Friday, 29 January 2021


There are times when living with my parents during a lockdown, however great my parents are, just gets to me a bit. And as work is now a bit less due to that very same lockdown, I thought I chance it and get a few days extra off. 

One phone call later and I was the proud 'owner' of a week off. Well, eight days to be exact. And they start today! But, as I said in the first paragraph: living with my parents gets to me a bit. So, I looked around for somewhere to go. 

In the end the choice was between two areas of the country: the Highlands or the Islands. And no, I haven't moved to Scotland! The Highlands are basically the highest parts of the Netherlands, down South, between Germany and Belgium. Have you heard of André Rieu? Well, he is from that area.

The Islands are the complete opposite as they are in the North and located in the 'Waddenzee'. Fresh sea breezes, birds aplenty, perhaps even a seal or two. Plus a ferry to get there. In the end my choice was...

The Highlands! 

And that is where I am going today and I am not coming back until next Friday. By which time I hope to have plenty of stories, plenty of photos and a very relaxed Mara. Brom and Mouse are coming, Miss O is not. She doesn't do traveling.

There will be walking, some sightseeing, a trip to Germany and Belgium (well, one step into either country, max), television, films, chocolate, perhaps some alcohol, a fire in the fire place and plenty more. Oh, and did I mention chocolate?

See you next week!

Photos all taken during my first River Vecht walk

Monday, 25 January 2021

The first of many

Last Thursday I made my way to the bus stop close to home and took the bus into town. From there I was going to walk the first bit of a route that is well over 200 km. The Dutch part is about 90 km, the German part would be the rest. But, I felt I would start with the Dutch part first. Mostly because international travel is not possible for 'just a walk'. 

The walk is called the 'Valley of the Vecht Route' and leads you along the River Vecht (or Vechte in German) and its surrounding area. When I looked at it more closely it was actually amazing how much of the river I would actually get to see. 

St Michael in front of the Great or St Michael's Church

Case in point: the first stretch, in which I did not get to see it at all! I saw other waterways, most notably the one the Vecht is emptying into, but not the river itself. Mind you, I only did about 12,5 km, and I know the next stretch will lead me towards it and along it.

The start point was in the center of town and by the second sign I had already missed a fair few as I was just walking about a bit. Fortunately I know the center and was able to make my way to the part where I needed to come out, but it was still a bit annoying as I might have seen some more nice things along the way. They will have to wait until another day.

The cycle route and the walking route overlap at points

The day itself was windy. Very very windy. But the sun was out for most of the walk, my legs felt fresh (for the first three km anyway) and I went for it. And went for it. And went for it. By the end, I felt myself lagging a bit, as it was further than I had done before.

I had gone for that route for two reasons really: Firstly, I want to do something that does have a particular goal, in this case the source of the River Vecht. My second reason was to test myself and more importantly the knee. How would it fare on a longer stretch? I know the knee will hurt afterward, that is nothing new, but how long will it bother me after that? 

When I started walking again last June, even a short distance would then see me barely move for four to five days, recovering from the pain. As time went on, the recovery period lessened, even though the distances grew. And I am glad to say that this time around it was much the same: only one day of real pain, one day of moderate pain and then I was right as rain again.

As I have very thick/fat knees (can't remember a time when I didn't), wearing braces has proved to be nearly impossible. They just don't fit and if I do get it around, it will tear easily. I tried a brace bandage as well and that was even worse as it kept loosening and falling off!

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Step by step

As you know my goal for this year was to reach (at least) 790.8 kilometers and so far I am doing fine. The goal for the first month is getting in sight and I still have about two weeks left of this month! Not that it is all plain sailing. 

For the past few weeks I have changed the source of the walks from the forestry commission to a general network of walks. And not one of those walks has really met the standards of the forestry commission. Missing signs, vandalised signs and last Saturday I found half of the walk was closed of, which was not mentioned online.

I could understand the why: to give migrating birds time to rest and come spring, time to nest and raise their young. Apparently. As the path was closed from October 1st until April 15th. Not many birds have raised their young by then I think. 

Anyway, that missing part was annoying to say the very least. I had done the worst or ugliest part first, so I could end up by walking along the dyke and see plenty of birds in and around the river delta. I had been looking forward to it. So, when the gate was closed and I read the sign, I was a bit peeved off. Had I known it in advance, I would have picked another walk elsewhere.

Inflatable rubber dam that is used in case of high water.
Another walk I did, saw me lose my way three times. Fortunately I knew the general direction of where I was supposed to go, so I did find it again, but if it had been in a place where I knew nothing, it would have been a different matter and taken the enjoyment out of the walk.

The one thing that is bothering me sometimes is the knee. It keeps hurting after longer walks, although it is now recovering quicker than it did at the beginning. And as I tell my parents: whether I do a three, five or nine kilometer walk: the pain is the same, so I might as well do the longer walk.

Photos were taken on the walk where a part was closed off. It was cold that day and the sky grey with snow laden skies.

