Looking back: February 2018

Looking back: February 2018

I can’t believe how much happened in February! It’s been a crazy month…

Very early in February we went to see a beautiful house in Arkel. With this view… At first we decided that Arkel was too small (it’s a village of about 3000 people) for us, and too “middle of nowhere”. The house and the view were so nice though, that we started to reconsider. Tomorrow we’re having a second viewing of this house, so stay tuned ๐Ÿ˜‰

The International Film Festival Rotterdam was coming to and end, but first I worked a couple of shifts in this really old-fashioned cinema. About the opposite of bright, modern LantarenVenster (my favourite), but with tons of character – I loved it!

The highlight of the festival (for me) was a very special screening of Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson (who made my favourite movie EVER – Magnolia!). The score was played live, by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and both Paul Thomas Anderson and the main actress Vicky Krieps were present. In the photo below they are talking to the director of IFFR. The film is fantastic, and the experience was just amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

On the last day of the festival I went to see a film with Michiel, and afterwards we tried Poke Bowl for lunch. I loved the decoration of this small restaurant ๐Ÿ™‚ The food is very expensive though, and my bowl was so full of sharp wasabi that it was uncomfortable, while Michiel’s bowl was extremely salty. Oh well!

On the first Monday in February, I had a job interview at InfoPlaza, who by coincidence have just moved to Houten, where Michiel works as well. They were looking for a part-time meteorologist, and it’s shift work but no night shifts. I got a really great impression of the company at the day of my interview, and was really happy when I found out that evening that they would love to hire me!

The next day I had to take my car to the garage for its first Dutch APK (MOT). I cycled back via de Kralingse Plas. It was a cold but sunny morning and I really enjoyed myself. I took lots of photos, and wrote a blog about it here.

I assumed I could just pick up my trusty Subaru in the afternoon, but to my surprise I found out it had not gone through ๐Ÿ™ The garage owner showed me how much rust was underneath the car – it was about to fall apart! Fixing it was really expensive, and I decided not to spend that much money on repairing a 15 year old car. But since I had just accepted a job which required driving, I needed a car! So after reading pages and pages of advice, and lists of the most reliable second-hand cars and the most fuel-efficient cars I had shortlisted two car types, and I went to test drive both of them that weekend. I fell completely in love with this Honda Jazz, with huge panoramic windows and sunroof! It’s an automatic, and a hybrid and I loooooooove it ๐Ÿ˜€

I was asked if I could start my new job already on the 15th of February, which was fine with me, but it meant I really had to hurry with the paper review I was still working on. So I made long days and nights finishing the review and the revised manuscript. Sometimes I took a break though, and once I went back to the Kralingse Plas to see how the snowdrops were doing.

I found even more signs of spring, which made me very happy!

The second weekend of February we painted our bedroom. We had painted the three test squares on the wall behind the bed ages ago, and now we finally painted that wall in the lightest colour. We also painted all the others walls (and the ceiling) white (they really needed a fresh coat of paint). See below for the before-and-after photo – I’m really happy with the result! The next step is to replace the worn carpet with a laminate flooring, but that will have to wait until another weekend.

On the 15th of February I had my first day at my new job! I’m still in training, but I already published my first forecast after 2 hours at work – of course for Scandinavia ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to work part-time, so luckily it was no problem to take the next day off, as I had already planned to join a meteorology excursion to Friesland (a province in the north of the Netherlands). The first stop was aย steam-powered pumping station (the largest still operating in the world!), calledย Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal. This is the very modern visitor center next to it.

And this is the group in front of the pumping station, on a beautiful day!

The second stop of the excursion was the ice stadium Thialfย in Heerenveen. You could sign up for a one hour skating lesson, which I took. I hadn’t skated in quite some years, and I really enjoyed the lesson. Afterwards we got a tour of the building, and also got to see some of the professionals who were training, they are SO fast!

That evening I drove to Arkel, I was staying with Sharon and Renier for the night. The next morning Sharon and I went on a photo workshop by the Betuwefotograaf. We were meeting him at 7 in the morning! Unfortunately we were a bit unlucky with the weather this morning, it was very grey. We enjoyed his workshop though, and we got to see a lot of really great photo locations, like this one…

The area has a lot of scenic small roads lined by trees. I really love this part of the Netherlands! Later that day Michiel also came to Arkel and we spent the day helping to cut wood into small pieces for the wood stove. At night we went for dinner in Gorinchem, a nearby town. Actually, it was that weekend that made me realize how much I love this area, and I learned that Gorinchem is quite a decent town and only 5 km away.

