Tuesday 23 April 2019

Of critters and things

We call them 'skull monkeys' in the Netherlands
The English name is squirrel monkey
My sister and I had decided that while she was here, we would do something fun. And there was plenty of choice as well. Amsterdam or nature or a zoo or something else altogether. In the end we picked a zoo. The Wildlands Zoo in Emmen. 

The zoo used to be in the center of town, but as they couldn't expand anymore, they moved to just outside the center. At times it was hard to see animals, because they would be asleep in the sunshine, under the trees, behind some rocks, in the water, in the trees or wherever they were. Other times we were able to get really close up and take some quite nice photos. I think so anyway.

Hippoppotma Hippopotpot Hippo
There were three distinct areas in the zoo: an area dedicated to water/cold with penguins, sea lions, polar bears. An area dedicated to jungle with monkeys, birds, butterflies, fish and Asian elephants. And the third area was dedicated to the plains with lions, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, prairie dogs, wallabies and some others. 

We walked around and I think our favourite was the jungle bit. The squirrel monkeys were 'loose' and you were able to follow them through the trees and bushes and on occasion get really close to them. Butterflies are always fun. 

Baboon mum and child
There were several rides as well. The first one left us decidedly underwhelmed: much work needed to make it halfway decent I felt. The second ride was a boat ride through a jungly bit which was good fun. Several species of monkeys, birds and the Asian elephants were visible. All indoors, so nobody could escape of course!

The camels basking in the sun of the derailed train
In the Serenga area we went on a safari ride. It took about five minutes, but it was good fun. The last ride we did was a rollercoaster. Even Brom screamed, but whether that was because I held him too tight or whether he was scared?

A turtle? Or is it a tortoise?
In Dutch they are both called 'Shield Toad'
We had great fun on our day out in the zoo. It was not like we remembered the old zoo to be, but on reflection, several areas looked a lot more natural. Giving animals more room and trying to mimic their natural habitat in any way is always good.  

King of the jungle having a lazy day

Monday 22 April 2019

Liberating the bed

The old bed waiting for the rainbow
It's been a while. I have been doing some work, some volunteering and then on Friday, my sister arrived. Me and my mother knew about her coming, however not my father. 

Firstly on Friday however, there was a little job to do. In the morning my mum and I went grocery shopping. I had to be home on time though, as I had rented a van for a few hours. The bed my parents got when they first married was finally going to take a trip over the rainbow. It was low, it was old and the mattress on it, albeit newer than the actual bed, was not good anymore either. In its stead we were going to put my lovely guest bed. 

Enjoying Easter Monday
When I get my own place, it will remain here as well, as I won't really need it. The only one coming to stay will be my sister and perhaps a friend here and there and when the latter happens, there are other options as well. But for now it means that instead of a low, old, hard bed, there is a higher, newer, softer bed. And I can move out of my single and move into my double!

However, it was not easy locating the bed. I had picked up my sister from the train station and had texted my dad to say I had picked up my friend C and was now heading to the storage. If he wanted to help, he was welcome. My mum hitched a ride with him as well, so we could all see his reaction when he saw his youngest daughter (me being the eldest). I think he was pleased. 

We then set forth in 'liberating the bed' as my sister had so poetically put it. It took a bit of time to get to where we had to be, as it was, of course, right at the back. But we got there, liberated it and loaded it up in the van. We drove home, unloaded and returned the rental car. 

The new bed, albeit without the high top end which won't fit.
No idea where the bedside tables are either...
On our return we had to get the new bed upstairs and put it together. Which took some time as we had to decide which way it was going to face. That done however, it was made and ready for my sister for a few nights. From tonight I will be sleeping on it though. And I can spread out again...

Sunday 21 April 2019

Monday 15 April 2019


In front of the train station in Groningen
When I first moved back to the Netherlands, I pretty soon saw an ad on the telly about a show. It was a show that I had always wanted to see, but it was quite pricey and of course I was without income! So, it was something to be done at some other time at some other place. But, I did promise myself that if I were to get a job before the show was finished in the Netherlands, I would try and get a ticket.

Well, I got a job. Which means income. And the minute I got the job, I sat myself behind the computer and checked out this show. Were there still tickets? How much dough would I have to fork out? Would I do it? The answers were: yes, a lot, YES! 

