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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!

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 πŸ™‚

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” πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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” orΒ Spring Snowflake in English – what a beautiful name! And what a beautiful flower…

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

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Looking back: December 2017

Looking back: December 2017

My blog has been neglected for too long, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to do something about this! One thing I want to start is a monthly overview of what has happened last month – where I can also share the small things (a photo or something that has happened) that otherwise would never make it to my blog. Here’s the first episode: December 2017…

The first weekend of December we went to our favourite sushi restaurant in Rotterdam: Itami. We’re testing out all the other good sushi restaurants in the city, but we keep having to conclude that nobody is better than Itami! It was a wonderful night with wonderful food πŸ™‚

The next morning we had brunch at the Euromast, a famous observation tower in Rotterdam. This was a gift from Michiel’s sister, and we booked it some weeks earlier. The view from the restaurant is amazing, but we were very unlucky with the weather: thick fog! We thought it was quite funny though, especially since I’m a meteorologist πŸ˜‰

While shopping for presents, I looked for the Prague Lonely Planet in Donner, my favourite bookshop in Rotterdam. Lonely Planet bought one of my photos, of a lunch I had with my sister in Prague. It was fun to find it in both guides (the pocket one and the larger one). I sell photos through Getty, so they end up all kinds of places, but Lonely Planet is probably the most exciting place for me!

Later that week we went for a very special dinner: a 6 course meal at Michelin star restaurant FG Food Labs. It was truly amazing – very original, beautiful (and sometimes fun!) presentation, fantastic food. I loved that they had a “BOB” version of their wine package. BOB is what we (in the Netherlands) call the person who doesn’t drink so he/she can drive. I’m not sure it would have been safe for me to drive after 6 half glasses, but I always find a full glass of wine with each course too much, and this was a nice solution! This restaurant is only 15 minutes from where we live, so no need for a car or even a bike. Here are some of the dishes we had that night…

On the first day with snow, we drove to the small village of Asperen to look at a house that was for sale there. I love this area, and the snow made it even prettier! I completely fell in love with the house, but Michiel didn’t. It was also only the first house we’ve looked at, and we need to think about what we really want and where we would like to live. We’re not in any hurry though, so we’re taking our time to work this out.

That night we drove through the snow to Amsterdam, where we watched Alison Moyet perform to a sold out Paradiso – it was fantastic! I love her voice, and the concert was amazing.

The next day we celebrated Sinterklaas with my family (we were 14 people in total) at our place. There was a huge pile of presents, and it was a really fun afternoon!

One of the gifts I got was this book about 111 places in Rotterdam that you should see – I’m looking forward to discovering all of them!

The next day it snowed, and snowed, and snowed! Until it looked like this…. (not the best photo quality, but it shows how much snow we had!).

Unfortunately all the snow rained away before I had a chance to go out and get some good photos. A few days later I went to Den Haag (the Hague) to visit the Escher museum (for the second time!) and Panorama Mesdag. You can read more about that day here.

The weekend of 16-17 December we stayed in a cabin in Reeuwijk, where Michiel’s sister lives with her boyfriend. It was a busy weekend, with 3 birthday celebrations and a lot of time in the car. I wish I could have taken more photos that weekend, because the weather was frosty, and the snow showers made for some fantastic clouds. I did take this panorama by the shores of the lake near our cabin πŸ™‚

That evening we went to the birthday party of Jessica and Sander. The dresscode was these crazy Christmas jumpers…

And the birthday couple themselves, in very “special” Christmas jumpers (look carefully)…

The next day we took the scenic route to another birthday party, and stopped in some places where we might want to live. For example Montfoort, where this photo was taken…

It was my birthday on the 20th of December and I had already bought myself a gift months ago: I needed to use up some British Airways airmiles, and I booked a hotel room at nhow RotterdamΒ with a nice view. What I didn’t know, is that Michiel secretly upgraded this room to the Rem Koolhaas suite, and got them to decorate it really nicely for my birthday! Wow!

There was even a message on the mirror for me πŸ™‚

We enjoyed a nice drink in the hotel bar…

And then tried another sushi restaurant, this time Azura. Very nice sushi, but still not the same service and taste as at Itami πŸ˜‰

The suite had a fantastic view towards the Erasmus bridge and the river, but (theme of the month!) it was very foggy and the view in the photo below was the best we got that night (the next morning we couldn’t even see the bridge at all!)

Two days later I threw a big birthday party for about 25 guests. It was really nice, and I was pleasantly surprised how many people actually came in the busy days before Christmas, some travelling very far! It was a great night πŸ™‚

We spent Christmas in Wageningen with Michiel’s family, where we had a very nice tapas style dinner. The next day we stayed at home, and went for a walk in Rotterdam. I loved seeing Christmas trees in the middle of one of the canals!

We walked outside the city and found some very Dutch skies and landscapes πŸ™‚

Michiel had to work between Christmas and New Year, but I joined Jessica, Sander and family for a couple of days in Vaals in the south of the Netherlands. It was close to the highest point of the Netherlands and the three-country-border between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. We actually had snow again over there, and we had a great time going for walks, visiting the Christmas market in Maastricht, bowling, and playing boardgames. I will write a blog about our days there soon, so here I will just share one photo of all of us at the three-country-border point πŸ™‚

During the last weekend of 2017, my two nieces Mare and Lena came to stay with us. We went to the zoo in Rotterdam (Blijdorp), which was lots of fun.

The rest of the time was spent making endless drawings, eating pancakes and refusing to go to sleep πŸ˜‰ It was so much fun to have them visit, and I hope they come again soon!

We spent New Year’s Eve at home with just the two of us – a quiet cosy evening with lasagne and nice drinks, watching the fireworks from our living room. Happy New Year everyone!! May 2018 be filled with love, health, family and lots of adventures πŸ™‚

I hope you enjoyed this monthly overview, I plan to continue them from now on!