Wednesday, 24 December 2008


About nine years ago on Christmas Eve my parents thought they would surprise me by a lovely visit. However the look on my face must have spoken a complete library, because they didn't stay very long.
In the years I've lived in this house, I've only celebrated Christmas with my family four times. I went there twice and they came to me twice. More than enough in my opinion. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to spend it with family, but having a full sit-down meal dressed in your finest is not my idea of having a good time. So, now I spend Christmas watching films and television, eating exactly the food I love and doing everything in my own rythm. There's always room for more people, as long as they don't mind watching yet another Cinderella version (I own about ten different ones), a Christmas film, the Doctor Who Christmas Special and eating spaghetti bolognese.

As for the gifts: I don't even have a tree up this year and we've never exchanged presents in our household (we celebrated 'Sinterklaas' or Saint Nicholas on December 5th).

However I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, 19 December 2008


Not too happy, because I had to clean up someone else's drink (ie puke) in the bus! Not even enough decency to come and tell me or even to try and clean it up themselves!
I start to wonder whether teens are really the worst kind of passenger...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Thank you London!

Well, I should have known, after all, the same thing happened last year. After a few trips to London, where I have to get up early, or late, or not at all, drive at all hours of the day and then have to sleep in the middle of the day, I caught the bug again. So, right now, I have an absolute stinking cold!
It started a few days ago with a slight sore throat. By that time of course it was way too late to do anything against it (even though I did swallow several paracetamol) and yesterday it became a lot worse. And now? Well, trying to cough my lungs out of my body every single time, a very red and sore nose and not enough tissues anywhere near me! I still have to work today, starting again at a stupid time and finishing at an even stupider (yes I know) time. 18.30 until 27.15 (03.15am)! Fortunately tomorrow I only have one schoolrun and then it's VACATION TIME!!!! Two weeks without screaming teens, demanding passengers and blocked roads.

Two more days, Mara, two more days!!!

Monday, 15 December 2008


Well, the only thing I can say about this past weekend is that I learned a new way of being tired. Not just tired, but so tired I could even look cross-eyed!!!
On Friday I got out of bed at midday. I didn't do too much and went to bed again at a quarter past five. Of course I didn't get to sleep until well past seven and I had to get up again at nine, but every hour counted to be honest. At eleven I set off towards the company I had to pick up. At half past one in the morning I left there and drove straight towards Calais (France) to take the ferry to Dover (England). Because of the weather and some mechanical problems with one of the ferries, we were half an hour delayed... Not so good.

When I got to London, I knew a really quick way to the center of town. And it worked, right up to the Tower of London. From there it normally is only two minutes to the London Bridge, but they had decided to close down that road, leading all traffic through all those narrow streets: twenty minutes later I finally got to London Bridge! I finally dropped them off in the center of London and drove to the parking lot. Which is always very muddy and this time very full as well! It was pouring down with rain, so I decided to get a taxi to my hotel. I put my head on the pillow at half past eleven in the morning.

An hour later I was still wide awake, there was just too much noise outside. Fortunately I dozed off for a few hours, but in the end I only managed to catch three hours. So by the time I had to start driving again at a quarter past seven, I had only had five hours sleep in 33 hours!

I drove back to the ferry (another delay there) and decided to catch an hour of sleep there, because I was in serious danger of not making it otherwise. So, in the driver's restaurant I put my head down and fell asleep. When I woke up again, we were in the port of Calais and they were just getting everyone to go back to their vehicles... But I was somewhat refreshed and would be able to make it for at least a few hours. During the way back one of the women on board (she was the leader of the group) came and sat next to me. She hadn't slept for nearly two days by then, but she chatted to me all night, sitting in the cold as well, so that was very sweet of her. Mind you, it's also self-preservation I guess, a driver falling asleep at the wheel must be a horrible thought!

Arriving back at the company's headquarters I stayed there for nearly an hour, cleaning up, clearing up and doing the accounts and paperwork. I then started to drive, but after about half an hour, it started to become extremely difficult to keep my eyes open. In the end (with only 25 miles left to go) I opted to find a parking place and just shut my eyes for an hour. After all, I didn't want to end up up-side down in a ditch. The hour asleep really helped and I managed to get home at around nine in the morning. I cleaned the coach thorougly and went home.

I didn't go straight to bed though, it's always best to go back to your normal routine, so I stayed up until six and then I just couldn't take anymore and went to bed. And now? Well, I've had a lovely twelve hours sleep and feel great again. However, not great enough to go to London like that again...

Friday, 12 December 2008

London (again)

A few weeks ago I was asked whether I wanted to go to London this weekend and of course I said yes! I love that town, so no problem. Then this week, they changed the plans. I still have to go to London, but not the whole weekend. As a matter of fact, I only go for the Saturday!
But spending the Saturday in town (the passengers, not me), means that I have to leave late Friday night and return home on Sunday morning. Which means: sleeping at times that my body isn't quite used to. So, I had to change my schedule a bit. Instead of going to bed at a reasonable time (like 11pm), I stayed up until 3am on Wednesday night and got up at 8am in the morning. So, yesterday I felt quite tired. But because I have to work through the night tonight, I decided it would be best if I went to bed later still and then had a massive lie-in. Which of course didn't quite work out, but at least I tried. I went to bed at 4.15am and woke up again at midday. At least I had my eight hours, but I think I will try for another few hours tonight. Anything I can get is good!

