September 25th, 2011 , 11:46

Or what passes for it in our house! Joe is back (middle of the week) and the electricians are more or less finished (only a fan switch that was faulty to be replaced when the new one comes in). We have spent the last half of the week and the weekend cleaning. Far too much dust!

But we have new electrics! No floors upstairs, but new electrics! The furniture in the house is back in place, bed is made, house steam cleaned and new electrics.

Next, the heating. Bet that means more dust.

Frog Blog


September 19th, 2011 , 9:06

Back home, still no electrics, and back to work. Joe is also back to work, but still in Amsterdam.  Not fair.

We slept in yesterday then packed up and got ready to leave. Didn’t know if Joe would have to move rooms so we packed everything and checked. He stayed in that room, but I had to check out. We had not enough time to really do anything, but too much time to just sit around. So we did a slow stroll to the train station.

At the station Joe directed me into a small cafe (Julia’s, I think) and said he was getting me a hot chocolate. So he comes back with a coffee and a cup of steamed milk with a stick sticking straight up from it. Hmmm, I wondered, how is it doing that? So I check and it’s got a block of chocolate on the end! Oh yum! You sit and stir that into the hot milk and get a rich creamy hot chocolate which is wonderful.

So we sat and chatted and watched people come and go. There was some sort of run in Amsterdam (looked it up and it’s the Dam tot Dam Loop – “Very popular 10 mile fun-run event with tens of thousands of participants. The run takes place on Sunday 18th Sep 2011 between Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam and Zandam in staggered starts.”) So we watched the people coming in either after their run or before.

Then off to the train. Not a bad journey home – the train between Amsterdam and Brussels was fairly empty but Eurstar was full. But got home, sorted out a pile of laundry and went to bed!

At least the sun is shining today!

Frog Blog

Just one wafer thin mint!

September 17th, 2011 , 19:30

We have discovered the best tapas in Amsterdam, but only go if you are very very very hungry. It’s Manzano and Joe decided we should go for the chef’s choice of 12 tapas. Toward the end I said that I really hoped I was remembering the menu wrong, because I thought there was pudding included. Joe said no there wasn’t and he was wrong. Because a huge plate came out with a selection of puddings. We managed quite a bit, but were waddling back to the hotel. Are now trying to digest food. Very good food. With a mint at the end. I didn’t eat mine.

Frog Blog


September 17th, 2011 , 14:45

No alarm this morning but awake around 7am anyway. Up and breakfast, then into town dithering about what to do first. Found the post office, then off to the Hermitage, deciding to do the train station later.

The Hermitage Amsterdam was doing a Rubens, Van Dyck, & Jordaens show, which just opened today. The previous one was Russian religious icons, so we decided I’d rather see Flemish works. For the first day and a Saturday it was relatively empty and we got a good view of all the paintings. The Hermitage is two main galleries which do special shows – so when you go in you see what they have on and a small section with the history of the building and the old chapel. But it means one show can close and the next open the very next day. The current show is very good.

When we came out of the Hermitage there was a bus floating in the Amstel! It was a Floating Dutchman tour, but it did look odd. So Joe stopped for photos. We also got to watch the bridges open.

We then walked along the Amstel for a short while and stopped for a sandwich and drink – just as it started to rain. Looks like rain off and on for the rest of the day. Then a slow stroll back to the hotel doing a little bit of shopping and looking at things. A bit tired!

Frog Blog


September 16th, 2011 , 19:14

One good thing about being in the office yesterday was I got cake! Birthday cake. Celebrating 40 years of action. After Joe had his meeting we headed out with some of his colleagues and had dinner. It was a very nice evening.

This morning the alarm went off and we both decided to just ignore it. Got up about half an hour later and got ready, so instead of the 0910 train we got the 1010 train. Turned out to be fine – takes about an hour from Amsterdam to Delft and it’s not a bad journey. We saw (out the train window) Harlaam (which is lovely), Leiden, Den Haag, and finally Delft. They are doing some work along the train line in Delft and it looks as if the canal has been drained – so the rather picturesque windmill by the tracks going into the station wasn’t so picturesque, rather more forlorn in the middle of building works!

Once out of the station and away from the building works, Delft was lovely. Still felt like I was about to be run over at any time, but it’s lovely. We walked to the Tourist Information building and grabbed a map, then headed out to walk along a canal. Came to the Old Church (Oude Kerk) and headed in to see the church and where Vermeer is buried. Lovely church, very plain. Then out and along the side streets and around to William of Orange’s residence which is now a museum. We didn’t go in there (Joe wasn’t too keen on more museums and he knew I was going to be dragging him into another church).

We then headed into the market – one of the oldest markets in Europe, still medieval and lovely old buildings. However the shops are all modern or tourist shops and the centre was a fun fair rather than market. We did go into the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) and saw where the royals were buried. Then had some lunch before heading off to find the Royal Delft factory.

