November in hindsight

November2017

All throughout this month I’ve been thinking about my ‘November in hindsight’ post and I decided that I wanted to post this on my blog on November 30th. To literally finish the month off in the only right way, especially since I’ve been posting these hindsight post quite late these last couple of months. So half way through the month I started to write the first couple of things for this particular post. So that I would be able to just add some last minute changes to in on the 30th before publishing it.

Nanowrimo

My November has been all about Nanowrimo and it was a good month. We’re now literally at the end of the month and I can tell you that I have a accumulated a grand total of 33 516 words. A word count which I’m really happy about. This is way, way better than I expected to do and I’ve written way more creative stories than I ever could have imagined. And even though I haven’t reached the 50 000 words which were our goal for Nanowrimo I am content with what I did. It was hard – I’m not going to lie about it – I struggled but in the end I was able to get to a really nice word count. A word count which is much higher than I expected to reach, so nothing to be ashamed about. Maybe I’ll reach the 50 000 words next year. We’ll see.

Our Epic Blue Unicorn group had four meetings at the Library on Friday afternoon, around five we would gather and sit at ‘our table’. The only thing missing is the fact that they don’t put up one of those plates with reserved on the table for us. But other than that we can easily call it our table. Next to our Library meetings we also had one Ikea meeting. We had so much fun, we’ve invited some new people to our group and I sure hope some of them will stick around for the future. This was the fifth year our group was active and during those five years I’ve made some wonderful friends who are really dear to me.

Reunion

I was supposed to go to Groningen for another meeting with some of my vacation friends but that didn’t happen. For several different reasons we had to decide to move the weekend to February or March of next year. Because December and January are just going to be too busy to make it work. Hopefully I can tell you all about my city trip to Groningen in the first couple of months in the beginning of 2018. I’m looking forward to it.

Efteling

Since Groningen wasn’t going to happen I was free to make some last minute new plans for the last weekend of the month. My parents were going to the Efteling – it was a day out to the park provided by my dads work – and my mom asked me if I wanted to join them. The Efteling is a beautiful theme park in the Netherlands, and during the winter months they turn the park into a winter wonderland of sorts. It always has a special atmosphere which is vastly different if you go there in the summertime.

If you ever have a chance to go to the Efteling you should really do so it is a really beautiful theme park, whether you go there in the summer or in the winter. The theme park is different from any other theme park I’ve been too. They have their very own style which appeals to young and old people alike. Most people in the Netherlands have been there at least once and the park has been voted best theme park many times over. This year the park has even been voted the most beautiful theme park in the world by the Americans. And the park has been scoring well on all types of theme parks lists. It’s an original park by which I mean that it is not based on Disney for example so it has a very unique style.

I’ve been to the park so many times and I still love it each and every time. From an early age on I’ve been going there, with my parents, with our school on a school trip and nowadays I often go there with a group of friends. It is always fun to see that people from a young age all the way up until the elderly enjoy themselves.

Reading and writing

Since November is all about Nanowrimo you have already been able to read all about my word count and writing for the month in the beginning of this post and in all the other posts I made about Nanowrimo. So it would be a little redundant if I repeated it all again. So for now this is all going to be about my reading.

I’ve finished up my latest book in the last couple of days of this month, it was The Circle. A book which really got me thinking about all the things we’re giving up when we aren’t careful with our privacy. I learned one thing, I don’t ever want to give my privacy up. Not because I have a lot to hide yet simply because we should be able to keep some things to ourselves if we want to. And everything – every single detail certainly isn’t a good thing.

Music and television

I decided to write some posts I haven’t previously added to my blog, the first one was about the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. One of my favorite shows of all time. Another post I wrote about a television show was the one about the Once Upon A Time season six finale.

I also managed to wrote two cd reviews from albums I’ve been listening to these last couple of weeks. The first one was about The Corrs’ new studio album, named Jupiter Calling. I’ve loved the Corrs for at least the last twenty years and I was really surprised when this album came out. The second one was about Pink. A singer / songwriter who I really admire. She has been at the top for so many years and each and every time she comes up with a new song or a new album which tops the charts. Beautiful Trauma is a great new album – with a wide variety of songs.

