Koniningningningnedag and some

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May 3rd 2011
Published: May 3rd 2011
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Monday 25/04/2011

I had an early start at De-V after a very late night or working. So I called a colleague called Paul and asked to switch mine with his shift so I could get a couple hours more sleep. Thankfully he agreed to swap and I could start at 12am rather than 10h30! I contacted Paul and Myra that evening to ask if I’d be able to join them on Wednesday evening for supper. P&M are old family friends; through my father and Paul meeting on the squash courts during my Dad’s time here in Holland. I was pretty exhausted from the previous weekend’s work and slipped into bed for an early night.

Tuesday 26/04/2011

I woke up mid-morning and had a relaxing day until I had to cycle against the wind in to work which started at 5pm.

Wednesday 27/04/2011

After the late-shift I woke up just after lunch and cycled to the shops to buy a nice bottle of wine for the meal that evening. It was a daunting cycle to P&M; even further than Wout’s house and the furthest that I’d have cycled out the back-end of Eindhoven. With map-in-hand and intuition pushing the pedals I made it to the back of Woensel. P&M’s son, Tom, opened the door and greeted me with a friendly ‘hello’. He is a very nice young boy; excited, polite, clever and full of ideas. Their house is a modern family house, with the garden mostly occupied y a large L-shaped pond. They have a sun-room where we ate supper and outside there are seating areas tactically positioned to maximize the ability to tan in the sunny months.

I said hello to P&M and we chatted the evening away during a delicious supper of pancakes filled with spinach and mince. It was a really nice family feeling and we all got along really well. For dessert we had ice-cream and a good helping of stories about my mother and father when they were in Holland. By the sounds of my Dad’s antics (and that’s all you’ll get out of me) I have finally come to the conclusion I’m not adopted. Oh yeah.

Whilst Myra went to the hairdresser (a friend who could only trim her hair at night) Paul, Tom and I went to the park to kick the soccer ball around. I also asked Paul if he perhaps knew of somebody that had some old/ spare leathers since he and Myra both ride motorbikes. I need some for a few downhill races I’ll be doing in July. Karma kicked into action and he had an old pair he could neither use nor sell that fitted me perfectly. I am now just in search of a helmet! We killed some time in the park before sitting down to admire some real soccer players – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. After the game ended I thanked them profusely for the wonderful evening that really was such a friendly, happy time. Cycling in leathers on the way home proved a tricky and squeaky business, but (as my Dad said) it would’ve been super-safe if I’d fallen. On the way home I stopped by Wout for a ‘hello’ and then made my way further as I had work at 9am.

Thursday 28/04/2011


Friday 29/04/2011

I had a lazy morning and made my way into Eindhoven to get some ideas for a birthday present. The weather was changing fast and I was glad I made it in-and-out before the thunderstorm hit! I stopped by at De-V to say hello and Habib asked me what I was doing that evening. I made it clear that I had crazy plans to drink some coffee and watch a movie, but he insisted that I join him and some friends for pre-drinks before they went out that evening. He finally convinced me and I had an evening of meeting new people to look forward to. The thunderstorm rolled in just as I got home and hail the size of marbles pelted down. In future, I’ll use my leathers if I ever have to cycle in thunder-storms with a pot on my head and gumboots for protection. The only problem then might be lightning striking me, but at least I won’t be bruised from those icy balls-of-death from the sky.

Habib’s flat was literally 100m from De-V and after a few door-troubles I made my way upstairs to his apartment. He had a balcony overlooking the church-market where swarms of people covered with orange-anything roamed the streets for the eve of “Koninginnedag” – the Queen’s birthday-weekend. The Dutch are the only people I know who grant someone a three-day birthday. However this clever scheme of extending the days you’re able to party around any significant calendar-event in Holland does reduce work stress and give the cleaning crews ample of working opportunities. Hmmm, maybe that’s why my Dad always has a 3-day birthday; one for family, work and friends. I finally get it!

Just before Habib and Co. were about to leave for their party I was told they had a spare ticket for me as someone had decided a few whiskeys at home was better than a few beers out. I gratefully hopped on my bike and lifted Habib’s brother Bob to the bash. Bob and I got along really well and he told me his stories of hiking through Nepal whilst I told him about my Brazilian adventures. It was an underground trance/minimal/drum-and-bass party that was held at the indoor skate park, AREA51. I had a good time, and it was great hanging out with some work colleagues away from the bar-counter at De-V. We made our way home back in the wee-hours of the morning, having to buy an extra bike from some junkie in order to get everyone on two-wheels. Work at 12am the next morning was far from my mind as I eventually made my way back to Aalst.

Saturday 30/04/2011

Mayhem. That’s the first word that springs to mind when I describe the day that lay ahead for me (of which I had no idea). I was put in the beer-wagon, a four-sided stall that has four beer-taps in the centre. The inner-sides are lined with trays to carry the beer cups in, cool-drink, papers, ice and bins. The sides of this wagon, which was soon to produce ample amounts of liquid golden-deliciousness, flapped out to form counters and a roof to stop the beating sun from warming the beer (never-mind us behind the counter!). I asked what my role was going to be and Ater looked at me blankly, “Beer, you will tap beer”. I explained to him that my nimble fingers had never touched a tap before and he laughed and said I’d learn soon enough.

Filled with the confidence of tapping one “practice-beer” successfully I approached the first customer. He was a middle-aged man, with swanky glasses and a calm demeanor. He was also a middle-aged man who asked me to tap 30 beers. My gosh. That’s one way to learn. After about 40 cups-worth going both in and out of the plastic holders I managed to get him his order and the final hurdle of working out the finances admittedly didn’t go well either. All-in-all baptism by fire proved to be a good method of learning and I got through the afternoon just fine. I can now say I tap a good beer and have served my time during a Koninginnedag on the hectic side of things. There was a period of about 2 hours where I only looked at faces, cups of soda and beer-taps. When I finally looked over the balding heads, slicked-back locks and Wella-nurtured scalps I realized just what a massive event the day was. Hoards of drunken, hip-swaying, singing, orange-clad, beer-bellied, wine-slurping and very- very jolly Dutch people crowded the market-square.

Daniel also made an appearance in Eindhoven and I met up with him after my shift had ended. We soon got absorbed into the previous paragraph’s final sentence and I had a fun time with my cousin. We had some really good laughs, both at ourselves and the chaos enveloping us. Thank goodness work only started late on Sunday. A social Friday and Saturday was definitely needed, but so is a bit of rest!

Sunday 01/05/2011

I went with A&A to the market in Waalre where we looked at the exhibition of the Klooster’s 100 year anniversary. We also grabbed a beer and decided that Thursday we’d celebrate my birthday at their place with a braai. The rest of Sunday was a very boring day at work, with everyone having partied enough the previous two nights. We got to go home relatively early and I crept into my bed for a welcome lie-in.

Monday and Tuesday 02 & 03/05/2011

Wout caught me on FB chat and suggested we begin watching The Godfather with a few beers that evening, and that’s exactly what I did with my Monday evening. Today I went to the shops with Anita to prepare for Thursday. I also managed to finish this blog and later on I’ve got a shift at work. So continues the European experience!


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6th May 2011

And they are soooooooo precious about their recycling when it comes to your private dustbin!

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