Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Seems fitting

For some reason or other, we were looking for brown sugar
yesterday at Dink's, and they do in fact sell the stuff, but there was a big space on the shelf where it would normally sit.
So this morning, I figured I'd try C1000, and this was one of the types they had to offer.



Pretty much couldn't help myself.






I also discovered that, if I get my arse out to the stores around eight a.m., there's nary a soul to be found. Parking lots and bike racks are empty, product is lined up and ready to go. Nobody at the check-out.

I thought maybe there had been an emergency evacuation that I missed.

It would seem that after the hoards of school kids are out the door, all the housewives take a few minutes to tidy up and then hit the stores, because by 8:35 when I emerged from C1000 with my little bastard sugar under my arm, the parking lot was almost full already.

Crazy.

I stopped by the doctor's office to check with the receptionist as to whether all was in order for Gabe's next appointment, and they seem to be well on top of things. There was some blood work done yesterday morning is all, so no need to get all panicky.

It's raining today as was predicted, however it rained yesterday morning and not one meteorologist had offered a hint of that happening, so we're hoping they blew it for today as well, and the sun will emerge later on.


Our ever adventuresome guests figure they might pedal up to Goor today, but since I've never been, I really couldn't say whether it was worth the trip. Kind of like pedalling from Burlington to say....... Stoney Creek.

Why?

I guess I always need a destination, whereas they don't mind the ride.

We'll see what happens.

Seems they'll also have a few laundry items to get washed. Turn up the volume when you play this video and you can appreciate just why I'm just so in love with our washing machine.
I might have to go down by the canal and beat their clothes on a rock.


video

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today's Mission.

Once again Monday has arrived and I've been delinquent in getting on here.
Saturday we pedalled ourselves into Delden for the usual trip to the Butcher, The Baker, but instead of the candlestick maker, it's just the grocery store, and perhaps the hoity toity "Gall & Gall" wine shop.
They're a little too pricey for my blood, but if you want something like a Masi, they're the only show in town.
Now, somewhere along the way home, something metallic came tumbling off Gabe's bike, and it turns out it was a part of the kick stand. Seems the set screw that was holding the two pieces together had decided to abandon ship, and was no where to be found.
I came really close to ponying up the 10 or so Euros for a new one at a bike shop that afternoon, but I just couldn't do it. All it needed was that one little bolt, and surely I could find something?
I figured I'd go to my favourite store of all, a store in Hengelo called Knoef, and while I realise that their home page is a little goofy, (well really, their entire website is goofy) they seem to have everything in the way of tools, nuts, bolts, what have you.
So in my pitiful Dutch I was quite pleased to be able to get the proper item.
Offered to pay, but the clerk wouldn't take any money for one solitary little screw.

I like this place more every time I visit.


You can see how it was really no big deal....








The additional annoyance of the whole situation is that, I'm sure I have something back home in my vast collection of *stuff* that would have worked just fine but, of course just which bucket of loose bolts does one decide to ship?

So now we're back in business....





The camera takes fabulous close-ups, but that's about all it's good for.

Sunday we decided to head out by car for a couple farther off destinations. We figured we could go here, and then on to Nijmegen, since it's considered to be the oldest town in The Netherlands.
It seems that whenever we go anywhere by car, there is a considerable amount of driving involved with very little reward, but at least the drive through the country side is quite pleasant with very little exception.
Turns out they were running a marathon in the park where you would normally gain access to the palace, so we were kind of stymied on that account, which made having lunch the next best choice on the agenda.
Nijmegen was truly neat, and we wandered about for at least an hour and a half, all the while making sure we could find our way back to the car.
Made a visit to the church that you see in the upper right hand corner of this site and wandered around inside for a half hour or so. Four separate pipe organs, the largest of which has some 3500 pipes.


Here's just one view of the insides, since pictures really don't do it justice. Considering construction started in something like 1275, it's a little difficult to take in all the history in a single visit. Someone had done a pretty good job of condensing information on several laminated pages with references to different parts of the building along with the relevant significance.
They've at least figured out that indeed you do have to have your doors open, and hope that enough people will plonk down a couple Euros on their way in to be able to pay to keep the place open. (unlike the church here in Delden I might add)
I've come across a couple blogs decrying the closure of church after church, but unless they're willing to start running bingo, finances will decided whether they stay open or not.

