Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The language

As you may know last week I spent in class. I have been trying to learn Norwegian since November and even though I did quite well, it was the pronounciation that stumped me a great deal. So, when I saw a course being advertised in Norway, I liked the sound of it and registered. It would be one week of intensive Norwegian and also meeting Norwegians and seeing businesses. A minimum of ten participants was required. Unfortunately they never got more than about four and the course was cancelled. However, I still had time off and felt that even though that course had been cancelled, that didn't need to mean I couldn't do a course anyhow.

I contacted a company that did offer courses, both for groups and for individuals and asked them to put together a course for me on my own. And not that lousy hour and a half per week, no four hours a day for five days. Which in the end turned to five hours a day for four days. So, on Tuesday morning I took the bus to Groningen, where the course was to be held and arrived nice and early to meet my teacher: a Dutch girl studying Norwegian in University.

The first day I was still a bit self-consious about reading out loud and by the end of that day I was exhausted. Learning pronounciation while having a massive cold and a headache isn't a good combination, I can tell you. Day two however I was a bit more confident. I managed to pronounce unnskyld to a satisfactory degree, even though any word with a u and a y in it is a horror to me, the sounds are so similar to me! Besides being able to pronounce quite well, I also saw that my level of grammar was already quite high and that I knew a fair amount of words as well. My teacher was amazed of me and said so on several occasions.

By the end of the week I was a bit sorry I hadn't ordered for a two-week course, it might have been even better, but I already noticed a big difference after I got home: I listen to Norwegian radio quite often and that night I was able to understand a whole lot more than I did before! I was able to distinguish more words from the mush that is Norwegian. Because to be honest, it is quite a mush. It's fairly easy to read, but when it comes to listening, ten words become two and you have to figure out which ten are meant!

This week I will take it a bit easier, although I still have all my grammar notes to type out, since it's a big muddle right now. But I am able to buy an apple now: Jeg vil gjerne ha et eple! And more importantly: I know how to pronounce it!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Was it worth it?

I don't often stay up for the Oscars. After all, the red carpet doesn't start until past midnight here in Europe! But since I am on holiday this week and had all the time in the world, I thought I might do it again this year.

The red carpet was littered with beautiful men and women who were slowly making their way up to the theater, posing and answering questions as they went. Somehow this reminded me a bit of one of the earliest scenes in 'Singing in the Rain' where two stars are asked about their career, although not their clothes! Which seemed to be the question of the day: 'Who are you wearing?' I must admit though: most of them did look lovely and I didn't see any horrors pass.

The show itself was a great show, I must admit. The only thing I didn't get was Cirque du Soleil. But that might just be me! I loved Will Ferrell and Zack Whateveriakis, Miss Piggy and Kermit didn't get nearly enough screentime and the three men accepting the Oscar that Angelina Jolie doled out were hilarious! Although I did agree with someone on Twitter: she should eat a little more! She looked too skinny.

There was however one thing I didn't like: the breaks. Over three minute for a break? What?? And every five minutes as well. It probably is normal over at that side of the pond, but I felt they were taking the mickey somewhat. Anyway...

As I have yet to see any of the films nominated or winning last night, I thought I would go to the cinema and see at least one. So, tomorrow me and my friend will go to the cinema and see one of the Oscar winners: The Muppets!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

'Two'

This week's challenge was two. And I could pick any two I wanted. As long as it was only two and not any other number. So, two it was and I dove into my photos to find one with only two! I think I succeeded.

Last year I had to drive a fair amount of festivals and on one occasion I had to stay in a hotel, just in case something went wrong and all those festival goers needed to be evacuated. So, me and my colleague were both staying in this hotel, about 35 km from home. We both drove a bus that could at its fullest hold around 125 people. There were only thousands at the festival!! Nothing happened that night though and both buses stayed in the parking lot that night.

This is my seventh entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Word verification

Some of you have commented about the difficulty of actually commenting due to a very difficult word verification system introduced by Blogger. It would probably have been more if it hadn't been for the difficult word verification system introduced by Blogger!!

Anyway, thanks to Anvilcloud who had a link to someone who knew exactly how to remove the difficult word verification system introduced by Blogger, I am now word verification free! So, I would suggest you take full advantage and leave a comment! Without difficult word verification introduced by Blogger!

In other news: the second day in my Norwegian class went a lot better than yesterday. We flew through the book and my pronounciation was a lot better than yesterday. Two more days of intensive Norwegian lessons and I should be able to buy an apple!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I blame it on the parentals!

I spent last Friday night at my parents' place. I had wanted to go on a girly outing with my mother (for the first time ever I should add) by going to the handicraft fair with her. Of course I was late in asking her, since she had already been asked to actually perform her lace making skills there. Since Sunday was out of the question for me to go there (no buses) and Saturday was out of the question for her (funeral, not her own), I decided to spend the first few hours of my holiday at the handicraft fair and then spend the night at my parents'.

