dinsdag 17 mei 2011

We've had Ulo two years now

This competition was in Uitgeest on april 17, exactly two years after we got Ulo. Jolanda and her have come a long way since then, and they both look so good. Both proefs went very well, and Jolanda earned her first two winst punten of 2011.

zondag 10 april 2011

donderdag 31 maart 2011

cheap flights

For all relatives trying to get back home for a family do!
check out this youtube video!

make sure you play it right to the end

vrijdag 25 maart 2011

Amsterdam's next top model!

It was Jolanda's Birthday! She's 14. Instead of a themed party with birthday cake, and presents she decided to go to Fris in Amsterdam with a group of friends.

Fris is a disco for 12 to 15 year olds. it does not have a permanent home, but the location is published on the internet a few days before the event and tickets are available online. The Disco starts at 8 and goes on until 2.

The girls arrived at our house to get ready at five oclock! they went to the snack bar for chips, then came back for cake (I did do cake) and to open the presents (there were presents) then they went upstairs to make a mess of the bathroom and bedrooms for an hour and a half.

We had booked a taxi for five to take them there and back, but of course they were not ready, the poor man had to wait for them all to go to the WC! They were thrilled with the taxi (a big people carrier with darkened windows!) and went off in gusts of perfume and gales of giggles.

We were only disturbed by two texts - the first because Eva had forgotten her night things, and her mother had to bring them round, and the second..... was nothing!

At 12.45 John went into Amsterdam to meet the taxi driver and make sure everyone got into the taxi together. he spent a fruitless 20 mins outside the venue with a crowd of other fathers texting and phoning their offspring with no effect.

Eventually they all piled out, and he sheparded them into the taxi, then followed the taxi home. Oh - one last thing, the main road had been closed for road repairs from Amsterdam to our village for the whole weekend so everyone had to travel over the field roads to get back home! Luckily we know the way.

The girls all arrived at our house to collect their bags, make up, hair curlers, hair strighteners and clothes, then John paid off the taxi driver and took one girl on to her home in the next village, whilst the rest went up the road onder their own steam (they all live in the same street!)
Jolanda and Eva grunted twice then fell into bed.

zaterdag 19 februari 2011

Going back in time - or what to do in a powercut!

Our canal has looked pretty much the same since our houses were built in the 1850's. Because they were built during the Crimea War the row of terraced cottages has been known as "'t Krim" ever since.
But in order to maintain this image of old monnickendam, repairs do have to be carried out, and this week work began on rebuilding the banks around the bridge at the south end of the canal.

Its a big job, and I was very impressed by the engineering feats carried out as the area weas dammed, and the water was pumped away to reveal the footings.
Until yesterday morning, around 9.30, when we were plunged back in time as the workmen severed the mains electricity cable.
Once your electricity is taken away from you, you realise how much you need it! I had my washing machine on.... full of wet clothes, I could not make a coffee with my coffee machine. The house was getting colder, until I realised that I could light the gas fire manually, but I had no hot water, so I could not clean or do the ironing.
All the computers had crashed, including the ones John was repairing, and I could not work to answer emails or to design my new workshop. Even baking was out of the question without my electric oven.
I went out in the afternoon to buy a kettle for the gas hob, and pick up Jolanda from school so she could ride; and when we came home everything was working again.
What a relief!
Next time it happens I will be better prepared, but it was a weird experience being without such a basic necessity as electricity!

maandag 14 februari 2011

Water, water everywhere - a tilers tale!

Last sunday I had a great day planned, going to The Movies with a group of friends for a matinee showing of "Black Swan" followed by dinner. Jolanda was sleeping over with a friend, and they were going on to the manege later, so I was having a rare day off.
As I was enjoying a lazy morning coffee my mobile rang.
"Jane, I don't know how late you are coming to the manege today, but you had better get here soon, we've had a leak and your horse 's stall is flooded."
My lazy sunday stopped, and I pulled on my oldest clothes and drove down to find Ulo knee deep in wet, muddy sawdust (we use sawdust for bedding as its better for horses with lung problems).
I hauled her out and washed her legs, which seemed swollen, then began emptying my stall of soggy sawdust and *@!#. About an hour and a half and ten wheelbarrows later I was finished, and after a cup of coffee - brought by John who came down to offer moral support, filled the stall with nice clean sawdust and popped Ulo back in.
After cleaning myself up, I got myself off to Amsterdam, and joined my friends for the meal. I'd missed the film, but no matter.
Two days later, on Tuesday morning, I got a call: "Theres been another leak, and the stalls flooded again!"
I drove over with dread, to find Ulo tied at the saddling area, looking fed up, legs still swollen, and her stall a pool of muddy water. It was decided that we could not use the stall again until it had been raised, as our stall was the lowest point in the row, and all the water ran towards us.
Ulo got a temporary home amongst the precious grand prix horses, (she didn't like it - I think she found them a bit snobby) and I was assured the work would be organised. Later that evening, I got a text to say there was noone who could do it at short notice, and if I could organise something, that would be great.........
Since then my whole week has been spend on the internet looking for patio tiles, and tilers.
I was told to check the internet for tiles people wanted removed, as you can often get them for nothing. By thursday I found an advert for some unwanted patio tiles in the same village as the manege, which was great, and we could collect them on Saturday. Great!
Getting a tiler was a different matter, as every time they heard it was an emergency, and for a horse stall, they thought we had loads of money, and asked ridiculous amounts.
By friday I was really desperate, and saw myself laying the tiles alone, especially as John is not strong enough to do it since his last back operation.
But I am so blessed to have great people around me. A friends husband sent a text on friday evening, and said he would do the work on saturday at 5.30!
Saturday was a whirlwind of activity organising John, trailer and Jolanda all to arive at the house in Broek that had the tiles. It was a big job to get them into the trailer, but we did it and drove back to the manege.
We were busy moving sand into the stall, when Ben arrived. He's a young, strong, tall dutchman, who worked at a fantastic pace, first with the sand, and then laying the tiles. John took Jolanda off home so she could get something to eat before she went out for the evening (another story) and I stayed to help Ben.
By the time John got back, he was just in time to help us plan the most efficient way of laying the tiles, and within 3 hours the whole stall was done.
Sunday morning we were able to fill in the gaps around the edges with bricks, the new stall was ready to receive fresh sawdust, and a very relieved Ulo, who looked happy to be back home!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ben you are a great guy!

