Sunday 15 December 2019


45 minutes for a 3 mile stretch!
Wow, this was a week and a half. At least that is what my body seems to think! The week started off fine, but got progressively longer and earlier. One day even saw the alarm clock go off at 3.15 am! AM folks! That is early. 

Christmas decs? Naaah, bed!
In general though, the week went fine. I tried to be on time, but didn't always manage thanks to heavy traffic and accidents (not mine). It was topped on Friday by another trip to another Christmas market. 

Ferris Wheel near the Rhine in Düsseldorf, Germany
It was dreary, it was cold, it was wet, it was yuck. I was nice and early and then had to wait until past seven to get everybody back. It was a long day (close to 15 hours) and by the time I got home, I was thoroughly fed up. Thank goodness for the weekend!

Birds belong in trees. Even the duck!
One thing that didn't work the way I wanted was the buying of the tickets for Eurovision. Apparently I had to start queuing at around 6 in the morning and I got there when all the tickets were sold out already! There will be two more chances, and I will be queuing. But, tonight...

The big Songfestival Party! Lots of old winners (Sandra Kim, Johnny Logan to name but two), but also this year's competitors from Norway (loved them) and San Marino (loved him), plus lots and lots more. I am really looking forward to it. 

Sunday 8 December 2019

Back to old times

Between all the other coaches
This past week I was due to work two days. One relatively short, the other quite long. In the end I worked three days and made plenty of hours. 

One of the jobs I did was drive a lot of people to a Christmas market in Oberhausen (Germany). I had been there once before and didn't think it was worth spending a whole day, but of course, that had been over ten years ago. 

It had changed. The mall was still there, but around it there was a full blown Christmas market. It was heaving! I think there must have been about 60 buses as well. From the Netherlands (it's less than an hour's drive from the Dutch border near Arnhem), Belgium and yes, even Germany itself. 

This was my desert. Mmmmm
The day started off a bit wet, but fortunately it stayed mainly dry during the day. I got away with throat lozenges as I have been coughing my lungs up for the past three weeks. It was too busy for my liking and I didn't get anything. 

There will be another chance this coming week though: as it stands now I am due to go to the Düsseldorf (Germany) Christmas market at the end of the week. But the thing I am really looking forward to is the Eurovision party next Sunday. I wish it were then already!

But, it seems as if the planner has heard my silent plea for enough work and has me working plenty of days this coming week as well. Anything can still change though. Which is the essence of driving a coach!

Monday 2 December 2019

The musical

I had heard about 'We Will Rock You' and seen the posters for a long time. When I had my London trip, the school would see the show, while I waited in my coach. I never did get the chance to see it. 

Then, back in June, a leaflet with my mother's weekly: We Will Rock You was coming to the Netherlands. I decided to go and bought two tickets almost immediately. Not sure who was coming, but that problem was solved within a couple of minutes: my Mum. 

On Saturday we made our way to the town where the musical was being tried out. First of course we had to get dinner (Greek, yummy) and then we made our way to the theater. A cup of coffee for my Mum and a short girly break for myself. And then on into the theater itself.

The place was packed. Not a single seat left and everybody was buzzing with anti....cipation (sorry, wrong musical). Well, what can I say? It started, the music was good (duh), the singers were great and Anasticia really has a throat on her! My goodness, can that woman belt out a song!

During the break there was a little drink, then back to see the rest. It was absolutely brilliant and well worth how ever much I paid for it. I wouldn't mind going again, but there is the small matter of not much income, a visit to the Eurovision party, a holiday in Northern Ireland and probably a cinema visit here or there. 

But, well worth the visit. Loved it!!

Saturday 30 November 2019

Oh wow!

Oh my goodness! It's been nearly four weeks since I last wrote! Where has the time gone? It's not as if I have been away from the computer at all. After all, I have to scan my work reports every time I work (two to three days a week), I still play games and I have been adding to Mice for Mama. For some reason however, I never got around to actually blogging.

So, first let's catch up a bit. Yes, I have been working a bit. Albeit only two to three days a week. Sometimes those days will go up to about 10 hours and with three of those, that can add up. Next week I am on the list for only two days, but I hope to get at least one if not two more. 

