Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

I find myself near a field of swans

I’ve not had much time to take pictures, or write about my days here in the outback that is rural Brabant. I’m having too much of a good time relaxing and spending time with my family to actually think about things like this. There are things that I think I should be remembering to write about but in this state I forget to take these things down.

Wednesday I spent my day travelling from the port to my family’s house, from there to Oss to see what has changed since I was last there, and to Eindhoven to see my friend Frans and to attend the Ill Nino gig in the Effenaar. After that, we went to The Rambler for some after-gig drinks and chats with old and new friends till about 4 o’clock in the morning.

The new county council building in Oss

We didn’t get back to Frans’ place until quite a bit later, had a ham and cheese tosti to quench our hunger and finally went to bed around 4.45 or 5.00. My alarm went off 3 hours later, as I had to haste to Oss to get a lift back to my family’s place. Needless to say, I spent the rest of that day taking it easy..

Yesterday was another relaxed day of spending time with the family, a Burger King brunch, and a night of Hertog Jan beer with Vera in Oss. Even though it seems that this time, I am here for a reasonable enough amount of time to see my friends and family, I still feel like I could do with a few extra days!

Friday afternoon

This morning I watched my little cousin pass his swimming exams. On our way back to the house for some celebratory cake and coffee, we drove past a huge green field, covered in white swans. I’ve never seen anything remotely like that and I wonder why there were all there. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any pictures, but the sight was amazing.

In a few moments, we’ll be off to Eindhoven for our family ‘day’ which will be a BBQ and a surprise activity which will take place in the dark.. I’m excited to find out what it is!

Chrisje x

After a night at sea


The sea as seen from the sun deck on 23 March 2011 @ 7.30 am local time.

Due to a split second decision which resulted in last minute alterations to my trip to Holland, I found myself at Hook of Holland port yesterday morning, in stead of this evening. The sea had been perfectly calm, unfortunately not preventing my sea sickness, but most certainly keeping it under control. A good start of my holiday, to say the least!

Chrisje x

A meet & greet with Suffolk

Last week Wednesday I had a day off (they are rare!) and I was invited by the lovely Natz and Steve to join them and their friend Richard on a trip to Southwold, Suffolk, for some sea views and fish & chips.

Southwold, I think, is the furthest north in the country I’ve been so far. In Colchester, the day started out to be mild in temperature and quite sunny, but in Southwold, the sky was grey, the wind was freezing cold and the streets almost deserted. Apart from a few people who dared to brave the wind, there was no one on the beach. We resorted to a stroll around town, where I saw the sign below (interestingly, Southwold’s ‘seal’ bears Dutch flagged ships, referencing to the 1672 Battle of Sole Bay in which the English and the French fought versus the Dutch).

We then had lunch at Munchies before strolling back past the beach to the car. I’m still amazed we survived that trip, I can’t remember ever having been so cold! Having been in Southwold for only a short amount of time, Natz decided we should go to Aldeburgh for fish and chips, which apparently is “possibly the finest on the east coast” according to The Times (as quoted on it’s Wikipedia page).

On our way to Aldeburgh, we passed the ruins of the Leiston Abbey, so we stopped off there for some cultural education and some pictures. The sun was more present there, and there was barely any wind, and on one side, the sky was stark blue and crisp. The ruins seemed so permanent; they seemed enveloped in the stillness of the area and as far as you could see there would just be nature. Except for a few birds, and our cackling, it was quiet, and we were the only visitors.

Then finally off to Aldeburgh, which was also full of brightly colored cute houses and has a pebbled beach. As seemed custom, the wind was unbearable and the streets were deserted. Apparently, it is a traditional custom in Suffolk to close the shops early on a Wednesday, as they are also open on a Saturday, but some places, like the fish & chips shop, then re-open around 5 o’clock. Another thing we noticed in Southwold as well, is that almost every shop seems to leave out a bowl of water for any dogs? Aldeburgh had a plaque that offered an explanation for this.

Unfortunately my phone started playing up at this point, so I couldn’t take many pictures here. Natz  luckily was up for the task of being my replacement photographer. We ended the trip with a visit to their famous fish & chip shop (when it re-opened), before we commenced the 2 hour drive back.

What I found so interesting was that the architecture seemed so different. The houses seemed more cheerful, more colorful and more stacked upwards rather than sidewards. The high streets seemed cheerful places to be; the sort of towns that have a population that is largely holiday folk with a second house by the sea, with people that rather go to butchers, fish mongers, greengrocers and bakeries rather than a quick stop at Tesco’s (which is not a bad thing at all!) – which, again, seems such a different way of life compared to what most people seem to do in Essex.

Except for Felixstowe, I don’t think I’ve been to any other seaside towns in the UK. It’s been a welcome change from the normal urban environment I’m in, and it’s been great getting to know England a bit better. After all, I know a tiny bit of London, a tiny bit of Essex, and a bit of Kent from what I’ve seen from inside the Eurostar. Hopefully we get to do something like this again soon!

Chrisje x

The shape of the things yet to come

It’s a Tuesday morning, 9.20 am and I am in bed with my laptop. What is wrong in this picture?

My hours at work have been cut to a meager 20 for this week. If it is only for this week, I should be happy, as I am running behind on my course work and I could really use some extra time to get back on track. Last weekend was spent in Colchester again, and I took my laptop with me hoping I get could some work done, but of course it never works out that way.

Last weekend was fun though! Steve and I watched a few films that I wouldn’t have dared watch on my own (Terminator: Salvation and Aliens), we had Nando’s and I made my spareribs for these unsuspecting sweethearts. Unfortunately we couldn’t go to Colchester Zoo because of the rain, but Natz and I went out into town for some shopping instead which was just as amazing.

