Monday, 31 May 2010

Sardines and tanks

Part of the about 90 coaches waiting until the children have to be picked up again

Every year the Ministry of Defense in the Netherlands organises Open Days where everybody is welcome to see what's happening in the Army, Navy or Airforce. This past weekend was the Army's turn.

Waiting in line to pick up the visitors on Saturday/Sunday

On Friday all the visitors had been invited and about 90 coaches had been roped in to bring all the high school students in: all 4,000+. On Saturday and Sunday it was open to everybody. On Saturday I drove an articulated bus (one of about 110 buses and articulated buses) to get at least part of the 55,000 visitors of that day in. As I said on my Dutch blog: they had to wait in jams before they could park their cars in fields, then they had to wait in jams to be shoved into a bus like sardines and lastly they would wait in line before they could finally enter the compound! It was okay to do though.







The cavalry and the pooper scoopers!

And then yesterday I got the chance to see why all those thousands and thousands come to see, since I had to take one of the army's musical groups. Unfortunately the weather was quite terrible (quite a bit of rain), but it was good fun nonetheless. Anything from antique military vehicles to the newest tank, cavalry to pipe band, several shows of tanks and personel in action (which I didn't see: too far to walk with my wobbly ankle), face painting to MASH and a concert by three middle aged men (Eric Mesie, Bert Heerink and a bloke I've never heard of) who sang popular Dutch eighties songs, accompanied by the Royal Military Orchestra Johan Willem Friso (the one on my coach).

Especially for Monique: face painting

One of the reasons these days are organised is to attract people who want to have a career in the army. There is no mandatory service anymore and like all other big companies, they have problems finding enough people. Days like these are used to showcase the best they have, although the worst will also be mentioned. Another reason is to be open on what they spend money on: what is used in Afghanistan, the jungle or even in the Netherlands itself. Whatever the reason though: it's a massive event!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

And the winner is... (because you really want to know)


Well, there were butterfly-dresses (Belarus), men jumping about (France), see-through pianos (Romania), big dresses filled with big singers (Ireland, Iceland), slinky dresses with even slinkier girls (too many) and a man with a guitar (Belgium). If you played a drinking game where you had to down a shot every time a violin was used, you would have been drunk by the tenth song. The Russian entry was just weird with a guy just teetering on the off-key, the Norwegian entry was nowhere near as good as last year's, the Spanish entry was disturbed by some idiot who climbed on stage (they got a second chance) and the Serbian entry took some getting used to, but it turned out to be my favourite.

However, none of those countries was victorious. In the end Lena from Germany with her song Satellite got the top spot. Next year, Hamburg...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Sha la lie sha la la


There's the Superbowl, the Olympic Games and the World Cup. And then there is the biggest party of Europe: the Eurovision Song Contest! Every year in May most of the European countries will send a delegation to perform a three minute song in front of millions and millions of people! It started small with only a handful of countries sending two or three songs, but now there are nearly 40 countries (yes, there are that many in Europe). In the past the song had to be in your native tongue, nowadays you can choose.

Because of the large number of countries there are two semifinals in the week leading up to the proper contest. Only four countries are always in the contest: Spain, France, Germany and the UK (because they co-finance the whole thing). And of course the winner of the previous year who has to organise the whole thing. Unfortunately we haven't won last year (we didn't get through the semis), so this year we had to do the semis again. Well, Sieneke (our entrance) is home watching the contest! Her song didn't make it.

Winners of the past are: Abba (Sweden), Céline Dion (for Switzerland), Lordi (a very heavy rock band from Finland), a transvestite from Israel (the only non-European country to compete) and Johnny Logan (twice) from Ireland. That last country is actually the most succesful, having won the competition seven times!
Basically the ESC is a guilty pleasure. I've been known to invite people over and watch it, score-board and all! The dresses (they can be too hideous for words), the people who sing off-key, the total ridiculousness of the whole act. And then the voting! It takes almost as long as the competition itself. There's a professional jury (per country) scoring and then Europe is invited to phone in and vote as well. Every country (all forty) is then linked up with the center of activities (Oslo) and gives their points. It takes aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages....