The next week I was back at work, and I was able to carpool with Michiel – that’s really nice! One evening we drove to Haarlem after work for another cosy dinner with my family ๐Ÿ™‚

We returned to Haarlem on Saturday, to celebrate my niece Mare’s 10th birthday! She’s getting so big! The cakes were delicious and very filling ๐Ÿ˜‰

Up til then, I had been working on the paper review like crazy. I finally finished it, and only had to wait for Dagrun (my co-author) to read through everything. So I decided to use a couple of free hours to finally get outside in the beautiful frosty (but sunny!) weather. I drove to the nature area Rietputten, near Vlaardingen. It’s a nature area surrounded by industry, like you can see in the photo below…

But to my surprise I was lucky enough to see a couple of bearded reedlings (baardmannetjes) who willingly posted for pictures. They are soooo cute! (Can you tell I’m slowly turning into a birdwatcher? I must be getting old ๐Ÿ˜€ ). I hope to share some more photos of that walk on my blog soon!

Later that day I submitted our revised paper, which is now being checked by the editor and we’ll soon find out if it’s accepted. It was such a relief to be done with it, as starting a new job while having to work on the review in the evenings and weekends was not much fun.

Last Monday we drove to Amsterdam after work. It was REALLY cold, but you can’t really tell that from the very sunny photo of the Skinny Bridge below ๐Ÿ˜‰

We shared a drink with my aunt in her local pub, then enjoyed some delicious sushi… and then we got to see Clouseau (a Belgian band) in concert. My first ever cd was by Clouseau, I had their posters hanging above my bed as a teenager, and I know the lyrics to every single song. They’ve been around for THIRTY years now and that’s why they did a special anniversary tour. I LOVED it. We had very good places and they gave a great show ๐Ÿ™‚

At work, it has been an interesting week because of the really cold weather (temperatures stayed below freezing for several days, and with strong easterly winds the wind chill is close to -20C!). We also had some tiny snow showers passing over the country, like this one…

Whenever it’s cold like this in the Netherlands, the “skating fever” comes up, and everybody gets so excited about skating. I haven’t had a chance to go skating myself, but I noticed people were skating on a frozen canal next to the church close to where we live. Beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

What a month!! It’s been insanely busy with everything that happened: submitting the revised paper, changing my dear Subaru for a lovely Honda Jazz, an unexpected job interview, getting hired and starting 10 days later… ๐Ÿ˜€ Life is good!

A cold morning at de Kralingse Plas

A cold morning at de Kralingse Plas

This morning I had to take my car to the garage, and I decided to cycle back from there. It was about 12 km, and halfway I passed de Kralingse Plas, a beautiful lake surrounded by forest. It’s one of my favourite places in Rotterdam. It was a cold morning and the boardwalk by the lake was covered in frost…

I had the place nearly to myself, with the exception of a couple of very sporty people ๐Ÿ™‚

There were lots of birds on the lake, and as always – a great view of Rotterdam’s skyline in the distance.

I wish I had brought my telezoom with me – next time! But even without it, I managed to get some nice photos of the birds.

I loved how this coot created its own circles in the water…

And later I saw a coot checking out its own reflection in the “mirror” ๐Ÿ˜‰

The sun came out…

Beautiful willow at the start of the boardwalk!

Another photo of the willow, seen from the other side, with the skyline of Rotterdam in the background.

My bike parked by the lake ๐Ÿ™‚

When I cycled home, I noticed an area near the shore of the lake that I hadn’t been to before. It turned out to be a true hidden gem – it’s called Heemtuin, and it felt like discovering a secret garden. Lots of boardwalks…

With Mr Grey Heron guarding the entrance to the boardwalk!

There is another long boardwalk in this garden, really nice!

Panorama of the beautiful view…

I then discovered an area filled with snowdrops – or so I thought. When I came closer I noticed the flowers were bigger than snowdrops and had a different shape. A man working in the garden came to talk to me and he told me they are called “Lenteklokje” orย Spring Snowflake in English – what a beautiful name! And what a beautiful flower…

There were snowdrops too, they are so elegant and pretty… ๐Ÿ™‚

Another photo of the snowdrops…

Beautiful view from this bench by the water… Although it’s cold in the Netherlands right now, you can still see and feel that spring is not far away ๐Ÿ™‚

Very nice views over de Kralingse Plas…

There are 2 sheds/cabins in the garden, the one on the left looked really cosy inside.

I’ll have to come back to this secret garden when nature has woken up a bit more! I’m also planning to try some bird photography next time I visit the lake ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking back: January 2018

Looking back: January 2018

The year started with a storm on the 3rd of January, and I decided to go to the beach at Scheveningen to experience the forces of nature! Force 10 was measured on one of the islands (Vlieland) in the north of the Netherlands, but in Scheveningen it was probably force 8 or 9. Impressive, and really cool to experience such strong winds!

You can see all photos from that day in this blog about the storm.

On the 6th of January my niece Lena turned 6, and we went to her birthday party. She’s completely into princesses and Frozen, but she also loves the painter Mondriaan so we gave her a Mondriaan calendar as a present, haha.

We also visited my parents, and checked the progress on my youngest brother’s new project – he’s bought a former laundrette that he’s turning into an apartment or office. It’s a lot of work, but a really beautiful building with a lot of potential – I think it’s going to be really amazing!

Later that afternoon we went to see a lot of houses for sale around Arkel (only from the outside though), a tour organized by Michiel’s friends Sharon and Renier, who would love for us to live in the same area! I’d love to live there too, but we have to think about travel times to work and whether it would really be practical. In the evening we all went for dinner, including their 1.5 year old son, a really nice evening!

