Wednesday 30 September 2009

K is for...

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is situated in Connemara, Co. Galway in Ireland and is a beautiful neo gothic building. It used to be a private home, but in the early 1920's it was sold to the Benedictine Sisters. They originally came from Belgium, but had been chased out of that country by World War I. After several years of roaming about they ended up in Connemara.

Apart from being a convent for the sisters, it's also a boarding school for girls. The nuns already had a school while in Belgium and they continued with the school when they arrived in Ireland. One of the most well known students who attended the school is actress Angelica Huston. She was in the Addams Family, The Witches and Prizzi's Honor amongs many other ones.

In recent years the number of sisters has dwindled dramatically. There are hardly any women who want to move into a convent anymore and that has resulted in an aging population of nuns. This also means that there are ever less teaching nuns. This has in turn resulted in the order deciding to close the school. As of 2010 no new students will be accepted. All the girls who study there now, will be allowed to finish their schooling. Closing the school will not mean the order will sell the property, the nuns will continue living there.

You can visit the house and grounds, although you can only see about four or five rooms of the house. The church in the grounds is a lovely little church which is a miniature replica of the Cathedral of Norwich (UK). The gardens are definitely worth a visit as well.

For more K-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Tuesday 29 September 2009


I had a lovely lie-in this morning. After all that hard work of last week (out of the seven days, I worked one) and yesterday (split shift: three hours in total), I needed it! I also needed to get some serious shopping done. Of course I could have done it yesterday, but I didn't, so it had to be today!

When I first thought of it today, it was raining. Not hard, only a severe drizzle, but still... But by four this afternoon it was dry and I decided now was the time. I got on my bike, cycled to the store, probably missed half of what I needed, and came out of the supermarket. It rained!

I stuffed everything in the sidebags on my bike and rode home in a miserable mood. It is well and truly autumn now! And if anyone is wondering why I don't drive to the supermarket: I don't own a car...

Monday 28 September 2009

Would, could, should

During the small emigration fair last weekend, I didn't just get a workshop about the practical side, but also the personal side. And one of the things I learned was that I had told friends and family my plans early. Waaaaay too early. I should have only told people about my plans when I was ready to register with an agency or about to send in the paperwork.

That's what I should have done. But I am planning to go for a certain type of visa: a temporary work visa. Which means that from applying to receiving (hopefully) it will take me from 2 to 5 months. Of course I didn't originally plan that, but that's the plan now. So, a few questions then. Would my family and friends have liked me telling them about a done and dusted deal or would they rather have known about it a bit longer, just so they could have gotten to terms with it.

Furthermore: could I have kept my mouth shut for all that time? Knowing me: absolutely not! It would have been almost impossible for me to keep that a secret for over three years. So, was I right to tell them this early? Probably not. I probably should have waited a bit longer, if only until I was debt free (early this year).

When would you have liked to know?

Sunday 27 September 2009

Number two!

Debby at Just Breathe says she feels I should get more followers because she thinks I'm a great read, I show her the world and more people should get the opportunity to read my brain yarns (my head is just about hitting the ceiling right now)! So, she has given me another award!!! Wow!

Again some conditions attached, but they are quite good fun and I will try to do as asked. I am not sure who to pass it on though, so I will just say: take the award if you please and you pass it on... Anyway, I can only give one word-answers to every question, which will mean I will be in trouble occasionally, but never mind, I will give it my best go. Oh, and I have to have fun. Which is always good.

The fun part:

1. Where is your cell phone? Handbag
2. Your hair? Wet
3. Your mother? Mama
4. Your father? Papa
5. Your favourite food? Home-cooked
6. Your dream last night? Niiiiice
7. Your favourite drink? Cordial
8. Your dream/goal? Emigration
9. What room are you in? Living
10. Your hobby? Blogging
11. Your fear? Alone
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Canada
13. Where were you last night? Here
14. Something that you aren't? Male
15. Muffins? Mmmmmmm
16. Wish list item? Housekeeper
17. Where did you grow up? Netherlands
18. Last thing you did? Zap
19. What are you wearing? Socks
20. Your tv? VH1-Classic
21. Your pets? Monsters
22. Friends? Good
23. Your life? Nice
24. Your mood? Contented
25. Missing someone? Partner
26. Vehicle? Push-bike
27. Something you're not wearing? Mittens
28. Your favourite store? Waterstones
29. Your favourite colour? Blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Ehhhhmmmm
32. Your best friend? Choose?
33. One place you go over and over? London
34. One person who e-mails me regularly? Boss
35. Favourite place to eat? Home

Well, that was it. If you have any questions about any of my answers, please don't hesitate to ask.

