Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Anyway, I'm currently in the market for a new pair of boots - seeing as I have only one pair of flat walking boots and all my others are STILL in the container awaiting their release. But every time I ask to see a particular shoe in UK size 4/ EU size 36, I'm met with a raised eyebrow. "That's really small," the salesperson will inform me... "are you looking for a kiddie?" No, you patronising git, I'm looking for my pet sheep. I would like to try this boot, in this size. Kapish?
Apparently grown women do not wear a size 4 in the Netherlands. On several occassions I've been directed to - and have found my size - in the kiddies section of the shop.
Since making this little discovery I've been studying Dutch feet. And lo and behold, they really are quite big! I've heard the legend that the Dutch people are the tallest nation in the world, but I put it down to rumour and to be honest, I still don't quite believe it. But I am prepared to accept that the Dutch people have the longest feet in the world.
I have conluded that being in such close proximity to so much water means that the Dutch people are built like ducks - with long, flat feet in case of sudden flooding. Unfortunately, I cannot substantiate this theory, as that would require further time, funding and possibly another Subway sarmie.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Make breakfast. Contemplate sitting on kitchen floor. Eat breakfast in bed. Stare at ceiling.
Wash dishes. Wash kitchen counters. Sweep. Get back into bed. Stare at ceiling.
Create masterpieces of wet clothing over central heating. Shower. Get dressed. Get back into bed. Watch DVD. Watch DVD in Dutch with English subtitles. Stare at ceiling.
It's actually not all bad. I go for long walks. I wander up and down the shopping streets. Sometimes, I stare at the people working in the offices across from our flat. I feel like I'm Sophia Coppola movie, without the credits.
I wish I could actually post this on my blog, but I don't have time to figure out the formatting. If I ever get that shirt-folding technique right, then I'll know I've met my calling as a washerwoman. Until then, I shall remain a desperate house-girlfriend.
Me: "Hi... what you doing?"
Mills: "I'm working. At work. What do you think I'm doing?"
Me: "I thought you might be working. When you coming home?"
Mills: "Later. This evening. At the end of the day. What are you doing?"
Me: "Nothing. Literally. I did go shopping. I spent lots of your money."
Mills: "Goodie. What have you spent it all on?"
Me: "Food. I think."
Mills: "You think?"
Me: "Well, I'm really not sure what I actually bought. Do you want Sperziebonen or Prei for supper?"
Such is the scintillating content of my everyday life.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
This weekend, I met up with Nix - another South African who has been living in Utrecht for three years now. Having gone to high school and varsity together, we were enthusiastic in our reunion. Unfortunately, she is accustomed to the Dutch 'three-kisses-starting-on-the-right-cheek' greetings, while I am still accustomed to the South African 'lean-and-clinch-hug' greetings. The headbutt was awkward, but we got over it.
We met up with Mills and a colleague of his. James is from Manchester and is marginally younger than us. I mention this because the poor boy was traumatised by Nix and I dominating the conversation at dinner... Nix is dating a 40-year-old and quite a few of my friends are getting married this year, so we were mostly discussing marriage and the prospect of friends having children. I don't think I'll be seeing much of James again. In fact, I think he pities Mills, because - apparently - all his newly-expatted girlfriend talks about is weddings and offspring. The thing is, I knew we were banging on about it, but I couldn't stop. It wasn't like were discussing the virtues of nuptials and breeding - quite the opposite. I just couldn't change the subject. Anywho. Letting that go.
Another topic of discussion was "is Afrikaans really that similar to Dutch?" The answer - no. It's really not. Sure some words are vaguely similar, but the sentence structure is completely different. Het in Afrikaans, depicts past tense. Het in Dutch, means the. Although De can also mean the. It depends on the noun it refers to - common or neuter. On the other hand, Die in Afrikaans means the. Die in Dutch means this or those. You keeping up?
One awesome conversation went something like this... we were discussing words seen in shopping markets (desperately trying not to mention children or matrimonials):
Nix: "Kuiker is kitchen in Dutch."
