Sunday 31 March 2019

Photo on Sunday 2019-21

I had to go to the town hall yesterday to have an official 'welcome' to the town of Zwolle. I shook hands with the mayor, listened to their introduction, had a little wander and then there was a bus tour through Zwolle. The photo is of a silver cabinet in the main entrance hall. I loved it, but wouldn't want to be the one who has to do the dusting!

Friday 29 March 2019

Of jobs and such

Not only did I get work to do starting this Sunday, in fact, from this Sunday I am working right through until next Sunday! No, not all on the bus (not allowed for starters), but I do have one day off where I will volunteer at the shelter. Talk about throwing somebody in at the deep end! It had better be worth it.

However, the job itself was throwing up a problem. Basically: how am I going to get there? The plan had been of course to find a job in Zwolle and cycle to work. As the job in Zwolle was a no-go, cycling would be difficult too. And public transport is out of the question as well, as I sometimes start before or finish after buses go. 

Which meant I would another form of transportation. Like a moped or a car. I have never been on a moped in my life and thought that if I were to get fouling-up-the-environment mobile, I might as well get a car. 

My very first car
On Thursday I checked the local car sites to find a car within my price range. Which is basically zero, but I might be able to get a bit more together. I found three cars below my maximum, all three of a certain age. My mum and I headed out to see two of those three cars (same lot) and check whether they were any good. 

They were both large Renault Scenic MPV's, one from 2002 and the other from 2003. The latter looked better, but they were very similar. The main difference being the odometers: 203.000 vs 215.000 kilometers (a lot a lot of miles). They were both out of my immediate price range though, so our next stop was the bank, where they were willing, but not too willing.

Today me and my dad checked out the third car. Again an older car (1998), but it looked a lot better, both on the in- as the outside. And the odometer stood at just over 103.000 kilometers! It had had one careful owner, it was virtually immaculate and it had always been serviced by that garage. They could do something about the price (thanks dad), they could offer insurance and tomorrow I can pick it up. With a new MOT, battery and two tires. 

So, if you see me scooting around in my new old car, give me a wave!

Thursday 28 March 2019

Caption contest (for eternal glory)

I thought I would show you two more inhabitants of the Orchid Farm. But I know you can tell the story so much better than I can! Give it a go!!

Wednesday 27 March 2019


Remember what I wrote last week about the animal shelter? About me having an intake and tour through said shelter on Tuesday? You don't?? Tsk tsk...

Anyway, on Tuesday I had a tour and an intake at the animal shelter. And I thought that as I didn't have a job yet, I might as well help out once a week. So, from next week Tuesday I will be cleaning cages, petting cats, feeding and on occasion perhaps take a dog for a walk. 

There won't be many photos however. The agreement that I signed stated quite specifically that I was not to share any photos of any animals on social media. I might on occasion ask (especially with a lot of kittens) whether I am allowed, but don't count on it!

I had also contacted the temping agency again. I first spoke to somebody from the agency on February 5th. I was referred, didn't hear anything, prodded them, got an interview, had to do some stuff (legal and medical) and then nothing happened. And I must admit that I felt quite down in the dumps yesterday.

I decided I needed to be a bit more pro-active. Even though I would prefer to do public transport (for the regularity mainly), that seems to be impossible in this region. Other regions are not really an option, as I won't be able to live there and traveling that far would be out of the question for me. Perhaps a coach company? And the one I know is the one I used to work for. 

Today I took a bus to the town where they now are based. I walked in the door and two minutes later the question was: do you want to work? Ehm, yes! When can you start?? In fact, he had wanted to contact me after learning I would return to the Netherlands, but thought I had found another job already! 

My official employer will still be the temping agency, but I will be working as a coach driver, doing the same thing as I did, albeit with less foreign work probably. My first day at work will be this coming Sunday. Still have to figure out how to get there though.

And guess what. My last job before I left the company was a public transport route. My first job on returning to the company will be the exact same route! Life is funny.

Monday 25 March 2019


Yesterday I showed you a little teaser of where my mother and I went on Saturday. As my father was away for the weekend, we had the use of the car and we decided to go to the Orchid Farm. It started off years ago as a farm where they farmed orchids, but then they decided to sell them, then show them, they added a butterfly garden and more and more was added. 

The first part we got to see was the orchid bit, where orchids were everywhere, in pots, in tree trunks, clinging to tree bark. The most beautiful ones. With tiny flowers or with the bigger flowers. There was water flowing and in that water were goldfish and turtles aplenty. 

