Tuesday 31 March 2009

Head spinning

Today I had to go from A to B, then from C to D, from B to A, D to C, drive around in E, followed by F to G and then H(ome). If you're confused now, imagine how I felt today! Four different sets of paperwork, all going through each other. In the end F to G was cancelled and I got to go H early!

Fortunately I had a sat-nav with round-trip options, so I put every single destination in there and just followed the little box. That way, I did everything in order and wouldn't forget about part of my shift today.

Tomorrow my shift is a bit easier. I'm going to a football match. I actually hope to be able to get in as well, which might surprise you, since I don't really like the game. But, when it's the national team playing and there might be a possibility to actually see the game... After all, the atmosphere counts for over half the enjoyment of a game.

Monday 30 March 2009


My spirits are lifting. Slowly but surely they're coming up out of the blue depths they've been wallowing in and arriving in the sunshine. Helped by a day off, a good book ("First among sequels" by Jasper Fforde), sunshine and rising temperatures. So, out we all went, annoying the neighbour's cats, hanging up the laundry and trying to get a photograph of those little metallic beetles in the end of the branch (nope).

While out in the garden I discovered a plant I hadn't seen before. Well, only in other people's gardens, never in mine. Ground crawlers and only found in the spring, they are considered by some gardeners to be quite a pest. However, since my garden is an eclectic mix of 'never doing much' and trees that came blowing in, a butterfly bush, a berry bush and my christmas tree of two years ago, I probably wouldn't be the authority to ask. I did take a photo however. I think it's of the speedwell family. I like the flowers, they are cheerful and in the absence of any other flowers in my garden, they herald spring to me.


Over the last few days I've felt a bit dejected. The weather of course not really helping, nor did the washed-out wishy-washy things to keep my windscreen water free, the blown radio fuse or the soaking wet feet (and all that only on Saturday). But I think what was bothering me most was (is) the fact that when I get home, nobody is there to greet me with a kiss (not counting the monsters), nor is dinner waiting on the table for me. I get home to a cold house, mail still on the doormat and dinner yet to be prepared.

I am single and most of the time I'm not really bothered by it. After all, having sole ownership of the remote control... But on occasion, I just wish for that significant other, that soulmate, that person who will listen to me ramble on, instead of me writing it down and throwing it to the world.

So, if anyone knows someone who: likes cats; doesn't mind a very talkative woman who can cook and do laundry, but who hates cleaning; is not too much into football (soccer); non-smoking; over 21; is single; please send him my way.

Thank you...

Sunday 29 March 2009


Well, yesterday basically was everything I expected from it. It started off with rain, rain and even more rain. It was just bucketing down when I left home. And as soon as I arrived at work, I realised the shoes I wore were wrong, letting in more water than the Titanic! My feet were soaking...
So, with cold and wet feet I had to start work. First of all, I needed to know whether the football match was still on, if not, I could go home. But apparently the weather at the match site was better, so the match was on. After buying beer I drove to the team I had to pick up, while it was still raining (this is a recurring theme in this post). It dried up a bit while I was waiting for the team to come to the coach, but as soon as I started driving again, the rain started up as well.
I got on the motorway and about ten kilometers later, my windshield wipers started doing weird things. In stead of the down being its resting place, it decided the up would be the resting place. And then after about three more kilometers of this (at least they were still working), they did want to come down, but they didn't at the same time and then they just stopped! While it was pouring!!! The way they had stopped though was in the middle of my windscreen so I didn't see much. I stopped the coach, pushed the wipers in the down position and carried on driving. A bit slower, but those guys needed to play a match.

Fortunately the closer we got to the match site, the drier it became and when we arrived, the sun did so as well. Everyone got off the coach and I tried the wipers again. Well, I could hear the wiper motor (or engine), but the wipers had decided to go on strike. I called the emergency mechanics and about an hour and a half later they showed up. Half an hour later they left again: nothing they could do, they knew where the problem was, but without taking the coach apart, they couldn't reach it (don't you just love modern technology?). The weather had cleared up, so I decided I would risk driving home without windscreen wipers.

