Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Standing by!

Through all this work, I missed Doctor Who on Sunday!
Just in case there were more people than seats! Famous last words. In the end I hadn't even started my shift yet and I was already on the move. Not to one of the stations we would normally travel to, but a completely different one. I didn't even know they had a station, I had never been there before and the help I got was of the 'haven't you got a satnav?' variety. Well, they do have a station, I have now been there twice and it was easy enough to find. 

Getting back after my second trip, I parked up and settled in. Half an hour later there was a knock on the door: could I do a trip. The regular route please. Off I went. After a couple of hours I got back (I had to have a break as well) and settled in again. Took out the knitting and got stuck into it. And I was able to go for quite a while before again: could I do...

Off I went again. When I got back again, I was about to settle for the last hour and a bit, but this time, there was to be no rest: could I do... Of course, but I wasn't coming back this time! After dropping everybody off, it was straight home for me. I got a yes for that and off I went. 

In the end I was home half an hour earlier than planned, which was fine by me, because even though I had done less driving than during the weekend, I still did some and again in some terrible weather. Today I have a day off and tomorrow's shift has been changed. Originally it started at some dogforsaken hour in the middle of the night. Now it starts an hour and a half later (still yawningly early) and it finishes earlier. Less hours perhaps, but better for me. 

Monday, 24 February 2020


Trainstation on the right, coaches waiting on the left
Well, after more than a week without doing much apart from knitting, I got back to work. And talk about being thrown into the deep end. Two full days and a third one coming up today. And when I say full days: I mean full days, as both of them were up to 13 hours! Most of it consisting of driving as well. 

Which might explain the title of this post, because it was tiring. The first day not so much, but yesterday was awful. The weather certainly didn't help either, as it was absolutely bucketing it down when I started my day. That got a bit better over the course of the day, but the wind wasn't as quick to follow. 

Not a pond, just a track that was completely flooded next to where we parked
We had storm Ciara two weekends ago. Then last weekend was storm Dennis. This weekend it was a nameless storm, but it was very clear it should have had a name. It was awful. Very strong winds, but also massive gusts of wind that would shake the bus. I really had to keep both hands on the wheel and hold on tight to adjust for every gust that buffeted us. 

Later on in the afternoon it died down a bit, but for this afternoon they are expecting more rain and more wind. Great! Fortunately I have a stand-by shift, which means I am only called upon to do something if the passenger number exceeds the amount of room on the coaches, which leave every five minutes or so. Yesterday I had several empty runs and I would think today they would have more coaches booked, it being a week day. 

Anyway. I was glad to get home last night and was even happier to see my bed. This afternoon I will get going again for another day 'on the buses trains'. Don't worry: the knitting is coming as well...

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Getting on

Well, is there a lot to tell? Not really, although some things did happen. First me and my parents went to the cinema. My parents had won tickets (4 in total) to a film of choice and in the first instance it would just be my mum and me. But when we started talking about the film we wanted to see, my dad wanted to come too.

The film we went to see was 'De beentjes van Sint Hildegard' (The Bones of St Hildegard). A Dutch film with a famous (in the Netherlands) comedian in it. A film about promises and life and death. Very recognisable to most people in that room (all about my parents' age I would say). And even though it was a Dutch film, it was subtitled in Dutch as well, as the main characters all spoke in dialect! A brilliant film and if you are Dutch and ever get the chance to see this: DO!

A whole afternoon was spent gathering together paperwork. Not just any paperwork: Norwegian and UK paperwork. Great! Fortunately most of it was on my computer and only needed printing, but some of it is in storage and there is no way I can get to it without getting everything out, which I am not going to do. So, I sent it off with some bits missing, but with an explanation as to why. Hopefully that is enough to convince them that I am truthful.

If they don't believe me on all the official evidence so far, I won't get more than three months' unemployment, ie until early May. If they do believe me, I might get more. Until the new job starts of course. When that is I still don't know yet, but most likely I will get an offer (pay, hours, start date) by early March. At least that's what they told a friend who was also accepted. 

Other than that I have been knitting a lot. The baby's dress is nearly finished and only requires buttons and a label. The accompanying 'knickers' only need one more leg to finish and then the set will be ready. It has nearly cost me my finger though: those needles are thin and sharp!

And while I sat at home knitting, somebody realised I was sitting at home not working and called me: did I want to work? This weekend? Next week? Which in the end meant that this weekend I will be working both days to the extent of some 26 hours in total. Next week I will be working four days to the extent of 40+ hours! Goodness me. 

