Saturday, 22 December 2012

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A little baby girl!!!

We have some very exciting news: the results of the amniocentesis were all good, and the best thing is that we're having a little baby girl!!!

I rang the doctor's office for the results, the midwife on the phone said that everything came back normal. And when I asked about the sex of the baby, she said 'it's a lovely little baby....' and I filled in  'boy', because we just knew it would be a boy. As parents you just know. But then she said 'girl.'

'Excuse me? What did you just say?'

'A girl. It's a girl.'

'No way.'

'Yes'.

'Crap in heaven. So it's a girl?'

'Yes. Don't you want a girl?'

'No, that's not it. We were certain it would be a boy. A girl is a bit unexpected.'

'Ah, I see.'

'Wow. Okay, thanks, bye.' So I hung up, and burst out in tears from the sheer shock that the results were all good, and that we're having a girl. I was very impressed. Then I rang Age, who didn't seem quite as impressed as I was, because, as he explained later 'someone has to keep his head cool'. I said that that is very well when I'm in labour, but not needed yet.

I got a real adrenalin rush from the news, was in bed really late, and woke up really early, still very excited. Told my roommate at work, who was over the moon and shed a few happy tears for us - got nearly crushed in a hug. Another lady at work an hour later did exactly the same, so I can now safely assume with N=2 that that's the normal reaction here down under :-))

Brighton Beach, close to the Dutch Shop. Lovely little beachside village, great cafes, great beach.
I also went to the Dutch shop here in Adelaide (for the first time), and got quite the catch of the year: banketstaaf (almond ring), lots of drop (liquorice), blauw met witte muisjes (blue and white anise drops for on a sandwich or crispbread - they didn't have pink!), speculaasbrokken (no idea what that is in English), frietsaus (mayonnaise), ontbijtkoek (what would that be in English? It's definitely not 'breakfast cookie.'). Having tried everything I can tell you that especially the ontbijtkoek doesn't go down well - after eating a big slice with butter I feel like I'm about to explode. But it tastes soooo good! The banketstaaf was fine, but just half the size of the portion Age gave me. Speculaas goes down very well.





Friday, 7 December 2012

Kumara (sweet potato)

It's cucumber time, as we say in The Netherlands, which means it's Summer and nothing much is happening. So not much to tell, other than that the baby is still going strong, and has progressed to the size of a Kumara (add legs to that).

Age has been in Perth this week, and arrived home late last night. This morning we had a one-sided gift-giving morning, where he got a lot of useful presents from Sinterklaas: two pairs of undies, an under-shirt, and three happy t-shirts. He's quite the man now.

It's weekend again, and we're getting into the Christmas festivities. Just had our Divisional end of year meeting, our team is now having some pre-xmas drinks (meaning: wine at your desk, and water for me), and tomorrow we'll have Age's work xmas dinner.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Turnip (knolraap)

It's not even summer yet, and the forecast for today is 40 degrees. I'm sure we'll reach it as it was already quite hot this morning, when walking from the carpark to work. Then later this afternoon there should be thunderstorms and a bit of rain, which usually means that tomorrow it'll be about ten degrees cooler.

We don't mind that at all, as it also means that the bushfire risk goes down immediately. There are small fires in the State each day, and you wouldn't believe it, but a fair few are deliberately lit. I've heard that the police visits well-known idiots on fire danger days, to find out where they are and what they're doing, and apparently there is about 200 of them. There has been a big fire last week, on Eyre Peninsula, threathening homes in Port Lincoln, but that one is under control. Most fires seem to start off as a result of thunderstorms and lightning, when trong winds are present.

Age is home this week, which is nice, and at his office they're shuffling desks around at the moment, to make better use of the space, and because a new colleague has started this week. Being a small company with about seven employees, the boss himself went to IKEA with his ute, bought a few desks, loaded them in the ute, and brought them to the office, where they've been busy assembling them with one screwdriver.

They also have a Christmas tree in the office, which I totally overlooked and didn't see at all when I popped in to tell Age's colleagues that I forgot to bring their toilet key - the toilet key Age put in his pants and accidentally took home, and only discovered this while gone to Sydney for a week. Apparently the Christmas tree was white :-)

Pregnancy-wise we've reached the stage of a Turnip this week, at 16 weeks and 1 day. I've also had an amniocentesis on Monday, and apart from being quite sore (a battered and bruised feeling in my abs on the left side) afterwards for two days, everything went fine. Next up is the 20-week scan, just before Christmas. When we reach that milestone it means we're halfway!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Wisdom from the Far East

 Description:
                                                      1.608394986@web120104.mail.ne1.yahoo.com

Dr. Yu Tok Kak


Q:  Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can  prolong life.  Is this true? A: Heart  only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste  on exercise.  Everything wear out eventually.   Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like  saying you extend life of car by driving faster.   Want to live longer?  Take nap.

Q: Should  I reduce my alcohol  intake?
   
A:  Oh  no.  Wine made from fruit.  Fruit very good. Brandy distilled  wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you  get even more of goodness that way.  Beer also made  of grain.  Grain good too. Bottom up!

Q: How can I  calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if  you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to  one.  If you have two body, your ratio two to  one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of  participating in a regular exercise  program?
A: Can't think of one,  sorry.  My philosophy: No  pain...good! 
     
Q:   Aren't fried foods bad for  you?   
A:  YOU NOT  LISTENING!  Food fried in vegetable oil.  How  getting more vegetable be  bad?

Q
  :  Will  sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft  around the middle?A:  Oh no!   When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You  should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger  stomach. 

Q:  Is chocolate bad  for me? 
A:  You crazy?!?   HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another  vegetable!  It best feel-good food  around!

Q:  Is swimming good for your  figure?
A:  If swimming good for  figure, explain whale to me.

Q:  Is  getting in shape important for my  lifestyle? 
A:  Hey!   'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared  up any misconceptions you may have had about food and  diets.

And  remember: 
Life  should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention  of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved  body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one  hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a  ride!!"   
 
AND.....

For   those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final  word on nutrition and health.  It's a relief to  know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional  studies.   

1. The Japanese  eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than  Brits.



      
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and  suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

3. The  Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer  heart attacks than Brits.

4. The Italians  drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks  than Brits.


      
5. The Germans  drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats  and suffer fewer heart attacks than  Brits.


CONCLUSION:  Eat  and drink what you  like.   Speaking English is  apparently what kills you.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Avocado

I have been eating a lot of avocados lately. They are great in a mash with tinned salmon - and then spread onto a toasted bagel, for lunch. Or what about avocados in salads, with walnuts? Yummmm.
Coincidentally, baby's size is the size of an avocado this week (add legs to that :-)). I thought I'd decided not to blab too much about my pregnancy, but there we go, out the window already.

Adelaide is heating up too, which makes our search for a home with a swimming pool even more ... (fill in the blanks: urgent? applicable? nicely timed?). Whatever. Fact is that we have to choose by next week whether we want to stay for another year in our current place, or move out. We would like something in between, so we'll try to negotiate a bit more flexibility. In the meantime we're making ourselves crazy by sending each other dozens of properties on a daily basis that are on the market, either to rent or to buy. But there's always something wrong with each property, most of the time it's the price :-)

About heating up: there are three 35's in the forecast for the coming week, so that's what I mean. Soooo nice to have a pool!

Age has been in Sydney last week and this week. He'll be home next week, for a change. Who is that man at my breakfast table, eating cereals and yoghurt???

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Curtains and blinds

Finally, after almost ten (!) months, the curtains and blinds in our rental place have been installed. One piece of advice: never buy anything from Sp*tlight. The curtain journey has been unbelievable. Measuring started early February, as well as choosing the right fabric for the blinds (the owner did this). After ordering everything, they soon found out that the chosen fabric was discontinued and undeliverable. So the owner had to choose again.