After waiting for about three hours, the team was due back. I started the coach, which only caused a lot of lights on my dashboard to start flickering and doing weird stuff, but the coach wouldn't start. I was about to throw in the towel, when I realised the coach was in gear (thank you mechanic) and wouldn't start as a result of that. I put it in neutral and the coach started first time (phew...). But all that flickering of lights and other weird stuff had caused the fuse to the radio and everything related to that medium to blow, so apart from the windscreen wipers not working, now the radio had given up the ghost as well.

I left with the team on board and instead of going straight home, they wanted to have dinner on the way. A small restaurant in a small village was our destination. After good food (including a great desert) we left again. By now it was dark, but more importantly, it was absolutely pouring down. And driving without windscreen wipers during the day is one thing, but at night... Horrendous! I had to drive slowly to be able to see anything. Fortunately it didn't last long, but I hope never to have to do that again. As soon as the rain dried up, I was able to gain some speed and drive the team back home. And then I still had to do over thirty minutes to get home myself. About three hours later than originally planned!

Today I still have to clean the coach, I was so not up to it last night. Hopefully it won't rain when I cycle to work...

Friday 27 March 2009


A friend of mine had this posted on her blog and it made me laugh. So, I had to share it, didn't I?

Feline Friday 5

This is Julius making sure my roses are topped according to the laws of the Addams Family. About two hours later, all the blooms were on the floor and only the stems were left in the vase!
One more reason not to take flowers home too often...

Thursday 26 March 2009

Walking the dog

Today I saw a car driving very slowly. The window was rolled down and a leash was coming out of that window. And on the other end was a dog. Walking alongside this car.
Funny way of walking him...

The work blues

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I just don't want to go to work today. Calling in a sickie is definitely not an option and once I get going, I will be fine, but yuck!
It has a lot to do with the weather of course. It's grey, it's overcast, it's windy, there's rain all the time and it's chilly. Basic March weather, but still. Next week is supposed to be a bit better with temperatures going up to about 15 degrees (Celsius).

I can't wait!

Wednesday 25 March 2009

J is for...

Jedburgh Abbey
When I was in Scotland last year we had to visit this Abbey. It's in a small village called Jedburgh halfway between Edinburgh and the Scottish/English border. The Abbey was built in the twelft century and destroyed during border wars between Scotland and England in the sixteenth century. It has remained as you see in this photo ever since (well, they cleaned it up a bit). Apart from the scaffolding on the left side of the abbey of course, that was there because of works to the remaining building.
Was it worth the visit? Yes, it was, but probably not for the amount of money they asked. After all, most people were in and out in under twenty minutes! However, since it was the last day, most people didn't really mind that much I think, because they just wanted to go home...
For more J words please check out: ABC Wednesday

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Sophie (yep, again)

Yesterday I had to visit the vet once more. Sophie had to have her stitches out. She didn't like it of course and this time I had to use a smaller carry case as well. The one I normally use is open at the top, but it was raining and really windy, so I wanted a closed one, so she wouldn't get too wet. At the vet's she was also weighed again and she is not as weighty as she used to be. She used to be about four kilograms and yesterday she was only 3,6 (a loss of 10 percent!)! That could be due to the operation and the subsequent stress, but it could also be due to the medication.

She gets an aspirin-based fluid medication. Now, if a human takes to many aspirins, he will get severe problems with his stomach (and I'm experienced in that, having taken between 4 and 6 aspirins every day for nearly three years). The same goes for animals. So, it might be that the medication is causing some stomach problems. For this coming week I've had to reduce the amount of medication and hopefully it will get better. If it doesn't get better, she might have to come off the medication completely, which in turn means the cancer doesn't get treated.

