dinsdag 25 augustus 2009

Emma is back from Spain and a day in Walibi World

A human centrifuge. Dhiarrea sufferers, do not attempt this at home. you may face embarassment at the Laundromat.

Emma returned safely from Spain, and is in love with Tim, a fellow traveller. Tim is also 15, very good-looking, humorous, articulate, in the highest flow of the education stream and wants to be a doctor. Sometimes people try to keep guys away from thier daughters with sticks and insect repellant. Others are looking for ways to nail them down. Unfortunately Tim lives in Amsterdam, so quality time is limited and there is much telephone and MSN traffic in Spanish. Still, absense makes the heart grow fonder.

Lisa really looking forward to take-off and not looking at all worried

Denise and Emz on the other hand showing fearful apprehension

Since we had not really done much in the holiday, we decided that, while Bernadet needed beurocracy-bashing time with Irene, the rest of us would go to Walibi World. It was not my intention to spend the day being flung around in very dubious whirly contructions, nor dangled from great heights and allowed to drop towards the earth at an acceleration of 32 ft per second squared.

Nothing will ever persuade me to do this
I would take a bedding mat and a good thick book and find a piece of grass to happily sag onto, stirring only for a fresh coffee or a pee. It did not work out that way, as without me we formed an odd number, and thus someone would have to sit on their own.

Cousins Merel and Denise

Thus did Thijs, Merel, Denise, Emma, Lisa and myself venture forth to sample the ironmongery. The bedding roll and the book went into a locker and a fun day was had by all.

Ride him, cowgirl

Lisa, Emz and ageing git

Love boat

Since Merel had to be at work at the Pet Department at 6 pm, we left early and sped home, stopping only to partake of supper at McDonalds, opting for poisonous hamburgers and some chemicals through a straw.

We are blessed by a visit from the God Halpin

We have been honoured by a visit from the Diety on his way home to Scotland after chasing the sun around Europe from one country to another, and failing to catch up with it.
Although we wouldn't miss a Kieran Halpin gig (to do so may well be a sin with dreadful consequences) we haven't seen Maggie and the kids for about 8 years. Maggie is just the same, not a day older. Ellen has become a lovely and very bright young lady, and the newcomer, Neula (I hope the spelling is right) is a little dynamo of fun.

As Chosen Ones we were pleased to disinfect our despicable and unworthy hovel to receive Him, and managed to have all his CD's all dusted and arranged to look as if we played them all the time.

Nuela, Katinka and Merel. No, Katinka has not been struck by some awful disease - that's Kierans little head just bobbing along in the background.

The roles - Guests at breakfast, the man behind the camera, and out in the garden a woman is doing those things that women were destined to do.

Good health and fortune to your loving family, Kieran. If you don't know this great musician's work, then please click below. You will not be disappointed:

donderdag 20 augustus 2009

A house for Irene 2

Getting the roof ready. Strips of roofing felt burnt on as bridges between the sections.
I am not trained in this task and foolishly put my finger into the wet tar to see if it was soft enough. It was, and burning tar stuck to my finger. When I eventually got it off, my fingerprints went with it.
This little chap is a regular visitor, and has to be carefully put outside now and again.I tried to ferment his interest in the pretty blue lamp with the grill but he won't have any of it. Probably saw what happened to his uncle last week. Went off like a firework. Very spectacular it was.
When painted, the interior looks spacious. There are 3 smaller rooms, a walk-in wardrobe, shower, toilet and kitchen.
Jan connected up the gas, electricity and water. We were given a specification of a meter cupboard from the authorities, giving size, thickness and composition of walls, angle of roof etc ('24 degrees slope with 10.5 cm overhang front and rear') etc. And we made it exactly according to the plans. When the power chappies came to install the meters they were amazed. "Good Lord! Is that what they look like? Weve never actually seen a real one. Most people just nail an old apple box to the fence!".

Likewise the water facilities. We are informed that the pit in which the water-meter would be installed should be 90cm by 80cm and 100cm deep and of galvanised steel with a lid and a false bottom etc etc. We travelled the land to find one and buried it. No problem with our water meter housing, this one could take the biggest water meter they could throw at it. When the man arrived, he looked at the steel cavern, smiled and took the new water meter out of his jacket pocket. It was the size of a tennis ball.
Jan and Kees laboured to haul stones all the way from Marktplaats to make this stunning terrace. You can see the overkill meter-cabinet and water-pit in the background.

Your humble scribe painting the kitchen. On the left you can see the walk-in wardrobe. What on earth does that mean, 'walk-in'? Anything is 'walk-in' if you walk into it to use it. There is also a stand-in shower, a sit-on toilet, and outside is the drive-in car-park.
Kees has welded some ingenious supports for the sun-shade.
Later we will automate it using an old electric drill.
Michelle makes bouquets for the dine-on table in the live-in living room

And a result that the whole family can be proud of. So much in a very short time to build a home for this courageous lady.Welcome home, Irene.

woensdag 19 augustus 2009

A house for Irene

We have not only an apple this year, but also one plum.
I thought you might like to see it.