It then took weeks before the blinds were made and ready to install. No, stop. Before a couple of the blinds were made and ready to install. The others were all too wide or too narrow and had to be remade. A couple of months later they were ready to install the remaining blinds. Pardon me, to install some of the remaining blinds, as the rest had gone missing.

They then had to order and make the missing blinds again, which took another couple of months, and when these were ready, they didn't fit the hanging mechanism. So the hanging mechanism had to change. They changed it into another model, excuse me, thought they changed it, but didn't, so the installer couldn't install them the second time, and had to re-order the hanging mechanism again.

Don't forget that one of us has to be home on those days, between 8 and 4 (basically the whole day), as they can't tell you when they'll show up. I think we've had to be home about 10 times in total. Then last week the installer didn't show up, and now finally, today, the job has been finished. Hurrayyyy.

And now for something completely different: I'm three and a half months pregnant :-)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tropical. And Christmas is nearly here...

We hit the 34's for the first time this season, yesterday, in our suburb, and that's always two degrees cooler than in Adelaide city. I found it quite hot, but if you're inside with the aircon running you don't really notice.
What I like very much are the balmy evenings that come with the warmer weather. You don't have them in The Netherlands, or very seldom, and not in New Zealand either (not where we used to live). But here the evenings are the best part of the day for a nice walk. Or for a swim - only we don't have a pool. That's something that's on our wishlist at the moment.

And you wouldn't believe it, but it's all Christmas in the shopping areas. Age's Arcade has been fully decorated, I saw David Jones's exclusive food court, with tons of beautiful Christmas hampers, and delicacies from far away. My calendar is full with work-related Christmas events early December, and our team is having troubles finding a nice spot for our Christmas lunch, as we apparently seem to be quite late in organising something.

Last week Age was in Sydney for a conference and workshop, organised by his own company, so he's had a really busy week and lead up to it. Came back with a snotty nose, which developed in a full-blown cold later in the week and over the weekend. This is the second time within a month that he's knocked out, so we're now boosting his resistance with orange juice, vitamin supplements, and freshly made smoothies. He's much better now, by the way, but still. I noticed I don't have much patience with him when he's having a cold, treat the poor man like it's his own fault, which it actually is in my opinion as he never eats fruit. And that drives me bloody mad. It doesn't get much better fruit-wise than in Australia. The fruit is beautiful here.

By the way, about these smoothies, they're divine: for two serves - take a mango, add a banana, some milk and thick greek yoghurt, and blend!! Or a banana, frozen raspberries, yoghurt, milk, maybe some vanilla icecream, and blend!! Much better than in any cafe, as mine are not so sweet and fat, just great in taste. Two minutes work, and yummmmmmm.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

As promised, pics from weekend in Clare

 Enjoying our provisions: cheese and wine


Age cooking something (cant' remember what exactly)

View from the property we stayed at


Our cottage. Notice the wisteria :-)

Wine always comes with a platter to share

Winery at the Barossa where we had lunch on our way back home.

View from the terrace. The hay bales resemble a tractor with trailer.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Spring is here, and new car

I probably mentioned it before, but spring is definitely here. When I drive on my scooter to work in the morning, there is this overwhelming yummy smell of jasmine in the suburbs. Add roses to that, as they're in full bloom at the moment. They're so big, seem to be bigger even than in New Zealand, and earlier too. We've had blossom a while ago, although near our favourite cafe in Blackwood we saw a (late?) glorious fruit tree blooming majestically. And I'm still waiting for the purple display of the many jacarandas along the major access roads to the city.

Our cottage in Clare had beautiful wisteria all over the verandah (no, they don't call it purple rain over here, I asked), smelling devine, and my own little orange and lemon trees are flowering too - now I know that orange blossom shower gel really smells like orange blossom!


By the way, we had a blue tongue lizard in the garden yesterday. I'd walked in and out a couple of times to the clothesline, and I was chatting to Age through the open sliding doors, when I suddenly saw it, and gave an almighty shriek. Not that they do anything, it was more the shock of seeing this 30cm thing walking about. I went back inside, we closed the sliding door, to give it the opportunity to get back to a better part of the garden, as it was kind of going nowhere.
So he turned around, looked at us, went to the sliding door, and wanted to get inside by the looks of it, tapping the glass. That wasn't going to happen of course. Later on I found on the internet that they like fruit. So next time we see it, I'm going to give him a few pieces of banana.

And we have a new car, a Subaru (again). Something like this:
It's huge, and it's great! By the way, don't ask me if we have a GT or whatever as I wouldn't have a clue. It does have that turbo thing on the bonnet, which is very cool of course, and two exhausts.
Suddenly my golf gear seems very modest in size. It has all wheel drive, which is very good for us, as whenever we're going out and about with me giving directions, we end up on dirt roads, or roads that are only accessible when it's dry. Too adventurous for Age, so he's a happy man now :-)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My contract has been extended

Good news :-)
When I arrived in Adelaide at my Uni, I got a six-month contract, ending June 2012. Early in 2012 the project they took me on got extended with six months, and my contract extended up till December 2012.
We're getting close to December now, and about a month ago my manager(s) started to think about how to keep me after the project was coming to an end. Apparently they've found some funds - or rather, I think what also counts is that I've found my own funds, as I've developed (and am now delivering) an online and flexible training program for postgraduate students (health professionals who supervise students on placements), which is so popular that I'm actually making money for the team. The program consists of two 157 hr courses, which takes about one year for our (working) participants to complete. In the near future the program will be built out with two more courses,
to offer a graduate diploma in practice education, which then can feed
into a masters degree in this subject area.
So today, I've signed a new contract, which runs from January 2013 till June 2014. I'm VERY PLEASED :-)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Two long weekends in a row

We've just enjoyed two long weekends in a row. One was related to Labour Day, a National public holiday, and the other one was our own initiative.
Labour Day weekend, the last weekend in September, we didn't do too much. Age had a whiskey tasting evening on Friday, and that knocked him out up till Sunday more or less - much appreciated by me - ...not. So I've been to the beach for a walk and done some shopping on Saturday, and enjoyed the nice, although cold, weather.

Can't remember what we did on Sunday, but it must have been golf for me. Someone felt guilty for sure, because when I came back from golf, the whole house was clean and tidy, including the laundry neatly folded.

And then on Monday we went to Lady Bay. I was adamant to go there. Had heard stories about that it would be beautiful there on the coast. Well, we're nearly there, it's almost a two-hour, quite beautiful drive, when I finally see on the map where we're heading, and realise that we've been there multiple times. Never knew that it was called Lady Bay, as we know it as Normanville. Very nice cafe / deli there too, so that was where we made our stop. We went to the beach, not for very long, as the wind was a bit chilly. And then back home again.

Last weekend we went away to the Clare Valley, another one of the famous South Australian wine regions. It is about a two and half hour drive from Adelaide, and we left straight after work on Friday. About eight in the evening, it was pitch dark, we arrived at our cottage. We'd rented a cottage, or rather, a victorian villa, on a small vineyard near Clare. We got the torch out of our bag, and followed the instructions to the key box somewhere on the verandah. We opened the box.... no key.
Aaarghhhh. No key!
That's the last thing you want when you arrive. Pitch dark, in the middle of nowhere, past dinner time, and then no key. We looked around, but it hadn't fallen out the box or so. At least, we couldn't find it.

So Age rang the owner, to tell them we'd arrived, but couldn't find a key in the key box. Of course, they didn't pick up the phone, and we left a message. But really, they could be anywhere, and not notice our message till the next morning. We looked around again. Still no key.
I asked Age if we really had the cottage for this weekend, and not next weekend - always a fine thing to say in such a situation :-)
He looked up the email trail in his phone, and discovered that he had his dates wrong all along! We were expected tomorrow, not today! Jesus crap.
Okay, we got back in the car, left another message for the owner that we had our dates wrong, and that we were going to find something to eat, and maybe a hotel room for the night. A call back would be greatly appreciated.

