Thursday 30 April 2009

Queen's Day

Self portrait. Sorry about the grumpy face, but the sun was glaring.

Today is Queen's Day in the Netherlands. A day where we celebrate our reigning monarch's birthday. It first started with Queen Wilhelmina whose birthday was in August. Her successor was Queen Juliana whose birthday was on April 30th. But her successor: Queen Beatrix celebrates her own birthday on January 31st. Not exactly the day you want to have off and sit on a market selling your stuff all day! So, instead of moving the holiday to her birthday, she decided April 30th was good enough for her.

Her mother had always had a huge parade in front of her house (Paleis Soestdijk). The boyscouts, Salvation Army, choirs, schoolchildren, OAP's and all other groups and organisations would march past the Queen, her husband Prince Bernhard and their children and grandchildren. But when Beatrix took over, she abandoned that immediately, instead deciding that every year, she and her husband (when he was alive) and children and grandchildren would visit one or two towns or villages in the country.

The time when all three of her princely sons were lost on a huge fun-fair in Amsterdam are long gone, but bobbing for apples, sack races and all other old-fashioned games are still part and parcel of the whole day.

The places she doesn't visit don't just sit in front of the television watching her walk, no they organise their own parties. Freemarkets are really common: a decidedly unglorified boot-sale where children especially can sell their stuff. In my hometown it took over the whole of the High Street! People everywhere, trying to find that bargain toy (at €0,50 not too bad) or old computer screen. You don't go hungry on these markets either: scouts selling cookies, children selling lemonade and cakes (for charity), women selling hamburgers (for Africa), Vietnamese egg-rolls and ice-creams. Because we have a fun-fair as well: cotton candy, doughballs, waffles, donuts and much much more. If after all that food you are hungry: most bars and restaurants are open and selling drinks!
Throw two eggs in my mouth and grab a present
2 eggs for €1

And then there are the stands: the ones on the fair like shooting and angling ducks, but also the freemarket ones. You take a large vat, dump some sawdust or shredded newspaper in and some cheap presents and the kids are happy. However, the one in the photo was just a little bit better: Throw two eggs in the mouth(s) and then you get to grab something! As you can see, not everyone did fare that well. Most of the throwers missed altogether, covering Her Majesty Queen Beatrix (left) and Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima (right) in egg!

Queen Wilhelmina would turn in her grave if she saw this!

Update: This afternoon a complete idiot drove his car at full speed into a crowd of spectators. They were watching the Queen and her family while they were on an open bus. The man never used his brakes. He killed five and (severely) injured thirteen before coming to a stop at a monument.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

O is for...

Orange Lion

What a coincidence, my orange lion today and tomorrow is a holiday in the Netherlands: Queen's Day, which means a lot of people will be dressing up in orange hats, clothes, hair, make-up and anything else orange they can find.

Orange is the colour originally associated with our Royal Family, ever since the son of German born Hendrik III of Nassau-Breda and French born Claudia of Châlon-Orange inherited the Principality of Orange from his uncle Philibert of Châlon in 1530. After his death, his cousin William of Nassau-Dillenburg inherited all his lands. This William I (William the Silent) became the founder of the House of Orange-Nassaus.

Nowadays, the Orange House is still the unofficial name for our Royal Family and the colour orange is used for everything that has to do with our patriotism. So, whenever you see a lot of orange together, chances are there is a sports match going on with Dutch competitors. Or in the case of tomorrow: to celebrate the Queen's Birthday.


For more O words, please check out ABC Wednesday

Monday 27 April 2009

Late nights and early mornings

I've lately taken to reading in bed again. Something I hadn't done in ages, for several reasons: 1. I've always felt my bedroom is for sleeping and not for reading or watching television and 2. no books! Which is a stupid statement to make since I've got a bookcase with double rows on the shelves! But I've read all of them and couldn't find any new books I wanted to read. I have a few favourite writers (Jane Austen, Erica James, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Jasper Fforde), but no new books were coming out.

And then I found a new writer. She died somewhere in the seventies, but she's new to me: Georgette Heyer. A sort of chick-lit for the Regency period. Gripping, funny and she's made me take my books to bed again. I've only read two so far, but I'll be going to London again next week and I'm sure I will be buying some other ones (there's more than 20 to choose from)!

