Just a tiny piece by the Scots College Pipes and Drums together with the OzScot Highland Dance Team.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
According to some people I have a weird taste in music. I love brass bands for example and drum bands. Marching bands as well and Dolly Parton. Well, Dolly Parton didn't feature last night, the other ones did. The Royal Marines were there, as were the Airforce and the Territorial Army. There were pipers and dancers all the way from New Zealand, a great band and dancers from Surinam (our last colony that was), a British artillery group and a fantastic Swiss drum band.
|The drumband 'Top Secret' from Switzerland|
So, how did I get there? Well, I may have mentioned in the past that we do a lot of jobs for the Ministry of Defense and one of the jobs I occasionally get is driving the Royal Military Band Johan Willem Friso around. And last week while visiting the Queen I had to drive them as well. Before leaving in the morning though, I sat in their little staff room and saw leaflets of the Military Tattoo to be held this week. My parents always used to go, but I never had the chance before. And then one of the men offered tickets. At first I declined and then I thought, no, I want to go. So I called my boss, I called my parents and yesterday my dad picked me up to go to the tattoo (my mum unfortunately had to work).
|Some of the women/dancers from Surinam|
We didn't go to the official show, we went to see the dress rehearsal. One or two groups still needed a little tweaking (especially the only civilian group), but it was brilliant. We had great seats, could oversee the lot and I was able to take great photos, even without flash.
|The piping band from New Zealand|
The music was lovely, although they could have had about twenty more pipers in the piping band (I love the sound of a lot of pipers). The drumband from Switzerland might have been small, but they were making enough noise as it was and I loved the way they were dressed!
|The dancers with the piping band from New Zealand|
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
When you read my blog, have you ever opened any of the tabs right beneath my photo? The one about me, which tells you who and what I am? Or the one about the books I've read recently called Reads? How about my Guestbook, where you are very welcome to leave a little word for me. Then there's the one about desserts called Food which may put on the pounds just by reading it. And then of course there's my dreams and goals.
Well, if you come back tomorrow, I will tell you all about number 10 from that list of dreams and goals, since today...
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Being Dutch means that English is my second language. Which can sometimes mean I get into trouble for something I said or misunderstood. Like kid gloves. For years I thought they were either made for children (kids) or from children (gruesome). Until I found out that baby goats are also called kids! What a relief. Although not for the baby goats I presume.
Some other mistakes I made over the years: Well, I can get you cheese crackers, or even plain crackers. Don't know about the Christmas crackers though. (I now know they are tube-like shapes with goodies inside that are pulled at Christmas. Nothing to do with edible crackers)
After the crackers: well, he spoke Chinese. My boss then replied to me: he didn't speak Chinese, he was Welsh! You should have said Double Dutch! (As if, I do have my pride...)
While speaking of a man: he's got a nice breast. Of course I meant to say chest, but since the word in Dutch is the same for both English words...
Question: do you have any wellies? My answer: you tell me what they are, I tell you whether we have them. (the answer was no by the way, we did not have any rubber boots)
And of course my favourite when I just started out working at reception and was taught how to use their computer. Me: What's to alter mean? My boss: to change. Me: what's to amend mean? My boss: change. Could they make it any harder?
So, what's your biggest mistake as an 'English as your second language' English speaker?
So, what's your biggest mistake as an 'English as your second language' English speaker?
For more K-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!
Photo taken in Parc des Felins in France, May 2010
Photo taken in Parc des Felins in France, May 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010
Every third Tuesday in September (Prinsjesdag or Princes' Day) the Queen reads a speech written by the Minister of Finance. It's the Law! But just reading a speech filled with boring financial stuff is ehm... well... boring. So, they show a bit of history, by going towards the place where the speech is held (forgive me, I have forgotten where exactly) in the old fashioned way. Horse and carriage, accompied and surrounded by military personel and marching bands. You could call it the Royal Parade, but there is no Micky Mouse on a float in sight!
Anyway, I have been there once before in 2001. Only a few days after those horrid events in New York happened. The parade was sober then. Yes, the masses of people were still there, but there wasn't any music being played and the ordinary folk (from Flevoland that year, the province I hail from) had to make do with a parade that was very toned down. And the photo I took of the Queen that year? Click here to find out how it looked.
|The Royal Marechaussee|
So, this year I had another chance. After all, this year I was driving the marching band! So, the drums and tubas went into the hold of the coach and we drove towards the stable block of Paleis Noordeinde (the home of our Queen Beatrix). We stopped (four coaches in all) and let everyone off and then had to wait until Prince Willem Alexander (her heir) had driven past. I had the camera at the ready, but alas, he took a different route. So, we turned our coaches.
|The (empty) Golden Carriage|
Now I had the time to take a photo of the Queen. I walked towards the music and saw several carriages come out of the stable blocks. Plus lots of very uniformed people on horseback. And then finally: the Golden Carriage! EMPTY!!! No getting into a carriage in the stable block for her, she would be picked up from her front door.