The nearest thing we found was the Clare Country Club. It had a restaurant, and a room special for this evening. We explained the situation to the receptionist, saying that we might want a room for the night, but were going to have dinner first. You never know, the owner of the cottage could give us a call.
Well, we'd just ordered when they rang! They were sooooooooooo sorry for the inconvenience (Age kept saying that it wasn't their fault, but ours), and would try to contact the housekeeper to see if the house was ready. There was a spare key somewhere hidden, so we could at least get in. We rather quickly finished our meal, and drove back to the cottage in the darkness.

Age rang the owner again, who talked him through finding the spare key. The spare key, of course, was hidden in some half open shed / bbq place. And was guarded by a huge spider, sitting nicely very close to the place we had to stick a hand in. Taking a deep breath, Age manouvred his hand behind a pole, and wild plants, and found the little box.
On the verandah I crushed some kind of big animal under my foot and left a couple of big wet footprints - lovely. But it was dark, couldn't see what it had been.
We entered the house, and it was lovely. And clean :-)

The next morning, about ten-ish, a car came up the driveway, just as I was looking out the window from the bedroom. I shove Age out of the bed, he quickly put on some clothes, and let the housekeeper in. She said she'd had the shock of her life, hearing about our early arrival, and she came to bring us our provisions for the weekend (food!). Two big shopping bags with food. I wasn't expecting anything, maybe a carton with milk, but she unloaded eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, lots of fruit, wine from the owner's vineyard, cheese platter, cookies, orange juice... and more. That was just lovely.

So we started the day with a big breakfast. And then got ready for some sightseeing. We went into Clare, immediately had lunch at a deli / cafe in town, and then went on to the Sevenhills winery, a monastery where the monks make wine, did a tasting, bought some wine and orange pieces covered in dark chocolate, did a bit of a walk there, and we concluded the day with a walk in the area of the cottage.

On Sunday we had lunch somewhere else, a nice platter with some more wine, and then played nine holes of golf in gorgeous weather.

And on Monday we left the cottage, drove to the Barossa (another wine region a bit closer to Adelaide), and had a truly fantastic lunch - which was 'just' a pie - (with even more impressive views) at yet another winery. And bought some more wine.
When we arrived home, there was a box at the front door... with yet some more wine... a selection of 15 big reds, from the WinePeople.

Yes, we made photos, this time with our proper photo camera, but the pics are at home on the computer, so we'll add them later on.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Bits and bobs

I found out that my planning spreadsheet with the number of pages I needed to write didn't really add up somehow. It looked like I had so much work to do in the two coming weeks, but I'd already reached page 320-something, so how was that possible? Age (my hero) had a look at it, and it appeared that I'd forgotten to include the 50 pages that I'd already written in the beginning. So I had been planning for 400 pages, instead of 350. Aaaaaahhhhhhh. Which means that I can take it easy now, just let the story take over and finish at a natural moment, instead of dragging the story out.

Spring has really started here now. The last couple of weeks we've seen all sorts of blossoms, and bright yellow flowers on eucalypt trees, but the temperatures stayed a lit behind. Last Saturday we had our first 27 degrees, followed on Sunday by a 17 degree day. Then today (Monday), a 16 degrees, tomorrow 21, and Wednesday another 26 in the making. That was the same last year: temperatures fluctuate about 10 degrees in one and the same week. And then later in the year they'll stabilise in the high twenties.

Age has been away last week, to Sydney and Canberra, and I think he'll be in Adelaide for a while now, but that can change anytime. I am working from home this week, as our office gets refurbished. We've moved, from a pleasant environment to a big room with 'one desk for all', something that's fixed onto the wall, lining the space, so we're all sitting next to each other, facing the wall. That desk has been there since its hospital days, the room may have been a lab of some sort, but in the fifties the people were obviously a lot smaller, because this desk is terribly low. You're completely stuck under it, and our chairs can't go any lower. Another interesting thing is that the desk has an enormous amount of legs, so there's hardly any space to put a chair. One of the legs at my spot is actually hidden half a metre under the desk, perfect for bumping your knee against it, which has happened a couple of times, and is rather painful. After we had a guy in to inspect our workplace, he decided to get the legs padded with rubber padding. I've never had a desk with rubber padded legs :-)

Anyway, I jumped up and down about our workplace, and it helped, so everything is being ripped out as we speak, and we'll get our pleasant environment, with individual desks. And storage. As that was something we didn't have either. There's no place for storage cabinets, if a 'one desk fits all' takes up all the walls. So our room looked like a bomb had gone off. That'll be history too.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Nearly there

You are not going to believe this, but I've reached page 303 of my book. Writing, that is, not reading. I've only got time to write 47 more pages, as my self-imposed deadline is the first week of October. So now the whole story needs to come together.

My planning is very strict, I've been writing relentlessly the last three weeks, as there's no time for excuses anymore, so I've noticed myself dreaming about my story and the next parts I need to write. Not good for your rest at all, allbeit energising and invigorating.

My deadline isn't completely self-imposed, for those who wonder why on earth I've set a deadline. Early July I submitted the first 50 pages to Hachette, a publishing house, as part of a competition. The results will be in somewhere in the first or second week of October. About 300 wanna-be writers have submitted a manuscript, and 10 of these will be invited for a retreat in Brisbane, in November. If you are successful, you need to submit your finished manuscript, with a minimum of 55000 words (about 200 pages), within 72 hours. The retreat will be used to finetune the manuscript. It would be huge, but the chances are very slim.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Kangaroo encounter on scooter

Well, I went to work this morning, on my scooter. Was only two streets from home, when suddenly this kangaroo came out of a side road. I couldn't believe my eyes. It wasn't a car, no, it was a roo. Not a very big one, but still.

He'd hopped onto a refuge island in the middle of the road, and I stopped to give him the chance to regroup. The roo stopped too, so we were sort of looking at each other, working out who was going to move first.

Then a car came up behind me, probably wondering what that mad woman was doing there in the middle of the road, started to overtake me, and suddenly saw the roo. He slowly passed the animal, but the poor thing got scared and took off. Onto the roundabout I was going to as well, and then left, exactly where I was going to too. And the rest of Adelaide commuters living in the hills.

He choose the footpath - a wise choice - but I think the pedestrian who suddenly was overtaken from behind by this speedy kangaroo probably got the shock of his life. It was the funniest thing to watch, I couldn't stop laughing for a while.

So we had this kangaroo on the right, hopping like mad. Then on the road, this string of cars, driving slowly to not get the roo under the car when it suddenly decided to cross the road.

Anyway, eventually it crossed the road - not watching left or right before doing this- , onto a sportsfield, heading in the right direction again. I hope it's found its way back!

Friday, 31 August 2012

I'm ready for the weekend

Just like I said, I'm ready for the weekend.

The weather in Adelaide has been a bit shocking after Noosa, but I see a nice 19 and 20 degrees coming up for the weekend, and a 25 for early next week. Then it's back to 16 I believe. So we're getting into that weather pattern again, with ten degrees difference within one week.

What to report about...
  • Age spent the week mostly in Sydney;
  • I ran my third Corporate Cup run, on my new running shoes this time. A result is that I need to take the stairs backwards now, due to sore calves. My running shoes are quite different from the pair I had. They're minimalistic shoes / barefoot running shoes, with almost no sole under the heel, and then a bit thicker under the forefoot - so opposite from my trail running shoes, with a big chunky heel. The running technique is quite different too, the shoes make your legs move in a much higher rate. I had the feeling I was sprinting all the time. I managed to take 1.5 minutes off my time, which probably means I was sprinting.
  • I've reached page 226 of my book. Yes, yes, I know. I've written 226 pages :-). Including a steamy erotic scene, which was fun. Difficult to make that tasteful though, so some editing to be done there still.
That's it :-)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Noosa Impressions II

And... We're back in Adelaide. Below some more Noosa pics. Definitely worth going in winter. We had temperatures ranging from low to high twenties, and it wasn't that humid yet.