The only problem with reading in bed is of course that even though I have to get up early the next morning, I will read too late because I want to know what happens next. A sign of being a good book of course, but now I have to stop yawning...

Sunday 26 April 2009


The garbage men doing something strange

You might wonder while looking at this photo, what was so special. Probably nothing much, but I chuckled. The scene took place in London last week. I had taken the Underground to Marble Arch (the one in the background) because I wanted to take some photos of the Animals in War monument. But on entering day-light again, I thought I would first eat my lunch. As I sat on that bench, having my sandwich and my muffin, this small garbage van/car/lorry arrived. I was a little dismayed, because they parked right in front of Marble Arch and since I was nearly finished with my lunch, I had wanted to take some photos of that landmark as well.

But then... The van thingy stopped and the back rose up. The next thing I knew, the doors opened and some of the garbage came tumbling out! This guy had gotten out already and was gesturing and shouting at his colleague behind the wheel to stop and lower the back again. After it was lowered, the van all of a sudden moved back and stopped. And again. Then the driver got out, because he had been ordered to do so and together they got the garbage bags back on the back of the van. This time, they made sure the doors were locked!

The driver got back behind the wheel and lo and behold: the back rose up again! This time the doors stayed locked however and nothing came tumbling out. Then, as the back was up, he drove backward, stopped and did that several times. He lowered the back again and off they drove!

I didn't see the point at all, but at least they gave me a. a good chuckle and b. a good view of Marble Arch (after they left).

View of Marble Arch from Park Lane

Saturday 25 April 2009

Modern Art

Feeding the ducks, geese and pigeons in Hyde Park
Well, my shopping is done (two loaves of bread, apple sauce, custard, two pairs of trousers, two shirts and a cardigan, I got a little carried away...), my photos have all been moved to my computer, so it's time to tell something about my latest trip to London.

First World War Cemetery near Ypres
We left on time on Monday and drove immediately to Ypres in Belgium. After a short visit to the museum and an even shorter visit to one of the 170 graveyards surrounding Ypres we went on to Calais to catch the train to England. Then it was on to Canterbury for a few hours before finally making our way to London. We had nearly reached our destination when I drove into the car that was driving next to me. And we have a saying over here: 'if you do it, do it right'. Well, I didn't drive into any old car: I drove into a Porsche Carrera! Not a great start to the week. Fortunately nobody was hurt and after filling out all the paperwork, we both went on our way again.

The damage to the Porsche

On Tuesday they wanted a trip through London and since I've been in London once or twice, I know my way around well enough. After dropping them off, I was off for the remainder of the day. I only had to pick them up at night, when they were going to the theatre. I spent most of my day walking through Hyde Park, enjoying the sights, the fantastic weather and watching people.

Worcester College in Oxford
Wednesday morning I had to start early again, driving them for about ten minutes and then waiting for a few hours before we were heading to Oxford. They would be shown around by one of the Dutch students studying there, but he ehm, wasn't too ehm, fluid in ehm, talking, ehm, I guess. After only a few minutes the pupils got really fed up with him humming and ahing and ehming all the time, even though he did show us some nice spots, including his own college. After driving back to London we took a small detour via Wembley Stadium, since I didn't drive past Chelsea football stadium or Arsenal, Crystal Palace or any of the other ones.

A small group of schoolboys coming out of Tate Modern
Thursday was a fantastic day. I got to sleep late (9.30am) and do whatever I wanted to do, since they didn't need me that day. I decided to visit Tate Modern and after a lovely ride on the Underground and a nice walk, I got there. I spent quite a long time just sitting on a small bench-like thingymebob and watching people go by. Business people, runners, school groups, Salvation Army (their headquarters are just on the other side of the river), nannies and their charges and of course loads of tourists! When I felt I had seen enough, I went into the museum. The museum itself is located inside an old electricity plant and the building is quite spectacular. However, the art inside it not so. At least not to my eye. I've realised that impressionism, dada, cobra and all other forms of modern art are not my cup of tea. There were some nice pieces, but most if it was just yuk!

Chilling out in Hyde Park
The rest of the day was filled just chilling out, first in a small park alongside the River Thames, later back in my hotel room. Reading and watching television, I loved it. Especially since the next day would be a day filled with pupils and noise and driving again.