Ah well, just for fun: Sieneke (our entry this year) and the winner of last year: Alexander Rybak from Norway. Enjoy!!

PS: my ankle is still hurting, but it's not broken and I can walk pretty normal. Thank you all for your concern.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Putting my foot wrong!

I get in and out of buses and coaches about ten times a day. Sometimes less, sometimes waaayyy more! And you would think I would have gotten used to getting on and off. Wouldn't you? Today it showed I hadn't.

After I had hoovered my coach, I had to get off and start on my colleague's coach. As I took my last step down, my ankle got twisted and I fell. My colleague wasn't looking (he was washing the windscreen) and there I was: flat on the floor! Finally my colleague turned around and saw me. And you will never guess what he said: why didn't you say something!

Anyway, both my ankles hurt, but my left just that bit more (I've sprained it in the past as well) and my knee is a bit scraped. The dangers of the bus!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

NOP 2

Tulips, windturbines and the dyke to keep the water from Lake IJssel out. Quite an ordinary view for me...

This is the second installment of my 'see where I live' series.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

S is for...

Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica)

This basilica was built in honour of 58,000 French dead in the Franco-Prussian war (France-Germany) of 1870/1871. It was built on top of Montmartre, whose name was originally used for the village on top of the hill, but is now also used for the quarter below. The build lasted from 1876 to 1914, but the church wasn't consecrated until 1919, due to World War I.

The area of Montmartre in Paris used to be somewhat of an artists' quarter. Many (now) famous artists lived and worked there: Toulouse Lautrec, Pisarro, Van Gogh and Picasso, to name but a few. Some of those artists would have lived there while the build of this beautiful church was going on! If you stand in front of the Sacré Coeur, you have a wonderful view over Montmartre and the rest of Paris (although the Eiffel Tower was hidden behind the trees).

For more S-words from all over the world, check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Self glorification

I was lucky I had taken my camera with me to work yesterday. First of all because that way I could take a photo of the car I ran in to (oh no!) and second of all, so I could take photos of my colleagues. And I even managed to get a colleague to take a photo of me. I quite liked the one he made, although I did crop it to show off my incredibly beautiful self. Even with the wrinkles that look like dirt!!

PS: and no, I am not frowning. That's another one of those experience lines. I guess nobody will ever take me for a 16-year old again. Not until I botox the life out of my face anyway...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Dirt

After a hard day's work I got home and could use a nice shower. Before I took my shower however, I looked in the mirror and saw a very dirty face. So, while in the shower, I washed my face.

I dried myself off and looked in the mirror again. It hadn't been dirt. It was wrinkles!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Panna Cotta

Well, perhaps not the strawberry shortcakes yet (I promise: they will be made and tested), but a few weeks ago I did make another dessert that was quite on the nice side and not too hard to make. So, here goes...

Ingredients:
1x6gr gelatine leaf (or 1 1/2 teaspoon of gelatine powder)
5dl (2 cups) double cream
250 gr (1 cup) yoghurt
150 gr (3/4 cup) caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

6 x 125ml (1/4 cup) ramekins

Preparation:
1. Put the gelatine leaf in cold water and leave for five minutes. Alternatively, take two teaspoons of water and put in the gelatine powder, leave for two minutes.
2. Put cream, yoghurt and sugar in a pan. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Throw pod away.
3. Stir mixture gently over a low fire until sugar is dissolved. Take gelatine leaf out of the water, squeeze out the water and add to mixture. Alternatively, add water and powder to mixture. Stir until dissolved.
4. Pour mixture in the ramekins, wait until cool and store in fridge for five hours. 
5. Using a knife to run along the edges and loosen the panna cottas. Upend on plates. 
6. Serve with some strawberry/raspberry coulis, chocolate sauce and/or mini marshmellows.

