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Looking Back: April 2018

Looking Back: April 2018

I can’t believe April came and went without me writing some blogs – I’m getting so behind! I worked a lot, but thankfully also had time for a lot of fun things – just not enough time to actually write about them πŸ˜€ At the very least, I try to keep up these monthly posts and hopefully soon I’ll find some more time to write blogs.

The first weekend in April was Easter, and we were invited for a really nice Easter Brunch at Jessica and Sander in Reeuwijk. We even did an Easter egg hunt, which was so hard that I almost gave up on finding all my eggs πŸ˜€ but it was a lot of fun!

After that I worked for 6 days straight. It was tough, I had only just come back from 2 weeks in Norway and these were my first shifts working independently (no longer in training). It also meant getting up every day at 04:20 or 05:20, I think you’ll understand I was half dead by the time I finished the 6 days πŸ˜‰

During the weekend I worked, the temperature reached 20 degrees for the first time this year, which we celebrated with an ice cream πŸ™‚

After this work marathon, I had two days off – but they were spent working on the paper I am STILL trying to get published, going to the dentist and voluntarily going into work for an important meeting. Hmm, not the most relaxing “weekend”!

Later that week, we went to a Clouseau concert (for the second time :D) with Sharon and Renier. The concert was totally different from the one in Amsterdam, it was shorter and they hardly talked between songs. It was nice, but the audience was a bit annoying (talking through the concert and blocking my view, how dare they πŸ˜› ). Still, it was a fun evening!

The second weekend of April was a long weekend for me – 4 days off. I really needed it! I still had to spend some of it on the paper – I will be SO relieved when that is out of the way, hopefully soon.

Still, I found time for a bike ride to my favourite “secret” garden (de Heemtuin) at de Kralingse Plas. I enjoyed watching the birds, and all the spring leaves that had exploded after those first warm days!

I also found this cute baby bunny hiding between the spring leaves…

And a family of pheasants, who always seem to hang around in the garden.

Besides birds and bunnies I also disturbed a couple who obviously thought they’d had the park to themselves on a Friday morning – Spring is in the air I guess πŸ˜›

On Saturday, we went to Gorinchem for a meeting with an estate agent who’s going to help us buy a house. We spent the rest of the day in Gorinchem to explore the town a bit. I fell in love with Gorinchem’s city centre, it’s so beautiful…

The house on the water is actually for sale, we went to look at it later the next week.

What I love about Gorinchem: it feels like a real (albeit small) city, but when you walk on top of the city walls you are right next to the river. Isn’t that great??

Another impression of Gorinchem…

That evening we had dinner in Leerdam, and we also spent the night there. We wanted to get more of a feeling for where we would like to live. I found Leerdam small and sleepy, and much preferred Gorinchem. Good to know!

The next day we drove to Wageningen to visit Michiel’s mum. We stopped to look at a stork along the way. They used to be such a rare sight, but they have become quite common!

We also stopped in Culemborg to look at two houses we had seen for sale. One of them had this view… nice!

On Monday I had another day off, and my car needed to get a service. I took my bike with me and went cycling – the weather was beautiful! I went looking for birds, and I found some πŸ™‚ I believe this is a wood warbler (Fluiter), but I am not totally sure.

I cycled along de river Rotte, and stopped to take some photos of the 3 mills next to each other. I noticed a footh path going from one to the other, so I went for a little walk.

I loved taking photos of the mills with these beautiful clouds in the sky!

When I got to the last one, the miller was just mowing the grass, and he came to talk to me. He was very chatty and friendly, and ended up inviting me to have a look around the mill. I stayed for over an hour, it was so fascinating to hear about how he ended up being a miller andΒ his experiences living in a mill. He even showed me his living room, decorated in old Dutch style.. so nice!

In the hallway you can see parts of the mill, very cool! This mill dates from 1730 (hard to imagine!) and together with the 3 other mills it pumped the water (one step up at each mill) away from the surrounding fields and into the river Rotte. They all still function, and they are a backup for when the pumping station has a power cut.

Next to the mill is the “summer house” which is a tiny living room and a shed, which in the past was used by the wife of the miller during the summer to bake and do other jobs. Below you can see the miller and his ridiculously cute cat, who follows him everywhere!

The mill with the summerhouse on the left.

About once a month, we go for dinner with my family and my uncle Joop. This month it was our turn to chose a restaurant and organize the dinner. Since I knew it was going to be really warm weather, we decided to go for dinner in a restaurant on the beach at Noordwijk. The service at the restaurant was slightly chaotic (it was really busy), but we were in no hurry and it was so nice to eat outside and watch the sunset…

My family πŸ™‚

The lighthouse at Noordwijk, beautifully lit…

The next day we went to look at two houses in Gorinchem. One was the beautiful house by the water that we had seen from the outside the week before. It was built in 1790 and unfortunately not in the best state. It needed a lot of renovation, and it’s a monument which makes all that even more complicated (and expensive). We’d love to buy it, but unfortunately we had to conclude that it’s too much of a financial risk for us.

