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.