Our tropical garden.



Blackall Ranges - we did a walk there to the Kondalilla Falls. Beautiful, very tall trees, waterfalls and rock pools.












Noosa Ville Beach.



Age reading a motorbike magazine at the only decent cafe in a place called Gympie. We were heading North, towards, Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach. From Rainbow Beach you can take the ferry to Fraser Island, something the travellers amongst us will probably know.



Tin Can Bay was nothing, but Rainbow Beach was stunning. It's all part of the Great Sandy National Park.









Then today, on our way back to Brisbane, we did a little detour through the Glass House Mountains. Very strange volcanic rock formations there.







And we're back home. We had a great week, definitely something to do again.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Noosa Impressions

Here a few pics of our first days in Noosa.

Lake Cooroibah, walking distance from our holiday home


Lookout point at Noosa Heads. Strange volcano-shaped hills in the background.



We came across this one on our run in the morning. It's a carpet python - and dead. Age thought it would be great for a pair of shoes. I saw myself in a nice snake leather skirt.



Age in holiday mode on the verandah.


Noosa Ville. One of the many waterways.


Pelicans. Pretending they are ducks. 'Feeding may result in injury', according to a sign. Yeah.

- Evelyn

Monday, 13 August 2012

Long weekend with Marc, Marjan and Tirza

Just before Marc and Marjan leave Australia to return back to The Netherlands, we caught up with them here in Adelaide for a long weekend. We had a lovely weekend together, with in the background the last bits and pieces of the Olympics.
We went to Goolwa and Victor Harbour - ultimately to watch the whales who come to our coast in winter to breed. Not that we saw any... We did see some kind of water animal, either a dolphin or a seal, later on at Aldinga Beach.
On Sunday we played tennis, had fun at the adjacent playground (Tirza, that is), and went for a nice walk here in the area.
And then really quickly suddenly the weekend is over. They've just left for the airport to head back to Perth again.



One happy Age



Granite Island



Grumpy everyone?



Horse tram rails from Victor Harbour to Granite Island



Aldinga Beach



Aldinga Beach

Friday, 3 August 2012

Horses VI and more


Okay, the horses are now 99% finished I think. Time to look out for a frame.

What else is going on here in SA....
  • I saw a 20 degrees coming up in the forecast for early next week, woohoo, that'll be nice. We had a brilliant day on Wednesday. That was also the start of the Corporate Cup - a running event, in which I'm participating with Age's colleagues. Over 1000 teams register each year, and it was very nice to run with so many people along the river in my lunch break. Next run is in two weeks time.
  • This brilliant weather meant that I could look forward to a hot shower at home. Sounds a bit strange, but it all started with Age and Matt, who often go for a run during work hours, but don't have shower facilities anywhere near where they work. In the beginning we thought that was really terrible: dripping from perspiration back to the office, let it all dry up, then just change clothes. But now it's pretty normal, I do it too, and I do have shower facilities at work :-) Showering is just such a hassle and takes too much time. But about that hot shower at home - during the winter that's quite special, we found out. Our hot water comes from the sun, heating up the water on the roof. Not sure if we have a tank up there, or a mat with thin water tubes. But there's not much sun here in winter, most days are overcast, it rains a fair bit too. That means that in the mornings we do have hot water, as electricity kicks in, and heats the water up overnight. But not during the day. Sporting in the weekend? Lovely, but a tepid or cold shower afterwards. Want a hot bath on a cold evening? Forget it. Cleaning the kitchen after dinner? Not with hot water. In summer time it's the other way round. Our water was literally boiling in the afternoon, and not so hot in the morning.
  • I'm at the 154 pages mark with my writing. Need to bring some depth into the storyline now. But it's going well, nearly halfway, depending on how the story evolves. It changes now an then. When I'm on to a certain flow, I'll just let it go and see where it leads to.
  •  So, I just mentioned the 20 degrees I saw in the forecast. We haven't had that for a while. The winter temperatures here fluctuate between 13 and 17 during the day, with 13 being really cold. We've had two times that there was ice on the car windows in the morning. One of those days being Wednesday morning. I noticed on Tuesday evening that it would become a very cold night. I was preparing myself for my run the next day, by shaving my legs - you know, removing the winter coat. Anyway, me in the bathroom, one leg covered in shaving cream - lights went off. And back on again. Right, that can happen. But then off again. And they stayed off. So I wiped all that stuff from my legs, put a pair of trousers on, got a torch, and went outside, to see if I was the only one here with a power cut (Age was in Canberra - of course). I found the neighbour on the road - doing the same. So it wasn't just me. Apparently, this power cut affected 1000 households in the area, and would probably take a couple of hours to repair, I read on the energy company's website. Grrrrrr. Lovely, and I just wanted to start cooking and then spend the evening watching the olympics. No such thing. By 8.30pm it wasn't just dark, it had also become really cold in the house, so the only thing I could think of doing was going to bed, reading on my phone. Finally, at nearly 10pm, the lights went back on again. All our electrical equipment beeped and flashed, the heating hesitated a couple of minutes, but started too. Stupid evening.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Another blog linked

In the side-menu, you'll find a new link: the link to the blog of Marco and Catherine. We met them when we were living in Martinborough, a tiny rural wine village near Wellington. Marco is a Dutch guy, moved to New Zealand a couple of years before us, and was/is tennis coach. I think that's how we met, as Age took up tennis there. It would have been quite hard to avoid them by the way, as it was a very small town :-)

Catherine is one of the founders of Trilogy skincare products. After I'd won a pack with Trilogy products at the local squash club, all the girls there were very jealous. I didn't know why, as I had never heard of Trilogy before. But now I am totally converted, and still try to get everyone on to it. It's great stuff, and organic.

Anyway, they're travelling through Europe for nine months with their two little daughters of 2 years and 15 months. It's always nice to see the perspective from people from down under on Europe, and The Netherlands in particular.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympics - something funny

Something funny this morning in one of the newspapers here:


Australia's federal sports minister has traditionally had a Olympic wager over the medal tally with their British counterpart.

If Australia tops the host nation in the medal tally, British Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson must don a Kookaburras' (Australian men's hockey team) shirt, arm himself with a hockey stick and dribble a ball around Australia's High Commission in London.

If Great Britain leads Australia, Senator Lundy has to wear a Union Jack shirt and row a length of the Eton Dorney Olympic rowing course.


- Evelyn

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Horses V


Still not finished, but getting there - slowly.
Need some other brushes, with long, thin ends, to add detail.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Lots of little things


What's happening here at the moment?
  • It looks like the spiders are waking up again. A bit strange, because it should be the coldest month. Maybe because it has bit less wet? Anyway, in exactly the same spot where we had that redback in the bathroom, another spider appeared. To me it looked like a redback again, altough fairly smaller, and without a red back - maybe a male? Everytime for the last days when I entered the bathroom in the morning, or at night, when it's dark, he was there. Switching on the light made him disappear. Age didn't wait to find out what species it was, he just sprayed it.
  • I went for a lovely walk yesterday, picked a bag with olives underway - there are quite a few abandoned olive trees in along the track. I was just walking nicely along a creek, when I had to stop: spider crossing the track! It was a male mouse spider. And quite big. Better to wait, I thought. You never know if they jump straight in your face (no, they don't, but since watching Australia's funniest home-videos, featuring lots of spiders and other creepy crawlers I keep my distance. Funniest home-videos in other countries feature dogs and cats).
  • I posted a while ago about a training program I've developed. Well, we are full! We have 40 participants. And have a waitlist going. That's slightly scary, but also quite encouraging. That hopefully means I'm going to make a lot of coaching hours - a requirement of the program is that the participants are being coached or mentored for the whole duration.
  • Age has been in Canberra for a couple of days, and will be next week too. When Age's parents were here in April, they visited Lois and Richard in Canberra, and got a bag with roadmaps on loan. Well, Age finally thought to bring this bag with him to Canberra - he'd been in Canberra multiple times, and never took these @#$@$#maps with him. But forgot to give it to Richard when they met! So the bag is in Adelaide again. Maybe more luck next week.
  • And I've reached page 120 of my manuscript. Just 230 to go :-) If you ever wanted to write a book, do it, as it's great fun.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Horses IV

I did the background tonight. That was easier than I thought. And fun.