House in Canterbury
On Friday morning we left again. From the moment I parked on Piccadilly to the moment I left again, it took about four minutes. Packing 36 bags and suitcases, letting everyone find their place on board and moving off again. And of course, in stead of driving home immediately, they had to stop off first at a supermarket and then at Dover Castle. Then (finally) we made our way to Folkestone to catch the train back to France. Everything ran smoothly until about 15 kilometers before the Dutch border. Then we got stuck in traffic, because of roadworks. But, my colleague was waiting for me to take over and I could go home. Another week gone by...

Coming soon...

I am back home, but have to do some shopping first, since there's hardly anything to eat in the house! As soon as that is done though, I will sort out my photos and report about my trip to London.
Porsche, Blisters, Modern Art, Books, Oxford are all words that found their place during the trip and I will explain all. First though: groceries!

Friday 24 April 2009

Feline Friday 9

This is an old photo (taken in 2004) that shows all four monsters munching their way through some tasty snack. Nowadays I hardly do that anymore, since they either throw it all up again or don't eat it at all. Both times it's a waste of good money. And I can use that good money on their regular food, which is quite expensive.
As you may know I'm not home right now (coming back from London today), but fortunately I have a fantastic neighbour who comes in every day to put fresh food and water down for my monsters. They certainly won't starve!

Wednesday 22 April 2009

N is for...


This photo was taken in Manchester last year. Behind the youth hostel where we were staying, there was a little canal and there were several narrowboats moored there.

Narrowboats were 'working boats', used to ferry goods between communities. The boats mustn't be above 7 feet (2,13 meters) wide to be classed as a narrow boat. The reason for that was that the canals wouldn't be much wider. Because the boats are so narrow, it seems they are very long, but the maximum length is 72 feet (about 22 meter), otherwise they wouldn't fit the locks in the canals.

In the days before lorries, narrowboats were used to ship goods from one town to another. The earliest boats used horsepower to get around: the horses would walk on the towpath alongside the canals and tow the boats. After a while the competition from the trains got noticed and families started living on the boats to be more mobile and to be more available. This in turn led to most children living on board to be illiterate, because attending school would be extremely difficult, since they were always on the move.

Nowadays the narrowboats aren't used anymore to haul freight. Most of them have disappeared, the ones that are still remaining have been turned into homes or are being used in the tourist industry. Many people are still major enthusiasts for the boats and repair and restore them lovingly and with great care.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see the inside of one of the narrowboats moored in Manchester. I didn't want to intrude on their private space. If I ever get the chance though...

For more N words please check out: ABC Wednesday

Monday 20 April 2009


And then of course for some real trivia about Mara.
  1. The mara is a mammal in South America, also called the Pampas Hare. It's related to the guinea pig.
  2. She's a goddess from Latvian mythology.
  3. Mara means 'hands' in the Aborginal language of Australia.
  4. The name Naomi took after she suffered the deaths of her husband and two sons (bible). It means bitter(ness).
  5. A word in Sanskrit and Pali meaning death-bringing or destroying.
  6. A wraith-like creature in Germanic and particularly Scandinavian folklore, thought to cause nightmares.
  7. It's an administrative region of Tanzania
  8. The first name of the actress Mara Wilson who played the lead role in the film Matilda (I named one of my cats after her).
  9. The last name of John Andrew Mara, a 19th century Canadian politician, rancher and merchant.
  10. A song by Country Joe and the Fish.

Sunday 19 April 2009


Ten Top Trivia Tips about Mara!