Again you have to make this well in advance, but it is a great dessert. Fresh because of the yoghurt and the sauce will make it just that bit more interesting. It's easy enough to make and a great summer dessert. Well worth to be on my list!

Promises and strawberries

I made you all a promise: I was going to make Misfit's dessert and tell you all about it. So, yesterday I went to the store to get all the other ingredients I needed. I wouldn't need the apple jelly for the strawberry shortcakes (which I wanted to make) and concentrated on the chocolate etc.

Well, I had everything in my little basket. The sugar, the chocolate, the cream. The only thing missing were the strawberries. Which the supermarket did have. But paying €3,49 for 500 grams (about US$4,39 for about a pound) is not something I am willing to do. Unless I live on the South Pole. Which I don't!

So, I have to break my promise. No dessert today. At least, not the strawberry shortcakes! Sorry...

Friday, 21 May 2010

German invasion

I can always tell when the Germans have a holiday coming up. This weekend is Whitsunday weekend (the day Christians celebrate to remember the holy spirit coming down). And apparently it's also the beginning of a holiday in Germany. Judging by the amount of German cars I saw on the road while trying to drive back home.

Two out of three cars I saw had German numberplates on them. There were caravans, campers, trailers with boats, bikes and canoes. Cars loaded with people and stuff. All going up to the Waddenzee, the Dutch islands and the Frisian lakes. Of course I got stuck in the middle of all that traffic and changed to a secondary road to beat them. I don't know whether I did, but I managed to keep driving that way, which can't be said for all the Germans and the few Dutch also trying to get home!

Anyway, I did manage to get home in the end. And by home I mean of course the bus lot. Fortunately the coach wasn't dirty, so no cleaning necessary and I finally could go home. My real home!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

NOP 1

Since I've got my parents' car on loan while they are on holiday in the Middle East, I can do a lot. I drive to work every day (I'm lazy), I can get the shopping in a lot easier and I can drive around the countryside.

I live in the Noordoostpolder, which is the oldest part of Flevoland, the newest of the twelve provinces in the Netherlands (hence the NOP in the title). It's a mainly agricultural area, with tulips and potatoes the two crops that stand out (and both have their own festival as well).

This photo shows you a field of tulips that have just been beheaded. Most flowers have lost their heads due to the machine, but some were either too small or had not yet bloomed. The reason the flowers are beheaded (as opposed to deadheaded) is basic: stop the nutritions from going to the head and lead all of it to the bulb. The bulbs are then harvested some time during the summer, teenagers peel off the outer layers and the bulbs will go up for sale.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

It might be photos!

As I got home yesterday I found a notice from the postal services. An undelivered package. Well, it had to be from my sister in Northern Ireland who has sent me some knitting booklets and all of her Paris photos on a stick. She probably paid extra so she would be sure I would receive them. The postal service would try again today.

Well, in a stroke of luck I was home when the mailman called. And instead of a small and flat package (that I had expected), the box was huge! And the sender's name didn't really ring any bells either. Until I saw Misfit scribbled somewhere.

Misfit has picked up on my challenge to find the perfect summer dessert and sent me a recipe a while back. Of course not a metric size in sight, but more importantly still: ingredients that I had never heard of! I figured out the one, but the other? I thought it might be jam (which is what American jelly is called in Europe), but couldn't find the version I would need. I looked in France: no luck. And I was about to make it with strawberry jam instead of apple jelly.

Well, now I don't need to, because in the box were a lovely note, a beautiful postcard, the pancake mix I needed and the apple jelly!

Misfit: you're completely mad, but I love it. Thank you so much, the cake will be made this Saturday!!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

R is for...

Rome

I do quite a bit of travelling and I see quite a few different towns and cities that way. When I'm in London I am the driver and the tourguide, which means I have to tell people all about that great city. When I'm in Rome, I have someone else tell the people and occasionally I manage to go along as well.

When guiding through London I will not talk about the date the buildings were built. First of all I can't get that in my head and secondly: there are books for that. I talk about Winnie the Pooh, smog and giant men buried in the garden of the Bank. I will give the anecdotes and stories (I hope) with an occasional nod to dated history. When I was in Rome last year, walking behind our Dutch tourguide who was telling us all about the history of the city and the buildings: when, where and who. As a proper tourguide should know!