We had a bit of a downpour this morning as Gabe and I headed in to Delden before later dropping her at work, but the weather has become better and better as the day has wore on, which is a good thing, since our guests have been gone for nearly three hours by now.
After a check on the tire situation, which meant pumping up at least a couple, they peddled their way off to Hengelo.
We'll just hope the world travellers will find their way back. At least they don't have to rely on some goofy airline.
Here are some of the unfortunates being punted off in Glasgow...

So if you're on the hunt for airplane parts, that's aparently the one...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Golfing in the Netherlands.

Did the little trek up to Carelshaven to cancel our reservations for dinner tonight, and unlike the other day when it started to rain as I was almost half way there, this time I realised that I needed a little more in the way of clothing. Just a wee bit cool this morning. So I tried not to let my nose run too much when I went in the place.
As you can see, it's a pretty swanky joint, and they do serve terrific food, all the while with the intent of taking gobs of your money.
When I initially did a search for the place on ye olde internet, I didn't seem to come up with their own site, but one of the travel advise type of websites, which didn't list a phone number. Turns out I don't know how to do a web search after all, and that I could have in fact called them, and saved myself the trip.
But a little bike ride is never a bad thing.
While waiting for the young lady to get off the phone, I noticed a pamplet concerning
this place
and decided to enquire about what the golf scene was all about around here.
Now, before I go on, I should mention that, when we were in Denmark a few days ago, I went to a club and did a little investigating. It was a very nice private club, and the secretary told me that in Europe, one has to be a member of a club in order to have reciprocal privileges. It can even be a club anywhere in North America.
He did though, tell me that there was a pay and play type of place a few kilometers away, and Gabe and I checked it out on the Saturday morning. Seemed to me like they kept their greens nicer than the private guys, but what do I know?


So here's the Dutch version of things.

You need to have a license.

I certainly hope that she was simply unable to come up with the correct term, but what she meant by that is, you need to have a proven minimum handycap. I think she said it was 35, which seems generous. That's to keep the idiots and looky-loos off their fairways.

Hm, I ponied up some dough for some old gal that was collecting for the handycapped the other night. Somehow I don't think that counts though.

The pitch and putt arangement is open until the first of December, so we'll try to get out there and check it out.
Pretty sure we'll have to break down and take some lessons.

I should also mention that, I originally started this entry as a draft on Friday, and that was as far as things got.
Managed to get out and cut the grass, since there had been two actual days of dry weather, so it looks half decent again.

Long story short, we finally did get the phone call from the train station in Hengelo and flew off to pick up our weary world travelling visitors.

Time to make a whole slew of fresh plans.

Wasted afternoon.

Since I had the car, decided to pick up more of the seasonal offering.
Well, one store was sold out, and the wine shop next door had it on for €4.79, which on principal was too rich for my blood. So I went up to C1000 and picked up a similar brew for my target price of €3.99.
One has to make these choices from time to time.

Alright, on with the saga.

The reason for being blessed with the car was because I was heading to the airport once again.
Now I know I said I wouldn't do that in a previous diatribe, but that was concerning a Friday afternoon. This was Thursday, and I had it all worked out.
Besides, fetching your guests at the airport is simply one of those honourable things that you do. So, off I went.
The flight was to arrive at 12:55 (I don't know why they just don't call it 1:00!) and I figured we could be outta there by no later than 14:00.

A cunning plan.

I didn't leave until 11:30 due to a couple important errands (not just the beer, ok?) so ended up getting to the parking lot at Schipol at around 13:15. I had visions of our guests sitting woefully in the meeting area waiting for me. Poor sods, I thought.
So I didn't really pay too much attention to the arrivals board on the way to the main terminal where, next to the flight from Iceland, there was a dutch word that I didn't know. Don't know what that is, (I thought) but I'm late here, so I'd better keep on truckin'.
When I didn't see them, after wandering up and back figuring they had somehow managed to get past me, I decided I had better have another look at the arrivals, and there it was again, the only flight on the whole board with that one word.

Ever get that tightness in your chest that you can't quite explain?

After what seemed like at least two minutes of me standing there like a tree trunk, the word switched from Dutch to English, and it said, "diverted".


Diverted?