Well, it was a good thing I didn't plan it for a whole day, because after only 50 minutes I had seen it all. Quilting seemed to be the flavour of the day, but there were also some cross-stitching stands, some sewing ones and even a knitting one or two. So, I got myself some sock wool and then went back to my mum to wait for the fair to end and my dad to show up to pick us up.

The next day I left my parents again and after having seen the ice in Urk, I made my way back home. And that's where my story starts (forgive me for those first two paragraphs, they are just introduction to the real story). Because as I was sitting at my computer, all of a sudden I noticed I had to blow my nose. And then again. And again. And again. My heart sank like a ton of bricks. Because I now know: having a cold also means sinusitis, which means clogged up everything and massive headaches.

This had nothing to do with my cold whatsoever!
Fortunately I started taking medication immediately. That is to say: paracetamol and steaming at night. But I did phone my parents on Sunday to tell them they had gotten me sick. Of course they didn't think it was their fault, but they would say that, now wouldn't they? Anyway. The cold didn't really get much better, although it didn't get worse either, the headaches stayed managable and my parents were prepared to if not take the blame, at least tell me they were sorry (that's all I ever want to hear anyway).

On Monday my life got worse though. Apparently I had slept funny and I had a stiff neck that radiated pain to my head. So, I phoned my parents again blaming them! I mean, after all it was their fault in getting me that cold in the first place (anyone telling me it might have more to do with me turning into a block of ice on Urk: stop it right now). But, again my parents refused to take the blame and their 'we're sorry for your pain' was said with a definite smirk. I could hear that even over the phone!

Today the stiff neck has abated somewhat, but the cold remained. And I had to go to Norwegian class! I brought a whole box of tissues, nose spray, paracetamol and homeopathic pills and sneezed and sniffled my way through the pronounciation of ski and sky (sounds almost the same), skjaere and kjaere (again, sounds almost the same) and many more. The teacher was impressed with my already quite extensive vocabulary and I was happy to find out Norwegian wasn't as hard as the past few weeks actually led me to believe.

Tomorrow will be another day filled with Norwegian, let's just hope the sneezes and sniffles will stay away!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Peek-a-boo!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The big freeze

The lighthouse of Urk
About two weeks ago the big freeze arrived from the East, bringing a bit of snow and a lot of freezing cold weather with it, which almost resulted in an 'Elfstedentocht', a 200 km long skating race past the eleven cities of Fryslân. Unfortunately by the time the ice was finally growing into thick enough ice, thaw set in and the idea had to be put back in the freezer (pun intended). But, I am not going to talk about that today, I will however be talking about what happens after the big thaw sets in.

The flats with the ice pile-ups
Because once it starts to thaw, the ice in rivers and lakes starts to break up. If there is then a westerly or easterly wind, the waves created by said wind will push the ice up onto the shore. Stronger wind equals higher waves equals higher ice pile-ups. It can actually come as high as the dykes and villages on those dykes! Now, I had only ever heard of it happening, but had never actually seen it. So, as I was travelling on the bus home today, I decided to not get off at my stop, but stay on until the next village (Urk) and walk up to the lighthouse and see this pile-up of ice with my own eyes.
Trying to stay upright!
I had been warned by the busdriver that it would be cold and my jellybean, was he right: it was freezing! Even though the temperatures have been way above zero for about a week now! But with the wind coming from the west and coming over ice, my hands soon felt like blocks of ice themselves. It was great to see though. People had come from all over to see them and were scrambling over them and past them and taking photos.

Ice pile-up up close
After only ten minutes however I felt like one of those blocks of ice and decided to go home, where it would be nice and warm!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

'Love'

I don't often post photos of my friends and family. Mainly because this is my blog and they didn't ask to be thrown out into the www. But when I realised 'love' was the subject of this week's challenge, there were really only two photos I could choose between. One showed my parents head on, and this one, from behind. In the end I chose this one, as I say: they don't want to be thrown out into the www.

Anyway, this photo was taken two years ago when they invited the whole family to join them during a week in Paris. The reason they had invited me, my brother and his family and my sister was their fortieth wedding anniversary.

This is my sixth entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Where am I going again?

I got an obscenely early phone call (06.45am) this morning. Which would have been late if I hadn't been up to go to work! It was someone from the office making sure I knew I had to start earlier than originally planned. I knew and I was about to get dressed, so no worries. When I got to work, my colleague also told me my shift had changed (I knew!) and he even knew what my new shift was: I had to go to a certain school (The Marking Stone) and do several hither/thithers with them. I looked at my list though and realised it was another school I was supposed to go to (a Montessori school).

I then left the lot, returned, left again, got stuck in traffic and drove straight to The Marking Stone! Well, almost, because I figured it out just in time and could still take the exit to the school I was supposed to be going to!

I have done something similar when I first started my job. I knew I was going to one place, I knew how to get there, when I was asked whether I knew where it was, I told them where it was. And then I drove to a completely different place! I still get teased about it at work!