Thursday, 19 July 2012

Horses III


The horses are now 60% complete, so it's time to get the background to 60%. Started with that when it was time to go, so doesn't look finished or anything yet.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Manuscript

I did it! I finished the first 50 pages plus a one-page synopsis of my manuscript on Tuesday, and submitted it (via snail mail - they don't accept email submissions). Pfew!

After I'd been to the post office, I decided I deserved a nice late lunch plus a hot chocolate at one of the cafe's in Blackwood. While enjoying my lunch I started planning finishing the remainder of my manuscript. It wasn't completely clear when everything needs to be finished by, but I remembered reading 'you'll hear something in about eight weeks time'. If you are one of the longlisted persons that is. If you're not, you'll hear nothing. And as soon as they notify you of being on the longlist, you have to give them your finished manuscript within 72 hours.

So on a piece of paper I drew a table, with a calendar of eight weeks. Crossed out a couple of days that I wouldn't be able to write. Then decided how many pages I want my manuscript to be - which is quite arbitrary really. The parameters from the competition are 55.000 - 120.000 words, which is 250 - 600 pages). I've looked in my bookcase at home, and saw that the average novel is about 300-500 pages. I thought 400 pages would be nice, but when I started planning there is no way I can get 350 pages done (I've got 50 already) in 8 weeks with the amount of time I have available. I should be able to do 300, although it's a bit crazy. So that's what I've planned.

The next thing is now to decide how my story will evolve over all these pages. I know what the book will be about (I had to write a synopsis), but have no idea yet about the exact contents per, say, 50 pages. So I've got some designing to do first - but that's what I'm good at, as I am a designer (albeit an Instructional Designer :-) , but hey, the process is the same). And that's the fun part.

I found that with those first 50 pages my design helped me heaps. I had made a grid, with per 5 pages some keywords of wat should happen in those pages. It helped me getting started, and building bridges from one part to the next part. And then the only thing I had to do was just dreaming up the story. And that's the best part.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hobart again

This morning, for the first time since our arrival in Adelaide, we had to de-ice the windows of the car! Full moon, clear skies, temperatures dropping close to zero, and now sunshine. Lovely.

I've been to Hobart (Tasmania) this week, for a conference on Higher Education Research and Development Australasia (HERDSA). It was a good conference, and I left with some good ideas of what other Universities are doing around Learning & Teaching, and where we could take our L&T strategies for the coming time. Nice to see a good turnout from New Zealand too, and I met a previous colleague of mine, whom I've worked with at the University of Twente, and who moved to New Zealand a couple of years before us. Every now and then our paths cross, and it's always nice to catch-up with her.

Just like last time when I was in Hobart, there wasn't any time to explore much of the city, let alone Tasmania. Initially I thought I could add a couple of days, and Age could join me, but we didn't really want to spend much time (and money) in the winter there.

This discussion did bring up the topic of a holiday to break the winter a bit. We could choose 'snow' or 'sun', and 'sun' was the winner, after a 30-seconds discussion. It's going to be Noosa, and we're now considering our options.

Age had motor-troubles on monday, when he was leaving work and about to drive home. He couldn't get his bike started. We've heard that before, haven't we? So after trying for some time he left the bike in the city and took the train home. The next day he drove to work with the car, tried the bike again, and it still wouldn't start. He'd tried to get the bike transported to the mechanic, but the transporters had a job that would last the whole day. So what did he do? Lured two colleagues into pushing the bike to the mechanic, which they did, and according to Age it was easy-peasy. Afterwards, Age took them out for lunch at our favourite Italian cafe.

There was no painting class for me this week, as I was in Hobart. But I did spend some time on something else: writing. The last assignment of my writing class is to finish our short stories and write a letter to an editor. But which editor? So I had a look around on the web, and found heaps of competitions and openings for submissions of short stories, manuscripts, poetry and what more. I found a good publication opportunity my short story, but found an even better opportunity to send a manuscript in. One problem: I don't have a manuscript - yet.

So I started reading the criteria - submitting the first 50 pages of your manuscript by 12 July - and did some planning. And actually, it seemed doable. I figured that I had 40 hours to spare to write 50 pages of my new book. What that book would be about, well, I had to figure that out as well. And quickly. Anyway, long story short, I'm now at page 21, and should reach the 50 pages on Tuesday.

What they're looking for in this opportunity is a commercially viable manuscript of 50.000 - 150.000 words (a whole book basically. My 21 pages have 5000 words), and from the truckload of submissions they'll get, they'll choose 10 lucky people for a retreat of one week, in Brisbane in November. In this week, editors and publishers will guide you through polishing your manuscript, making it ready for publication. Well, that sounded quite attractive, I thought, so I'm just going for it. If I don't make the cut, at least I have the first 50 pages of something, and a synopsis, and can use that for any future submissions.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Horses II





Horses


Here's the basis for my next painting. I'd love to tell you that I did this sketch in just five minutes, but that's not really the truth. The truth is that last week I was going to start a new painting and I needed a subject. Couldn't think of anything, but horses. So an hour before my class was about to start I searched the net on my iPad and found a couple of nice pictures. Then my iPad ran out steam, so I had to leave it home to recharge and use my iPhone.

Well, that iPhone screen was really too small to work from - couldn't get the dimensions right. During that class my tutor couldn't believe that I was looking at this small screen, and he gave me (very old) picture books with English landscapes, African scenery (including zebras), and some 18th-century farm scenes, but that was not what I wanted. So after going through these books, I went back to my iPhone and started sketching. After my first sketch I got a lesson in 'horse-leg-anatomy', which was actually really good. Just so you know: horse legs are made up of 6 parts, and no matter from which side you're looking at it, you always need those six parts. You can see these parts clearly in the left front leg of the little horse: thigh, big knee, shin, bulb at the end of the shin, 'ankles', and hoof.

My horses at the end of that class looked really terrible. Legs too long, heads too small, legs too far apart... In the last five minutes I rubbed everything out and went back home with a 'blank' canvas.

This time I was a bit better prepared. Found the right picture, blew it up, colour-printed it and took it with me. But still - it took me three hours to sketch the above! A lot of rubbing again, as those legs are very difficult - you got to have the dimensions right, and initially, again, they were way too long.

But I'm getting there now. Need to do some tweaking of the bodyshape of the big one, but that will be okay. Can't wait to start with paint now. I asked the tutor how to start, and he said to do the dark parts of the horses first, and then removing paint where the highlights are - like on top of the knees of the little horse.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sneak peek into my work

I thought I'll tell you something about my work at the university. As you know I am an Educational Technologist, and people like me work on the development of learning solutions. Whenever someone or an organisation has a 'problem' related to teaching, learning, education or training, we'll step in (if we are invited) and work on finding a suitable solution, like a new course, a training program, a whole curriculum, a workshop, often integrated with the use of new techologies.

Sooooo, at the university I'm working in the role of Instructional Designer at the Division of Health Sciences. I was taken on board as the second instructional designer of a project around Aged Care. The project's aim was to increase student placements in Aged Care, to offer interprofessional learning (IPL) activities (working together with other health disciplines on the treatment of a resident), and to develop learning resources for students around aged care to use while on placement.

