And where will I live

I visited the apartment near the river for the second time today and this time I was sure: that’s the place for me. I have decided to place a bid on it (that’s the way it works in the Netherlands), and will do so tomorrow.

I don’t know if there are any other potential buyers. I do know that the real estate guy I hired told me that the price the seller is trying to sell for is too high. So the selling game between the real estate people on both sides will begin.

The guy selling the place has already moved in with his new girlfriend. So let’s hope he wants to sell fast and for a lower price – to me. Exiting times ahead!

Where do you live?

As in – what kind of place? A house? An apartment? Did you love your place at first sight?

Why am I asking all these questions you wonder?

I want to buy my own place. And there are two possibilities – I can buy a small apartment with a rather large outdoor terrace (balcony) or I can buy a house with a small garden.

They are the same price and about what I can afford. The apartment has a nice view on the river and the house is in a relatively quiet street. The house has slightly bigger rooms, but has a small living room. The flat is a 2 bed flat but the smallest bedroom is very small. They are both about 10-15 years old.

I would really love to return to the town where I was born, and that’s where those two options are.

The thing is – I can’t really make my mind up about it. I think it’s secretely because I haven’t really fallen in love with either of them as what I would really want is an old (ish) town house with built in atmosphere. (= most probably too expensive for me)

So here is my question – how did you pick your place? And did you love it at first sight? What would you do if you were me?

Ten Things I miss from London

  1. Red double decker buses
    Just because I think they are wonderful. Especially the old Routemasters.
  2. A reliable Oyster card (opposed to a not always properly working OV card in the Netherlands)
  3. The London transport system
    Yes it can be a busy system (and yes sometimes they strike!) but I find it a great system and compared to public transport in Amsterdam – London is way ahead. And hey they have tube trains every few minutes – forget about that in Amsterdam.
  4. The enormous amount of cinemas and films on offer in London
    The time of the year might have something to do with it but there hasn’t been much on lately has there?
  5. The London theatre
    And just living around the corner from it. Plays with dream actors like Kevin Spacey, Ken Stott, Charles Dance, Derek Jacobi. And I wish I could say Bill Nighy, but blimey what does one need to do to get that man back on stage in London!
  6. The language
    I love to hear the Brits talk. Good job I have a UK colleague at my current workplace so I won’t complete miss the British sense of humour and self deprication.
  7. Men in decent suits with great shoes
    Yes men wear suits in Amsterdam too, but it is just not as classy. Far from in fact.
  8. People queueing properly for the tube or train
    Oh and people with manners and being polite. My god – Dutch people are horrible when it comes to that. Lots of elbow and pushing work going on every single time I have to enter a train. And they don’t know how to behave on an escalator either.
  9. British television
    Please give me back the BBC channels. And ITV, Channel 4 and even Five. I really miss quality tv. But I also miss Simon Cowell and the Xfactor! I really hope to solve that tv issue in the future. (I’ll buy a satellite dish if I need to)
  10. A cup of tea the milky way
    I have not drunk a single one of those since my return. Somehow that is such a quintessential British thing that it feels wrong to do it in the Netherlands. And Dutch tea just doesn’t taste as good as Yorkshire tea.

You might think that I am missing London badly and regret having moved from there. But strangely enough, apart from the above list, and maybe a couple of other minor things, I haven’t missed London that much actually. There is no doubt in my mind that I have taken the right decision to move back to the Netherlands. Living close to my family again is really nice and life is just not as hectic (and therefor more healthy) as it was in London.

I am still on a quest to find a perfect place to live though. I am currently living in Haarlem (renting) where I have the unbelievable luxury of having my own kitchen, with own micro wave, cooker and fridge. And six (six!) whole kitchen cupboards for myself! I am still getting used to it, having lived in a shared household for more than four years.

So on that front, life is certainly improving. But Haarlem might not be the place where I am going to stay very long though. We’ll see what happens.

How are you all doing?

Oh, and here is a new (and this time decent as my mum filmed this) video of Gijs the Hedgehog. He is still a regular visitor in the garden!

Gijs the Hedgehog – the movie

I made this video on my phone (hence the bad quality) and I managed to talk through it in the end too! So it is not a great video but here he is: Gijs the Hedgehog finishing his dinner and wandering off to his bed.

We are feeding him cat food and water, and he nearly always comes by in the evening.

Grab your popcorn, here it is: Gijs the Hedgehog – the movie:

Meet Gijs, our hedgehog

We have a new daily visitor in the garden, meet Gijs the hedgehog!

You can nearly put your your clock on it – Gijs will appear around 16.30 every afternoon, entering the garden from the neighbours garden.

He then has a little walk through the garden to see if there is anything interesting to eat for him. We have been feeding him small bits of cheese the last couple of days, and he loves those.

Gijs the Hedgehog - are you looking at me?
And after a bit of time in the garden he leaves again.