The pottery factory is a bit out of the centre but only a 10 to 15 minute walk out. Much like other pottery factories with hand painting! The museum is interesting; however the real attraction is the building. It’s all Delft building ware and lovely – the building itself was used as a showroom with all the different types of tiles on show. So the first bit you walk into is a huge entry way with tiles and a fully tiled staircase. Then the garden has what looks like an old cloister but is samples of columns and tiling! Really lovely and Joe took loads of photos (if they came out they’ll be on Flickr later!) So it’s worth going to see – not necessarily for the pottery, though that is nice, but the building.

Enjoyed walking around and learning the difference between what is sold in the tourist shops and by Royal Delft.  Of course the real stuff, hand painted and marked, is very much more expensive than the stuff just transferred on. We looked at the limited edition Christmas ornament and Joe said he didn’t want the stress at Christmas worrying it would fall off the tree!

By the time we finished all that it was about 4.30 so we headed back to the station and the crowded train back to Amsterdam (but not too bad – we had seats together!) Once back in Amsterdam I said I wanted Dutch pancake for dinner, so we just drifted along looking to see what was around and discovered The Pancake Bakery which serves wonderful pancakes (but molasses instead of proper maple syrup!) I had a bacon and apple pancake and Joe had soup, then we shared an apple pie with cinnamon ice cream – the ice cream was lovely!

Going to see what the weather does tomorrow and work from there.

Frog Blog

The Office

September 15th, 2011 , 13:47

Today was relaxing day. Up when we woke up, then breakfast, then off to the station to get our tickets to Delft. The day is so nice we decided we didn’t want to spend it in a museum – sun out and warm so we walked from the station along the waterfront. Stopped for tea and coffee, and carried on to the tram stop. On the way saw boats, including a huge cruise ship, come in and go out, lots of birds, and just generally a lovely day.

We took the tram to the Vondelpark and strolled through the park. Stopped again for a cold drink, thought about lunch but as it was so pretty there were a lot of people! So we just had something to drink and then along to the end and another tram to the office.

So now sitting in the office while Joe works.

Frog Blog

Small wedding (and no cake)

September 14th, 2011 , 19:42

Up early and got ready for the wedding. Had breakfast – interesting dining area with lots of little areas to sit in, so Joe headed us away from the large loud group to an empty quiet area to sit and have breakfast. Sat down, ordered coffee, and two German women then sat at the table right next to us – every other table in the area was empty! So much for quiet breakfast as they chatted very loudly throughout. It was funny!

We then headed off for the wedding. Very small registry wedding – we got there, were found by the group, and headed off. Interesting registry area, bit of a maze. But a nice ceremony – very short and sweet. The couple didn’t want long speeches so the register said ‘no speeches’. Joe took the photos! We then headed out to a nearby restaurant where the waiter saw the marriage book and said congrats. We had cava and breakfast and lots of celebration and cheers. The couple were off for the honeymoon that afternoon, so after lots of cheer, said bye and headed back to the hotel to change.

We had to go past the Anne Frank house and, as I had never been there, we decided to check the times and cost. The queue is always way long – wrapping around the building and down the street, so our plan was to check the time and get up early tomorrow and go. When we got there however there was no queue – really, no queue! So we decided to go in then and there – nice cheerful follow up to a wedding! The queue was inside the Annex though – it’s a very small tight space so you sort of shuffle along to see stuff. (Joe says apparently the best time to go is Wednesday afternoon around 2ish – but by 3ish the queue was growing again, but still shorter than I’ve ever seen it! Though that may have just been a weird day.)

Then back to the hotel to change and discuss plans. We ended up just resting and talking then heading out to the brown bar (De Zottes) for a very nice dinner.

So far we have eaten and walked! Tomorrow is the Rijjksmuseum and then Joe works a bit. Then we’re off to Delft!

Frog Blog

A Rib Too Far

September 13th, 2011 , 18:02

And we’re back and traveling again. Though not far – just Amsterdam and, hopefully, Delft. Up far too early this morning for the very full train to Brussels and onward to Amsterdam. Nifty train from Brussels – one of the old style with compartments and corridor and seats that slide into beds. It was a nice trip most of the way with the compartment pretty much ours. But at one station a group of teens got on and took the compartment next ours (at one end of the carriage) and regaled the entire carriage with nonsense. Very loud shrieking nonsense.  There was a huge sigh of relief when they got off at Rotterdam.

Got to the hotel, dumped our bags and headed out to find the Town Hall – because we’re here for another wedding! Just noted the last blogging was from the last wedding in Amsterdam. Found the venue and Joe mentioned a place that does ribs. Well, we had a sandwich from the supermarket at the train station (oh yummy) and were hungry so early dinner it was. We had one plate of spare ribs and one plate of smoked ribs and decided that next time we get one plate – it was actually several ribs too far but very good they were. The smoked ribs were more like gammon, very interesting.

We then had a slow walk (waddle?) back to the hotel where I’m posting. Probably early to bed as the wedding is in the morning and we were up far too early this morning (5am)!

PS why we haven’t been blogging will be on Joe’s flickr page soon. Needless to say we are very happy to have electrics by just flipping a switch and not have everything covered in dust – though I bet our bags have a good amount of dust in them. But when we get home we’ll have all new electrical wiring, new lights, new ceiling fans, new sockets, and complete data wiring. Phew.

Frog Blog