The first instructional designer on the project was busy with the development of these learning resources, and something else: a workshop for clinical educators. Clinical educators are health professionals who supervise students on placements. In the health professions students have to learn the profession from doing it in practice, and that requires a lot of supervision. It is probably fair to say that almost every health professional, no matter in what discipline, will have to supervise students at some point during their career. Interestingly enough there are no formal qualifications for these clinical educators. It is just something that comes with their job and that they (have) to do.

In Adelaide we have three universities with health-related programmes, which means a lot of students who require placements. Our Health Division alone has 7000 students. These students have to go on placement for a certain amount of time each year of their studies, so you can see it coming: tons of students walking around in our hospitals, health clinics and aged care organisations. And almost just as many clinical educators trying to supervise and assess these students as best they can.

The feedback after each workshop for clinical educators made clear that clinical educators wanted more professional development opportunities, so we decided in December last year to develop a new program that would lead to a university qualification in practice education. I liked the idea of developing this program and took it up, as the other instructional designer was still immersed in the aged care project resources. I didn't know it at the time, but I made a good move there by creating my own work, as the aged care project was about to end in June (which is now) and the other instructional designer has to go as the funding ends with it. For my work we secured new funding up till the end of this year.

So I started the new year with analysing what the competition is doing in this area, what the feedback has been of participants of workshops and other training we have offered in the past around practice education, and where the gaps are. This led to a high-level design of the contents and structure of the new program, which will initially consist of two courses (Professional Certificate) and later on (next year) of four (Graduate Certificate). I have now finished the development of the first course, which is currently being reviewed by a small panel of content specialists. And last week we've secured approval of this new program, which means that we're allowed to offer it - our planned start date is the end of July / early August.

We are busy promoting the new programme and hear a lot of good feedback along the way. In April I've been to Tasmania delivering two workshops for practice educators, and I'll be going back to Tasmania in a fortnight to a conference - all part of promoting and finding out what's happening around us.

I think the didactic approach of the courses and the structure of the program is quite innovative for the university, and that's where the benefits are with having an instructional designer on board: the program will be offered fully online, we have weekly virtual classroom sessions for those who want contact with peers, participants can start with the whole program, just one course, or just a couple of modules that they are interested in, we'll hand out iPads on loan for those participants who don't have a reliable internet connection or computer (yes, there are rural and remote areas here in South Australia and internet connectivity is a huge problem, and there are lots of health professionals who share a computer a work), and we'll offer an individual coaching programme for the duration of the courses to those who want it. Oh, and each course has an (optional) face to face study day too.

So I'll be busy the coming time, as I'm also the course facilitator, in reality: the teacher. And the coach. Luckily I've got very good support from my team, which means we're all busy with this at the moment :-)

This program in itself will offer us a wealth of data on learning and teaching, so much so that I've started exploring the possibilities of a PhD. To be continued..

And then there are some smaller bits and pieces I'm working on or have been working on, and one thing was the redesign of the Interprofessional Learning Module for first year students. This was an existing module, where students from various health disciplines work in virtual teams together on a health scenario, but the module website wasn't very good and the learning activities could be improved too. So I've worked on that with a small group of others (a couple of tutors and my admin support), and the module ran successfully in May with about 800 students who went through it (when I was in The Netherlands). I think shere is still a lot to improve, but it's such a small component for students, it's not worth the effort.

Back to work now!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Painting!

Finished my painting!



Thursday, 7 June 2012

Painting class

First time painting with oil - result after my first class yesterday. Will work on it more next week.




Finding 'the right' art group is not easy, it took me some searching, as I wanted something that wasn't necessarily in town, but a bit closer to home. Artists aren't the best internet advertisers, and when you're new somewhere word of mouth advertising doesn't always work that well yet. But I found this tutor who'd founded an art group in the suburb next to us, and I found it quite nice.

He'd attached to his house this studio, where a group of about eight people could work on their paintings. So around 7.30pm one after the other arrived with all their stuff, set themselves up and proceeded where they'd finished last time. The tutor (Peter) walks around, asks you what you want to achieve, and corrects some things here and there, or gives hints. There are no 'lessons' with topics as such, it's more a workshop where everyone does their own thing, but in the meantime learns from each other as well.

I'm always amazed by what the most ordinary people can achieve, and this time it's no different. Quite a mixed group, four men, five women, all age groups. One German lady with a huge accent - I asked her how long she'd been in Adelaide: 47 years :-)

Peter gave me a board to paint on, he had some blobs of paint on a sheet of paper and a few brushes, asked me what I wanted to paint (no idea), if I wanted to paint the painting that hung on the wall (okay), so that's how I started off. First time with oil, so the behaviour of the paint in the beginning was a bit unfamiliar. But I think I like it a lot, as it's very forgiving, contrary to acrylic or watercolour, and the colours are rich and creamy.

To be continued, I said I'd come back next time.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Great match

Yesterday I played my second match for my golf team. My first match last week wasn't very memorable. I didn't like the course as it was very hilly, I didn't like the way I played either, and I was a bit impressed with my opponent, who (I told myself) was probably on this handicap (19) for years as she was an old dear and I just got there and needed to play really wel to play to it. Well, telling yourself stories like that don't help :-)
I lost big time.

This week I did some reading about match play strategy. There are basically two strategies: 1) be aware of everything your opponent does and react to that, and 2) forget everything your opponent does and just play the course. I decided to go with the second strategy, as playing on a different (and unfamiliar) course each time is difficult enough in itself, and also because last time I was really focused on my opponent and forgot my own game.

That strategy helped me a lot in keeping my cool.

We played at Mt Lofty (yes, another 'mount'), and the first tee had the nickname 'heart attack hill'. It goes very steeply straight up. The sun was shining, it was lovely out there. But rain was on its way. While we were waiting till it was our turn to tee off, someone told us that she'd seen the rain radar and that we didn't want to know what was coming our way. Instantly most ladies decided on the spot to deck themselves out for a deluge: rain covers, umbrellas, weatherproof trousers, rain coats, a whole transformation took place.

Then is was my turn. My first tee shot was okay, not great, but okay, and my opponent's one was fairly the same. Walking up the hill we noticed how wet and muddy the course was - we'd had a lot of rain lately in Adelaide and it was certainly noticeable.

I won the first hole, the next one and the third. An excellent start. We squared the fourth and by then the rain settled in. But it was more a persistent drizzle than anything else. On the 7th I was still 3 up, but I lost the 8th, the 9th and the 10th! Eeks. My opponent started to play a bit better, and I did a few stupid things. I have to say though, that my rescue shots were quite impressive, but I'd rather stay out of trouble to begin with.

So we were all square again. By then the rain became heavier, the course wetter, the balls didn't roll anymore, hands wet, glove wet, mud everywhere. But we had to keep going. At first we were looking forward to an early finish as I was up so much early on, but now we had to battle it out. And from here it was up one hole, square, down one hole, square, ...

We ended up all quare on the 17th. And I lost that hole! The match could now only end in an all-square if I'd win the 18th, or a loss for me if my opponent would win, as she was one up.
We both had great tee shots. Then my opponent had to hit first, ... and stuffed up her shot! It was pretty nerve-wrecking to the end, but I finished with a 2m putt that she couldn't match. So I won that hole, which made us all square again.

The hot soup afterwards, and later at home a very hot shower were the best part of the day. And The Voice :-)

==========================================
Age is in Canberra at the moment, one can even say that he has dinner with Lois and Richard on an almost weekly basis.
Next weekend is a long weekend - Queen's birthday weekend. Did you see the water flotilla on tv on the Thames? With the music boat with all those dripping wet singers on top, singing on top of their lungs for the Queen? And that Prince Philip has a bladder infection now?

I'll have a couple of girls over for dinner tonight, and tomorrow I'll probably start another painting class.





Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Writing class

My writing class has finished. We all, well, the people who persevered till the end, as we started with over 15 participants and ended up with eight - finished the course with a draft short story of maximum 2000 words. That is about 7 pages a4, using double line-spacing.