So, no Prince Willem Alexander and no Queen Beatrix. Just a lot of horses' poo!
When Carolina was here to help me with the garden, I started out wearing a coat to do the work. Very quickly I discovered it wasn't the best to do the work in, I was sweating like mad! So, I found myself a thin cardigan and left the coat lying on the couch. When I came back in the house only a few minutes later, Wuppie had made it into his new bed! Opportunist!!!
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Ugly and looking as if a foreigner lived there. Yes, that's what was said about my curtains. My lovely light yellow, home sewn curtains. So, in order for you to make your own minds up, I took a photo and let you decide for yourself. Be as honest as you like (although a bit of sweet talk about how I made them myself etc always goes down well)...
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
I don't know very much about jellyfish. Well apart from the fact that their tentacles can sting and can give you burn-like wounds which hurt (although it never happened to me). And that they haven't got much of a brain. And they move forward by propulsion. And they come in different sizes. Oh, and they look beautiful!
Wow, I knew more about jellyfish than I thought...
For more J-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!
Photo taken by yours truly (ie me!) in Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen, the Netherlands in October 2009
Photo taken by yours truly (ie me!) in Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen, the Netherlands in October 2009
Sunday, 19 September 2010
It was a quarter past one in the afternoon when my phone rang. It was Carolina and she was looking for my place. She was near the neighbourhood center and could see number 78. So, I told her I didn't have a clue where she was, since the neighbourhood center is located at the other end of the neighbourhood. 'The number 78 with the ugly grey curtains isn't your house then?' No! I don't have grey curtains, mine are yellow. And my house is pink.
For some reason I then went to see outside. And there she was, hating my curtains, but at the right address (yes, yes, I don't know my own neighbourhood). Well, what do you say to someone who hates your curtains? Welcome, I am Mara!
After a quick cup of tea and a muffin, we got to work. Boy did we get to work. Pulling weeds, cutting branches, replanting plants. I found roses and blackberry bushes. There were plants smelling of lemon, hedge plants and two Christmas trees (I planted them myself). We cleared the path, found more path, found plastic bottles, glass, nails and a plastic shovel.
Right now everything hurts: my toes, my legs, my back and my arms. And I just know I will have difficulty moving tomorrow! But it was worth it. The garden looks great now. It needs a bit more work, but it should pass inspection now. And all thanks to Carolina!
Friday, 17 September 2010
Back in May a WI got in touch with the company I work for and asked whether there were any female coach drivers and whether one of them would like to give a talk to the WI. The WI is located about an hour and a half away from me, but the company contacted me anyway. Because even though there were several departments closer, I was the only proper coach driver. I do all the jobs they shove my way really.
Well, I got in touch with the WI and after a bit of toing and froing I agreed to give them a talk about what it's like to be a woman in a man's job. Yesterday morning I was furiously writing my speech out inbetween driving from school to the gymnastics hall and back and forth and back and... you get the idea. After I finished doing that, I drove back to the lot, got the car, drove home, had a quick peanut butter sandwich and some strawberries and made my way to the WI.
The talk went great. I didn't look at my notes once ànd didn't forget anything either (yippie). The group was attentive and laughed at my jokes and mistakes, although one lady in the front seemed to be asleep throughout. They asked questions at the end and seemed to be really interested. It was a good thing I don't get too nervous talking in front of a group anymore. The Club Med training (in front of 200 people minimum) certainly worked well.
I might give a short recap soon about exactly what I told, including most of the Annie Dotes, but right now I am way too tired.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
This is Common Cottongrass, that is not a grass (sorry). It grows in acidic wetlands and peat bogs all over northern parts of Europe, Asia and North America. The flowering stems are 20-70 centimeters tall (8-28 inches) and have three to five inflorescences hanging from the top.
It is common in the Manchester area of the UK and is the official county flower of the Greater Manchester region. Cottongrass is very important for hikers. It's a great indicator of potentially dangerous deep peat bogs.
