2020 and who would have thought we’d all be in worldwide pandemic fighting for toilet paper over tissues

I cant believe we’re already basically a third of the way into the year and what a unique years its been already. I’m pleased to say that the year has been entertaining so far and Ive had tons of fun. Last year gave me closure, acceptance and clarity on a level I’ve never had before and it allowed me to ensure that 2020 will be what I want it to be, fun mostly. Ive done a ton of dating and Ive had absolutely priceless moments with my friends.

Dating, I decided to get back onto the dating bicycle, so I created a cute and humourous  profile for online dating and had went on a LOT of dates over 6 weeks and then hit burn out. To be clear, Im still very much so single but do you know, I had fun. Theres a show called ‘First Dates’, where single people basically go for a blind date over dinner, it seems most countries have this show, including the Netherlands. My Dutch colleagues often tell me that the British version is better, I agree. However, after my dates I’ve realised its not just the show but the Dutch take dating very seriously and they dont really seem to laugh or have fun on a date. If you cant have fun on a date, its unlikely you’ll have fun in the relationship and for me thats a red flag. I met a lot of really ‘nice guys’, unfortunately there just wasn’t a connection. I previously was a bit of a Dutch dater and took it too seriously, this time I decided to say ‘yes’ to everyone as long as there were no obvious red flags and the goal was to have fun. I treated it more like findafriend.com rather than youmeforever.com, which also took the pressure off. Luckily for me, there were no horror stories for dates but a lot of stories that make me laugh. A few examples are when I ruined a date making what I thought was a funny science joke with a date but he didn’t find it funny and it killed the date or the time a guy told me we couldn’t have a future because he didn’t like pets, the irony being he didn’t even realise what level of crazy cat lady I really am. Turns out guys really like burgers (great, so do I!) and I have a restaurant/bar that Im fond of because they do excellent burgers and even better cocktails, I went on a number of dates to this restaurant and one of the staff members pulled me to the side and said ‘why do you have a different guy every time I see you? Go girl!’ I laughed and explained it was my date bar and whilst I enjoyed myself, clearly my dating wasn’t going that well if each time it was a new guy, we both laughed. After around date 20, whilst I was still having fun, I could feel a shift within myself that I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I had previously and that I was starting to get cynical and jaded. I also went on a date with a guy who was negative about his dating life and I really thought to myself, at no point do I ever want to be on a date saying these things, ever. This is was my red flat that I needed to stop dating, take a break and re-evaluate. I decided my priority should be my friends and making memories with them over strangers on dates. For now, dating is on hold (which is bad timing given the current global situation and free time, it feels like a great time to be swiping) but I absolutely believe in fate and think if something is meant to be, it will, regardless of what app I’m on or not.

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Speaking of friends, I cant say how much I adore mine! I really have had a ton of fun with them. I think Ive laughed more in the first three months of this year, than I did all of last year combined, which is also kind of sad that last year as such a bust. This year I want to go tandem sky diving and its booked in, so I threw the idea out to my friends to join me, make a day of it and make memories. Three friends got very excited and were totally on board for it until they thought about it for two weeks and decided it was too hard core for them but its an activity I’d definitely enjoy, bless! What I also love about my friends is normally I can throw any idea at them and we go for it, even for things I expect they will say no to. Once we’re over social distancing tango dancing is the next thing on my list to try, the question is which friend can I get to join me?

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Corona…. who would have thought that in the year 2020 you’d need the mentality of a cage fighter to be able to buy toilet paper, rice and bread? The irony normally being when you have the flu you need tissues for your runny nose, not for toilet paper for the other end. There are many conspiracy theories and of course I have my own but that hasn’t stopped what is essentially the flu bringing the entire world to a halt. Its cancelled my holiday plans to Egypt, forced me to work from home for 3 weeks minimum with a dodgy everything connection and whilst Im ok with self distancing, I’m quickly realising that my cats are selfish arseholes (but I still love them).

If this is the first quarter of my year, I can only imagine what the next three quarters will bring. Im hoping for far more fun and laughter and less viruses and disease.

 

New home, new problems

is what Ive put on my whiteboard in my kitchen and it is incredibly apt. I generally adore my home but equally there are sometimes where I wonder if its purposely testing what tiny amount of patience I have.  I can laugh at a lot of experiences Ive had with the house.