I can't tell you much about my short story, won't publish it here on the blog, as that is a means of publication, which makes it unfit for sending to a publisher or as an entry for a competition. I'm not sure what I want with my story yet, might send it in to a competition.

So that's it then. I hardly spent time writing to be honest, I am a bad student, doing nothing up till the deadline and then it's a race against the clock. And you need to have 'headspace', be in the mood, although the real writers say that you have to produce at least 1000 words a day, in the mood or not, doesn't matter how good or bad it is what you write. It's a job, not a hobby.
But the times that I really sat down properly for it and wrote, I quite enjoyed. You get caught up in the moment and the time flies. It took me about four hours to write something like 1000 words for the first draft of my story, and that was fairly effortless writing, I mean I knew what I wanted to get down on paper. It felt like half an hour, and I was very surprised to learn that four hours had passed.

We, the leftover students, exchanged contact details and hope to meet on a regular basis somewhere in town to keep this writing going.

What else happened since our return from NL?
- Age and I both had an annoying cold last week. On the first flight from Amsterdam I had a snotty person sitting next to me and knew we were doomed.
- Age has been to Canberra for three days. That wasn't easy, sniffing, coughing and jet-lagged.
- Yes, we had a jet-lag. Not a terrible one, but just enough to wake up once in the middle of the night.
- the curtain-guy was here for the second time and managed to install most of the blinds. Four didn't fit, so he has to come again. This seems to be an ongoing saga by the way: First they did measurements, back in February. Then they ran out of fabric, so had to come again. Then ten weeks later (should have been four weeks), the curtains would be installed. The guy came and said immediately none of them were going to fit. Now the guy returned, and a couple of the blinds weren't good. The owner has checked the work done and noticed that two of the bedroom blinds are made of the wrong fabric. Should have been stripes. Well, no stripes here.


- Evelyn

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Two weeks in The Netherlands

We're back home after a (working) holiday of two weeks in The Netherlands. The first week was relatively quiet, because Age was busy working, which gave me the opportunity to spend some time with my family. The second week was quite frantic; we only had this week to cram in as much visits and dinner parties as possible -  in each corner of the country.

Below you'll find an overview of our impressions and adventures:
  • Malaysia Airlines has an interesting plane layout, with rows of two seats on the window sides of the plane. In the middle there's then either a row of four seats or five seats.
  • Internet check-in didn't work for the flights to The Netherlands and also from NL. Hugely annoying. We had a little bit of a fright too, when checking in for the way back. Age's passport when swiped returned the notice 'Not Allowed To Board'. My passport worked fine, I was allowed to go back to Oz, but Age wasn't allowed back in. Apparently his visa wasn't okay, which is impossible as I'm a dependant on his visa, so mine could never be okay when his isn't. Phone calls to a supervisor led to the advice to go to Kuala Lumpur and hoping for the best, that they would allow Age through. I kept giving hints to the lady to swipe the passport again - we saw in Adelaide that Age's passport had to be swiped multiple times. Another supervisor stopped by for something else and started to ask the ground stewardess questions about our situation. Finally she decided to swipe the passport again and this time it worked. Aaargghh. 
  • NL was really cold! And wet too!
  • We had a lovely first weekend in Ruurlo with Age's family. Cold and wet, but in between the showers we managed to sniff lots of fresh air. 
  • We didn't have too many problems driving on the right (wrong) side of the road. It's only been a couple of times that we grabbed the door, searching for the gear stick, and here and there a tiny moment of confusion.
  • The trees in the forests of The Veluwe were spectacular with their fresh lime-green leaves. Amazing! I quite liked the roadsides too, all flowers and blooming. The birds at dusk and dawn sounded like a soft recording with speakers placed somewhere in the background, nothing compared to the volume of our birdsong here in Adelaide.
  • It was lovely to see our friends again. Why don't you all move to Australia? It's amazing to see how they all manage so well to stay put.
  • And great to see our family again too. My granny (is she 96?? 97?? No one knows) now has numb fingers. Age's granny didn't recognise me (luckily it was me, not Age). Very nice to see my mum in her new place. Also very nice to see my dad recovering well from his heart scare. Then Age's parents: you guys haven't changed a bit (since three weeks ago in Adelaide...). Elbrich & Werner: we hope you'll get tons of change this year. Maarten & Arianne: you could do with some change too - change for the better that is. And so forth...and so forth.
  • We have never seen so many houses for sale. For Sale signs everywhere. By the way, we think that the Dutch real estate industry can learn something from the industry here - especially related to the marketing of property.
  • I forgot how delicious the things are Dutch bakers make: rustic breads, pastries, cookies, cakes... and often different per region. Quality stuff. It's time to export these skills.
  • I also forgot how delicious the things are Dutch dairy farmers make and how big the variety of dairy is. Export please.
  • Road rage... road rage... road rage... Hufters on the road. Idiots in cars.
  • Both Age and I think the Dutch language spoken on television and radio has evolved.
  • Awwww, those cramped suburbs... Hundreds of houses, all the same, walls of houses, tiny houses, even tinier front yards, and back yards crammed in between the neighbours'. That is something we'll probably never be able to get used to again.
  • Oh yes, another thing: in restaurants and dinings you can get away with ordering 'red wine'. No one speaks of 'shiraz', 'merlot', or other grape varieties. Just 'red'.
And there is no doubt a lot more that's interesting to mention in terms of similarities and differences between living in NL and AU, but I can't think of anything else right now. Now back to Age in the lounge. See if we can stay up till a little longer...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Last visitors left the house

We had Anne and Adrian over for a week, from New Zealand. Last Wednesday was ANZAC day, a public holiday, so together we went out to show them a bit of Adelaide and surrounds. We went to the beach and to Hahndorf for beautiful sausages, sauerkraut and potato mash. It was one of those lovely autumn days, leaves were falling, the fire roaring in the cafe.

Thursday and Friday Age and I both worked, while our holiday makers enjoyed themselves with golf, good food and shopping sprees. Age had a relatively quiet weekend, because I and A&A were out golfing on both days. Out for dinner together on Saturday, in Glenelg at a nice Indochine place, and
separately on Sunday: I had a golf team dinner, Age had to fly out to Canberra again.

Work for me on Monday, a Greek restaurant in the Barossa for A&A, and then it was suddenly already Tuesday. Last day for me to do something relevant, like making some preparations for our trip before Age and I take off to The Netherlands. It pored with rain, so we cancelled our golf booking. Instead I cashed in my massage voucher. Jeez, that was painful. I always step in the trap of thinking that a massage is gentle and nice. The tiny Swiss lady certainly had a tough hand.

Next on my to do list was a good haircut. Close by where I had my massage were several okay-looking salons. I chose one, was served immediately and finished within 15 minutes. With a haircut that I found terribly badly done.

I thought about it quickly and decided to drive to the Eastern suburbs, where all the posh people live, and where most ladies usually have a well-cut bob. In that area most definitely should be a hairdresser, preferably a guy (m/f), with great skills.

At Burnside village, the money-smelling new mall, I found three hairdressers. When I walked past the second one, there was a lady, just finished, with her new sleek bob. And I saw a guy with scissors.

I walked in, asked him if he could do my hair such and such, picking up the pieces of the previous cut. 'Why is it that I always get the pieces', he yelled out, but of course was happy to do it. I think I've finally found a new hairdresser! It took me almost seven years to find one, as they can't cut properly in New Zealand either (Anne would disagree). This guy is Irish, straight (something he told me within three minutes - very unusual in the business), and been a sr teacher or something at the one and only Vidal Sassoon Academy of Australia, which happens to be in Adelaide.

So, new muscles, new hair. And later on new toilet bags, and more goodies for our trip. A&A today returned back to NZ, and I expect Age home any minute now from Canberra.

- Evelyn

Monday, 30 April 2012

Banana Bread

I have a new favourite and I'm getting very good at it: baking banana bread. It's yummy, healthy (?) and a fantastic breakfast. Imagine waking up with the smell of a freshly baked banana bread with walnuts!