Saturday 26 September 2009


Well, after forking out a stupid amount of money for a taxi, I made it on time. After my cup of tea I went into the workshop/meeting to learn new things about the procedure to emigrate. I knew most of it anyway, but they seem to change it every so often, so you never know!

After that workshop there was another one dealing with the people who stay behind. How do they feel, what do they think and how to deal with that. Sceptisism, disbelief, anger, pride and all feelings inbetween. Well, I have to admit, I have dealt and will have to deal with especially the first three emotions. My father in particular doesn't really belief I will ever leave and whether that's because he doesn't want me to or that he really doesn't think I will ever leave I don't know. Fact is, I have to deal with it and so does he.

After the workshops had ended, I talked for about half an hour with fellow wannabes. One man who is waiting for his medical call-up, one woman who is waiting for her medical result and a couple who are still at the very beginning like me. Their feelings and experiences match mine. They go through the same emotions, have to deal with the same feelings and problems and they shared it with the rest of us. Like the man said: "I don't talk to my friends about it, because they will start to distance themselves from me immediately! If the process then takes me over two years, I will be virtually friendless." I guess I have to be a very lucky person not to have friends like that!

What else did the day bring me? The knowledge that if I have doubts it's not something to worry about; it's completely normal. It's only if the doubts stay (or like the host said: if you keep seeing bears in the road), that you should start to worry and perhaps call the whole thing off! I will have to make my feelings more known and I have to listen to (and accept) other people's feelings, especially from my family and friends. But most importantly: listen to myself and do what I think is right!

Friday 25 September 2009

Off to Canada (I wish)

A few weeks ago I registered for a meeting about emigration to Canada. And this week I got the details. As soon as I got the details I got in a panic!

If I were to take a bus, a train, another train and another bus, it would take me nearly four hours to get there: I would arrive waaaaaaaaay late! So, I had to think of something else. Fortunately my parents don't need their car this weekend and I can borrow it. Tonight I spent half an hour trying to find the best route to get to the car (it's parked 45 km or 30 miles away). Taking the first possible bus, then a train and then another bus (or a taxi perhaps), I still have over an hour to drive. Which means, that I won't be waaaaaaay late, but I will still be pushing it. So, right now I'm wondering whether it will be worth it.

Part of me says no and then another part of me screams YES! I might learn something new. I will meet other wannabe emigrants (for the first time ever).

I will go (despite having cancelled). I've decided. Now I just need to get warm again and go to bed...

Thursday 24 September 2009

Oh wow!

Yesterday I got my first award! Ever!!! Thank you so much Debby over at For Your Tears! There is however one condition attached to the award: I have to list ten honest things about myself! Oh goody (said with a downhearted sigh)...

1. I hate kissing
2. I can sit around and do nothing at all for days on end
3. I sometimes wish I didn't have cats so I could travel more easily
4. I will not get rid of my cats to travel more easily
5. I am sometimes scared of ending up alone
6. The only Dutch books I read are Mills & Boon, Dutch version
7. I had my first date aged 18 with a man over ten years my senior: it didn't work
8. I tried smoking twice: the first time I put the burning end in my mouth, the second time I finished a bottle of beer within five seconds! Yuck...
9. I love it when people compliment me on my language skills (English, German, Italian or French).
10. I used to be called Marja.

Well, that's my ten honest facts. Now I have to pass this award on as well (it's not nice to keep it to oneself, even if I would love to do so). I would like to pass it on to the following people:

Wednesday 23 September 2009

J is for...


No, not nice strawberry version, the no end to the line of cars version!

As a driver I get my fair share of traffic jams. Fortunately I live in a fairly quiet area of the country without too many of them, but occasionally I get stuck. Sometimes only for five minutes, other times for hours on end.

I once got stuck in three jams in one day. At the end of that day I wondered why I had chosen to become a professional driver! I was tired, I was fed-up and I was sick of all the not-driving I had done that day! But that only lasted until the next morning!

