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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Eighth letter: Turning chameleon

Hello *******

Carrying on with our tale: Life in the Netherlands began with many ups and downs, fortunately (I always shrink from the word luckily) for us more ups than downs.  However the one thing I hoped to be a massive up turned into a spectacular down.

Our new apartment is adorable, especially the spacious the living area, but as soon as our sticks of furniture arrived from the Isle of Wight we realised we had a problem. The space was perfect for playing with the dog, or rolling about an the floor making carpet angels and yes we really did this, the freedom of having so much space briefly affecting our normally high sense of decorum. 

So, once Andy finished terrorising Alfie and me by drilling holes in the concrete, he announced a trip to IKEA. This was more like it, I’d been a martyr, taken advantage of, (by way of the shower and towels) ignored and confused. Shopping in IKEA was something I knew how to do and how to do well. We switched on the Satnav and within ten minutes drew up outside the familiar blue, outsized container.  Andy gripping his list and measurements, marched passed all the little mini pretend houses, while I grabbed a couple of pencils (I know it’s wrong) and scurried behind. I’d never seen him this enthusiastic for shopping, his head twisting this way and that, scanning all the diverse furniture possibilities for our new home. Suddenly he stopped dead in the centre of the aisle.

‘I think we’ve passed it.’ He says.
‘Passed what? I says.
‘The cafĂ©, where did you think we were going?’

I retrieved my martyr’s hat, there would be no shopping until we’d spent quality time with IKEA’s meatballs.

Not sure how I expected to share the boot with this!
Within time Andy and the meatballs reluctantly parted. It took only a couple of hours to fill the two warehouse style trolleys: a nine foot dining table with chairs, three sets of black EXPEDIT, cubed, shelving units to use as room dividers, plastic boxes and wicker baskets to fit in said room dividers, a large red rug, light fittings, lamps, curtains, a frying pan, finally an enormous, striped palm tree and a purple potted Viola for me. As we collected each of the items from the rows of industrial help yourself shelves we applauded the decision to keep our mature, bulky four wheel drive car, at least we wouldn’t need to hire a van.

Or this!
The main reason we didn’t need to hire a van: Andy’s persuasive argument inspiring me to put life and dignity at risk. We’d tried several ways of fitting all the purchases into our newly shrunken car, and after some time accepted we needed to use the passenger seat to hold striped palm tree. I offered to catch a taxi or stay behind and wait for Andy to return later. Apparently this was a ludicrous idea, couldn’t I easily fold on top of the boxes by the back window? Evidently this was a double positive, it meant no extra journeys and I could stop the boxes flying out the rear window. Now in my teens or even twenties and perhaps even thirties I would have found this fun, possibly even thrilling, but as I’m a very long way past my thirties I found it neither.

The police car that drove up behind us on the dual carriageway, sent me into a blind panic as I tried to turn chameleon and mould my ample, rigid body into the cardboard boxes. How was I going to explain my lack of a seat belt? Surely we were breaking most laws of the Dutch Highway Code, Andy, driving with no rear visibility, carrying a dangerous load and a stowaway. I threw my coat over my head, and tried to make like a pile of clothes. A pile of clothes that occasionally lifted to check the whereabouts of the police car. Needless to say the journey home took a lot longer than ten minutes, with the Satnav developing a fondness for dead ends and cobbled streets.
Culture night

Okay better go and get ready, we’re off to a culture night in Breda, should be interesting! 
Trace xx

Btw.. I’m saying this quietly because I’m not sure how I feel. I’ve had no alcohol for over two weeks now, not in an attempt to lose those sticky 18lbs, but through too close an association with several glasses of wine on a night out recently. This is longest I’ve gone with wine in a decade; I’m loving not losing hours over the weekend and the feel of my brain cells and memory growing back. So perhaps this will become a permanent life choice. I’m not saying never, but watch this space.

The start of a 'too close an association with wine.'


  1. No alcohol???? for 2 weeks??

    We must rectify this immediatly.

    Pub time!!!

    1. Chris and Louise27 January 2012 at 14:30

      Hi Tracy!

      We too had a trip to Ikea to furnish the new flat, unfortunately Chris's trip wasn't as successful as Andy's - no visit to the cafe - serves us right for going on a Saturday afternoon!
      We did come away with some EXPEDIT stuff too, so not all bad ;-)

  2. Hi Louise, nice to see you're still reading :-) I expect for the next several years you'll be making trips to IKEA and loading up on EXPEDIT... However unless I'm very much mistaken Chris will soon discover the lure of cheap tasty meatballs and you (like me) will be relegated to the position of an innocent bystander.. Trace xxx


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