And if you're wondering what I did last night: well, I started ironing at around two this morning! I watched a Christmas film (I actually watched several yesterday) at the same time and tried not to fall asleep on the couch.

I just have to remember to take the earplugs with me, because I will have to sleep in London during the day as well....

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Direct hit

It's nearly two years now that my neighbour rang the doorbell at a quarter to seven in the morning. Something was wrong with her husband and could I help? Well, something was definitely wrong with her husband: he had died in bed. After I finally had gotten him of the bed, had phoned 112 (ambulance), because his wife didn't remember the number and started CPR, over 10 minutes had gone by. The police took over part of the job and after that the paramedics (I think), but it was all to no avail: he was gone. I spent the whole day tasting and smelling him, which I didn't particularly like. A shower and a small break down helped and I was over it.

Last night we had a CPR refresher course. I should have gone last year as well, but with work last year, it was impossible. So, this year was the first time and I have to say, it hit home quite hard. I hadn't expected it at all, but everything came flooding back. Even the taste started coming back. So, I had very mixed feelings. Fortunately I can always count on my colleagues to make me laugh and get me away from those feelings.

I passed the course though and that is most important, because the average age of people on my coach is usually over 55 (some trips over 65) when I go abroad. And they have a statistically higher chance of keeling over from heart trouble. Let's just hope they won't!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Having to park a 12 meter long, 2,5 meter wide, 3,55 meter high vehicle is not the easiest of things. Especially when you're in London and you can't park your coach at the hotel! It took us over two hours to find a place and it was an illegal one as well. In the same street where we started to look, so I was quite grrrrrrrr at the end. Also, because my time was running out. I only had three quarters of an hour left to work. Not so good.
In other news, London was fantastic (as usual). The weather was great: cold but sunny and it was nice and busy in town. Which of course caused more havoc parking the bus. But I was lucky and found a spot about a hundred meters from where I dropped everyone off, so I was happy. The other coach wasn't so lucky and had to park miles away.

Next weekend should be a bit easier. I have been to that hotel before and know where to park (at the back of the hotel), so that will save us some precious time! Time I could use to buy my goddaughter a present, or myself for that matter!

Friday, 5 December 2008


We're not really used to snow in the Netherlands. We get it on average about 10 times a year and the last time it actually stayed on the ground for more than one day, let alone longer is about four years ago now. It was in the region I live and in one day we had about 50 centimeters (foot and a half). We even made the German news!
As you can see from the pictures below though we had some snow during the past few days. I must admit though, I have been cheating a bit. All the pictures were taken in Germany on the motorway. At the time I wasn't driving (there were two of us)and was able to take quite a few pictures.
The motorway we were on was a three-lane one, but as you can see in the pictures, it was hard going. We were lucky though, all the roads we took were fairly clean (apart from this one obviously) and none were blocked. Other roads were worse and some were blocked due to jack-knifed lorries or too much snow.
Getting back to the Netherlands the weather got better and better. Until we hit the border that is, because it started snowing again. In earnest as well. Not as bad as in Germany, but still...
View through the windscreen. The side of the road Three lanes crawling along because the 'winterservice' hadn't been yet.

Sunday, 30 November 2008


A day like today is so tiring. The alarm clock at 4.15am, trying to get the windscreen of the coach defrosted within 5 minutes (yes, I was late) and not being able to reach high enough to actually scrape it off and then a whole day of dreary weather (rain, sleet, snow) driving train passengers around. The worst thing was when people bugged me even though I had the sign on the bus changed to 'out of service'.
When I got home, I basically slouched down on the couch and sat/hung there for about two hours, before I felt even close to normal again.

Good thing I now have two days off and then it's back to Germany.

Friday, 28 November 2008


Something that goes with my job is staying in hotels a lot. When I first started a friend of mine commented that that was great! Well, after a while all hotelrooms look alike. They are not your own home, the beds are usually slept on by a gazillion people before you, the pillows are horrible, not enough blankets, the rooms are small, too hot, too cold, too noisy, the television only broadcasts local programmes or very snowy foreign ones, the food is questionable, the service is not service and all in all, hotels are not my favourite part of my job.
Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule. I once stayed in an ordinary chain hotel (Mercure or something like that) and was given the best room! Flat screen tv, huge bed, great bathroom including slippers and bathrobe. Shame about the motorway that was quite close and the food served there was atrocious (French, need I say more?)...