The stage
On Saturday I made my way to Groningen. By train as that was cheaper and cheaper still as there had been a sale of day tickets (day ticket was cheaper than a single ticket) which I enjoyed very much. First I did some shopping where I kept my money in my purse, then on to the theater where I was nice and early. 

I bought a program as I always buy a program. In fact I still have the programs of all the other shows I ever went to and bought a program from. I was seated quite high up, but still had a good view over the stage. And then the show started. Jellicle cats...

Yes, I had bought myself a ticket to the musical Cats. And not just any performance, a performance in English (with surtitles in Dutch) by the West End people themselves. I thought it was a brilliant show and well worth the lot I forked out for it. 

Sunday 14 April 2019

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Itching and scratching

Before I left Northern Ireland, I had a tiny little bother on my hand. Nothing serious, nothing I could see really. It was just a small itch between the knuckles of my pinkie and ring finger on my right hand. And when you have an itch... you scratch! Well, I do anyway.

The itch didn't go away though. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse. In fact it got so bad that I was actually scratching until bleeding! By that time other itches had sprung up as well, on my left hand this time. In the end, and after another bleeder, I headed to see the doctor who prescribed me some very oily salve/ointment/cream. High in whatever hormones, they seemed to do the trick. Albeit leaving me with greasy hands*. 

Fast forward a few days and the hands are doing fine. They are starting to heal and look nice again, especially the right (which looked awful). And where I wore gloves the first time I worked at the shelter, the second time that wasn't necessary anymore. 


I would have been better off with a complete bodysuit I think. Because on the evening of my second day at the shelter, I started to have an itch. And as I felt around for it, I realised it wasn't the itch I had had on my hands. This was a different itch. I showed my mum who told me to show my dad. Both said: shingles. Not what I wanted to hear because I still hear the horror stories of my mum who had to deal with a bout last year. 

This morning however, it didn't look like shingles to either my mum or my dad and personally I don't think it's that either. I think it's something to do with little critters. As in fleas, mosquitoes and the like. And boy, did they get me!**

I have five on my chest that itch. I have five around my waist that seem to be okay-ish. I have two in my neck that sometimes itch. I have two on my leg that itch. Plus one on my wrist. Oh, and the one hidden beneath my sock. And for the fun of it: I just found another one on my wrist!!

When I have an itch, I want to scratch. I shouldn't, but I am (apparently) only human...

*It was deemed to be a case of eczema, something I have never suffered from before.
** I react quite violently to bites, not just a tiny prick, but a massive red and swollen area that itches terribly.

All photos taken at the Orchid Farm

Tuesday 9 April 2019

The shelter

Today was my second day of volunteering at the shelter. Both times my main 'job' was to clean cat enclosures. They have several, ranging from new incoming, happy with the world, stressed about the world, sick, feral, kittens and paying guests. All need cleaning and most of the cats need and want attention. Most, as some cats that come in are only there for a few short days, neutered and put back in the wild (the feral or semi-feral cats).

Most cats I saw today did want attention. Although they will let you know when the attention is enough or the wrong type like cleaning where they are sitting. Can't be helped and I am not afraid of a scratch or two. 

I also had to clean a feral enclosure and then boards are used to separate the areas within the enclosure. Those cats can be quite angry and hissy and you don't want to get on the wrong side of them. A scratch or two is fine, but having a feral cat sticking all its four claws in your face and biting? Not really.

It is tiring work, especially if you are as unfit as I am, but it is good fun and I do get to meet some people. Some of them volunteer like me, others have a short or long internship where they learn about different aspects of looking after animals. And there are a few people who actually have a job at the shelter and get paid for what they do. 

I am not doing this whenever I feel like it though, I do this every Tuesday and have told my current driving job as well: never available on Tuesday. The only real downside is that I have to get out of bed early. In my regular job I have to leave the house at around 9 or 9.30 in the morning, depending on the shift. This shelter job I have to leave at 7.45! *Yawn*

Monday 8 April 2019


I was doing pretty well with the whole posting blogs thing. Regularly and to some degree even interesting. Despite not having the most exciting life as I had no job and was basically sitting at home day in day out. Then last week I started a job and from then on: nothing, not even telling you about my first day at the shelter! Tsk tsk.

