Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-17

I wouldn't blame you if you have already given up on me. If not: thank you so much. I completely forgot the first week and then last week (even with a concerned email from Yamini), I just never got around to it. However, I am back now and here to tell you that the last time the light did come on, it was of course on the White Cliffs of Dover, England. Points go to Gera, Bettina, Fun60, Yamini, Hilary, Millie & Walter and Gerrit. 
My story? I have seen these Cliffs quite often. Each time I traveled between England and France, they are there. Now, you might also have heard the song about those very cliffs. Just saying: there are no bluebirds in England, but apparently it sounded good in the song.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week (yes, NEXT week!).

Monday, 2 May 2022

You've got mail

Manchester, UK
Did you see the photos used in last Friday's post? Not my usual standard to be sure, but they were taken with my phone of postcards I have recently sent. I promised you a while ago I would tell you all about a new old hobby of mine, so here I finally go.

Empress Sissi from Austria
Back in 2006 I joined Postcrossing. A site that promised contact with the world and the only thing you needed to do was send postcards. Easy. And for a couple of years that was what I did: I sent out postcards to strangers all over the world. Australia, Canada, Egypt, Romania, Germany, Norway, even the Netherlands. In return I would get postcards back from strangers from all over the world. 

Lithuania
I preferred to get cards that showed me famous people (living/dead/fictional) of the country or region they were in, but was just as pleased with flowers, animals or city scapes. It was an expensive hobby (the stamps alone cost a small fortune), but it was great fun.

Finland
But then I stopped. Not sure when or why exactly, but I stopped sending cards. And when you don't send cards, you don't get cards. The hobby ended.

United States
Fast forward to earlier this year and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. My sister had left again and I was on my own. The only mail that was arriving was junk mail and uninteresting official stuff. Then I remembered Postcrossing. I didn't know what my old login details were, but it was easy to create a new profile. Late January I sent out my first five cards to Germany, Japan, USA, Russia and Singapore. 

The Frysian language one from the Netherlands
As soon as one of my cards had arrived (Germany was fastest), I started to receive cards as well. So far I have sent 47 cards (of which 36 have arrived) and received 39. I received a Japanese figure skater, a Russian kosmonaut, a French church, a Taiwanese temple and bees from Manchester. People have written to me in English, German, Dutch and even Frysian (which I don't speak, but can read). They have written about their jobs, their hobbies, their towns. 

Maltese buses
Of course the stamps still cost a fortune and the postcards themselves aren't cheap either. If you can find them to start with! Back in the day it was fairly easy to find postcards, but people don't send them that much anymore, so they have started disappearing. And they have become more expensive as well. Paying over a euro for a single postcard is more norm than exception. 

Canadian Mountie
One day however, I found myself in a second hand shop and their was a whole basket with postcards. Costing only 10 cents each as well, so I went through them and came out with 17 new cards. Since then I have been hitting second hand stores to try and find cards. The biggest haul so far was just last week when I paid one and a half euro for a stack of postcards. After counting them once I got home it turned out I had 65 postcards. 

All cards so far
I use my doors to display the cards received and I am nearly one door (one side) down. Eight more to go before running out of space. Let's see whether I can fill them all. As long as I send, I will receive!

Friday, 29 April 2022

Tears of frustration

Okay, perhaps not quite the tears, but I can tell you, I am not far off! And this time it doesn't even have to do with my hands, which is even more frustrating. It has to do with a simple pink card.

As you know I lived in Norway for a few years. And while in Norway, I had to have my driver's license renewed. I got all the necessary paperwork in order, went to the department that issued the licenses and then waited until the Dutch authorities gave a positive answer and got my Norwegian license. Then I moved to the UK.

In the UK I had to exchange my license within a year and I was on my way of getting the paperwork done when I moved back to the Netherlands. Where it wasn't necessary to exchange until the license was out of date. Which is December of this year. However...

When in Norway, it took some time to validate my license and to beat that, I made sure I had plenty of time before I had to renew in order to avoid problems. Two weeks ago I got my final course work done, three days ago I had my physical. Everything was in order, everything was fine. Yesterday I went to my local council to renew my Norwegian license to a Dutch one. 

As in Norway, I had to leave my license behind. They have to physically check whether it's valid or not with the Norwegian authorities. In Norway I was issued a piece of paper saying that I was allowed to drive the vehicle categories stated on the paper during the duration. Only in Norway (and Sweden and Denmark), but as that was where I was living anyway, that wasn't a problem. I could still drive and since I do that for a living...