Last night on my quest for the perfect hotel I stayed in a small hotel somewhere near Magdeburg (Germany). The room wasn't overly large, the bed was a single (half of the twin) and the bathroom wasn't too big either. But, instead of a pillowcase filled with fluffed up air it was a proper pillow, albeit quite large. The television wasn't a wide screen, but there were about 25 channels to choose from (24 in German, granted) which gave me a lot of choice. There were no goodies in the bathroom (I've got a drawer full of soapies etc), but it was clean and new. But the food... To die for! Grilled trout with head, tail and bones, boiled potatoes in butter and a lovely salad. Simple, but great! And the pudding... mmmm, lovely. Apple beignets with vanilla sauce. But I think most importantly the service was fantastic. I was shown up to my room, they didn't mind me having breakfast at 6am (which was a huge problem in a four star hotel with over 200 rooms), even though I was one of only four guests! The only thing was, I would have loved to see it during daylight. Arriving in the middle of the night (half past five in the afternoon, but pitch dark) didn't do much for the surroundings, neither did leaving at half past six in the morning.

Hotel "Waldschänke" in Hohenwarthe (near Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany) gets four stars in my rating!

Next week I will have two more chances of hotel-gazing. One in Germany and one in London.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Off to see the world!

After a few days off it was back to work for me yesterday. Starting at 7 in the morning, by the time I had taken those soldiers to their skiing whatyamacallit in Germany, gotten to an airport in the Netherlands again and waited and waited and waited and waited it was gone half past eight at night and still no sign of freedom! In the end I was relieved by a colleague at the end of my allowed 15 hours of work. Of which I get about 12 hours paid!
Today is an easier day. I only have to go to Germany and find a hotel there. Then tomorrow it's back to the Netherlands, but with Dutch soldiers.
On Saturday it's a soccer trip and on Sunday train relieve (no trains due to works on the track, buses instead).
When I will find the time to visit my brother and sister-in-law who just had their third baby I don't know...

Monday, 24 November 2008


Nearly a week has gone by again. It all goes so quickly and sometimes I wonder where the days have gone. And most importantly: what I have been doing with those days.
I worked most of the days. On Thursday it was a whole day of ferrying kids back and forth between school and swimming pool/sportscenter. Then on Friday I had to pick up all the staff and their partners from a building company in the north and take them to Rotterdam and The Hague. First a boattrip through the harbour in Rotterdam. Unfortunately it was cut short due to the atrocious weather. On our way there a lorry had tilted over due to the heavy winds and was covering the complete motorway, blocking all traffic. And even though it was Friday morning, normally the quietest morning of the week traffic wise, I never noticed it! We were well and truly stuck and I even turned the engine off for nearly half an hour!!! After that it moved again, but since four lanes had to go into one.... You get the drift! We were over an hour late in Rotterdam.

After Rotterdam I had to take them to some swanky hotel in The Hague. I dropped them off and then drove to a not so swanky hotel just outside The Hague. Mind you, it was quiet, so I was happy enough. I even managed to visit my brother and his family for a couple of hours.

The next morning I picked the group up again and drove them home. So, that was my weekend. Quite an easy weekend even if the weather was bad...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


The only thing left to do for me now is wait for December 6th and mail the Christmas cards I wrote today. I just have to get one more for a certain person whose birthday I always tend to forget.
Job done!

Monday, 17 November 2008


Not my day today. Started off by nearly oversleeping. Then I cycled to work and left my bike next to my coach so I could take it with me. However I forgot to put it on the bus and left. While driving I missed a set of traffic lights. They were just gone! Well, they weren't gone of course, I just had run them and was now standing behind the lights. Not good.
After I finally got to my parents, I carried my bag upside down, but fortunately nothing had fallen out. Or so I thought, because half an hour later my Mum asked me what was lying in the street (my glasses, that's what).

The afternoon didn't get much better, the bus I had had to change to wouldn't start and I missed part of my shift because of that. And when I finally got back to the garage, it turned out I had actually driven over my bike, causing my rear wheel to be extremely wobbly.

Oh, and now I have a headache!

I wish it were Tuesday...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Good news

Yesterday I went to an information meeting about emigrating to Canada. I was told things I already knew and some things I didn't know yet, but would have to take into account as well. Of course the problem so far was money. And guess what: the problem from now on is going to be money!
Up to now I have been paying of a huge debt (all my own making, just spending too much), but that's nearly gone now. From now on though, I will have to save money. I will need money for the agency, the English test, my cats and of course I will need most money for trying to stay alive for the first few weeks in Canada. I need to pass my driving test again (!) for both car and bus, I need money to get a place to live and of course money for feed for both me and my monsters. All in all, I will need around €12,000! *Sigh*

On the other hand there was some good news. As soon as I have all the money I need, it should take somewhere between three and four months from signing up with the agency and me flying to Canada. So, that's good. The downside of course is that I am only allowed to stay for two years and then have to leave for four months. But I will deal with that once I'm there, no point in getting worked up about that now.