In the Netherlands most traffic jams during rush hour are between two and ten kilometers. I've heard of jams in France and Germany, especially during the start of the holidays, that are over forty kilometers! The horror...

The first official traffic jam in the Netherlands took place on May 29th, 1955 (Whitsunday). Masses of people decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and take their car somewhere. The traffic jam was a novelty and according to some people a sign of 'civilisation'. Well, did we learn fast!!!

For more J-words, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

To go or not to go...

Spotted in Osterholz, Germany last week. I ran back to the table to get my camera, so I could show it to the world!

Monday 21 September 2009


Last Wednesday we had to pick up a large group of college students. Those students have chosen a course to prepare them for a job in either the army/navy/air force or as a security guard. In order for them to be able to make up their minds properly they have 'field trips' to, in this instance, a large military training area in Germany. They learned how to march, they were drilled, they were shouted at, they had fun and they had to learn about the past and see what war can do to the world. They stayed for three days and were quite tired on Friday. Here some impressions I had...

Considering we were in a massive German military area, which (apart from the shooting) is usually left alone, it is not unusual to see wild animals like badgers (check), foxes (check twice), deer (check), rabbits (check) or boars. This was the only thing I saw of the boars in the area. Their footprints. The rest of the prints had disappeared under tank tracks!

On day two we had to wait for the college students to come back to the coach and while waiting we saw this beautiful sunset. The colours were just gorgeous and I managed to take a few photos. This was the best. The buildings you see are part of one of the army bases in the military training area.

The military training area where we were was established in the early thirties of last century to train up large amounts of soldiers for the coming war. Bergen-Belsen became a workers' camp for men from all over Germany. They had to build the army base and made good money. After the war started, the camp housed Dutch, Belgian and French prisoners of war. After that Russian POW's. The camp was extended and became a holding camp for political prisoners. Then 'exchange Jews' to exchange against Germans. Extended again it became a work-camp for Jews, where they would work themselves nearly to death in local businesses. The last function it held was a death camp. Jews from concentration camps near the Eastern Front (like Auschwitz in present day Poland) were trained around the country to get as far away from the front line as possible. When they arrived at the trainstation, they still had to walk about 6km (4 miles) to the camp. There they would receive little nourishment, since the aim was to starve them to death.

Anne Frank is the best known of all the people who died in Bergen-Belsen. One of the college students (16/17 years old) asked me who the other people were who had remembrance stones in the grounds of the camp. They had heard of Anne Frank, but it's only thanks to her diary, her Dutch ally Miep Gies (who helped hide them) and her father that she is now known the world over. Otherwise she would have been just as nameless as all the other people who died, but who were just as important to their families and friends. Anne and her sister Margot died in March, the camp was liberated by British forces in April.

Saturday 19 September 2009

In short...

I have a different look at squirrels now (Tarzan and trees and a young and willing lady, hm, don't ask!), I have two new soaps, I ate quite some chocolate, I had broad beans and liked them (even if they were accompanying pasta, meatballs, carrots and sweet corn) and had one beer too many. I had a massive fight with my co-driver. I went to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen (where Anne Frank and her sister are buried) and had working days of nearly 20 hours. I am now tired and slightly drunk. Tomorrow I will be away again. This time only for one night.


PS: photos will follow on Monday.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

I is for...

Italian Garden on Ilnacullen

I had masses of photos from Ilnacullen, a small island in the Bay of Bantry. Every type of flower, every type of weather, seals, trees, the lot. Unfortunately this is the only one I've got left, due to a fight with my computer. I learned the value of back-ups that day!

Anyway, the island of Ilnacullen lies in the Bay of Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland. The only way to get there is by ferry and on the way there, you will almost always see seals. At the right time of year you will even see seal-pups! After you've arrived on the island, there are flowers and plants everywhere and finding the most beautiful is a daunting task. There were two areas of the island I really loved and the Italian Garden was one of them. I could imagine myself sitting at the far end of the photo, reading a book, enjoying a glass of wine or talking to friends. The gardening I would leave to a hunky gardener of course, no point in getting my hands dirty doing something I know nothing about! And if I can afford a garden like this, I can also afford a gardener I think!

