniture you can see was provided by the hotel. The bedding as well was provided, but I didn't really like it, so I bought my own duvet and covers and asked my parents to send me my blanket. It's hardly visible, but it peeps out from under the yellow bedcover.

Memories, memories...

Friday, 6 November 2009

Feline Friday 29

I'm keeping an eye on you!

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Today was a Tweety-Day. A day where the rain was just coming down and down and down. Cats and dogs, pipe-handles, water, bucketloads of water and more rain! And when cycling to work (since I don't have a car), you tend to get wet if you do so in the rain. So, for protection, I own a rain suit. It's lovely ochre-yellow and it still fits after ten years (in which I have put on some weight), so no problem there.

And I know you are all dying to see what I look like in my Tweety-suit. So, just for you, I've made a photo of myself today right before I went out into the rain and got my feet soaked, since I don't own any wellies.

Tweet tweet...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

P is for...


Growing up I hated, detested, loathed pizza. The smell, the taste, everything about it was absolutely horrid to me. I ate sprouts, cooked spinach and endives, liver, but I could not stand pizza. Yuck. But then, a few years ago (1998 to be precise) I was on holiday in Italy with my friend C and I just couldn't not try pizza. I mean, I was in Italy! So, I got myself the simplest one possible: Pizza Margherita. There wasn't even any cheese on it!

Well, I tasted it. And in the end only a few small crusts were left on my plate. And I've liked pizza ever since. On occasion I will have up to five pizzas in my freezer (no room for more) and they will not stay there long...

Pizzas originated in Naples, Italy and are oven-baked, flat, round bread bases, covered in tomatoes or tomato sauce and cheese and a variety of other toppings. Different regions, different tastes. I prefer mine with mozzarella, salami and pineapple. According to official pizza bakers a wrong idea, because it combines sweet (pineapple) with savoury (salami) and that is not really done. But then again, in the Netherlands you can also get Pizza Shoarma!

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

Monday, 2 November 2009


The cropped version of a view in Verona, taken in 1998.

Well, it took some work. First of all I started copying every single sheet of photos, then cutting the individual photos out and getting even more frustrated than I already was. And then, when I walked around my living room, shifted a small basket, I found it: the programme I needed. I slipped the disc in my computer, downloaded the programme and have been okay ever since!

So, now the hard work of scanning all my photos can start in earnest. Today I scanned in all my photos of when I lived in England, all 200+ of them! Of course that's only half the job done. But, I will get there. It might take me until Christmas, but over the next few weeks I will show you photos of my past. Whether that is what you want, is anybody's guess of course, but it's going to happen!

Sunday, 1 November 2009


I wanted a negative scanner. But on finding out how expensive they were, how slow they were and how often I would use it, I decided I would just scan my photos and be done with it. So far, so good.

I don't want to go scanning for hours and hours and hours on end, so I put up to four photos on my scanner at a time. And it works beautifully. So far, so good.

But then, I have to seperate those photos again. Straighten them out, crop and give them seperate titles. And that's where the problems begin.

Several months ago I bought myself a state-of-the-art photo program. And ever since I got it, I have been annoyed by it. It's big and makes my computer slower. And when I want to use it, I can't because some component or other is missing. Very very very annoying!

I had a nice and easy photo program. I couldn't really do much with it, but it was great for cropping and straightening my photos. Once I installed my nice and new program, I deleted this program. And now I can't find it anymore. The new one isn't working the way I want it to work (like, at all!) and I am getting more and more frustrated.

I'll have a look around the net to see if there is an easy to use program out there for me!