Monday, 17 February 2020

The joys of crafting

A project on the go (on hold due to it being in storage)
As I have some time on my hands right now, I have really gotten stuck into my knitting. Not that it shows much at the moment, because I chose to make something that was a bit bigger than I normally make. A little dress for a three-month old baby. I found the pattern on a Norwegian site and that meant I had to translate the whole thing into Dutch.

I would read each sentence several times, making sure I had understood before actually attempting to do. Because as every knitter will know: do it wrong and it is double the work to undo it, unlike crochet where there is only 1 stitch.

Unfortunately I didn't have the right size circular needle, so made the whole thing on two needles. I counted, I knitted, I progressed and then put the work aside (as instructed). I then went on to make the sleeves on double pointed needles. Which I did have in the right size. 

This was supposed to become a cushion, but only got as far as this stage
It is now in storage
Those needles definitely were the right size. To stick between my fingers! As in: stick one in the fleshy/webby bit between middle and ring finger. Ouch. A drop of blood was all however, so no big deal. 

At the fair I did manage to get a proper sized circular needle as well and the rest of the dress went smoothly. Not always completely to my liking, but about 99% the way it was supposed to go. The end result looks really pretty, especially from the front. The back does need some work and the next time I will be using my circular needle to make it nicer looking. 

So, apart from the slight discomfort caused by sticking a size 3 knitting needle in my hand, the dress is nearly finished and looks good. 

And talking about little craft accidents: here's an account by Angel Madi's Mom of what NOT to do with a crochet needle. Just in case you were thinking about using it in that manner. 

Have you ever had any mishaps with your crafting?

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-07

I wanted to make a little film of all these photos, but as I am digitally challenged, you will have to do with the photos themselves of how to 'unmake' a mouse!

Saturday, 15 February 2020


This weekend it's the annual craft fair in my home town. A big doodah with lots of stands that sell things you want. Like yarns. And more yarns. Ooh, and there is another stall with beautiful yarn. 

I had set myself a budget and when that money was gone, that was it. But you know how it goes: another offer you can't refuse. And more beautiful yarn finds its way into your bag. 

It's not as if I don't have enough yarn. The amount I brought from Norway via Northern Ireland is already quite a stash. Although granted, part of that is still in storage, packed away in boxes. But another large part is over here. 

My mum and I visited a store in the autumn and I managed to grab some nice yarns there. Then I bought some yarn in Northern Ireland during my visit to my sister back in December. It was touch and go whether I could take it all with me! 

But, I have started on some of the stash. Of course the mice are an ongoing project, but they don't dent the stash that much. Some of the autumn-bought yarn is now being used, to make a baby's dress no less! 

I will get through my newest stash before I know it probably. Looking at the top photo: there are cottons on the left for two teddies: a brown one and a pink one. There is some wool mix next to that (the round balls) that will make another little baby's dress. 

More cottons (red, black and blue in the bag) for one or two cardigans. Then the two cream yarns are for the mice (their faces). Next to that, are two skeins of Nepalese silk, which will make a beautiful scarf. And the green yarn at the bottom is a lovely Merino. 

You can also see two swatches of fabric. What they will be used for is at this point in time a mystery, but it won't spoil.

Thursday, 13 February 2020


Yes, this too is Amsterdam! Overlooking the Minerva Harbour.
Even though I do love driving a coach, there are certain places where I don't like to go. Big cities mainly. So, when the planner called on Tuesday asking whether I wanted to do a shuttle service in Amsterdam I was less than enthusiastic. But he said it would be fine.

Which meant that on Wednesday I made my way to Amsterdam with a nice bus. I got to the train station where I had to be: nobody there. I then made my way to the place I had to shuttle all those nobodies to. Where they told me where to be at the train station. I drove back and lo and behold: somebodies!

It was easy after that. The distance was about 2 miles one way, the passengers (students) were nice and polite and after only two runs I was done. For the time being anyway. I would have to shuttle them back again later in the day and pick up another load of students again.

In the end I shuttled several loads of students back and forth and on my last trip even got to see the center of Amsterdam. It was dark so I didn't see much, but I did see it had changed a tremendous amount since I had last been there. And then I drove the bus home, before driving the van home before driving my own car home and collapsing into bed.

I still don't like driving a coach in Amsterdam though!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

And another stomach twister...

As I have said before, the last week and a half or so have been an absolute roller coaster for me. But not just for me, for all my colleagues working directly or indirectly (like me) for the same company. Let me pick up where I left off...

