Trip to the Netherlands
This weekend I had my first trip abroad since last December. That may not seem like a long time but it felt like a decade for me. I haven't been able to travel since January (after they found my brain tumour) for the simple reason that if I had another seizure then treatment would be difficult. I have been cleared to go on holiday again (from three months after the surgery) and I'm making the most of it.
I like travelling abroad; it refreshes the mind and the soul…and also helps to improves ones foreign language skills (I will try to practice my Dutch a little more but expect mistakes). It feels good to just be somewhere different. To put some distance between all the stuff that you have to deal with, both mentally and physically. The geographical discance helps with the mental one, and so overseas travel is a perfect solution if the dent in the bank balance is discounted.
The Netherlands was just as I remembered it. Flat with lots of bicycles and windmills. You can see much evidence of this in the gallery. It's amazing what a camera phone can do! After a 4am start on Saturday M and I were at Schipol for 10am and had a gorgeous morning in Haarlem and then went onwards to the beach. It was sunny (T-shirt weather almost) throughout the whole weekend, Saturday especially.
On Saturday night we had a meal with M's parents in Ijsselstein (Utrecht area, or 'right in the middle of the country' for those not quite up to speed with their Dutch geography). It was so nice that M decided to bring the leftovers home with us. Oh yes. And if I keep over with some bizarre food related illness then i'll know who to blame. M insisted that we also bring home some other assorted foodstuffs inclusing paardeworst (literally translated as horse sausage) and so this weeks lunch will be horse sandwiches. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical but it is really quite nice.
The majority of the weekend was spent visiting M's relatives in Dordrecht and Papendrecht. Naturally, I avoided any difficult conversation by doing many Sudokus including the FT 'Diabolical' Sudoku which was rather easy (and a little disappointing). I also attempted my first Dutch crossword but I needed a lot of help. A useful learning experience but on reflection I can only remember three different versions of the word for 'fool'. Hmm.
Sunday night yielded a meal with M's family which was great despite the language barrier. I AM improving but it is hard when not immersed in it all. But the most exciting event of the weekend was discovering the existence of tea sticks:
Essentially, tea sticks are foil tubes full of tea with holes along the side. When you swish them around in hot water you get tea! And you don't even need a spoon. Fantastic. Why didn't I know about these before???
And so I returned to the UK (and a time management seminar) absolutely wrecked after another 5am start on Monday morning. Thankfully I can get back to university for a little peace and quiet…
Coffee count: 512