On Sunday we went for a bike ride along the river Rotte at sunset. The light was golden and the views beautiful…

There were a couple of rowing teams on the river, with their coaches following them by bike and shouting instructions with a megaphone.

It was a cold and almost frosty evening, with beautiful colours at sunset.

The second week of January was busy, also because I’m working (full time) on the reviews for a paper I wrote last summer, together with the co authors. It’s a lot of work, but we’re slowly getting there.

One evening we went to a classical concert, I had bought tickets for us as a Sinterklaas gift to Michiel. It was an amazing concertย called “Bolero: dancing through Paris” – with surprising pieces, a really enthusiastic conductor, beautiful cello solos and of course the Bolero – so impressive. Only negative: some people next to me who talked through the Bolero, especially the really quiet beginning: “Oh yes they start slowly”…”A new instrument starts NOW”…”See, I told you the oboe would join now”. Sigh ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I was amazed at how mixed the audience was, not at all an audience full of grey hair as you usually see at classical concerts ๐Ÿ˜‰

During the weekend we had the two daughters (aged 8 and 11) of friends of Michiel staying with us for two nights. On Saturday we went to a climbing wall, we belayed the girls while they climbed 15 m high, wow!

It was a fun but tiring weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ That Sunday afternoon I walked to the theatre and took this photo of the train station in Rotterdam on the way (I love that building!)

I went to the theatre to get instructions for volunteering at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. I’m so looking forward to this! I’m going to be selling tickets at two really nice cinemas. The instruction meeting was really fun and social, I hope it’s going to be the same during the festival!

The third week of January was full of quite crazy weather! On Monday a couple of thunderstorms passed over Rotterdam and in the wake of one of them I saw these beautiful (and quite rare) mammatus clouds

I spent most of the time working on the reviews of my paper and didn’t have much time for other things. On Wednesday night we went to Haarlem though, to have dinner with my family. It was a really nice evening, with lots of laughter. And especially good desserts at the Dessertbar in Haarlem – yum!!

The day after, a crazy storm hit the Netherlands. It was much stronger than the one earlier in January, and this time I did not even consider driving to the beach. There were so many accidents and incidents on the roads that I stayed at home and watched the storm from inside. Watching the videos of people, bikes, trees and other items flying through the air was impressive and shocking!

On Saturday, I took the train to Haarlem (again!) to meet up with two friends from high school: Elke, who I’ve always kept in touch with, and Annemiek, who I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years! We had a long lunch catching up andย reminiscing about “the good old days” – we are getting old ๐Ÿ˜€

A few days later I noticed a couple of yellow crocus near our house – the first sign of spring! It made me happy ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s surprising actually, how much I miss winter in Norway. I never thought I would – but here the winter has been mostly wet, grey, foggy, windy and cold. I miss the crispy cold, clear, snowy, frosty winter days of Norway!

Michiel’s mum came to stay with us for a couple of days, and we visited the World Press Photo exhibition in the Laurenskerk (church) in Rotterdam. It’s a very arty church with lots of surprising corners!

I started “working” (volunteering) for the International Film Festival Rotterdam. It’s been so much fun! The first week I sold tickets at LantarenVenster, which is my favourite cinema in Rotterdam, all new and modern and at a very cool location. Later on, I worked at Cinerama which is the opposite: a really old-fashioned, and slightly falling apart cinema. Both have their charms, and I’m really enjoying being a part of the festival and meeting lots of interesting people every day!

I have only seen 3 films so far (even though I can see as many films as I like for free!), but I loved all of them: I, Tonya (about the figure skating drama of the nineties, really hilarious film), Dorst (a Dutch film with Simone Kleinsma, about a terminally ill woman whose daughter moves in with her) and The End of Fear (a documentary about the destroying and failed restoration of the “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III” painting in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam – a bizarre and fascinating story).

We spent the last weekend of January in Nijmegen, to celebrate the 40th birthday of Marc and Monique, friends of Michiel. I’ll share some more photos of Nijmegen later, so for now just a photo of De Waag on the main square, during a brief moment with blue skies.

On our way back from Nijmegen we visited some more towns that we might want to move to. One of them was Wijk bij Duurstede, which has a really cute city center. With a drive-through windmill ๐Ÿ˜€

The water levels have been really high in the Netherlands this month, and that was very clear from Wijk bij Duurstede – this is normally a parking lot, and you can even see two waste bins far away! But these kind of areas next to the rivers are made in such a way that they can flood without doing real damage.

This was one of the houses for sale in Wijk bij Duurstede (you can see the sign in the window). But that’s an apartment without any garden, not really what we’re looking for.

Another pretty building in Wijk bij Duurstede…

A small street and of the churches in Wijk bij Duurstede…

On the last night of January we went to see Philippe Geubels (a Belgian comedian) with Jessica and Sander. He’s hilarious, and I loved his show!

It’s been a good month! ๐Ÿ™‚