Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Some time ago hubby and I decided to enrol Niels for piano lessons. At 8 he's a good age to start, and we were both keen for him to take up a musical interest. We both had piano lessons as kids; hubby for a couple of years and I had lessons from 7 to 17 years of age, and I still love to play today. In fact a few years ago I shipped over the piano I learned on from New Zealand when my Mum shifted houses; she didn't want to keep it any more and it's a nice piano, and I'm quite attached to it. This summer I had the interior mechanism fully refurbished, a costly job but one which will last it for another 25 years or so. Built in 1939, it's a Wilma, originally made in London and now having travelled from the UK to New Zealand and back again by ship before being trucked over to Holland, it's a well travelled instrument!
I digress. While Niels had initially been reasonably open to piano lessons, the day that the teacher rang up to tell us what time to turn up he threw a huge hissy fit and we had our biggest argument EVER. And that's some record, let me tell you. He screamed, and ranted, he wailed, he jumped up and down on the spot, and every door in the house was slammed at least once. We were the worst parents in the world ever, possibly the universe, cruelly re-living our childhoods through torturing our first born son with the agony of a musical education. How Could We???
By the time lesson day rolled around Niels and I had reached an impasse. Waiting on the hard plastic chairs outside the lesson room, Niels stared stonily at the scuffed floorboards of the former church, refusing to speak to me, much less look at me. The minutes ticked by, interrupted only by the faint twanging of a kid getting guitar lessons in some back room. Suddenly the door burst open and the music teacher strode in. Niels face was a picture; having expected a grey haired old lady smelling of mothballs and cat piss, he was so stunned to see a young man with longish hair wearing a black t-shirt that his mouth literally dropped open. Mr Andro introduced himself with a big smile and swept Niels, who by this time had a goofy grin on his face, into the room. I sat through the first lesson amazed as Niels rattled off lists of questions; what do the pedals do? Why has this piano got 3 pedals instead of 2? Could he play rock music? Would he always be his teacher and was he interested in adopting an 8 year old boy?
As we walked back to the car, Niels bouncing like a squirrel that's just downed a can of Red Bull, I couldn't help but smile at the transformation and offer up a silent prayer of thanks to all the Gods that exist for Mr Andro. When Niels got home he raced up to Carl and yelled "It's so cool, my piano teacher is a DUDE!"
He's loved his lessons ever since, is more than keen to play for family and friends, and recently had his first 'recital' together with other students from the music school. Enjoy.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
As u maybe know, we should've gone to Barcelona this weekend, but at the moment I am at home and typing this email, so u can feel sorry for me and pls dont laugh, ok?
Why? I will explain below.
I booked a cheap flight and cheap hotel for a weekend with my wife, without the kids and yes I really looked forward to it. So as usual we had to pack our stuff at the last minute, that means friday night and after some hours the alarm told me that it was time to wake up and get ready for the travel to Dusseldorf airport.
We were in a really good mood, me and my wife, she spoke a lot and me listening as usual haha, and in the car we checked several times, if we had passport and tickets and yes it seemed we didnt missed anything. I'd printed out the floorplan of the parking place at the airport so all looked really good, we were in time, one and half hours before boarding time and we took the monorail from parking place to airport, still in a good mood.
When we arrived in the departure hall we looked at the monitors , trying to find our flight. Bit strange that we couldnt find our flight, we should leave at 9.25 am to Barcelona but only flight on the f***king screens was Air Berlin to Munich, bit strange for us so we went to a nice old guy from the info desk and asked him very polite, dear sir can u tell us which we gate we have to go for the flight to Barcelona? He answered with : this is Dusseldorf airport, we answered, yes we also know dear sir, then he replied, you are at the wrong airport, you have to go to Dusseldorf Weeze, 100 km back, nearby Kleve.
At that moment I thought, jesus man you look very ugly, then he went on with his story and said your plane will leave in 1 hour and Ryanair is very strict so you're not gonna make it. Then we both thought, shit you become even more uglier than one minute ago. He went on talking but we ran away and took the stupid monorailback to the car and tried to find the way to Dusseldorf Weeze airport.
I drove at 180 km over highway, while Ineke sat on the seat next to me . She had a brillant idea to take some clothes out of suitcase, coz we didnt had time to check in the suitcase, people who travel with me know that I always have to open my suitcase when I am at customs.
So Ineke was sitting with her ass to the front screen and me driving like mad over the German highway, I only saw the dashboard for the speed, some German cars and the ass of my wife. After picking the clothes from our suitcase of 15 kg she had two little handluggage bags of less than one kg. For me only a shirt, beachshorts and one piece of underwear, she of course had more but ok, at the time I didnt know.
Must be a wierd view for the German drivers, a Dutch car at highspeed and a woman with her ass to the front screen but ok, I didnt care.