I'm not going to belabour this, but suffice to say that by 4:00 p.m. I was able to find out that Anna and Harry were going to be spending the night in Scotland!
Well, hoot!
Plane had technical difficulties (unless the flight crew had a sudden hankering for haggis) and had to land in Glasgow. And that was it. There was no other flight scheduled. Seems Icelandic air (or whoever the hell they are) has only one airplane, and it's sitting in Glasgow.
Maybe the plan is to sell it for parts.
So....by that time of the day, (left Schipol at 4:30...€16.00 to park!) we're back into the whole nightmarish traffic situation all over again.
Put it this way, I've been driving (legally anyway) since the age of sixteen, so that's what? thirty-five years? and if you added up all the traffic jams over all those years, it still wouldn't compare to what I've witnessed in the last couple months living in the Netherlands. It's not so bad out here in the "boondocks" as one of our Dutch (but now living in Canada for some 30 years) friends called Overijssel, but mostly in the greater Amsterdam area. Which is pretty much one half of the country.
I'll take the boondocks, thanks.
Got home at 7:00 p.m. Scarfed down some food, since I was going on a couple pieces of toast up to that point, (have no desire to eat airport food and would actually rather go hungry) and went to Gabe's office to pick her up.
Best news of the day was when she told me she'd walk out to the gate to meet me. They have a whole security thing going on, which is a huge pain in the ass if you're coming in by car, and don't have a little pass thingy to waive at the barrier to make it go up.


So I'm sure Glasgow is charming this time of year, even if you're at the Holiday Inn, but it's always better when you actually plan your visit ahead of time.

Now, the reason I'm privy to this info is that the phone just rang, and it was Anna, saying they had made it to Heathrow, and should be in Hengelo tonight some time.

Oy.

Seems they're the "lucky ones", since she mentioned that many people were simply left behind.
I told her I had witnessed the angry mob lined up at the SAS wicket. I fully expected to see a couple pitch forks and maybe a torch or two.

Looks like the sun is coming out, which is good, since I'd better head up to Carelshaven and cancel our dinner reservations.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Willing to try something new.

But only when it comes to beer.
Saw this in the store today. Seems to be some sort of seasonal offering. Good beer, and an excellent price. Six for €3.99! Plus €.60 deposit of course.
I still haven't figured out which bottles are returnable and which aren't.
With the big water bottles (1.5 litres) there's a machine at the back of the grocery store into which they go, out comes a chit which goes against your grocery bill. They're worth €.25....
They have a similar set-up in parts of the U.S. but we never really bothered to figure it out when we had the apartment in Horseheads. I guess there wouldn't have been a language barrier, or at least not much of a one.
I might just have to go back tomorrow and get another six. The big excuse of course is that we have company coming and the gentleman drinks beer. So I need to be prepared.

I originally started this entry last night (Wednesday night, for those with score cards) since I had given up on waiting for the grass to dry, had a handle on supper (burgers and BBQ at the ready) but then Gabe rolled in, so the motivation wained after a full tummy. (and three beers...)
Did I mention that I bought a little Weber? It's the Baby Q, which is the smaller sibling to the Q that we have back home.It comes with a short hose, and I had found a place where I was able to not only buy the tank you see in the background, but they made me up a new, longer hose.
I'll take a pic of this place one of these days, and you'll completely get why it's one of my favourite stores. Plus a couple of the employees can muddle along in English. :)
Weber has goofy ideas about how to market their products, since they seem to think that you'll buy their tanks or whatever. Not gonna happen.
Mind you, it was a bitch to get the hose changed over. Luckily I had my most expensive wrench ever, which I had previously bought to sort out the handle on the mower.
This was before I had any means of pumping up bicycle tires, and my tools obviously had not arrived. So I had to find a place within walking distance.
It's not like this place was even close by, but at least it was here in Delden.
So after hiking for about a half hour (swear to God!) I wasn't about to leave empty handed, in spite of the price.
You have to admit, it is nice. I think it's made in Sweden. Good swedish steel. *snort*!
I'll let you do the math. My guess is that this company supplies NASA with their wrenches, so they must figure that's an ok price.
It has taken it's place in one of my tool boxes with all the others, including this one, which Gabe and I came across one Saturday when we were just out tooling around.

(oooo...was that ever a pun!)

This was more like a price I could handle....and at that price you can never have too many. Besides, I discovered that I needed the second one for the mower handle thing anyway.... I'm still thinking I might mount that first one and put it on a wall somewhere.

Now, before anyone starts rolling their eyes about not getting the grass cut, I just want to say, I had the mower at the ready, but the grass was so bloody wet, that it was gumming up the trimmer like something that had come out of a blender. I had no desire whatsoever to try and unclog the mower every ten minutes, and if we get any sun at all, then I'll take another stab at it.

Meanwhile, I need to get a couple things this morning, and since I have the car, I just might use it, in light of the picking up more beer program. Yesterday I almost had to leave the veggies at the side of the road, since my saddle bags aren't quite big enough for anything over about 10 items. And no, they don't have express check outs.

