28 September 2006

Windmills of all sorts

Every Thursday I travel to Den Haag (The Hague) for a meeting with work. On my way back I pass a traditional looking windmill with some wind turbines in the background. I always think this is a great image of the present Netherlands and I keep meaning to stop and take a photo. But it'll mean pulling over on a very busy motorway so I decided to take this short video clip instead.

24 September 2006

Meet Betty

Meet my new best friend, Betty. I bought Betty today from a junkie by Junkie Bridge for €13. Bargain! €15 is the going rate for a junkie bike, but I was given the top tip that a hit costs €12 so we agreed on €13. That way my junkie friend can also have a beer for breakfast.

I was hoping to christen her the Beast but she is not beastly enough so I think Betty suits her. The features that attracted me to Betty were the new big comfy saddle, hardly worn tyres and a fully functioning rear hub brake. Note there are no brake levers - you have to pedal backwards to stop!

I gained a certain odd pleasure about cleaning up Betty, especially fixing the bell. I seem to remember as a kid once repairing a bell on one of my first bikes. The rear mudguard also rubbed against the tyre so I developed a complex zip tie solution to solve it. My engineering degree does come in useful sometimes!

As you can see from the bell, this bike was once a rental bike so I made the following modifications to ensure Betty became unique:

1, Removed of the far from beastly front windscreen
2, Switching the grips to my old Kona grips for some street cred ;-)
3, The addition of Gaffa tape to cover the bell logo
4, Removal of the front light - the baguette wrapper was not really illuminating anything!

I hope to remain in partnership with Betty for my whole time in the Netherlands. I will be disappointed if she becomes another junkies hit :-(

22 September 2006

Nearly towed away

Got a bastard parking ticket today. Must really try to learn Dutch so I can read the parking signs better. If you get back late to our street then there is normally no parking spaces so I parked just round the corner. But just round the corner is a clearway between 7:30am and 9am so I got screwed. I was lucky tho cos someone at work translated the ticket and I was actually parking in a tow away zone. Any later getting my car and it would've been towed away - Doh!

21 September 2006

Zandvoort Beach

Last week I went to the beach for the second time for a couple of cold ones and some dinner with a Foundation friend, Michel, from IBM NL. Last week I went to one end of the beach called Bloomingdale and tonight I was at the other end called Zandvoort. Click here for a map. This time I took my camera to capture the sunset and got lucky with a horse rider in the background! It still surprises me that a nice beach is less than half an hour away :-)

19 September 2006

Snowboarding without mountains

There are a number of indoor snowboard snowboard places in the Netherlands like Milton Keynes. This week I was investigating a number of those places to visit when I found out that the nearest one called Snowplanet was hosting a special freestyle night. So I packed my gear up and headed there after work.

€15 euros got me 4hrs riding and it was better than any MK session, the DJ played some quality beats, the snow was not too bad, it was not too busy or too quiet and as you can see there were enough toys out to play with. Even on a regular night it is €21 for an hour or €28 for 4hrs so still cheaper than the MK. I started off like a true muppet but a half time beer sorted that out and by the end I was hitting the smaller jumps/rails/boxes and stomping a few 180's.

The big jump was balls out, but if I need to keep up with Jimbob and Alex in Whistler this winter then I'll need to launching myself off that soon. But tonight was not the night for that especially as I've not yet sorted out my health insurance! I did see the skiers hit it fakie and 360's plus some nutters on boards were landing 7's and I saw one backflip! Oddly enough I was very much in the minority with a helmet on?

Checkout the photos below and I'm sorry they are a bit blurred but that's about the best my little camera can do I'm afraid.

Whitewater in the Netherlands?!

As much as I may sadly miss HPP, I will also be able to get my fix of whitewater here in the Netherlands. They are building a whitewater course just like HPP called Dutch Water Dreams and it's about 40 mins from where I live. The course will be the same as they are using for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Plus, it will house a couple of FlowRider waves which will be a right laff. If it's crap then there is always the Aquatica type swimming pool next door! DWD does not open officially open till 20th October but I popped in early to check out how it was looking. God knows how it is going to be ready on time because it was a building site when I got there! Not even sure I should've been walking around as it was all fenced off and there were many builders beavering away. But no-one told me to sod off so I walked the whole course and took the following pictures. I reckon I'll go to the opening weekend as there will be a party with live music so could be a laugh. I'll put the sleeping bag in the boot just in case ;-)

16 September 2006

Beers on the balcony

So my first Friday night out was at a dodgy dutch nightclub called Winstons that I easily see myself frequenting. Saturday night was slightly quieter with a few beers on our balcony.

12 September 2006

Efteling theme park

Today I went with all the IBM'ers in my department to a theme park called Efteling. Funny how my work leaving do in the UK was at a theme park and now my first work social in the Netherlands also involves beer and rollercoasters! Oddly enough, Efteling was also the place I went to when I was about 14. I was lazy with the camera this time but I did manage to snap this shot whilst whizzing down the Bobsleigh run. I remember this ride was here half my life ago - remember it Michael?

11 September 2006

Guess which work car I have?

Have a guess by looking at the photo which car IBM has given me. Thankfully it's only till xmas when I get a new car of my choice. Well limited choice, Ford, BMW, Renault, Volvo, Toyota or VW. Any ideas anyone?

10 September 2006

Exploring on and breaking my bike :-(

So I went out on my bike today to explore the local woodland area called Amsterdam Bos. There's loadsa trails, a few lakes to chill by and the following regatta rowing lake like HPP in Notts.

On my way there I passed this cool building shaped like a train. Banks have too much money to waste!

But it wasn't such a great trip when I started jumping over a few obsticles on my bike and spanked it :-(

02 September 2006

Monster weekend unpacking

I spent the weekend unpacking my mountain of crap and spreading it around my new flat. I took a few pics on my phone to send to Emma so I thought they can go up here too:

01 September 2006

Hello Rijnsburgstraat

So here I am, I managed to make my way to my new dutch home. An apartment on Rijnsburgstraat in the Oud Zuid (Old South) area of Amsterdam. To get here I drove to Nottingham city centre, got the bus to the airport, flew to Schipol, caught the train to Centraal station, jumped on tram number 2 and finally the short walk round the corner!