Saturday 30 June 2012

40 again

My birthday in Ireland several years ago.
Cake courtesy of my sister!
I remember when I was in primary school: everybody over the age of 15 seemed so old and grown-up to me. I got to that age and realised I wasn't old or grown-up: people in their twenties however were. Turn to me in my twenties and I realised I wasn't old or grown-up at all: people in their thirties however were! Etcetera...

My body occasionally makes me feel old. The (younger) passengers occasionally make me feel old. Children occasionally make me feel grown-up. But in the end? I don't really think I am old. Or grown-up for that matter!

I am 41 today. Hip hip hooray!!!

Friday 29 June 2012


As you know Wuppie has been suffering from a blood-ear since the winter. When I went to the vet the first time I was told it was to pass on its own and I needn't worry too much, apart from a cauliflower ear he wouldn't suffer any other problems. Of course that's not how it went.

So, how did it go? Well, it didn't go away on its own. As a matter of fact, even though the blood seemed to disappear after a while (as did the pus), his ear stayed large and swollen. And even though it looked swollen, it wasn't really. In fact, what had been blood was now connective tissue and had become rock hard! He had had a bit of a droopy head ever since the problems started and that didn't abate at all.

I went back to the vet several times after that. The first time back the vet talked about a possible amputation of the ear, but she wanted me to give him some medication first of all. So, home I went with pills and eardrops. Nearly a month later I was back again. A different vet this time, but the same situation with Wuppie. He showed me a bit more about what was what and what to expect if I were to have his ear amputated (a massive vet bill being one of those!). He looked into his ear with one of those look-in-the-ear thingies and saw there was still an infection inside. He decided more medication was in order, but of a stronger variety than the first batch.

Today I went back again. Wuppie's ear was a lot cleaner, the infection was gone and even though his head is still tilted, he was quite happy with the result. And then talk once again got to amputation. In order to have the ear and connective tissue removed, they would need to remove part of the ear canal (basically the vertical bit of it) as well. Which was already better than the first option: all of the ear canal right up to his ear drum. But I still felt a bit dubious about it. After all, this is a 14-year old cat we're talking about. Besides, the cost of one or two courses of antibiotics a year will be considerably less than a massive operation that wouldn't necessarily end up with the result we want.

In the end the decision was made to see how it goes over the next few months. I still have some antibiotic eardrops I am to use three times a week, but if all goes well, his ear will stay on. Looking almost normal!

Thursday 28 June 2012


I live in a country where there are rivers and a lot of clay which results (or can result) in bricks. That's why most houses and businesses in the Netherlands are actually built of brick. Nice red brick. But not all houses are made of brick. Actually in the North East Polder where I live, there are several locations where there is a smattering of wooden houses.

These houses are not Dutch, they are in fact Austrian and were gifted to the Dutch shortly after the Second World War as part of a repayment scheme to provide the Dutch with houses. Most of those houses are found in the villages of Ens, Marknesse and Emmeloord and the rest are out in the country where they are part of farms.

This is my 25th entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Remembering, but not quite

I left early yesterday morning. I didn't think it was necessary, but the planners did, so I believed the planners. Now, I don't think the planners had the traffic jam calculated into the driving time, but boy was I happy it inadvertently was! I had to take the back roads to the school I was supposed to pick up and when I finally had made it to the village where it was, another road was closed. Fortunately someone told me how to drive and I made it there in time!

We arrived on time as well at the traffic park, where children can play in go-carts and skelters and whatever more to learn about traffic. Unfortunately the electricity was off due to a break somewhere and it was off in half the town! It did get back on earlier than expected though, so we all could get something to eat and drink.

The group came back nice and early though (misunderstanding somewhere, not quite sure where) and it took a lot of slow driving and still being half an hour early to decide to make a stop at the farm of one of the teachers. And even if the children weren't allowed off the bus, they thought it was really cool! And then it was back to school. Taking the back roads and passing through villages I knew of. Like the little village where we used to get off the train if we went to visit my paternal grandparents. Or the other little village where my parents used to get the sheep's cheese that was absolutely delicious.