She's causing me some grieve this nervous little pussycat!

Saturday 21 March 2009


All the colleagues who could, went to the funeral today. In full uniform. From very early on, we had decided that was the best way to go. Full uniform with tie! And the family really appreciated that.
When we got to the church we had to wait in line for about ten minutes: there were so many people waiting to offer their condolances to his wife and children. He was well-loved in his parish (he was one of the church's caretakers) and it was really nice to see so many people.
A lot of colleagues had commented on the fact that I had been the last one to see him alive (for about two minutes) and I had been fine with it. But when I saw his wife, I must admit I did loose it a bit, because my last words to him had been: 'give my regards to your wife'.
The service started a quarter of an hour late because of the sheer volume of people turning up and then it was completely different to what I knew. I was raised protestant, so the only funeral services I had ever been to had been protestant ones. However, this service was a catholic one and that was in quite a few ways the same, but in other ways so different. It was a nice service though. After the service we walked to the grave yard which was about a ten minutes walk away.
I was home again at 1.30pm. What a way to spend your morning!

Friday 20 March 2009

Feline Friday 4

Three monsters on my lap. From left to right: Linette, Mathilda and Wuppie. Whenever I don't have anything on my lap (like my computer or my dinner), they are fighting over it. So, in this case all three managed to find a spot on my lap. It was heavy and it didn't last long, just long enough for me to take this photo. As you can see Sophie is missing in this photo, that's because she can't stand Linette and because she doesn't really like to sit on my lap, unless it's on a towel (?). Then again, three is plenty enough thank you very much...


Something different today and I didn't have my camera with me! And there was plenty to see as well. Today I was at the 'first stone' of a new army base. So, you wait for a long time until something happens and then it's all over in about ten minutes. But that's not what bothered me about today. I was particularly bothered by what some people chose to wear.

There are some rules about fashion and it seemed as if some people had never heard about fashion, let alone the rules about fashion. The man who introduced the whole thing (very nice looking man), wore dark blue trousers which were perfectly acceptable. It was the black thick ribbed socks, the brown shoes and the grey brown coat that he also wore that just eked me out. How? Where? Why??? Does he not have a partner who just told him not to wear that combination?

Apart from the nice looking man with atrocious colour sense, there was this woman. Bit plump, not too tall. She wore a black skirt and a black top. No problem. At least, if it had been a straight-forward skirt. But of course it wasn't. Imagine a long skirt (ankle length) and then picking up the right side of the hem and bunching it up to make a knee length skirt. The bunched up bit is covered by something resembling a huge belt buckle. Did she not realise it made her look even plumper and chubbier. The top wasn't much better, also having a weird style to it.

Then there was the man with a lovely suit. And a lovely tie as well. Shame about the colours again: some petrol green for the suit and yellow/green for the tie! The man with the dark blue velvet-look suit. The woman in high heels who did not know how to walk in high heels. The man with a black suit, unfortunately the jacket came from one suit and the trousers from another suit.

I think that when you go to some fancy opening and you dress nice, dress properly nice! Don't just throw the oldest thing in your closet on, choose properly. And if you don't, go out all the way and pick something completely outrageous. Like the one woman I saw who wore trainers underneath her skirt. And it looked good!

But maybe it's just me...

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Sophie (again)

Well, I had the phonecall from the vet's clinic. They had the results back and I was allowed to have a small hurray. Not a hallelujah, but a hurray.

Even though the vet would have liked about 2-3 centimeters of clean tissue to be taken as well as the tumor, in the end they were only able to take 2-3 millimeters. So, not the best starting point really. But the operating vet thought it all looked clean, so that was a start. The results today showed that of all the 'clean' tissue they checked, not one was infected. That doesn't mean it hasn't spread, but the likelihood of that is several times smaller now.