I thought these would be plenty big, but not really. I bought this particular set here in town, but there's a huge dealer on the way in to Hengelo where I might take a look for something bigger. Their prices are a bit more competitive as well, as I noticed when I went looking for bike racks.
I 'll be picking up our first guests this afternoon at Schipol, so not sure how long it will take before there's another post.


Keep yer collective sticks on the ice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The cost to do business in Germany

........and by that I mean, the cost of doing one's "business" in Germany, since one has to pay to use the facilities at the travel plazas. I only wish I could have left the big one, so as to at least get my €.50 worth.


This is what you need...
Don't know why they go to the trouble of issuing a ticket, but I guess they want you to feel you've received some sort of value.
The washrooms were admittedly spotlessly clean, and I didn't leave a mess, although I was kind of tempted to at least leave a couple shit tickets on the floor. Just don't have it in me.
(note title of blog)

Here it is already Tuesday and I haven't really had much of a chance to sit down to write.
Good news is, when we got home Sunday night, our neighbour came over with a box she had signed for (what a sweetheart) and it was our wireless router from KPN.
Whoohoo!!
Got 'er hooked up that night!

So at least now I'm not having to sit in the cold over the garage to siphon someone's wireless. Mind you, it still seems to take a tad too long to upload images. Hm...


Oh well.

The weather in Denmark was fabulous. Cool at night, but that can be expected most anywhere in the northern hemishere.

Vejle is rather....charming, even though most of the harbour is taken up by shipping and such. It opens up to the Vejla fjord, which leads out to the North Sea.

The room was heaps better than the one in Belgium, and not that much more money, in spite of the fact that Denmark in general is pretty expensive. (didn't have to pay to take a dump though)
Had a nice view of the fjord.
Not sure about the huge rusty smoke stack. No point in asking at the front desk either I figured. Maybe some sort of geo-thermal related contraption? Did a nice job of blocking the view. So we took a little drive on Sunday for a couple different views of the fjord. Admittedly this first one could be most anywhere, but I just thought it was kind of neat. Bit of a steep grade to get down to this point. (12%)


Looking back towards Vejla.
Of course, once in a while you find things that are a little unexpected.










Saturday morning we completely slept in and ended up missing breakfast at the hotel, so decided to head out to see where we could get some coffee. Wasn't long before I was getting to the point where I was actually willing to go to the golden arches for whatever their version of coffee was.
What happens when you try to put such a place in a really old building is that, there's no place to sit, unless it's upstairs. No wheel chairs I guess. I took four of these, and none of them came out right. Probably just as well, since it was a pretty bleak dining area.
I need to apologize for even using the term "dining".

The things we do when we're desperate.

Once we had our coffee (it was barely adequate) we came to our senses and got the hell out of there.
The centre of Vejle on a Saturday morning was a bit frantic, and I'm not sure if I'll ever quite get used to the throngs. Hey, I don't shop at home on a Saturday, so I'm not too sure why the heck we keep ending up in these situations.
Once in a while though, there's something that makes it kind of worth while....


Huh??

On the Friday (don't you love the way we do these flashbacks?) I decided to wander into one of the grocery type stores called Fotex and made a "find"....so now we don't have to figure out a way to get this one sought after product from Stuttgart (or any other military base, for that matter)...


Seems there's a Kraft distributor in Denmark....who knew?
Actually, Fotex had a wide range of products, so I picked up some beer (Tuborg, like that's a stretch) and a couple bottles of Australian wine.....Each bottle of wine was the equivalent of about seven bucks! Something like DK 35,00 (danish kroners)
Dividing has never been one of my strengths, so having to divide by five to get a number I can relate to is a bit of a chore.
As an aside....on the subject of Danish.....I bought one of Friday...and it was superb! Never occured to me to take a picture, and it wasn't even with any sly intent that I bought the thing. I was hungry is all. The Danes have....well, ...great danishes.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled viewing...

In spite of the elation of having found Miracle Whip, I was in for a bit of a surprise when I came back out to the car to find I had got a ticket.

Now, for those of you who are fluent in Danish, you can easily see what a twit I was to have the audacity to park in their parking lot. All I got from it was something about customer parking, and even then I'm guessing....
Turns out you have to put out the little blue parking wheelie-who that shows when you got there....otherwise you get a DK 510 fine. (that's on the sign somewhere too...d'ya see it??)

I'm getting a little worked up just trying to spit this out.

See, in the Netherlands, and maybe everywhere else in the EU I guess, there are blue zones, where you put out the blue wheelie-who.

