Monday, December 15, 2008

Festive Feelings

I haven't posted in a while... a variety of reasons, catching up with friends here after spending all of October on the move, and more recently as I haven't felt great in my own skin. Combination of dark evenings, lack of energy and being a wuss feeling sorry for myself. I went home this weekend for my Mum's birthday, we decorated the tree, I heard my nephew practising his songs for the High Babies Nativity in which he will be Joseph, I tortured my sister a little over her new beau and I spent time with my girl. All of this reminded me I have quite the charmed life.

Which brings me to things people are doing to spread goodwill and showing us how lucky we all really are.

Outside our office sat Donal, the loveliest guy ever, he had a bad set of circumstances that left him where he was. We would all give him a couple of coins a week (he needed 18euro a day for a hostel that he had to leave every morning at 9) One Christmas we clubbed together and got him a pair of boots some good socks and some long sleeves. Anne was best at remembering Donal, if there was new clothes around her house that her husband or family had no use for. I usually just contributed a couple of coins and a cup of tea and bar of milk chocolate lindt (he had a weakness for that chocolate) Our office is no longer there but some friends live nearby and I ask them to help him out if they see him.

Kids on the street break my heart, I usually try and give them a sandwich or cuppa, even if it means doubling back and being late by a min or two. There was one young boy I would see on Nassau St or around College Green, he was usually crouched low and crying, I stopped to talk to him a few times but I never got far, I would just come back with a hot chocolate or something else to drink. Almost every time I would stop to give a kid on the street food I would get a good reaction, that came out wrong, what I was trying to say is that I have only once had complaint from the person I was giving the food to.

I dunno what is the individual solution in Ireland is for this, a fellow blogger Sinead came up with this suggestion a while ago, so I wanted to put it back in here again, perhaps to start the conversation again. It was brought to my attention a few months ago but a young visitor that there were no/very very few homeless people on the streets in Amsterdam as compared to Dublin. This is true, I'm not sure why, although talking about it with some friends they have informed me that its a combination of better social policy and stricter control on the streets in Amsterdam. Cities outside of the big tourist centre have homelessness, its just they get moved on and sheltered more in Amsterdam so as not to interfere with the tourism.

Anyhow, back to others in the community doing great things to help their corner of the world and spread the feeling that we are very lucky indeed.

Firstly: The lovely Catherine came up with this wonderful book, written by the bloggers of Ireland. It’s now available to buy for €14, and €4.61 of this will go straight to Focus Ireland. Click here to order your copy! It comes with your own inner glow, and a great read to boot.

Secondly: Well this is actually two in one, Pat Phelan, telecoms genius and all round nice guy has been (and is still doing) Christmas Give-aways, check them out here. He's using the Give-aways to give great advertising to The Jack and Jill Foundation. The winner of the last one was Niall Harbison of ifoods.tv who very generously decided to re-raffle the very cool Nokia E63 he won. All money raised will go to the children in Crumlin Children's Hospital. So if you fancy a cool phone for the price of a raffle ticket (€5) while feeling the warm glow of helping someone out this Christmas go here and throw your hat in the ring.

Thirdly: My best mate Sadhbh is involved with some talented folks in voluntary Irish radio to raise money for the ISPCC by way of spreading Christmas Cheer... tune in here

Anyway.. there you go, hope the warm glow of the Christmas Season will reach you soon (if its not there already) and wrap you up in its festive embrace for a week or two.

Elf!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes they did..... and so did I

Ok I know old news and you are sick of it....
But I'm not and its my blog so ....tough.

I LOVE this video... its playing in a loop on my iTouch and in my head.
Wil-i-am - Yes we can



I have been allowing myself the luxury to go back over some of my favourite Obama speeches, without the fear of the "Hope reality check" being cashed. In so doing I have realised what I see of myself in Obama, and it is the reflection of your best self in someone that attracts you to them.

I find parts of myself in his ideals and theory's. Like Obama I was raised in what would be termed a broken home, my mother could not give me money or status, but like Barack's family gave him, she gave me love, education and hope; the hope that I would be able to make my life better.
His speech in Wisconsin in February, held the main ideal I was given from my mother in terms of self belief, of course she didn't use words like this (these are Obamas words), but none the less this was her sentiment.

Nothing will happen unless you begin to hope, and by hope I mean imagining, fighting for and working for what did not seem possible in the first place. Things wont change if we wait for some other person, or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

This sense that I would have to make it for myself, that I should study and work and get a good job, because I was the only thing that would pay my bills, and give myself the life my mother never had the chance to have.

I remember very clearly the talk she had with me, after a parent teacher meeting when I was about 12, telling me in her own words that I had to do this, not for her or the teachers or my friends, but because I was the person that could change my life. No one was going to drag me along, I had to get up and do this. And if I didn't want it for myself, if I couldn't dream of it for myself and work for it for myself, then no one could help me.

Its partly that drive, to give myself as many opportunities as I can handle that landed me here.
I knew that my industry was looking weak in Ireland and that I wasn't likely to get a good job in the sector by sitting around. And when I had almost begun to lose hope in finding anything, this appeared concrete, but it meant a risk and several losses and way more permutations than my brain could reason out.

So I hoped for the best, and thought if I work at it I can make it happen.

There are many days ............ and then I think, Yes I Can.