For more fantastic I-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Monday 14 September 2009


This would probably not be the best time to write a new post, but I can't really be bothered with whether it's the right time or not. That might have something to do with the fact that I had a few beers after work. A few beers too many as a matter of fact. Not good, not clever and I will probably find out tomorrow morning how not good or clever it was. But they tasted good, the company was good and we didn't talk about religion too much.

I will get myself an aspirin now. And a lot of water, just in case!

Saturday 12 September 2009

Camera Critters 13

YOU are the bastard!

For some reason I never think of Italy as a nice pet-loving country. Which is completely ignorant and stupid of course and I've seen plenty of examples in Italy to contradict me on that stupidity. When I was in Verona two years ago, I sat in a park and lots of people were walking their dogs over there. And in Florence a few weeks ago, I again saw lots of happy dogs and their owners. Unfortunately, Italy is the same as other countries when it comes to leaving pets during the holidays and I had to take a photo of this sign in Florence.

I've always been of the opinion that if you get a pet, you look after it. A bit like a marriage really: in sickness and in health, till death do us part. You do not, under any circumstances leave your dog or cat tied to a tree in the burning heat or pouring rain, while you go and enjoy your holiday!

For more critters from around the world, please visit Camera Critters and join in the fun!

Friday 11 September 2009

Feline Friday 28

I've always felt those little box thingies are a waste of material, since none of my cats ever used them. And then, about a week ago, I saw Linette asleep inside! And a few days later again. So, I got my camera and managed to get a nice photograph. Well, I think so anyway!

Thursday 10 September 2009


The medieval jousting tournaThe Potato 2009 venue

Doesn't it look fun and well, ehm, even more fun? All those tents are actually up about 5 minutes walk away from where I live and they are for the Potato 2009 event! Every four to five years the town where I live will hold a massive potato related fair. If you have anything to do with farming potatoes on a large scale if you're from abroad or a smaller scale if you're from the Netherlands, chances are you will have heard of Emmeloord!

When I took the photo this morning, the cycle path was hard to cycle on due to all the people not bothering driving to the official parking lots, but parking in the grass on either side of the cycle path. Just so they won't have to wait to get on a (free) bus! However the cars that were there came from a variety of countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France were only a few I saw.

In 2000 and 2005 they also had massive fairs and people came from as far afield as Russia, Argentina and Canada to come to my small hometown to see what was new in the potato field. The first time was the busiest: it was raining, so Dutch farmers couldn't be bothered to farm and came in droves! At the end of that week, you could grow potatoes in my coach!!! This year, we're not doing the transport side of the fair though. So, no potato-farming in the bus.

This fair is not the only thing organised because of the potato. The Spud-festival started on Tuesday and is going until Sunday. We will have a Fish-Potato run on Saturday (From the fishing village of Urk to the potato village Emmeloord), a cycle tour, free chips/fries/frites/patat on Saturday, a concert and lots of other stuff! I will have to work the whole weekend though and will not be able to see or do anything (and before you ask: no, I wasn't planning on doing the run).

Fact: Belgium created the autumn school break in order for children to help their families with the potato harvest!

The winner

Hey! Where's my hay?

Well, if you have a contest, you need a winner too don't you. Otherwise who will get the eternal fame!? As I already said in the other post, the people reading my blog are very clever and so it proved to be, despite AC's misgivings. I am therefore extra happy to anounce that AC is in fact the winner! Simple is sometimes best. Congratulations!

Wednesday 9 September 2009

H is for...

Hands across the Divide

This statue can be found in Londonderry or Derry in Northern Ireland. Me and my sister were there last year and found the town to be lovely. Not at all like it must have been when the Troubles were at their height (Bloody Sunday took place in this town).

There was however still quite a strong protestant/catholic thing going on. The catholic neighbourhood was quite a densely packed area, whereas the protestant neighbourhood was a lot more open. There were also red white and blue curbstones and lampposts.

This statue represents the two peoples: Catholic (Irish) on one side and Protestant (English/British) on the other side. The hands are not touching, but if in future the situation becomes better and they are finally able to bury the hatchett and deal with each other as human beings instead of "them" and "us", there is the possibility to move the two figures closer together and have them touch hands.

For now however, this is the best they can do it seems.