But in the end all those villages were done with and we ended up in the village where the school was. Exactly on time! Fortunately the way back home was easier and without too much traffic. I made it in good time, even though the planners are always a bit more optimistic about the way home for some reason.

Today was another day off and then tomorrow another school trip I think.

Monday 25 June 2012

Getting back

As you can understand I was extremely tired after returning from Paris. Fortunately my group was good: mostly women and children who slept their way through France and Belgium and didn't bother me with noise or bad behaviour. Other colleagues were not so lucky, small fights on the parking lot between passengers before leaving, broken down toilet doors and even a few instances of violence towards the drivers.

But as I said, my group was good and I arrived exactly on time at my last stop. By the time I was back home and in bed I was absolutely shattered. Also because the weather had seriously deteriorated after arriving in the Netherlands. It wasn't cats and dogs, it was wolves and lions, it was awful. And reason number three I was happy to finally be able to tumble into my own bed was the headache I had had since Saturday morning. And even after waking up yesterday afternoon I had it, which was really annoying. Fortunately this morning it was gone.

Tomorrow it's back to work: a school trip. I hope for them the weather will be a bit better than yesterday and today: it's positively autumnal!

He was cute!

A little known tower built by Monsieur Eiffel
What a weekend! Like last year I had to pick up Iranians and their families/friends to take to Paris. Unlike last year I left on time and almost only had women on board. I did get stuck in some traffic, but not nearly as bad as last year. So, I got to my hotel reasonably early and had enough time to actually have a hot dinner.

On day two I took my people to the manifestation area, and then started the long wait for my colleagues. Due to the large amounts of coaches coming in, it took absolutely ages. Plus we had been told there was really heavy traffic towards our hotel. In the end we left at about one. And the heavy traffic proved to be there. It was awful! A trip of 35 km took us over two hours! But we did make it in the end and we were shown our rooms.* However, sleeping during the day when you've already slept reasonably well during the night is not easy, so we went for some food first.

After our meal I went back to my room and tried to sleep a bit. Unfortunately I didn't really manage it, but I did take advantage of the nice large shower. So, I was completely refreshed when the receptionist came to get me: one of the other drivers had phoned the ambulance service. His direct colleague had excrutiating back pain and was in tears! Since I was the only one who spoke both French and Dutch, I stayed with him until he was loaded into the sarcophagus-stretcher (basically a plastic stretcher that is then inflated using a bicycle pump, until the patient fits very snuggly) and then onto the waiting ambulance.

His colleague then went to work to make sure his passengers were taken care of (which he managed) and after that the patient phoned to ask to be collected. I went along as well and by 9.30pm we had the patient stuffed in a taxi (probably some renal problems, he needs to see the doctor in the Netherlands) on our way back to the hotel where the coach was already waiting to go back to the manifestation area.

The return trip to the Netherlands was quite uneventful. Empty motorway all the way to the Netherlands where the floodgates opened and it poured all the way home. I cleaned the coach, picked up my own coach, drove back home and went straight to bed.

The signature is upside down!
Now, of course you are reading this because of the title and you are probably wondering who the 'he' in the title is. One of the other drivers? The patient? No, it was the guy from the ambulance. We needed to know to what hospital the patient would be delivered and since I didn't have a piece of paper handy, he wrote it on my arm. He even signed (*sigh), but he didn't leave his phone number! I tried!!

*European driving laws state that you can only do shifts of 13 hours or under, which can be stretched to 15 hours on occasion. So, if you start at 9am, you can't work until 9.30am the next morning, unless you take a break of at least nine hours. Now, if you have to drive during the night it is wise to actually get a so-called day-hotel. Some people are better at sleeping at all hours of the day then others.

