Hello and welcome to blog 3!
We can’t believe we have been in Holland for nearly three weeks already! We have settled in quicker than we could ever have imagined and Vossenveld now feels like home.
After a nosey on google maps on Monday morning, we discovered there was a shopping centre not too far away, so we decided to go investigate. This was all well and good until we had to push our bikes up to get onto the bridge across the river. WELL, this was a workout in itself – wait til you see my biceps after this trip.
If we thought this was bad, coming home was 10x worse!! Whoever said there were no hills in Holland has clearly never had to cycle up and over Dukenburg Bridge with a rucksack full of chocolate! Of course me and Rachel have bought bikes with no gears so we horsed up the hill best we could while Erin smoothly sailed up clicking through the gears. By the time we were getting the top of the hill we were going about 0.0005mph – below is how we honestly thought we were going to end up.
After the stress of all that, we took a wee break beside the river where my bike represents how I was feeling myself at that point.
We came home to get tea and do some washing, and I was just finishing an episode of Gilmore Girls when THE CURSE OF WHEELS STRUCK AGAIN. Rachel came in to inform me that our clothes had been DYED GREEN IN THE WASHING MACHINE. (Does a washing machine drum count as a wheel?) GREEN LIKE SERIOUSLY??? Why is my life never simple?
So this was happening at about 1am with Erin soundly in bed (if she didn’t hear Rachel and me half crying, half wetting ourselves at the whole situation). If I’ve observed anything from Gwen and Ruby Boyd, it’s been stained clothes soaking in yellow buckets beside the washing machine. So with no meal buckets to hand, the sink was the next best thing. After steeping them for two nights and washing them during the day, we managed to locate some colour catching sheets. 12 sheets later and I’m still running about with a green cardigan (not unsimilar to Gwen’s famous green cardigan, although slightly less leprechaun toned), but it’s the best we could do!
To cheer us up from the drama of the night before, we decided to make the famous Dutch delicacy of chocolate sprinkles on bread for lunch using our newly beloved Twinkelz (the best chocolate sprinkles to ever touch my lips). Erin is thoroughly disgusted that myself and Rachel eat them by the spoonful – we’ve went through a large box already. Peter and Mark, you may buy cranes to come lift us from the airport.
Surprisingly it is amazing! Although we are Twinkelz #1 fans so we may be biased.
Tuesday was also Valentines Day, so after class we decided to treat ourselves to our one true love (sorry Mark, Elliott and Peter) – caffeine. Erin was also well pleased when the hot chocolate was buy one get one free. Then, we went into the city centre to meet our Portuguese and Spanish flat mates for a wee Galentine’s Day celebration. Despite attracting the attention of a strange Russian man in the restaurant, we had a great wee night celebrating our newly found friendships!
The next day we had class in the morning, then had to go to the City Hall to get our ‘national security number’. But of course, we forgot the documents we needed to prove we hadn’t smuggled ourselves into the country, so had to cycle the whole way home and back into the city centre, but thankfully it was 11 degrees (considerably different compared to the snow last week). The considerable temperature rise unfortunately involved Erin stripping off many layers on the bike ride into the city centre (apologies to any Dutch individuals she may have flashed in the process). After Erin had publicly shamed herself and we had all been chatted up by the same city hall official who was interviewing us, we nosied around the shops and then to Grote Markt for more coffee and some people watching (our favourite hobby).However, Thursday weather took a mood swing, and it was absolutely baltic so Rachel whipped out the ski hoody. Rachel’s pea head makes me laugh so much in this photo!!
We had a pretty busy day on Friday with class, presenting our historical highlights of Northern Ireland. I never thought I’d see the day I’d be standing in front of a board explaining pictures of King Billy and Belfast murals but sure YOLO. Rachel certainly wasn’t getting that slide to talk about after she asked was the 12th anything to do with them oul murals in Belfast. Instead, she talked about the Titanic being built in Belfast and Erin talked about the potato famine. We mentioned it last week but for some reason (probably Rachel’s wikipedia research skills) we told the class that a staple food of ours is potatoes because during the famine this was all the Irish had to eat, turns out it was actually blight in the potatoes that caused the famine… Historian of the year award goes to… Rachel Glenn.
Friday night’s dinner was a bit of a disaster as we cooked enough rice to feed the whole of China, causing it to represent gruel. However, after straining it about 10 times (much like the washing – see a pattern yet?) it was quite tasty, and we had enough rice cooked to eat for about a week.
On Saturday morning, I was abruptly awakened by someone harshly pressing the buzzer for my room, so I headed down to the front door to be greeted by a delivery man. I’m not sure if the DHL man was just saying he couldn’t speak English because he was affronted by the sight of me just out of bed in my dressing gown or if he genuinely couldn’t understand a word coming out of my mouth, but after a while he eventually handed over 3 packages. I ran up the stairs to rip them open and discovered Mark had sent me a Valentine’s package with plenty of chocolate and a new pair of dealer boots that a pure tang like myself apparently needed. He’s not a bad spud after all!
To make the most of the early awakening, we decided to head to the fresh fruit market. I never thought we would get excited over fruit and veg, but after paying €1.25 each for peppers a few times, we were nearly jumping up and down when one cost 11c at the market! We were also buzzing when we found a whole floor at the top of HEMA dedicated to reduced items, myself and Erin found bike bags reduced from €25 to €2. They are bright orange with stars, so they are hideous, but at least blind Erin is now able to spot her bike a mile off. This bargain has also helped greatly with Erin’s finances, please see below her acting as Finance Minister 2017, pity she’s missing these elections in March, there would be no RHI crisis in Stormont with Erin about:
“If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.”
– Erin Ballantine (2017)
Saturday was also a beautiful day, cycling home is so much easier when the sunsets look like this!
On Sunday morning we decided to attend a local church, they speak Dutch, but they were so friendly and provided us with two English translators which was very helpful. It was very different to home, if you can picture some very lively, in-tune black women singing amazingly and then picture us three Presbyterians standing behind them like three pelicans with no clue what is going on living up to the name of hallions after cycling in dresses in the freezing cold… Then add to that image, Erin trying to sing in Dutch looking like a child learning words for the first time – cannot even.
Anyway, that’s all for this week, thanks for your support!