So in the words of the man least likely to become president elect of the USA, be the change you want to see in the world. Its only when you dare to hope that you can make something good happen.

----
There will be a catch up post soon and a New York post, with photos (my girlfriends photos that is)

Elf

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Google Goggles

And why not!

This is just class, and if I wasn't numerically dyslexic it might even work for me.

Google - Mail Goggles

I have sent a few mails late at night after a few drinkies...
Thankfully I haven't made and total cockups yet.... but it is likely!

I love the fact that its time sensitive too...
as my mate Mick said, obviously comes from the Dublin Office. :)

**EDIT** Only realised now that OF COURSE Lexia had this first

Also.... Stephen Fry on Twitter
*gulp* *faint*

Too Cool!

Going to NYC on Sunday for a week.... hoping to get
A: prepaid sim there to use my 3G phone for websurfing there
B: an Itouch!! *further drooling*

Please if you have recommendations, of restaurants, bars, sights, places in NYC I'd love to hear them! :)
Will be trying out Lottie's list here too :)

Have the Avenue Q tickets
Have a cool hotel on Central Park South (with Central Park View)
Have to meet boss man for lunch on the Tuesday (free fancy meal)
Have tickets to David Letterman (thanks to NY office)

What else should I do?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cccchangees!!!

Anyway, quick post to mark the first day in a world sans Alliance Atlantis my Alma Mater (really it was) of 7 yrs.
Yesterday the Dublin office, the last office to bear the name Alliance Atlantis on its doors, closed for the last time.














Anyway, as I am an elf that's opposed to change, this makes me sad.
Somehow the fact that there were still staff (Al and Lisa) there seemed to take the edge off the pain. I know its just an office and just a company, that in the end didn't care about us. But it was so much more than that for me.

My university experience sucked hairy monkeys balls, and really that office and the mayhem and friendship that occurred behind its creaky, sticky brown doors replaced that magnificently. Except it was better as I was earning money!! :)

Anyway, thought I might post one or two of the shots from that era, now passed!

So long my old friend.



Monday, September 29, 2008

Just Say Aaaarrrgh!

Saw this on The National Lottie - its excellent! (both this entry and the blog in general)

Go check out the blog, click on the image to go to the entry!














Thanks Lottie. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One right for everyone in the audience...

Saw this on one of my favorite blogs - Damien Mulley

I had heard Conor and his mum's on Plank Kenny's radio show earlier this summer and meant to get to the blog. Damien reminded me of the blog in this post about it.

Please tune in to Plank Kenny, this Friday night or just get your parents to do it.
Then keep the conversation going, let your aunt and uncle, your neighbors, your flatmate, your colleague know about it and get them talking too.

Children of Gay Parents should not have different rights to those born in heterosexual families.

I intend on having children with my partner in the next few years and I want to ensure that the living beings we bring into the world will not have lesser rights, or be treated as though my partner is a "kindly stranger" to them. She will be their mother in every respect that I will, having (I hope you are reading this my love) gotten up for night time feeds, changed and winded, pushed them on swings and played endless games of star wars and bratz.

Our children will have two loving and dedicated parents, two parents I hope will be as good at the job as Conor's parents are (just read this letter to see the guy they raised)

Anyway, please tune in ... and pass the word along, and if you feel like doing more please read here, lots of options to make yourself heard and to help give Conor and his family as much support as possible. They are giving up so much of their anonymity and privacy to make a difference to ensure our country recognises all its citizens fully and fairly.

I'd like to thank you Conor and your brother and parents. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just Keep Swimming......

Read this First...

When I read this post (link up there), of donkeys years ago, last year to be exact I shivered, perhaps you did too.

The reason I shivered is because something like this happened to me too.....

I was the typical "troubled teen" in school, always looking for a reason to be different, as if I didn't have enough reasons.

Home life was rubbish and my Dad was ill, he has been a sufferer of manic depression since 23 (before I arrived). I use the word suffer deliberately as he does suffer, and he makes sure everyone around him does too.

Things came to a head for me when I was 16. I could no longer take the weight of a grown manic man's problems on my teenage shoulders. I had enough of my own, my sexuality, my general difference, my lack of confidence, my lack of trust, my list was, it seemed, endless.

I thought about death and I planned for it, and I executed it, would have succeeded too.... except someone found me (I'm sure I wanted to be found really)

My "John" is that 16 yr old,

In the days and months after, I mourned her.

She died without my ever getting to talk to her, and from that waste of life I got the strength to stand up for myself.

To keep swimming.......

Its not always easy to keep my head above water, but every hour I manage it I am glad.

This life affords me such wonderful experiences (and some pretty shit ones too) but that empty joyless fearfull parallel life that could have been has given me reason to be very grateful for her passing.

Comic Timing....

My better half's best mate Maeve's online comic's been Long-Listed for the Irish Web Awards!

I'm so happy for her, her comic is sheer genius and I really look forward to Friday morning reading!

So apart from it being on my blogroll, in my Twitter feed and on my facebook, and its not like she needs the hits (just over 3,000 hits since Feb) here is another shameless plug.

http://flatmatesthecomic.com/

Read it NOW!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Fall of Civilisation.... Or a new Dawn?