Almost within one hour we arrived at Dusseldorf Weeze airport. While I dropped my wife off so she could run to the check in desk I put away the car at the parking and took my little bag with all my stuff (pffff) and also ran to the departure desk.
When I arrived I saw my wife smiling; it meant she said we are just in time and then we run to the checkcontrol, imagine all passengers with suitcase only us with 2 small bags, still had to take off my belt and put all stuff in bag for the control, but all seemed good. We asked again which gate we had to go and it was gate 4. We saw still people standing there so I thought I can go to toilet quick and my wife went for quick cup of coffee. When I came back I saw , this is not gate 4 but 7 and gate 4 was all empty only two stupid Ryanair girls waiting. So I ran to my wife and shouted hurry we have to go! Of course the bankcard for paying wasnt working so took a while and then we ran to those two stupids girls and said and showed them our boarding cards.
All looked good, then one of them start to talk - I still hate her - we just took away the stairs of the plane, sir. We answered polite, well dear girl , then u put it there again, coz we want to go to Barcelona, not possible the b*tch said, I just gave the pilot the number of passengers and we took away the stair. At that moment I wanted to take away her smile of her face and to replace it with the f*king stair. But she didnt allowed us to go to the plane and all we could do was to go back.
At that moment I thought , wow why all German people in this airport look sooooo ugly. We were both in shock coz we missed the plane by just 3 minutes and Ryanair didnt help us or give us any service. All we could do was to book next flight for 100 euro per person and on the next day. We said, just put the tickest in ur a** and we drove home very sadly.
We arrived home at the same time as the flight arrived in Barcelona but the only thing it was without us.
Needless to say that our Saturday was not that good as we both expected. Of course soon we got calls from our "friends" who knew already about our stupid mistake but I couldnt laugh at that moment.
All the way back from airport to the Dutch border I thought, Germany is always raining and dark, and all people we saw were ugly too.
Anyway, now you know the reason why I am at my desk again, so if u still feel sorry but also want to laugh at me, well then you know how to find me but at least bring me a nice cup of coffee, then i will drink and you can laugh at me, deal?
I feel bit stupid when typing this but ok it was our own fault, needles to say that I still dont like the nice old guy from the Dusseldorf International airport and also will not recommend those stupid Ryanair girls to my sons.
Maybe also needless to say that , when we had coffee at that stupid airport and saw the plane leaving, I was happy that i didnt had a gun with me to blow it out of the air......
See you all in office again....................."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The celebration of Sint’s birthday starts with his arrival by steamboat from Spain, accompanied by hundreds of Black Pete’s (like Santas little helpers on speed with better costumes and a healthy dose of naughtiness thrown in). For a more detailed explanation see my previous blogs on the subject, here and here. Once he officially arrives in the country during a televised day of fun, Sint then spends the next week sailing into every city, town and village in Holland on a variety of steamboats, magically appearing in many different places on the same day. How odd.
He appears at every school; the Sinterklaas Journaal news program is broadcast every night on t.v.; every event from Scouting to Market Day is brightened with a liberal scattering of Petes and a Sint.
Finally, on December 5th, the Big Day arrives. This year, early in the evening on December 4th the phone rang and a deep voice asked to speak to Carl. Taking the phone in a hand sticky with the remnants of the chocolate Sint he’d found in his shoe that morning, Carl’s eyes grew rounder and rounder, his mouth forming a perfect ‘O’ of amazement and he turned to me and announced in a voice husky with shock “It’s…..SINTERKLAAS!!!” Indeed, the good man himself had rung to make an appointment for the next day, and would it be convenience to pop by? Barely able to squeak out a “yes”, Carl handed the phone to Niels who by this stage was literally bouncing from foot to foot, face red with excitement. He breathlessly asked Sint, in his very best Most Polite Little Boy in the World Ever voice, if he would bring a Pete or two as well please??
You can imagine how much – or how little – sleep was had that night. The next day Sint and his official entourage arrived at 4pm sharp, bearing the big red book of secrets and two large gifts. The boys were amazed at the depth of Sint’s knowledge of Scout groups, school classes, hobbies they enjoy and swimming diplomas recently gained…was there no end to this man’s wisdom?? All too soon it was over, time to open the presents. More amazement; how could Sint possibly have known that Carl LOVES Transformers more than life itself and that Niels would practically passout from joy at the WW1 model airplane kit?
Now that it’s all over, we’re looking forward to two little boys sleeping through the night once more, sugar levels lowering from pre-diabetic to something akin to normal and the ceremonial burning of wish-lists. And if you're wondering what I've been doing every evening since hubby went back to sea...just take a close look at Niels present and, I beg you, have some pity for me. At least life is returning back to its normal routine.
But wait…isn’t there something else happening towards the end of the month??....
Monday, December 07, 2009
Currently I’m swishing around in my last pair of embroidered blue silk slippers I picked up in China Town, Singapore, during the Chinese New Year celebrations, but they won’t last forever and frankly despite having a high drop-dead gorgeous factor, they aren’t exactly warm.