Monday, 18 January 2021


On my recent 'Friends' post, Anvilcloud posted a comment which went as follows: Do you wish that you had stayed in Norway, or at least have stayed longer and not gone to Ireland?

It was a question which I have had before and every time I have given a 'sort of' answer. This time however, I will attempt to give you a proper honest answer. 

My life in Norway was pretty good. Especially on the social side I was doing fine with friends and nice colleagues that I actually did things with. Swimming, walking, cycling, even on occasion going out. I still miss that a lot. 

The work side of things was not that great which had more to do with me than with the job if I am going to be honest. That especially made me think about moving to be closer to my sister a bit more often. Then my mum got sick (all better now) and it hit home even more. And that's when I did the wrong thing.

What I should have done was look at my options, do my research, the way I had done when I moved out to Norway (even though that was inadequate as well). Research into the job I eventually got would have been a bit pointless, as it was a new company. However, research into the country I was moving to would definitely have been a good move. What actually happened was that I moved within the space of six weeks!

The fact that my sister already lived there got me over the line faster than it would have done otherwise. In fact, had my sister not lived in Northern Ireland, I would never have contemplated even to move there. Scotland, Wales, England: yes. Northern Ireland: no. 

To be clear here: Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and Ireland is a separate country to the south. I had severe prejudices about Northern Ireland. And in my time there, I barely got to meet enough people to prove me wrong. The fact that I worked all the time didn't help either. 

Do I wish that I had stayed in Norway then? Not so much, yet subconsciously.... I dream about Norway and moving to Norway a lot. In different forms, guises and such, but a lot. Should I have stayed longer? Yes. Definitely. 

Do I wish I had never moved to Northern Ireland? No, I don't. Even if it was a failure, I did give it a go and did learn more about myself. Should I then have moved back to Norway instead of to the Netherlands? No, as that would have meant being far from family yet again.

The big question now is: will I ever move abroad again and where to in that case? Never say never of course, but for now the answer is no. I don't know what the future will hold and perhaps in two years time you will find me back in Norway, but for now my home is in the Netherlands. Even if it is only an attic room at my parents'...

All photos taken on a recent walk in and around Kampen

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Photo on Sunday 2021-02

White roll with smoked salmon and a cold chocolate milk (the only real one). My reward after one of my walks.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021


To Preikestolen with one of my friends
As you may know I spent a few years living and working in Norway. The first few months were hard and I did lose weight as I didn't know what was good to eat and what wasn't. Once I had found out, the weight came back. 

However, it wasn't until my sister came for the second or third time that I learned about the great Bamsemums. Basically chocolate covered marshmallows in the shape of teddy bears. She loved them and soon got me hooked. Not too often, but on occasion I could eat a whole bag of them.

I bite the head off first!
Fast forward to last year. As my sister could not come and see us for the third time in a row, we decided to get her a December box. Basically an advent calendar that went on until December 31st. Containing lots of useful things like hankies, chocolates, ginger nuts, pens and several other things. Accompanied by short badly written poems.

There was however one thing I needed my Norwegian friends for: Bamsemums. So, I put out a plea to them and within ten minutes one of my friends had promised to send some. Half of which I duly sent on to my sister. 

Then yesterday a package arrived. Containing clothes that I had ordered. In a smaller size as I am losing weight you see. But next to that package was another one. Huh? Oh, it was from Norway! 

My friends and former colleagues in Norway had pooled together and bought lots of different Norwegian chocolate, including several more bags of Bamsemums. The chocolate is great, the friends even better!

And as my mum said: the clothes will keep! 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The state of affairs part 2

I liked these and was quite ticked off when they broke.

The next new thing is about my glasses. I had trouble seeing the screens in the bus when wearing sunglasses. They were polarised and it meant that some things needed to be tilted slightly in order to see. Annoying when you are driving and you have to keep turning your head to actually use the navigational tool (see the second photo of yesterday's post).

Then my regular glasses broke. Well, the leg of one came off and could not be fixed anymore. I had some spare pair that I used, but I knew it was time to get my eyes checked again anyway. When I got my glasses back in 2018 in Northern Ireland I was told/warned that I would probably need multifocal glasses next time, but I wanted to keep that at bay for a while longer: finances you know!
A great Christmas present

I had my eyes checked at the optician's and as he prepared to put the final pair on my face to see how they suited, he gave me a piece of paper to read as well. As I was struggling my way through it, he also put another bit on the end and all of a sudden I could read. Multifocal it was...

I ordered six pairs again, as there was a deal going: get three, pay for one. My only gripe about the whole glasses at that point was that they were all so big. Over the past few years I have worn glasses that were quite nice and fairly small. The new ones are nearly double the size and even after a week and a half I am not liking them. However, unless I am willing to fork out lots of money (I am not), these will have to do for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, not my favourite size: they show the bags under my eyes more!

What about the glasses themselves though? I had only gone multifocal on my regular glasses and that was hard enough. I am slowly getting used to them and when reading and watching television they are great. For walking I am still on the fence, even though I do wear them. The first couple of days were really tough though. They tired me out tremendously and even now I notice the difference, although it is getting less noticeable.

