Tuesday 29 June 2010

X is for...


While I was visiting the Army Days the other day, one of the most interesting things I saw was a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital). When you're out in the desert like Afghanistan and somebody gets hurt, you don't want to have to travel for miles and miles and miles to a hospital, so the armed forces bring their own, complete with doctors and nurses. One of the areas in the 'show' MASH they put up, was this X-ray area. The shirt-like things you see are the protective covers used to not have all those x-rays go through everything.

Where some areas in any MASH will be made out of tents, others will be made out of containers. For safety reasons, the x-ray part will be a container.

If you think these MASH's are only used in combat areas, think again. A few years ago, quite a big hospital in the Netherlands had some problems (I think there was a fire) and couldn't use their surgical areas at all. The army moved in and set up a MASH in their parking lot! Including X-ray area.

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

Bygone era

It's the last day. Tomorrow a new era will start. I wonder what this new era will be like...

Saturday 26 June 2010

Tig tag toe

I tagged Monique a few days ago and she tagged me right back. Well, I won't be going backward and forward with this tagging thing (even if it's fun), so I will answer the questions and then let it be. No more tagging for at least two months.

1. How do you drink your coffee? Very very milky. Preferably more milk than coffee. Decaffeinated of course as well. Out of a large mug, since I can't stand cups.

2. What's on top of your bucket list? Learn how to tapdance. I've wanted to learn how to tap ever since I was fourteen. I was allowed to take classes as well, however bible class was on the same evening. I had to go to bible class...

3. What is the best advice you ever got? 'Why don't you try and get your bus driver's license'. Thank you Papa! His worst advice has been to become a stewardess... (Hm, remind you of anything Pepperfly?)

4. I never want to... eat mushrooms. Anything that grows on horses' poo should not be eaten.

5. What is the silliest thing you have ever done? See photo... It mightn't have been the silliest, but it was right up there!

6. What song makes you happy? There's several, but there are two that deal with the same thing: one is in Dutch, the other in English. The Dutch one is about two girls who are going to get married to Nico Meyer (because it's more fun) and the English one is from the show Cabaret and also deals with two women and one man. "Two-sies beat one-sies, but nothing beats three".

7. My favorite book is... Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

8. Have you ever used a Ouija-board? Nope

9. When I was a child, I thought that... I would become a nurse, even though the photo looks like I wanted to be a hairdresser. And before you ask: yes, with the help of my brother I cut my own hair with a large pair of kitchen scissors. I was about three...

10. Worst song ever... Volare. I love and hate that song in equal measures. I love it because it stands for a summer of freedom and growing up. I hate, loathe and detest it because I must have heard it about ten times a day. Usually while I was clapping along, putting on a very fake smile!

Book safari

I should have taken my sandals. And my lovely three quarter pair of dark blue linen/coton trousers. Instead I had with me thick corduroy trousers and half boots and thick socks. So, the temperatures in London went up and up and up and my own temperature rose with it.

However, even those high temperatures didn't stop me from getting the books I wanted. Which would be found only at Persephone's bookstore. Which was either in Lamb's Street or Conduit Street. And since I had it quite fixed in my head that Conduit was the one, especially after looking it up, I made my way to Conduit Street (just off Regent Street). But there wasn't any bookshop. Stella McCartney's shop was there and several other designer shops, but no Persephone. By now however, my A-Z was on the coach and I didn't know where to go. So, I phoned them up. Turned out they weren't in Conduit Street (I knew that already). But they also weren't in Lamb's Street. They were in (wait for it...) Lamb Conduit Street! *Sigh*

Anyway, I did make it there in the end. And I browsed in the shop for a while (which was as big as my living room, which isn't very big). And I came away with six books. So, not too bad.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

W is for...

White Horse of Cherhill

This horse can be found about 3,5 miles east of Calne in the county of Wiltshire in England. It dates from the late eighteenth century and is the third oldest in Great Britain.

It was first cut in 1780 by a Dr Christopher Alsop who cut away the turf to reveal the white chalk underneath. Dr Alsop was also known as the mad doctor and according to legend, he shouted his directions to the making of the horse through a megaphone from quite a distance!