Last Monday I worked for my normal agency, but at the end of the day, the agency said: no more. They didn't get any guarantees that they would be paid for me. So I was basically unemployed. My choices at that point were several and in the end I did pursue two of the avenues open to me. 

First I contacted another agency and they were willing to have a chat. So on Wednesday morning I made my way to their office for a chat. After having left my details (all the official paperwork and such as well), I drove home again. I had barely pulled up at home when the planner called: I was back in and could I go...

So, barely a day after losing my job in one place, I had a new one elsewhere. Albeit working for the same company. That Wednesday evening I left the garage with a coach to go and pick up some people who were in Germany. Deep in Germany. Like, close to the Polish border Germany! The closest at one point was 700 meters! Anyhoo.

My massive room in Germany
I arrived in the middle of the night and as I didn't have to pick up the group until 8 pm, I stayed in a hotel for the remainder of the night/rest of the day. Later that day I picked up the group, drove back (around 700 km) and finally arrived home again around 8 in the morning. Tired!

The weekend was spent recuperating from those three days and then today (ie Tuesday) the news arrived. Bankrupt. The company I have spent most of bus driving life with (nearly 14 years before Emigration and 10 months since coming back) has gone bust. 

For the next six weeks solutions will be sought for complete or partial take-overs. Until then no new work can be accepted and the old work has to be done by the employees of the company before hiring me and other agency workers. It will mean less and less work over the coming weeks.

Giving the passengers a break on a dark service station in the middle of the night
The second avenue I pursued was the unemployment office. I already knew I would be entitled to pay-out, but I wanted to wait until the agency came back to me. However, even after they did, I decided to apply for unemployment, as I don't know how many hours I will make. 

If they do grant me unemployment, they will pay the difference from the average before (around 30 hours a week) to the worked hours in the 'newer' job. So, if I only make 20 hours this week, it will be rounded up to 30, albeit at 75%. 

There are a few strings attached to getting unemployment though: I have to actively search for work. The fact that I already have a job offer is neither here nor there, as it was made before I lost the job and it's not set in stone just yet. 

I might just come and get you...
So, the world is stormy and not just thanks to Ciara (the storm that just passed my part of the world). My head is still okay though...

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Photo on Sunday 2020-06

It had been a while since I had stayed in a hotel for work, but this one definitely did not disappoint. It was big and thanks to the ear plugs I carried with me, I had a decent rest before heading out again. And no, that door at the far end did not lead to a bathroom, but to a walk-in closet!

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Options on an anniversary

 I am not moving again!!
Yesterday it was exactly one calendar year ago that I arrived back in the Netherlands. Last year it was on a Sunday, this year obviously a Monday. When I arrived back, I had no place to live other than with my parents, no job and little prospects. My head was in turmoil and I was still wondering whether I had made the right decision moving back.

One year on and one thing is for certain: I did make the right decision. Very much so. My recent visit to my sister proved it: lovely to visit, don't want to live there again! One year on and I was doing fine job wise as well: a steady job lined up for this spring/summer and I would be working until then. 

Well, that was last week anyway. Yes, the steady job lined up is still there, but the one until then has had a bit of a change. Before the weekend: not working this week. On Saturday: working this week. On Monday (while working): not working anymore. The news on Saturday had been that the temping agencies had made an agreement with the company. Turns out: only the one who has the most drivers working for them. The agency I work for only has one driver (ie me) and that's it. 

Which in turn meant that I am now unemployed. To a degree anyway as there are options open of course. Continue to work with absolutely no guarantee of getting paid. Change agencies. Go on the dole. Work elsewhere. 

The first option is a no-go. I would be losing money, which is counter-productive. Option 2 is something I am now looking into with everything crossed. The third option is not something I would want to do, but is a viable option. And the last option is a possibility. Albeit with some major strings attached. 

At the moment my commute to work is about 25 km or 45 km depending on where the bus is parked. This is one way. Takes about half an hour. If I were to work elsewhere (temporary), the most local one is not an option as they, quite rightly, don't think it's in their best interest to train me up, only to loose me in a couple of months' time. So, less local. Like Amsterdam or Purmerend. Between 100 and 125 km one way. No chance you do that daily up and down, so it would have to have a stay-over of one or two nights. So, options a-plenty, not sure which one it will turn out to be. 

One thing that has changed since last year is that my mood hasn't been affected as much by all this hullabaloo. It is what it is, I can't do much about it and I just need to go with the flow. If anything, that's a result!