Monday, 11 January 2021

The state of affairs part 1

With new buses comes a new uniform, even though the dark blue is a remnant of the old one as the new one has still not arrived.

There are a few things I have neglected to tell you about for the past month and I felt it was time to remedy that. Starting with electricity.

I can see you thinking now: electricity? What? Have I touched a live wire and gone doolally? No, but I have gone electric. Well, not me personally of course, but the company I work for. Starting on December 13th, I now drive for the company with the largest electric bus fleet of the world. It will be overtaken I am sure, but for now, we're it!

New routes as well. In the top left you can see an arrow, click on that square and the whole screen is taken over by navigation. Especially handy on new routes.
Going electric has actually been quite nice as far as I am concerned. I have managed to get back to base every time (although once it was touch and go), I have not been freezing my feet off and in general I quite like the new buses, especially the navigational tool for the new routes we have. 

Of course there are always things that don't quite work from the word go. As I said, I have managed to return to base, but some of my colleagues have not been so lucky. Tow truck and service cars followed. 

I had 7,5% left in the 'tank'. Below 5 it would have been dire.

The one thing missing is a radio, which will be installed at a later date. During the Christmas holidays I used my phone to listen to the radio and it ate all my money. It was an expensive outing. The next day I had learned: use the bus' wifi and it worked a treat. The day after not so much and I lost even more money (I am on prepaid). I now use my iPod where I can listen to numbers by David Bowie to Glenn Miller, Sesame Street to Led Zeppelin, Dutch, Portuguese, African, Eurovision and a whole lot more.

As I said I have been okay, others perhaps less so and I think it is only due to the fact that we are now on Corona limiting services that allow the company to iron out the problems easier than it would have been had a full service been running. We will get there though!

Monday, 4 January 2021

The first one

Over the past couple of days I have walked each day. On day one it wasn't even two kilometers, on day two it was just over three and on day three, I doubled that. Mind you, I nearly gave up before even getting started. You can see in the first photo what the path was like. A stretch of about 400 meters I would say and it was just mud. 

It was hard going, as it wasn't just mud, it was sucking in mud, slippery mud, sliding mud, wet mud and there were barely any patches where it was a bit safer to walk. I had my camera in hand and even though I felt it was not the best idea to do so, I couldn't pack it away either as it would have meant putting my back pack down in the mud.

The 'border' between the public (where I walked) and the private area of this nature park.

I did manage to get across this bit though and then the walk really started for me. And a lovely walk it was. It was a walk through one of the newer areas of the country. Literally. It was only formed in the sixties and seventies of the last century and has been left to its own devices (managed, but still) since then. 

The black animals are the cattle, the deer are in front of them.

On the north end of the railway tracks that divide the area up, there are lots of cattle and deer. On the south end there are Koninks horses. I only saw cattle from one vantage point, until I got home, looked at the photo and realised there were a whole lot of deer in front of the cattle.

The horses were a bit harder to spot though, even though I walked in their area. Plenty of poop to show they were in the area, but not the animals themselves though. Never mind, there were birds to see as well and even though I didn't capture the birds of prey, I did get robins, great tits and some bigger birds like swans, geese and herons.

Not three, but four horses!
And then all of a sudden they were there: three horses, well camouflaged by the surrounding grass and reeds. Two of them stubbornly refused to show me anything but their behinds, the third one was a bit more cooperative and I managed to photograph it head-on. Again it wasn't until I got home and looked at the photos that I realised there was another horse in the photo (I showed it yesterday).

A bit further on, I got another two and then the walk was nearly over. Just the mud to contend with. This time I knew what was coming and managed to pack my camera away before venturing out to conquer the mud.

Yeah, not a chance!

I did manage it, but I was glad I had some clean shoes and a clean pair of jogging bottoms to wear as there was no way I was allowed in my own car the way I looked! And yes, I changed in the parking lot where people were going past. Needs must and such...

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Photo on Sunday 2021-01

When I took the photo today, I never saw there were actually two horses. What a lovely surprise that was...


Friday, 1 January 2021

Hay ho!

Day one of the new year. And we all wish 2021 will be a different year than 2020, less isolation for a start! So, I wish everyone a great year with plenty of hugs and kisses, family and friends, parties and socialising and of course travel. 

For me the year started early as I had to work this morning. Which in turn meant I was in bed at 11.30 last night. Fortunately there wasn't too much heavy fireworks in our neighbourhood. There wasn't meant to be any as it was forbidden, but there are always people who think they are above any rules. Which is also the most likely reason one of our wheelie bins and all three of our neighbour's have gone up in smoke! Idiots!!!

The sign reads: you're laughing now...
Anyway, after work I made a start with the challenge I had set myself: 790,8 kilometers to fulfil by December 31st. I had meant to do about 2 km, but when I got back to the car, I had done just 1,6. A mile. I had done all of a mile. Ah well, at least it is something. Tomorrow will be another day and another chance to whittle it down. And every journey starts with a step and these were my first steps.

So, that's it for now. Not much to report on this first day of the year. Enjoy your weekend.