So, all in all fairly good news.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Time off

I wanted next week off, but thanks to a colleague of mine who felt it necessary to fondle a young girl at a busstop and was sentenced to 100 hours of community work (scooping poop hopefully), that was made impossible. However, I was told that any time off during the Christmas holiday would be acceptable.
And since I have over two weeks holiday left and some more days floating around as well, that just suits me fine!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Note to self: check under the bed before closing the bedroom door, just in case one of the monsters has decided to hide under it!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


There's a small village close to where I live. The people who live there are generally speaking not my favourite people. In the past the village used to be an island (until 1942) and the people are still acting like they live on an island. Large families (more than 10 children becoming a bit more rare now, but it's taken a while) and I think because of those large families all children are extremely loud and unruly. Horrid!
Today I had to drive two schoolclasses to some museum. Two different schools, so the children didn't really know each other. But the noise they made. They screamed and shouted and the teachers did absolutely nothing. An occasional sht wasn't even heard by the children in the first few seats, let alone by the rest. I bet most of them removed their seatbelts the minute I got behind the wheel and the teachers didn't bother.

On the way back it was bit different. One of the teachers was reading a book out loud. Well, politically correct it definitely wasn't! It was a book about some schoolchildren and it was set during World War two. No problem there. But when he started reading about the beating one particular school boy got for playing truant and not one single adult person on the coach said anything about it...

The village is quite old-fashioned in its beliefs. Most women and girls are not allowed to wear trousers (it's ungodly apparently) and they go to church twice every Sunday. No radio allowed on the bus (they do play the radio in the car home though), some people still without television. On the other hand, they make bucket loads of money in 'fish' (it's a fishing village) and it has been reported that cocaine use is rife. But mostly they are just 'us' against the rest of the world.

And not my favourites. At all!

Monday, 10 November 2008


I got my first Christmas card today. Not really expected and not from anyone I actually know, since it's part of the Postcrossing scheme.
I joined Postcrossing a few years ago, not really expecting it to work that well, but as you can see from my sister blog (Mara's Wall of Fame) it did. So far I've nearly sent 300 cards and received about the same. It's an expensive hobby, but I do like getting some mail every day!

However getting the first Christmas card before you're even halfway through November is definitely special. Mind you, I like Christmas and always send my cards out around December 6th (straight after Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated on December 5th in the Netherlands).

The card itself is of a cottage and is by Thomas Kinkade. Snowman in front, snow on the roof, all the lights in the cottage on. It makes me wish for a white Christmas, but the chance of that happening in this country are extremely slim! The last time I saw a white Christmas was when I lived in England and then it wasn't white because of the snow, but because of the fog which hung around for nearly a week. And the only time I really saw a proper white Christmas was when I lived in the French Alps during the winter of '91/'92.

I won't expect a white Christmas this year, but I do love the cards and/or films to show that it is possible. It makes my dreams just a little bit more real...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


I don't visit my parents that often. For one, they are hardly ever at home, both having a social life and jobs to keep them busy. An other reason is I don't have a car, so just hopping in the car to go visit them on a Sunday afternoon is not really an option. I could always take the bus, but it takes an hour and a half to get to my parents and if they then aren't home...
When I do visit my parents, it's often in the way I've done it today. I'm working and in between the morning and the afternoon shift, I have enough time to visit my parents. I park the coach at the trainstation and then cycle to my parents' place. When it rains I usually take the bus, since parking the coach closer to their home has been made impossible during the last year.
My mum and I went shopping today. I have this information meeting coming up and I don't want to just arrive in my old and trusted jeans and a too large hand me down jumper. So I bought a new pair of trousers and some new jumpers as well. Now the only thing I need is a new pair of shoes, since I only own one pair of black shoes and the trousers are brown!
But that wasn't the reason I was visiting here today. The reason for visiting was a working sewing machine. I don't have one anymore and my mum does. So, after I've finished this, I will get it out and try and repair some uniform trousers, which have burst at the seam.
Quite a mundane day then...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Talking back

It's always quite hard for me to deal with people who have a louder voice than I do. I know I start talking loudly when excited or angry and other people do the same thing. But it's hard to stand up to people like that. When on the job it's quite ok, after all, I'm in charge and my word goes, but when not working, it gets a lot harder. I start nodding and agreeing, all the while thinking bad things about them.
I remember when I was about 19. It was my second season working abroad and I was a quiet, naïve person. I was in charge of a large group of children, but when the time came to make a show from scratch with those children, I was lost and couldn't do it. So when my boss started yelling at me in front of all my colleagues and all the children, something snapped. I started yelling back and for the first time in my life actually stood up for myself. It worked. After that, he never yelled at me again and he would never scold me in front of others again. He would come to see me and talk to me about any mistakes I might have made.

Since then I have learned even more. Some people can't handle 'lower' employees to talk back. Some people can't handle anything like criticism. And some people should be banned from working with other people.

Last night I had to get my coach back. It had been driven by a colleague I don't particularly like for the past two weeks and looked like a tip. He started shouting at me about the various problems, mistakes and shortcomings of the coach and I just told him to stop shouting, since I wasn't deaf. He looked at me and surprise surprise: he piped down. He then told me what was wrong and the whole thing became a lot more civil. After that he got his stuff and left for home.

