Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Don't you hate making a cv (or resumé)? Listing all that you have done in the past and realising that you have been working for a long time? When I made a cv at the beginning of this year, it was filled with everything that was needed to be a good coach driver and tour guide. Everything from checking the oil to handing out keys and giving information about a certain region. And then I had to change it.

My new cv has less of the technical stuff in and more about my hotel experience and any experience that might have to do with hospitality. But as I am going through all of my old photos, I started wondering: should I include tiger handler as well?

When I lived and worked in Kamarina, a Club Med resort on the island of Sicily, one of my duties was to teach the children theater acts. Silly songs and even sillier dances. And then there was the circus show during the summer. And I was the tiger handler, leading the tigers into the arena, making them do somersaults and jumping through hoops. Right at the end I was supposed to put my head in one of their mouths and invariably got mauled! Very Siegfried and Roy!!

Monday, 29 August 2011


1990: while working in Yugoslavia
Don't I look fancy?
I am going to Canada! Of course I have been talking and writing about it for a long time now, but it's finally going to happen. The only downside? It's a return ticket! I will be going for two weeks only and those two weeks are probably going to be cramped full with meetings with hoteliers looking for front desk staff or even waitressing staff (hopefully) and of course sight-seeing. Plus I would hope to be able to meet with a few people who have already moved to Canada. So, it's going to be busy busy busy.

I am looking forward to it though, it will be the very first time ever that I will be out of Europe. It's a good thing I have a new passport: plenty of room for stamps! Mind you, there was plenty of room left in the other one as well, but it was about to perspire aspire retire the one that sounds like that but means going invalid!

I won't be leaving for another month (exactly) and in the mean time I will try and work as much as possible, earning plenty of money. I will also try and get rid of this sinusitis, but that's another story!

Saturday, 27 August 2011


1988: my new big shirt. With lions...
I am incredibly fussy when it comes to clothes and shoes. Nothing too fussy, too flowery, too buttony or too zippy. Nothing too wide or too tight. And shoes should be flat, leather and black. Which makes shopping quite an ordeal at times. Especially when it comes to pj's.

Now, I do own a few pairs of pj's. Nice thick ones that are so cozy and snuggly and perfect for a cold winter's night. But I don't sleep in them. I wear a vest and a pair of shorts to bed. Otherwise I will float out of my bed due to perspiration. Finding a vest is easy: look in the old lady's department of any store and you will find vest upon vest. Finding a pair of pj shorts however is another matter altogether.

For years I've been wearing the same pairs and they are getting decidedly thin. The elastic has been replaced on most, I've had to close quite a few holes with needle and thread and overall they are past their prime. So, I needed new ones. Which proved to be virtually impossible! Even if a shop did carry a line of shortamas (as they are also known), they were invariably too small. Of course you might also say I am too big, but let's not!

In the end one of the shops I like to go to (Ulla Popken for your information) suggested I try their online store. Which of course didn't stock them anymore either. But the internet is big and I kept on trying. And lo and behold: I found some! Just one problem: I didn't really understand the sizes. Not because they were American or British, but because they were man's sizes! I did give it a go though and when I got back from work today, one of my neighbours told me there was a package for me: my shortamas!

Well, since I had to guess the size, it was of course a bit of gamble whether or not they would fit. But they did! The smaller size anyway, the other one is going back asap. The site I got them from now also stocks lady's shortamas as well, but with my new pairs I should be able to keep going for another 5 years at least! This internetthingy is great!!

Friday, 26 August 2011


1988: Don't ask me who they are, I just took their photo!
Over the years I have taken lots and lots of photos, starting really when I went on my first holiday alone with my cousin. One week of training through the Netherlands, staying with family and in youth hostels. As the years got on, I got more and more photos and even stuck them in albums. For a while I waned a bit, but once the digital camera arrived I was hooked: I would take a photo of almost anything.

1989: While cycling through Germany I had to take a photo of a German potato field!
Apart from loosing nearly all my digital Ireland photos (which hurt), I still have all those old photos and more importantly possibly: the negatives! And when a colleague of mine had a negative scanner I could have, I was over the moon. Unfortunately his negative scanner was so old, not even internet itself was able to come up with the necessary software. So, I got myself a brand spanking new one!