Colchester Zoo last year February

And luckily there’s a lot to look forward to as well! I’ve got a day off on Friday, got day school in Cambridge on Saturday (a 2,5 hour train journey, cannot wait..) and in March we’ve got two birthdays, my 2,5 year in the UK “half-a-versary” which needs to be celebrated, the Ill Nino gig in London, the family day at the end of the month which will garantuee me a trip to Holland, and I’m taking back with me my dear friend Claud!

Anyway, I digress – I should really be going back to my course work now. I will try to update soon!

Chrisje xx

Ketjap Manis and Skittle Bombs

This weekend has been the proverbial sunshine after a heavy storm for me. Last weekend, my partner of 2,5 years and I decided to go our separate ways, and even though it was a joint decision, I’ve felt pretty terrible throughout the week.

Luckily, I was invited over by my good friend Natz  and her boyfriend Steve to spend the weekend over there. I thought having fun and going out were the last things I was interested in, but the contrary seemed true, and I’ve had a fantastic weekend.

The Friday evening was spent on the sofa, watching a bad Valentine’s Day themed film with Cookie Dough ice cream, and talking about my past, present and future. Luckily Natz is a great listener so I had the chance to pour my heart out.

On Saturday, Natz and I went into town to check out some shops, after which Steve joined us and we went for lunch at Sloppy Joe’s, which is an American-styled diner type place, including the stereotypical menu you’d expect in a place like that. The food was great though, and the whole look and feel of the place made me feel like I was in one of those themed restaurants that you find in Disneyland.

After a quick stop home, we decided on a trip to Waitrose to pick up some shopping for dinner, and because it was such a beautiful afternoon, we took the route through Castle Park, earning me a few stunning pictures on the side.

The Castle in Castle Park

I’d never been to a Waitrose before, but I was told that they sell Ketjap Manis, which is an Indonesian Soy Sauce. Indonesia had been part of the Dutch Colonial Empire, and their food is almost as important to us today as curry is in the UK. I was so very pleased to find a connection to my native culture – this is certainly making my life in the UK a bit more like home!

Steve made us a lovely home made pizza and unfortunately after that the fun was over for me – my homework had to be done this weekend. After trying for a few hours, I realized I couldn’t even bring up the urge to type a word, let alone an essay, so down to the pub we went for the legendary ‘one drink only’. ‘One drink only’ turned into ‘I’ve never had ale before, and I don’t really like it, so this doesn’t count as one drink. I need a new one, and that one can be number 1.’ Which turned into three drinks because the previous drink was so good. Then all these people came to introduce themselves and you start chatting and before I knew it it was 1 o’clock in the morning and we were making plans to go to the next pub.

To cut a long story short (it did turn out to be a very interesting evening), I didn’t wind up in bed until about 10 to 5. Needless to say, I didn’t touch the essay anymore that evening.. To my surprise I also found myself wide awake at 9 o’clock the next (well, the same) morning. The rest of today has been spent trying to get rid of the aftertaste of my last drink of the morning (Skittle Bomb) and finding a hundred excuses at once not to finish my essay. So far, with the help of Frasier, breakfast, Facebook, travelling, blogging and watching a film, I’ve managed to lay it off for quite some time.

Tomorrow will be dreaded start of a new week and also Valentine’s Day, which I will try to avoid having to acknowledge at all costs. I’ve never really been a fan before, but being ‘freshly’ single on a day that everyone else is using to emphasize that they’re not, really doesn’t ease the heartache there. Hope I will survive!

Chrisje x

Francis publishes extracts from coming novel

George Francis has posted 3 extracts from his coming novel ‘Smiling at Strangers on Trains’ on his blog which you can find here.

Please take your time to read some of his work and give him some feedback.

I personally love his writing style and can’t wait for more extracts to be published!

Chrisje xx

Last day of holiday

I hoped it would never come, but unfortunately, there she is: the last day of my annual leave. I was so sure this holiday would keep going forever, these magical 2 weeks, or in work terms ’70 hours’, my long awaited rest, my treasure chest. I think you understand by now that I really needed this holiday.

The self pitying part in me says I haven’t had two weeks off. I’ve been ill since last Saturday, so in a way this could be regarded as partially true, although it’s better to be ill in my own time to avoid any hassle. So today is the last day before I have to return to work, to long hours, little sleep and lots of stress. I’ve tried to make this final day ‘the’ day of all holidays. Obviously I failed.

As I’m a list person, see here the list of my plans for today:

  • Plan 1: go to London, to Mayfair, to get myself a nice box of macarons, to stroll over the South Bank, to take some pictures and really enjoy myself.
  • Plan 2: go to Chelmsford, to go out shopping for clothes and Lush things and sweets.
  • Plan 3: be all home-y and make tonight’s dinner in advance, make bread, bake a cake and enjoy the smells of the house.
  • Plan 4: go out to town to get ingredients for a smashing ‘final’ lunch with the boyfriend.

At this point I’m not too fond of my lists any more because none of these plans were actioned. On the bright side, I planned a trip to Paris with my little sister Carmen, whom I’ve finally managed to convince to come with me and rent out an apartment for a week. This might bright up my sombre days until the summer’s arrived!

A picture of the apartment we've picked

It’s only a simple studio flat, but it’s not too expensive in off-peak season and it provides us with endless possibilities of what to do and where to go in the week we’re there. It’s also one Eurostar train away from London, so it’s a fast holiday option with maximum impact 🙂 I’m already so excited, and that’s only because of the apartment! Who knows what might overcome me when we start thinking about the shopping and the macarons! I can’t wait!

xx Chrisje