In the Netherlands, houses really dont come with lights, you buy a house and you literally bring your own lightbulbs and light fittings. I have to say Ive done really well picking up electrics as part of the move! So far zero for being electrocuted and I’ve changed practically every light fitting and electrical outlet in the house but I am still stuck on a proper 3 way light. For 2 months, it was summer and I was able to not need a ceiling light in my living room. Winter is coming and with it, much shorter days. I bought a light fitting and attempted to fit it. It did not go well, at all. All patience was utterly lost and a completely new light bought. This was all around 8pm on a Saturday, I was absolutely determined to fit and have light in my living room. I get home with my new light and it was getting dark. Im very safe when it comes to these things and always turn off the main power, however, that meant I was then in the dark. I used the flashlight on my mobile to light the ceiling, so that I could fit the light (I would also like to add this is the first time Ive ever used this feature! I kind of thing that having a mobile is taking cat pics and sending memes and thats basically it). What this really meant is that I needed my hands free and ended up sticking my phone in my mouth so that I could fit the light, whilst up a ladder, swearing quite a lot, 1 hand holding the light fixture whilst the other hand had the screw driver. This was naturally not straight forward either, so add quite a lot of drool coming down the side of my mouth as I had the phone in my mouth for no less than 45 minutes (Id like to add that my phone is still not quite over this drooling incident).  Eventually the light was fitted and I’m delighted to be able to turn on a light. It was kind of weird getting back into the habit of being able to turn on a light.  I even giggle with excitement at being to turn on the light…yes this is how truly exciting my life has become!

 

I have two parts of the house that are covered in movie posters, it came this way and was one of the features that I adore about the house. The stairway that goes to my bedroom has some ok posters (and Chuck Norris) but the downstairs cupboard has Jaws, Alfred Hitchcock etc and a friend came by and had a quick look at the cupboard and was like ‘what I like most about your house, this cupboard’. Even now it makes me laugh for quite literally the 100s of hours of work put into the house for people to find a 1.5 metre cupboard the best feature of my house.

Ive been trying to toilet train the cats (think Mr Jinx from Meet the Parents). According to the shiney all singing kit I got, its a quick and easy 30 day process. I really wanted them toilet trained before the move but unfortunately due to multiple issues, it didn’t happen and kind of started before the move. I shouldn’t have started it before the move. I should have just waited for one solid smooth process. My female Maine Coon is most certainly me, in the cat form. Shes stubborn, ornery and hates any form of change. What really did not go in my favour when getting to step 3, me being absolutely delighted and her not realising they had been upgraded to step 3 and then promptly falling in the toilet when she went to use the tray.

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30 day process it is not and if I get them fully trained in under 3 months, I will accept it as a win. Potty training has had to restart all the way back at back at step 1 (as a direct result of her unfortunate nose drive into the loo), we’re now on step 2 (above) and she still has ‘accidents’ roughly every other day, so not great and my downstairs toilet has been completely sacrificed but if I can pull it off (quite literally God willing at this point), I would like to think it will be worth it. Ill never forget the Ikea delivery man who tried to use the toilet and them came and got me and was like ‘I dont understand THIS.’, whilst pointing at the toilet. Oddly enough my male is great with it and has no issues and uses whatever is there. If only his sister were are open and accommodating to change.

I cant believe its November already! This year has truly been nuts balls crazy, has gone so quickly and its also a year I’m ready to see the back of.  Im taking two weeks off at Christmas to literally sit my pyjamas and do nothing and I dont think Ive ever quite looked forward to doing nothing as much as I am this.

Moving house and adulting

This year,  has been crazy busy… thats my excuse for not blogging. I have had a few messages of disappointment at my distinct lack of blogging. I can always trust my friends to harass me and put me back on the right path!  Having said that, so much has happened in the last 5 months that my head is still spinning. I cant say it enough, I knew it was going to be a crazy year but it seems to be the year that just keeps giving.

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I was dating a nice Dutch guy but unfortunately neither of us was prepared to compromise on what we both considered a deal breaker and it truly turned out to be the deal breaker (it was, of course, more complicated than this, as these things are but thats the shortest version of the break up). However, I discovered the best way to get over a break up is to buy a house. It meant that I simply didn’t have time to wallow or self indulge and my priority really hasn’t been to date. As with most things in life, I think if something is meant to be, it will and never say never.