Starbucks takes the NS to Centraal, Utrecht & Leiden

cc bernie hou 2005

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shiny Happy Things

Things I want:

iBike
Course it would help if i had an ipod nano! - the new ones are nice tho!! :)

Time Capsule 1tb
Running out of space on my (borrowed) 500gb drive - sorry!!

Philips Living Colour Mini Lamp
Seemingly winters here are darker and more miserable than at home (don't see how that's possible) so this might help! My excuse and I'm sticking to it.

And I dont really want this... but it does look fun.... for 10mins
USB Real Thumb Drive

Things I've done:

Had some lovely me time last night:

Beer and Biterballen and a nice quiet read in the evening SUN!! (those reading in Ireland need to be reminded that Sun is the yellow orb that used to be in the sky, before CERN harnessed it to make those lazers they are busy firing at each other)





At the weekend we painted this mural on my nephews wall (all thanks to my lovely GF who designed and masterminded the whole thing)














I also saw him in his swimming lesson - next Micheal Phelps I think (no family bias at all... nooooo)














Anyhow... theres a few things that are making me shiny happy these days!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Waat's that you say??

Eco' nightclub opens in Rotterdam

This headline on RTE's website caught my attention.....
Would it work? Would you go?


What happens on a slow night?
H
ow do they signal last orders?

Monday, September 1, 2008

I know how you feel

Had visitors this weekend, it was cool, I like being able to show the city to people. I was nervous about leading four people around the city on bikes, especially since one is a teen and one doesn't cycle in traffic. Anyway all in one piece we managed to get around.

Didn't realise that I pass Het Rembranthuis each morning, lol what a blind mofo I am.
Found some other good shortcuts that are useful, I like that (after 6 months) I understand where most things are in relation to others... bout time really.

A mate of mine had a very bad experience with taxi's this weekend, while moving some bags via taxi (something she told the dispatch office about upon ordering it) the taxi driver that arrived was not a happy bunny. She packed the taxi, being careful not to damage the taxi, and on the way he was rude and abusive. She panicked and just wanted out so kept quiet until the end where on her rush to get the stuff out she said to him that she just wanted to "put as much distance between them" this seemed to be the wrong thing to say (amazingly). He than began kicking the boxes and hurling abuse, the last piece of which was, I hope you die tonight. Charming!!!

I'm a softie, two things each year guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye are the Leaving Cert and its results day (its such a rite of passage) and the First Day of School. Listening to RTE Radio 1 the other day I heard a recording of Gaybo reading a poem by John D Sheridan about a child's first day at school. Have a listen if you know of a little one that headed off, or pass it to your mammy, you know she'll like it.

Loving the neighbourhood of Straat & Dijk - Haarlemerstraat and Haarlemerdijk, its where a mate of mine is moving and its really cool. Actually as its a 3 min bike ride from me its just as much my neighbourhood. Another thing I love about Amsterdam Centrum, its just so cool everywhere. I mean so is Dublin but things just seem more accessible here. Perhaps its just that after so many years in one city do you stop looking around, get stuck in a rut?

Still liking the cycling, its helping that I can listen to the radio (RTE/2FM) in one ear on the way.
Been trying to pick up the courage to come home through the old town, its lovely, I did the route once with Christine but its scary and there are more people wandering out in front of you and more risk of coming off the bike. Still eventually I will get the courage up

On the topic of accidents, went to see Catherine on Friday, she had to have the amputation.
She was in "good" form, but she's such a private person that it wold be hard to know really how she's doing. I think she's pretty amazing.

Ok I have more than this drivel to put out on the intereb, but I wanted to make a post and my brain is fried, I'll try some photo posts this week too.

TTFN!

Monday, August 25, 2008

there is notwist to the tale

Howyis!

So last night I was introduced to an amazing group, German band called Notwist, performing with the Andromeda ME Orchestra in Paradiso WOW....
I have a thing for rock bands (although in this case it was Rock and Electronica) with Orchestra's. Part of my love for Sigur Ros... is that rock with amazing delicate notes. Last night I was delighted to see a Harp on stage (no there was no pint of bass, smart asses). I love the Harp and Harpischord ... weird I know.... which reminds me of Dustin OHalloran.

Nightlife here still exhausts me, I mean its remarkably peaceful for a city in which the pubs serve until 4/5am during the weekends and nightclubs seem to go on until breakfast, take that Dermot Ahern. Here is proof that turfing everyone out of the pub at the one time, rather than allowing people to chose when to go home and filter out accordingly is the far better option.

Really looking forward to my holiday... 8 weeks and I will be in New York with Catriona, can't wait. Really looking forward ot having time to explore the city unlike the last rushed visit where I saw nothing only a New Jersey outlet mall.

Thinking about Catherine today, she will have to have the leg amputated..... and today the Metro began working again, although I think that for as long as the weather remains half decent I will stick to biking. I'd like to try the "shorter" Dam Square cycle on the way home but not sure I am brave enough just yet. Morning is one thing, but I dont fancy doing that route back in the evening.