There is some news on the job front though. I recently dropped off my cv at the local public transport company, knowing they were looking for people. A couple of days later I was called by somebody who asked me to submit my cv again as they were indeed looking for people. It looks promising, but fingers crossed of course. 

I have been knitting and sewing a bit. Well, a lot really as I don't work that much and even when at work, I can take stuff with me. I have added some Norwegian inspired work, including some of my own. That is to say: the patterns for the individual parts were there, just not the combined bit I went for. If they work, they look great! Albeit very very fiddly at times.

I have been looking forward to three things a lot. Firstly, my Mum and I will make our way to see 'We Will Rock You' tonight. It is a try-out, but it is with Anastacia and we think it's going to be great. Secondly, my friend Pepperfly and I will go to the Eurovision Party in two weeks. It's not the official Song Contest, but there will be lots of old winners, some recent 'I loved that song, why didn't that one win' and some Dutch favourites. 

Thirdly of course is my holiday in Northern Ireland at the end of the month. I will be spending Christmas and New Year's at my sister's. We will do nothing, we will go see a Panto in Belfast and if the weather is good, we might finish our drive that we started two years ago! Plus there might be other stuff.

So, that's me caught up. Now, where was that knitting book again...

Monday 4 November 2019


It's November already. Doesn't time fly? This time last year I knew I was going to leave Northern Ireland, but was still hopeful to find a full time job and a place to live by the time the move came. Not so much! I do have a job, which has been continued now, but it is not full time. And my own place to live is for now a fantasy.

But, not all is bad, I do work and I do live somewhere which is not my car or a cardboard box, so blessings and counting and all. I have also gotten back into the crafting part of things with a vengeance. I have so much yarn and fabric and then my mum comes out with more yarn that she has gotten from somewhere. The choices of what to make are endless. 

Find the lizard...
On November 1st, I put a fair few items up for sale on Mice for Mama, four of those were made by my mother, who is a keen lace maker. She didn't expect anything from it, but someone left lovely comments about her work and actually bought two of them! My mum is pleased as punch I can tell you! I have now started on the other big batch day, which will be soon. As I said though: endless choice...

Right, off downstairs to start on my next project now. 

Thursday 31 October 2019


I have been hard at work. Both at work and at home. At work I was due to finish today, but I am working tomorrow and several days next week, that may turn into more. I had better contact the temping agency to hold the holiday money pay-out!

At home I have also been working hard. Knitting, crocheting, sewing. And the results will appear tomorrow on my Mice for Mama blog. If you don't know what that blog is: it's a blog where I sell home made mice (and other things as well), part of the earnings going towards charity. 

But, not only did I make things myself, I also got my Mum to help out. She makes lace and there will be several of her works up for sale as well. So go on, have a look! And perhaps you spot something you like the look of! 

There are only a couple of things to remember: 
A. Always use the contact form and make sure you state exactly what you want, using the code from the title. 
B. First come, first serve! If three people want the same thing, it will go to the first person who 'wanted' it.
C. Factor in packaging and posting costs, as those are extra! It goes by weight and where to send it, but it can add quite a bit to the price. 
D. Payment will be in Euros using PayPal.

So, remember to hop on over on November 1st and perhaps you find a nice Christmas present... 

Monday 28 October 2019

Brom mostra di più


No! I didn't learn Italian, just that one sentence. It means that I am showing you more. More of Rome, because you may have wondered about certain sights.

And one of those sights that is really hard to miss is the Colosseum. Or as the guide said: Anfiteatro Flavio. Because I did listen to him. Even though by the time we got to the Colosseum, we were all quite tired. The two and a half hour walk had already lasted two and a half hours before we got to the Colosseum and we were still not done!

Part of the outside of the Colosseum
In the end Mara was defeated and we left the group and the guide to continue on their way. We went to find a place to sit and watch people go by. We chatted to a lovely lady, we saw people go by (jealous of our spot I think) and once we were a bit rested, we walked around the Colosseum ourselves. 

Where the cross stands now, the emperor used to have his place to watch what was going on.
It was big. Like really really really big. The guide had told us that there was room for so many people in the olden days, that if they would have used one door only, it would have taken them a day to get in and find their seats. Wow! But those Romans were clever and made so many gates, everybody could get in within twenty minutes. Much better.

