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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Third letter: Illegally parked

Wednesday the 14th of December

Hello again *******

Well the good news is you’ve heard about these blogs, but have you actually read them?
            Right, returning to our amalgamation into the Nederland’s. On the 17th of August we said goodbye to our life on the Isle of Wight, packed the car with a lamp, two laptops, an overnight bag, blow up double bed, two pillows, quilt and of course Alfie. Arriving at the ferry terminal we found, to Andy’s irritation, we were boarding the same boat as our removal company Page the Packers, which meant making small talk or hiding – we hid. However, typically we’d vastly overrated our conversational appeal as the removal blokes similarly kept a low profile and the short sea journey turned into a cat and mouse game of avoidance. Driving to Folkestone was conducted under similar circumstances as the miles of roadworks gave ample opportunity for over and undertaking of the removal lorry, each pass accompanied by a small elbow cringing wave (me) or even worse thumbs up (Andy) to the indifferent, stoic faced inhabitants in the cab of Page the Packers.  
We made the channel tunnel in record time, no more small talk for us! Oh and by the way if you haven’t travel on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle yet, I can highly recommend it, it’s like a close encounter with Star Trek: strobe lighting, aluminium sliding panels and alien background hum. Driving up to the second level I began twitching with the thrill of the adventure we were embarking on, I was about to travel under the ocean on a train built like a spaceship taking us to a new life, casting Andy a sideways glance I’d like to say he was cool and collected, however he wore a silly sideways smile, partly obscured by his Sony camera straps.
The alien adventure begins
Once in France Andy took over the driving, remember my trouble with left and right?  Well it hasn’t improved and I wasn’t about to put us both in danger by driving on the wrong (right) side of the road. We motored through France, Belgium and finally the Nederland’s with the help of our reluctantly, purchased new friend Mr Satnav,  and drove through the electric doors at 7pm to our underground car park. Only to find some bastard (only fair way to describe him) had parked his Mini in our designated parking space. Had this happened in the UK, we’d have ‘borrowed’ an empty parking slot and left our phone number on the windscreen, however this wasn’t the UK, we'd already committed one faux pas in the underground garage when we set off all the alarms, and we’d just moved house, sailed across the Solent, raced through the south of England, travelled under the ocean and driven through three European countries, logic went out of the window. We had very little grasp of the language but I’m fairly sure the big white NP signs mean the same in English as they do in Dutch - No Parking.  Yet after reversing back and forth for several minutes we decided obviously to park under the largest NP sign. Now, Andy as you’re probably not aware can, at times be quite intimidating and to be sure the evil car parking thief understood the gravity of his crime and the extent of Andy’s annoyance he scrawled the following message to the villain on a piece of A4 paper and stuck it under his windscreen wipers.

Illegally parked  (In English) That’ll show em!

Saturday 17th of December (Going to a birthday party tonight.. yeah!)

            Grumpy and sober we open the door to our new home, the thin grey carpets(cheapest we could find) had been laid and the apartment looked better than we remembered, it almost made up for the illegally parked Mini. Unpacking an overnight bag in an empty apartment doesn’t take long and soon we were itching to go out and explore, after all we deserved a drink.  Don’t we always?
Once again Breda was buzzing with the café culture lifestyle, every restaurant or bar spilled out onto the cobbled streets, the tables and chairs dotted with red or cream blankets, thoughtfully provided to protect exposed shoulders when the sun dips behind the stunning gilded cathedral. We found ourselves a table in the heart of the bars and watched the beautiful people go by. And beautiful they were, we were surrounded by a tall confident race, none of whom appeared over 25 years old. I felt the first of many, new insecurities. On the Isle of Wight I’d been one of the younger generation, here I was approaching grandma status, I almost mentioned this to Andy, but his and Alfie’s attention was captivated by the beautiful white German Shepherd at the next table and the two flawless girls sitting with it, I suggested an early night.
I’d not slept for 36 hours at this point and desperate to get back to the apartment and blow up the temporary mattress. Feeling old and tired seems to bring out the martyr in me, because the blow up double mattress was in fact a single mattress, so I took the sleeping bag on the floor assuring Andy that I’d be fine (I wasn’t) while he and Alfie slept soundly snuggled up on their cushion of air.
Even Alfie looks uncomfortable on this floor
So my first night of our new life in the Nederlands I'd spent wide awake, on a thinly carpeted concrete floor watching the bats through our curtain less windows and occasionally getting up to count my winkles. I felt, almost confident it had to get better than this.

Okay, I better go, I've got another crispy critter burning in the halogen cooker, write back soon.

Lots of love Trace xx


  1. Tracey!!! Found you at last. Just received an invite to join google+ from you, so my address must be in your address book. There seems to be no way of contacting you direct. So am hoping you read your 'comments'!

    I have family in Castricum, NL. So feel free to ask away, though it sounds like you are having an adventure all on your own.

    I have joined G+ the first social media thing I have done....against better judgement put photo up so you know who I am...

    Meanwhile. Prettige Kerstdagen en heel veel Geluk voor het Niewe Jaar. Lotsa love, Claire

  2. Hi Claire... I've replied via email (hopefully, still getting to grips with gmail)

  3. Hi Tracey, it's me, the best friend! The blog's fantastic. I'm scared to make other comments in case they are techno-naff! Can I contact you in a less public way perchance? B.F.xx

  4. Humm.....How do I know it's really you? I think a test is called for, let me think.......
    Okay.. As teenagers on Saturday afternoon, a pair of socks outside my bedroom window had us thrilled, what colour were they? And just in case of a fluke correct answer, what kind of noise do you make when no one else feels the need to talk? No that's too hard, you'll never remember... errr oh I know.. Which famous show did we once queue for, then fall asleep in the horseshoe shaped velvet settee?


Thank you for commenting :-)