Gijs the Hedgehog - leaving the scene

Isn’t Gijs cute!

My daily cycling route to work

I thoroughly enjoy my short (2.7 km) cycle ride to work every day. It is a very relaxed ride on cycle tracks seperate from cars. My bicycle trip passes the old Amsterdam Olympic Stadium. I also pass loads of houseboats (very Dutch way of living) and a lock which connects de Schinkel to the Nieuwe Meer. Amsterdam really is a city of water. You can see the lock below.

Larger map

In the evenings and weekends my bicycle is safely parked in the fantastic underground bicycle parking space at Amsterdam Zuid train station where it is guarded 24 hours a day. Yesterday however I had to park my bicycle for a couple of hours at an unguarded bicycle parking spot at a Metro station. And I found this poster:

Stolen bicycle poster Amsterdam

I was really happy my bicycle was still there when I returned.

Here is (for now as I am moving soon – more about that later) my daily trip. What is yours (if any)?

Here we are

Where have you been?
Well I have been kind of busy and I have left London and moved back to the Netherlands.

What? Why?
Good question. Because four years 24 hours a day in the hustle and bustle of central London was enough for me.
London is a very exciting and fantastic city and there is a lot on offer. But living there 24 hours
a day is different from visiting it as a tourist. There are great jobs in London, and a lot of people
come to London to work and get great working experience. This also means that everybody is always in
a hurry and building up a social life is hard. And I was incredibly tired of flat sharing too.
So after four years I decided that it had been enough. I packed my stuff, called a man in a van, and
voila I left.

When and where to?
I am back in the Netherlands – back to my roots. After 14 and a bit years abroad I felt that it was time to
move back to my home country.

I have been here since the last week of June 2010.

Do I miss London?
Sometimes. I miss that life never stops in London and that there is always something to do. That the shops
are always open and that there are so many theatres, cafes and cinemas. That you can attend events with interesting
people like Bill Nighy or Kevin Spacey. And the English sense of humour. And the charity shops with
cheap English pockets. The red busses. And ok then, the tube outside rush hour hours.
I better stop now otherwise I might want to move back.

I will definitely be back in London as a tourist though and I am still waiting for Bill to get his act (literally)
together and take on a play in London.

What now, then?
That is something I am asking myself too. I have found a job and am currently working in
Amsterdam. I am back on my bicycle which makes me happy. And I am looking at potential nice places to live.
I am not sure if I want to live in a house with a little garden a bit away from a city or in a flat a bit
closer to a city. Decisions, decisions!

And seeing as I have been away for such a long time, I need to start from scratch building up a social life too.
In other words – there is enough to keep me busy for a while (besides filling out a million forms – which
you have to when you change country)

So that’s the story, morning glory. How have you all been?

I will also try to post more regularly but posts might be shorter and sometimes just contain cool things I find on the net. But it is better
than nothing at all right? And as a new thing you can Facebook “Like” posts here on this weblog.

Alice in Wonderland, Crazy Heart, A Single Man, The Lovely Bones …

Were among some of the most anticipated films on my to-watch list. Some exceeded my expectations, and some really didn’t.

From great to not so good:
A Single Man
Has to be seen for Colin Firth’s outstanding understated performance. It is a very slow paced story but it looks fantastic and is very well acted. (Nick (About a Boy) Hoult is great too.) Absolutely recommended and that BAFTA was well deserved.

Crazy Heart
Talking of outstanding performances – Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart is also incredibly watchable as Bad Blake, a washed out country singer redeemed by a young journalist. Bonus points for Jeff Bridges for performing all the songs himself. Even more bonus points for this film not having the supersweet hollywood ending you expect. And hey – it also features Colin Farell with a pony tail! Great film which scored Jeff Bridges an Oscar. (He is also very fabulous in the Fabulous Baker Boys).

Alice in Wonderland
It has Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. It has Helena Bonham Carter with a very large head. It has the Cheshire Cat voiced by Stephen Fry. And a caterpillar voiced by Alan Rickman. And there are talking rabbits too. And all that is set in an incredibly visually fantastic Tim Burton universe. This should be a cracker but somehow it wasn’t. It looked great but the story was just not that great. Sorry Tim.

The Lovely Bones
I loved the book. I am not quite sure what Peter Jackson ate when he made this film, but he turned it into one long surreal trip. Too bad really as there are some great actors on board: Stanley Tucci is seriously creepy and Saoirse Ronan is great as Lucy Salmon. But those were about the only good things about the film.

A brand new day

Pedro mentioned this song on Twitter this morning, and I simply had to dig up that song. Try and sit still why listening to it, I certainly can’t. Nor can I listen to it without a smile on my face, it is the perfect mood buster.

If you want to see the the original film clip, it’s here . Thanks @Pedro! (Youtube possible removed it because of copyright issues, so you have to go through some ads to get to it).

Any more tips for songs that can boost your mood?

Have a good Sunday!