Now, the cancer she has/had is treated best with an aspirin-based drug. Which she will have to have for the rest of her life. And with my job that is not the easiest thing. After all, my job consists of week-long trips abroad and while I'm away, my neighbour looks after my monsters: feeding them and putting out fresh water. However, she only ever sees three cats, because Sophie is a nervous kitty and doesn't like strangers. But the vet wasn't too worried about that: 'better give it to her whenever I can. It's always better than none at all.'

So, not quite halleluja, but hurray is okay!

I is for...


Now, you're probably looking at this photo and thinking: she's lost it! She's gone completely doolally if she doesn't know the difference between an island and a small mound in the land. Well... you would be wrong. Of course I know the difference, but in this case, it actually IS an island. An island in the land. It used to be an island in the sea, but they built a few dykes and pumped all the water out and hey presto: an island in the land!

This is Schokland and it's one of the oldest parts of the area I live in. Most of it (including where I live, about 15 kilometers away) was only made after 1942, but Schokland was there way before. The island changed shape continually due to the sea: flooding and loss of land were a given and in the end, there was only a very narrow bridge between the northern and southern part. All the flooding also meant that on quite a regular basis people would loose their lives. In 1859 the government decided to close down the island, forcing all islanders to demolish their houses and leave. The only things left were the church (the bigger building) and the keeper's house. Irony of irony: after everyone left, there weren't anymore floods and the island stayed the same size until 1942!
Nowadays the island houses two farms (new) and a museum. Some houses have been rebuilt as part of the museum and it has made the Unesco World Heritage list. Most of the skirting of the island was used for roads in the newly made polder and there's even a road named after it: Palenweg (Poles Road). There have been some problems with the island sinking due to bad watermanagement, but they are working hard at combatting those problems.
So you see: I haven't gone doolally and it is (was) an island!

For more I words please check out: ABC Wednesday

Tuesday 17 March 2009


This afternoon I went to work on my bike (as usual). I parked it in the garage/canteen/whatever and as I was locking it up, a former colleague said hello. He occasionally comes to work to clean his car and have a little chat with whoever is present. This afternoon I didn't have a lot of time though. I wanted to make a photograph (see tomorrow) and was already running late as it was. So, we said hello and how are you, I told him to give my regards to his wife and I left.
After I got back from work this afternoon, I saw the police cordoning off the garage. One of my colleagues came up to me and told me that he had found the former colleague. He wasn't alive anymore! The police wanted to know the whole story (all two minutes of it) and they took me in a police car to the station. An hour later (the computer wasn't cooperating) I was taken back to work, so I could cycle home again.
It is weird knowing you were the last person to see someone alive, even if it was only for about two minutes! But I also feel sorry for my colleague who found him. It's a major shock for all of us!

Sunday 15 March 2009


This photo was made on the USS John F Kennedy when it was in docked in Malta in the autumn of 1999. One of the girls I was on holiday with had been chatting up one of the naval officers and he gave us free VIP tickets to see the 23-floor ship! Of course there was a limit to what we could see.
This photo was taken in Bad Kissingen, Germany in the summer of 2006. The weather was a bit iffy: nice and not so nice changing all the time!
And this last photo was taken a couple of years ago when I went on this sailing weekend. One thing I learned is that sailing should be done by someone other than me: having the steering in the back is just not natural! We also had to learn how to make knots and here I am trying my hardest. Just a couple of seconds later the other girl and I were in a complete fit of laughter and didn't get out of that fit for at least ten minutes!

This is what you get when you find photos you didn't even know you had!