Not so in the Netherlands. No document is issued saying I can drive for the duration of the checks right up to the point of my new Dutch license. If I were to drive, I were to do so uninsured. Which is one thing when you only drive to and from work (and I wouldn't do it then), it's another completely when it is your actual job. Anything goes wrong and both me and the company would be in big doodah!

Which means: I cannot drive. I cannot do my job. So, I checked. Was it correct? Was there a way around this? Short answer: NO. Long answer: DEFINITELY NO. The department won't even tell me how far they are in processing my stuff and there is no way of chasing anybody up, as they won't tell where and how.

Instead of going back to normalcy next week, of getting back into the flow of things, I am grounded yet again. Not sick, but on holiday this time.

PS: Just so you know: I waited 9 months for a Norwegian license. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-16

Pre-posted folks, so I won't miss out again... Anyway, last week's challenge resulted in three completely right answers, and since some of you gave a completely wrong answer, albeit in the right country, I have decided only the right answers get points. Yamini, Gerrit and Fun60 knew/guessed this was the Arena in Verona. Not Rome, nor Arles (which was also a good guess by the way, just not good enough). 
My story? I visited Verona years ago. In fact, my first ever enjoyment of a pizza was on the piazza facing this arena. I have never been inside. Perhaps in the future some time.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Normalcy

Is that even a word? Normalcy? Because I am slowly getting back to it. The right hand is pretty good again and the left is slowly following suit. I am still not up to 100%, but about 80% right now is pretty ok I think.

Lately I have been working in the garden a bit. Half an hour maximum on any given day really. Pulling weeds, mowing the grass. I don't dare do too much, just in case, but so far so good. Other than that I have been reading a lot. I got going with Jack Reacher and am now on book 11. Yesterday I started one and finished it at 1 in the morning, because I just wanted to know whodunnit! 

I have been watching a lot of television as well of course, plus I went to the cinema several times. I saw The Duke which was really good, Fantastic Beasts 3 (made my sister jealous), The 355, The Lost City, Uncharted (twice), Moonfall and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. I was supposed to go to Morbius, but canceled in the end as it is not really a genre I like. 

From next week however that will change a bit. Yes, the reading will most likely continue as will tv and cinema, but I will have to ration it more as I will be going back to work! Oh yes, after five months at home I will get back in uniform (providing I can find one that fits, I have gained a bit) and start driving again. The first week I will be at 50% of my normal hours, just to see how everything holds up. And then I will have a week off, as that was the plan way before the operations. Hopefully after that I will be back to 100%.

So, I think I will have to really enjoy my last week of 'freedom'. I know Miss O will need to as she has gotten used to me being home for so long. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-15

I missed last week! Shame on me!! I hope you will forgive me. But I am back now and I hope you have not all run for the hills. Last week's challenge was a mixed bag of answers. Although most of you were in the same sort of area (ie Eastern Europe). It was of course a guard in front of Prague Castle in Czechia (or Czech Republic). Gerrit gets a complete point, Yamini and Gera get half a point and Hilary gets a quarter point. Oh, and Gerrit also gets a point for the Sacré Coeur, I only saw his answer today.
My story? In 2016 my sister and I made our way to Prague and did a lot of walking. A lot of walking! One of the things we visited was Prague Castle and right in front was this guard. I think we were even there for the changing of the guard, which was a simple affair.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week (yes, NEXT week).

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-14

Last week's challenge was of course the Sacré Coeur in Paris, France and plenty of you did get that right. So, points go to Yamini, Fun60, Bettina, Harm, Debby and Hilary. 
My story? During the same trip to Paris as the Versailles outing, my sister and I spent a day in Paris doing the rounds. And one thing we also saw was this church. We got all the way up there (I think we took the funiculaire), but did not go inside, which is something that needs to be rectified at some point in the future I think. 

On to this week's challenge then. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-13

A toughie again last week it seemed. Nobody got it completely right though, although two were very close. It is a statue of Pope John Paul II in Krakow, Poland. Some of you mentioned one, some the other, Yamini mentioned he was the last pope (which was in fact Benedictus XVI, JP II was the one before him) and she switched from Krakow to Warsaw (which is the capital of Poland). So, here is my verdict: Gera and Yamini both get 3/4 point. Hilary and Gerrit get 1/2 point and Janice gets 1/4 point. 
My story? Well, on my trip with Gera through central Europe, we visited Krakow. Karol Józef Wojtyła was born close to Krakow and is still quite a prominent feature in that city. They are very proud of him and they had a sort of park/square where several of Krakow's great and good were honoured. He was one of them. 

On to this week's challenge then. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week.