But, going through one gate, we got to a similar part with monkeys. Well, one type of tiny monkey, the white-lipped tamarin. And they had the run of the place as well! Plenty of flowers, small banana trees, flowing water. I bet there aren't that many zoos with such an environment. They weren't bothered by the humans passing through and taking photos either. They just did their own thing.

We continued on our way. Admiring orchids and other (house) plants along the way, we got to the rainbow lorikeet enclosure and what a noisy bunch they were! Because we could feed them (with approved juice), they weren't afraid of people at all, happily sitting on hands and fingers to drink or on heads and shoulders. 

We finally arrived at the butterfly zone. Plenty of beautiful butterflies, albeit very difficult to 'catch'. On occasion one of them would sit still, but they would invariably have their wings closed. *Sigh* Then my mum 'caught' not one, but two. Both had just emerged from their cocoons and were still a bit drowsy I guess.

One landed on my mother's shoulder, the other on her knee. But as we were wanting a bite to eat, she had to get rid of them. I gently put my finger underneath one and it stepped on no problem. I moved it to a nearby bush where it sat. The second one was already a bit more 'with it', as it grabbed my finger quite well and as I moved to put it onto the same bush, it flew off.

As we entered the food area we were both amazed: flowers dangling from the ceiling everywhere. I called it a floating garden on Facebook, but I should have said hanging or hovering garden really. It was quite fantastic to eat my sandwich underneath. The only downside being that in a small pot on the table was a PLASTIC flower! Honestly? With all those gorgeous blooms in the whole place, they put plastic flowers on the table!

Anyway, after lunch we had to get our coats, because the last bit we were going to see were the lemurs. There weren't that many of them, and the only one we saw outside had moved inside by the time we got close. 

There were however also a fair few ducks and flamingos. And some alpaca and two of the cutest mini donkeys. To take home, but I remembered what my mum said last week, so they both remained.

After this lovely day we visited my old home-town where not much had changed over the last six years. We drove home and then in the evening we went and got pancakes. The perfect ending to the perfect day!

Plenty of carvings throughout of animals or just faces. 


Sunday 24 March 2019

Thursday 21 March 2019

The M

So, this M. This thing that has been bothering me for as long as I can remember. What's the deal with it? Where does it come from, how do I get it and more importantly: how do I get rid of it?

Let's start first of all with the 'regular' culprits: cheese, chocolate and red wine. Well, I tried not eating them. For years I barely ate cheese and chocolate. I never like red wine anyway, so that one was easy. Did the migraines become less or less severe? Nope! Back to cheese and chocolate it was.

Then this week I got a letter in the post. From friends who had read an article in a certain paper concerning migraines. Very interesting. And very disheartening as well, because even this Neurology Professor from the University Medical Center in Leiden didn't know what caused it. 

He has ideas, but nothing is set in stone. There are some clues, but they are vague mostly. There are no clear answers. He knows it's a brain condition which comes in attacks. The headaches in a migraine probably come from a sterile (ie no virus or bacteria involved) infection of the meninges. Probably!

It is partially hereditary. There are 44 genetical factors known right now, but there might be more than a hundred! The combination of factors is responsible for the chance and seriousness of the disease. But exactly what exactly causes it? No idea. 

Estrogen and especially the fluctuations in the level of estrogen are participants, after all 75% of patients are female and the male patients often have a higher level of estrogen than would be normal in men. It's not definitive proof though, it is just something that they have noticed really. 

Stress, the weather and other things might trigger an attack, but don't always. When I moved to Northern Ireland I was basically free from during the whole move. During this last move (which went a lot smoother and easier) I had several. When I was recovering from my operation and doing nothing in 2015, I didn't get an attack for over 6 weeks! I am now not doing much either and have had two attacks in the same time frame.

Even the medication to prevent is a bit of a question mark really. The medication I have now (Beta blocker) was originally for patients with high blood pressure. But those suffering from migraines noticed their migraines became less or disappeared altogether. Other medication like triptanes are based on the blood vessel narrowing properties. Which apparently has no effect, yet two other properties did! 

I am in the starting stages of my preventative medication. The lowest option. A week in and today was the first day of full dosage. I started off with half a dose to get used to the medication and especially the side effects of lower heart rate and blood pressure which can cause dizziness when standing up. For now I don't know whether or not this will work. Too soon to tell, but I am hopeful.

I am also hopeful that one day they will find out exactly what causes migraines and how to deal with it swiftly and safely. 

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Naked babies

Every country has its own food habits. I grew up in the Netherlands and even though I have lived abroad for several years, my basic cooking style is always Dutch. With some foreign influences thrown in.