Monday, 3 February 2020

A long-haired roaring Jet?

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have seen a photo of my mother recently. The same one that is at the top of this post in fact and the reactions were both warming and funny. So, here's the story of my mother's visit to the hospital...

Quite a while ago now, my mother noticed a small fluid filled lump on her finger. At first it wasn't that bothersome, but as time went on, the lump became bigger and would hinder her in her hobby: making lace. Thin threads and lumps don't go together you see. Off she went to the doctor. It was a ganglion*, which needed to be surgically removed.

A few weeks ago I took my mother to see the surgeon, or so we thought anyway. Turned out it was somebody who confirmed the gp's diagnosis: ganglion that needed to be surgically removed. *Sigh*

And then last week, the time had finally come that my mother would have her ganglion removed. Nervous (as if!) she and my dad were off to hospital, where the offending lump would get the chop. A bit of narcotic and off they went. Ouch! More narcotic and off they went again. Ouch! More and this time it went fine until Ouch! Finally after the fourth dose it seemed to do the trick and they were able to remove the lump.

She came home with her finger packed up like that. The next day the bandage came off though and now it is only wrapped in a small bandage and a small plastic splint. Which she has to wear for two weeks. Which in turn means: no washing up, and little dinner making...

I knew there was a catch somewhere!

*A ganglion cyst is a small sac of fluid that forms over a joint or tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). Inside the cyst is a thick, sticky, clear, colourless, jellylike material. It occurs mainly on the wrist, but can be found on other parts of the hand, although the top of the finger as in my mother's case is quite uncommon. Just popping the sac to remove the fluid is of no use, once the sac is closed again, it will fill up immediately.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Saturday, 1 February 2020

A roller coaster week

On Monday I was due to make my way to a bar/restaurant/office building. Shortly after arriving I was called in by a psychologist. What were my strong points, what were my weak points, why did I think I would be good for the job. At the end she said that 'if I couldn't do it, her clog would break'. It's a Dutch expression, but it was a good sentiment.

I had only been sat at the table for a couple of minutes, when I was called by somebody else. This time the talk was with two people: one from HR and the other a manager. Why did I want the job? Would I be willing to work all hours of the day? You know the drill. 

At the end of those two chats I felt quite optimistic, but you never know do you, with job interviews.

On Tuesday there was nothing out of the ordinary really. Unless you count the time it took for a group to load up (luggage and all) and me moving off again: two minutes!! 

On Wednesday I had the visit to Kamp Westerbork, which I told you about on Thursday. A really interesting talk and a good visit. That evening as I got home, I saw that I had received an email: the Monday people thought they had had a lovely chat with me and thought I would be a good fit for the company. I got the job!! Yeah! Details yet to be confirmed.

On Thursday I was off. For a very specific reason: get tickets to Eurovision. Last time I was way late and didn't stand a chance. This time I left nothing to chance: I was at my computer at 9 am, logging in. On the other side of the pond, my sister did the same, albeit a bit later. Twelve noon came and within minutes my sister said she got lucky! She was in for the second of the semi-finals. Alas, the payment didn't work out and she ran out of time. Then she says: I am lucky again, this time for the first semi-final. She got the tickets!

Not long after that I got lucky as well and managed to secure tickets to the second semi-final. We held out for the final after that, but one by one they popped up saying: sold out! Perhaps for the best as well: they were seriously expensive! The money we are saving now will be used to go swimming with the sharks or abseiling from the Euromast in Rotterdam. Ahem.

On Friday again it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We were on time, the client was on time, everybody was happy. In the evening however, I got a phone call from a colleague. We talk quite often as we get along well, but this time the news was not good. He is also a temp, albeit for a different agency and he and all his colleagues had been recalled due to non payment. 

I checked my emails and saw one that was quite worrying from the company I work for now and shortly after that I got a phone call from the planner: the chances of payment were slim, did I want to work Saturday and next week. Well, next week is a definite no-no unless there are serious guarantees, Saturday is okay, with the hope the temping agency is willing to pay me anyway. Unfortunately I have not been able to get in touch with my contact at the agency (it's the weekend), so it's not that good. 

I have still not been in touch with anybody from the agency unfortunately. I am quite worried about today, but I still think I will go ahead with it. 

It's the future at this point. I should have been off anyway, but now there is nothing waiting at the other side of Sunday! Next week will be a year since I arrived and I am basically back to square one. Albeit with some prospects that are definitely good.

What a roller coaster week!