So, where did she and do I get my information from? First of all: the books you can buy on every streetcorner in a major tourist area. Because you can talk until the cows come home, but if you don't know what a building looks like, you can't point it out to visitors. And those books are usually filled with the best photos, far better than I could make! After that you try and get other books to try and get the (basic) history, you read, you search the net and slowly you start making your own story.

The one thing you always have to do though when giving a tour in whatever part of the world: talk about what you know and stay true to yourself (oh, that's two). Talking about the Irish Potato Famine and not knowing how it came about is a definite no-no: you will only get yourself in trouble as soon as your first guest asks a question. And if something doesn't interest you, it will be extremely hard to make it sound as if you do, no matter how good an actor/actress you might be!

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

Random

Well, almost random...

This is one of the windows in the castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland and depicts the three fairies Flora, Fauna and Merriweather. The original story had thirteen fairies and because the King only had twelve golden plates, only twelve fairies were invited, leaving the most evil one out. Which of course caused a massive rise in imported yarn. I do understand Disney though, thinking of names for all those fairies would have been some task!



Saturday, 15 May 2010

Ghosts

Last year I had my hand read by a gypsy woman in France. Everything she said turned out to be nonsense (as I had expected), but I must admit it was quite funny. Even shelling out money for her bogus story!

That's as far as I've ever gone in the paranormal way. I am not into clairvoyance or reiki. I don't do seances or fairies or ghosts.

And then yesterday as I was driving to work, I saw this man in his car. He looked at me as if I was familiar and he sure looked familiar to me. As a matter of fact he looked like someone who I worked with up to a few years ago. But last year I was the last person to talk to him before he died.

I know he just looked like him of course and I bet if I would have seen him up close, I never would have thought so, but still, it was a bit unsettling.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Heavy head

My head feels as if I've been asleep for three hours this afternoon: heavy. My eyes are heavy too. For the same reason. But I haven't been asleep this afternoon. I never sleep during the afternoon, because it tends to make my eyes heavy and my head hurt. Nor have I been drinking last night. Or any night this week.

So, another aspirin before I go to bed and hopefully my head will be as light as a feather tomorrow!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Q is for...

Quite interesting

I bet you all thought Q was going to be for Questions! Fooled you. Anyway, last week I asked you to ask any question you might have for me and I promised to answer them all! So, here goes...

16? Yeah right!!

Richies: What is the craziest tourist experience you have had?
Me as the tourist: me and my sister were on holiday somewhere in Luxemburg several years ago. We decided to go to the pool one afternoon and as I was standing at the ticket counter, holding my handbag and my car keys, I was asked whether I wanted a child's ticket? I looked in some confusion at my sister who looked back equally dumbfounded and then asked the girl until what age the child's tickets went. The answer was 16. When I then told her I was 26, she turned bright red, started mumbling a bit and didn't know how fast she had to give me the tickets! And I had to pay full price!!!

Fiat 500 in Rome

Me dealing with tourists: the worst and most memorable experience was probably in Rome. Before everybody had gotten off the coach, I had given them my phone number, in case of emergency. We were due to leave again at 4.30pm and at 5pm I was still missing one man. I phoned the hotel where his wife still was and she gave me his mobile number. I tried phoning him, but no luck. I then phoned the travel company who told me to drive back to the hotel. Fifteen minutes later the travel company phoned me: they had had word from the man. I stopped and tried to phone him again. Finally after more than thirty minutes I got hold of him. Told him to give his phone to a taxi-driver so I could tell the taxi-driver where to take him. When he finally arrived (nearly two hours late) he had the nerve to say he was never given my phone number!!! (This was only the first of many run-ins with him and his wife)

Mountie and Elk in 'It's a small world'