This photo was taken in Ireland in the region of Connemara where there is still a lot of peat being harvested by private owners.
For more I-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!
Photo taken in June 2008 by my father
Photo taken in June 2008 by my father
Sunday, 12 September 2010
I think I wrote about being tagged quite a while back and stated then that I wouldn't join in again until after the summer holiday. At least. And apparently that's resonated through blogland and I was tagged today! Eight questions to answer, ten people to tag (I will stick to one) and of course thanking the person who tagged me in the first place.
Well the tagger is K (Banterings of a Basketcase) (thank you) and here are the taggee's (ie my) answers.
1. Why did you start blogging? I first started to keep family and friends updated about my plans to move to Canada. It quickly moved into keeping family and friends updated about my life in general and along the way I picked up a few others who are interested in what I'm getting up to. A bonus to blogging is that my head seems to be quieter as well, instead of having to tell the same story over and over to my colleagues, I can now just write it down.
|Trevi Fountain in Rome|
2. If you could travel anywhere in the world with no restriction of costs, where would you go and why? I've always wanted to visit Japan, so that would be on my list. I would revisit Rome and Prague, see the Hermitage in St Petersburg, see the Northern Lights wherever you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, try and cross a desert. As long as I can bring my own pillow I will be fine.
3. Did you have a teacher in school that had a great influence in your life? In retrospect I think the most influential has to be Mr Visser (or Dickie Visser as we would call him, as opposed to Visser s.c.h. because there was also a Mr Visscher teaching the same subject) who taught English. I chose English in high school because I didn't really know what to choose and English was quite easy. One day we had to do a classroom reading (ie you read a few lines out loud and then someone else had a go: tedious!) of 'The Importance of being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde. Well, Mr Visser looked my way, but skipped letting me read aloud during the whole book. He could see I was well ahead of the rest and chuckling away at the book. I've been reading English literature ever since and still discover new books.
4. If you could spend one day with a famous person, who would it be and what would you do? The cast of 'Last of the Summer Wine', a British comedy series only featuring older people. Unfortunately the show was cancelled this year after over thirty years! But I would still love to get to know the people who played all those beloved characters. As a matter of fact, any new cats will be called Howard and Marina!
5. Toilet paper, over or under? There is only one way: over! And I will change it round, so you are warned!
6. Name one thing in your life you would do over if possible. Go to college and get a degree in whatever (midwifery on a submarine for example or how to dig ditches at open sea). I sometimes feel I missed out on college life and friends. Then again, I have had a great life so far and have seen great places and met tons of people.
7. Tell about your pets - if any. Well, there's Wuppie, a red tom who is just not the cleverest in the world. Unless it comes to food! There's Mathilda, his proper sister, a blackish lady who doesn't miaow and doesn't like milk. Then I've got Sophie, a grey tabby who doesn't like other people, other houses, other cats or sitting on my lap without a towel between us. And of course Linette, another grey tabby who loves to roam outdoors, loves sitting on my lap and has a crook in her tail.
8. Do you live in a small town or a large town? I live in a small town, but would prefer it being even smaller. Like only one house: mine! As long as I have decent television reception I would be happy. Oh, and a pink car of course to get to work and the shops and such.
And now it's time to tag somebody else. I think I would like to tag Kay L Davies. My latest follower and I would love to get to know her a bit better.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
My very first garden ever!
You could call it the garden saga, but that sounds a bit like an expensive British soap. Gardengate would be a possibility too, if it didn't sound more garden gate and less Watergate. Anyway, here's a small update about my garden.
After my last post about my garden Carolina (Brinkbeest in English) contacted me and offered her help. She lives in the Netherlands, so distance wise it's not too bad. We set a date, based on my knowledge of my work schedule. Which I had memorized completely wrong of course. So instead of having a one-day weekend this weekend and a two-day weekend next weekend, it turned out I had misread massively and my one-day weekend was last week, my two-day weekend this week and next week was still a mystery. Not anymore though: it turns out I have to work next Sunday.
Fortunately my boss was willing to change my day off to Sunday instead of Saturday, so the gardening date still stands. And that turned out to be a good move, since I got another letter of the housing corporation yesterday. They still feel right in their decision to come and clear my garden, but I have until September 21st to do it myself. If it's not done by then, they will fine me with ten percent of my rent per day until it's done!
Certainly an incentive to get it done... Now if only the weather will cooperate!