Sometimes it's just easier to stay in bed with the curtains closed...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Packing

I think it might be time to get some sort of order in my home. Over Christmas I have unpacked several boxes containing Christmas films and it was time to get them back in their boxes. Besides that, I needed to list exactly what was in which box, so that took some time too. Then today I decided to continue with the boxes and see what I had in boxes B1 and B2. Turns out it was Christmas decoration, but before Christmas I bought some more and I now am planning to move to a country with the same type of plugs etc as the Netherlands, so the Christmas lights needed to be put in there as well.

Then of course there is plenty of paperwork that needs sorting and put in folders. Once that is done, my work room should have some sort of order, with the emphasis on some, since I still have over 100 dvd's just sitting there (they're not coming), plus several containers containing knitting yarn, photo albums and Angela knows what else! It will be a surprise.

It's a good thing I am off today and since I have only four more days of work this week before I have two whole weeks off: I am pretty pleased!!!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

'Red'

I have always loved snail mail. There's something exiting about receiving a letter (unless it's blue: the colour of all tax mail in the Netherlands) and having to open the envelope to find out what's in it. We used to have red mail boxes. But over the years they changed colour and they are now orange. And since the theme this week is red, there was no point in putting a Dutch mailbox in this post. So, I opted for a British one.

There are many different types of mailboxes: free standing ones (pillar boxes) and ones that have been fitted in walls, some bear the initials of the current queen: E II R (Elizabeth II Regina), others the initials of her predecessors George, Edward or Victoria (GR, ER, VR). But they all have one thing in common: they are all bright red!

This is my fifth entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hours

At work we have a system to see how many hours we have worked and how many hours are still left to do. At first it was during a calendar year, but for some reason, they have changed it to April-March. Don't ask me why, I don't know.

Now, during that twelve month period I, as a full-timer, have to work on average 173,3 hours a month. If I work more than that, it's overtime and they have to pay me extra. If I work less than that, tough! So far, out of the 10 months out of this period, I have had two months with overtime. All the other months have been below. In one instance even a whole week (40 hours) less than I should have worked.

Does it bother me? Well, not so much really. After all, the company still have to pay me, even if I don't work. Which is good. But, early December they cottoned on to the fact I wasn't making enough hours and from then on they made me work. And work. And work. Which resulted in 5 hours overtime for December and 7 hours undertime for January. If I want to break even at the end of March, I will need to do 50 hours overtime a month for the remaining two months! Work that isn't there, because it's the low season.

Ah well...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Oh yes!

Out on the lake
After the big frost had started last week, I felt it was also time for some white stuff. And on Friday morning my wish came through, when it started to snow. It didn't snow all day long, but enough fell to make it a bit more difficult to cycle home. I made it though and afterwards I cleaned the path to my doorway before settling indoors for a nice evening in.

My two colleagues
Yesterday I had to work and after having driven through minus 20 (Celsius) we got to our destination. We would have to wait while the children all played, but the outside was beckoning: the weather was downright glorious with snow on the ground, but bright blue skies up above. So, me and two colleagues donned coats, hats, scarves and gloves and went on our merry way through the small nature reserve adjacent to the children's (indoor) playground. Nobody had been there yet and the only tracks we saw, were of rabbits. And then came a little glitch. The path went all around the smallish lake, but that was still quite a long walk. We had to be back by a certain time! So, I suggested we cut across. After all, the lake was completely frozen over!

Skating tracks on the left, walking on the right
Well, we headed towards the ice and with a few slips we managed to cross the lake. We talked to a skater, who had the whole lake to himself, well apart from the ducks and swans that had colonized the one watery spot still left. It was beautiful! And before you think the worst about us falling through: don't worry: the ice was thick enough and held us very well indeed.

By the time we got back to the playground, we were hungry and thirsty and very very hot. It might have been freezing out there, but the sun and the exercise working together, made my face glowing! When I got home at night and had to climb the stairs, I must admit, I was a bit creaky and sore. That will pass though, the memory of a beautiful walk out in Drenthe (one of the twelve Dutch provinces) will stay!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

'One'

It's a big step getting married. And even though I have been asked three times, I never actually took the plunge. Mind you, that might have had more to do with the quality of the askers. The first one was an old French bloke who just wanted to have sex. The second one was a very drunk and young Englishman and the third one was also English and wanted to marry me for my money. As if!!!

There are people out there though, who do find the right one. And they get married. She wears a lovely dress, he a nice suit. The family of the bride sit on one side, the family of the groom on the other. The minister or the priest stands in front of them and asks them whether they are absolutely certain they want to do this. If they do, they say yes or I do. If they don't, they are in the wrong place!

When I was in Canada last year, I saw a couple getting married on the freezing shores of Lake Louise. She wore a lovely dress and he a nice suit. There were family and friends and a priest to ask them the question. I think they both answered in the affirmative. If only to get out of the cold and into the warm!

This is my fourth entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?