From the inside you could see it was an oval, not a round
In the central area of the Colosseum there used to be trapdoors through which wild animals would have come up. Lions and bears and they would have had to fight with gladiators or Christians or each other. I think. It sounded not very nice, so I didn't hear everything. 

This wavy floor used to be flat before it collapsed.
It was the floor of the dining room and it was about four times what you can see here!!
The Colosseum stands in an area with a lot of other important Roman stuff. Like the forum, although there were a few of those apparently. The guide showed us a ruin that he said used to be the home of somebody. Their dining room was bigger and higher than our entire house! They sure did have some money, those Romans. Or stole some money...

We were quite tired after all that walking around and we weren't yet finished for the day either, because that evening we took a boat ride. More on that soon...

Thursday 24 October 2019

The hospital

As I was enjoying the early morning quiet today, my phone rang. Unknown number. I picked up without giving my name. It was the hospital. Ringing me because we had a phone appointment. I had forgotten all about it.

Anyway, she asked me how I was doing, whether I had had any ill effects of the operation and then she told me that the removed gall bladder had been sent off for examination. They do that with everything they remove from patients. 

Turns out, I had a chronic infection in the gall bladder that had probably been there some time. Weeks if not months or even longer. Had I ever felt sick? Well, after having eaten a bag of marshmallows I might feel queasy, but so do most people. 

Not only that, there was also still a stone in the gall bladder, which meant that if they hadn't removed it, it would have caused the same problems which first landed me in hospital. There was only mention of  'a stone', so whether there might have been more?

On the plus side though: there was no sign of anything cancerous, which is always nice. And of course, as the gall bladder has been removed, I should not have any more trouble. 

PS: Brom will be back soon with more stories and photos of Rome. There is still plenty left!

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Brom sees some statues


Here I am again, with more stories and photos of our trip to Rome! And today I am going to show you some of the statues we saw. I already showed you one the other day of that beautiful sculpture with the angel. I will show the whole thing soon, but not today.

You may recall that the Vatican is situated within the Roman city boundaries, but it is actually its own city state with its own head of state which is the Pope! Right now the Pope is Pope Francis who originally comes from Argentina, but before him there was a German Pope (Benedict XVI) and a Polish Pope (John Paul II). He has been made saint already and this statue we saw close to Termini, the central station of Rome. 

Over the past couple of days I have shown you some smaller fragments of statues as well. Those we found in Saint Paul's Basilica, where they had lots of them. They found them years ago and they have embedded them in the walls of the cloisters. We saw a foot, several heads, bits with writing and some animals. I loved this one and it reminded me a bit of Jonas and the Whale.

Almost all the statues and sculptures we saw were either Roman or Christian, but there was one piece that had a more recent influence. Italy during World War II sided with the Germans at first and during that period, Jews, Gypsies, Jehovas Witnesses, Homosexuals and political opponents were taken away to camps to perish. This was the only monument we saw, although Mara said there were some stones throughout the city, outside the houses Jewish people were taken from. And even though we always looked downward so as not to fall, we didn't see any.

On our walk along the Via Appia, we came across the bathhouse remains and in that same area we saw this. Mara said it looked like four birdies have a conflab, but I think it looks like the claw of one giant beastie! What do you think?

Sometimes small is actually quite big. On that same Via Appia walk, we came across this statue of Tarcisius, patron saint of altar servers. We thought it best that Gera posed next to him, as he was quite large(!). Tarcisius was killed by pagan Romans for not wanting to desecrate Holy Communion which he brought to sick and imprisoned Christians in Rome. He was probably stoned to death, although that is not certain.

My last offering of today is a scene on the Arch of Titus (Forum area). In the first century there was an uprising in Judea against the Romans. The Romans won and destroyed whole cities. This image shows the triumphant arrival of the Menorah from Solomon's/Herod's Temple in Jerusalem. Most of the gold, silver etc that was taken from the Temple was sold off to pay for the building of the Colosseum. The Menorah was probably melted back to gold before becoming something more precious to its new Roman owner. Perhaps a little gold teddy bear?

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Brom walks the old road


Did you know that all roads lead to Rome? Now that may not be true anymore, but back in Roman times, the major through roads all led to or from Rome. They all had their own names as well and we walked on one of them. A very famous one!