Must be homesick, considering leaving RTE online on after the news to see a bit of the Rose of Tralee.... perhaps I need an emergency slap! Its been in my head since mum mentioned it at the weekend, the usual Irish Mammy, "you know its the end of the Summer when the Rose of Tralee is on" I actually like Ray Darcy on the Rose, he's a big Queen (well for an Irish mucker) and very Bitchy

On the topic of RTE news, I enjoyed the piece on Drivetime this evening about the blogger room, sponsored by Google at the Democratic Convention in Denver today, sofas, sweets, soft drinks... google seems big into tooth decay!! :)
Not too sure about all the "hype" surrounding the US elections, I mean yes its a big country and yes its a rich country.... but really... I heard a soundbite from some US celebrity stating that this was the most important election in history... REALLY? That's taking it a tad too far for my liking.

Had the best cup of tea this evening ...really good..... just needed to say that!

Anyway.... ad break over... back to good ole RTE News, six months of BBC brainwashing has formed a deep appreciation of RTE One (Radio and TV). Well at least thats my current excuse, other people might say Im showing my age, Morning Ireland, Liveline and Drivetime.... its a little bit middle aged of me ... but I dont care... pass me my knitting!


Final disturbing note.... An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD singing 'Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore' at the Fleadh Cheoil in Tullamore

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bites and Fine Dining!

Tuesday night Sharon Poo and I went for a small farewell dinner (for Poo) to an Argentinian steak house, mostly as Sharon is on a no carbs diet so Steak it was. There was no denying we ended up in one of the tourist traps, and I really hate the way the have these really good value meals advertised outside but yet upon sitting down they offer you a menu that has none of the "tourist enticing" menus on. Anyway... we got what we wanted... with surly service and left.

Wednesday at 2pm Poo went home to Ireland, think he's glad to be going home. I think he liked the time to relax in Amsterdam, I'm not sure it was what he expected but I hope he was happy.
I really liked him being around, I know I'll miss him but I have lots of visitors over the next few weeks and the trip to New York to look forward to so its all ok.

Got a HUGE mosquito bite on my neck tuesday night...... I look deformed, no really I do.
Actually the one on my arm is more worrying... looks like a second elbow and there's a nasty red line running from it to almost my armpit.... I'm not a doctor but it doesn't look great

Went home last weekend, didn't think Poo was leaving so quickly after or I'd have stayed but I had it booked ages ago and I hadn't been home for 7 weeks so it was due! Saw all the work mums had done in the house, stuff she's wanted to do for ages and I'm glad for her that she's getting her house a little more the way she wants it, she deserves it.

I've been waking up every morning wrecked, it began when I moved here first and abated slightly after 3 months to return with a vengeance in the past month. I have to say I chickened out of cycling to work for the last three days on the basis that I wasn't awake enough to competently make it to work in one piece. Really I was just too lazy and preferred the idea of veging on the tram/train/metro/stroll listening to morning Ireland/rick o shea/2xm streaming on my mobile (yes i found a way around the olympic ban - more on that in a bit) I could be forgiven for one morning as it was excessively wet, however Thursday and friday have been lovely so I am just a useless lazy sod to be honest!

The restrictions on RTE broadcasts for the Olympics bug me, even if working in the industry I understand them. RTE paid money for the rights to broadcast exclusive coverage of the Olympics and as such have to keep that coverage within their territories. This allows the IOC to sell similar rights packages to other territories on an exclusive and therefor more expensive basis. But really, could RTE not just delay transmission by 15 seconds and edit out/ block any news bulletins or coverage of Olympics? Anyway .... as I must circumvent every rule relating to my aquisition of entertainment I spent an hour trying to find another way to satiate my aural needs of morning ireland/ rick o shea / decent music. I happened across a site called moodio (m.moodio.com) and within mins was streaming my daily fix through the wonder that is my mobile!! I hope the usage is within the limits of my 9.99 "endless" data package, but I am restricting myself to just those two shows and then switching to the internet to listen to 2xm which is unaffected by the blanket ban.

I spent a couple of hours watching the Olympic Opening ceremony last Friday, wow it was amazing. Sorry I had more to say on this .... but it took the last train out of my head! :P

Lots of visitors this weather, which is good, and bad. Mostly good.... all the visitors that have stayed in my house so far have been pretty excellent. Beginning to wonder about certain requests for lodging tho. Ever wonder when to draw the line under a friendship, when its run its course and now its just a vestige of something that was..... I do!

Been doing some great night time blog searching these days, and found some treasures... hope they dont mind me listing them here; most are in my sidebar anyway....
Travelvice - the blog of a guy who has been traveling the world since Dec 2005, first solo, then with his girlfriend and since Jan of this year, with their son! :)
Conortje - the blog of an Irish guy in Netherlands for ten years, I love his writing, very witty and intelligent.
Textsecrets /Post Secret - two sites really but similar idea, people write anonymous confessions to absolve, incite, inspire, entertain the public....

Ok enough from me.... suspiciously photo free post! :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mad Weather!!!

Huge Storm right over Amsterdam right now.
The sky is black as if it was 10pm, and the thunder and lightening (seconds apart) are lighting the sky!

Love continental summer storms!!

Glad I got to work on time, and that I brought my wetgear!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hmmmm...

So the summer continues!

Weather's been great (mostly) looking out the window at the sun.