If left alone those white horses will soon be covered by grass and weeds again, so they have to be 'scoured' on occasion to keep them white. In 2002 major works were carried out: the outline was traced anew, shuttering was put in place to prevent the chalky soil eroding away and tons of new chalk were added (this photo dates from 1993/4).

Some of the horses found in Great Britain have a 'historic meaning', others were just made to be a bit of fun. The most common chalk figures are horses, but there are also a few men around.

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

Tuesday 22 June 2010

A tortoise called Winnifred

I was alerted to this book by Shelfari and thought it sounded good. So, I went online and got myself a copy.

The blurb: When Audrey Flowers learns that her father has been hit on the head by a Christmas tree and is in a coma, she knows what she must do: leave Winnifred her tortoise behind, fly home, make a moving speech at her father's bedside and wait for him to wake up. However, things don't quite work out that way. Instead Audrey finds herself embarking on an extraordinary journey: one full of puzzlement and pain - but one that could also light up her life.
Come, Thou Tortoise unfolds in a world that is not quite our own; a place where you might just live forever if you can avoid the dangers, and where the truth can be hidden in the armrest of your airline seat.

When Audrey arrives back on St Johns Island, she finds out she is too late: her father has already passed. In the days that follow, she relives her past with her father and her uncle Thoby and has to deal with the present. Her pet mouse is missing, her uncle leaves and Judd doesn't know her father has died and wants his Christmas lights back because they are faulty.
In the mean time Winnifred is being looked after by a friend of Audrey's and her boyfriend: an actor who uses her as a skull and a bookmark. She is also remembering the past and wondering how her future will look. She keeps being mistaken for a turtle (she's no mermaid thank you very much) and is fed up with her paper castle.

My verdict: yes, this is a very good book. It's quite quirky and there's love on nearly every single page. Will Audrey and Winnifred meet again? I recommend you read it yourself!

Monday 21 June 2010

Ironing out the creases

Sixteen shirts, three pairs of trousers, bed linen and handkerchiefs. All creaseless right now and in either the wardrobes or my green suitcase (not the bed linen, I am not taking bed linen to a hotel). And it only took me nearly a whole day. Next time I will keep up with it...

Monstrous Monday 2

She's 12 now and I have not been able to take a good photo of Mathilda. Until last week that is. When I took this fantastic photo. If I say so myself...

Sunday 20 June 2010

Tag, you're it!

I got tagged by Strawberry Jam Anne. Isn't it great? And the only thing I have to do, is answer ten questions she made up. And then I have to think of ten questions and tag five other bloggers! So, it turns out to be a bit trickier than I originally thought...

1. How do you relax? If I just have to relax after a long day's work, television will do just fine. If it's a major problem at work and I have a big stone in my stomach, I keep thinking of cornflowers, poppies, daisies and dandelions. Over and over and over. Until the stone turns to a pebble and then to a grain of sand. Or until I fall asleep!

2. What possession could you not live without? After considering this question for some time and weighing up the pros and cons of all the possessions I have (could I do the dishes by hand again, how about doing my laundry in the bathtub) I think this would have to be my laptop. Because this enables me to meet people from all over the world, without leaving my home. A bit like books really. Which would come a very close second!

3. What makes you laugh? Almost anything can make me laugh. On television it would probably be QI (hosted by the brilliant Stephen Fry), Dinnerladies (only two seasons, but absolutely fantastic), Last of the Summer Wine (how can you not laugh at three old men roaming the wilderness of Yorkshire and getting into all kind of scrapes), the Muppet Show (need I say more) and lots more. 

4. What is your greatest fear? I think I answered this question not long ago. It would be that I would make a big mistake in moving to Canada. But then again, there's only one way to find out...

5. Who do you most admire, living or dead and why? I admire my cats. The way they can just sleep all day and take life the way it comes.

6. What talent do you wish you had? Do I need any more talents? I am the most accomplished person in the whole wide worl... house. I wish I had the talent not to get too worked up about something and then needing to think about dandelions and cornflowers to go to sleep...

7. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? My in-laws. 

