My second set of visitors, the Bedford family, arrived a little later than planned having unfortunately missed their original flight (oops!) and been delayed on their re-booked one. The delay had its upside, however, as Alex, my three-year-old godson, was allowed to sit in the cockpit with the pilot's hat and sunglasses on once they eventually landed at Schipol Airport. A real treat for Alex who was very excited to finally be in Holland. This is the fourth time Alex has visited me in a foreign country and it was lovely to once again see the world through his eyes. It was his brother Olly's first trip abroad and I hope to experience many more holidays with them both (and their parents, Annie and Jon) in the years to come.
Disappointingly, my final set of visitors who were booked in never actually made it. Helen and Phil were due to be here for my final weekend in Groningen but, unfortunately, Helen was taken ill. I hope she is now recovered and that we can reschedule a weekend away together at some other point.
I've now come to the end of my time here in the Netherlands and as is now one of my traditions when I leave a country I have been living in, I have been reflecting on some of the things I will and won't miss about the place.
- Dutch directness
- the low sky (i.e. the grey and damp winter weather)
- the evil looks you receive if you don't walk on the right-hand-side of the pavement/corridor/stairs
- the flatness
- the proliferation of dog poo
- Sunday closing
- single beds
- people pushing in front of you
- high taxes
- Clogland-based friends
- free coffee in the supermarket
- the excellent thrice-weekly market
- free toiletries in the loo
- free gift wrapping in shops
- the underground rubbish bins
- the coffee shop 'aroma'
- the range of different beers
- the bells
- car-free living
As many of you are aware, this past year has fortunately not seen any major personal disasters but has not been one of my most enjoyable or easiest. However, despite some grey days, it has had its good moments and I have some fond memories of time spent here with friends - both old and new, Dutch and non-Dutch. I've learnt a lot about what I do and don't want/need from work, life and my surrounding environment which, I hope, will bode me well for the future...whatever that might entail. So...thanks for sticking with me and...here's to the next adventure!