Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In the headlines today

I like to think that only in the Netherlands can a newspaper get away with a full page picture from a classic porn film. On the front page, nogal. That's what happened yesterday.

Deep Throat is to be aired on national television. (I also love the fact that 'televisietieten' is an accepted term.) The truth is, that if the church minister had not kicked up a fuss, most of public probably wouldn't have even noticed it was on. Now everybody knows when it's being aired. Including me. Oh, and it will be followed by Spuiten en Slikken. I'm not translating that.

In other news, do sparrows really warrant an article topic? Surely not.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mills and Koekie go gymming

Mills prepares to cycle on newly-purchased exercise bike. Koekie lays out yoga matt. Mills begins to cycle. Koekie flips and relays yoga matt. Then goes to check supper cooking in the oven. Tasting and smelling good.

Koekie returns to yoga matt and watches TV while scratching left elbow. Tests yoga ball's tension (sits on ball and bounces up and down). Koekie enquires as to how long Mills has been cycling. Twelve minutes, he informs.

Koekie contemplates belly button while continuing to sit on yoga ball. Leans back and then forward again. Repeats six times, only falling off once. Loses interest and goes to check on supper in the oven. Food still tasting and smelling good. Offers Mills a piece of banana-dwarf-bread. Mills continues to peddle furiously and declines.

Koekie returns to yoga matt. Lies across ball, stomach down. Pushes forward and pretends to be a soaring falcon, accompanied by the cry, "eeeeeeeagle!" Mills enquires if this is a legitimate yoga move. Koekie concedes it is not.

Mills finishes his cycle, but not before Koekie loses interest completely.

Supper was good though (besides the uncooked sweet potato slices).

Monday, January 28, 2008

Comfort zones

This weekend, Mills and I got adventurous.
No, not in that way.

He purchased himself a little gym. Exercise bike and ambitious weights, complete with a yoga set (apparently for me). Bear in mind that we live in a two bedroomed flat with open plan kitchen, lounge, dining room... and now: newly acquired gymming facility/obstacle course.

Having set up the bike incorrectly on the first attempt ("oh, the saddle goes that way up..." etc), my darling ginger bearded boyfriend (yes, the goatee persists) got Superman Syndrome. He started with a quick weights workout... which lasted an hour. As I pottered off to play indoor hockey, Mills was about to test his new cycling purchase. I smiled patronisingly, having watched his forehead crinkle in consternation with each bicep curl, and left him to it.

When I got home from hockey, my GBM (ginger beard man) was not happy. He cycled for a bit, then cycled for a bit more and had apparently ended up doing 30km on the exercise bike. On his first attempt. Superman Syndrome. As my mum would say... everything in moderation, dear.

Anywho, back to my little adventure this weekend. I am not a domestic treasure. But I have, on occassion, been known to attempt baking. This weekend, I felt inspired to try my mother's banana bread recipe... again.

This time, instead of muffin tins, I tried a casserole dish. (Note to self: really must think about purchasing a baking tin... and possibly some measuring cups)

I "blended", "whipped", "mashed" and "folded" until my fingers were spasming with repetitive stress syndrome. (Mills had SS, I had RSS.)

I tasted the mixture (always good) and even used the exact ingredients as listed in the recipe (a big no-no in the culinary history of Cooking with Koekie). Except for the flour and baking powder... where I used zelfrijzend bakmeel instead. As good as, I'm sure.

Anyway, maybe the lack of exact measurements did it, or maybe it was the lack of automated blending power, but either way... my banana bread still looks more like a weapon of concussion than a food type.

At least I got it out of the casserole/baking dish in one piece, which is definitely an improvement on last time. Even Mills, bless his goateed chin, conceded that, "it is getting better."

Nevertheless, my baked goods do tend to mimic the physical properties of seabed-dwelling ocean sponges. Left it to its own devices, I'm sure my banana bread would slowly make its way towards the beach at high tide.

I phoned my mom and told her of my kitchen exploits. I even demonstrated its solid consistency by hammering the newly baked product against the chopping board.