We had a strange few weeks, my colleague was in an accident two weeks ago, nearly lost here leg. A British bus driver pulled out and turned without looking for bike traffic and crossed a bike crossing mowing my colleague Cathrine down, she tried to jump out of the way but it was too late. If you can read dutch click here

Despite the accident I am still cycling, I now take a shorter and while a little scarier, an actually safer route to work. Oh and I found a way that the last (and most hated) dangerous crossing has been cut out of my trip. I don't know yet whether I will continue cycling after Aug 17th.... we'll see, I think its good for me but its not easy and I like my legs.

Going home on Friday after 7 weeks! My longest without seeing my mum in quite some time... looking forward to seeing whats been done with the house.

We had Pride here this weekend and Catriona's 30th birthday, we had a great weekend despite being locked out of the house for a short while and having to pay 100euro to get a new lock fitted.



Check out more here: Album 1
Album 2
The weather while being lovely is quite heavy, and I'm quite tired all the time. Its nice having Padraig here, I think he's a little disappointed there's not more people to go out with at night but its not really a student town (during the summer) so most of the people out are older and working mon-fri.

Still trying ot get into the work mode, not sure its happening .... I like it here just not sure of the job! Its ok, actually you know... the work is grand, the atmosphere here sucks tho. I miss AA but there you go!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not exactly a sunny afternoon


Not been the best at updating this the last few weeks. Been working hard, gasp, i got my 30% expat tax thing, and suddenly i realised, perhaps this job should be taken seriously.

On non work related things, i've had a few visitors and a few more to come. Visitors are interesting, they help you see your life in a different way. According to my current visitors i know the city well and seem to have a lot of friends. I don't know exactly how true either of those statements are in their entirety but i can see a certain truth in both. I still like living here and i think that will continue.

I do worry about the winter being a little depressing but yesterday we realised that my core friends all live very close so i'm not so worried. Really looking forward to pride and Catriona's visit.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Wheels on my Bike go round and round!!

UPDATED:

I now take a new route to work, Pink Line!
Through the dreaded Dam Square ... gasp! Actually its a dam (geddit) site easier to navigate in the morning than Stadhourskade!
So now I get to cycle through Dam Square and the Old Town (redlight) every morning, then along the Amstel, passin Carre and Maigre Brug before joining with the old route (see below) from Weesperzide :)

------

So, this is my way to and from work!
Green is to work and Purple is way back home!

Its really cool.... I cycle along Nassaukade - pretty straightforward, lots of traffic tho and a fair few traffic lights and then across the Amstel and down Weesperzide (along the Amstel - really pretty)

Once I get to the end of the Weesperzide, I cycle through the Amstelplein (where the tallest building is Delta Lloyd and Phillips are)

This is where I get to the scary parts are, lots of traffic and roundabouts and people walking out in front of you. Then Spaklerweg and then the worst part.... crossing a dual carriageway that has no crossing lights, however the traffic does have lots of view of the crossing bikes (or bike - I HATE doing this crossing alone).
Once thats over , then the bockety cobblestones of H.J.E Wenchebachweg and to the office (7.2km and 25-30mins)

The way back I follow the same route (no crossing this time... just a roundabout and then on along the Amstel to the Stadhourdskade bridge and under, to a complicated little turn, just a few trams, oncoming traffic and bikes to navigate.... then across the bridge at Saraphatistraat and aloong Weteringschans, through Leidsplein (scary junction) and along Marnixstraat, I can continue along Marnixstraat but I usually turn up Elandsgracht and through the streets to Rosengracht and across to Bloemstraat! Home! (8.5km, 30mins)

Not bad exercise all the same!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sun is shinin


Prob not for long but the weather here is killer.
Cycled to work this morn in 18degrees at 8am. It was 28 by home time.
I wish i could get off the bike and take photos on the way home its really lovely cycle, well the bits where i don't feel like the end of my life is nigh are.
But anyone who's ever even seen Amsterdam commuter cycle traffic knows you only stop if you are in ownership of a severe death wish.
Anyway seven weeks of cycling 13kms per day should (in theory) be good for me. The fear alone might have weight loss results!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cafe life.


One of my new favourite places, Spanjer & Van Twist on Leliegracht. Its just down from the house and is so lovely. People stop in for the terrasse on the side of the canal and on the street. Inside is cool too, and what i love is it caters to whatever you want. A beer? Light snack? Coffee and cake? Four course meal? Or just to be left alone to nurse a drink and read the paper. Bliss.

In the quiet of the morning.


Noelia insisted this morning be the morning I cycle to work. So i'm waiting here for her to go together to the office. Its rare to get to this part of town and it not be packed with tourists so i took this shot. Think Catriona will like it. I'm waitin for noelia and to be honest i'm bricking myself about cycling to the office. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Put your hands up


At home for a few days. Sean and his friend Ollie playin guns. Not something i approve of but its innocent fun really. Can't believe he's finished his first year at school. He has come a long way, considering he didn't even know how to play with other kids this time last year. He's made friends and his teacher is very happy with his progress. Of course we just think he's amazing anyway.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Music man

video
Coming home from work I heard magical music floating up the canal.
This man was in a small boat with a barrell organ and a trumpet. He was playing the most amazing songs, classical and pop and it was so cool and impromptu.
Check him out on www.musicboot.nl
I'm posting a clip of him playing My funny valentine.
Another of amsterdam's gems you can be lucky to fall across.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Catching up


Just a quick post to catch up on some events. This is a photo i love of when sean mum and elaine came to visit. We took sean to the nemo. Its the best place ever for kids and has an amazing free roof beach. (Photos later) He loved it. It was his third favourite place after the star wars shop and the fountain at the american hotel.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birthday and phone blogging


Today i discovered how to merge my phone clog with this one! Great. So now i can update this much easier. To celebrate here is a picture of what my colleagues did to decorate my desk for my birthday!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Livin la vie de dutchie


Quick snack in De Bakkerswinkel with Catriona on a sunny sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Test from new phone


Testing my new phone. Just bought it in rotterdam.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pindakaas & Hagleslag

Ok so... I'm into Week 4!
I still like it....

