Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lessons learnt: 3 months in...

Time is going by so quickly, it's scary - it's hard to believe we're already more then three months into our two year + adventure in Bikeland. Lessons learnt thus far:

The good
- Bike riding on a daily basis can result in awesome calf muscles, despite a lack of hills.

- Those good old Streets icy poles have a stick of licorice instead of a wooden paddle pop. Not particularly tasty but I feel like I'm getting more out of my ice cream!

- I am in fact capable of that trendy little half hop with one foot thingo to take off on my bike. The first few attempts weren't pretty, but I'm proud to say that with a little perseverance, a quiet country road, a patient friend (thanks, Sarah for teaching me!) my days of hopping on my bike like it's a horse are over.

- There's no real border control when flying between Schengen countries. When you're coming home from a holiday and just want to get out of the crowded airport and back home, it's so lovely not having to line up in customs for an hour.

- Neighbours is played occasionally in the afternoon, in a bit of an Aussie marathon with Always Greener. Love love LOVE getting my fix of trashy Aussie acting - yes, I'm a Neighbours fan. This is probably not a good thing thinking about it :-P

- I don't hate licorice as much as I thought. Mitch introduced me to schoolkrijt recently and I'm addicted. Imagine bullet sized pieces aniseed and mint wrapped in a crunchy, chalky coating - mmmmm, lekker.

- The football is a BIG deal here and people appear to be very patriotic - everywhere I look it's oranje this, oranje that. I think this is fantastic - not to mention watching people decked head to toe in orange riding/driving up and down your street crying out in pure joy after the Dutch win a game is incredibly entertaining, albeit slightly annoying after four hours.

The bad
- Skipping a day or two of bike riding results in rapid deterioration of the aforementioned calf muscles.

- Don't wait until you've had days of 35deg weather before buying a fan. It tends to lead to sweaty disappointment when there are none left.

- Pindakaas does not in any way, shape or form resemble peanut butter. That is, unless you think a tasteless non-crunchy disturbingly coloured 'brown' spread with strange dark flecks through it compare to Kraft. Thank goodness for the discovery that Coop supermarkets sell Skippy peanut butter (American stuff - it's the real deal). I'm now back to eating it out of the jar with a spoon.

- A Peugoet 206 is not designed to go through an automatic car wash. Our car now has an ugly gap in the roof and no antenna. Apparently folding the antenna down is still no match for our local drive through car wash. On the plus side, we can now take it through as much as we want - which is quite often, considering we park our car in a giant dirt paddock.

- A 200ml bottle of Nivea 30+ sunscreen costs 20 EUROS at the supermarket. That's about 30 AUD. I'm still keeling over in shock.

- NIST: a four letter word that is capable of producing a state of fear, stress and trepidation in all participants and their spouses. Every two years in April, we can now expect a month (or more) of our lives to be sucked away into a speaker verification black hole, never to return again.

The hmmmmm moments
- Don't buy generic branded dental floss. For a few moments one morning, I thought my first visit to the tandarts was going to be the result of some awkwardly trapped dental floss.

- Maccas chips don't come salted. There are no salt sachets in store that I've discovered on the rare occasion we (a) have the urge to clog our arteries and (b) can actually find the fast food giant after exiting the snelweg - the location of those golden arches can be somewhat deceiving. If you ask for salt with your chips, the result is a rather bewildered expression on the face of the poor teenager hard at work at their baantje - salt? why would anyone want salt on their otherwise tasteless frites?

- Apparently I don't sound Australian. A lot of people I've met are in shock upon discovering ik kom uit australie, telling me I don't sound the least bit Australian (this is when speaking English. When speaking Dutch, I don't think the country yet exists that my garbled/spitting/try hard accent comes from yet - even an Aussie bogan would disown me). This surprised me - but perhaps it's because of the popularity of McLeods daughters over here? Unlike my fellow countrymen Stevie, Alex, Claire and Nick, I don't break out in bursts of mate, oi, shrimp or barby every other minute.

- Don't panic when hearing the monthly air raid sirens: it's only a test, WWIII has not begun.

- I'm convinced people live in windmills. There is a windmill on the highway between Nijmegen and Rotterdam and I swear I've seen people in it at night, sitting down to dinner.

- I might dye my hair, but I am truly a blonde at heart. I regularly take my keys out of my handbag, unlock the back wheel of my bike (the key has to stay in to keep it unlocked), put my handbag in my bike bag, re-lock the back wheel of my bike, put the key in my handbag, then attempt to ride off. I can stand there in a state of confusion for quite some time, getting very frustrated with my poor innocent bike before those neurons in my brain start firing again.

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