Friday, 25 March 2022

What I do

Over the past few months I have had plenty of time to do what I like. With severe restrictions of course. One of the things I love doing is reading and I figured I would have plenty of time to do just that. And then I didn't. Yes, I picked up a book, but I couldn't stick to it. However, during the last few weeks I did finally pick up a book and finish it. Several in fact. Although that came about in a roundabout kind of way.

I have written several blogs about what I watched. Romantic comedies was what I started off with, but lately I have been more into a different type of film. Car chases, fighting, action, space. And then I subscribed to Amazon Prime and found a whole world of films and series. 

The series follows Jack Reacher, a veteran military police investigator who has just recently entered civilian life. Reacher is a drifter, carrying no phone and the barest of essentials as he travels the country and explores the nation he once served. When Reacher arrives in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, he finds a community grappling with its first homicide in 20 years. The cops immediately arrest him, and eyewitnesses claim to place Reacher at the scene of the crime. While he works to prove his innocence, a deep-seated conspiracy begins to emerge, one that will require Reacher’s keen mind and hard-hitting fists to deal with. One thing above all is for sure: They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.
I thought I might as well give it a go and Janice (who mentioned it): thank you so much! I watched the whole series on two consecutive days. In: I watched the whole series one day and then watched the whole series again the next day! Since then I watched the whole thing a further two times. And decided to read the book the series is based on. Which I finished in two sittings as it was gripping me the whole way.

An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive and can survive until a potential rescue.
At the same time I had bought another book. Based on a film this time: the Martian. This is a film I had wanted to see in the cinema and never got around to it for some reason. I regret that to this day as I loved it. I did watch it several times on television though, but never the complete thing. Until they had another broadcast and I managed to record it. By the end I knew I wanted it on DVD. It arrived the next day and I watched it again. Which led to me buying the book.

On the back of both those books, I bought other books by the same writers. In the case of Lee Child (Reacher), I bought several of the same series about the main protagonist. I am now on book 3, which so far is the hardest to get through, but I still want to know how it ends. I have number 4 waiting already. There are about 24 books so far, so I have a bit to go. 

So there you have it: I started reading again. While still watching a lot of television (new MacGyver seasons 1-3, the Transporter series plus of course films with a higher body count than I have ever seen in my life so far). 

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Firstly

I have been off sick since the end of November and I can safely say I am thoroughly fed up. To the eyeballs fed up. Sick and tired of sitting at home, not being able to do squat. At first there was the operation to fix the CTS in my right hand. And although the wound healed nicely, the pain remained and was in fact getting worse. It turned out I had a related but separate problem. One that would prove a bit more difficult.

First of all of course there was the kicking inducing injection right into my wrist. IT HURT LIKE HELL! However, only days later, the pain had abated a fair bit and by the time I got to see the hand therapist for the first time, the pain was nearly gone. In order to make sure my wrist and thumb would go on being pain free however, I had to wear a splint. For three weeks. Non-stop. I only took it off when taking a shower and then I could barely use the hand. 

After three and a half weeks of wearing that splint, I went back to the hand therapist, she was happy and I was allowed to take it off more and more. At first it was only during meal times. Then it was for longer periods until I finally only wore it at night. Back to the hand therapist.

I was now splint free during the day, but it didn't mean I could do much with my hand. In fact, I could barely bend my wrist. So, that had to be trained. By that time I had been given the all clear to go out cycling and swimming (yes!), so that certainly helped by getting the hand to be more useful. But...

Even though the right hand was now nearing normalcy again, three and a half months in, my left hand still had unresolved business. I had been in two minds about having my left hand done. I hardly had any trouble with it, so would it not be wiser to defer until problems arose? Or would it be best to get it done now and be done with it? In the end I chose the latter, made an appointment with the surgeon and in I went. 

Last week I had my second hand operated on. Tie off arm, anastacia (you know!), slice open, cut something, put in stitches and within ten minutes my hand was being wrapped up with bandages. My Dad picked me up again and now I am recovering at home. The bandages come off today (it's been a week) and then I will battle the spider legs for a week, before they can come out. Another few weeks at home to make sure the wound heals fine and I can use the hand fine again and then hopefully back to work by the end of April.

By the time I will be back at work, I will have been gone about five months. My main problem was the fact that even though I was off sick, I wasn't sick as such. I wasn't in bed with a raging fever. I just couldn't use my hand(s). Frustration, boredom, probably even some apathy. On the other hand I know that I need my hands in my job. If I think about how I want to grab the steering wheel because I want to avoid pain, I might not be able to avoid accidents or even cause them. 

Right now though: light at the end of the tunnel. And pretty soon I will be back at work, wishing I was home watching television...