  1. Some hotels in Las Vegas have Mara floating in their swimming pools.
  2. You would have to dig through four thousand kilometres of Mara to reach the earth's core.
  3. Mara will become gaseous if her temperature rises above -42°C.
  4. Mara can only be destroyed by intense heat, and is impermeable even to acid.
  5. Mara is the world's smallest mammal.
  6. The Mara-fighting market in the Philippines is huge - several thousand Mara-fights take place there every day!
  7. During severe windstorms, Mara may sway several feet to either side.
  8. The porpoise is second to Mara as the most intelligent animal on the planet.
  9. Mara is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature.
  10. Mara became extinct in England in 1486.
I am interested in - do tell me about

1. Oh, I wish... floating on a nice airbed in the sun, mmm
2. Well, that's just plain nonsense, it's at least four thousand and seventy-nine kilometers...
3. Yes it's true, I've been a gas for many years now!
4. The heat would be true (since I'm a gas), the acid not so much unfortunately.
5. I know for a fact that isn't true, since it's the Mini-Mara that is the smallest!
6. It's hard to fight a gas, but apparently a lot of people are trying.
7. Well, I would. I'm a gas...
8. I don't know whether that means I'm incredibly stupid since the porpoise isn't known for its intelligence, or whether I would be highly intelligent with my IQ of 137.
9. Good thing I'm a gas then isn't it?
10. Being killed in a bath-tub most likely, like his (near) namesake Marat!

Saturday 18 April 2009


My mystery tree
I'm not much of a gardener. And that's an understatement. Massive understatement. I do like a garden though, I wouldn't like to live in a fifteenth floor apartment (if you could find one in the town I live in), even with the best view. However, having a garden means I have to garden occasionally. Removing weeds for the most part, because that's as far as my expertise goes.

The area near my front door has to be done quite regularly, since otherwise I get a letter from the council saying how "they made the area look pretty, so it's up to me to keep my own private space pretty as well" or something along those lines. The letter sounded pretty threatening when I got it two years ago. Last year however, I don't think I did much in it, thanks to a very nosy neighbour who kept it decent looking.

My footwear while working in the garden

Today however, I had to do something about the area in front of the house. There's weeds that look as if they could be in a fairytale about the Sleeping Beauty, creeping up with the speed of lightning! When I come back next week I will have to start all over again with those. Then there's a smallish tree-like thing that sprouted up and is blooming right now with lovely white flowers. My tree (the one where Linette took up temporary residence last Sunday) is nearly completely green by now and the other tree I have to keep trimmed to the stump, otherwise it will grow just like the weeds.

My fingernails are a bit black by now, but I'm reasonably happy with the results of today. Still a lot to do though, but that has to wait until next week. If the weather is good that is...


Whenever I do a foreign trip, it's always nice to have some sort of program so you can prepare yourself a little bit. Even if it is a trip to London, a city where I've been a few times before (I've lost count) and can find my way around. So, when I receive a program existing of: Ypres and Canterbury on day one, Tesco's on day five and to be confirmed on days two to four, I'm not really impressed. To say the least.

The important thing I do know though: where I will be staying (quite close to the center of town), so chances are they won't need me to do much driving. Which means more free time for me (fingers crossed)...

Monday morning I will be leaving for another five day trip to London (not the A+ with gold star one, that one will be in May) without much of a program but with 33 high school students and three teachers. I will be fine!

Friday 17 April 2009

A+ with a Gold Star!

Yesterday, as I was working (consisting at that point of reading the newspaper) I got a phonecall from the planner's office. A girl called Wendy was on the phone. "You know the trip you took the other day, with that school, to London? Well, they phoned the agency and told them that you deserve an A+ with a Gold Star! They loved you!!" Well, you can imagine me growing under her praise. My five foot seven shot up to six foot at least!!! But then she continued: "Now, the agent has asked whether you wanted to go on another trip to London, but this time it will be a school that has never been to London before? How about it?" I had to think about that one, because around the time that trip should take place, there would also be a trip to Ireland in the pipeline. However, that trip was cancelled due to lack of interest (???), so I said yes of course!

An A+ with a Gold Star! I'm gloating now...

Feline Friday 8

The year before last I saw a tree shooting up in my garden. It's way too close to my house, but I like the rustling of the leaves in the wind and for now it's not yet dangerous to the foundations. That small tree is a magnet to cats though and I can occasionally see one trying to climb it. Last Sunday one of my own decided it was time to see what the world looked like from above. I had to run to get my camera, but fortunately she was still in situ when I got back to snap her!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

M is for...


This is one of the few remaining historic buildings of the small town of Most in the Czech Republic. During the 1960's most of the town's old and historic buildings were destroyed to make way for the lignite mines. However, one building was saved: The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a Gothic church built in the 16th century.