*Thunk thunk thud*
Koekie: "Can you hear that? Can you? That's solid."

Mum: "Yes dear. I can hear it. Put the bread down."

Koekie: "And the bits of banana are purple."
Mum: "How can the banana be purple?"
Koekie: "I don't know. There are definitely purple stringy bits."
Mum: "You are amazing. Did you mash the bananas properly?"
Koekie: "Mom! Of course, I mash.. okay, maybe not as well as I could've."
Mum: "Well, maybe it's just your oven that doesn't bake it properly."
Koekie: "Ja. Maybe. My banana bread also didn't work when I tried to bake it at your place, or when I tried the same recipe in Grahamstown, or at my place in Joburg, and now again in The Hague. But sure... let's blame it on the oven. I'll buy that."

Anyone for some banana/dwarf bread? Very handy in self-defence.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

De Lamas

Busy times at work and play - by the time I got home every night this week it was close to midnight, hence the lack of blogging. Sorry, jongens!

On Thursday evening, I joined my hockey team for a theatre performance which was definitely the highlight of my week. De Lamas are the Dutch version of Drew Carey's: Who's Line Is It Anyway - a show I absolutely loved when it was on TV (is it still running?).

So, De Lamas are a group of comedians who tour around the Netherlands doing improvised skits and acts, obviously in Dutch. I was nervous about how much I would actually understand, but I'm a trooper and the whole team was going so I forked out the cash for a ticket. I don't regret it - three hours of nonstop hysterics.. they are a damn amusing bunch.

After a year of being in the Netherlands, I could understand most of it and at least had an idea of most of the celebrities and places they mentioned (you know, the mocking equivalents to Springs, Pofadder and Patricia Lewis).

I tried to embed a video of De Lamas, to give a taste of the entertainment, but I can't get the code right, so you'll just have to watch it here. This is a game called "Ik wil graag zie..." (I would like to see..._), where they act out bizarre topics. In this clip: bedrijfsongeval in die dieretuin, Maxime die vreemd gaat, Willem-Alexander die vreemd gaat. Loosely translated - Working accidents in the zoo, Maxime (the royal princess) acting strange, Willem-Alexander (crown prince) acting strange.

I thoroughly enjoyed the act on Thursday and I think my team were quietly proud - and surprised - at most of my comprehension. I'm quite proud of it too, even if I can't speak the damn language confidently. Yet.

In other news, the sun came out today, which was a pleasant surprise. And we're heading into tulip season again. Fantasties!

Monday, January 21, 2008

His milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

My two idiot colleagues (FB and Duckface) keep me amused with their bickering. They've known each other for years and they have that 'special' relationship that two guys develop after spending far too much time in each other's singular company.

Anyway, today's highlight was their argument over milkshakes and flavoured milk. The conversation theme ran throughout the entire day -after Duckface offered FB some of his "milkshake" (read: flavoured milk).

FB: That's not milkshake. If you pour it out of a carton, it's flavoured milk.
Duckface: Flavoured milk is the same as a milkshake.
FB: There's flavoured milk, and there's milkshake. Big difference. Huge.
Duckface: Any milk with flavour is a milkshake.
FB: You cannot be serious. That's like saying a tram and a train are the same thing because they both run on rails.
Duckface: Whatever, gimp.

Colleagues pretend to work for 20minutes.

FB: So what do you call that thick icecreamy stuff you get from MacDonalds?
Duckface: That's a milkshake.
FB: Exactly! And it's not the same as this.
Duckface: It's flavoured, it's a milkshake. Where I come from [Scottish Highlands], you add icecream, it's called "Milkshake with a floater".

[I am not making this shit up]

Me: You're kidding, right? When have you ever seen a menu that advertises 'floater' anything?
Duckface: The icecream is the floater.
FB: Do you even know what a floater is?
Duckface: It's icecream in a milk...shake.
FB: Just admit that this is not a milkshake.
Duckface: Shut up, gimp.