Looking ahead:

  • December is right around the corner, everyone in the world knows what that means, the holidays are coming!
  • December also means lots of extra time at work! The busy December month, probably goes for a lot of people at work.
  • We in the Netherlands have Sinterklaas, which we celebrate on December 5th. We do a Secret Santa type of thing which is always a lot of fun!
  • Of course there is the TGIO party (Thank God It’s Over) and that refers to the party to celebrate that we’ve survived another November full of writing. I’m going to Utrecht to meet up with my fellow Dutch Nano’s.
  • Christmas! Who doesn’t love Christmas? I know I do, it means I’ll get some
  • New Years Eve still sounds so far away but it is right around the corner! And this year I hope to celebrate it in a different way than I did previously.
Advertisements

October in Hindsight

Oktober_2017

The Reunion 2.0

Oktober first was our second reunion. Ten people from our vacation group had a second reunion, we had decided a while ago that we wanted to do an Escape Room. We decided that we would go to Prison Island in Utrecht. This time we went on October first and we met up at the Escape Island, it was so good to see everyone and to catch up. We had decided ahead of time that we would make two teams, one of four people and the other one had five players. The tenth person joined us at dinner. The Prison Island is set up in an old factory building. You have to walk up a couple of stairs to get to the prison as soon as you step through the door you enter a prison. The look and the feel of the whole place is just perfect. I had never been in an Escape Room so this was new to me. There was a short introduction by one of the ‘guards’ and each group received a chip with that chip we could open the doors and start the games. At any moment you could leave the room. Which is perfect, no need to panic if you’re claustrophobic. Which is always a good thing. After the explanation and introduction we were allowed to venture off into the prison. There are twenty-four cells and each cell is different.

I think that this makes for a really interesting afternoon, each room you can try as many times as you like. Only the best result is kept in the total score of your group. There is a screen on which you can see how your team is doing in relation to other teams that did the Prison Escape that day. Each room had their own game and the level of difficulty is also different for each room. In some rooms you simply have to answer questions, in another room you have to slam on buttons or figure out a puzzle. We had so much fun! Definitely a super positive recommendation for Prison Island at De Fabrique in Utrecht.

The Zoo

I love going to a Zoo, it had been a while but we received a couple of free tickets for Burgers Zoo in Arnhem. I think it’s interesting to see and to take in the animals. They are so fascinating and there is so much to learn about them. For the longest time I didn’t like to go to Zoo’s the reason for that was that we visited a Zoo which was just horrible. At the time friends of my parents said that it was a really nice place with lots of different animals and it was close by to where we used to live at the time. We actually went there and it turned out to be  a horrible place. Even as young as my sister and I were at the time we could see that it wasn’t a good place. It was a German Zoo, it has been closed down for a long time which is for the better. The animals were in these really small concrete boxes and I can still to this day vividly remember a polar bear in this white and blue painted concrete box with a tiny bit of water just looking plain miserable.

At that point we were done with Zoo’s. It took a long time before I wanted to visit one again. Actually it was only a couple of years ago, we have beautiful Zoo’s where it doesn’t feel like it’s a horrible place but where they seem to look for ways to make them look authentic. They have a beautiful Mangrove with huge butterflies, they are so beautiful. I made some awesome pictures.

Reading and writing

I haven’t written much this past month, but what I did write was my book review for American Gods.  It was a difficult one, I am still not sure what to say about it. I think it’s one of the toughest book reviews I’ve ever written. On one hand I thought the book as well as the television show were intriguing and interesting yet on the other hand it was at times really tough to follow and hard to understand. However I liked reading it and I might read it again in the future. Because I feel like this book requires multiple reads. I think that you get a lot deeper into the story and start understanding it on a different level. And that is an interesting thought one that needs exploring.

Looking ahead:

  • After October comes November and that means only one thing. It’s time for Nanowrimo! During November I’ll be writing – don’t know what but we’ll see I’ll get something written somehow.
  • The book
  • I don’t have any specific plans for November, on Friday evenings you can find me in the local library with my writers friends – also known as the Epic Blue Unicorn group. We might also plan a Saturday or Sunday in the Ikea in our hometown.
  • Writing, writing, writing …
  • A weekend trip to Groningen – maybe … we’ll see.
  • Secret Santa is coming up, better get planning!

August in hindsight

August_2017

I know it’s October by the time I’m finally posting this but September seemed to have flown by without me noticing it. Well I noticed it but it was a month which was too busy for me to take any time for myself. And the few spare moments I had I was too tired to focus on writing. It’s not an excuse but the way life sometimes takes over. Anyway let me start with telling you all about my August.

August was  a strange month, usually August would be the month that marked my vacation time. However this year I had my two week summer break at the end of June and the beginning of July. So my vacation was done long before most other people where even thinking about going on vacation. And the fact that the weather wasn’t too good didn’t really help either. I was at work while one colleague after another left for their break. It was a really strange situation from my point of view to be honest.