The road as was, with a pedestrian area to the left and right.
Chariots, carts and large platoons would have used the center.
We walked on the Via Appia. Mara had found it on her phone/gizmo thingymebob and had led us straight to... the Via Appia Nuova. The New Appian Road and we wanted the old one! Fortunately there was another bus and we ended up on the Via Appia Antica, which was one of the earliest roads built by the Romans (starting from 312BC by Appius Claudius Caecus), connecting the Forum in the center of Rome to Brindisi, a town about 550 kilometers further south. 

Not much is left today of the road, as its stones have been used in houses and farms along the way and in later years, the road itself has just been asphalted over and completely ruined. There are still some bits that are original and we found a tiny bit of it. 

Can you see the wheel rut?
That is over 2000 years old!
In fact, in the top photo you can see me sitting on the road. The road wasn't only used by foot soldiers, carts and chariots also used it and all those wheels made ruts in the roads and I am sitting in one! The stones used to be really flat and flush, but over the over 2000 years of its existence and sometimes repairs, it now ended up as quite an uneven road. Great fun though.

Part of the bath house with a beautiful mosaic floor.
In Roman times it was not allowed to bury your dead within the city walls, so there are a fair few mausoleums, graves, crypts and catacombs along the Via Appia. There were also temples, bath houses, inns and farms. We saw the remains of a bath house and after watching countless episodes of Time Team, it was great to see it 'live' so to say. Gera was even able to point out some of the features!

The mausoleum of Caecilia Metella.
It was really really really big!
Because it was Monday, we didn't get to enter the site of the mausoleum and a stronghold/keep/castle as it was closed, but we did get to finish the very first catacombs. If you want to read more, Mara has looked up where to go. Click here to do so: HERE

San Sebastian Basilica from the outside
We were not allowed to take any photos inside, but I can tell you it was big! Every time I thought it was the end, we saw another corridor filled with graves and holes for graves or urns. And we found out later it was one of the smallest!!!

I am going to catch you yet Mousey!
We did get to see one mausoleum from the outside and a church right across the road from it. The church was in ruins, but it was a great place for cats to catch mice. Although the cat never caught it while we were watching it...

The last thing I want to show you today are some trees. When the road was constructed, trees were used a lot to shade the users of the road. I call them umbrella trees and they would be on both sides. Because of later building and such, most of the trees along our stretch of road had disappeared.

Monday 21 October 2019

Brom sees the sights of Rome


Here I am again, with more of our trip to Rome. Not only did we see five churches on the inside, we also saw lots of other things. Yesterday I showed you a car belonging to the Caribinieri in Rome. The Carabinieri are a police force with a military background, but do share quite a few responsibilities with the regular force. Some of you may have noticed that the car I showed yesterday was not in the best of conditions. In fact: the front tyre was actually flat! 

One of the soldiers is hidden behind the car (between car and wall)
A sneaky fag?
Something else we saw a lot of was the proper military. There were cars and soldiers at most of the major intersections in the tourist area and they had been there for a few years now to minimise the risk of a terrorist attack. Most of them on duty were very attached to their phones and cigarettes. Besides carrying a very severe looking rifle.

Trevi fountain
There were plenty of fountains as well in Rome, but not all of them were in great working order. Some of them did not work at all, others only had a trickle of water. The most famous of all of them however was working splendidly. Mara had seen it before, but it looked a lot better this time around as they had cleaned it up beautifully, she said. 

Ready... Steady... Go!
On the Sunday we went into town after our church service and we ended up on the Piazza Navona. A really pretty square with some lovely working fountains and a lot of locals. They were running, they were jumping and being very active. 

I always like when there is something local going on, it makes it feel like a proper place instead of just a tourist spot. Despite all the classical architecture and statues.

When we visited the Saint Paul's Basilica on Saturday, we saw a smallish sculpture in its grounds. When we visited Saint Peter's square in front of Saint Peter's basilica a few days later, we saw a life size version of that same sculpture. It was beautiful. 

Fortunately the smaller size we had seen a few days earlier had a small plaque as well, which explained the sculpture and gave the name of the artist who made it.

Right, that's it for now. I will leave you with a photo of a shoe shop. But not just any shoe shop. A real Italian fancy schmancy shoe shop! See you soon!!

Sunday 20 October 2019

Brom's Photo on Sunday 2019-29

I don't think this car is going to give much chase...