Sunday 23 December 2018

Photo on Sunday 2018-31

Mara, Brom (and Mouse) and Miss Oswin

Saturday 22 December 2018

Nearly there!

It hasn't officially started yet, but the job I was due to do today was cancelled, so you could say it did anyway: my Christmas holiday. A bit of a scare two days ago when I saw they had me working four days next week (!) when I had asked for time off. Money wise it would have been a better move, but for half a day more pay... It got sorted though and I am now off until past the New Year.

We are not expecting snow and if we do get it, Miss O will not be going out!
My sister also got time off for the week and we are spending it together. Tonight or tomorrow morning (depends on whether I get everything done by tonight), me, Miss O, Brom (and Mouse) are heading over to her to celebrate Christmas with Gera. Yes, Miss O is coming as well. She will hate the journey over of course, but she won't mind spending time in Gera's house: windows to look out of!

My sister is a church goer, so I will accompany her. You never know, it might do me some good 😀.  We will watch some Christmas television, there will be plenty on. But of course we will also have some food. We were getting goose which according to my sister is very good and she had had a few years ago when my parents came over. They ate the whole goose in under two days she said. Well, the packaging around the goose said 8-10 people and I doubt we will be able to eat that within two days, so we opted for duck instead. 

Dronning Maud Pudding
We will also be making some other things: filled speculaas (mmmmmm) and the Queen Maud Pudding I learned about in Norway. I am salivating as is! We will probably make more than that, but those are the things that are certain. 

Then, sometime between Christmas and New Year, we will all move to mine to celebrate New Year's Eve over here. More goodies are expected, like the Dutch oily balls which will be made in the garage to try and prevent the cooking smell to permeate the whole place. 

Part of Dunluce Castle
If the weather is nice during the holidays, we will finish our big tour we started last February: the Mourne Coastal Route. We have done two thirds now, but still have the last bit left. And if that goes faster than we think, then we might continue on the Causeway Coastal Route, which takes in the north coast. We have done some bits of that route already and visited some places (like Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway), but there is plenty more to see. 

Friday 21 December 2018


My ballroom test for Gold star. 
Over the past six years I have moved several times and each time I have thrown lots of stuff out. And when I say lots, I mean lots. One thing however that I never really touched were papers. Not newspapers, but my own paperwork. 

I felt it was time though to sort through that. And I found some treasures along the way. Class photos where I recognise one person (ie me), report cards saying I have to do better in the neatness of my writing (got there eventually), high school diploma. I have my baptism program, my vaccination booklet, my swimming diploma. 

Apart from myself, I might be able to name one other person: the teacher!
I scanned a lot and threw some of it out after scanning. Other stuff I kept though. It may not be the way things are done now (with the paperwork I mean), but it gives me an idea how it was done back then. Everything left now is contained in a small green container instead of a jumble in a large tin box!

Along the way I also found coloured pens I never use, empty note books which will come in handy as I now always grab a sheet of paper from the printer and cd roms. Who uses those anymore? Not me that's for sure! 

My name badge when working for Club Med
I also found a French social security number for me. I didn't even know I had one, which is rather silly as I worked on a French contract for 6 months in France. Mind you, I worked in Italy on an English contract and in Yugoslavia on a Swiss contract. Anyway, I think I will keep that note with the number, you never know if I have some pension due in due time. 

Wednesday 19 December 2018

To Glasgow or not to Glasgow

On Monday night I took the ferry home from Cairnryan to Belfast. It was the last one that day as the next two sailings were both canceled due to the coming storm. And yes, it was a choppy crossing I can tell you!

During the night the wind was howling and the storm was very real. As I woke up several times I was worried about my journey to Glasgow on Tuesday. But when I woke up at 8 am, the wind had died down and the weather was really good. No worries then!

And there weren't. Until I arrived in the port of Belfast and there was no ferry! I was told the ferry would be two hours late, so the first thing to do was ring the office, before I was going to check in. Well, all ferries that day would be two hours late and I could get on. They would get a relief driver for when I got back to Belfast at whatever time I would get back. 