Been home once (stop laughing Cameron), went to Paris to meet my new Boss, on the Thayls - 1st Class :) which was fun.
I'm supposed to be going to London and Rome next week.... but I have to wait till my boss gets back to his office to get more details... so that will be interesting.

Had a week on my own in the office last week as the 2 others that are here were in MIP in Cannes. It was ok.. I like being alone so it was fine. Trying to get a handle on one of the projects I will be doing is interesting. I'm using a system a little like the one I used to use in AA and I keep pressing all the wrong keys.... I'll get used to it. I have a horrible tendency to say we/us for AA and you guys for the new Co! Not good I suspect.
I have made some friends.... some Irish folks... all lovely. And some gay folks, also lovely!

This weekend I had a poke around two markets... Nordermarkt and Albert Cyupstraat Markt.
This place is crazy about markets, and I can see why. I tried Nordermarkt first as its literally just up the street from me and a lot smaller than Albert Cyup. It was great, bought some lovely bread and cheese and tomato tapenade and two plants for my kitchen. So I came home with my haul and then headed off in the other direction to the Albert Cyup. That was class, really long and selling everything and pretty cool stuff too. Got fruit and herbs and other bits and pieces.
And then... what I hade been waiting for, for ages but never seemed to be in the right place for,
Vlaamse frites (literally Flemish fries) they are soo good.... they are double fried... so they are really crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, then the excess oil is shaken off them and they are then tossed in salt. That's when the fun begins, there is about 18 combinations of sauces you can have on them, I like frietsaus and curry. (frietsaus is like mayo only lighter and sweeter) you can go the whole Dutch hog and have frites oorlog (literally war fries) they have....drum roll..... mayo, satay sauce, and raw onions.... (peuke) Anyway with my frites in hand I strolled out of the market and back along the canal to my house.

Other things done in the last 2 weeks! Went to Vleuten (its outside Utrecht) to visit Catriona's friend Prina and her husband Wiebe in their fab home. There I learned that by Dutch law all new train stations have to spend a minimum 10% of their budget on Art installed in the station. I now have a new hobby on the train.... spot the station art (shut up - i have no one to talk to )

This is Vleuten Station - and the never-ending bike rack!

Prina is lovely and made a fab dinner.... she's pregnant and the bump is growing nicely!

She thought me a traditional Dutch breakfast on thr hoof consists of ... Krentenbrood, Pindakaas, and chocolate Hagleslag - its yum!! Hops watch out this is my new peanutbutter and jam (shit and blood as you so lovingly pronounced it)

I've been invited by the gay boys I met on Saturday to the Drag Queen Olympics (Queens Day Eve - 29th April) so that will be fun.

The Irish contingent are nice, we are trying to set up an Irish Expat Meetup group so we had the first meeting last week with 7 people there. Two came to my house on Sunday to watch movies which was nice. (even if I was dying when I woke up on Sunday morning.... as the beer here is served in half pint glasses - and during happy hour, far too many glasses... I think I drank 10 or 12 before I stopped counting... I did not however stop drinking) anyway Sunday I was dying till 3pm!!
Got my haircut.... Toni&Guy in Amsterdam, by Dutch standards 'they saw me coming' but I've paid more for a haircut I didn't like so to have them do (and agree) with exactly what I wanted was great.

Tonight I go to dinner in The Grand one of the poshest hotels in the city, very near the red-light district (go figure) the IT guys are over and I'm helping them to entertain some folks here. :)


So there you go..... there are the little 'flies in the ointment' but on the whole life here is good. I miss my family, Catriona and friends, that goes without saying, but its not a bad life here.


More soon.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Begin the Beginings!

So here I am.

First week in Amsterdam, have to say I feel like I have been here way longer.

I like it, alot. The only thing I miss about Dublin is family and friends.
Work (or what I know of it) is ok. The office is nice, out a bit, but the people are great.
All the downstairs revenue nad corporate staff are lovely. There are (or will be) four staff in my office, only one I know, there is a lady in sales I haven't met yet and a publicity guy who hasn't started yet.

I'm off to Paris on Tuesday to meet my boss. Wasn't expecting to be going anywhere so soon so clothes have been an issue, or to be more exact shoes.. I only have one pair with me!

Anyway, about the city...

So where I am living impresses everyone I have met, its a REALLY nice area.
The apartment itself is great, small but perfectly formed, STEEP (and spiral) stairs leading to the 3rd floor. Then large sitting room, with a sofa that would seat 6 easy dominates the sitting room, three windows look out to the street, and across to the neighbours. Its and interesting mix of modern (IKEA) and old dark wood furniture. Little corridor to Kitchen that houses the (compact) bathroom with a really good wet room type shower. Large kitchen (i know some houses that don't have kitchens this large) fully equipped and a bedroom off the kitchen. The bed is huge, easily a King size! :) and great storage everywhere!