Friday, 10 September 2010
I first heard about this book a few months ago when Ginny Marie posted about it. And I had to be sure not to forget the pie in the title. Well, the book sounded intriguing and I bought it soon afterwards. But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I finally started it!
The blurb: It's 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can't think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey - by chance, he's acquired a book that once belonged to her - and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Juliet's curiosity is piqued and it's not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realises that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.
Most people will know that Great Britain remained free from German Occupation during the Second World War. But the Channel Islands (Guernsey being one of them) are located so close to the French mainland that they were occupied at the end of June 1940. Most of the children had been sent to Great Britain to keep them safe, but both adults and some children remained when the Germans marched in. The situation on the Channel Islands was much like the situation in other occupied countries (and it certainly reminds me of the situation in the Netherlands): no radios allowed, no press, no telephone to Britain, less and less food, fuel and medication. Added to that were the thousands of Todt slaves: Eastern European slave workers who were forced to work on very little food and medical care until they died (one of Hitler's little plans).
To escape the daily routine of horrors people turned to different things and one of those was a literary society. People who had only ever read the back of a seedpacket were now reading Charles Lamb, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare to keep them sane and keep them from thinking about the war for just a few hours every week.
The whole book is written in the form of letters and telegrams and it is both funny and sad. I laughed when Juliet's editor and friend wants to know whether 'Kit would like a set of bagpipes' and Juliet answers: 'she will, I do not!'. I cried when I read the part about Kit's mother Elizabeth being killed. The book tells you about the atrocities of war, the awful German occupiers, the horror of prison or concentration camps (Ravensbrück and Bergen Belsen are both mentioned), the Guernsey collaborators. But it also tells you about the good in people, Germans who risked their lives while stealing medication for a sick Guernsey boy, Guernsey people trying to hide a polish Todt worker and save him from death.
But most of all this book is about people. People who just want to be happy and live their lives with the ones they love, be they German, Channel Islander, Outlander (anyone from Great Britain) or wherever they're from.
My verdict: two thumbs up! And a big thank you to Ginny Marie for discovering this book for me.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
I mentioned sometime last month. Winning the lottery. And I did! I won! Not big of course. I bought tickets for €30 and won €16! So, not immediately the 'buy a house, go on holiday, quit my job, give a big party' amount I was hoping for. But then again, you have to start somewhere.
On Friday night, the lottery draw takes place again. And I am planning on winning properly this time. There's just over €2 million up for grabs for me (I've got one fifth of a lottery ticket: I only pay one fifth, but I also win one fifth). And I've been thinking about what I would do if I were to win. Here are some of the things I
will might do:
Buy a house, although not the one I currently live in. Way too small! (I've got to think big when I'm a millionaire, something along the lines of Buckingham Park is more my style)
Buy a car, any car as long as it is bright pink.
Go on holiday to Canada and ask my sister along.
Emigrate to Canada.
Get a cleaner, a gardener and a handyman to fix up my home!
So, what would you do if you won the lottery?
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
So, what is your preferred place to spend your holiday in? Tent? Youth Hostel? Caravan? Your own bed? Or do you prefer a nice and comfy hotel?
Well, they say nice and comfy hotel, but I can tell you from a lot of experience over the last couple of years, there is a massive difference between a hotel and a hotel. I've stayed in tiny family-run hotels where they know your name and provide service and I've stayed in large anonymous hotels where you pay over the top for no service at all!
Maid's closet bed at the Open Air Museum Arnhem, NL
The few things that make a stay in any hotel better are firstly: a good bed, preferably double. This bed has to be kitted out with proper pillows, not those airily fluffed up pillow covers in Germany. There also have to be extra blankets in the wardrobe, in case you get cold. I hate having to turn the heating on or closing my windows: a sure thing for a headache in my case.
Seventies style bathroom in Hotel Hessenhof, Winterberg, D
The second thing every room needs is a good clean bathroom. Having three drops a minute from your shower or having to stand in the toilet bowl while showering is not acceptable. You don't want to wait ten minutes for hot water either! There needs to be enough toilet paper (well, there has to be!) and a good mirror. Little soaps, shampoos, cotton buds etc are nice, but not necessary. To me anyway.
Spare ribs at the Hard Rock Café Paris, F
Thirdly the food. Breakfast does not consist of a piece of stale baguette and a small container of jam, accompanied by a cup of coffee! I want cereal or toast, a choice of drinks (coffee, tea, milk, juice), fruit. I don't want restrictions! Dinner has to be good as well. The restaurant doesn't need to have three Michelin stars, but I want enough food on my plate. If I have finished dinner and then have to find the nearest Burger King: no good!
Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe, GB
Washer woman at the Efteling, NL
And lastly: service. Family hotels tend to be more service giving than the large hotels. Probably because they know that no service means no business! If I get treated rotten at a hotel, I will not return. If everything goes wrong, but the people running the hotel will still do everything in their power to minimise: I will return!
For more H-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!
*Eden Parc Hotel in Bad Schwalbach, Germany, March 2010
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Did you know I had a sister? Of course you did, I tell you people everything! But in case you didn't know: I've got a sister. She's six years younger than I am and when we were younger I used to bully her about. After I came back from living abroad though, we became close friends and have remained good friends (and sisters of course) ever since.
We aren't anything alike my sister and I. She's brunette and I'm turning old blonde (no, I don't want to call it grey thank you very much). She's two inches taller than me. I will tell you my life story within ten minutes of getting to know you, she will wait ten years. I trust most people on sight, she will look the cat out of the tree as the saying goes in the Netherlands. She likes to read about made-up lands from a time long ago, I love to watch made-up lands from a time far in the future.
Her answer: Submarine Races!
I rest my case...
PS: my answer was Park and was the highest scoring answer, hers came in at a big fat zero!
Conversation in the kitchen this morning:
Me: no, let Mathilda go first, you're big enough. I said no!
Wuppie moves away to the living room only to reappear at the door three seconds later.
Me: no, not your turn yet.
Wuppie moves away again, of course reappearing three seconds later.
Me: what did I say?
Wuppie moves away again. Reappearing two seconds later.
Me: NO! There's plenty so you can wait a few seconds.
Wuppie looks at me and pretends to move away. As soon as I turn my back however, I can hear him move towards the food bowl.
Friday, 3 September 2010
My garden. My cats LOVE it!
As I mentioned in my last post, I could need a hunky man doing my gardening. I could do with any man or woman to do my gardening really, since 'it's a jungle out there'.
In May I got a letter from the council/housing corporation. I had to make sure my garden was spic and span and clean and tidy. Then in June I got another letter: it had to be done by July. So, I set to work on the garden near my front door, my dad got in on the act, we even got a new broom to brush up all the debris.
Forward to August and I receive a letter. Since I hadn't complied, they were sending a gardener to me and the bill would be mine as well. Big sigh. And then I thought, well, if they're coming anyway, why should I do any more? They came on Monday. Pulled out all the plants, used a spade to turn everything upside down (but basically leaving all the weeds in), used a strimmer (?) to mow down some of the weeds between the tiles, but left most of it and cut down my rose, which was blooming for the very first time this year!
On Wednesday morning a lady and a gentleman came to the door. At first I thought they were Jehova's witnesses, but it turned out they were from the housing corporation. They couldn't get into my back garden since the gate was locked. Yes, and it will stay locked thank you very much. If the level of work that will happen is the same level produced at the front I don't want them. She was adamant to gain entry. I was adamant she didn't, also because I had to go to work and couldn't oversee any work they were doing. She asked when I would be at home. Well... ehm... Sunday. That was no good to her. And then she told me everybody could see the state of my garden. Sure, take a stepladder and peek over the fence and everybody could see.
The only thing I can come up with now is (and if you're easily offended, please avert eyes now): Stupid cow!
PS: I know my garden needs a bit of work, but I am not going to shell out money for people who don't know the difference between a dandelion and a rose, thank you very much! But if anyone feels the need to come and give me a hand, I am sure I can rustle up a nice dinner (including fantastic dessert) and a bed!
The amount of energy it cost me last night to cycle home was just incredible. Especially since my energy levels were already quite drained. Most of them were right down to zero and the one remaining was hovering quite close to it! Which meant that I could have been overtaken by a geriatric snail towing a caravan!
And then this morning the alarm rang out again at six. Which was better than yesterday when it was 4am, but still way too early to my liking (I don't believe in starting to work before 10am. Or finishing after noon). I cycled to work, drove to my first pick-up point and waited for the children to show up. And waited and waited and waited. I would have still been waiting there if I hadn't phoned up the school. PE lessons don't start until next week! When I phoned the afternoon school, they told me they were cycling to PE. So, I got up early for nothing...
I need an energy booster. Like three weeks holiday on the Seychelles or something. A hunky man doing both my garden and cleaning my house would be good too. But I guess I will have to stick to coffee. Which in my case is decaffeinated!