1990: The night after my first hangover. Ever!!!
It took me a while to actually get going, even though I had plenty of time on my hands, but I finally made a start a few days ago. And the photos I've scanned so far are fantastic! So, I've decided to use them on my blog, even if they have nothing whatsoever to do with what I'm writing about. Otherwise I would never use them at all and that would be such a shame...

PS: the photo of me with the Shetland ponies was taken in Lipica, Yugoslavia (current day Croatia I think) in 1990.

Reliving May

Another case of sinusitis has headed my way and I think I may have been suffering from it for about two to three weeks now. Without actually realising it of course!

It started off with a strange smell emanating from somewhere in my living room. But on closer inspection under the sideboard, behind and under the chair and the sofa, I still couldn't find anything. On top of that, I didn't smell it all the time. But when my friends were here two days ago I smelt it again. My friends didn't! And that's what first gave me the clue.

I thought back to last week when I had a bad case of headaches for two days. When I returned from Germany on Tuesday I really the area below my eyes was really painful and it spread to my nasal area. And then yesterday another case of a severe headache, nausea and slightly feverish. When I spoke to my Mum for a couple of minutes last night (about 67), I promised her I would try and see the doctor, so this morning I got up early to phone and make an appointment. This time I wasn't immediately prescribed anything and actually got to see him.

He checked my blood pressure (good), he checked my ears for fluids (none), he checked my nose and I had to say Aaaa while he looked down my throat. His verdict: light case of sinusitis! I am to use nose sprays to keep my nose open and try to get rid of all the mucus in the jaw cavities, I have to use camomile steam baths for the same reason and I can use paracetamol for my headaches. If by Monday it hasn't helped at all and I am feverish again, I have to phone and I will get antibiotics.

Isn't this fun?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Only three

If you're looking at the photo closely, you might be forgiven if you think that I put on this spread for all my colleagues. I didn't. There were only three of us! Me, my friend C and my friend Pepperfly. Needless to say, we didn't finish everything...

As you know we try and get together on occasion. Preferably to go the sauna, but when womanhood or finances throw spanners in the works, we do something else, like going bowling or making dinner. In the case of the latter, each of us makes a course and we usually come together at my place (since I'm the only one without a car, it's easiest). This time however, we decided to do it a bit differently and instead of dinner we planned an afternoon tea! With scones and sandwiches and biscuits and cakes and of course tea!

My friend C had cheated since she had forgotten all about it and she was due to bring the scones and half the sandwiches. So, she went to the local tearoom and got it from there! Pepperfly had not forgotten and had made the other half of the sandwiches and the quiche-like cake. I made the biscuits and the cake and the brownies and of course the tea!

Well, I think it's needless to say we finished everything. NOT!! But that's never a problem, since both my friends have family at home who never say no to a chocolate biscuit or brownie or a piece of cake! Hm, brownie...

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Gotta go

Getting off the buses at Lowlands
For the past two days I've been driving festival goers from the trainstation to the Lowlands festival. And the first day especially was very bad weather wise: a lot of rain. Yesterday it cleared up considerably and even though the wind picked up, it at least remained dry. Today is a day off for me and then tomorrow we will make a start in getting the festival goers home again.

Hanzeborg, Lelystad
Yesterday also saw me running on several occasions. And before you ask: no, that is not normal. But if you have to go, you have to go. And I had to go. A lot! I was worried for a moment it might be something more sinister, but in the afternoon I was a lot better (not running anymore for a start) and could go for longer without needing another bathroom break.

You might have to embiggen to really see the amount of cars
As I did my last tour of the day, I took some photographs of the parking lot: both for cars and for bikes. Most cars would contain about 3 to 4 people and we were carrying busload after busload of people, so you can imagine how many people were going to the festival (around 25,000). I was lucky though: I didn't have any doped-up people on board that needed medical attention, nor did I have a doped-up idiot who tried to break down the bus and needed police attention! I just had the normal run of the mill ordinary people. With tents. And sleeping bags. Food and drink. And even a guitar on occasion.  

Push bikes and scooters (and an occasional motor bike)
Locals come like this and go home every night
As I said, tomorrow will be the start of the going home. And on Monday it will be the big exodus. At one moment there will be about 5,000 people waiting to get on a bus and ten minutes later the place will be empty. Because I will be doing something else then, I won't be able to partake in all that fun(!).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The last day

Moomin shopwindow in Copenhagen
(Moomin is Finnish by the way)
It was my last mobility day today. My parents will return from their holiday tonight and want their car back. Which is a shame, because now I will have to cycle to work again. I didn't do as much as I could have, but that was mostly because last week it was autumn over here: rain, rain, wind and more rain. I did however visit a friend and I visited my brother and his family on Sunday, which was really nice.