But here sits quite a proud person, because I managed not to be overcome with dumbstruckness (I know it's not a word, but it should be) and actually stayed on top of the conversation!


Saturday, 1 November 2008


Out of the four cats sharing my home, three love sitting on my lap. Vying for attention! Mind you, it's also quite heavy, since the red one on the left is quite big and the other ones aren't underweight either!

But I love them...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


Why do I even bother creating nice soft cushiony spots in front of the heater when any old box will do?

Monday, 27 October 2008


I have written about them before probably and will most likely write about them again some time in the future: teenagers! Today was another day filled with them. My mood has dropped like a ton of bricks because of it. Combining teenagers with crossing the dyke four times makes my mood even worse. Having those teenagers then misbehave and being an absolute pain in the behind, just made sure my mood plummeted to below zero. So, not a good day. And the week doesn't seem to be improving either: the rest of the week is more of the same (although those kids better behave).
So, my mood is bad, the weather is getting worse and the clock has gone back last weekend, making the evening start an hour earlier.
It's a great start to the week!

Saturday, 25 October 2008


When I first got my mobile phone a couple of years ago, I immediately told my friends and family, they were not allowed to phone me, unless it was a matter of life and death. If they wanted to talk to me, they could send me a text and I would phone back at the earliest opportunity or when I felt like it (in some cases).
One of my friends forgot. She tried to phone me on my home phone, she tried sending me messages via hyves, but she never sent me a text. When she finally got through, she wondered whether I was angry with her? Stupid cow! Anyway, we have smoothed it over again and she's coming over tonight and staying until tomorrow.

This morning I had a text of her, saying she is coming over, but she's not staying. She always does this and it does annoy me. I do understand she has a boyfriend and two (small) children, but if you want to come over, come over and if you want to stay, stay. I go through a lot of trouble and then she isn't staying.

Ah well, never mind, at least she's still coming...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


For some reason (which completely passes me by), every couple of years they change the watermeter. And because they never really worry about people having jobs as well, I had to ask for time off. Usually I can avoid it by telling my boss I need time off between such and such hour, but in this case I asked for a whole day.

Just past one the doorbell rang and there he was: the watermeterchanger! The minute he opened the door to the space that holds the watermeter he smelled gas. I had been telling myself for over a year now that it wasn't gas, it was just the air from below the house and the space between my house and the wall next door, but according to him it was gas. Meaning I had to get a man in to have a look at it! Fortunately it was my day off, because for gas leakages they tend to come out real quick...

About half an hour after the waterman left, the gasman arrived. But he couldn't smell anything and his little thingamajig couldn't detect anything either. The meter wasn't running, so he was at a bit of a loss. Until he opened the gas again (I had been told to close it). His thingamajig started bleeping and all colours were showing. He had found the leak!

Ten minutes later he was about to leave: the leak had been closed and no more gas was escaping. Two minutes after that he was back again: whether my heating was working? Well, the thermostat in my living room told me it was basically okay without the heating, but then it clicked: was the heater still on properly? So, I dashed upstairs, and checked. And behold: it wasn't! So I reset the thing, told the gasman and off he went again.

My day!

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Cats are great! They really are. Even when they throw up in their bowl, after just having wolfed (or should that be catted) down a special meal. Even when they wake me up, because they have fallen out of the window. Again! Even when they leave cat hairs all over the house, my uniform and everything else. Even then cats are great!
It's just that they need such large amounts of food! Four cats equals a lot of money and I know that without those four monsters of mine, I would have gotten rid of my debt a whole lot sooner. But then I wouldn't have had the lovely companionship of a bunch of idiots, neurotics and downright lovely creatures. So, I won't complain too much. Although it is time to part with a large chunk of my money yet again, just so the monsters don't die of starvation!


Thursday, 16 October 2008


I have been wanting to emigrate to Canada for a few years now, but there were a few obstacles in my path. The main obstacle was of course my debt, but I'm nearly done with that. Only three more months and I will be debt free for the first time in 10 years. So the first hurdle has been (almost) taken.
Of course, once I'm debt free, I'm not out of the woods yet. I need quite a bit of cash to be able to pay for the whole thing. The days of going abroad with only a button in your pocket are long gone. But, again, there I have taken a step that will bring me a bit closer to my goal. In November I will be going to an information meeting, where an agency will introduce itself, tell me (and others) what to expect job wise, home wise and cost wise. This agency would be able to help me find a job and a home, albeit for money. This would however save me from trying to do everything myself and finding I did it wrong.
I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Polite or not polite, that is the question

In most languages I know there is a distinctive difference between 'you' (when speaking to children and peers) and 'You' (when speaking to someone of higher rank, age or a stranger). In French it would be tu and vous, in German du and Sie, in Dutch jij and u. In English there is no such distinction, unless you count the (very) old fashioned thou. Anyway, this is about the Dutch versions.