So far no noisy neighbours, although the fact that the window are original and single glazed means that you do hear everything, but its a mostly quiet street.

We had some fun getting here, in the form of a taxi driver that thought we said Blodestraat and not Bloemstraat...... he left us in the middle of the red light district!! Not near where I live (not far tho... but it feels it with 30-something kilo's of bags!! So we get here and the estate agent arrives .... eventually.... while we wait in the SNOW!!

Thankfully it was a long weekend so I could clean the apartment, it wasn't dirty but it was very dusty and the dust was really making my nose and throat painful!

Went food shopping.... Albert Hijen, best compared to Superquin. there are 2 near me.. so thats handy. Food shopping used to freak me out in Paris, just as everything was very different, even tho i had been to France before... the food in Paris is different, and VERY differnet from Ireland at that time. Now I think we have such a range of european things that its no so freaky.
One thing is the food here (ready meals and so forth) are really high in calories... hmmm... I guess all that cycling pays off.

Speaking of cycling I am thinking about getting a bike, mostly cause I need more excercise and there is no point in handing out money for commuting and then again for a gym.... just getting a bike makes sense....

As for the commute, well if im outside Westermarkt (3min walk) for 8.27 I can get a tram to Waterlooplien and then a Metro to Sparklerweg....
and if I take the right exit (and not the wrong one like I took the first day) I can get to the office for 9am!

So this map (kinda) shows the way....the train line (which I can see from my office window is the big long grey line at the bottom of the image) the Green Line shows the safest way to get to the office... and the Red Line is the fastest... but not terribly safe.
The reason I say its not safe is cause the yellow circle is the prison Bijlmerbajes the Blue circle is europe's larges container apartment complex. Actually if you watch this youtube video you will see the metro station and my way to work plus the container apartments.
So Im beginnig to get the hang of finding my way around, I was nervous of Catriona leaving as she had far more idea of where things were but it just means I have to calm down and think and I'll find my way around.
Ok.... this was a bit of a catch up post. But I am going to post again this week, more about the city and so on.
C

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Packing seems to be the hardest word!

Back in my mums, I note that there are 12? days left till Amsterdam.

Still thinking about the shipping ....
I didn't think i had enough stuff to warrant shipping stuff over, but as I look at my crap... perhaps I do.

I have been really good though, and have gone through everything and thrown out rubbish and given books/DVDs/Cd's/clothes to charity... so all that's left is .... still lots of stuff.

I have about 4/5 boxes of things that I would "like" in Amsterdam.
I could always stick with plan A being, bring what I can after each visit home....
Think I'm just worried that for the first few weeks I'll be homesick and wont have my stuff around me..... 
Perhaps at the age of 30 I should just grow up.

Pictures of the apartment for those not on FaceCrack Here!

Mum surprised me today, she said she's giving up cigarettes the day I leave Ireland...
Something about a pact with god..... this worries me!
(I'm glad she's considering quitting all the same)

Had a small going away drinks on Friday,
somewhat tempered by the fact that I had to be home to mind sprog the next day....
His mother was going out Saturday night (left at 10am Sat and came back 5pm Sunday) 
But more drinking will be done at another stage. 
Also my round-the-clock-on-call-babysitting services are soon closing so all advantage must be taken now 
or lost for a while at least.
Still we had fun, if you call 13 games of hide an seek, 3 star wars movies, 
numerous lightsaber fights and some odd questions at bed time 
(where does your poo go when you are dead) fun!!

So I've made one collection from Dublin (house and office -
yes Cam I did take the wicker basket and PC finally, hops still has her leather jacket there tho)
and I have another one to pick up tomorrow (kitchen and remainder of room stuff)
I move out officially on 15th!

Swinging wildly between looking forward to all this to come and wondering am I totally mental.
Trying to learn Dutch the Dutch (being free) way.... Laura Speaks Dutch Podcasts
(available from the omnipresent iTunes and www.lauraspeaksdutch.info)

So far my phrases extend to:
"Its a little bit cloudy", "Can I have a coffee",
"Thank you for listening" and "Are you Mrs Petersen?" 
Not forgetting the phrase I learned from Catriona, 
"This man is bothering me, but its ok as I'm on the pill"  
essential no doubt

Sitting in the really cozy sitting room in Mum's, fire blazing and what Met Eireann are claiming to be the worst storm of the winter raging outside.....
Think I'll find something on Sky and settle back!

Tot Ziens!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Minuscule Machinations

So.....

Apartment moving along....
Prina went to see it , camera at the ready.....

It is in the good lady's own words
it’s fantastic!! It is really class
Photos turned out as expected, no real suprises.
Bathroom is in existence... and lovely too... small but perfectly formed (much like myself)
And the bedroom..... well it lives up to its name... a room with a bed (and not much room for aught else!)
Still I'm not one for the swinger parties; at least not ones that end up on my bed... that's what the large sofa is for, so I'm happy enough.

Need to confirm the presence of washing machine and dryer (as advertised) as these are very important, and then its all systems go!

I'm interested to note that on the street (a bit down from me) is Cafe Chris
Amsterdam's oldest Brown Cafe Est 1624.
I read in a guidebook that its reputed to be where Rembrandt came to have his schnapps on the way from his studio to his home on Prinsengracht.