Thursday 21 June 2012


It took a bit of effort to find something that was hot, but in the end (and in one of my last folders as well), I finally found a fire. It may be small, but fires tend to be hot however small...

This fire is part of the Freedom Flame that is used in the Netherlands to remind everyone of our freedom. It was created several years ago and we only really see it at the end of April, beginning of May, when the remembrances and celebrations of the Second World War are in full swing. But then it is almost everywhere! And a good thing, since freedom is always a 'hot' topic!

This is my 24th entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The cherries on top

Photo taken in 2010
Being a coach driver is a great job. You get to go places, see things, meet people. Although at times it seems that the only people I meet are under the age of 10, the only things I see are swimming bags and the only places I go are schools and swimming pools. And then along comes a nice trip. To Germany or London. To Ireland or to Paris.

This coming weekend I will be going to Paris. For the second time, not counting the time I went there on my holiday. I went there last year with a group of Iranians, which resulted in me drinking beer at a quarter past eight on a Sunday morning! This year I will be going with a group of Iranians again, since the event is annual! Click here for the reason.

My day will start early on Friday, but I can pick up the first lot of people quite close to home. And then for some obscure reason I have to drive all the way to the other side of the country to pick up the rest. Ah well. Then it's off to Paris, where I hope we will be able to see the Eiffel Tower. With the sun shining and the sky blue. I want to take a photo this year, I forgot to do so last year. If for some reason (like the slow-actions threatened by the petrol lorries due to the rise in tobacco tax, don't ask) I won't have the time, it will be straight to the hotel.

However, tomorrow will be another day of work first. Just the school, the pool and under tens.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Monday 18 June 2012

Typical (again, I know)

Why does a heron lift one foot to go to sleep?
If he lifts both, he will fall over!
My dad wanted to take my baby with him on holiday: it was smaller and therefore didn't weigh as much as his own laptop. So, when I went to see my parents last week, I took the baby with me. Without it's protective cover though, because I had lost it. I couldn't find it anywhere! I knew it wasn't in the kitchen and it was definitely nowhere in sight. The day my parents left last week, I found it. It had made its way into the paper recycling bin! Oops!!

I am however not the only one loosing stuff. Even the powers that be (ie my boss) looses stuff occasionally. Like certificates. Although I should probably say he didn't loose it so much as never had it in the first place. So, tomorrow I will be doing a course I have already done! Joy!!

So, what is this course you are wondering (I know you are, you lot are a nosy bunch of people, otherwise you wouldn't read my or anybody else's blog). I will tell you: it's 'The New Driving'.  For some obscure reason the European Parliament has decided professional large vehicle drivers (bus/coach and lorry) need 35 hours of extra training every five years in order for them to be allowed to keep on driving professionally. There are many courses to pick from, but one that is almost mandatory is the new driving. Learning how to save fuel (and as a result the environment) and how to drive a bit more smoothly.

As I said I did this course nearly two years ago, but apparently my boss never got the proof of it. So, since it's already paid for, I have to do it again. Ah well, I will get paid for it... I just hope I will get the chance to do the remaining 14 hours as well (I already have two other courses under my belt), so I might go to Norway with a new driver's licence, all up to code!

Friday 15 June 2012

Not quite there yet

I bet they are fluent!
There are seven stages of learning a new language. The first one is 0. You don't know the new language at all or only a few single unconnected words. Then comes A1, where you can make simple sentences and ask simple questions. If you get answered in the new language you haven't really got a clue as to what they are saying. Level A2 means you are able to follow simple conversations.

B1 means you are able to get into a bit more complex conversations and understand people on the phone or on the radio. B2 means you get even more and are quite able to join in a conversation, only occasionally having to look for words. C1 means you are fluent and C2 means you can converse on a scientific level. I would say I am C1 Dutch speaker. Start with scientific lingo and I am lost. I guess I would also be a C1 English and German speaker. French would be between B1 and B2 and my Italian would be about A1-A2. Of course all those languages don't mean a thing: I am learning Norwegian after all.