I didn't see any thing blue, except the air got a little blue.

I have 10 days to pay it. Like that's gonna happen. One guy Gabe talked to said he lived in Denmark for over a year and had quite a collection of these tickets and never paid a one. Not sure how they're going to collect from me....


Ok, I'm going to try and calm down now.....

Everyone to whom we mentioned that we might at some point end up in Denmark said, "oh, you gotta go to Lego Land!". So we drove over to Billund on Saturday,

and the closest we came to anything "lego....ish" was at the side of the road.

...because, we don't have a four year old, nor did we fancy going to a theme park that looked like it was mobbed with about 10,000 of them...

So much for Lego Land.

They probably have a website.

I'll look at it some day.

Methinks I'd best be off, since I have to pedal up to the Karlshaven Restaurant and make reservations for Friday night.

Then it looks like I had better (groan) cut the grass...

Oh joy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nipple Trouble

Rather, I should say, "nippel" trouble, since the first thing I wanted to do after the movers left was to take a ride on one of the bikes we had shipped. The tires were ok, but I wanted to put more air in.
Couldn't do it.
Wrong kind of valve stem.
Figured it was just as easy to pop a wheel off Gabe's bike and take it to the bike shop so the guy could see for himself. So that was another €2,00 for an adapter, or if you prefer, an "AMERIKAANS VERLOOPNIPPEL".
Then of course I discovered that, since my bike is a bit smaller than old reliable, the saddle bags I bought don't quite work. I'll probably have to buy a new carrier. I'll likely end up spending enough to have bought a good second hand bike over here.
Originally this post was going to be named, "Overwhelmed", but that was pretty lame I figured.
I mean, who hasn't been overwhelmed on moving day by scads boxes, and very little clue where everything should end up? The poor bastards that were bringing the stuff in took quite a few trips up the stairs, since most all the boxes of clothes, linens etc. had to go up stairs. I sure wasn't going to carry it up later.
Btw, the guy in the truck didn't carry anything in, his job was to drive there and take the bubble wrap off the goods.

That's it.

Interesting chain of command.It was a bit of a squeeze for him to get in.


The two worker bees had their hands full as well.
The guy on the bottum (older guy) was sweating like I do....just in buckets.
I did at least treat them to coffee on their little break. The truck showed up just after nine, and they were all done by 10:40.

I, on the other hand, had a little more to do....
All of that stuff got put away before we headed out for Denmark, which is where I'm writing this now.
There's still a couple beds to put together, and then there's this room to try and figure out. It's the one over the garage ...(where I get my handy dandy wireless signal)
Pretty sure no further explanation is necessary. I'll have to take this guy apart, so I can move it to the back. There's this rather formidable support that really messes things up.
I'll fly at it on Monday.

So that was the extent of Wednesday, except for having to stay up to go and pick up Gabe at the train station at something like 11:30. She managed to get on the wrong train in Schipol and ended up in Utrecht. Found her way home. I thought I'd have to drive to Amersfort at one point. I'm sure it's about an hour from home, so I was keeping my fingers crossed every time the phone rang.

Thursday, put away a few more things. Gabe had her hair appointment at 9:30 but had to go into the office for a couple hours, then it was off to Denmark...

Oh, went to the dry cleaners before we blew out of town. Looks like I'll need to take my own hangers, since they keep theirs.....also...there's no plastic involved. The no plastic thing I don't actually have a problem with, since anyone who goes to the dry cleaners with any regularity will tell you, we end up with way too much plastic, that ends up getting tossed. Folding the items up and putting them in a bag however, doesn't work for me.

Left Delden at around 2:30 and got to our hotel in Vejle sometime around 9:30 I think. It was dark is all I know.
Found the place. We're not in Vejle actually, since I don't really think there's a place to stay there (where you'd want to, anyway) but on the outskirts. It's the Munkebjerg Hotel, but we just call it the Monkey burg, since I can't quite get around some of their words here.

The Autobahn from the Dutch border to Hamburg sucked, and certainly wasn't anything that I had remembered from days of yore. Gabe even said something like, "I had pictured it completely different".....
Once we got past Hamburg though, and most of the truckers had gone to bed, then things livened up. Put it this way, at one point I noticed that I was doing 140 in the slow lane, and I was being passed like I was parked! Poor little honda just doesn't have enough to really get out there with them big boys, so I just have to let them go on by.
The tricky bit, and any of you who might have driven on the Autobahn will know, is pulling out to pass without having someone end up in your back seat.
The motorcycles can be particularly interesting to watch, since they do tend to accelerate rather quickly when given the chance.
One chap comes to mind who, when he had exhausted all six gears, was pretty nearly approaching the 200 k.p.h. zone.
We just both sat there and in unison said, "whoa...."