Misfit in Paradise and Carolina: where do you want to live in Canada and why there?
In my case it isn't so much as choosing where I want to live as going where I'm needed. Since I only have a high school diploma, I only get a few points for my education (Canada works with a point system for immigrants, you need a minimum of 67). So, I need a job. However, my job isn't really needed in the nation of Canada. The Province of Alberta thinks differently however and there are quite a few busdrivers needed. Which means Alberta is the province where I will be heading. The exact place could be Calgary or Edmonton, Banff or Jasper or any small town inbetween.
Why Canada (I don't know if that was the question, but I will answer it anyway)? It's foreign, they speak English and French, they know winter and summer, it's a Western country, it's not the Netherlands. Other reasons are more feelings than reasons and are hard to put into words.

Some cat in the Parc des Felins

Monique: what was the last thing you procrastinated about and why?
After looking up 'to procrastinate', I realised it might as well have been my middle name! I nearly always do things last minute, which means I end up rushing around like a headless chicken. And why? Well, I am lazy for a start...

Me

Roger Owen Green: when did you start blogging and why? What are you trying to achieve (outlet for writing, stress relieve, world domination)?
I started blogging in Dutch about five years ago now. My sister actually got me started and from the first I loved it. I was able to keep my family and friends in the loop about what was happening in my life. The first blog was started as an emigration blog, but soon evolved in something similar to this blog. Over a year and a half ago I started this English blog and this has been even better than the Dutch one. More interaction with people for a start! My goals are quite simple: information towards family, friends and other people interested in what I do and stress relief. I've noticed a definite calming change in myself ever since I first started blogging. World domination may sound good, but is so not my goal; I am no follower junkie! I would rather write for fewer people who are genuinly interested in what I write and post about.

View over Florence

Jay: which region of Italy do you like best and why?
Well, I've only been to a few regions, but I have to say Sicily holds a place in my heart, mostly because I spent about seven months living and working there. It was on Sicily I grew up and where the private chatty Mara got her confidence and starting chatting in public as well. Other regions I like? I love Rome and want to go back there again, love Bologna and Florence and would like to visit Tuscany properly some day. From what I've seen it's a nice area.

Orange hat with red, white and blue flowers

Ginny Marie: Why orange? Is it the national colour or the Queen's favourite?
Our flag is red white and blue (top to bottom), but the Royal family are of the House of Orange, hence the orange. For more information: read this post I wrote for a previous ABC Wednesday.

Notre Dame of Paris

Strawberry Jam Anne: Of all the places you visited, which is your favourite and why?
Wow, now that is a difficult question. I love Ireland for its natural beauties, London for its vibrancy and Rome for its craziness (scooters anyone?). I want to see Paris again in warmer times, Florence, Prague, Leipzig and Scotland are also on the go-to-again list. But if I really have to pick one place? Home! Visiting other countries and places is only brilliant when you get to come home again afterwards. With my own stuff and my own space and my cats.

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

PS: the logo at the top is the logo of the extremely funny QI-programme by the BBC, hosted by Stephen Fry.

Paris 3

Hall of Mirrors at the Chateau de Versailles

On Thursday we handed our open tour tickets to my brother and sister-in-law, since we were planning to go to Versailles. I wanted to visit the chateau there. It took us over two hours to get there by train so by the time we were in Versailles it was lunchtime. After our nuggets we headed towards the Chateau de Versailles. The room I most wanted to see was the Hall of Mirrors and I was not dissappointed. It was absolutely stunning. Now, if it had only been empty... But after we had seen opulent room after more opulent room we decided it was enough and went outside to visit the gardens. We took a tractor-trainride towards the Hamlet of Marie-Antoinette and I guess that was the highlight of the day. Those royals definitely had more money than sense, but that Hamlet (Hameau) was really pretty! Little houses and even a small 'farm', none of which had anything to do with real life.