It was also the month in which my grandmother turned ninety! A very respectable age especially if you manage to do it the way my grandmother does it. For someone her age she’s doing really well. I love my grandmother, she’s such a sweetheart and we’ve always had a special connection. She’s an amazing woman and I really hope that she’s will continue on the way she’s doing right now.

Reunion

We’ve had our first ‘official’ reunion with the group from my vacation in Sardinia – I say official because this was a day planned ahead and we already had a mini-reunion at the lake near The Hague where some of us went windsurfing. Anyway this was the official reunion. It was a wonderful weekend, we went to Utrecht. A beautiful city in the center of the Netherlands. And while it is quite close to my home – about an hour away – me and some other people decided that we wanted to stay the night. So we wouldn’t have to worry about getting home. We rented a room with six people in a Hostel. If you ever need an Hostel in the center of Utrecht I can wholeheartedly recommend Stay Okay. It’s a very new – exactly one year old when we where there – Hostel which houses all kinds of different rooms and there were even families with kids and elderly people staying at the Hostel. In the afternoon we went bowling which is always a fun thing to do. Surprisingly the first round started off pretty good for me, better than expected. Not that I was the winner or anything but I wasn’t too bad.

After our bowling adventure we set out to find a spot at one of the many cafe’s for drink, and some pizza slices – something which happened at our vacation and what gave us a good laugh at this point but wasn’t really all that funny when it happened. Anyway after our pizza slices and drinks we went for a walk through the city to find our restaurant for the evening. A lovely small place which was in no way set up to host a group of 15 people but managed to do so anyway. We had a sort of tapas dinner where they made different types of small meals, not just Spanish but everything and anything. We had a lovely dinner. And afterwards we took another stroll through the city. We were planning on going out but it was still very early in the night. Eventually we ended up at Florin, which is the same place we always go with the Nanowrimo Kickoffs! The night ended at a club, not exactly one where I would have gone but it was fun nevertheless. Around three we rolled into our beds – which were luckily for us only a three minute walk away from the club.

The six of us – who rented a room at the hostel – had a very restless but fun night. Everyone slept a little but no one slept nearly enough and after a short night and a way too early shower we were sitting across from each other at the breakfast table. After the breakfast our ways split all over the Netherlands and we all made our way home either by car or by train.

Reading and writing

I’ve finally finished reading the When Woman Were Warriors books, all three of them back to back. I absolutely loved reading the books. They reminded me so much of the books I used to read when I was younger. In a lot of ways these type of books feel like they are historical novels but you know that the story is completely made up. A series of books dedicated to strong female characters! A series of books I absolutely recommend to everyone who loves to read about strong women.

And I started reading American God’s by Neal Gaiman, which is now also a television show. A lot of my friends recommended the book. So I’m really looking forward to reading it and seeing what it’s all about.

Looking ahead:

  • My parents went on their cruise vacation and they left from Amsterdam. I decided that I would bring them and pick them up a week later. So I spend two Sundays driving to Amsterdam, one of them was spend at a city beach and one of them in my hometown where we had a nice meal together.
  • Working lots and lots of overtime in September, like usual.
  • We had the NoSun Festival! Which was fun!
  • And we had another reunion!

Sardinia – July 1st

Sardinia_2017

When I started with this adventure I had no idea what to expect. But it was the best choice I could have made for myself. The people I met were truly amazing. We were a group between the ages of 26 and 49. But everyone managed to get along and we had lots of fun. We all wanted it to last longer. But July first was the day we had to go home.

We spend one last morning at the beach, we had lunch together at a restaurant. And then it was time to go back to the camp side where we had to pick up our belongings and get back on the bus to the airport.

Promises of a reunion were made and we would send our pictures to each other through WeTransfer. We did and I have now about 2000 pictures to sort through to make a vacation album, which is certainly something I want to do. Because this vacation was definitely something I want to cherish.

Goodbye Sardinia! I’ll miss you …

Sardinie_1-7-1

Sardinia – June 30th

Sardinia_2017

Friday came around and that meant that we were going on our inland excursion. A bus picked us up at the campsite and would drive us around all day in the Province of Nuoro. Mario who picked us up on the first day and who gave us that marvelous wine-tasting was also the person who would be the guide on this trip. Marco is an awesome guy, who has a very special way of explaining things. He constantly forgets details and then gets back to them right in the middle of telling something different. Which makes for some very laughable random comments. As you can imagine we had a lot of fun and even though some of the information was very serious Marco knows how to keep things interesting.