Of course, seems like about every week or so on the German news there's a report of some mangled motorcycle and the final observation usually is, "He braked too late.."
No kidding. (the guy's dead of course).

I'll come back to this up later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

solicitors

So now my heart jumps when the doorbell rings, since I figure it's once again someone in the neighbourhood ready to put the bite on us for some cash.
You'd think that with a 19% vat that most everything would be covered.
We had someone collecting for the Cancer Society last week (I read about it in the paper, so I figured someone would be around) and then last night, some old girl showed up collecting for the some sort of kidney foundation. At least that's what I think it is. Take a look...here
I think it's only you dutch folk (Anja) that will be able to keep up with that site. I'm really only guessing at most of the contents.
So I always give, but a receipt would be nice. That doesn't happen.
The other thing is, I'm sure each of these fine ladies are from around here (it's not that big a town) so one doesn't have the true anonymity of a big city, where instead of ponying up €10,00 now and looking it up later, one might be tempted to tell them to bugger off.
I'm usually a good target for anyone showing up at the door, just don't be trying to pave my driveway or give me a sermon.
Coming away from the deal with at least a chocolate bar would be even better.

Oh! I almost forgot, yesterday during the day the phone rings (always scares the cr*p outta me) and it's some guy from Poland trying to sell me hardwood flooring! I was too flabbergasted to really chew his face off.
I mean, we've had this number for a week.
I so desperately want to rant about the phone company!
But I'm gonna be nice, because it's a public forum after all.

But geeez!

The expectations for today were reasonably low.
Needed to find a dry cleaners, and since we had seen an Intratuin in Enschede, I wanted to motor down that way for a brush for the BBQ.
This is a place that's kind of like a Home Depot/Homesense cross. So, just stuff for for the outdoors. Plants, furniture etc. I did notice that they were putting all the summer furniture on skids and wrapping it for storage.
First I took a drive in to Hengelo to ask the real estate folks where I could find a dry cleaners. These people are going to get tired of me showing up at their doorstep I'm sure. Turns out I've gone past the dry cleaners a dozen times!
They don't exactly advertise.
As a matter of fact, Gabe and I sauntered in there a few weeks back to look around. Looked like a fabric store.
That first one was taken mostly because of the traffic jam... Here's another view
Any clue they might handle yer delicates?

Two really nice ladies in there. Neither one spoke any English. Hey, I muddled along. On the way, as I was going down the street with my bundle of dry cleaning, I realised that I really hadn't memorized my phone number! Egad!
I've pretty much got the long winded address down pat, but it turns out it didn't matter, since ya gotta pay up front.
So they don't give a rat's tiny behind who you are. You just better show up with those tickets. No ticky, no....well, you know the rest.
Even though I had the car, next time I'll still take the bike. Drove around looking for a place to park for so long, I'm sure I could have been there and back on the bike.


Tomorrow....the shipment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Running low on deodorant.

....and I seem to recall that I sent some with the shipment. Can't for the life of me figure out what to pick from in the stores, so I've been somewhat reluctant to spend the three or four Euros on a stick of something and then end up having some sort of rotting arm pit disease.
Besides, since it's Monday and most of the stores are closed, I can't even go into Kruidvat and look around. Drug stores don't sell anything but drugs and health products, so unlike Shoppers Drug Mart, one will not find a host of products. You have to go to a cosmetic/personal hygene type of place to look for your cotton swabs and what have you.
Judging from reports that have come back to me from the office environment, it seems wearing deodorant amoungst the man folk around here is somewhat optional, but that's another story.
Don't mean to be set in my ways, but I can't stand my own stench, so that's one custom I might have to overlook.
I did make a trip this morning in to Dink's er,.... I mean Dirk's to pick up milk and a few other things. Six packs of Heineken were on for €3,49!
Somebody.... thought it said "dink's" ok? It's like, somebody.... thought they were shopping at "Louie's" in Horseheads, N.Y. which actually turned out to be "Lowe's".... So, it'll be "dink's" from now on I'm afraid.
I'm also hoping that I packed some sort of wind breaker in with the wardrobes as well, since it was about 12C this morning and there was a bit of a head wind coming home. Might need a scarf, or maybe even a belaclava.
I might not go with the belaclava program, since I probably stick out enough like a sore thumb as it is.
Speaking of which, I parked right next to another single speed bike with coaster brakes! Darn it, I should have taken a picture! I think the owner had more dough tied up in the fancy light on the front than in the rest of the bike. When I came out of the store, it was gone. Could have been another Canadian, who knows?
Gabe just called to say that she no longer needs to take the train to the airport, since an offer has come in for a car ride. I'll be interested to hear about the traffic. Seems people do make the trip by car to Schipol, but I still think it should be avoided.