Me: "Oh, is it? That explains a lot. I thought kuiker was Dutch for chicken..."
Nix: "No, why would you think that?"
Me: "I thought those pots were specific to cooking chicken or something."
Nix: "Why? What's chicken in Afrikaans? I've been out of SA for too long, I don't remember Afrikaans!"
Me: "Chicken is kuiken. "
Nix: "Oh no, chicken is kip in Dutch."
Me: "Oh, I thought kip was fish."
Nix: "Why'd you think that?"
Me: "Because a kipper is a fish."
Besides chasing away my Boyfriend's work colleagues and headbutting old friends, I've mostly been strolling around our area. There are lots of parks and green areas - which are mostly just bare trees and dead leaves at this time of year. A running joke between Mills and myself is to stare at a particularly grey area and point out, "I'm sure it's lovely in summer..." After which we slap our knees and wipe our faces clear of the tears of mirth streaming down our cheeks.
One thing we've noticed is that we have an inordinately high amount of hairdressers in our area. Literally, about 10 just in our area. On the subject of hair... This is the reason why they were no pictures of me up on this blog. It rains every day in the Netherlands. Not all day, but every day. This means that there is always enough moisture in the air to keep my hair standing on end like Medusa and her multitude of thirsty snakes on her head. Just for good measure, the wind also kicks up and keeps my hair standing to full attention, making sure that even when I try to tie up this unruly mop, there is always at least 35% of my over-all cranial hair floating around my face at any given stage.
Haagse Bos - the forest directly behind our LaundroFlat. I'm sure it'll be nice in summer... right now it just looks like a setting out of The Blair Witch Project.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Our flat is practically under a church, which gives us a clue of the time every hour on the hour. Without a functioning washing machine or any furniture, I've managed to turn the place into a Chinese Laundry. There is clothing drying over every available hanging space (mostly central heating and picture hooks). Just today, I washed about a dozen shirts, three tops, several sets of underwear and over 20 socks... because Mills was kind enough to not do any washing for a week before I arrived. Isn't that sweet? He wanted to give me something to do. I have the callouses of a washerwoman and I wear them with pride.
I'm at a Subway internet cafe - literally a Subway restaurant with one online computer, which I have been dominating for sometime now. I think I may have to either buy something else to eat or vacate the seat, but it's the only internet access I've been able to find since I got here so I'm clinging to it with my claws and teeth at the moment, like the cyber-junkie I know I am.
As soon as I can find a computer with a USB port (what a novel idea), I will upload the few pics that I've taken so far.
Until then... totsiens!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Get to airport. Stand in long check-in queue. Get to front of queue. Wrong queue. Go to back of another (longer) queue. Get to front of next check-in queue. Weigh bags. Overweight. Feign indignant surprise. Informed that paying excess is not an option - must redistribute weight into hand luggage. Baggage is already in clingwrap (extra security to ward off nasty prying baggage-handling hands). Inform fat-arse check-in lady that I'm not unwrapping and unpacking, I'll pay excess. Fat-arse check-in lady says excess not an option. Burst into tears. Fat-arse check-in lady says maybe paying excess is an option.
In queue to pay excess luggage, watch in disbelief as someone in same check-in queue is let through with more luggage (different check-in lady). Forget tears, throw monstrous tantrum of Katrina proportions. Now everyone in departure knows of my presense. Excess payment waivered. Smile sweetly and check in.
Board. Sit in second last row from back. Cramped. Aircon broken. Flight delayed. Announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a faulty brake so we've decided not to take off." That must be the safety and security policy kicking in. One hour later. Bored. Hot. No air. "Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that there was nothing wrong with the brake, it was actually just a faulty signalling light." Take off.
Turbulence. Stomach dropping. "Bumpy weather conditions over Africa..." Really? Hadn't noticed. Descend, hit tarmac, skid, slide, stop. Late. One hour to get through flight connections in Heathrow, change from Terminal 1 to T4 and board. Run.