Nearly an hour after we were supposed to leave, the ferry arrived. The departure time had already been pushed back to 2.30pm (three hours late) and we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally we were allowed to board. I had blagged my way to a 'front row seat', because I needed to get off that ferry asap, then on to Glasgow and then back to catch the ferry again. 

Because we arrived so late, by the time we got to Glasgow, the traffic was not rushing anymore. However, by that time I had already been told that I had been booked onto the 11.30 sailing as the two hour delay was no more and the ferry that I had hoped to catch was leaving early. *Sigh*

I dropped off one lot of passengers, picked up the return lot and drove back to port. Brilliant. Fantastic. Great. The ferry arrived on time and they started disembarkation. After that there was the shunting of unaccompanied freight. However...

In the early morning a ferry from Larne in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan in Scotland, had had a massive incident as several lorries had toppled over. It must have been in sight of the harbour, as apparently several people were injured and the ferry would be out of commission for a while. Which meant that a lot of traffic that would have used that service, had to use the service I was on. 

You know where this is going don't you? It took ages to get everybody on, because it has to be just so to make it fit. And instead of 11.30 pm, we left an hour later. Of course. Someone in the office had had the bright idea to send me to Glasgow again today (after all, I would be relieved in Belfast), but that was a big no-no from me! So, they took me off, which was good, because I didn't see my bed until gone 4 am. Absolutely knackered. 

I believe I mentioned I don't like ferries?

Friday 14 December 2018

Money money money

I got a message last week from my Norwegian bank. I had to pay my credit card. And I was wondering why? Since I had paid off the credit card a long time ago and had blocked it being used everywhere. Turns out a membership to something that I was sure I had transferred to my British account, was paid using my Norwegian card. I was in the minus again.

Being in the minus meant I had to transfer money again. Which is an expensive business. It's cheaper to just put money in an envelope and send it off! Anyway, I found the money, sent it off (paid 15 pounds to get it sent) and it arrived in Norway. Where I had to pay another 10 pounds to get it received. Meaning: I still lacked funds to pay off my credit card! How annoying.

Fortunately I know one or two people in Norway. And after posting on Facebook that I needed some money (about 3 pounds), one of my friends said she would be quite willing to help me out. The money arrived today and I paid off the credit card immediately. 

I decided after that that I would close all accounts I still have in Norway. They are empty and when I get my tax money next year, I will just have to get it transferred to a foreign account for them. Receiving money only costs me 5 pounds anyway...

Sunday 9 December 2018

Photo on Sunday 2018-30

We went to the cinema yesterday. A film with Christmas and bears and chickens and things. It was of course 'A Muppet Christmas Carol', the definitive version we all believe (especially Brom, but he might be biased) of Charles Dickens' Christmas story. We sang along and enjoyed ourselves immensely. 

Photo by my sister Gera who was of course there with us!

Saturday 8 December 2018


Warning: this is a very long post. Serious as well.

At the end of the summer I saw a program on television about why and how men commit suicide. Their reasons and methods being different from those of women. It was an extremely interesting program and there was one person in particular who talked quite frankly about his attempts and why or why not he would continue with them. And one of the things he said was that 'depression makes a liar out of you'. 

People who kill themselves don't want to kill themselves. But they are told by themselves that they are worthless, pointless, awful people. And the voice saying they do have worth and a point and they are not awful is drowned out by the first one. 

Let's get one thing straight: I have never wanted to kill myself! Ever!! Honestly!!!! I have however felt homicidal which was as scary an experience, as it was so real to me at the time. And even when somebody told me I would never do that, I just thought: just hand me that AK47 and I will show you! Perhaps some backtracking is in order...

Back in 2012, while on a job driving to England, I had an accident in France. I hit a person who had been crossing the motorway in the middle of the night and he was killed on impact. 100 km/hour (62 miles/hour) meeting a person is never a good thing. I phoned the police who arrived a short time later, together with ambulances (I had a busload of people with me). They took everything off me: passport, driver's licence, bus papers and eventually they took me away in a police car to the motorway police office. 

