Making plans!

Making my hiking plans for the summer holidays, folks!

Hi there, all you hikers, ramblers, amblers and speed-walkers. Remember me? Taken in the Derbyshire Hills, 2016  (©R.Grashoff) I...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Travelling by Public Transport - Never a Dull Moment

Hi there!
Do you use Public Transport?
Above on the left is the destination I travel to by tube four days a week...Coolhaven. I come from the left (not on the map), Spijkenisse, which I reach from Hellevoetsluis by bus.
All in all I am shivering at my bus stop at 6.40 in the morning, to arrive in Rotterdam at 7.40 - if I'm lucky. The journey back is longer, as for some strange reason the powers that are think that there are less people travelling back from work than there are travelling to work.  Hence there are fewer buses. (Where on earth they believe those extra people stay, is beyond me!)

As I said, I take this bus every day. So. Picture this. You are in a Dutch queue.
 (Ever seen a Dutch queue? Its most marked characteristic is that there is a cluster of pushing, shoving, toe-stepping, elbow-clashing often bad-tempered people all trying to get through the door at the same time)
You manage to get inside the bus! This gives you a warm glow of satisfaction. The next hurdle is to obtain a seat. You say 'hi' to the driver, who, on a good day, says 'hi' back. On a bad day he or she grunts. On a really bad day, he or she closes the door in your face, just when you come up panting from the killer-doors in the tube. I have been there. I know how it feels.

But this is a great day. You've got a seat, better still, you've got a seat in the area where most drivers keep the interior lights on. Now you are able to read!!!!
Mind you, I have sat in such a seat, all ready for my little e-reader, surrounded by happy people settled in with their newspapers, paperbacks, tablets, iPads, crosswords and  knitting and then the driver turned off the lights. They do this. Bus drivers are God's bum when they are behind that large wheel.

Not long ago I sat in the bus with my daughter, coming back from an after-work shopping excursion, and across from us sat two middle-aged women. One had a can of coke, and a shopping bag. The other had a suitcase. The one with the suitcase eyed the can of coke. The one with the coke eyed the suitcase. As soon as the bus started to move, the one with the coke made a grab for the suitcase and wrestled it away from the woman. She started yelling. The people around them first pretended not to see or hear anything. We Dutch are good at that. Those three little monkeys have nothing on us. But when they started to fight in earnest, there was a ripple of movement in that bus. People standing up, moving slightly forward towards the driver, as if he could protect anyone whilst manouvering that huge bus around the too tight roundabouts. Unfortunately, the woman with the suitcase was shoved onto the lap of my daughter, who sat there frozen and miserable. But the driver had had enough by then, edged on by some passengers urging him to 'do something about it', so he made an emergency stop (people flying through the bus and crashing into each other), opened the double doors next to us, stomped his way to the women, grabbed the can of coke and threw it out of the door. The can woman then got a boot up her backside, and flew after the can. The other one grabbed her suitcase and ran towards the back of the bus, where she continued her journey looking very smug. The shopping bag was left behind in the aisle, as a little grubby white reminder of the joys of travelling by public transport.
But. There are saintly bus drivers as well. When I was thirteen, and had fallen asleep in the last bus home from the youth centre in the next town, where I had inhaled too many second-hand fumes of Black Afghan (or whatever it was called), and missed my stop in the middle of nowhere, there was this driver who noticed I was still fast asleep in the back row when he parked his bus in the bus car park. He shook me awake, asked me where I should have got off, realised it was just pitch black meadows and orchards and that it was at least half an hour's walk back, and then turned his bus around and drove me home.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Chapter 4 - part 2


Chapter 4 – part 2

After a copious meal, and too much Chardonnay and brandy-to-go-with-the- coffee, Bobby and Suzan dragged their mother to the old standing piano. She protested, not having played in months, but in the end banged out a couple of carols, which they all sang to with gusto.
Dirk sang well, his eyes shining and his cheeks glowing with food, drink and good company. Then, when Isa collapsed and said she needed her bed, he reluctantly stood up.
 “Well, I’ll be going then”, he said.
Isa smiled. “Absolutely not,” she answered. “First, I’ve had too much alcohol to drive you to the Vesting, and second, I don’t want you to walk there, and third, I cannot afford to put you in a taxi. So there’s nothing to it, you’ll have to stay the night. You can sleep here, on the sofa, if you can bear to have Tom nap on your feet.”