When I was a little girl, I was taught by my parents to say 'You' (keeping it a bit simpler here) to anyone older or unknown. This meant saying it to my parents, grandparents, teachers and strangers. During my teens I was the last of the three of us (me, brother, sister) to start saying 'you' to my parents. It just didn't feel respectful. And even now I occasionally have problems saying 'you' to people that are older, even when told to do so.

The thing that really bugs me though, is children nowadays. Everyone and their aunt is treated to 'you' in a way that makes me feel really grumpy. What is the problem with teaching children a little respect for other people. Get them to say 'You' first and it can always change to 'you' later.

People who say that everyone is equal and should be treated that way are lying. Not everyone is equal. You don't call the Pope 'Benny', you don't call the President of the US 'George' or the Queen of England 'Betty'. So let's get back to basics: teach your children how to be polite and respectful and I promise you: the world will become a better place!

Sunday, 12 October 2008


Another thing I shouldn't do, just to avoid getting a splitting headache: eat more than 3 bars of chocolate a week. As I learned yesterday!

Saturday, 11 October 2008


Receiving a letter or a postcard in this day and age that is not sent via the computer is something of a dying artform I think. When I used to live abroad I loved getting letters. In fact I still have all the letters I ever received since 1983 and no, this doesn't include those awful things you get from the IRS. But ever since the internet came up and up and up and up, the letter has all but disappeared. I can't remember the last time I had a handwritten letter in my mailbox. Mind you, I can't remember the last time I sent one!

Postcards are another matter. When people go on holiday they still tend to send one home and I love getting cards from my parents and friends to tell me they are having a lovely time, with lovely weather and lovely people. Especially since I will invariably be grumpy due to bad weather, awful young people and congested roads.

I send postcards as well. Every time I go somewhere a bit special in my own country or abroad, I will send 6 cards (soon to be 7). Always to the same people as well: my goddaughter A., my goddaughter V. and godson L., my nephew T. and my niece M. and to a German friend of mine, just so she knows I am still kicking about on this planet. Oh and the soon to be: my brother and his wife are expecting another one!

Since over two years now I have also been sending cards to strangers. The idea is simple: sign up, get an address of a stranger, send card. They receive card, register card and then you wait for someone else entirely to send you a card! See? Easy... So far I've received a fair few cards and I especially like the ones with famous people on it. Just to see who is famous in a certain country. And to show that of I've created another little blog. Just to post the cards I've received!! The picture at the top of this post shows the Royal family of Sweden.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


While at the nursery of my goddaughter V.:

Do you live in a shoeshop?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Nothing special

I don't even know what to blog about today, so why even bother.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Sex on the Beach

Last Friday was a good day. Not too much traffic going into Potsdam due to the Day of German Unification which was good. After arriving we had a few drinks at the bar. I started off with a small beer, which turned out to be half a liter! As I was trying to finish it, I saw the bartender mix a drink that became a nice pink colour. So, after I had finally finished that beer, I asked for one of those pink thingummies. He (fortunately) knew what I was talking about and after a few minutes I was staring into my pink 'Sex on the Beach'.
It was nice. It was tasty. It was quite sweet. After finishing it, I had another one. It was bought for me by one of my colleagues, I would have gone for mineral water. By the time I had finished number two, a small headache started to form, so I definitely switched to mineral water, despite protestations of my colleagues.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Potsdam and Berlin

Potsdam is situated in the former East German part of the country and during East German times it was (apparently) mainly grey and brown. I think they used to cover anything that wasn't moving. Since 1990, towns and cities all over East Germany have started using colour again and most buildings have a bit of colour on them now, be it cream or light yellow. At least it all looks a bit cleaner than before. Not everything has been done though. This was the view from the tram we took into the town of Potsdam. Grey/brown buildings covered with graffiti!

This is one of the streets in the "Holländisches Viertel" or Dutch Quarter in Potsdam. Some long ago king thought the world of Holland and decided to build a Dutch Quarter for all the Dutch workmen living in the area. This scene especially could have been taken everywhere in the Netherlands, even today. The only difference being the streetnames (all German) and the numberplates on the cars (German as well).
One of the houses in the Dutch Quarter. It looks Dutch alright, right up to the roof. In the Netherlands we use different rooftiles, so that's different. But a lovely house nonetheless. Even the shutters are there!
The picture on the top is of one of those dolly-like things keeping the shutters open. The picture on the bottom is of one of the lions on a huge gated tower (which looked new to me).

The first photo was taken in the High Street. I just loved it. The other two photos are of doors (as if you didn't guess). The first one needs some work done and the second one shows what a little bit of work can do!
Well, these were a few of the photos I took while in Germany. I did take some others, but they will have to keep!

Friday, 3 October 2008


I am leaving for Berlin today. Three days of fun and sightseeing in the capital of Germany. I wish!
No, we're going to Berlin on my own coach and without people. We pick them up while we're there (there's about 6 more coaches going) and take them about 40 km further! The leaving time today was set at around 4pm, but at 10am I got a phone call: we leave at noon! Blast!