For more H-words, please visit ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Caption Contest

I'm grasping at straws here people, because either I've got a blogger's block or I lead an extremely boring life! So, in order to actually have a post I've decided to have a little caption contest. I know all of you are extremely not boring and very funny and clever, so please give it a go. The winner will get eternal fame (hey, I'm bordering on broke right now and there's still three weeks left until my next paycheck!).

The photo was taken in London last April and depicts one of the Horseguards.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Camera Critters 12

Photo taken in Cona, Italy on a buffalo farm. Since they are waterbuffaloes, they need water to cool down and will move in and out of the water during the day. The milk of those ladies was used to make yummy mozzarella.

For more critters from around the world, please go to Camera Critters and join in the fun.

Friday 4 September 2009

Feline Friday 27

Hey, I'm still under here!

Mind you, I wouldn't do this with my laptop, the chance Mathilda would move or get up would be a bit too great!

Thursday 3 September 2009


Let's talk numbers here! Only 300 days left until my 39th birthday. Otherwise known as my intended date of emigrating. And 300 days equal 9 months, 3 weeks and 6 days.

My financial goal stands at 12,000 euro. Right now, I'm about 91 percent short! I've been saving for over 8 months now and if I continue at this rate, by next year, I will only have about 25 percent! Not the best prospect, but I will start putting some more effort into saving. Perhaps I should start knitting socks and selling them! Hm, that might be an idea...

Other numbers today: I've used about 50 tissues, sneezed about 100 times and my head feels as if it is filled with about a gazillion cotton wool balls! Yep, I've got a massive cold!


The other day I was reading a post by Sunny and she was talking about whether or not she should get anything done to her body in order to look more appealing, younger or what have you. Reading that post put me in mind of a poem I had heard only a few days earlier about a lift. And no, it wasn't about the up-and-down version or the ride-with-me version. It took me a while to find it and then I had to translate it, but here it is!

When the first wrinkle arrived, I got in a panic
I then had my face lifted in a pricy clinic.

My husband thought I looked fantastic
My face was (again) elastic.

No wrinkle, no fold
I looked honeymoon old.

Then my husband said:
"Your face doesn't fit your neck".

A little tuck and they pull it tight
A cut here and it looked right.

My husband he was very happy
About me looking so snappy.

The surgeon however had another blow
My boobs were now too low.

After lifting them, they looked a bit small
But some silicon made them look great and all.

Well, my man nearly had fits
Because I had fantastic tits!

But one night after sex, no lies
He had a comment about my thighs.

Don't get me wrong, no critique
But I went back to the clinique.

I had a belly too, so after a little talk
I had it sucked away, I didn't balk.

My butt cheeks were lifted the very same day
About an inch or five I would say.

At every party I was a wonder
Even considering the stress my body was under.

However, my husband felt like he was on the dogcart
Boys would yell: hey, old fart!

So, he tried again to look like a young tomcat
Dyed his hair and bought a tight corset.

And after all that he even did a bout
Of running, swimming and working out.

For months he followed a stringent diet
Until one day in the sauna he died.

There I stood at his grave looking great
But the fun was gone, it was too late.

Ladies, let all those people nag
And let your bits quietly sag.

Cherish your belly, thighs and chins
Real beauty comes from within!

Wednesday 2 September 2009

G is for...

Giant's Causeway

Found in the north of Northern Ireland, this is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. In 1986 it became a World Heritage Site. It's a beautiful spot, although I found it quite spoilt by all the tourists clambering all over (I have to admit, I was one of them). Besides that, the name suggests a huge or gigantic area and that is just not true, it is actually quite small.

The giant Finn McCool and his Scottish counterpart Benandonner were always at odds with each other. One day, Benandonner came over to Ireland to fight Finn. Finn got a bit scared and hid in a pram. When Benandonner arrived, he found the pram and Finn, but thought Finn was only the baby! Now he in turn got scared and ran off. Finn then followed him over the causeway with a clump of land he had taken and threw it after him. The clump of land came from what is now the largest lake in Northern Ireland. Where it landed is now the Isle of Man (not much for direction, but hey, it's a legend). While Benandonner fleed, he ripped up the causeway.

Of course the story above is a legend and there are several variations to the story. Truth is though, that if they were to drain the water between Ireland and Scotland, you could walk all the way on the basalt columns!

For more G-words, please visit ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Nothing at all

Nope, nada, nothing. Come back tomorrow and there will be more to read. Until then, I will leave you with a photo of me.