Today I phoned to Norway and in my best Norwegian I asked whether I could speak to a certain person. And that was as far as I got. It went downhill from there on in. I had been hoping to impress them with my knowledge, but my mouth decided differently, only uttering incomprehensible nonsense. In the end we turned to English.

I had phoned the bus company because I wanted them to know I was learning Norwegian and was actually quite alright in it, which in turn would hopefully make them offer me a job. Long shot I know, but what can I say. I am convinced of my own abilities. But the conversation did give me some result. The company didn't have any openings at the moment, but were expecting some openings in the autumn, whether they could contact me then? And the lady on the other end of the phone told me I needed to be at level B1 at least! And from my nonsense it was quite clear I was a bit off yet!

It was a bit of a disappointment of course, but on the other hand, I now know what to work towards...

Thursday 14 June 2012


My choice for this week's prompt is the photo you see here. In 1999 me and three friends went on holiday to Malta. Mostly we stayed in the hotel (it had a nice rooftop swimming pool), but on two occasions we went out. This was one. The night before, one of my friends had been flirting with some American navy guys and they had given us a ticket to visit their ship.

Anyway, we skipped the line of schoolchildren and other nosy people and presented our ticket. We got in and were absolutely awed by the massive ship, the USS John F Kennedy. It was the biggest aircraft carrier in the world at that time I believe (I've heard it has since been put out of commission). We only got a small tour, but what with fifteen floors, I don't mind too much. I posed in the end with the lovely young man who had given us the tour in front of the American flag. I am the little dot on the left!

This is my 23rd entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The ongoing saga

As you know I am not life's biggest gardener. I think it is even fair to say I am a lousy gardener. If I had the money I would hire a gardener to do the work for me, but since I have other plans with my money...

As you also know the housing corporation I rent the house from has some rules according to how my garden is supposed to look. No weeds (what is a weed anyway?), no junk, nothing too overgrown. A few years ago Carolina came and helped me out to clear my garden of some of the weeds and ever since then I have been more or less on top of the work.

Anyway. This year I got a notice saying that I had to get my garden in proper order because they were checking up again. With their kitchen steps to look over the fence and all (it didn't say that in the letter, but my neighbour saw it one year). And then I got another notice to "clear the front yard of weeds (which I knew) and to clear any tree that is too close to the fence. There are about six trees in my small back yard and they were there last year and the year before. I never had to remove any trees before. So, I phoned: how far away do the trees need to be? Turns out it's two meters (just under 7 ft).

I think they are just making it up. Because why didn't I hear about it last year or the year before? The trees were there then! Besides that, how on earth am I going to get rid of a tree that is higher than the house (if it's too close that is, otherwise it's staying!). I sure hope that tree is good, since it's endless fun for cats and I get to see more and more birds in it as well.

Never mind that though: every garden should look the same and certainly not with any trees in!

Monday 11 June 2012

Not happy!

As if I hadn't fed her in over a month while poking her with hot irons! That's how she sounded when I wouldn't let her out! She was definitely not pleased and miaowed a great deal to let me know!

However, when the dark clouds became really dark and the thunder started, she resigned herself to the fact she definitely wasn't going out and settled on her little bed.

Saturday 9 June 2012


Not allowed for now.
Mind you, the weather is awful anyway!
Now, when you read the title of this post, you might be forgiven if you think I am going to talk about spitting. It's not the case though. Spit is just the Dutch word used for the back problem also known as lumbago. Which I have. If it's not the head, it's the back. Next year the feet if this keeps up!

Anyway, lumbago. When I first started feeling these severe pains in my lower back last Saturday, I of course was immediately thinking of severe problems like a hernia or even cancer, but after looking it up on the internet, I think it's far more likely I have lumbago than either of the other two. Which is good. Well, as good as it gets in the case of back pain that is.