Half an hour ago I was ready to roll when I got another phone call: there are no coaches yet, we leave between 1 and 1.30pm. I wish they would make their minds up...
Anyway, at 1pm this afternoon, I will be picked up by a colleague. Then we hope our coaches have arrived reasonably clean and we leave for Berlin! So, I won't be seeing you until Sunday at the earliest.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

No chance!

The debate about whether God is male or female is basically a moot debate. There can only be one conclusion: God must be a man.
The reason? Quite simple: no woman, no matter how much she hates other women (and according to so many people God loves all man, disregarding sex, colour or creed) would wish the aches and pains of the monthly returning horror on another woman. If God were female, she would have made very sure men were dealt an even more terrible recurring horror. And men thinking they will die of a brain tumour every time they have to sniff is not terrible, it's not horrible, it's just men trying to grab attention.

So, God is male. Just so you know!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008


No, not the temperature, I have a cold. A whopping great one at that. One where you don't use a lot of hankies, but you do sniff a lot. And sneeze occasionally. And all my sinuses are blocked.

All this is not helped a great deal by the weather: wind, rain, cold. And when I choose not to bring my Tweety-suit into work, it serves me right if I get sicker and can't go to Berlin this weekend. Oh, and a Tweety-suit is a rainsuit, designed to keep me dry while cycling home (I don't own a car) and it's bright yellow, hence Tweety.

Another idea perhaps: take the Tweety-suit into work tomorrow, just in case it rains!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Bad idea

Today I've learned that when I leave the heating on at night, I sleep very bad! A lot of weird dreams (climbing on roofs and stuff like that, it ended well though), a stinking cold coming up and then a full day of work.

So tonight: I WILL turn the heating off to allow me a good night's rest!
Good night...

Saturday, 27 September 2008


While on the busstation in Lelystad:

Are you 135?
No, I'm 37, I don't know anyone that old!


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Work is a riot!

I am not the world's greatest fan of people between 12 and 18. However, when I see riot police knocking them about a bit (and then some in some cases) I have to admit I like it. By now, you're probably wondering what the ??? Let me explain.

Part of my job is (occasionally) driving military personel around. From the driving range to the base or from the base to some far off field in Farawayistan. However, we also have to pick up college kids who want to join the armed forces and are now in a 'orientation' year in school. They get taught how to march, how to obey (brilliant), how to be soldiers, before they have to make their final choice. Every once and a while they have to go into the field in either army, navy or airforce and learn the soldiers' ways. Today they learned that a stick from the riot police hurts. A great deal!

This morning I had to pick up a coach load of college kids and take them to the army training grounds close by. After we had finally found it, everyone got off the coach. After about half an hour they all scattered into the woods, tied themselves to trees and generally making a big nuisance of themselves and scaring the squirrels. Not long after that the riot police showed up in full gear and started driving them from the woods. After only five minutes the first kid was taken into custody and shown to the arrest vehicle (my coach). Within about half an hour all kids were out and (of course) the riot police had won. Half an hour later, the kids moved into the woods again and a new platoon arrived to chase them out.

In the afternoon it happened for a third time. But this time there was a little catch. Since the terrain they were using is army terrain (riot police was army riot police), there were actually soldiers using the terrain for training. And when suddenly the shots got quite close, it turned out they were using the same area the riot police were using! Good thing they were using blanks... Anyway, the some of the kids loved it and really got into the swing of things, others just thought it pointless and stupid.

I loved it!

The part I didn't love though, was the part where I got back home and realised I had to clear and clean up after the lot of them. Sand, heather, twigs, leaves and other assorted junk and debris covered the floor and even some seats! It took me over an hour to get the coach presentable for tomorrow! But my day was ok!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


I saw the first batch of sugarbeets today and that means it's autumn. Living in the country like I do, means the year is defined by nature as well as farmers. In the spring the tulips are in bloom, in the summer the wheat is golden and during the autumn all potatoes, sugarbeets, carrots and onions come out of the ground.

Everything coming out of the ground means another thing as well: the roads become more and more unpassable. Tractors taking the harvest to either the farm or the weighing station and lots of mud on the roads. The gazillion onions, carrots and potatoes by the side of the road, being squashed by passing cars, lorries and buses, turning the road into a bad foodfight. The smell of onions in the air (which, by the way, I love) and the general hum of activity.

And it's not only the farmers who are busy. Nature is trying to get ready for winter as well. Leaves are falling everywhere and covering the ground. So far it has been dry, but the minute it starts to rain, the leaves will get slippery, making it harder for me to cycle to work. The temperature has dropped a bit and at night I have to turn on the heating. I have already changed the duvet to the autumn duvet and, in preparation for real cold, I have put my gloves in my coat-pockets.