The next morning they had a leisurely breakfast, which turned into lunch, and then, in desperate need of fresh air, all piled into the old Twingo to drive Dirk back to his bicycle. On the way there, Suzan suggested they needed a walk to clear their heads a bit. So they turned into the car park near the lighthouse and walked along the Zeedijk towards the 1953 Flood monument. It was typical December weather: damp, windy, just cold enough to make them push their
hands into their pockets and to make their eyes water. (Copyright Renée Koopman – If you steal this, you are a very bad person!) When they reached a breakwater just before the meadows turned to reed beds, Isa wanted to turn back. But Dirk saw some waterfowl a little way out onto the Haringvliet, and wanted to take a closer look. He climbed the low concrete wall and slithered down to the waterline. Isa, Bobby and Suzan watched him in silence. They saw him reach the breakwater and carefully walk along, until he reached a willow clinging there precariously, almost horizontally. He made as if to climb over the tree, but then stopped and stooped down towards something in the water.
“What is he doing,” mumbled Bobby. She watched him curiously, something in his body language alerting her.

Dirk suddenly stumbled backwards, almost falling into the water. He called out to the women, but the wind garbled his words. “What?” they called back, as he raced towards them, up on the dyke. When he had reached them, he crashed into the low wall. His face was as white as a sheet and his eyes were wild.
He swiped his hand across his mouth with a desperate movement. “There’s a dead...a dead...” 
“What?” they said again, disbelieving their ears. 
He gulped. “There’s a plastic garbage bag with something dead inside it.” 
“Something dead,” echoed Isa. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, it smells to high heaven, awful, disgusting,” he cried. “The bag is ripped, and...And I believe I saw a hand.” 

In Suzan’s highly organised world there was no place for dead hands. 
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said, and climbed over the wall herself.
She marched down to the thing in the water, closely followed by both her sister and a little way behind by her mother. Dirk, having seen enough, stayed up on the dyke. Bobby hung back when they came to the willow. 
“Dirk’s right, it smells terribly,’ she warned.
Suzan, ever practical, snapped off a brittle willow branch and poked at the bag, widening the rip. She strained to see inside. Then she turned to her family and nodded business-like. “Dirk’s correct. It’s a hand. I can see a ring on the middle finger. We have to call the police,’ and then she fainted.
© Renée Koopman

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Counting the birds today? My results.

Good morning to you all! Especially you there in Norway and Thailand, hi, lovely to see you! Do visit again, won't you?
I've been counting my garden birds today, for the Dutch Society of Protecting the Birds. I do this every year, and I must say, it's a frustrating event today. 


We feed our birds through the winter months, and usually have numerous species visiting our garden all year. I've already blogged about this earlier this week. I really like watching them. I've tried to upload a short video my husband took of a blackbird watching himself in a mirror next to our shed, and peeping behind it to see where that other bird was hiding, but for some unknown (to me!) reason it will not upload. I'll try again, though (I'm nothing if not persistent).
Here is a still of that blackbird watching himself.

Right. Why was today frustrating? Because there are hardly any birds feeding! Now, it is raining, but they usually don't let that stop them. Anyway. Here is my result. (Btw, most photos are courtesy of the Internet, I've borrowed them - thank you very much for putting them up there!)

Sunday, 19th January 2014, Hellevoetsluis - during 1 hour.

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 8

 1

 1

 5

 1

 6



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Where are my jackdaws? And my turtle doves? And my blackbirds... Oh well... You'll have to make do with what did visit this morning.