Anyway, my first week in the job was okay. I didn't hit anything, I was mostly on time, I did my job. Then on Friday night I got a call: could I do an extra job on Sunday? I thought about it and then decided that no, I couldn't/wouldn't. Find somebody else please. 

The yellow bits belong to the cruise ship
They phoned back on Saturday: what about the other job instead of? Well, that was okay. I mean, one of the reasons my life in Northern Ireland wasn't the best, was because I was working long hours. No point in starting to recreate that over here and perhaps getting the same problems again as well. 

Today is a day off though. After 8 days of work (2, one volunteer day, 5) that was quite welcome. This week should be a bit easier with a treat coming up on Saturday, which I am really looking forward to. 

Of course now I still haven't told you about the work in the shelter, nor did I mention anything about getting itchy. Stories for another day...

Tuesday 2 April 2019

A bendy one

I used to drive these bendy buses. Not at the same time obviously!
Or a harmonica one. The bus I mean. It bends somewhere in the middle. And yes, I had driven those types of buses in the past as well. Albeit an older model and of a different manufacturer, which means they 'move' differently. But I would have to get used to it, as it was what was used. 

I arrived bright and early on Sunday morning though. Waiting for me was another driver who was going to train me. A new system, only electronic payments and a slightly different route. Plus of course a bus with the steering wheel on the other side to what I have been used to the last couple of months. 

I started driving and I pretty quickly realised: not a problem. A big sigh of relief from me I can tell you. I had been quite worried about it, especially after what I had dealt with in Northern Ireland. But, it all went fine and even though the first couple of runs were still a bit nervy, afterwards it seemed as if I had always driven a Dutch bus (ie steering wheel left and driving on the right).

At the the bus stop in Steenwijk, not in China!!
So, the trip itself then. Mainly (Chinese) tourists going to visit the lovely village of Giethoorn. Also called Dutch Venice as a lot of the village can only be reached by footpaths or waterways. No cars at all! It truly is a delightful village and no wonder that so many tourists have found their way as well. I didn't get to take any photos, because as I said: only footpaths and waterways!

Fortunately the scenery I drive through isn't bad either. The village is located in an area with some lakes and we drive past some of them. Right now there are a lot of geese and the trees are still quite bare, but soon the geese will head further north and the trees and countryside will change to lush green with (hopefully) flowers. 

The upside of the job? I don't have to get out of bed at ridiculous times (like 7 am like this morning) and I don't work late that much either. There are only two late shifts (3.30pm to 9.45pm) and those two happen in the weekend. I will be doing one this coming Sunday. But mainly day shifts, so quite happy with that.

One of the many small boats in Giethoorn (photo from 1999)
The downside of the job? It may get a bit boring after a while, doing the same route between 5 and 8 times a day. But, yesterday I had to explain in French that we were not in Amsterdam anymore! That changes it again as well. In general though: it will be good fun, it will pay the bills and it keeps me off the streets. Or on. You know what I mean!

Monday 1 April 2019

Town Hall

On Saturday we had this official 'welcome' to the town of Zwolle and we were invited to the Town Hall in the center of town. This used to be the place to get your new passport and driver's licence, where you had to record birth, marriages and deaths and lots of other things. 

Things change however and the building wasn't big enough anymore. They now have a purpose-built town hall where they do most of that, but the old town hall is still standing and in use. 

The main thing still happening in the old town hall is the ceremonial stuff. And the meetings of mayor and council people. The latter takes place in a nice modern extension to the building, but the former takes place in one of the old parts of the building. The original so to say.

Today's photos are all that room. When I went in there, I recognised it, but I had to think long and hard before remembering I once attended a wedding ceremony there and who the people were. 

The top photo shows the area where the person who performs the ceremony stands. The swords in the cabinet hung right next to that area. The little cabinet below that (or the door in the wall) was not the only one: there were three more. I wonder what was behind them. I loved the clock very much. I just wonder whether that was a complete clock inside the wall or just the front. The last photo shows some of the art work on the wall. 

And then underneath the ceiling you can see little figurines which were quite difficult to get on my little point and shoot. 

Tomorrow more about my first day at work.