[contemplative typing]

Me: I can't find anything on google about floater milkshakes. Ergo, it does not exist.
FB: That's because milkshake equals milk plus icecream.
Duckface: I don't care. I'll take you to Scotland and prove that when you order a milkshake you'll get anything from flavoured milk to drinking icecream.
Me: Anyone who tries to serve me flavoured milk under the guise of a milkshake will get treated to a royal hissy fit.*
Duckface: I can believe that, Princess.
Me: You don't have to advertise that a milkshake has icecream. It's not an added nicety. It's a necessity. It's like here, where they try to serve warm milk as hot chocolate. Not The Same Thing.
FB: Just admit this isn't a milkshake.
Duckface: Do you mind? I'm trying to work here.
FB: Not a milkshake.
Duckface: Train, tram.

And so it continued. Every colleague who came past our desk was asked to define the two dairy products. Most looked confused. While he was in a meeting, Duckface's desktop was plastered with pictures, recipes and definitions of real, echte milkshakes.

Appraisals are coming up next week. I'm sure we'll be more focused by then.

*Mills reckons that royal hissy fit should not be seen as a measure of quality, as (apparently) princess tantrums tend to happen fairly often. I disagree, but I'll let him have his opinion. For now.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


They're talking about cleaning up the Dam's Red Light District. Personally, I think I'll get over it. Life sex shows are boring. Well, certainly the ones in Amsterdam. I've heard different things about the Bangkok specialities.

Banana Bar is more interesting. You see, it's a bar... well, a counter. And the ladies serve drinks while standing on the counter, naked or close as. So I've heard. I've also heard of objects being 'projectiled' across the bar. ("Look, no hands!")

Holland/Amsterdam is known for the liberal approach to sins. Sex shops, sex shows, Coffee Shops (the weed, bru)... all available quite literally, liberally. Yet what I find mildly confusing is that when you go to the local chemist, you still have to ask for the elusive pack of condoms behind the counter. How 'Old South Africa' is that?

"Um sorry, where are the condoms?"

Attendent sullenly indicates over (inevitably) his shoulder.

"Okay, may I please have a box of the... uh... the pleasure max I think it's called... uh... no, not the blue box, um, no... if I could just have a closer look to read the labels... ummm... know what, actually I'll just pop along to the red light district, where I can leisurely peruse my options, and probably get a free weed sucker with my purchase."

I don't think I really have a point here - other than it's bloody ridiculous that I have to ask for condoms in the Netherlands. Onbelachelijk, toch?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Beginner boarding

Mills and I are joining friends and family for our first ski holiday this year. So far we've learnt the very expensive lesson of booking our flight before checking transfer times from the airport to the resort (transfers only happen once a week). We tried to change/cancel/upgrade our flights, but KLM is hanging onto our money like a fat kid clutching the last cookie at the party. They have kindly offered to refund the airport taxes on our 600-euro tickets. Whoopty-fucking-doo. I can as good as see the money smeared around the airline's piehole, like chocolate icing on the forementioned fatty's face.

So, we can't get our money back - and our options are:

a) book accommodation overnight (thereby paying double as we've already paid for our first night accommodation at the ski lodge) and:
i) rent a car and drive through unfamiliar roads, on the wrong side of the road, in snow. Bear in mind that we can't drive through our childhood roads of Joburg without at least one of us losing the plot. Extra costs include SatNav.
ii) take the public transport from Venice to somewhere close to the ski lodge. From there, take a taxi. Arrive at ski lodge almost 24 hours after landing at Venice.

b) cancel flights with KLM, take our 50-euro consolation tax refund. KLM keeps our money, and gets to resell our seats. Pay 630-euros (each) for earlier flights on KLM. Smile sweetly at KLM while bending forward and take it...

c) don't cancel flights with fat bastards. Potentially inconvenience all the other passengers on the flight in order to ensure that KLM cannot resell our tickets. Book the cheapest alternative flight in order to make the once-off transfer to the ski lodge.

Each option expensive. We went for option C, mostly because it offered the quickest solution. I am not enthralled with KLM. Have I mentioned that enough? KLM. Fat smelly money-grabbing bastards.