One of the cottages in the 'Hameau de Marie-Antoinette'

On Friday my brother and his family went home again. The cold, the lack of playthings on the campsite and the fact my youngest niece (1 1/2) was feeling a bit under the weather all contributed. My parents, my sister and I went back to Disneyland. We had only seen about half the things on Monday! However, the first thing my sister and I headed to was 'It's a small world' and my sister graciously allowed me to go twice in a row! (Isn't she the best?) We were haunted in the phantom house, we nearly got pirated by Captain Hook and we saw the parade again. This time from a perfect spot though, so no waving hands on the photos!

Snow White and her prince during the Parade

After another long day we had our first proper French meal. My sister and I had stuck to burgers and ribs all week and my parents had cooked pasta several times. The restaurant wasn't of Michelin star quality, but the people were friendly, the food was plenty and good and French! We had salade aux crevettes et asperges (shrimp and asparagus salad), agneau (lamb), canard (duck), brie and crème brulées. Yum yum!
I love 'barbe à papa' (cotton candy)

Saturday saw us all cleaning the caravan again. Packing our suitcases and my dad packing everything in the car. We would take my sister to the airport first, so it was a bit tight for the first hour. We dropped her at Charles de Gaulle about six hours before her flight was due, but she had a book with her! The traffic was easy on our way back home and just after five in the afternoon I dropped my parents off at their home. I then drove home myself (my parents are leaving on another holiday in a few days and I am allowed to use their car in the mean time).

I had a great time and have taken a lot of photos. I took about 1,000 but deleted about half of those and ended up with 482! I am however also very glad to be home again. With my own stuff, enough blankets and with my own little felines!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Paris 2

The old signs for the underground stations in Paris

On Tuesday my sister and I made our way to the trainstation to catch the train to Paris. We missed the first one due to the line in front of the ticket machine (nobody understood what to do), but we finally managed to get a ticket each and we caught the next train. On arrival in Paris, we grabbed some lunch and then made our way to the metro station. The system is similar to the London system, but I still found it confusing. It was a good thing my sister was with me! We finally alighted properly at the Louvre and from there we took one of those open double decker buses. It was a two hour + ride through Paris and the temperatures weren't much better than the day before: at the end we both were freezing yet again! But Paris is loaded with souvenir shops and I managed to find a nice fitting sweater.

Photo taken from the Trocadero, the highest natural point from which to see the Eiffel Tower

After our dinner we walked back to the Louvre for some more photos, then we walked to the Place de la Concorde, where we took another metro. This time we were heading towards the Trocadero so we could get some great photos of the Eiffeltower! There were loads of people there, including lots and lots of African souvenir sellers. They were a bit in your face, but ignoring them worked well enough. After that it was back home again.

Some of the graves in 'La Cimétière Montmartre'

The next day we went back to Paris. This time to visit Montmartre. However we were already feeling three days of walking (remember I am a busdriver: I don't walk, I drive) and our pace had slowed down considerably! Especially in hilly surroundings. But we managed to get to the Sacré Coeur and even went inside. After our Starbucks coffees we visited a massive cemetery in Montmartre. I had never seen anything like that before. There were several famous people buried there as well, but we only saw one of them: Alexandre Dumas (the Three Musketeers). After a shortened trip on the River Seine (it might have been better at night with all the lights twinkling away) we headed towards the Hard Rock Café where we had our dinner.

To be continued...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Paris 1

Our Caravan

It was cold on most days (see photo in last post), it was tiring every day, but most of all: it was fantastic! My parents and I arrived early afternoon on the campsite that we would call home for a week. Half an hour later my brother and his family arrived as well. And a few hours later I picked my sister up from the airport and the whole family was complete. We tried to unpack our suitcases, but our rooms were fairly small so it was easier leaving it in the suitcase and taking the stuff out when needed. We made our beds, ate pizza and the first day was over.

The European Wild Cat did not like my niece. It's a good thing there was glass between them...

On Saturday we had gotten some leaflets of the things to do (apart from Disney and Paris) and we found one of a feline park not far away. I was a bit worried it would be one of those papa and mama parks with two lions and a tiger in small cages, but my worries were completely unfounded! Nearly every feline under the sun had found a place in that park and the only cages we saw were big enough to hold several animals easily and sometimes you really had to search for the cat! If you're ever in Paris and cannot be bothered to visit that Eiffeltower yet again, go and visit this park! A great hit, also with my nephew and niece (who are 5 1/2 and 3 1/2).