Of course food has names and sometimes those names can be a bit weird. Like the other day, when we had 'naked babies in the grass' for dinner. And before you all call the Dutch police: no real babies were used in this dish. I think.

Basically it's string beans (a type of flat green bean) that is sliced in small strips. They represent the grass. The babies are the white beans that are added. It is a dish that you can get ready made in jars, but when asking my parents about it: my father had never heard of it until he met my mother, whereas my mother had grown up with it.

The other food on the plate? Well, potato with gravy, all mashed up by fork and a lovely sausage. It may not be the prettiest plate of food, but as long as the food tastes good...

Monday 18 March 2019


Remember this kitty? 
A couple of weeks ago I wanted to do more than just sit at home, knit and crochet, watch television and wait for the medical etc. So, I applied at a local animal shelter to give me something to do, even after a job would be secured. I never heard back and then I got ill and everything went out of my head to make room for the M.

My mother then asked me about it one day and I said I hadn't heard anything yet and it must be over two weeks already. My mother turned to the jeu de boules club she is a member of. One of the other members was a volunteer for the shelter and she said that they really needed volunteers and didn't understand. 

She turned into this beautiful lady
The next day I heard back: there had been some website trouble and could I please fill out the form again. This was last week and today I heard back yet again: there will be an intake next week where they will show the shelter and talk through what they do. 

My mother has given me one warning though: under no circumstances am I to take any cat, dog or other critter home, not even temporary. Otherwise I will be out on my backside...

Sunday 17 March 2019

Photo on Sunday 2019-09

We always eat something extra nice on Sunday. Usually it's store bought, this time I thought to make it myself: my apple pie! Mmmmmmm

Thursday 14 March 2019

Another day, another doctor

Today was the day that I had to have my medical. And I must admit, I had some worries. I have been suffering with my knees a bit on occasion, my back has caused severe problems at the end of last year and of course that head of mine!

On arrival, I had to pee in a cup, I was measured both length and size (still too short for my weight, even though I had grown apparently). My eyes were tested, my blood pressure was taken and some basic questions were asked. 

Then it was the turn of the doctor himself. He wanted to know a bit more about my medication, including the new one. He remarked on my weight, wanted to see my endometriosis scar, checked my ears and my knee reflexes. I had to squat and then I had to stand upright and bend over until I touched the floor. In both cases: I did it!

He asked a bit more about the new meds and then I think I was cleared. Healthy enough to do my job. He would be sending the stuff over to head office, who would then issue me with a card that I have to have on me at all times when I am out driving a bus. 

The next step will be to have a chat/interview with the people from the actual bus company and if they say okay, I can start to train as a driver for them. Hopefully not much longer!

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Fighting back

Two skaters in Drenthe, 2012
I remember a cold winter's afternoon. I was still in primary school and must have been about 8 or 9 at the time. We were due to visit my paternal grandparents that day and stay the weekend, but first there was the skating races we were having with our school. Because of the cold the ditches in the park had frozen and it was all perfect. 

Perfect for everybody else but me, as I was cowering in a corner somewhere having a bad headache. It wasn't my first, but usually they came during the night and a children's aspirin would cure them. This time it was during the day and I felt awful.

Seven of us in a shower cubicle, I am the one in yellow.
During my teens I can only think of one time where I had a headache, on a school trip to London. Then during my twenties the headaches became more frequent, but whether that was due to the huge quantities of strong coffee I drank or to the fact that I actually had more migraines? Who knows, but the problem was really born then. 

After moving back to the Netherlands in the early '90s, I used medication for a short while. But being in my early 20's and having to take medication for something that was not life threatening, felt a bit stupid and I stopped taking them. 

Fast forward to now. Migraines have become a very unwanted part of my life. And up to a few years ago I actually worked as normal, even during attacks. Taking aspirins and paracetamols and ibuprofen and whatever over-the-counter meds there are. Nothing ever worked. 

I hope to soon start a new job as a bus driver again. And having to deal with migraines on a fairly regular basis is not something I want to do. So, I am fighting back! This morning I went to my gp and asked for preventative medication. 

From tomorrow I will start on Beta blockers. Again, as I think I had those in my early 20's as well. The first week I will be on half the dose to get used to them and then I will go to regular dose. Fingers crossed they work!

Monday 11 March 2019

A missed photo!

Belfast Zoo, 2018
I just want to apologise to my Norwegian friend for not even posting a photo of a spider. There are not that many around at the moment and I wasn't really feeling up to hunting down the few that may still live in nooks and crannies. I promise I will try to do better!