Right, on with the ski holiday preparations... Last night, Mills and I had the opportunity to test our snowboarding skills on the indoor slope in Zoetemeer. For those of you who'll be hitting the bunny slopes with us in Feb, we are not cheating! These are not extra lessons. The fact that we struggled to get our feet into the boots, coupled with the fact that I tried to exchange my board "because it was too small", only to be told that I was trying to put my feet in back to front, should demonstrate that Mills and I need a headstart just to break even with the special needs class.

I've had opportunity to try skiing and boarding once before - very briefly - on the aptly named Snowy Mountains. I didn't enjoy the skiing. I could not get my legs to go in the same direction and once I was down, I couldn't get up without assistance. This was of particular embarrassment when I landed directly underneath the ski lifts and had to lie there with my bum in cramp until my brother came to my rescue. Boarding is a much better option for me, I only need to pick one direction (generally down) and I can flop like a fish out of water in order to manoeuvre myself up. My snowboarding attempt last night was relatively successful, largely because I never built up enough speed to do any damage.

Mills, on the other hand, was far more adventurous. He'd get to his feet, lean low and gun it down the hill. It was very impressive... right up to the point when he needed to stop, which is round about when he would fling himself headfirst to the ground, taking the unique approach of using his face as a braking mechanism. His beard looked very cute all icicled up.

We only lasted for an hour on the slope. I'm not sure how we're going to cope with this as an all-day excursion. What we have learnt from our adventure is that beginner snowboarding should not be attempted in demin jeans. My ass has never been so wet, so cold, so aching and so completely numb (yes, all at once) in my life.

Next stop... ski cloth shopping. More costs to be incurred.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teething troubles

This is a headline running through an English news website (, with the following report:
Almost half of dentists think it is too difficult to fill holes in young children's milk teeth, according to health insurance council figures. Only 17% of the cavities in the teeth of five-year-olds are filled, partly because young children are too nervous during treatment.

Is it normal for five-year-olds to already have cavities in their milk teeth? What are they doing eating sugar and sweets? Shouldn't they be fed on nothing but mouldy bread and tepid water, under the staircase, until they're old enough to vote?

I have to find a taandarts. I've been going to the same dentist since the days when I was first fed mouldy bread and tepid water under the staircase*. Finding a new (Dutch) dentist literally scares the bejesus out of me. I've been putting it off for months. The hole in my tooth isn't getting any smaller...

Say it with me, "open wide".


*Disclaimer: this statement is not true - we never had a staircase.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lost in translation

In search of mind-numbing viewing, I flipped from Girls of the Playboy Mansion (always amusing) to MTV... where Joss Stone was introducing her friend who breeds dogs. The Dutch subtitles translated her sentence thusly:

"Zij fokt honden."

For those of you who can't read Nederlands, just use your imagination. No matter how many times I see a similar translation, it amuses me. It's right up there with "douche" (shower) and "kont" (butt). It slays me.

My Ginger Beard Man

Every time my boyfriend and I share a moment of joint soppiness, he has to purse his lips out as far as possible and I wince my lips in anticipation. This is because Mills has grown some semblance of a beard over the festive season. He absentmindedly strokes it when he's concentrating - like a father, proud of what his testosterone has produced.

I'm not such a fan of pash-rash. I don't like the erratic spikes that attack my face every time he gets within smelling distance (this is why he has to purse his lips - in order to keep his chin hairs from touching me, if he wants any physical contact). And it's orange. He is aware of my objections, and he's okay with it.

I suppose it could be worse. At least he grooms it, chiselling and sculpting bits into some sort of shape. I tolerate it for now... but if this facial cultivation continues, I may have to enforce a full love embargo. I'm just not a fan of facial hair - well, not on someone I have to share personal space with anyway.

Still, you never know - it might just grow on me. Not literally, of course.
Although... people pay good money for freak shows. Is ginger-vitis contagious?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Koekie's Travels

I got to the airport fully aware of the fact that I was overweight in baggage. Despite specific instructions otherwise, Mills was also three kilos too heavy. I dragged my suitcase onto the scale and feigned indignant ignorance. "Twenty three point seven? Nevah!"