Fortunately I speak French and was able to understand what was going on and the police had told me from arrival onwards that I was not to blame. I still had to go through the whole rigmarole of bus testing, tachograph testing etc. By 4 in the afternoon the verdict was official: not to blame, it was a sad accident and I was free to go.

With the help of a company psychologist, colleagues, friends and family I made it through and within a couple of weeks I was back driving the bus, including a trip to France (with two colleagues who kept their beady eyes on me all the way).

A couple of months later I moved from the Netherlands to Norway. A new country, a new language, new people, a new life. It was good. I settled in, I liked it there. I got invited to parties, to walks (which turned out to be mountain hikes, but that's a different story) and I had a lovely social life. The accident was a footnote in history at that point. 

Two years into my stay in Norway I had to have an operation. I had never been to hospital before and that includes my birth. The operation was to be a big one that would last several hours and in the end it turned out to last even longer than that. It was serious as well, as I realised later: if I hadn't had that operation then, I would probably have been dead within a year due to a burst urinary tract or bowel as my body was strangling both of them. 

I stayed home for six weeks after the operation to get back on my feet. My mother came to look after me, which was absolutely lovely. Unfortunately my father hadn't been able to come: finances on both sides prevented that happening, as it was, my mother's trip had already been paid for by both of us. I got back to work after my sick leave and starting working full time almost from the get-go. My body was holding out fine and I was doing fine.

Then one night I was watching the news and what I saw made my blood boil. And I got so angry and was so upset it was scaring me. In the middle of the night I emailed my HR person and said I needed help. Her email back the following day didn't help me much, so on the second day I went to see her. I broke down, I cried and when I finally went back down to start work, I found I couldn't log in: she had take me off work. She arranged for someone to talk to, who listened to my story and when I told her about the homicidal feelings she said she didn't think I could go through with it. Which I completely disbelieved of course...

Last year my Mum got ill. I went home a lot more than normal and realised I really missed family and friends who know my Mum (and Dad for that matter). I missed being able to talk to someone in person who has had the same experiences as me. And even though my friends back in Norway were helpful and were giving me hugs and support, it wasn't the same. At the end of last year I made the decision to move towards my sister. 

I got the job, I moved within a very short time and have lived here ever since. But where in Norway I was immediately taken to parties and on walks (b****y mountain hikes), over here: nothing. I barely saw any of my colleagues and the hours I made were not conducive to meeting new people. By the time I finished those long hours, all I wanted to do was sleep and when I was not sleeping, I needed to do laundry and dishes and whathaveyou. 

I am someone who needs people. I need physical contact. I need hugs. And virtual ones, however fantastic and soul lifting they are, are not enough. I started feeling depressed and lonely. Very very lonely. A feeling I had never known before. Even in Norway, while barely understanding people, I had never felt lonely. 

The other day my sister and I went to a celebration of her company. It existed 50 years and they were celebrating it with the company choir and a school choir. The proceeds of that day were to go to three different charities, one of them being PIPS. A charity to prevent suicide and further mental health. I had been emotional earlier that evening because of a beautiful rendition of 'Oh Holy Night' and was still a bit tearful. When I wanted to thank the lady of PIPS for all the good work, even though I have never been suicidal, I broke down and had to get behind the curtains. 

When my sister came to pick me up a while later (she was in the choir), she found me with tears streaming down my face, being hugged by the PIPS lady. My sister has never seen me cry, basically because she is the one person who makes me feel good here and I don't have the need to cry when I am with her. Last night I spoke to my 'ex-husband', who nearly made me cry again (he could hear the tears in my voice he said).

With all this being said, changes need to be made. I don't want my mind to make a liar out of me and one day telling me that I am worthless or pointless or an awful person. I KNOW I AM NOT!

Sunday 2 December 2018

Photo on Sunday 2018-29

It's time to get the Christmas decorations out again. After all, it's First Advent today! And what is more fitting than my Nativity scene. I made it years ago, when I lived at home in the '90's. Good to see it still holds up well.