8. What single thing would improve your life? A good cleaning lady or gentleman. 

9. What is your favourite song or piece of music? Do I have to choose one? Avonden by Boudewijn de Groot would be right up there. I believe, I believe, I believe in you and me...

10. What is your greatest achievement? Well, making it to 38 years and 355 days is quite an achievement. Don't you think?

So, that is the first part of this tag dealt with. Now to tag five others. Monique, Misfit in Paradise, Sunny, Ginny Marie and Debby. And then to think of ten questions.

1. What is the best sound you ever heard?
2. They offer you a film role. What role would you play?
3. What is the best thing about where you live?
4. If you had a magical power, what would it be?
5. One of those telemarketeers rings you up. How do you deal with them?
6. What would you not write about in your blog?
7. Do you have a tattoo? If so, where? If not, would you ever get one?
8. You HAVE to watch a sports game. Would it be football (the soccer variety), football (the American variety), tennis, Formula 1 racing or chess?
9. If you had the chance, would you go to the moon?
10. Do you own your (adopted) country's flag and do you fly it? 

Saturday 19 June 2010


I've been called a lot of things in the past. According to two people I was inhuman. Most of the teenagers on the schoolrun think I am not a very nice person (and that is putting it very very mildly) and have vocalized that using quite harsh words. My colleagues think I am a chatterbox and a piss head (mostly because I need the toilet quite often. I hope).

But today I was called old-fashioned. Not because I like brass music or knitting. But because I prefer carnations to roses. Always have done. And apparently carnations are not modern. Not in. Not hip.

So now you know: I am an old-fashioned, inhuman, &%$#%, chattering piss head. And I love me!

Friday 18 June 2010

Right and wrong

Sometimes things don't go exactly to plan. Often it's the company or the passengers who mess things up. Today it wasn't their fault. But then again, you could say it wasn't our fault either.

This morning me and a colleague had to pick up 75 people to take the Airforce Days. When I arrived they were quite surprised to see me: they had only ordered one bus for sixty people. Well, our sixty-seaters were employed elsewhere, so instead there were two fifty-seaters. There were less than fifty people there, but we both did the trip anyway.

When we were due to go back home again this afternoon, we were told by a teacher there was another bus 29. I had bus 29, so that was quite strange. We soon found out what had happened.

The address we were given was Church Street (I'm making the names up, the principle stays the same) and that's where we went. However, we were supposed to be in Saturn Street. Another coach (a sixty-seater) turned up as well. The address he had been given was Moon Lane, he was parked in Saturn Street and was supposed to be in Church Street! You see what happened don't you: the other coach (from a different company) took our passengers and we took his! Isn't it brilliant?

Thursday 17 June 2010


This is called the Little Polder House and is a piece of landscape and motorway art. It was only after it was erected that they realised the size of the house fitted perfectly in the NOP. The short sides of the house are three meters and the long sides are eight meters. The plots of land given out to the first farmers were three hundred by eight hundred meters or a multiplication by two or three of that.

The little boat on top of the smoke has two functions. First of all it shows you where the wind comes from. And the second function is a bit more morbid. If there were no dykes surrounding the part of the country I live in, the little boat would be floating on top of the water instead of the smoke!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

V is for...

Chateau de Versailles

This is the back of the beautiful palace of Versailles. And isn't it imposing? The front is equally imposing, but renovation work meant scaffolding and the amount of people wanting to visit equals no nice photo!

The palace didn't start out like this, it was first a much smaller royal hunting lodge, just outside of Paris. Louis XIV wanted to make it his home though and started expanding almost the minute he arrived. From 1661 onwards, the palace was extended several times until in 1789 (with still more plans to extend and improve), the French revolution took place, all the royals were forced back to Paris and all plans were put on hold. 

During the next few years several things were suggested about the palace, but in the end it was settled that it would become a museum and it has been the museum of France ever since. Nowadays it is a fantastic place to visit, not only the palace itself, but the gardens, the stables and everything else is fantastic as well. You could easily spend a whole day there and not have seen even half! 

For more V-words from around the world, please visit ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!