Finally... The Netherlands. Boyfriend. eShibobo!
Friday, February 09, 2007
Following the news, there was a phone call from someone mentioning that there is an sms circulating - "Unite against crime... Show your support by driving with your headlights on today." He also mentioned how many headlights he saw on this morning.
Next phonecall: Smash and grab at the intersection of Witkoppen and Main in Fourways... and the perps haven't even run away. They're still in the area, looking for more things to grab. Talk about brazen. The guy tried to call 10111, but got a voice message.
Third phonecall: They've just driven past New Rd in town, where people are also picketing, "all races, all colours, all ages" against crime.
It all just makes me so sad. This was all in the space of 15 minutes. Crime. Crime. Unite against crime. Crime. Can you imagine (as a female) calling 10111 because you think you are about to be raped... and getting through to a voice message. It leaves me speechless.
BUT I am not going to end on such a despondent note. Brushing all perturbing thoughts of crime under the carpet... The Ballerina-hockey girls played my old high school last night.
I hate playing schoolgirls - mostly because it reminds me how I am definitely no schoolgirl, no more. The truth is, I've been driving for as long as some of these girls have been at school. Crikey.
On the upside, schoolgirls are really easy to over balance. It's like cow-tipping, but with smaller thuds. At one stage (and I'm really not sure what happened), a girl ran into me, bounced off and did an impressive tumbling routine at my feet. I just stood there. I didn't even make a tackle, didn't so much as growl at her. She literally ran at me and fell over. Consider me the solid, scary sweeper at the back.
Then a cocky upstart got behind me in the defence... she picked up the ball and ran. I caught up with her (although I thought I was going to pull a bum-fat in my efforts) and I did seriously consider going in for the slide tackle. My first thought was - will I get hurt? Probably not, chances were high that I would've landed on the 16-year-old twig I was bearing down on. My second thought was - can I afford the bad karma? With me heading to slushy Holland, I can see myself coming very pear off a wobbly bike in the middle of a busy intersection... So I aborted my mission and twig-legs scored a goal.
To quote Earl Hickey..."Screw you, Carson Daly!"
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
In other, more local, news: my dogs keep dragging bones out of the garden at the bottom of our property. It’s CSI meets X-Files. These bones are big(ish), they’re certainly not from a har-dee-dah skeleton… and they’ve been sawn into segments.
My family is completely befuddled. The place where they keep producing these bones is right at the very end of the property, behind very thick and overgrown bamboo, in the corner. We’ve theorized that a neighbour might have chucked them over – but surely it’s less effort to just bin it, rather than bushwacking through the prickly hedge and bamboo that dominates a radius of about 3m in all directions in that area?
In my inexperienced veterinarian mind, I’ve convinced myself that these bones are animal. Must be animal. I watch too much CSI and refuse to contemplate any other possibilities. It’s too unnerving and macabre.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Sky News: Pilots: 'We're in jail dude'
“The Sun claims the American pilots involved realise immediately they had fired a missile at a British military convoy.
"God dammit!", one of the pilots, call sign Popov36, shouted. Another, Popov35, yelled: "We're in jail, dude!"
Poor Popov35 and 36. Had they shot a bunch of Iraqi children they wouldn’t have even made the news.
Monday, February 05, 2007
I was going to blog about going to watch Blood Diamond. Hectic, horrific and traumatic. And I’m not talking about Leo’s Souf Efriken accent. That movie has haunted me for the last two days. Gentlemen, this is not a first-date movie… unless you actually want to spend the evening talking about the state of Africa and comforting your sobbing potential shtoink. Passion killer.
I was going to type about all of the above – and then I found this beauty:
Sounds like Mummy needs a little reality check.
"OTTAWA - Twin 10-year-old boys threw a tantrum after being expelled from university and are seeking reparations for age discrimination from a human rights tribunal.
