Day 20: What makes me happy?

A lot of things make me happy!

IMG_4738I like the calmness in thing. I like standing at the edge of the ocean, looking over a
valley, staring up at the stars, I like watching the sunset and see the day begin in that calmness before the mad rush. I like the start and the end of things. I like thinking about just how vast the world is and how many other people are doing the exact same thing. Its like looking up at the moon seeing how beautiful it is and thinking about how many others in that moment are doing the exact same thing. Its a bit sad I know but I like the peace that nature brings. I have my ‘happy places’ which, come to think about it all involve nature. I think its the purity of it.

Being organised makes me happy too. Knowing that I have done everything I need to, that I have been able to draw a line under the day, check things off a list. Thats why I am loving the Bullet Journaling system. Its so satisfying knowing I’ve not missed anything off. I like having a clean conscience ad that sense of achievement.

SAM_0369I also like ice cream and ice cold white wine on a sunny day (or in fact any day if the wine is cold enough).
But what will really make me happy is getting on that plane next week and heading off on a family holiday in Moraria, the first one in 6 years!!

The Flying Dutch Man – Spot the Dutch in a crowded English Airport

Yesterday, in that part of my life that is adulthood, I visited Birmingham Airport for work. After a meeting with the CEO we had the pleasure of a tour of the airport. I must admit that as insightful as it was it was gutwrentching to be in the departure lounge, down the departure gates, back in to arrivals then then baggage collection without actually leaving the country! I had to pass through security and immigration twice too!

So in my unrestricted access to the airport I was amongst the business men and women, holiday makers, back packers and not to mention the long haul distance travellers. A man caught my eye travelling with a another male companion. Tall with golden hair and a blue slim fit suit, brogues of course. He had this confident, straight ahead look in his eye and I’m not sure if its the hight or just the general Dutch demeanour but he was most definitely a Dutchie and upon noticing him and his friend, wearing a grey round neck t-shirt and jeans along with Rayban sunglasses I though them the most odd looking of pairing yet both deliciously Dutch. You can imagine my inner winners dance when the t-shirt man (slightly shorter than the suit but with the same European tanned face and golden hair) started talking in Dutch!

I’d like to think that this proves one thing; that even when enthralled with work and my mind relatively as far away from The Netherlands as I am geographically I can still spot one at 100 paces!

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Dear Diary – Day 4

Today marks the last day of my little trip. Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 have been eventful as ever, that it makes leaving my second home so difficult.

In the hotel this morning we walked past 5 more open bedroom doors. We have officially come to the conclusion that it was a hotel made friendly to people with varied tastes. Most definitely bed-hoppers! Why else would the doors be half ajar? I tried to peak in one – shoot me for my curiosity or whatever but I couldn’t see anything. More to the pitty 😉

CockeralChecking out was effortlessly and before I have even left the reception desk and a ‘Thanks for Your Stay’ email was flashing in my hand. Nice touch Bastion Hotel Group! So we jumped on the train into Breda after running down the steps as if our life depended on it. The train we wanted was in the station and we wanted on it – somehow we managed to get it literally by the skin of our teeth. We wondered the streets desperate for food, past the cockerels in the park. From the amount of alcohol consumed on very little food yesterday a large breakfast was required. We sat op de terrace of De Colonie for a good ten minutes and nobody came for our order so we upped and left to the Inspire Coffee Company. I just love it in there! If you ever find yourself in Breda please go and visit!

We shopped and wondered around for a good few hours around Breda. More lipsticks and clothes where nicely purchased too. Hema has become our favourite place. I’ve shopped in stores I probably wouldn’t have visited without Layla. It has been a varied shopping experience and not really an expensive one either!

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IMG_7656We wondered the streets a little more after breaking for a chocomel in the intermittent sunshine. Even managed to waste an hour staring at the cyclists and admired their bottoms as well as their bicycles. The weather was perfect for it – sitting on the terrace that, is not ogling peoples bottoms (handy tip: sunglasses hide where your eyes are looking very well ;)).

We circumnavigated the Netherlands back north up to Schiphol. Layla’s iPod provided the soundtrack – we went from Mr Sheeran to rave music to a nice bit of the Mumfords. She likes to keep things varied around here and there was no complaints from me. The journey back wasn’t too bad. It was a lot quicker than the one from the airport on Friday! We stopped for petrol and Layla put that silly plastic glove on. Who does that?! I don’t get it. Its not a Dutch thing either because I couldn’t see anyone else doing it.

In other news…Layla was introduced to her very first Whopper Burger at BK.


I love people watching. Like really love it. My observations today from Schiphol departures…

Everyone is very relaxed. I suppose that’s because they are all going somewhere nice if they are sat in the airport.