After we had arrived yesterday, parked our coaches, watched the game (Netherlands-Denmark: 2-0) we went outside. After all, they weather was quite nice, although the sun had more or less disappeared. I wanted to take a walk and one of my colleagues joined me. I wanted to do the same walk I had done in January.

It was a lot easier to walk without half a meter of snow to plough through. But all of a sudden my colleague stopped me and pointed at something. Well, it took me a while to spot it myself, but I managed in the end. Then of course I had to take a photo, but I couldn't keep the camera steady enough. My colleague offered to be a support and I managed to take a photo of the deer. You will have to enlarge the photo, but it's really there!

We continued walking. High grasses, ferns and nettles everywhere and then they came out: the flies, the buzzers, the things that roam about your face and will not leave you alone! Once we had gotten back to the tarmac, we spotted a fox coming towards us, but as he spotted us, he sat down. I took a photo and realised it wasn't a fox at all; it was a hare (sigh).

We had our dinner outside and as soon as the first dish hit the table, so did the fruitflies. They were constantly hovering around our faces and extremely annoying. And I guess they weren't really fruitflies either, because when I looked in the mirror later, I saw a lot of little pinpricks in my face! And when I woke up this morning I realised I had been stung twice on my leg as well. Even though I had been wearing trousers! Awful creatures....

Monday 14 June 2010

Monstrous Monday 1

Basically it's like the Feline Friday thing I had going quite a while back, but from now I will be doing it on Monday to coincide with my Dutch blog.

This is the sight I wake up to several times a week, provided I sleep on the left side of the bed (seen from the foot of the bed). Isn't he just gorgeous?

Sunday 13 June 2010

Feathers and caps and stuff

In March I drove a school to London for the second year. They had asked for me and so had the organization that hires the coach. In a week and a half I have to drive another school to London for the second year. They too asked for me via the same organization.

Last week I got an e-mail. Whether I would be okay staying in a guest family instead of a hotel. I didn't mind too much, provided I have my own private facilities, which I am entitled to according to my workers' agreement.

Today I opened my e-mail and there was another one: the problem was solved. I would be staying in a hotel. It was a bit dearer than planned, but I had always done outstanding work in London, so they wanted me to stay there.

Good thing I don't have to wear a hat to work: it wouldn't fit anymore!!!


Even though I spent my weekend with my friends (yesterday) and my parents and brother and his family (today), I haven't really much to tell. I had a big dinner and two fishbowls of white wine at my friends' place. We saw three films (one with Michael Bublé and a stripping mountie?) and went to bed at 2am. I slept okay on my matrass on the floor and was woken in the end by the sun in my face and the sound of two children running around.

After breakfast my friend drove me over to my parents, because it's my father's 65th birthday today! I had made a photo book of our trip to France and both my parents loved it. My brother and his family arrived shortly after (I also had a book for them). I chatted to an uncle of mine who has recently visited Canada with his choir, I chatted to my sister in law about their upcoming and past trips. I tickled my niece, took photos of my nephew holding a bionicle (?) and had a fishy lunch.

Now I am home again. And it seems I had more to tell than I originally thought!

Saturday 12 June 2010

We are the champions...

If you are not a football fan (like I am), the worst thing that can happen is the World Cup. Because then every idiot comes crawling out of the woodwork to add his two cents to how they should have played and what they should have done and who should have been in the line-up.

Not only that, every single store and/or brand comes up with another 'get them all' item that you have to have. There are Beesies (Supermarket Albert Heijn), Gogos (Supermarket C1000) and bracelets. There are hard hats (Heineken), orange dresses (Bavaria) and cooling beercrates (Grolsch). Orange make-up, orange shirts, trousers, shoes, even underwear.

But to go with the flow (for this once mind, never again for football), I have dressed up in my finest, searched for anything orange in my home and taken a photo. So you can also enjoy the idiocy of football!

PS: it turned out quite dark, sorry for that.

Friday 11 June 2010


This was meant to be my ABC post, but when I saw how many Umbrella-posts were going up, I had to think of another U! But it was a nice post, so here it is...

