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