I love the autumn!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


A lot of people know I want to emigrate, since I never made any secret about it. But this morning an old colleague came up to me and asked me whether I had plans to move to the other side of the pond. This was a man I hadn't spoken to in over a year, I only saw him in passing occasionally. When I asked him where he got the (correct) information from he told me it was a singer in a local shanty choir. I had never heard of the shanty choir and never of the man in question. Which of course made it quite funny, since apparently there are people who know my stuff, when I don't even know them.

I've never really felt I had to stay in the Netherlands. When I was living in France I thought about making a life there. Same for England. But in the end I always came back home. This time however, I'm not planning on coming home. I'm planning on making my home somewhere else. And as soon as I started thinking about Canada (not as far as Australia or New Zealand and it's not the USA), I started telling people about it. I know quite a few people thought I would never make it, for several reasons. But there have also been people who've told me to go for it. Don't wait until..., just do it.

My dream (number 9 it is) is getting more real by the day. I know they need drivers in Canada, at least I've heard they do. My financial situation is out of death's grasp, in other words, my debt is nearly gone. And as soon as the debt has completely cleared, I can start saving to make my way over!
For now, dream number 9 is however still dream number 9 and not reality. But it's always nice to know that people wish me good luck. Even when I've never heard of them...

Friday, 12 September 2008


Scotland is quite well known for its rain. Apparently it rains a lot over there. An awful lot according to some people. However, when I was there last week, I didn't see that much rain. We had some rain in Gretna Green, it drizzled in Glasgow. It poured down as we were going past Loch Ness and it drizzled again in Edinburgh. Other than that it was dry and occasionally even sunny.

I got back home and over here it was quite nice weather. Sunny, warm, lovely September weather. It didn't last... Because today was a day filled with rain. Anything from drizzling to pouring. It could have been Scotland! Apart from the Highlands, the Lochs, the Pipers, the men in kilts and the whisky that is.
When I first moved to where I live now, the first three weeks were filled with rain. But whenever I go to a so-called 'rainy' country (ie Ireland, Scotland), the days are nearly always filled with sunshine and dry-ness (is that a word?) and the country shows itself in its full glory. However, I've also had absolute downpours in Rome, a country not normally known for its rain.
Perhaps the rain today has infiltrated my brain. The whole entry today is a bit grshiltsh (and I know that definitely is NOT a word). I'm sorry!!!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Do you know the saying: too many cooks spoil the broth? Well, I am the head chef of my broth and during the last week I had one passenger trying to add salt, pepper and a whole lot more and annoying me no end in the process.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I was off to Scotland for just over a week. On the coach was a nice group of people aged 60 and over and quite a few single women under 50. Even a few single men (whohay). We saw Glasgow with a guide in a lovely kilt (he wore socks and shoes underneath), we saw Loch Ness, but alas, the monster wasn't home or asleep or something. We went to see a lovely romantic little castle. Lots and lots of sheep. Men in kilts. We tasted whisky at Glenfiddich. Saw more sheep. I took a road definitely not designed to have a coach drive on it. We saw absolutely beautiful scenery, Edinburgh and more sheep.

And in the mean time the broth was being spoilt by a woman who got on my nerves. BIG TIME!! At first she seemed quite ok, but after only two days I had to adjust my opinion. She was just annoying and got more so as the week wore on. Fortunately some of the other guests were as annoyed by her as I was. I was so happy to finish a trip.

I've had bad trips before. Last year while on a trip to Italy I phoned my parents at two in the morning just to vent. This year nearly everything that could go wrong did go wrong on a trip to Ireland. But this trip? Grrrrrrr.....

I'm back home now though and the bottle of Glenfiddich (one shot in it) is empty and I hope I will never lay eyes on that woman again!


Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I'm off to see the Highlands, the bagpipes, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Balmoral Castle for tea with the Queen and of course Nessie (although I've heard she relocated to the Bay of Dingle (Ireland), because she was fed up with all the people coming to look at her). In other words, I will be going to Scotland today. I will be away for a week and will not blog until I return. I never want the people coming on the trip with me to see what I write, in case I write nasty stuff about them.

Anyhow, I will see you all next week!

Sunday, 31 August 2008


I've always felt that my brother's friends resemble Melrose Place. Not an ugly person amongst them! Now, all my brother's friends have children. Two with one on the way or three already. Which makes the Melrose Place look disappear a bit. However, with all the friends coming to the birthday party of my niece and nephew (number three is only three months away by the way) and bringing all their children, it was mayhem!

I don't have children. I have a goddaughter (lovely girl, keep forgetting her birthday and Christmas, sorry), a sugardaughter (same thing really, only not official and I do still remember her birthday), sugarson (I don't even know when his birthday is, sometime November I think), a nephew and a niece. Those children are easy. If they ever come to stay I can give them back again at the end of the day. Brilliant.
When I was younger I did want children. I wanted my first by the age of 21. I wanted five children in total. I managed neither. And to be totally honest, at this moment in my life, I don't mind that much either anymore. But today at that birthday party (even though there were way too many children about) I could see myself with a child.
For a day!