As I had looked it all up, I had found some nice to do's and not to do's with lumbago. Don't lie down all day long: it will only stiffen your back and prolong the problem. Do move around, either walking, cycling or swimming. Don't do any heavy lifting. Don't sit in the same position all day. And that last one is of course the 'top' one! Because as a busdriver, I tend to sit in the same position all day. Every day. Especially since I had to go to Germany this week for two days. Long stretches of Autobahn ahead of me and no way to change position. Fortunately I have some good pain killers and a coach kitted out with a good chair. So, I was relatively pain free while bouncing all the way to Aschaffenburg (near Frankfurt).

Perhaps I should change the name of my blog to Painful Matters!

Thursday 7 June 2012


The prompt of this week is a bit double for me. Because when we use the word container in Dutch, we mean the wheelie bin. The trash can that will be collected every two weeks. Fortunately though, our 'containers' can contain things as much as glass or boxes or anything else, so I set out finding a container.

Well, I found one: two lovely cheery ones I got a shot of 14 years ago while on holiday in Italy. Me and a friend of mine had taken my car and driven down to Lake Garda in northern Italy, where we spent several days. After Lake Garda we made our way to Milan and then to a small village not far from Verona. We saw the balcony of Romeo and Juliet (what do you mean: fool the tourists?), the colliseum from the outside, I had my first pizza ever, we pretended to think and I spotted these bins.

This is my 22nd entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday 5 June 2012


It actually looks a lot better in real life!
Fed up. That was what I was with my hair. I could wear it loose, which would bother me no end, or I could wear it up: either just up, or in a ponytail or plait. And I was fed up with that. So, I went to the hairdresser and told her: short! Unfortunately I have a really good hairdresser (and a nice one to boot) and she told me no! No!! Because it wouldn't suit me. Which was true. And the one haircut that did suit me was not to my taste (ie it looks like my mum's!).

But all of sudden she got a brainwave, got some book out and found a haircut that would suit me. So, she started snipping away. And snipping away some more, until I felt I was nearly bald. Mind you, I could see what was going on in the mirror, so I knew I wasn't going bald, it just felt like it. After she had finished cutting, she made my hair a bit blonder and now I am sporting a great new fresh haircut. Wash, dry and model. Done!

The reactions I have had (from amongst others my colleagues) were varied. The ones that did comment liked it, even going so far as to say it suited me better than the long hair. But most didn't even notice! That's men for you!

Anyway, I like it and that's the most important thing...

Monday 4 June 2012


We confirm that your application for a job as "Bus Driver - full-time and part-time" is received. We will make further contact with you should you be considered for a position with us.

Well, they had better consider me!

Friday 1 June 2012


I wonder if Oscar Wilde ever lost anything
One of my retrieved photos!
I loose stuff. I don't mean to, but I do. I lost my photos through a stupid mistake (and found some again, phew), I lost my way on more than one occasion in the past, I lost my coach keys twice in one day several years ago! And the latest thing lost to the Land of Lostdom was my new and improved Norwegian CV (or resumé).

Now, I knew it was in the kitchen somewhere, since that's where I had taken it out of the bag. I knew I had put it on top of one of the kitchen cupboards, but when I looked it wasn't there. When I came upstairs to my work room though, I thought I saw it: but alas, it was only my Norwegain course, which is in the same type folder as my cv.

It is very annoying when you loose something like that. Of course I still had my old and not so good cv, but Gunnar in Norway had helped me update it and it looked a lot better. And I didn't know all the improvements anymore. I knew a few, but not all. So, I had resigned myself to the fact I would need to update that one.

When I came into my work room this morning (I don't want to call it an office, that sounds a bit too posh for me), I saw a folder. A folder that had been sitting on a crate for about five weeks, ever since I got back from Norway. Turns out I had put the folder containing my cv in my work room almost immediately. In plain sight. And I had overlooked it every single day!