Irgoli

Our first stop was at a small town where a lot of the houses are painted. Initially it was a way of protest mostly towards the government of Italy since Sardinia always felt left out when choices were being made that would have an influence on all Italians. It kind of reminded me of Greek Fresco’s. They where all over the town in all different shapes and sizes. And all so in different styles. Some where old while others were painted a year or two ago.

Tomba dei Giganti – Giant’s grave

One of the stops was at the Tomba dei Giganti – translated to Giant’s Grave – which sounds like something straight out of a novel. It’s not however, it’s a graveside which belongs to a civilization which long ago lived in Sardinia. The graves were build in the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization, they were collective tombs and there have been about 800 discovered in Sardinia. Which is a huge number if you think about it! Sardinia is not that big! The centerpiece is a stone a couple of meters high, the top is rounded and in the bottom there is a whole cut out. Behind it is the grave chamber, meters deep with graves on either side of the small corridor.

Monte Gonare

The next stop was Monte Gonare, a mountain in a beautiful environment we were told that once we reached the top we’d be able to see one fifth of the island. The uphill route was literally hopping from one stone to the next. There was an obvious path, but it wasn’t straight and it wasn’t easy to walk on, the path’s were filled with stones. But it was beautiful and we could see a lot of the surroundings because we rounded the mountain as we got higher up. On the top is a beautiful church, Marco opened the door but before he did that he banged on the wood. There was a beautiful, deep echoing sound. The acoustic sounded great. Once inside, one of the girls in our group sang two songs, it was absolutely beautiful. Especially because she is an amazing singer – even Marco who has been to this place so many times was visibly touched. He also asked us all to sit down in between two of the benches in the middle of the church. He closed the door so we were sitting in complete darkness. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark he opened the door on the opposite side of the church. At first we were completely blinded by the light, next we were treated to a gorgeous view of a true masterpiece. One view on heaven and earth.

On our way back we made one last stop Orosei, where we ate an ice cream and in some cases two ice creams. It was simply delicious! According to Marco the best ice cream store on Sardinia.

Limoncello tasting

Once we came back to the campsite we had time to eat and then get ready for the evening. Part one of the program was a Limoncello tasting! Yes, after our wine tasting we were now going to try five different home-made limoncello’s. We started with a regular limoncello, then we tasted a creamy limoncello (which was really good and by far my favorite). Followed by a limoncello with pomegranate, one with lemon and mandarine mixed and one with only mandarine.

And then …. disco!

Yes, disco! We ended our last night with a disco! It was so much fun, admittedly at first we all laughed about the idea but ‘cos it sounded so child-like ‘disco’. But it was the perfect ending of a very fun vacation. All we had left was our last day at the beach and our flight home.

 

 

Sardinia – June 29th

Sardinia_2017

Thursday was the second free day in our vacation, but this time we choose to go on an excursion by ourselves. We could add all kinds of different activities if we wanted but we decided on a boat trip. During the trip we’d be able to see the island from the seaside and we would go to three different beaches which could only be reached by boat.

Apparently I’m one of those people who get seasick. I know that I’m not too good with buses and I kind of figured that the same thing would go for boats but I’ve never before felt so miserable on a boat. So far I’ve been on a couple of trips from Den Helder to Texel but that it only a twenty minute crossing I guess that it’s not enough time to feel miserable. I’ve also once made an overnight trip from Rotterdam to York in the UK, I remember not feeling to great then either however those boats are probably a lot more stable. If you ask me this one seemed to roll over the waves from the left to the right and from the front to the back. I was really struggling. It was one of those boats where the top deck is flat and we – our group of fifteen people – took up a large part of the floorboards, we were sitting around waiting for the boat to arrive at the first beach when one of the people in my group suggested for me to lay down. I’m so glad that they told me to do this because I was almost instantly feeling a lot better. So the rest of the boat trip I spend laying down on the floorboards only to get up when we stopped at one of the beaches.

The beaches we visited were absolutely stunning! All three were very different but all were beautiful in their own way.

Sardinia – June 28th

Sardinia_2017

Ever since I read the what activities we were going to do on our holiday this was my favorite one! I loved the walking down the hill, I absolutely enjoyed myself during the water sports. I was sure that I would love the boat trip and I always enjoy cultural trips so Friday would also be no problem for me. But I was looking forward to this day the most. The mountain bike trip!

I don’t know if I ever talked about this on my blog – I honestly don’t think so – but I have my own mountain bike. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I love it. I really enjoy going out on my bike into the woods and just feeling the ground under your wheels. The cracking and crunching sound that branches and stones make underneath your wheels, I love it. It’s so relaxing.