The building remains, however the site changed. 'Prior to moving the building, the peripheral masonry, the bearing and supporting pillars were reinforced, and the remainder of the western tower was demolished. The church circumference was reinforced by a concrete ring and the church was gripped by a steel framework construction on the inner as well as outer sides. 53 transport trucks were set on special rails, which were inserted under all statically important points of the church. These transport trucks worked using computer controlled hydraulics, as were four booms used to pull the church. During movement of the church on the road section, rails which had already been passed over were moved from behind the building to in front of it, allowing them to be used again.' All houses that stood between the old and the new site had to be demolished as well, to make way for the convoy.

It took seven years of preparation and 28 days of actually moving the church 841 meters (920 yards) to its new site. They moved at a snail's pace: 1-3 centimeters per minute or about 30 meters per day. After the move they continued restoring the church until it was finally finished in 1988. In 1993 the church was solemnly blessed again. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the heaviest building ever to be moved.

This photo was taken (not by me, but one of my colleagues) during a 'learning trip' through Europe several years ago. It was the start of my career as an international driver and we saw Paris, Trier, Prague and Berlin in about four days. Needless to say I don't remember much. It was however great fun and since then I've had the opportunity to go to Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany and of course the Netherlands with varying groups of people, a chance I wouldn't have had if I hadn't been on that course.

For more M words please check out: ABC Wednesday
Oh, and here is my L word for last week. Since I wasn't even fashionably late anymore!

Tuesday 14 April 2009


Since I sold my car two years ago, I've had to do everything by bike. But last year, on an awful Monday in November, I drove over the backwheel of my bike with my coach and never noticed it. Of course I did notice it when I cycled home that night, after all it was a bit wobbly. At the time however, I was still trying to pay off a big debt and didn't want to spend money on a bike that was still usable albeit a bit dodgy.

Over the last few months though, the wobbly wheel has become wobblier and wobblier and I was becoming afraid of one day just collapsing in a huge heap, probably on my way to work at 2 in the morning! So, I decided to get my wobbly wheel fixed. I just thought it needed a bit of straightening out and that would be it. How wrong could I be! It needs a complete new wheel!!

Because they are busy as well, I won't have my bike for a week or so as well, which causes a bit of a problem, since I do have to go to work. Fortunately they have loaner bikes. So, I nearly broke my neck this morning, because my loaner bike is an old-fashioned one where you have to back pedal to brake! Not used to that anymore...


Monday 13 April 2009

Fresh paint

While I was in London last week, I had a lovely walk alongside the Thames. I had my camera with me, taking photos whenever I saw something nice, but this scene had me a little stumped.

Did they just paint the tree? And if so, why???

Sunday 12 April 2009

Chocolate Bunnies

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday 10 April 2009

Feline Friday 7

You hear of monsters that hate their master/mistress to be away and will ignore them when they come back after a week's absence. Not my monsters: my monsters love me to come back and are scrabbling and vying for attention from the minute the front door opens, Wuppie being the worst! That's why this week I've got a photo of Wuppie, my lovely ginger monster.

From police to ambulance

Tamil Tigers (Sri Lanka) protest outside the Houses of Parliament

My trip to London started with the police, because as I arrived at work, I noticed money lying around and locks being forced open. After the police had arrived, they found that the other side of the building was hit even worse: a complete chaos! Doors kicked in, small change on the floors, stuff knocked over etc. So, whatever I wanted to do before leaving was now not done, because I had to get someone over who could deal with the police.

My dreamhouse in the grounds of Wimpole Hall. Perfectly symmetrical.

I managed to get to the school on time though and after about ten minutes the first people started arriving. Five teachers and fifty-two students (16-18 year olds) piled on board and off we went: towards Calais where we would catch the ferry. The students were mostly quiet, until right after the first stop, one of the boys became ill. He had had a party the night before and was quite hung-over. No need for an ambulance though...

The Globe Theatre

We made it to London (Bromley) in good time and after all the students had left with their host families, it was time for me to find a parking space and make it back to the hotel, where the teachers and I were staying. After finding the parking space (where I wasn't allowed to park by the way) and parking my coach, I went back to the hotel, changed and we went out to dinner.