Since the decision has been made to bring Irene home, it has been a frantic time to get everything sorted. This is the story of a family united to do its utmost to help one of it's own. A lot of people have gone to Phoenix to help over there, while all efforts have been made here to sort all the beaurocracy and to make a home for Irene at 34 Hoogeweg, where she can be amongst her family and close to help while keeping her privacy and independence. The problems were enormous. A window of opportunity existed between the last chemo in the USA and hopefully the first in Holland. In the three months she needed to wrap things up in America, including selling her house and reduce her posessions down to a few suitcases. Then would come the problem of becoming a Dutch citizen again, and thus in the NHS equivalent before the next batch of treatment was needed. As it turned out, the usually bolshevik Local Council was surprisingly sympathetic and turned a blind eye to many of it's own fastidious rules (including the maximum height of pergolas). Owing to a failure in my computer, and being, like many in the family, totally absorbed into this project, I find myself writing this blog in the aftermath and peace of the completed task. As I write, Irene is in her house, which she calls her 'chalet', and is very happy with it. It was a great team effort. Another aspect of this story is the enormous courage, strength and dignity of Irene. I had expected that somebody so ill would be down and sad. I have not once heard her complain about the cards fate has dealt her. She is cheerful and positive, and despite the physical and financial onslaught of sickness, does everything she can for herself (and others), and insists on paying her own way. If miracles do happen in these situations, they may well depend on the attitude of the afflicted person to their misfortune. With all the heart-warming news from the tests, we may well be looking at a miracle in the making. In the same situation I would hope to show the same strength. I doubt that I could.

Anyhoo, the story of the Chalet. Having scoured Marktplaats we eventually came upon this sectional bulding. Unfortunately it would not be free until 3 weeks before Irene needed it.

This is the Chalet as we found it after the family living in it had moved off to the new house.

It is also a long way from the road, so something has to come into this backyard to pick it up and carry it away to Heiloo. First it has to be unbolted and split into 4 pieces.

A pretty hefty crane will come through here and get it. Kees has some tools with which he hopes to move the 4 sections apart so that the crane can get a rope round each of them in turn. Good luck Kees. It's only 16 tons.

And this is where it must go, about 15 miles away, in the carpark of Stal Sprenkeling.

Moment being Force times Distance about the Fulcrum or something, the bits are separated so that the crane can get a belt round.

The crane arrives, but that concrete looks like thin ice.

All goes well and the first section is lifted

..and goes on the flatbed of the crane. The crane is now about 4 tons heavier, and that concrete looks mighty thin indeed.
Bugger! The crane with its load starts to sink through the concrete. I have no later picture showing the crane really deep in the concrete sea, but it did sink up to the axles. Or oksels as we say over here. Up to the armpits it was.

We tried to pull it out with a 4wd Landrover type thingy, but that failed. We tried to break up the concrete into gravel by hitting it with scaffold poles.

At this point an apalling incident occurred. I struck the cement with my hollow steel pole and raised it for another strike when a hibernating toad fell out. I was too late to stop the following downswing. The toad looked up at me, and then at his severed left arm. "Why me?", it seemed to cry, "I'm just a 'armless toad, well I am now, you bastard!". He limped way on all threes and I carefully picked up his arm. I remember fom school that lizards grew new tails if you pulled them off. Maybe the arm would grow a new toad.

"What we need now", said Kees, "is the biggest fucking tractor you ever did see in all your born days". "I'll keep a look out for one then, shall I?"said Jan, scanning the road with invisible binoculars with a hint of sarcasm. In one of those moments that define history and move worlds, a mighty roar bellowed from around the corner down the road. "What the fuck is that, Jan" said Kees. "If my eyes are not deceiving me",said Jan, "I do believe it's the biggest fucking tractor I ever did see in all my born days" waving frantically at the monster to stop.

The Biggest Fucking Tractor That Anyone Had Ever Seen In All Their Born Days had no problem pulling the crane out of the concrete depths like a Dinky Toy. It was now obvious that the crane number one was not up to the job, and something was needed that did not have to muscle its way through the now crumpled concrete, but which had a long and high enough reach to pluck the sections and lift them over the houses and dump them on the flatbed part of the inadequate crane number one. The latter would be sent to Heiloo with a section and return to pick up another which crane number two would load onto its back.
This looks the right tool for the job. Crane number two in a state of erection as it were.

Don't worry, neighbours. It's as safe as houses.

Sections arrive in Heillo to be bolted together.

Now where does this bit go?

Er, this doesn't look quite right!

Ah! The missing piece!

And the job is done (apart from the rain-pipes!)
Time to relax and have a few beers at the end of the day.
Not forgetting one for the toad.