The women here, at least the majority of the ones I’ve seen around me, don’t seem to bother too much with makeup. It goes back to my point before about casual being ok all the time. I’ am currently road testing a matte balm and a long lasting gloss from Hema (purchased today). Make up doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda of Dutch girls. It’s not like they need it. They embrace their au natural look. They are comfy in their own style, their own bodies, it’s quite refreshing to see. Its probably easy to be like that when you are all so beautiful – the men too! aa46884eddcd415959ccc59e9e07acfb
Obviously this is all helped with there tallness, tight legs, firm bottoms from the cycling and of course their diet high in dairy making their skin and hair much better. The women here just seem so comfortable and the men accept that too. I’m putting it down to all of the Dutch Mama’s for bringing up their little boys so well. (Sidenote to all you Dutches – its Mothers Day on the 10th May – don’t forget to treat your Mama!)

The women are strong and independent and the men compliment that. It’s good. I like it. They are just enough of a gentleman to compliment the women. It’s a dynamic that really works in Holland.

The people here are clean too. As we sat in BK everyone cleared their own tables, any rubbish that was accidentally dropped was instantly picked up. Possibly due to the high turn over of people here in Departures every empty chair and table is replaced super quickly. Schiphol is ALWAYS clean though, personally I’ve never seen it a mess. The new departures lounge that they are working on needs some loving tho. I wasn’t too impressed with the wooden pop up shops!

At 20:00 Schiphol stopped. Completely. Everyone stood still, planes didn’t land, radio announcements stopped. Today is Dutch Remembrance Day this year marking its 70th Anniversary. The KLM staff by came from their offices and stood together in a line, heads bowed. Like dolls they stood in line pristinely turned out and all worthy of the prestigious blue twinset. People from all over the world and of every nationality stopped moving and stopped talking. The Last Post was played over the PA and then the silence began. To mark its end the joyous sounds of the Dutch National Anthem rang out all around and the world started moving again. It was a surreal and moving two minutes to be a part of something that is so special to the Dutch and so important to their culture. Similar to our November 11th Remembrance Day in the UK its a patriotic thing, and heartwarming moment to just stop and take note and most of all to remember.

Our last port of call and where I will end this post is in Starbucks. We are ready to board now, suitably fuelled with Coffee and Cinnamon Swirls. We are ready to go. The sun has set in The Netherlands and as I sit here typing all this up I am sad to be leaving but excited for my return in just 3 weeks! I have had a great weekend and I hope if you’ve followed all of my reports about it you will already know that.IMG_7657

A summary of the statistics:

  • 400km traveled in and around The Netherlands
  • 2 packets of car sweats eaten
  • About 5 bottles of wine/Prosecco drank
  • 55,351 steps!
  • 2 new lipsticks
  • 2 new tops
  • Pair of Shoes
  • A Jip en Janekke book purchased

Holland – a pleasure as always. 

My Holiday Highlights…

Holiday Highlights

In no particular order:

  • Getting complimented on my manners by the sweetest Swedish woman in an Italian restaurant. I’ve had many comments on my accent over the years, especially at university, nobody has ever pointed out how sweet I sounded!
  • Eating Frikandellen op de terrace
  • Drinking Chocomel on the sofa. Dutch hot chocolate is my most favourite hot chocolate in the world. I actually refuse to drink hot chocolate anywhere else in the world. Its just not the same!
  • Watching Dr Phil in Dutch! I’m saying no more than that, I cant watch this kind of trash tv on my television at home.
  • Dutch TV in general. I had this incredible mix of English in my head, Dutch on the TV and in the car and then Spanish in the shops.
  • Singing songs by my ultimate Dutch celebrity: Paul De Leeuw and singing “Kids Club” songs in Dutch. I have a thing for Dutch music, they sing with so much passion its incredible. Every track to me is like a Eurovision Party.
  • A week with a Dutch sense of humor. I’ve laughed that much my face hurt!
  • Finding a fully Dutch-speaking restaurant, and learning that most of the area I was staying in was owned/run by Dutch people. The menu cards where in Dutch, the staff etc. Moraira seems to be the second home for Dutch people. Its amazing how much Dutch I have been exposed to in Spain. I am starting to notice more and more connections to Dutch or the Netherlands in my everyday life, it’s the little things I have not noticed before. I suppose it’s similar to when you are buying a new car and all of a sudden it looks like everyone has the same car. There are lots of Dutch in Moraira though, more than any other nationality and at this time of the year there is more Dutch than there is Spanish!

Continue reading My Holiday Highlights…

Another day another country…

I was back in Schiphol at 5am this morning so I thought I would share a few more photos with you. I am away for a few days with Gino, my Dutch buddy (hence the one night lay over in NL). It also means that my Dutch notes have been given the once over by him too, I think he was impressed! His mum tested me on a few bits too last night.

I’m going to point out something really obvious that everyone learning Dutch already knows…DUTCH PEOPLE TALK FAST. Now I mean really fast. I tried my best to use the odd words I have picked up to follow conversation and I don’t think I did too badly but with tiredness, excitement and a belly full of Dutch Chinese food I got lost a few times.

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Continue reading Another day another country…