This is now the time to embark on some more catching up....
Some impressions of Belgium:

We stayed at the Best Western, which was not the easiest to find, since the street names are on the sides of the buildings, nor was it the "best". The restaurant was pretty darned good, and we shared a bottle of Bordeaux Superieur from 2000. One had a choice of Dutch or French, when it came to ordering food. You can guess which one I chose.

When it came to the room however, at one point we realised that our motorhome is bigger.....and the other somewhat unfortunate part is that they don't seem to have such a thing as a "non-smoking" room, so it was a little smelly. We just laugh about these things, since there's no point getting upset. I still slept like a log.
Next morning we were off to the office of Eaton. Good thing somebody put up this sign....







Can you see it?? Thankfully Gabe did.






Can you see the tiny little street sign on the corner of the building? Ya...now you get it.

Mind you, if someone had mentioned to use the huge Audi factory as a landmark, that would have been helpful. There's no picture, since there was absolutely no place to even stop, let alone park.

I made one slight wrong turn, and just off the beaten path, discovered this lovely bit of landscape. Kinda reminds one of Puerto Rico.
Too bad the pic is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.








I was actually turning around to get back to the local Audi dealership to have a look around.
They had an A6 in the showroom, and didn't mind if I took a couple pictures. Pretty sure the one that's coming for us is a similar colour.
It's kind of a big car, which I'm sure I mentioned in an email at least once, so we'll be carting a couple bikes around with us I'm thinking.





We'll be going back to Belgium I'm sure, and I'm perfectly prepared to drive, but this time I'll know where I'm going.
That always helps.
If the subject comes up that we drove to Belgium to the Eaton office, the first response is usually, "and you found the place?"
Still looking forward to getting a gps. From what I understand it comes standard in the A6.
Just now went out to the Audi website....looks like that is the case.
Audi
If you have dial-up, I would caution against copying and pasting that link, since it's a pretty swanky flash intro.
You can't click on what looks like hyperlinks here just yet, since I have to do that whole html thing....
...update, me fix...cool, huh?
Plus, found how to make it open in a new window....

The gps console looks suspiciously like the same set up on the Mercedes we had back in June. Hmmmm.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

That was for love.

Didn't get a chance to say much yesterday since we did a little tooling around by car for most of the day.
It was actually a beautiful sunny day, so there was no reason to stay home.
Went to Enschede, and initially thought parking was going to be a problem.
Well, let me tell you, I think we just experienced the largest underground parking that I've ever seen in my life! An entire labyrinth of underground parking has been excavated under a large section of the city, and there were multiple levels! And, there's even a little digital sign on the way in that lets you know how many spots are left. There were 97 left, so then at least you know they have to be in there somewhere...I'm tempted to take visitors there, due to the coolness factor. Of course, one can then take any number of staircases and emerge smack dab in the middle of town.
Huge market. Bought three more umbrellas.
Beginning to realise that if there's some goofy little thing that you need, best to wait, and check out the market, since chances are you'll find it there.

Like....

feather dusters.

Now, somewhere in the house I had seen a feather duster, so when we saw them at the market, I didn't see the need to get another one.

I mean, why?

Dumb idea.

Turns out the duster that I caught a glimpse of and then went to retrieve this morning was this raggety-assed short little thing.....which was not received with the greatest of enthusiasm on the part of my loving spouse.

I don't want to talk about it.

It'll be two Saturdays until we can get our hands on a decent feather duster, since next Saturday we'll be in Denmark...
where are those post-it notes?

Now to the title....

Driving to Amsterdam on a Friday afternoon (in the pounding rain) was definitely done for love, but I'll never do that again for love nor money.

Seriously.

I realise there are other spots on the globe where there's traffic, such as the beltway around Washington D.C., or San Juan, Puerto Rico. And you think the GTA is bad...puh! It started to get backed up this side of Appeldoorn!
Left at 3:40 (sorry...15:40) and got to the parking garage at Schipol at 18:15 (6:15 p.m.) Should be about an hour and a half.
Left again at about 7:30, and got to our door after 10.
Admittedly I missed an exit and we were heading for the North Sea at one point, but but when we got back to where we should have been, it was still backed up, so my guess is we didn't miss much.
Plus, due to my error, we did get to go under the Coentunnel, which runs under the "IJ", or maybe it's the "Noordzeekanal", not sure which. All I know is, my ears popped, it was that deep.