zondag 6 februari 2011

A Letter from Flat Stanley

Dear Molly,
I've been in Monnickendam for a month now and its about time I wrote to let you know what has been happening.
When I got here Jolanda was sick, with flu, so we stayed at home for a few days, and I made her lots of warm drinks. mostly we lay on the sofa and watched television.
When she got better she took me to see her pony, Ulo.

Ulo is very big, so I went to see Bontfire, who was a bit more my size.

Then we played on the climbing frame

and I got to slide down the slide

The best bit was when I got to go on a tractor! Being a boy, I like tractors better then horses really.

We had to do some chores around the house, so I got to help pump out the boat before it sank from all the rain. Its really nice that the boat is right in front of the house.

you can see here how the water in the boat is going down.

Jolanda does not use the boat in the winter because its too cold so I could not get out in it myself - which is a shame.
Last weekend we went to Jumping Amsterdam, which is an international horse show, and saw some of the worlds top dressage and jumping competitors. The jumps were 1.60m high!

We did get out and saw some very dutch things, like clogs, windmills and tulips (the tulips were in the shops, because its winter and the ones in the fields are still asleep.)

Jolanda had a competition one weekend so I went to see her. This photo was taken when she was getting ready to compete.

I have had a good time here in Monnickendam, but its been a month now, and I really miss England, so I'm coming home this week.

Lots of love
Flat Stanley

woensdag 5 januari 2011

recycling - how hard can it get!

The Christmas decorations were packed away yesterday, and today it was time to get rid of all the junk that has accumulated over the holiday period. I loaded a box of paper into my car, and a big bag of glass bottles, as well as two sacks of plastic waste.

The paper and cardboard comes from packing from presents and household goods, but because John runs his business from home, he also generates a lot of paper and carton waste and I make regular trips to get rid of that.

The bottles usually go to the bottle bank along the street, but the snow and bad weather meant that the volume was greater than I could carry, so thats why that was going in the car.

The plastic - thats another story. At the beginning of 2010 the Netherlands invented Plastic Heroes, to encourage recycling of plastic. there were TV adverts, and leaflets from the council. I was pleased to recycle, and began to collect plastic enthusiastically. The council provided us all with special plastic sacks for the waste, and a schedule of pickups - one a month on a tuesday! We soon found that once a month was not often enough, as a household we generate at least three sacks a month. but the first month I happily put my sacks out on the appointed tuesday, along with the other householders in the street. The sacks stayed outside our houses for a very long time, being blown around by the wind and attacked by the ever present crow colony, who scavenge anything that does not move. eventually a little truck came round and picked up the bags, and we began our recycling cycle once again.

Each month was the same, householders hopefully put out their bags of plastic on the designated tuesday, and around 2 days later they are picked up. Its got to the point where, if you see a plastic sack on the street, you put yours out in the hope that something will happen, a sort of collective optimism which is always dashed. Thats why the bags were in my car today.

I drove off to the council tip, and joined the many other women doing the same thing. We were helped by the council workers who helpfully pointed out where different items had to go, (they very rarely help physically, if they do, they unerringly pick up the lightest item in the car, and leave you to struggle with the old matrass or kitchen sink that needs to be ditched)

So I trotted around, climbing the ladder to put the plastic in a huge dumpster, and hoisting the paper above my head into the crusher. The bottles I carried over to the bottle bank to find that it was full. there being no other place to dump them, I loaded them back into my car, and drove to the supermarket to use the bottle bank there. Then I drove to the council offices to pick up more bags for the plastic recycling.

Getting home, I found that John had received another delivery of computer components, and the empty box and all the packing material were neatly stacked in the corner of the living room.

tomorrow I'll tell you how I get to return all the faulty modems to the supplier after John has installed new ones! or maybe not :)