One of those contraptions that you never carry when it's raining. And when you do remember to bring it, the first time the sun comes out, you leave it behind. If you do remember bringing it anyway, the wind will get under it and break it or it will just fly off and end up in the gutter! If none of that happens, you will annoy everyone around you, because it is always in somebody else's face. Besides, it doesn't stop you stepping into big puddles...

In the photo are ten umbrellas. All belonging to me. I 'found' them on the coach a few years ago. The group I was driving all were given one, but the box contained fifty and there were only 20 people on board. I was left with thirty umbrellas. So, what to do with it? I tried selling them, but was only partly successful. I then started giving them away, but I still have around twenty left!

So, if you want an orange umbrella (for example so you can show you support the Dutch in the World Cup), why not send me an e-mail.

Thursday 10 June 2010


When these things first appeared in the NOP, I wondered what they were. A few weeks later it was finally in the papers: every time you see one of these poles, it means a ship wreck was found close to it. Most of these wreck poles were found around the former island of Schokland. When Schokland was still an island, Lake IJssel was the Zuiderzee, or an inland sea. The weather could get really rough and many ships barely made it back to port.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

U is for...


This tank is in the United Nations Taskforce colour. The UN taskforce (or the bluehelmets as we call them) have been deployed in several regions in the world over the last few years.

The taskforce is made up of different countries that vary from conflict to conflict. It depends on the conflict itself and the availability of the participating countries. Sometimes only one or two people from one country are in the taskforce because of their special field, other times it's a complete platoon.

The hope is that the independent taskforce will help to provide a peaceful situation for both the people of the country and for the fighting factions. Unfortunately it doesn't always work fast enough and the UN might have to stay for a considerable time.

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

I love living here (!)

I don't pay a lot of rent for my three bedroom family home with garden and shed. In the last few years they have renovated my bathroom, my toilet and kitchen. They've put in new insulation and double glazing and they have not even put the rent up.

In exchange I live in the cheapest quarter of town, along with a lot of other people. And lately some of them have been in the news. Last week there was a shooting and stabbing. Both of the men involved ended up in hospital and when they were released they were arrested and put in prison. Apparently it was over a drugsdeal gone bad. As well as the two men hurt, two other men were arrested for their involvement.

Unfortunately the event was witnessed by several children (it was late afternoon) and wasn't the first time something like this happened. As a matter of fact, the house where the stabbing happened was raided by police only a week earlier!

Don't I live in a great neighbourhood?

Monday 7 June 2010


Debby at 'Just Breathe' had several questions put to her and I loved those questions. So, I've decided to answer them as well.

If you could interview anybody in the world for your blog, who would you choose and why? She's not with us anymore, but I have recently started to be more and more interested in my grandmother's life. So, it would be her!

Can you remember your last dream? Nope, which is probably a good thing anyway...

Name three places you would like to go on holiday to. I would love to visit Japan, Africa and (surprise surprise) Canada.

What scares you the most? Not making the right choice regarding emigration. Would it be better to stay or should I go and find out if it is for me or not. Scary stuff...

What is your favourite book of all time? 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen. You can't go wrong with that one.

What's the funniest film you've ever seen? I remember the first time I saw 'Spaceballs' (Mel Brooks), I nearly wet myself laughing.

Where are your kids right now? Thinking of my monsters as my kids: Sophie and Mathilda are indoors, Wuppie is on the garden table and Linette is who-knows-where!

What was the last thing you ate? Mmm, a Magnum mini ice cream. Two of them.

Are you usually late, early or right on time? It depends on what I have to do. Catching the bus: early. Starting the schoolrun: right on time to late. Visiting friends or family: always on time (even if I am late).
What is your favourite band or singer? I love Dolly Parton, even though I don't own any of her records. Than there's a Dutch male singer: Boudewijn de Groot who I think is great. The Youtube video is of Gentry Bronson doing an English version of one my favourite songs. I believe I believe I believe I believe I believe in you and me....

Sunday 6 June 2010

It's not easy being a woman

Disneyland Paris

Well actually, it is. Since I don't know how it is to be a man and I've always been of the female persuation, I just am. A woman that is. But sometimes it is made harder by the outside world to be a woman. And sometimes it's your own body doing that. And occasionally the two collide and make it extremely frustrating.