To be continued..........................

Emma goes to Spain.

Eva, Ster and Emma get on the bus.

Since Merel had a scooter (now in demise and replaced by a more sensible moped) a balance was required (and vociferously demanded) on behalf of Emma. An agreement was reached and she is off to Spain with Eva and Ster on a supervised holiday intended to allow teenagers a modicum of freedom while allowing them to blow off steam. Hopefully the blowing will remain with steam, and the young debutantes will return reasonably intact). We all went to the starting point in Amsterdam where the bus will begin the gruelling 18 hour journey to Spain. I expressed some concern when a group of spotty, tattoed youths arrived in shorts and sleeveless T-shirts with saucy slogans, and began leering at the girls and chatting them up. My fears where laid to rest when it was pointed out that these were in fact the supervisors and a few students learning the supervising trade. So that's all right then. The tired looking driver packed all the stuff into the bus, which looked better than the driver but not exactly ravine-proof. And off they go.

"So remember girls, don't ,er, I mean if a young spanish chappie says, um, as it were, well, I mean if, so to speak, you find yourself, if you get my meaning, in a situation, then..........."
"Yeah, whatever!"

Meanwhile, a stroll round the garden. This butterfly is sometimes in the house.
Or it may be one of the millions like him.

We have only one apple this year, but numbers don't count when you look at this perfect beauty. There'll be a fight for this when its fully ripe!

dinsdag 18 augustus 2009

Denise is 18

Sorry about the delay in news from Heiloo, amazing watching world. Blame it on the DEFCON trojan and the inability of all the Kapersky's and all the King's men to deal with it. I shall in the coming hours shovel out guff to get us up to date and then to relax and.. shit ... then it's time to get back to work. Yes! My contract has been extended and I shall again be available as a target for all the young ladies in The Nova College to try out their latest venom. This time a lot of new students, who will have been soundly primed by those of yesteryear on how to take the piss out of the ageing English git in the Media Centre. I have had about 6 weeks to prepare for the onslaughts. During which time I have not been paid. A sad reflection on society today, that irreplaceable treasures such as I can be hired until the start of the school holiday, fired and then re-hired when the holiday is over. Better than the first offer. Would I be interested in staying at home, dressed for Media Centre action, staring at the telephone in case I was wanted for an hour if someone was sick? I would of course be paid only for the hour that I would have worked that day, week, month or year. Surprisingly, I was not interested. The career prospects seemed a little obscure. But I have my job back. Anyhoo, to quote Young Stef, now hopefully strutting the law-courts in wig and gown, the news.

Er, not sure. Have you got something, well, sort of with 'charisma'?

Denise was 18, and as is customary in Dutch households, she received a set of driving lessons. From the company called 'Ladies First'. Everybody needs a gimmick, and for these people it means having your first lesson in a Porsche Carrera 911, a horseless carriage with a top speed of around 186 mph, or as we say in their country, 301 kph. Just the thing for a first lesson. Gives you a nice photo-moment.
Um, Have you got a Fiat Panda or something?

Colleague Richard Smith thought he might buy one and went for a test drive. In fourh gear he put his foot down and got wheelspin and smoking rear tires. I shall decline and buy a Mini-Cooper, thought Richard, and prolonged his life by several decades.

Right then, this round thing makes it go left or right I suppose?........

This week I went with Maarten to a golf-course in Waterland. At the end of a not particularly good round, I went to practise on the 9 hole mini-course. There are lots of hares and rabbits running around and they are not afraid of golfers. On the fourth, I chatted with a little family of hares. I don't usually get an audience so I wanted to impress the little furry friends. When bad golfers make a great shot and nobody is looking, we stride up the fairway towards the green taking our caps off every few steps and nodding and smiling at the adoring fans who roar in our imagination. This for the Ryder Cup, I said to myself as I calculated all the options, the wind direction, humidity and temperature. I wiggled my arse, just like Woods or Mikkelson, and started the concentrated backswing. The hares and rabbits were still. This the moment that separates the men from the rabbits. An explosion of power, club to ball, the sweet-spot, the follow-through, and look up to see the ball scorching its re-entry onto the green. Only I couldn't see it. Instead I saw a lot of hares and rabbits running for cover. All except one. He was stone dead with his legs in the air. A furtive look around as I pick him up, still warm, and dump him in the bunker. And off to the car-park. A chap on his way to the first tee asks how its playing. That bunker on the fourth, I warn him. Avoid that, it's a bit of an animal in there.

Quote of the week from the BBC world service, which I listen to all day. An English Chief of Police is in South Africa, advising South African policemen on crowd control for the World Cup. 'Step in quickly when you see anti-social behaviour that might lead to a breach of the peace and a breakdown in public order.' 'Er, how would you define such behaviour, Sir?' asks a SA police cadet. The Chief of Police looks surprised at such a ridiculous question, and simply says 'When you see them acting like twats!'