Living Statue on the South Bank

On day two the students would visit Greenwich (I didn't get the chance), after which I would pick them up and drive them to Buckingham Palace. From there they would walk back to the Tower, where I would pick them up again before driving back to the host families. So, in the afternoon I was basically free to do as I pleased. I bought a quick lunch, took the Underground to Westminster and walked all the way back to the Tower. On the way I had an ice-cream and some cotton candy, climbed the 311 (!!!) steps of the Monument and wobbled my way back to my coach. Ambulance not needed...

One of the planes in the American Hall of the Imperial War Museum in Duxford

Day three saw us driving out of London and towards Cambridge. Our first stop was the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Flying machines from the Spitfire to the Concorde were on show there and some were still in flying mood! We only saw one little one and I don't have a clue what that was... After the museum we went to Wimpole Hall, a few miles up the road. A lovely great big house with a bathroom that would probably hold my entire house! The bathtub alone could hold an elephant, it was just huge. It was a lovely house though and I saw my dream house as well. Then it was on to Cambridge, where there was some time to do some sightseeing. If it hadn't been for that girl who forgot her inhaler and was squeaking and whistling away. So, I took a taxi back with the teacher and the student to get her inhaler from the coach. Still no need for an ambulance...

311 steps in the Monument and I climbed them all!

Day four was another day in London. This time however, most of my driving would be done between 8 and 11 in the morning and 9 and 12 at night. Nearly a whole day off! I dropped the group off at the Science Museum, drove my coach to a coach park and took the Underground again. I wanted to visit the Imperial War Museum London. I wandered around that musuem for a few hours, before walking (limping, wobbling) back to Westminster Bridge to get some nice shots of the Houses of Parliament. My sister was in town as well, so after she had finished her training for the day, we met up and went out to dinner. We have a shared passion for books, so since we had some time left, we browsed around in a couple (I came away with one book). And then it was back to my coach so I could pick up my group again. By then however, I could barely walk properly any more, I had blisters and my ankles had swollen up something terrible! But I wouldn't need an ambulance for that...

A very fishy windvane on the top of Billingsgate Fish Market

The last day had arrived and after loading we drove back to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais again. The trip went really well and even our most feared area (Antwerp) was relatively easy conquered. We stopped at the Dutch border for dinner and I arranged with my colleague where he would take over. And that's where we needed the ambulance. One of the 18-year olds had been drinking neat wodka for about an hour and a half. Most of the students knew but didn't really know, especially since he had poured the wodka in waterbottles, so nobody realised. However, after downing nearly a liter, he was so drunk, he started passing out. By the time I stopped and handed the coach over, he was incoherent and refused to say anything in Dutch. In the end the ambulance was called and they decided it was better to take him to hospital! What an idiot!!

The Underground (above ground in this photo...)

My trip was good though: fat ankles, blisters, my sister and lots of sightseeing. Oh and a pretty much restored faith in teenagers (apart from the wodka-swilling idiot of course...).


You might look at this photo and then at the title again and think: what on earth is she on about now? Well, let me explain.

Antonio has to be Antonio Banderas. He is a nice-looking actor, but the last role I remember him for is the role of Puss-in-Boots in Shrek. And what does he wear? Exactly: boots that look like the ones in this photo.

I took this photo in London last Monday and the woman wearing them, had a really funny walk, which made me think of Antonio even more. So there...

Wednesday 8 April 2009

L is for...


On our way to Ireland we would usually have some time left to visit this small village on Anglesy in Wales. And even though it's a small village, it has a big name. There are 58 letters in the English language, 51 in the Welsh (ll is considered as one letter, as is ch), making it the longest place-name in the British Isles and one of the longest in the world.

St. Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave. That's the official meaning of the name.

It wasn't always this long. In the nineteenth century the name was Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, but they felt they needed more tourists and lengthened it to its current form. Most signposts still use the older name or an even shorter version Llanfair PG. So, if you ever find yourself in the area, just follow the signs, get your passport stamped and have a nice cup of tea in the restaurant.
For more L words please check out: ABC Wednesday

Saturday 4 April 2009


Over the next few days my posts will be quite rare, since I will be leaving tomorrow morning on a school trip. Some school I've never heard of is going to London for five days and I will drive them there. London, Greenwich, Cambridge. I will bring my camera and try to make some great shots while over there.
See you on Thursday!