Take yesterday. A big festival in Scheveningen (near the Hague) and I had to drive as well. One of those articulated jobbies that won't go faster than 52 miles an hour and have no real comfort. They do however have masses of room and you can load one up with about 125 people. Making it the perfect festival bus.

However, only a couple of days ago my body decided to tell me it was still female. Which is a pain (figuratively and literally) in itself. Add to that the fact that I had to drive one of those bent bananas (otherwise known as articulated buses). On top of that there were no toilets/bathrooms/outhouses to be found anywhere near where the bus was parked or where I was supposed to pick the people up. So you can imagine how happy I was feeling!

But thanks to Esso (the petrol station) I soon felt a bit better again. And was able to do one more trip through the Hague before they told me I wasn't needed anymore and could go home!

The joys of being a woman...

Friday 4 June 2010

Working hard

I don't know how many dogs I saw yesterday, but the community of Baarn must have had a special sale on dog licenses or something. If I had to venture a guess, I must have seen about two hundred: Dalmatians, Saint Bernards, Schnauzers, a German Shepherd type dog with sawn off legs, white dogs, brown dogs and lots more.

Apart from the many dogs I encountered, I also saw quite a few caterpillars, my new home and the former home of Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard. Of the latter three I took photos, but there were so many dogs to choose from, that in the end I didn't take any...

I had a nice piece of pear cake, a nice spinach and salmon wrap with crisps (?) and before going home I had an ice-cream. On a stick. So, all in all, it was a good day!

Thursday 3 June 2010


I must have passed this tower hundreds of times and always thought it was a water tower. Until I saw the sign attached to it and learned it had nothing to do with water. It was actually a guard tower.

During the Cold War (fifties and sixties) towers like this sprung up all over the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. They had someone in the top scouring the air with a pair of binoculars to spot for foreign (read Russian) planes. From the late sixties they became obsolete and most of them were demolished. This one survived and you can get the key off the bridge guard and you can climb all the way to the top to spot for foreign (read Russian) planes.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

T is for...

Tuberculosis Hut

During the early part of the twentieth century, a lot of people got sick and even died of tuberculosis. One of the ways to recovery was either a sanatorium or if there wasn't that much money: this hut. You could fit a bed in it and spend day after day in this hut. All four sides could collapse in real nice weather, but you could also leave any or all sides up. The hut could be turned around and that way you could be facing the sun all day. Some people would spend months in this thing (coming back inside during the nights though), even during the winter months when a small heater would be put into the cabin.

Nowadays, tuberculosis is more or less a thing of the past in the Netherlands, although there are still people suffering from it, mostly in the bigger cities. The illness is very infectious and is caused by airborn bacteria. Especially poor people used to suffer a great deal, mainly due to the fact that after contracting the disease they wouldn't have the money to see a doctor or get treatment. At one point (way before WWII), nearly the whole population was infected by TBC, however, most people never suffered or noticed any symptoms. Afterwards, they would be immune, although they would carry the disease with them until they died.

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


In yesterday's post you could see a photo of all those buses waiting in line to pick up all those passengers. It tends to make me a bit emotional when I see all those buses or coaches together: it is such a great sight. However, I am not so emotional I want to photograph every single one though!

There are people who are though. Every time there is a massive event like this, you will see a lot of men (I've never seen a woman) with their cameras around their neck taking photographs of every single bus that drives past. Twice, three times, ten times! They are not interested in the Army Days or whatever event is happening, they are only interested in the buses.

The two in the photo are Jos (pronounce Yos) and Erwin. They are both busdrivers themselves and travel all over the Netherlands and sometimes abroad to photograph their buses. They record where they shot them, what the event was, the number of the bus, its numberplates and the company. Busspotters were responsible for telling the company I work for that we had two coaches with the same numberplates, they will know where our old buses go to (Cuba, Africa, Surinam amongst others). Their only downside? They loved the buses and only had a single glance for the 1-month old coach I was driving...

An anorak is a spotter of any vehicle and usually considered to be somewhat sad. However, I didn't feel these men were 'sad' in any way, they only have a different hobby to me!

PS: I asked permission to take this photograph and post it.