Dutch Girl sitting on a tulip in 'It's a small world'

But, kitty parks are great, but the main reason to camp down close to Paris was to visit Paris and Disneyland, so on Monday we packed up both cars with adults (6) and children (3) alike and headed off to Disneyland. Well, anyone who has ever been to any of the Disney parks around the world will know: it's a truly magical place! Everywhere you looked there was more magic. An occasional glance of a princess or Winnie the Pooh, Captain Hook or King Louis, I loved it. My sister and I decided to do the park together, after we had lost the rest of the family. We saw Snow White, Peter Pan and my absolute favourite: 'It's a small world'. I wanted to go again, but my sister said no (we went twice more on Friday, don't worry). We saw a fantastic car show as well, but by then even my liver was cold! We managed to catch the parade and after that we met up with my parents again and went back home. All very very cold...

To be continued...

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Update

This post was supposed to show up on Thursday! It obviously didn't!! Tomorrow there will be more photos and stories...

Well, we were promised WiFi, but that means taking your notebook to reception, buying a very expensive ticket and going online! In other words, very annoying!

But apart from the annoying, I wonder whether I would have had the time to go online at all. Spending time with my family, going to a kitty park, Disneyland and Paris and still more of that to come! Now, if the temperatures would be any good, it would be even better, because on Monday especially I knew exactly how an icicle must have felt this winter: FREEZING!!!

However, we are a brave family and with a pair of socks at night and a new swanky Paris sweater, we will survive even this cold! A few photos until Saturday or Sunday (when I get home) will have to serve you until then.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

P is for...

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen (Hole of Sorrows) is a portal tomb in the Burren, Co Clare, Ireland dating back to the Neolithic period (4200-2900 bC). In 1985 a crack was discovered in one of the standing stones and had to be replaced. At the time they also excavated the site and found between 16 and 22 adults and 6 children buried beneath the monument. Personal items buried with those people were amongst others weapons, pottery and quartz crystals.

When I first travelled through the Burren you had to park on the narrow road, let the people off to see the monument and try to dodge all the other traffic. Now, I am not saying it's a major motorway, but still, it could get quite busy and tight. Fortunately, in the last few years they have built a proper parking place in one of the fields adjacent to the road, where there is enough parking for both cars and coaches!

For more P-words from around the world, please visit ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

PS: for next week's Q I was a bit stuck! Until I thought of questions. So, ask me any question you like. About me, about my job, about my cats, about my beliefs, anything and I promise to anwer all! You can either send a question to my e-mail address (in my 'Me' page) or leave a question in the comments!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Frikandellen and kroketten

I know there are a few people out there who read and/or follow this blog who will know what a frikandel is and who will know what a kroket is. Because they're Dutch. For everybody else: here's the explanation.

Originally a frikandel was a meatball, made of different types of meat. Then it became a flattened meatball (not as flat as a hamburger though) and then it became an elongated flattened meatball. It became smooth and the recipe was perfected. It looks like a long knackwurst, but has a taste all of its own. The meat used in frikandellen (the Dutch plural) is about 40% chicken, 25% pork, 5% horse. The remainder is filled up with water, bread crumbs, onions, taste enhancers, spices/herbs. People who make their own usually leave out the horse meat and the enhancers.

Kroketten originated in France quite a few years ago (three centuries even) and have been made into the top snack (along with the frikandel) in the Netherlands over the years. Basically they are ragout based (a mixture of meat and bechamel sauce), covered in breadcrumbs and fried. About 25% of manufactureres use horse meat in their kroketten. We also have the so-called bitterbal, which is basically a small round kroket. If you ever find yourself in a Dutch MacDonalds, why don't you try a MacKroket (emphasis on the Kro part of Kroket).

So, now you know...