Yes, it's been my birthday for a long time. It's still my birthday month and the birthday balloons have dwindled to about a dozen sad limp (sometimes rather rude) sacks. They aren't allowed to be thrown away until they pop, mostly to annoy Mills.
It's going to be long. Please know this is abridged, and I'm tired so I hope it sort of makes sense.
Here we go, kids.
It started with NCF's wedding about a week and a half ago. The day before, it was tipping down with rain and the car which was supposed to transport bride, bridal assistants and bridal gear to the venue... broke down. Okay. New car was borrowed and things were back on the move.
Unfortunately, the replacement car was accidently parked overnight in a restricted area and so, come the wedding day, the bride found herself sans transport. Again. Groom was sent to retrieve towed car from police station and frantic calls were made to find a third replacement car to get the bride to the venue.
The third car, loaded with bridal gear, popped open the boot just before heading onto the highway... so we decided this was the third in the list of bad luck incidents. To the sounds of "I'm getting married in the morning... get me to the church on time..." we hummed our way through to Apeldoorn without too much further incident. The rain stopped and the sun came out - a true blessing in this country.
The bridesmaid dresses were... interesting. Lovely colour and the matching jewelry was stunning. Unfortunately not many of the (four) bridesmaids actually fitted into our 'fitted' dresses. My dress was so bad that my nipples would have been showing - nothing like detracting a bit of attention from the bride. Fortunately the self-invited bride's great-auntie was there to do some emergency darning and last-minute stitching. Nobody's meant to be looking at the bridesmaid, and she certainly took centre stage, so dress woes were soon forgotten at the party afterwards.
My folks have been visiting since then, which has been lovely - and trying - at times. You know what they say - fish and family go off after a few days. Hey, I'm allowed to say things like that... it's what my mother says every time I go to visit them!
Things we did in the week that my folks were here:
- Visited Apeldoon in Gelderland (we had to, this was where NCF got married). Beautiful part of the country, even has mild hills. Very exciting to see change in altitude in the landscape.
- Visited Utrecht to show the folks NCF's new canal house. Dad added a little excitement by getting himself well and truly lost on the other side of town. All he had to do was follow the canal, but he ended up in another district, in the rain. His free-walking rights were revoked after I had to fetch him from under the Dom Tower (the very main and noticable landmark in Utrecht).
- Toured The Hague is almost entirety: Mauritzhuis (Girl with the Pearl Earring), Escher Museum, Madurodam, Binnehof (buildings of Parliament), queen's palaces, watched Queen Beatrix parading through The Hague to open Parliament... walked through Spui and the Passage... visited my office area, picnicked in Haagse Bos and walked around Clingendael (where dad ran away from the big scary cows. Mooooo)... had dinner up the Sapphire Tower to watch the sun go down over Rotterdam Harbour, amongst other things.
- Viewed the beaches: had drinks in Scheveningen, patat in Kijkduin (where we were attacked by vicious pigeons and malintentioned seagulls), cycled through Wassenaarseslag (the dunes, another hilly area in the Netherlands)
- Walked around Leiden, went in a windmill
- Went to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank Museum. The actual location of the Frank's hideaway, the walls still plastered with pictures she stuck up in an attempt to make up for not breathing fresh air for over two years. Yikes.
- Toured Rotterdam, visiting the Cube Houses (yes, people actually live in these buildings!), the Witte Huis (one of the only pre-WWII buildings remaining after Rotterdam was bombed to shit in the 1940s), the Erasmus Bridge and the Euromast. We even managed to drag my acrophobic parents right up to the top of this tower. Fortunately, my mother had just had her prescription glasses stolen, so she wasn't able to see how high up we actually were. I joke. She would've been able to see, had she opened her eyes. We followed this visit with a tour of Rotterdam police stations (to report fore-mentioned stolen glasses), in an attempt to find one police station still open after 16.30. We didn't succeed. In the Netherlands, crime stops at clock-out time. Apparently, the criminals go home when we do.
- Finally, we visited Delft. Walked through the Old Church and New Church (where the Dutch royal family members have been entombed since something-centuries ago. The New Church was originally built in the 1400s, dunno when the Old Church was built). We also made an attempt to visit one of the infamous Delft Pottery Houses. No success there, plenty of signs but no Pottery warehouse materialised at the end of our wandering. After a number of attempts, we decided that they could keep their hand-painted secrets and just bought a few things from the closest tourist shop. Klaar.
Right, I thinkt that's most of the update from this side of the equator. I have a headache now from thinking too hard. Good night - will try to update more regularly from now, I promise!
(well, after the upcoming holiday to the US... next week. Too much to do, too little time. Yes, I know... life is hard.)