Today I visited another friend before taking the car back to my parents' and then taking the bus home. I kept falling asleep all the time, sometimes in between stops! Good thing I wasn't driving!!! After I got home I did my last bit of shopping so I could make a really good looking treat. But in the end I didn't: the strawberries had gotten legs in less than a day and I had to throw them out. I will wait for next week when my two friends will come over and we will try and make a proper afternoon tea for us three (my friend C makes the scones because they always turn out flat if I make them).

Tomorrow I am back to work: one of the biggest festivals of the country with about 25,000 people needing to be transported from two different train stations to the festival site. Together with tents and other assorted luggage! It should be fun. I even have to sleep in a hotel tomorrow, even though I live only half an hours drive away!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Five years ago I got a new passport. It was my third or fourth and for the first time ever I wasn't allowed to smile in the photograph. Nor was I allowed to wear my glasses. So a very grumpy looking person looks at me from my passport. And then about two weeks ago I got a letter from the council: my passport is about to expire and I need a new one.

First thing this morning I made my way to the photographer to get my passport photo taken. And guess what: I was allowed to smile! And I could keep my glasses on as well. When I got to the town hall I only had to wait a few minutes before it was my turn and then I handed over my old passport (so they can see I am the genuine Mara) and my new photo. And then I had to leave my fingerprints. First a few from my left hand and then a few from my right hand. I handed over some money, got my passport back and a letter and was told to come back next week to pick up my new passport.

As you can see, the passport at the top is an older one still. I actually have all my old passports: holes punched in them or large chunks cut out of them!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Just because

As anyone who has read my blog for a while knows, I love the Eurovision Song Contest. And the other day one of my friends said she had all the songs from 1956 right up to 2005. I think I was drooling when I heard that! Anyway, Pepperfly is a good friend and just before she headed to the warzone commonly known as London, she sent me a cd with all the songs on. And after going through them, I only miss two! Out of more than 1000 songs, I think that is not bad going!

But listening to all those songs (and I don't think I've even heard half of them), produced some real surprises and one of them is this entry from Luxemburg from 1980. It's the original version, in French and if you look closely you can even see the orchestra! Because back in the day, every singer/band also had a live orchestra!


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Whose socks are they anyway?

I've got a car for a week. My parents won't need it and I always do (I am naturally lazy), so I could use theirs. It's brilliant, because now I can visit friends I haven't seen for a while. Which I did yesterday afternoon. We had a great time and she presented me with some socks. I knew she had the socks on the go for me, but had forgotten all about it.

After I had hung around for long enough to be asked to stay for dinner, I left for home again and put the little bag with the socks on the kitchen counter. As I sat down in the living room, I heard some rustling in the kitchen. Wuppie! He loves the smell of new hand-knitted socks (and everything else hand-knitted) and was dying to get in! I managed to distract him for long enough to get the socks out and put them at the back of the counter.

When I went to bed last night, the socks were still on the counter. When I woke up this morning, the socks were right beside the bed! You've got to love that cat!!

Monday, 8 August 2011


Wow, two days of early starts really makes your head hurt. At least it does mine! But everything went smoothly, despite some confusion at the start, some more confusion at the end, a driver who forgot to take the turning towards Malmö and some drivers who didn't have a clue how our coaches worked!

I was picked up early Saturday morning by my colleague to go to work. I then drove to the next pick-up point to pick up two more colleagues and then we drove to the main pick-up point to be picked up by the coach that was going to take us to Sweden. I did manage to get a front seat (I can get sick in the back) and even managed to get about an hour and a half of sleep somewhere. When daylight started, so did the road works, but because it was still early it was also quite quiet on the road so we didn't loose much time over that.

The Twisting Torso Tower of Malmö (Sweden)
We arrived early in the afternoon and then there was the debate of going to sleep first and then for dinner or dinner first and then sleep. I opted for the second choice (I think I came up with it, but that might just be me being very bigheaded) and in the end most of us did. Me and my three immediate colleagues went to a small Italian restaurant and after a very nice and tasty meal we went back to our hotel. I took a few photos along the way and was in bed by 4.30pm.