Friday 13 March 2009

Feline Friday 3

Picture taken Wednesday 11th March
Just having fun outside
Well, there was never any other option than post about Sophie today. I took her to the vet's clinic this morning and left her in the hands of the vet who was going to operate on her. At around one o'clock I got a phonecall saying she was in the recovery room, trying to wake up again and I was able to pick her up at around five o'clock this afternoon. Still very drowsy and very dozy, but she is alright. Sophie in her travelling case on the way to the vet

The vet told me she had to take two-thirds of her bladder out. She couldn't take any more out and had only millimeters left to work with. Any more and she was cutting into the urinary tract and that would be fatal. The tumor has now been sent to the lab and only after they have tested it, will they know whether the operation has been a success or not. If it has then there's no problem. If it hasn't (because she didn't take out enough for example), then there's not much more they can do. I hope for the first of course!
In her basket after returning from the vet, still drowsy and wobbly

Thursday 12 March 2009


It's been over three years since I had my last evaluation at work. It should be done every year, but it got pushed back for several reasons. Until today. This morning I had to have a talk with my boss.

We talked about several things, but I am generally content with my job. I get on fine with my colleagues, I like the work itself and I get paid the amount due on time, so no problem there. My boss also knows I want to move to Canada, because I've never made a secret of that. The only thing I would like is a newer coach, but then again, we all do!

All in all: the evaluation was fine, I was doing fine, everything was fine.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

H is for...


In 2007 I went to Rome for the very first time. Two drivers, a coach full of high school students and Italy: a fantastic combination. Our hotel in Rome didn't have parking space for the coach, so we had to park about two and a half kilometres away at a disused airport (Ostiense). There was a large bus, lorry and car parking facility there and it was guarded day and night, so that was good.

On the first night we parked there, we walked back to the hotel and as we left the coach park, we saw this camp. Lots of blue tents that had been provided by the City Council of Rome. Most tents had matrasses or even beds next to them (bottom right of the photo), because most people slept outside during spring and summer. I guess they would move 'inside' during the colder seasons though.

Most of the inhabitants of this camp were male and in their twenties and during the day they would sit in the shade of the airport building. And most of the evening as well come to that. So, when on one occasion I drove the coach to the parking lot at night, I had the coach park attendant phone for a taxi: no need to get myself in trouble on purpose!

For more H words, please check out: ABC Wednesday

Tuesday 10 March 2009


Generally speaking I have quite a dislike for teachers. Especially the ones teaching high school. Somehow they seem to think that once out of the class room, they don't need to control the children. That might have been the reason why neither of the two teachers I had on board today, thought it necessary to find out who called me a b***h in front of everyone!
Fortunately there are also other teachers. Last week I had two teachers on board who with just a look quitened down the students and were still liked! It gives me hope...

Monday 9 March 2009


Q: What's white and stands out in the hallway?
A: A naughty fridge!

Sunday 8 March 2009


What's white and stands out in the hallway?

Try until you succeed (hopefully)

I will try and try until I have that posting in the future down! So, if you see some weird entrances here: my apologies!

Friday 6 March 2009

Feline Friday 2

This is Julius. He was a lovely little tomcat who just loved to be cuddled. He was very playful and I had even taught him to 'fetch'. I would throw a small cloth ball up the stairs which he would retrieve. He could go for about twenty minutes, after that he would be panting so hard, he sounded like a steam engine!
I got him when he was only six weeks old. When well socialised that's ok and he was generally! He did however have one little quirk: he still wanted to drink, even though he was completely weaned. Now, I did (and still do) have two female cats: Mathilda and Sophie, but they had been neutered and no milk would be coming. So Julius moved to the next best thing: my tomcat Wuppie.
I can tell you: it smelt horrible! The vet was really dumbfounded when I told him I had a little gay kitty, but he gave me some foulsmelling and tasting ointment and within two days he had stopped drinking from Wuppie.
Unfortunately a year or two later he got a major bladder infection and nearly died. I got him to the vet just in time, but after that he would just pee everywhere and due to my job I couldn't really train him again. In the end I took him to an animal shelter. I cried all the way home!

Thursday 5 March 2009

Finding my way!

Don't you just love sat nav/tom-tom or whatever you want to call those thingymagummies in the car that are supposed to guide you to where you want to go?
Today I had to go to a school. I had the address and after looking it up in my book (yes, the paper version), I used my sat nav to guide me to the street. In the middle of a housing estate with narrow winding curvy streets, lined with trees and small poles I decided it might be better not to continue, but to reverse back out.