Getting hungry already. Can you see the crispy crust? And then visualise a bit of salty butter which melts it way through the still warm bread. Add cup of home-made cappuccino and voila, the day can begin.



What the red tip on the banana is? Some kind of wax to let you know that it's an organic banana.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Home alone again

Sooooooo, I didn't get further than the semi-finals at the golf club champs. I wasn't too happy with my performance, as I didn't play very well, whereas my opponent played steady golf. She went through to the finals on Friday, and I spent the day working :-)

 From Friday onwards the weather would change too, and geez, did that change! We hadn't had temperatures of around 15 degrees since early October I reckon, so the heating is on, the layers that were hiding in the back of our wardrobes are back in sight and the umbrellas are close at hand too.

Age had a short weekend at home, after arriving from Brisbane Friday late and departing for Canberra on Sunday afternoon again. He'll be home later today, and will function as the real-life-GPS-with-Dutch-accent for Anne and Adrian, who will arrive at about the same time at the airport from NZ. A & A will stay with us for a week, and are going to play lots of golf I have been told. We're hoping to cram a few rounds in together. See what they think of the Ozzie golf courses.

Today was the day that we were going to get curtains. Well, just as I predicted beforehand, not much happened. The installation guy arrived at the agreed time, looked around inside and said "the way they want me to do it is not going to work. I need different xxx (whatever it was he needed). That is going to cost more." And that's something for the owner and the store to fight about. So off he went again. The timing actually worked out well, as I had done my things already in the morning, so had some time left now to go to golf practice.

And there I was the only one willing to play in the rain (people here are not used to rain and certainly don't go out in the rain when they don't have to, I just can't understand that, it's not even cold. Well actually it was cold, but no reason to not get out there). So I played 9 holes on my own, had rain and shine, with lonely blokes in front of me and behind me, all practicing. Tomorrow we'll have a day off, it's ANZAC Day (remembering the fallen soldiers). No plans yet.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

From one extreme to the other: home alone

After Easter it was suddenly back to almost normal: me working, and Age away in Melbourne. Age's parents were still here, spending their last days in Adelaide. On Thursday they were taken out for the day by Matt's parents, on a tour to the Clare Valley with lunch at a winery in a Monastry. They had the best weather in the world and had a great day out.
Actually, after this cooler Easther weather the temperatures were climbing steadily again up to the high 20's and we've been hitting the 30 degrees in the last couple of days with not a cloud in the sky.

I took some 'me' time on Thursday night, okay, with Age, who I met in town after his arrival from Melbourne. I was going to shop and had been looking forward to it for days. Unfortunately I still don't know when the shops are open in town, but it's definitely not on a Thursday night we found out when I was just going to enter this shoe shop and they switched the lights off, aaarrrghhhh.

So we went to one of the suburbs instead, to Burnside, as when the shops in town are closed then those in the suburbs are open. I never quite know which evening (Thursday or Friday) but apparently Thursday is for the suburbs. I had been told Burnside village had a very high density of shoe shops, so that's why we went. And did we find a mall there! Brand new with tons of shops :-) We were soooooooo enjoying ourselves because of this discovery. Not that I bought anything, we didn't have a lot of time and we were quite hungry. So we started with eating something: a big piece of cooked sausage and Dutch cumin cheese, which we attacked there and then on the spot. We also bought a great looking pasta meal from an Italian deli, to have later in the evening with Age's parents, after we all would be home again.

I then was going to sort myself out in a couple of shoe shops, while Age was having coffee with himself. And that was when we were rejoined with Age's parents after their day out with Matt's parents, who drove to the mall so that we could meet up and take over :-). Hmmm, no retail therapy just yet. If you want to get me really aggressive just let me loose in a shopping mall with other people accompanying me. We (I?) decided to keep everybody's lives safe and go home and have dinner instead.

Friday was the last day for Age's parents in Australia, they would fly back to The Netherlands on Saturday, so we planned to go out for dinner together. We planned it in our heads, but hadn't had the headspace to book anything yet. Age and I would sort that out on Friday some time during the day. We had been talking about this restaurant 'The Weinstadl', close by in a fairly idyllic setting, but there was something about the name that didn't entice us too much to eat there. And then suddenly on Friday morning we got this message from Jos stating that he had booked a table at The Weinstadl!

Aaarghh, that wasn't going to happen, we just weren't ready for schnitzel and bockwurst at all, so Age and I in overdrive at our respective offices to find something nice. And we found just the place to be! So we cancelled the Weinstadl booking (!) and went to The Pot instead. And we bought Jos a present, as he was quite disappointed that he wouldn't be able to get his schnitzel he was so looking forward to.

On Saturday we went to the airport and said our goodbyes - this time it was 'see you in three weeks', quite different from last time. Age and I went home and did nothing the rest of the day, just enjoyed the weather and our lazy chairs on the deck.

This week I've got the Golf Club Champions going on and Age is in Brisbane for the week. The club champs are played over the whole week, and I have been able to arrange with work that I can participate, which I very  much appreciate. Monday and Tuesday were qualifying rounds, and I got through as the number 3 in my grade (handicap 19-28). We proceed immediately through to the semifinals on Thursday, as there aren't enough players in my grade for quarter finals. A and C grades had lots of women, they have quarter finals going on right now, but B grade is a bit thin this year. A good opportunity to win it, there are only four contestants left. Got to do a bit of practice today, as I'm not playing very well at the moment. We've had a couple of clinics with the pro lately, so I'm probably a bit confused technique-wise. Got to find my swing back, but I think I know what I have to do.

The rest of the tournament is matchplay, so a totally different game. Playing against an opponent in order to win the hole, instead of playing against yourself to get a score as low as possible. If I win, then I'm through to the finals. If not, I'm out and play a loser's round for the 3rd spot. The winner of the finals will be sent to the Champion of Champions tournament - well, that is what I had in mind. Wish me luck :-)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter trips

It is Easter and everybody is back home again. Jos and Zwaantje are back from their two-week trip to New Zealand and visiting Lois and Richard in Canberra, and their drive from Canberra to Adelaide. And I was back from Tasmania.

We spent a lot of time on the internet, trying to book accommodation for Easter, but it appears that everybody else in South Australia managed to book something, but not us. So we decided to stay put (which secretly is actually quite nice).

What follows next is a couple of pictures of walks we have done over the last days.

Hallett Cove walk - South of Adelaide. It was blowing a gale there, but I quite like that on the coast.








Pier at Normanville, further South.


And here the Wirra Wirra Peaks, close to Williamstown, North of Adelaide. Another day, another walk. Same terrible book with directions we used earlier in the year in Stirling, so after 20 meters we got lost, and we had to read every single direction 10 times to understand what they were trying to make us do. That failed miserably. We retraced our steps a couple of times and think we did the walk that we were supposed to do.

These shrubs are just like ancient tribal people.


Nice view over the valley. We were quite late when we started the walk, the sun is slowly setting.


An old school building, now in use as a communal area for people who camp in that area.


And then today a walk in Old Noarlunga. That had a very steep and rough section in it, where we all were more or less holding on to cliffs above the river, grabbing branches to pull us up higher, finally ending up onto a narrow footpad. We didn't know if we were supposed to be there, as we were again using the book with walks with these insane directions, but at some stage it said 'there is a short, but steep rough section to negotiate before joining the footpad'. Why are we using that book again? Good question.
Age and I were happy that this time for once we wore our walking boots. J & S don't have walking boots - 'we were going on holiday to a hot country'. No worries, it all ended up okay. But I still hear Zwaantje moaning, while Jos dragged her through the steep section 'how on earth is it possible that our walks always become such adventures???'. Eeeks, guilty... I had the book with directions :-)




















And the biggest box of chocolates you have ever seen. It's mine.


- Evelyn