I found a house that I fell in love with in the suburbs Amsterdam (I’m an Amsterdamer now!), that ticked the boxes for my cats and everything fell into place and I’m now a home-owner. It felt bitter sweet, as I thought it would be a home I would create with my partner but that was just not meant to be. However, I still truly love the house (for the most part). However, I wont lie, it has been incredibly stressful and reiterated that the only way I’m leaving this house will be in a coffin. I really dont do moving well at all, Im too autistic, routine oriented and dont deal with chaos at all. The house has been series of unfortunate events and literally everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I bought the house thinking that it needed nothing at all and planned to redecorate one room. Every room has now been painted from floor to ceiling, along a new fridge and a variety of other things. I’ve had a number of sense of humour failures with it and even suggested that burning it down and starting from scratch might be an easier. I’m still surrounded by boxes in every room (over a month in), have a list of things to do that is a long as I am but it’s slowly getting there. The best part for me is that I’m now actually closer to work. My previous commute to work at 35 minutes door to door and now if everything goes smoothly its like 15, it tends to be more like 20 but at least my alarm clock is no longer set for 04:50 each morning!

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I’m incredibly lucky in as much as I managed to get truly fantastically amazing neighbours. The sellers did tell me that I would be getting great neighbours but I wasn’t sure if this was sarcasm or honesty. Turned out it was true honesty.  They have two very large dogs, which my cats take great pleasure in antagonising and the neighbours were beyond kind enough to cat-proof both sides of the fence to stop my cats going into their garden, without me asking! My first meeting with them did make me laugh as it was like they had google searched me or something similiar. ‘We’ve heard about you, you’re a brit but not a brit, on your own with two maine coons, which we’ve already googled to understand what they are and you’ve lived in the NLs for 2 years, welcome to the street!’. It was quite sweet. My neighbour thinks its great that I do everything myself and occasionally ask to borrow his power tools, something about women normally preferring the men to do ‘such jobs’. I always just laugh and say if I dont do it, then no one will. They are also new members of my weekly cake club and we’ve swapped grape recipes.

Just a brief overview of several very crazy months. I do look forward to going back to the quiet boring life and having time and the energy to blog again!

 

2019, where have you gone?

I cannot believe it is seriously almost June already?!?! I recently received this message, which reminded me that I’ve been neglecting blogging. It made me laugh but it was a reality check that it has literally been months since I put my preverbal pen to paper and a month later I’m taking action on the message. Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 20.15.41

2019 and I have really haven’t gotten on. Last year, I knew coming into the year, that it was going to be a busy and challenging year, it has not disappointed in either area.  I literally am unable to tell you where the first half of the year has gone.

I’ve previously been told that expats find medical care in the Netherlands to a lower standard than they are previously use to. Unfortunately I started the year sick, I came back from Eastern Europe with what turned out to be a inner ear infection and strep throat. Frustratingly, this turned out to be a 13 week struggle to get antibiotics. For many years within Europe, antibiotics use lowest in the Netherlands and Dutch doctors prescribe the least antibiotics, which is a fantastic statistic that the country regularly likes to quote. However, when it comes to being sick, its incredibly frustrating not be able to get antibiotics when you know they serve a purpose and make you healthy again. My Dutch colleagues gave me the advice ‘to add another 2 weeks on to the length of time you’ve been ill, to ensure the doctor takes you seriously.’ I think any time its a national tip that you lie to your doctor to be taken seriously, there is a much bigger problem at the core of the system. The Dutch Doctors approach is to tell patients to take Paracetamol, for everything. Do you have pain? Take paracetamol. Do you feel bad? Take Paracetamol. Do you need an amputation? Take Paracetamol. This is a pain killer that I now loathe. At the peak of my sickness, I was taking dangerous amounts (without realising), however, I am still somewhere between laughing and being highly sarcastic, so clearly no damage was done at the time. However, what I did discover was that the paracetamol was actually covering/hiding my symptoms, meaning that the doctor didn’t feel it necessary to prescribe antibiotics at the time. The paracetamol worked in a way that I would feel bad for 3-5 days and then I’d feel better 2-4 days and so it carried on for weeks (12 before I could antibiotics). Essentially the first 3 months of the year were spent feeling like a death and wondering why in a first world country,  why sick people are made to suffer when an immediate health care solution is available. I summarised from this 3 months that Dutch doctors like to see people suffer – whilst this is an exaggeration and I’m sure not true for some Dutch doctors, it was a truly horrific experience for me that has put me off Dutch healthcare. I did get some antibiotics from my doctor at the 12 week mark, unfortunately they didn’t fully remedy my issues and I resorted to getting antibiotics from another source, which I think is utterly ridiculous. However, I was no longer prepared to suffer, continue to be ill or fight with my doctor for further medication.