Today I wandered through a couple of shoe shops in Zutphen looking for something wearable. I spotted some Ug Boots – if you’re not an Antipodean you probably call them sheepskin boots – and out of sheer nostalgia picked one up and looked at the price tag. Holy shit, I kid you not; they were 149 euros!! We used to slop around in Ug boots as kids on the farm, back when they were fashionable the first time around (yes I’m that old). I’m embarrassed to admit to actually having worn these outside of the house on several occasions, apparently convinced I was making a bold fashion statement rather than looking like a Neanderthal twit.
Mind you, I was tempted to order these Play Boy slippers from Amazon, not because they would be practical or functional or even comfortable, but simply because left unattended in a corner they would remind me of several real house bunnies I’ve had in the past, trying to look inconspicuous while actually plotting to chew through the telephone cable or strip the wallpaper.
What I really want is for the companies who make kids slippers to start turning them out in adult sizes. I mean check out these Dr Who slippers; who wouldn’t want a matching pair of Daleks on their feet??
What about these ‘Junior Dare’ slippers – I would TOTALLY answer the door wearing these!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Now let me start by saying that although I enjoy gardening and getting a bit muddy, I can quite confidently say that I’m a fairly crap gardener. My plants don’t flourish; they limp along until a season changes enough for them to flop limply in relief at not having to pretend they will ever live up to the promieses on their labels. The soil around our house is awful – any topsoil was strip-mined and sold off by the developers – and the borders are characterized by either endless shade or desert-like over exposure to the sun.
However these factors haven’t deterred me from spending money on new plants like a pro, and hope, if not my garden, sprouts eternal. In this respect, bulbs are the perfect plants for me. You just chuck them in the ground, do nothing for a few months, and hey presto, you have flowers in the spring time.
Monday, November 09, 2009
A few minutes later I went in to put on his socks - I know, some 5 year olds have mastered this tricky task but it takes Carl FOREVER and sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself, you know? So there he is, lying on his bed, feet in the air and as I lean forward to roll on the first sock he swings his arm to give me a lash of his pretend whip, complete with sound effects, and yells: "Come on slave, faster!!"
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
After riding on the cute little West Cliff Victorian railway down to the seaside again, we enjoyed an excellent lunch of traditional fish & chips at a nice little restaurant before wandering back to the car. Fired up by the history oozing from the ground around us we stopped at the imaginatively named town of Battle, site of....you guessed it...the Battle of Hastings. A huge Abbey was built beside the battle field by William the Conqueror and Holger was keen to take a look, as was Niels. I bowed out - one cathedral a week is enough for me - and instead took Carl to visit Yesteryear, a museum andshop full of nostalgic things from days gone by. I bought the guys a very retro-looking gam of Tiddlywinks and a couple of traditional pop-guns (the kind with a cork on a string which pops out when you pump the handle), perhaps subconsciously hoping to distract them from the whole arrow-in-the-eye obessession.
When he emerged from the Abbey hubby was having a chuckle at something he'd seen. A concrete tile marked the spot where King Harold had died, and some patriotic Brit had placed flowers there with a note saying "In remembrance of the last true English King". Who would have thought it possible to hold a grudge for 950 years??
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Carl however, with less life experience to draw on is clearly thinking: "We're all going to die!!!". Those popping eyes, muscles clenched in terror and hair standing on end all show that he fully expects the smiling young teenagers who work at Legoland to be seiving bodyparts from the foaming pool at the bottom of this slope for the next two hours. D-Day has arrived.
Now let's examine that emotion a little more closely...
...and then marvel at the fact that the very first thing he said when we reached the bottom - once he resumed breathing - was "AGAIN!!!"
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Niels listened quietly and we ended with a hug and a promise to try harder. When it was Carls turn he also listened intently, nodded his head that he understood then gave me a quick goodnight kiss before demanding: "how long until Papa comes home?" Obviously he's given up on me and has decided the other parent show more promise.
Actually it's the second time this week he's made me feel like that. He loves to kick around a football after dininer, devising elaborate rules that only he can understand to explain why when he kicks the ball in my goal (the entire garden fence) he gets 3 points, yet when I kick it into his goal (a 20 cm wide zone of the fence which moves at random) I either get 1 point, or -1 point. It's always a laugh and its hard to keep a straight face when he takes it so seriously. A couple of nights ago he was getting increasingly pissed off because I didn't understand his ever-changing rules, and when I finally gave up and just kicked the ball towards him glared at me, thrust out his arm with an indignant finger pointing straight at me and yelled "that's it, YOU'RE FIRED!"
Time to find a new job.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
A tree-top walk has recently been constructed; not for the faint hearted it wobbles its way between trees, suspended several metres above the ground. And surrounding that is an expansive playground, which has been constructed as lots of small play stations spread through the trees, perfect for playing hide and seek.