So the chance to do this in another country in different circumstances and of course a different environment really appealed to me. I couldn’t wait to get on that bike and get going. We had to get up at seven in the morning … scratch that we had to be at breakfast at seven. So we could leave on time and get back before the day was getting too hot.

I think that I was ready to go at six this particular morning, but I guess I was the only one. So I spend some time reading a book in the hammock, while I waited for the others to go and get some breakfast. At seven thirty breakfast was done and I was completely hyped up. We received our bikes  – which were of really good quality, we all got a 29er mountain bike with all the good stuff on it. I myself have a 26 inch bike (which refers to the wheel size), and I always wanted to try out a 29er. Especially because they say that these bikes have better grip, are easier to ride because they can take obstacles with more ease and they in general are less prone to flipping you over the steering wheel. They ride smoother, it’s easier to get out of sand and it rolls through rough terrain easier. I was ready to experience all of that and more.

So we all got on our bike and got ready to ride off. They told us that it was going to be a  thirty five kilometer ride with a stop at the halfway point. This was supposed to be a beginner ride but honestly if this was supposed to be for beginners I really don’t want to see what they call an advanced ride. It was tough! I’m not going to lie about it, it really was.

Picture this, the Netherlands are flat … really flat except for the very south where I’m from and even then nothing close to the hills and mountains of Sardinia. If you have higher and steeper climbs, you’ll also have tougher descents. And that made it all a lot tougher add to that the fact that it was 36 degrees outside and you can do the math. In my group we had a couple of people who’d never been on a mountain bike. As well as a couple who have a cycling bike but I was the only one with any experience on a mountain bike. Anyway our group varied from absolute beginners to slightly more advanced riders. And we had it tough but one of the beginners wasn’t able to keep up with the pace. Besides that she really didn’t like the mountain biking, she was afraid and I can understand that. It’s certainly not for everyone. We all knew that there would be a point at seven kilometers where we could decide if we wanted to go back or continue. She decided that she’d had enough. I think that it’s a good thing that you try something even if you’re doubtful that you’ll like it and even continue on when you’re afraid. She really broke some boundaries, set herself up to try something new. I would never see that as failure, merely as growth. I applaud her, she tried it and it wasn’t her thing there is no shame in that.

After the seven kilometer mark we knew that we had about ten kilometer to the halfway point what we did so far wasn’t really challenging and I was looking forward to getting on with the tougher stuff. Most of us were ready for it. As soon as we left we got some pretty steep climbs ahead of us and now I was the one struggling. I was feeling so confident literally minutes before and when that climb came I knew that I wasn’t going to make it all the way up. Especially because I got stuck in a track which was too sandy. Most of the other people in my group had experience in cycling – they are used to riding fast while I do the mountain biking thing at my own pace because usually I’m on my own when I ride my bike. I was really struggling to keep up but I couldn’t, nevertheless I was enjoying myself tremendously. Most of the ride I was the last person in the line. But I didn’t care. I decided that I was going to enjoy this, no matter what and I was not going to allow myself to be pushed over my own  I wasn’t afraid and I could easily handle the trail we followed. So that sure wasn’t the problem. Once the two men who guided us convinced themselves of the fact that I wasn’t afraid, they gave me the room to ride at my own pace and catch up with the others at certain points. Which was great, I loved it even more when I was riding down the track on my own. It’s what I do at home, what I’m used to. I was glad though when we reached the half way point. It was time to eat and drink something since it was so warm and we’d been so active.

The stop at the halfway point was a beautiful small place, hidden between the trees. It was one of those places where you would have walked or driven past if you didn’t know it was there. Simply beautiful and a perfect place to take a break.

After the break we continued our path through some small rivers, where we definitely had to get of our bikes. We had about seventeen kilometers to go after the break and little by little the terrain changed. From the hills we slowly but steadily made our way back towards the sea and ever closer to our end point the camping side.

The afternoon was for relaxation. I needed it! I’m gonna be honest here, I was really tired and I decided along with most of the other bikers that the swimming pool would be our place to retreat. Besides that I had my massage that same afternoon, there really couldn’t have been a better moment for a full body massage!

While we were at the swimming pool in the afternoon there was a bushfire at the beach and some people who decided to go to the beach were send back. All afternoon we could hear the planes over our camp side while they made their way from the sea in front of our camping to the beach which was in a small bay. Luckily the fire wasn’t too bad and besides us no one seemed really worried. Apparently bush fires happen in Sardinia all of the time. Especially in a dry summer like this, from what we heard it didn’t rain one drop since March. So the drought was at this point as bad as it usually would be in mid August and it was only the end of June!