Anyway, my weekend was mainly spent on the couch doing extremely little. It turns out that the cold I have (not that severe really, although my nose may not agree), was hiding a migraine. And because it was hidden behind the cold, I didn't take the meds in time. By the time I did take them, they had such a hard job to actually work, that it took ages. 

Picking what to have
But, finally on Saturday the M started going down a bit and I was able to at least enjoy some time with just Miss O. Living with parents is all fine and dandy, but sometime you just need some time alone. 

On Sunday I felt okay and the M decided to stay away as well, which was good, because I had promised my mum I would do the laundry and I was going to bake an apple pie because a friend was coming over for the day. 

In the afternoon said friend and I wanted to go to a restaurant and my friend couldn't find her car anymore. That in itself was bad enough, but it was absolutely pouring down! Not the best for me. Fortunately we found the car eventually (about 15-20 minutes) and we made our way to the restaurant. 

It was a Japanese restaurant and they had all sorts of nice small bites. It was really good and next time I hope I won't have a cold so I can enjoy it even more! After dinner I drove home, making sure the car was parked about 10 meters from the front door. She stayed for a while, chatting to my parents who had come home and then left for her family again. It was a good day.

I had two of those: crème brulée!
My favourite! Albeit not very Japanesy
Today I made a start with my course. Of course I jumped ahead and had to backtrack slightly, but I am now on track again with the right bit to do. I will continue that tomorrow and learn some more!

So, that's it from me. Back to reasonable health (the cold is still here). 

Saturday 9 March 2019

While the cat's away...

Well, the cat's still at home, it's the parentals that have left. But playing is not really an option at the moment. The cold I talked about yesterday is quite bad in that it gives me an absolute stinking headache, reminiscent of a migraine. But alas the m-meds didn't work. 

Basically I have to 'sick it out' as they say. So, if you do want to feel sorry for me: please go right ahead! 

Friday 8 March 2019

I missed a day!

I was all set to post something new every day. Or in the case of carnaval: hash over the same subject for three days. 😉 But alas, yesterday it seemed as if there wasn't much to write about. Well, there was, I just never got the energy to do so!

As I mentioned a while ago, I am going back to school, but last week I had a phone call: there weren't enough applicants to the course and it could not be held here in town. They would try to organise it elsewhere, but that would involve traveling and that would mean costs going up. 

In the end I decided to not do that, but I did still want to do the course. A correspondence course it will be. Not my favourite, but I will just have to do it this time. I managed with my Norwegian course back in 2012, so this should be doable as well. After all, it's only six months.

Some school mates from the 1-year course.
This was on an excursion.
I am not a natural learner you see. I graduated from high school in 1989, went on to do a 1-year course (which I only partly passed) and went to work. And I have worked ever since, only doing job related courses since then. 

This course is not job related as such. Yes, it is to do with planning of transport, but mostly on the goods side (lorries), which is different from the people side (buses and coaches). I think there may well be some cross-over, but mostly it will be different. 

The first box of material arrived this week and I hope that once I get rid of this stinking cold (with accompanying H), I will be able to get going properly. 

Wednesday 6 March 2019

The end and the beginning

Yesterday was the end of the feasting and today is the beginning of the fasting (or Lent). The end of feasting was traditionally used to finish off any meat or meat products like fat. So, that's what we did yesterday. 

There were some bacon cubes and fat left over from something or other and as in some countries Shrove Tuesday is Pancake Day (UK mainly), I baked pancakes! And because of the bacon and fat they were a lot more scrumptious than the ones I normally have. 

My parents loved them as well, although my father was complaining about the sugar syrup. It's from Zeeland and he is from Friesland, which is the eternal struggle in this household! My mum buys the first, my dad buys the latter and in my opinion they taste okay, but have nothing on the caramel sugar syrup I like!

At the end of dinner (yes, in the Netherlands they can be eaten for dinner), there was one pancake left over and I thought that I would have that one for breakfast this morning. Wrong! My mum is apparently a pancake lover and had eaten the last one while my dad and I ran an errand last night. Washing the dishes afterwards so we wouldn't notice! A right fiendish action!

By the way, our Dutch pancakes are nothing like those American things. There are countless stories of Americans going to a Dutch pancake house and ordering 10 pancakes, thinking that is not many. As one pancake is the size of a good pizza however... And when you go to a pancake restaurant/boat/mill, they don't just come in pancake, there are fillings galore as well. 

Anyway, that was the feasting done, now for the fasting. I think I will try (see what I did: try) to go without chocolate for Lent. It should be possible, albeit quite hard. We will see how I will fare...