Adulting, I’m doing a lot of it this year! After having turned 36 in February, Im officially on the wrong the side of 35 and the next stop is 40! For the last four years, I ran a very small charity working with vulnerable individuals in eastern Europe. At the beginning of this year, my fellow trustees and I am made the difficult decision to close the charity. This a hard decision but the right one. Its taken a few months to wind down the charity, complete all the paperwork and do the necessary things to close a registered charity. I’ve had an offer through my contacts to work with their organisation and I’m seriously considering it. I think I need a break first and to buy a house and be settled but I cant imagine not being involved in charity work, in one avenue or another.

I am currently in the process buying  property in the Netherlands. After 2 years of renting in Amstelveen, I’ve realised that I am a suburbanite through and through, I like of love suburbia. I equally love being close to the city but I adore the peace and quiet that you get from not being in the city. My cats need a garden and on nice days I want to sit in and ideally hear next to nothing, which doesn’t happen in the city. Its highly likely I will end up in Utrecht but I am looking at properties and areas within a short commute to Amsterdam. This has really been an interesting experience so far. Ive been stressed out, ready to pull my hair out and wondering why no customer service exists in this country. I completely understand why people say that purchasing a home is one of the most stressful events of your life.

 

2019 has so far has been crazy for me. I sadly dont see this changing for the next few months. Im hoping that the last quarter of the year is quiet or that 2020 will be ear marked for an utterly boring, quiet and uneventful year!

Goodbye 2018

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2018, what a year! You know you’re getting older when you look back on the year and each one seems to have gone quicker than the last and you’re left wondering where time has gone and how many new grey hairs you see in the mirror every time you look (thank God for hair dye!).

Im honestly not keen or looking forward to 2019, so I’m quite happy to reminisce over 2018, it was a good year!

Dutch life: I celebrated 1 year in the Netherlands, despite all the things that I can complain about living here, I do enjoy life here. I adore my museumkaart and exploring cities and exhibits, on my own and with friends. Its great to have cycle paths and the ability to literally cycle everywhere in the country or to be able to drive to either end of the country within a few short hours, (although I do find driving here slightly strange – bigger adjustment required than initially thought). I don’t think I will ever adapt to Dutch kisses, it feels like they do three kisses for anything and I believe thats a great way to spread the black plague. I have a diary and I schedule my friends in for meet ups, who would have thought? Luckily I still do enough last minute stuff that I haven’t removed all spontaneity from my life. I think Ive acclimatised to the Netherlands quite well.

Friends: I made some amazing friends this year and had so many laughs.  I literally fell on floor laughing several times with people. Its so important to surround yourself with people who are as crazy as you are. I do like to pretend like Im incredibly serious and boring but when I have my funny 5 minutes, its great to be able to share them with like minded people. I’m so grateful to have a support network of people that I can rely on and who I can send wildly inappropriate memes to.

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Dating: I started the year single and I ended the year single. I had unique dating experiences and met some guys that I now consider good friends. My biggest take away is how important it is to have a sense of humour when you’re dating. I’m also glad that a number of my dating stories have brought nothing tears of entertainment to my friends.

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2018 was a really good year for me. I made so many memories, had so many laughs, impressed many Dutch people with my baking, experienced so many new things and the pros of the year defiantly outweighed the cons. I finished the year oh a high, doing charity work in eastern Europe. I’m sad to see 2018 go.