Friday 3 April 2009

Great day!

First of all, I would like to thank David from Authorblog for his inclusion of my blog (well, the "K is for..." post) on his post of the day. I didn't make it, but I was a topcontender. Thank you so much David.

Today was a great day: beautiful weather and an easy trip: high school students. I've written about high school students before and more specifically about the teachers and that most of the time they seem to think that any trip on a coach is a free for all and to hell with all school rules. So, when I realised that I would be driving high school students today, I was expecting the worst. As you do. But as I said, it was a great day today.

I had 17-year olds on board. Students who will be taking their final exams in only a few weeks. Perhaps that was also the reason half of them didn't show up. There was only one teacher on board, who knew very few (if any) of the students and who sat next to me the whole trip. But the combination of age, school level (preparing for college/university) and number (only 25) helped to keep them quiet and friendly. The teacher went to check up on them once and they were sitting quietly. Talking to each other and looking outside.

On the way back we got caught in traffic, but I was prepared and had a video going. Half of them were watching, the other half were chatting. No problem there. When we neared the school, I got the teacher to take a binbag and collect all the small binbags, so the coach was clean on arrival. When they left the coach, most of the students said goodbye and/or thanked me.

Do you know, I might actually start liking high school students...

Feline Friday 6

When my monsters are outside, they do run into each other from time to time and if they do, they have to check whether it's friend or foe. So, a little sniff, a little lick and they're on their way again!

Thursday 2 April 2009


I've talked about my dislike for football (soccer) several times, so you might be justified in wondering what on earth I was doing at the match between the Netherlands and Macedonia yesterday! Well, for starters, the ticket was given to me for free. Secondly, the atmosphere during a professional game is quite different to the atmosphere during an amateur game. And thirdly, sitting in a stadium filled with thousands of fans is so different (read: loud) compared to sitting in front of the little box at home.

So, last night I found myself sitting on seat 145 in row 12 watching the antics of 22 blokes chasing a ball around the playing field. Around me were thousands of people in weird or weirder get-ups (predominantly orange coloured) shouting, whistling, clapping and in general generating an awful lot of noise! Brilliant.

The first half was dominated by the three goals of 'our' team, the second half by players deciding they were tired and laying down all the time. It got quite annoying. And then, the medics had to come out with their stretcher and one of the Macedonian players was carried off. They had only just deposited him on the side of the field, when the Dutch goalkeeper hit the ball, a teammate and a Macedonian. All at once! So, the medics rushed back in, but this time weren't needed. I was in stitches. Right at the end there was another goal by the Dutch, so the final score was 4 to 0 for the Dutch.

The fans were happy, including the ones on my coach, I was happy and my mood has definitely shifted from down in the dumps to It's Spring!!!

Wednesday 1 April 2009

K is for...


Ireland is absolutely chock-o-block full with churches, church ruins, graveyards, monastery ruins and the like and this is no exception. If you get off the beaten track in the Burren (Co. Clare), a fantastic 'rocky place', you might pass this site. It's Kilmacduagh and it used to be a monastery. However, when the English decided they would become Anglicans, Catholicism was banned and anything related to that faith was largely demolished. This is one of the sites that didn't make it.

This photo was taken late in the afternoon in October of 2005. My sister and I had been visiting the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher and were on our way back to our Bed & Breakfast in Spiddal (Co. Galway). Because I had done that trip through the Burren several times before, I knew where to go and we stopped at this place. The sun was setting, it was quiet and the only ones watching us were several cows and their calves. The setting was just so peaceful!

The large tower you can see on the left side of the church is called a round tower. Several explanations have been given to their use and their function, but the most general ones are: it was used as a look-out, a focal point for visiting pilgrims, a bell-tower and storage. The idea that monks would shelter in them in case of attack (Irish, Vikings, English) has been left to rot lately, because that would mean sure suicide. Set fire to the place and they were trapped, since the doorway was three meters above ground and the ladder (more used than stairs) was usually taken up in the tower to avoid strangers entering. Most of the round towers that have survived through the years have survived because of their shape: the wind can't really get a grip on them.

How can you not love Ireland?

For more K words please check out: ABC Wednesday