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