KLM didn't buy it.

Dragged luggage back to my parents, with my mother muttering something about how putting my brother on a plane was always much easier. Unpacked approximately two kilos into hand luggage, handed mother a further two kilos out of hand luggage (to be put back after weighing). Picked up bag... put bag down. Picked up everything thrown out of bag. Closed zip, THEN picked up bag. Trundled back to the scale, flirted unashamedly with male attendant. Weight: 21,2 kg. Put hands together under chin and fluttered my eyes (yes, I really really did that). Got the okay.

Mills took a different approach by donning two extra shirts, another jersey and any headgear he could find. Although I think the male flight attendant would have been equally (or more) receptive to the flirting approach...

[I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if it's a matter of weight on the plane, why can I take the same two (extra kilos) on as hand luggage? Why can Mills take the same two (extra) kilos on if he's wearing them, but not if they're in his suitcase?]

Anywho. Baggage was clingwrapped and checked in. We decided to grab a bite to eat with my folks as our flight was only leaving at 23:40 (yes the same KLM flight which had earlier had to turn back due to engine failure).

There's a new restaurant called Wandies at the International Departures. It's a buffet restaurant serving typically 'African' food (read: fatty meat, oily chicken, stodgy pap and grey mixed veggies) - for R80 a plate. No, thank you. They opened this week and I'll be interested to know whether this turns a profit. Generally, when I'm at the International Departures, I want to grab a quick bite, not a full meal - and would also appreciate some choice of food. Not a fatty plate load of starch and meat, with toddlers running rampant around the table. Okay, maybe it was just the screaming children that put me off... but still R80 is a lot of money for what I remember as a dodgy meal in the Rhodes dining halls. So we had one drink and Mills and I departed through passport control... where I paid R50 for a sandwich and one orange juice. Captive market sucks.

Wondered around departures until all the duty free shops closed, but not before getting stuck behind a family of - very, incredibly, dynamically smelly - Spanish tourists at a check-out till. The first guy paid over R1300 for god knows what. The second lady bought 12 tins of duck liver pate (yes, I counted them) and the third guy bought 8 cartons of cigarettes plus 4 bottles of some sort of alcohol. I realise duty free shops can be bargain-bargain... maar een beetje overdreven, niet waar?

Dashed through to the gate when announcement signs said we were boarding - to find that the gate wasn't even open yet. Got through the gate to find that the plane doors weren't open yet. Got bowled over by granny being pushed in a wheelchair, because they had apparently forgotten to load the disabled and decrepit beforehand.

Got on plane to find decrepit granny sitting in our row. Made granny stand up so that we could sit down. Established that the nearest TV was situated 3km down the aisle from our row. Spotted the three toddlers in the row behind us. Popped a few preemptive rescue pills and painkillers and settled in for the long haul.

No sleep and two watery meals later, we landed in Schiphol. I managed to get stuck in the All Passports queue behind a Middle Eastern who couldn't speak English, an African with visa issues and an Asian whose passport got confiscated; while Mills sailed through the EU Passport queue and taunted me from the other side with some sort of monkey celebration dance.

Recovered my bag from the conveyor belt, distressed to find that it had been squashed to the width of a flat screen TV, much to the amusement of my co-traveller. Made our weary way home on a packed train. We were in bed by 5:45. PM.

Got to work at 8:15 this morning, forgetting that no one would be in before 8:30. I love waiting in the cold wind for colleagues. It's good to be home.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Watching louries (sorry Grey African Birds) outside my window...

Blue skies, gentle breeze... another tough day in Africa. And I'm inside packing. And repacking. I told my tannie this morning that I see a gap in the market for Packing Coaching. I need someone to tell me how minimalise my packing. I cause myself such stress... my baggage already weighs 20kg and I haven't even included my toilettries. AND I've even cut down on my shoes (only 8 pairs, I left half of them here. Again.) AND I didn't even buy any new shoes today when mom and I were wistfully strolling up and down the isles at Shoe City (bargain, bargain, bargain).