Also there is Pancake Bakery (which will serve as something of a Lemon replacement)
I'm looking forward to trying Poffertjes.


And look a lot like that up there!! :)
They are tiny pancakes (akin to Silver Dollar Pancakes)

So anyway....

Think I'm happy with the apartment, its really the location that is prime and the living space is great (aside from the minuscule bedroom) so..... on confirmation of the presence of washing machine facilities I'm a happy bunny.....

(PS Hello Cameron, who managed to find this blog while not being on Facebook or finding a link to it on a search engine (its de-listed) its a pleasure to keep you entertained with the inner machinations of my minuscule mind! Big Brother is watching eh? :P)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good News - Bad News

So.... following on from the apartment saga.... Episode IV!!

I got a call this morning from the agency... .
We have the keys, can we book an appointment for Wednesday
(Wednesday being the only day my friend is NOT in town)

Eh Wednesday is bad, could we make it Thursday?

We could but there are others who will want to see the apartment on Wednesday, it’s very popular.
(I love agency tactics)

Ok well what do you suggest?

We could hold the apartment for you.

Excellent, how would that work?

Well you could pay us the deposit..... and then it would be held.

Ok and if I didn’t like the apartment or if there was something wrong with it?

We would find you another....

So LEAP of faith... fuck it.... I paid the deposit (thanks Elaine) and Prina went to sign the letter of intent with the agency.

In fairness (yes i am nuts) but the sitting room and kitchen look great, the bedroom and bathroom can’t be that bad!! The location is perfect and the rent is ok... with bills included.

So ... yeah.... apartment done (I hope) keep the fingers crossed!! :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Me no likey the Estate Agencies in Amsterdam


As I mentioned below; found a cool apartment on an agency listing ... it looks great.
Well the photos look great, annoyingly there are no photos of the bathroom or bedroom, but the sitting room and kitchen look lovely and it is central, with a washing machine and internet.
It’s pricey (well not really) but all the bills are included which is great.

Anyhow conversation went something like this

Called them on Friday and the girl there was very relaxed… said she’d send me more information on Monday.

Monday came no information.. so I called at lunch…. Oh you have to register, and no there are no other pictures.…

ok I said, I’ve tried to register on Friday and to pay by credit card.

Yes we have a fault with credit card machine… you need to do a bank transfer and re-register…..

So I leg it to the bank and come back,

Now you need to fax your passport and letter of offer….

So I do that.
Now is it all ok?

No sorry, the registration didn’t come through can you do it again….

Sure

Now is it all ok?

Yes…..

Excellent may I book a viewing (a friend works on the street the apartment is in and said she’d view it)

No.

Why not?

I’ll have to call you back

Great.......


So I wait and I stew a bit..... then I decide to call back as I am not sure why I cant make an appointment to see the apartment.

Much waiting on hold.....

Same lady... obviously now thinks I am some forma of lunatic.
Reason I can’t make an appointment?
We don’t have the keys and can’t get in touch with the person who is living there and moving out, as soon as we do i'll let you know.

That’s a little bit better.... she also said that no one else has viewed the apartment.

It’s a strange system they have, it seems to cost nothing to make an apartment available and the same apartment can be on several agencies books.
But to rent an apartment you must pay €40 to register with them, then if they "find you" an apartment you must pay them one months rent (+19% VAT) for their hard work.
Then you pay the usual one month rent deposit and one month rent in advance.
Pricey!

*fingers crossed*

I really like this apartment.

Amsterdam Bloemstraat


IMG_2391
Originally uploaded by Siebrand

Fingers crossed I may be living on this street soon!

Found a lovely apartment on this cool street in the Centrum near the canals. Was talking to the agency on friday and hopefully will hear more today!

:)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not long to go....

So not long now, 14 days (10 working ones) in Alliance Atlantis. Its amazing to think I'll have been there for 6 years!

I'm not sure if I had any expectations going into the job. Just needed away from the hell of the previous place and well something to get out of the house for as I had just broken up with someone.
In any event it was pretty much perfect (if a little rocky at first) but truly I'm not sure if an office can suit a person any better than that office suited me. After the many many many emails from the early jumpers will attest, I shall in their wake repeat, I have made friends there that I hope I will always have.

So having seen me through various chapters of my life from my cousin Kierans death, my grandmothers illness and eventual death, my relationship with Louise, my nephews babyhood (he's now five) and many many other chapters, it really was a rock for me. To go in there day after day to people who cared about me and who I cared about. I cant say we felt we set the world alight with what we did on a daily basis, but I know we all felt we did what we did brilliantly and had one hell of a laugh on the way.

From the wreckage of last Dec/Jan when we realised and digested the news of the sale and closure.. or transaction as we (didn't) like to call it, I have been given the opportunity to move to Amsterdam and work for CBS. Doing what, I'm not too sure, bit of this .. lot of that.... tad of the other I expect, but its an amazing chance and one that, for the most part (at least 72.4%) excited about.

I officially start on the 25th March and hope to move over on the 22nd March.

This, I'm hoping will be somewhere I can leave my thoughts of the experience.

Seeing as its now late... and there are many days to come... I'm off to bed!!!

:)