The church in Kristianstad (Sweden)
Even though the room was absolutely boiling I was one of the few ones who actually got a good amount of sleep in: around 8 hours! So I was quite fresh when we had to pick up our troops at 2am! Yes, another early start, but since so many had to leave that day, an early start was probably for the best. As soon as my troop was on, they went to sleep and most of them never saw any of the films I played for them. I was in the second group to take the ferry crossing towards Germany and arrived at the changing location at about 11.15am. Which is where I said goodbye to my troop, was presented with one of those sew-on badges and went to the hotel.

We left the hotel again at a quarter past nine at night and I was home at 1.30am this morning. Forty-eight hours after leaving. What a weekend!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Oh nice!

As you may remember I brought a troop of scouts to Sweden last week (via Denmark). Well, that troop (and hundreds more) will need to go back home again this weekend. Originally the plan was that they (the Dutch contingent) would leave Sweden around 10am on the Sunday. But due to the large number of troops all leaving or wanting to leave, they have pushed the time up to 1.45. AM!!! Which also means it's no point going to bed today, since I will be picked up extremely ridiculously early!

We will be staying in a hotel in Kristianstad in Sweden which is about a 20 minute drive to the Jamboree and from there we will be leaving for Denmark and Germany. In Germany there will be driver's change: we go to a hotel and the new (and fresh) driver will take them to wherever they came from in the Netherlands.

Am I looking forward to it? I am not sure...

PS: for some reason my blog won't let me add photos from my computer: it keeps saying security alert! Very annoying and that's why you see Viking Mara again. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

More randomness

As I was going through all my old photos the other day, I saw so many photos that needed an outing into the www, I realised another random photo thingy was in order. So, here they are!

The photo at the top was taken some time in early 1992 as I was working for Club Med. Me and a couple of others were 'impersonating' the B52's, a great sounding band that was quite popular at the time. I was supposed to be one of the lead singers and for that reason my hair is so high. It hurt like awfully though trying to get that hair down again though and it would usually give me a splitting headache! It looked good though...

This second photo was taken when the primary school I went to back in the day celebrated its 5-year anniversary. We had a parade through the neighbourhood and everybody came dressed up. I was dressed in my mother's wedding dress (cut to size). I was teased a lot with that, because our teacher was dressed as a groom. The top anyway, the bottom was a football (the proper version) player!

The third photo that needed an outing was taken only a few years ago. As you may know two friends, my sister and I love to go to the sauna. Unfortunately, with four women it's sometimes really hard to find a day on which each and every one is okay to go to the sauna. So, we may set a date and find out later our bodies don't cooperate. Which probably was the case this time, since we went bowling and then out to dinner. Now, I may look great in this photo (modesty is so not my middle name), but I remember feeling incredibly bad. I had a massive attack of the migraine, probably due to coffee or chocolate or beer or all three combined and was almost constantly popping pills (which didn't help either). Despite all that though, I did fine on the bowling and supervised the others while they were eating.

The last photo I wanted to show was taken during the only Hallowe'en party I ever organised. It was a bit of a flop, but the people who did come were all dressed up, so that was good. My sister and I had cleared my parents' living room with the help of my Mum and then draped sheets over the remaining things. We had made blood filled profiteroles (don't you just love food colouring?) and other creepy edibles and as a little scare I had used some fishing line to hang a spider in the toilet bowl. A big black spider! Well, it certainly did get a massive reaction. At one point a blood curdling scream came from the toilet. Unfortunately it was me... I had forgotten all about the spider!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


No, I haven't turned to farming
And there I was getting all excited! Because as I was making a back-up, I thought about all those other back-ups I've made over the past few years and I figured I might inadvertent inadvertantl inadver by accident have saved some photos of long ago. So, I dug up the old discs and started getting through them. I should have realised...

The very first time I started making back-ups was after my knock-out fight with my laptop. I knocked, he was out! And I mean out, really out. His light went out, he rolled over and he was dead. As a doornail (or should that be doorsnail) dead. I took it to two different people and both of them said he was beyond cpr. One of them said it might be possible, but that it would cost me an arm and a leg (I would like to keep both, thank you very much).

So, the only thing I found today were a few video's I hadn't realised I still had, one with the amazing lenght of 1 second!! Blink and it's gone. I deleted it.

Ah well, that's life...