2019, it is an absolute year of uncertainty for me. Those who know me, know that I’m a slight control freak and like to have most things planned out. Brexit is one of my biggest concerns in 2019, I have no idea what will happen with my freedom of movement or if I will be able to stay within the Netherlands. I also have several other things happening which are big changes, so 2019 is going to be a year of change for me and I’m not looking forward to it at all. I understand the universal loathing of change.

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8 months in…

… and I’m still not entirely convinced. Every week my mother asks me vaguely the same four questions: Am I settled? Do I miss the UK? Do I consider the Netherlands home? and lastly, am I dating anyone? – for the purpose of this blog and much like every time she asks this question, I’ll avoid giving any response and change the subject.

Am I settled? I think so? I’ve most certainly created a life here, have met great people and created a incredibly varied social circle. I’ve had experiences here that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.  I was quite anti-social in the UK, as I already had the social circle, a routine and I never needed break outside of that. Where as here, its starting from scratch and being more social in the last 6 months than I had been in the last 10 years. I host local social gatherings, dinner parties, coffee and chat, give baking lessons, and everything in between that means I’m now very approachable (I’m not always sure about this) and social. It’s very different for me and some days I do feel like I spend half my day on Whatsapp but its fine and its nice to be needed. I purchased a museum card which gives me access to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and I’m enjoying it, seeing all the culture that the Netherlands has. I guess one of my quirks is that I have 4 boxes in my bedroom that I refuse to unpack, yes, over 8 months in and I still have boxes unpacked. I refuse to unpack them on the basis that once its done, theres no going back and its official that I’m here, making it a done deal. Theres just something monumental about these last four boxes and I refuse to cave in. It probably helps that I don’t need/use anything that’s in the boxes.

Do I miss the UK? No. There are elements of the life that I had in England that I miss but they could easily be replicated anywhere. Honestly I’m surprised that I don’t miss it more, having spent the last 16 years there, I was expecting more attachment to it. For me Brexit changed everything and I now see a country that I dont recognise. It has changed as a whole and not for the better and it’s not a country I want to live in. The irony is that Im in the Netherlands on a British passport and based on current discussions I would have to return to the UK, as my EU residential status would no longer exist. This is something that absolutely concerns me on many levels but worrying about it wont change it (quite the bold statement for me) and its something that totally outside of my control. Provisionally in my head, I’ve decided that if the worst happens and I go back, that I would relocate to Scotland. Plan B sorted.

Do I consider the Netherlands home? No. It’s absolutely where I live, work, socialise and have my life but it absolutely misses the ‘home’ feel factor for me. I will most likely always be a foreigner here, that’s not a problem. It’s a feeling that I’m familiar with and have no matter what country Im in, even the ones that I hold passports for. The Dutch are also not keen on their citizens holding multiple citizenships, if I wanted to eventually apply for Dutch citizenship, I would have to renounce of my other citizenships and thats not something Im ok with or agree to. So for me, the question is can a country be considered home that I could never be a citizen of? Im going to say no. Watch this space, lets see how I feel about this in another 6 to 18 months time.

Whilst I have many complaints in my daily Dutch life, I also know that I’m incredibly privileged within my life and I don’t have to worry about female rights, religion limiting  what individuals are allowed to do, or famine and war. I live in a country that is safe, considered to be incredibly weathly (I wont comment on my 54% tax rate) and where people are happy.

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When the sun is out, its a truly stunning country.

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Why I blog

I’ve been blogging on and off (sadly more off than on for the last 2 years) for close to a decade now. I initially started blogging as a way to help with depression and anxiety. Over time my blog covered everyday events, travelling, and how to guides for baking and crafting.

I decided it was time to get a proper site and attempt to be a proper blogger. I’m hoping in vain this will motivate me to blog heaps more than I have over the last few years.

Live. Learn. Experience. Repeat.

Blogging has been a great avenue for my own personal growth. I have a lot of regrets in my life and I’m certain Ive upset and offended a lot of people and have done a number of things that Im not proud of. I am far from perfect and I am sorry and extend a full apology to those that I have hurt or upset over the years. It is through these experiences that I have lost some great friends and learnt my biggest lessons. Life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about making lots of mistakes as you go and accepting life lessons on a daily basis.

This is why I blog, for my own personal growth.  With time comes maturity and with blogging comes perspective.