When I phoned the school they told me I had to take the next exit!

Mind you, it wouldn't have been as bad if I had been driving a car. It's just that I don't own a car, just drive a large 50-seater coach for a living! And driving one of those on a housing estate is not something I would recommend.

But that could just be me...

Tuesday 3 March 2009

G is for...

 Gougane Barra

Ireland again, but I couldn't just leave this one out, since it's one of my favourite places in the whole of Ireland! It's a monastery founded by Saint Finbar in the sixth century on an island in this small lake. The sky is the ceiling and the mountains are the walls. I always find the place very tranquil and peaceful and I would love to go and stay in the hotel on the edge of the little lake. There's also a national park adjacent, offering walking trails and beautiful scenery.

The lake is the beginning of the River Lee. After he founded the monastery at Gougane Barra, Finbar went down the river until he reached an island in the middle of the river. It was quite swampy, but he decided it was a nice place and founded another church. The Irish word for swamp is corcaigh, which in its English version became Cork.

Gougane Barra is in County Cork, in the so-called Gaeltacht. That means that the predominant language in the area is Gaelic (or Irish), instead of English. The amount of people speaking Gaelic as their first language is rapidly decreasing and the areas where the predominant language is Gaelic is shrinking as a result. However, during the last few years, the language has become more popular again, thanks to a few things: 1. TG4 is a television channel broadcasting mainly in Gaelic and 2. young people have realised that whenever they speak Gaelic, not many people can understand them, especially foreign English speakers.

For more G entries please check out: ABC Wednesday


I think I've written tomorrow's post about three or four times now. And every time I want to have it scheduled to appear tomorrow, it appears immediately. Now, when I write a post and schedule it for today, it works a treat. What is wrong?

Monday 2 March 2009


A few weeks ago as I was cleaning out the litterboxes, I saw blood in one of them. Since I have four monsters, finding out who was the culprit turned out te be fairly hard. But I was in luck. Just the other day, as I was cleaning them, Sophie hopped in and peed. There was blood in her urine! So, I made an appointment to see the vet, put Sophie in her travel cage on the back of my bike and cycled to the clinic.

He asked me lots of questions about how often she used the litterbox, how much she ate, how much she drank etc. But of course, all those questions are quite hard to answer, due to my irregular job and the fact there are three more monsters running around. When the vet starting feeling Sophie's abdomen, he felt something large, but couldn't be sure whether it belonged to the bladder or the colon. And since it had already been going on for at least two weeks, he decided the best way forward would be to do an ultrasound. I left her at the clinic and at five o'clock I would know more.
At about 4.45pm the vet rang: cancer to the bladder wall. Normally it's about half a centimeter thick, in her case it was more three centimeters! The only thing that would help was an operation to remove the tumor and the part of her bladder that was affected. Fortunately the chest x-ray came back clean, because if it wouldn't have, they wouldn't operate.

Friday, March 13th, Sophie will be going for surgery to remove the cancer from her belly!

Sunday 1 March 2009

My first day

It's been ten years today. Ten years since my very first day on the job and my very first damage. I found myself driving on the verge all of a sudden. Somehow I just drove the bus off the verge and onto the road again, thinking all would be okay. It wasn't until the end of the shift that we noticed the damage. The back wheel surround was completely messed up! And it was only my first day...

More things were to come: a street light I flattened, cars that I turned into a total loss, broken mirrors. All in the first three months! At one point my boss told me that if I didn't shape up my contract wouldn't be renewed! I only had a contract from March until the end of August and I didn't want to try and find a new job again!

So I shaped up. The damages became fewer and farther inbetween. At the end of August my contract was renewed for another four months and at the end of those four months they renewed it indefinitely, no need to worry for my job again!