With the help of their mother, Sebastien and Douglas Foster filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission after the University of Ottawa expelled them from a course that looked at the environmental, political, and ethical issues raised by advances in science and technology.
The university said it made a mistake when it allowed the twins to enrol in the course in September. “The expulsion had nothing to do with age,” spokeswoman Sophie Nadeau told AFP. “They didn’t have a high school diploma and weren’t in the process of obtaining a high school diploma, which is required for admittance.”
But the family refused to accept the school’s explanation, saying the university took their tuition fees, issued student cards to the boys, and they completed the required course work despite being booted from the class.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’ve earned their credits,” their mother Wendy Foster, who had taken the course too, told local media. The boys are seeking unspecified damages, she added.
Commission spokesman Jeff Poirier would not comment on the case, but said age discrimination complaints from children are rare. The statute is aimed primarily at curbing injustice to seniors, he added."
Friday, February 02, 2007
Staying on the topic of visas (from yesterday, in case you're not keeping up):
Last weekend, my dad suggested the possibility of his mom going to the UK to visit her children and grandchild. After a fairly lengthy shouted-conversation across the ginger snap biscuits, my granny finally got the idea and concluded with, "Well, it should be easy enough for me to travel on my British passport. It only expires in 2009..."
This little revelation was greeted with raised eyebrows from my dad and steam blowing out of my mother's ears - and a very loud, "Ek se fokken WOAH?" from me.
You see, three years ago, when I was considering going overseas on my Green Mamba passport the question was raised whether I could apply for an ancestral visa on my granny's British passport - a visa which would've been valid for four years without a problem. But granny had already decided that she didn't need her UK passport any more so she wasn't going to renew it. Sorry for me. So I went the pleb route of proving that I was a suitable candidate for a 2-year-access, 1-year-working holiday visa.
Had I gotten that ancestral visa in 2005 when I went over, it would still be valid now. It would still be valid - with EU access - until after Boyfriend came back from the Netherlands. Are you sensing my frustration?
Anywho - crying, spilt milk, all that. Granny sat in bewilderment as my mother tried to explain why I was convulsing in hysterical laughter because granny went and renewed her passport after all... and didn't think to share it with the rest of the family.
Don't ever tell me that getting old is boring. It's the only pro I can think of for having children.. where's the fun if you can't torment your kids and their kids in your old age?
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Right, on with the post: Beloved Boyfriend has informed me that (our) flat is in a lovely residential area, surrounded mostly by pensioners. This suits me down to the ground because it lessens the chances of being around schoolyards full of snotties. No screeching children. Bonus.
He lives next door to a delightful old man – possibly the only person in The Hague, or the whole of Netherlands – who can’t speak English. Recently, the lovely old man accosted Boyfriend in their communal hallway. From my understanding, the interaction went something like this…
Old dude: You English! You English!
Boyfriend: Um, no… well actually I’m South African.
Old dude: You English! You English!
Boyfriend: Oookay… I speak English, yes.
Old dude frantically starts pointing at his doorknob. Not his knob… his doorknob. Yes, there’s a difference.
Boyfriend is completely confused, but on closer inspection (I promise this story wasn’t nearly as porn when he was recounting it!), he noticed a word printed on the doorknob.
Old dude standing with a proud grin on his face because he has an English doorknob. Therefore, they can be friends.
So that’s our neighbourhood, geriatrics and imported doorknobs.
In other news, our container of all our furniture and belongings has been detained in the Netherlands. Boyfriend has to fill out a gazillion forms to get past the red tape in order to release it. Projected release date: two months from NOW.
This is a problem for two reasons:
- We have no furniture in our flat. We have no wardrobes. We cannot buy wardrobes until we know how much space we’re going to be working with, once our flat is finally furnished.
- I sent ALL my winter clothes in the container because they were going to arrive in the Netherlands before I did. And they did – but now they’re sitting in a cargo hold somewhere. I’m going to land in the Netherlands – in the middle of friggin’ winter – three weeks from now. I have one winter outfit.