Just to make my flight more comfortable, I paid a quick visit to our family dermatologist. Mumsy darling recently had a melanoma scare and is now on the rampage in the war against skin cancer, so I had to get checked before I left and today was the only day available. It's always a delight having your body scrutinised to the nth degree... the doctor (who looked about 15, when did doctors get so young?) even had a little zappy camera thing which took photos of every blemish/scar/pockmark on my skin. Trust me, you never want to see a mole that close - especially when you know it's happily manifesting itself on your left shoulder. That said, skin cancer sounds frivolous but it is a killer - and a quick one at that. Get your molie-molie-molie-moles checked - regularly!

Right, public service announcement done for the day.

I better get back to packing (and give my father back his computer... he's pacing behind me like a restless bear). Time to get home to the rain, wind and bikes!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lists - but no resolutions... yet

My time in SA is drawing to a close. While on holiday, I was going to:
  • blog
  • catch up on my Dutch lessons
  • taunt friends overseas (via facebook) about the weather
  • exercise
  • play golf, tennis, not pig out etc etc

I managed one thing on this list, and only just. And I'm doing it now.

I can't believe how quickly it's all gone. Mills and I will be back on a plane on Tuesday evening. Yuck. I must admit, I am starting to feel a vague need to get 'home', although I'm definitely not looking forward to the weather again... 4 degrees and raining. I just checked.

Being back in SA has made me realise that I have so little content to write about in the Netherlands. Have I become complacent in my first-world environment? Sure, I moan about the weather and having to slum it on public transport (hardly), but I've realised that I feel so much more passionately about issues in SA, such as:

  • Bank charges. What can we do about bank charges, is South Africa one of the only countries to charge so exhorbitantly?
  • Road rage. I haven't even been driving and I suffered from it. I want to punch the (sorry for people with internet censors) fucking arseholes, who are so special that a string of solid one-lane traffic on the road back from Bloem can be leapfrogged by 10, 13, however many cars at a time... forcing oncoming traffic to drive in the verge so that these fat sphincters can push in whenever it suits them. Of course, by pushing back into the queue further on, everybody else has to slam on their brakes behind them. Even if an accident occurs from this, the overgrown anus drives on unaffected. These people irritate me.
  • Drunk driving. It seems to be something that only foreigners and returning expats are aware of. Drunk driving is still very much an accepted phenomenon in South African culture. I realise this is a huge generalisation - but when we stopped at a Engen One Stop, in the middle of nowhere, how can the guys behind us justify buying Hunters Dry? You are clearly going back on the road, in heavy holiday traffic, as there is no where else to go. The weather is stormy (lightning and hail) and it's almost twilight. Are those Hunters Dry really necessary, or are you just topping up your alcohol/blood stream after the festive season?
  • Banning u-16 PDA. Public Display of Affection for under-16s. Obsene and disgusting, yes. Keep the saliva swopping to the school discos where I can't see it. But is this seriously a legality that has to be tackled? How about focussing on the number of people breaking already existing laws, instead of adding new - possibly unenforcable - laws for issues which should be tackled by communities, schools and (here's a thought) parents.

On a more positive note:

  • Aids Awareness. Plenty of TV ads and publicity campaigns. People are trying to educate and lose the stigma of HIV and Aids, despite our leaders' best efforts. This makes me proud.
  • Bus stops. Seems like a stupid observation, but I've noticed more (and new) bus stops dotted around Jozi, as well as in some rural - slowly developing - parts of Eastern Cape. It's nice to see where at least some of the tax money goes.
  • Traffic police and cops. On the way home from the coast, they were very visible. Parked under trees on the side of the road, random road blocks here and there in residential areas. Maybe not completely effective, but it's a good first step.

All things that I would love to blog about... but not now. Not while I'm soaking up the last rays of warmth and sun (inbetween splots of rain). I'll think about New Years resolutions, when I'm done with turning my brain into mushy holiday slush.