It was nice to be in Gorinchem again though, it would be so nice to live there. A few streets away from the city center there’s a mill (with a beautiful view over the river)…

It was 28 degrees that day, which called for more ice cream πŸ˜€

A week ago, I went flying with my brother, and my mum joined as well. We were so lucky with the weather!

It was the perfect time to fly over the flower fields with tulips in the west of the Netherlands…

We also flew over the city centre of Haarlem, which was so amazing!!

We stopped for lunch at Texel πŸ™‚

I took so many photos that day, I hope to share them in a blog soon!

The last weekend of April was quiet. I did spend time with my friends Aline and Edwin who came to visit us and we went to see a photo exhibition together. I hadn’t seen them since they came to visit me in TromsΓΈ back in 2013 (click here to read about their visit), and it was really nice to catch up πŸ™‚

On the last day of April we went to see another house in Gorinchem, also in the city centre. It was built in 1999, but it was designed to fit in with the older houses in the street. I liked it, but Michiel was not that keen. So the search continues πŸ˜‰ (if it starts to sound like a never-ending story, my mum keeps reminding me that it took them two years to find a house – so I guess we should be patient πŸ˜€ )

So that was April… It was fun, but hectic. I think May will be better though, I’m going to work 3 days a week instead of 4 so that helps already. I have lots of fun things planned for May: a trip to Brussels with Jessica for example, and I will have friends from Norway visiting not once but twice πŸ˜€

Looking back: March 2018

Looking back: March 2018

Early in March, we had a second viewing of the house in Arkel. After a weekend of brainstorming, we decided to buy it. We almost got it, we got very far in the negotiating process, but in the end the seller surprised everyone (including the estate agent) by selling it directly to someone else. It was so disappointing, it still makes me sad. We got so close! Oh well, chin up and we’ll keep looking!

That weekend I also went to a winter bird excursion to Ackerdijkse Plassen, a nearby nature reserve.

We spent the next weekend in Haarlem, but since Michiel had a work meeting in Leiden on Friday afternoon, I came with him and walked around Leiden for a couple of hours. I took a lot of photos and plan to spend them on my blog soon! Here’s one photo taken at the Burcht πŸ™‚

We spent a great weekend in Haarlem, Michiel’s sister and her boyfriend joined as well. This is where I grew up, so I showed everyone around Haarlem on Saturday. The weather was a bit grey, but it was a really nice day.

A cat in front of the former prison in Haarlem, which we would visit on an excursion the next day!

Our actual reason for visiting Haarlem was my birthday present by Bart and Kaya: a dinner trip around the world in 5 courses. The menu was AMAZING and the evening was wonderful – what a great birthday present!!

On Sunday we went on an excursion to the former prison in Haarlem, it was housed in a round building. Our guide talked a LOT but finally we did reach the room that we came to see, and that was really impressive… More photos on my blog soon!

I then spent a busy week at work, where I started at 06:30 every day. That meant I didn’t do much else that week, although we did find time for a dinner with my parents and a visit to the theatre to see Fiddler on the Roof with Thomas Acda. Very nice!

On Saturday our friend Katharina and her boyfriend Joris came to visit us (from Brussels/Antwerp). We showed them around Rotterdam on a VERY cold day. The temperature was just below zero, but it was very windy which made it feel like -15!

We finished the afternoon with beer and cider in Fenix Food Factury πŸ™‚ We went home early, because I had to pack for a two week holiday…

I spent the last two weeks of March in Norway. My friend Nicole, who lives in Seattle, always wanted to visit me while I lived in TromsΓΈ. She never got the chance until now (only 3 years after I moved from TromsΓΈ πŸ˜‰ ), and I decided going back to Norway for holidays would be fun.

We had an amazing trip! Our first stop was Svalbard, the real Arctic, and as Nicole put it: the closest to the North Pole we’d ever get!

We had such a great time there. It was my third visit, but I’m still as amazed by this area every time I visit. We went dog sledding and we went on a long snow scooter trip to the east coast. So beautiful! I hope to publish a blog post about Svalbard soon πŸ™‚

Our next stop was TromsΓΈ, where we got to see the northern lights in all its glory already on our first night!

We also spent a few days on the island Senja, in a DNT cabin… there was so much snow, and it kept snowing all week.

Finally we had a day in Oslo before we both flew back home. Nicole visited her family-in-law, while I spent a wonderful day catching up with friends in the spring sunshine. The highlight of the day was sharing a wonderful sauna experience with Teresa – with this view!

And with that, March came to an end. What a wonderful month! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™ 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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜‰

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 aΒ steam-powered pumping station (the largest still operating in the world!), calledΒ 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 ThialfΒ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜€ ). 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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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… πŸ˜€ Life is good!