The Netherlands Strikes Back (well, part 2 anyway)

I flew into Amsterdam, and it was lovely to be reunited with Maaike after a month away. My computer’s going to miss me though ;) She had cleverly organised bikes, so we then biked from the airport through to Warmenhuizen, a place close to the sea, and where Maaike’s parents do a house swap with friends twice a year. It’s great being back on the NL cycleways, they really are the best. The beer fridge was fully stocked upon arrival – so really, a perfect start to the trip.

quite a few planes shot down around here.reserve close to Warmenhuizenwhere's the road?well stocked.

Now, as you probably know, quite a lot of the Dutch country has been reclaimed from the sea. In fact, Voltaire had the following quote:

God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.

And it really is phenomenal the amount of reclaimed land. We drove across the Afsluitdijk, built between 1927 and 1932, it closed off a 32km stretch of sea which then became freshwater, and then they were able to start extensive poldering (land reclaiming) in the area. We saw a water-spout there too, at least I assume that’s what’s in the picture.


Then it was on around to Schokland, which used to be an island in the Zuiderzee (not a very high island). There’s a nice museum there, and it’s also the first UNESCO site in The Netherlands. Lots of prehistoric artefacts were found in the area too, people have been around here for quite a while.

waterlinedeep in thoughtsea wind powerunder waterme under waterold church

Another day we went for a decent bike ride (70km) out from Warmenhuizen and around

Really lovely biking through the old towns where Maaike’s parents used to live.

heron, I think13-dsc_009716-dsc_012015-dsc_0112smoked eelold city buildingold city council offices

Also tried smoked eel. I *think* the last time I tried it was many many years ago in Vietnam when I was visiting there with my sister. I remembered thinking it was disgusting!, however, I suspect that might have had more to do with what it was eating than anything else.

Another day we visited the beach, including one beach they’d constructed using 32 million cubic meters of sand. It’s part of the water defence line.

around Warmenhuizen

This map (CC By Wikipedia)

reclaimed land.

Shows some of the poldering (reclaimed land) that we had been visiting. They’re pretty large areas. Most of where we toured was below sea level. It’s somewhat unnerving to spend all day between -2 and -6m ..

All in all it was a lovely tour up around the North of the country with Maaike’s parents. Thanks very much to them for a most enjoyable week. It definitely gave me a sense of the scale of the operations The Netherlands undertakes to keep the country safe from the rising waters, operations that they’ll only have to increase as this century marches onwards into 400+ppm of CO2.

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Walks & A weekend away to Galway

The month in Dublin has just flown by. I went for a few more walks along to Killiney along the beach which was great. I’ve given my hiking poles to Mum, and she finds the going a lot easier along the beach now. The weather has been pretty good on the whole, but it’s definitely becoming more wintery, and the days are certainly drawing in.

mum and I on the beachkilliney hill viewRTE Weather

I’ve also been playing a bit of Bridge. I really enjoy the game but I don’t have friends to play with in NZ. I might have to investigate joining a club at some point. Dad has been very kindly letting me take his place in the weekly games he plays. My partner is Raine, a 90 year old, still as sharp as a tack and great fun to play with. If I’m able to play as well as she can when I’m that old, well, I’ll be most happy indeed!


Finally, I organised a weekend off to Galway with my brothers. We went to see Ed Byrne. He was very good as per usual. What we did miss out on however, was Tommy Tiernan (arguably my favourite comedian) trialing out some new material in a local pub in Galway. If we’d known I’d have been there in a heartbeat. Anyway, it was really lovely to get away with my brothers. I don’t think I’ve ever done it before, but I’m already looking forward to the next time.

me and my brothers.more Galway Bayodd boat in Galway BayEuro Conversion Legacy Fines!

I then stayed down in Galway for a couple of nights, catching up with Mark and Lorna whom I’d not seen since 2007 when they were in New Zealand last. Lorna organised a dinner for us & Brega and her partner Paddy. It was such a lovely dinner. It was in a place called Kai (run by kiwis, unsurprisingly as the name Kai means “food” in Maori). It’s just so lovely catching up with old friends.

Brega, Lorna and me.

Good. Times.

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Happy Geek

Maaike is off biking from The Netherlands to Norway, and I have been looking forward very much to some time to just sit down and play on the computer. I’ve been meaning to learn Elixir for a while, and I’ve been really enjoying it I must say.

I also went to a couple of meetups, the Ember JS meetup where I met up with my friend Lorcan who showed me around the Intercom offices. They have a free bar, free food, pool table etc. etc. Were I to be living in Ireland I’d definitely apply.

Lorcan and I at Intercom

I went along to the Ruby Ireland meetup and gave a talk on learning your editor. I think it went OK, hard to know really. One of the attendees pointed me to vimgolf, and, as suspected, there’s an endless amount to learn ;)

Me at Ruby Ireland, NZ as backdrop

Oh, and I also moved the blog onto a very slightly more modern setup (as you may have noticed by the menu etc.). Also, seeing as I write too much (according to SOME people), the pictures are all clickable and swypeable now. So just click on an image, then you can click left / right (or on the picture) or swype the image to go forward and backwards. Course, if you just come for the pretty pictures you’ll miss all the AMAZING writing, but hey ho.

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If there’s one thing to take seriously in life, it’s mini golf, or, as they call it in The Netherlands, “midget golf”. Maaike and I ended up having a game with her parents. Maaike’s mum crushed us all completely. Hopefully we’ll have time for a rematch before flying back to NZ. I have no idea what the pool-like game is, but it looks interesting.

Wilmy lining up a killer shot.Bitteballe. These things are greatno idea how this works.

Then it was time for Maaike and I to part ways for a month. I headed to Ireland to spend time with my family, friends, and computer that had been missing me very very much, and Maaike off to bike to Norway.

It has been a lovely time in Ireland. I’ve tried to earn my keep a little bit. One job was helping Dad (76 odd) lining the ditch. Getting a ditch lined is quite expensive, however, a family friend suggested going up to the local quarry and getting some of their leftover conveyor belt rubber. So, armed with a saw, a stanley knife, and a few other things we went to work. It’s heavy stuff, but perfect really. Anyway, job done.

Dad at roundstoneIn the ditchBeautifully lined.

I had a little time to spend with Liz before she headed back to Minneapolis, and we did get one photo of my siblings and me, which was great.

Me 'n my sibs.

Nice catch up with my friend Myra, and a most excellent sunset. I had no idea such things existed in Dublin ;) hehehe, ehem.

Myra and Isunset from Myra

I’ve gone for a few walks too along the beach. It’s funny how one changes, perhaps New Zealand, perhaps not – but I walked down to the beach, and then decided to just walk up to Killiney hill and back home (8 or 9 km round trip). I’d ever have even thought of doing that when I was living in Dublin, but it was actually a really nice walk.


shankill beachSign on a Luasmore cyclewayDad and I on Shankill beach

More catch up with friends, lovely evenings all. Oh, and I learned how to make mint-jelly too… those lambs won’t have a chance when I’m back in New Zealand ;)

Mint-jelly in the making.out 'n about with the climbers.more out and about.

Oh, and went out to see an opera about Nelson Mandela. It was good, though I would have preferred a little more story and a little less opera. Nice theatre though. Funny to walk past the Google offices in Dublin, quite the little tech-hub scene here it seems.

more pretty lights.pretty lightsGrand Canal venue

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