Now, if there were to ever be a next time, my cunning plan would be to take the train....and then for something to do....we could stay over in Amsterdam and come home on the Saturday afternoon, since taking a car into Amsterdam is also foolhearty.

Took a couple crappy photos. You get to suffer right along.
I'm tempted to upload the video I took from the car....but my internet signal strength is pretty dismal, so I'll try a short one instead.












There she is!
video

Today has consisted of getting chewed out over the feather duster, having some breakfast and spending about an hour on the bikes around Delden.
Try as I may, I just cannot seem to get enough air in those tires. Sure glad our bikes are in the shipment.
One thing about Sundays, pretty dead in town, so there's only the odd car now and then. You'd think they were all in Church, but in spite of the reference in the "Church News", it was locked up tight. (??)
A real head scratcher, since even I would have gone in to check it out. Must be tough to get donations when the doors are locked.
Someone will have to explain that one to me sometime.

Friday, September 12, 2008

catching up




















I read yesterday's post and realised that the font was a little large, but decided to go with it, since ....well, some of us are of a certain age and a little bigger is no hardship.
The next few entries are going to consist of me posting pics and generally getting caught up.
I've noticed that any of the blogs that I've read, or followed for that matter, tend to have a host of pictures. Maybe I'm just a little "simple" is all, but the pics seems to make things heaps more interesting. Even if it's of people I don't know, or of places where I might like to go, or avoid.
So this morning I went out and took some new pics of the house, since the ones that I had were pitiful. I have my moments of frustration with the camera, since it just doesn't always want to give me an in focus result. And since my eyesight is a tad weak, I quite often don't find that out until I upload and discover I've taken a bunch of crud.



The little balcony is off the bedroom. We don't go out there.
There's a little patio kind of thing down below and to the right.






The back door, which is the only one we ever use.
I should mention that, I had uploaded all of these images and was going right along, but managed to do something dumb and lost a couple of them.
Moving the images around is still a bit of a challenge, but please bear with me, as I'm still taking baby steps here.

So there might be the odd space where there shouldn't be, and that kind of thing.
I suppose at some point I'll take the plunge and start adding html tags, but this is day two....so cut me some slack.

I should make some mention of the little car. It's actually quite acceptable, really. It's a Honda FRV, so has plenty of space, and is really too big for some of the parking spaces. Had a heck of a time in the underground parking at the hotel in Brussels. Almost had to back into the building, since it was almost impossible to turn around.
Since Gabe originally turned down the first car they offered (a brand new Volvo S80) because she didn't fancy driving a standard, a new car was ordered, but won't come along until October.
Really, she's the Divisional Controller for Europe, and has decided that at this point in her life, would prefer an automatic. D'ya think somebody might have checked with her first?
Anyway, this car had been in use by a fellow who has gone back to the States, and even though the leasing company "got it ready", there was no washer fluid, which I had to buy in Belgium....and wasn't really very clean.
No big deal you say.
But then about a week ago it occured to me that maybe it was a little behind in the oil change department, and sure enough the oil light came on yesterday!
Now, I'm not anything close to being a gearhead, but I'm pretty sure my heart rate went up when the oil light came on. There was still oil on the stick, which means there was enough (barely) in the crankcase and I remedied the situation by buying a litre of oil (€10,00!!) but it needs to go for an oil change. Not a big engine, so one litre was enough.
You can bet yer bippy I'll be keeping a close eye on the Audi when it arrives.
Maybe that explains why I don't see a lot of used cars around. That and the fact that most of them get shipped off to Africa (I kid you not) where there are no pollution control issues whatsoever.

I rode the bike into town this morning to drop off some mail for the landlord and realised that it's market day in Delden. They were just setting up. So I think I'll head back and take some more pictures, but this time I might just take the car, since surprise! it looks like rain.










See...not enough light, and it comes out fuzzy! *###!!*!!






This store on Langestraat, is that of our landlord. They moved out of the house and into the apartment above and put it up for sale. Story goes that the Mrs. didn't "fit in".....or something of that nature.
I figure we'll never really "fit in" since we'll always be foreigners.
Thought I would try the small image option, and see what I think.
Time for a little lunch, and then I think I'll head off to the airport.