Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Well, except the Romans.

It was a lovely month in Dublin. Maaike’s former boss Martin came over to say hello from Coventry with his wife Elaine. We had a lovely weekend hanging out with them. We went to Trinity College’s “Old Library”. It has a decent Celtic exhibition, including The Book of Kells. However, my favourite part of the Old Library is upstairs where there is The Long Room. It really is a very long room and houses the old library. It is, I think, my favourite manmade space I’ve ever been to. It’s beautiful. As a student (or graduate) you could go in for free. I used to go in maybe 3 or 4 times a year and just be in the Long Room for a while. It’s a wonderful place.

Interestingly, There’s a startling resemblance to the “Hall of the Jedi” which you can see here. Lucasfilm denied it, and Trinity decided not to sue… :|

We also saw a few of the sights, not least the doughnut stand on O-Connell street, a staple of any trip to Dublin. We visited Kilmainham gaol where there is an exhibition on the Easter Rising of 1916 All in all a lovely time with Martin and Elaine!

Next up, our friends Neil & Frances were visiting Ireland and stopped in for a few nights. We also went to The Long Room ;) (my alumni card has saved us about 100 Euro at this point ;), and we did a walking tour of Dublin. Funny to be a tourist in your own city. You can see the odd architectural style of Dublin Castle here below.

We had a really lovely dinner with my old college friend Lorcan. He’s so damn impressive with his house – did most of the plumbing and wiring himself! Most impressive. Apparently his answer to his wife of how he knew all this was: “Sure we did it for the Junior Cert”. Confidence inspiring I’m sure ;)

Then Femke, Maaike’s sister came to stay for a few nights. We went for walks, got beaten at Settlers – oh – and Sinkerklaas came to visit when we left shoes out for him. We went for a delicious meal on my brother Matt’s suggestion – The Vintage Kitchen which I’d highly recommend. It was funny, we turned up at about 7:50 on a Monday. Place was empty and the guy said “I’ll see if I can fit you in”. I thought he was kidding, I really did. Then he said, yep, I think I’ve got space, just go next door and have a pint, and come back for 20:30, you can bring the pint with you if you like. I was nonplussed, but off we went, had a pint, came back, and the place was packed. Great food, reasonably priced, and great banter. Highly recommend.

There were also a couple of concerts in the mix. Matt & Hélène sing in Choral, the college singing society, and they were singing Bach B Minor Mass which was beautiful. Mum plays in the Dublin Symphony Orchestra and they also had their 1/2 yearly concert which we were able to get to too. Lovely.

Finally, Maaike jetted off for a few days in Porto with her family, I started playing feverishly with this years Advent of Code and also managed to have a catch up with Morgan and Becky for an evening. Morgan let me play with his VR setup which was FUN. It was super fun with the controllers – painting fireworks in space – and I REALLY REALLY enjoyed the Portal intro!! I may yet loose myself in gaming again… ;)

A lovely month. Maybe we should take another year off ;)

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Trip along the Barrow, cousins & woodwork

I flew back to Ireland, Maaike had a quick trip to Norway to see Guusje and Eefje for a long weekend. I continued work on the Sjoele set with dad. I love playing with the lathe, it’s just so incredibly satisfying seeing the wood chippings fly off. I’m definitely considering doing a wood working course when I’m back in NZ.

Loving the lathe

My Brother Chris and I went for a bike ride along the Barrow. It was hard hard going. Partly because I’m now fat and weak after not really having much exercise other than that of lifting food to my mouth from yet another fantastic dinner coupled with drinking nice beers. It was 85km, and hard going as the ground was mostly grass / loose gravel and a bit wet.

Early morning Huestonbarrowpurty bridgelong bridgereflectionaramawhere we joined the barrowyet another lovely bridge

A stunning day – thanks Chris for the invite!

My cousin Thomas was over from the UK, along with Aunt Mary (who lives in NZ) and it was great to catch up with them for the weekend. Unfortunately I was sick for most of the time with a nasty sore throat. We went for a nice walk along Dun Laoghaire pier, and then back to Shankill over Killiney hill. I’d never have thought of doing that before, putting it in the “far too far to walk” category, but now it’s fine!

Thomas and IShankill beachFrom Killiney towards BrayFort!Towards the sugarloafAutumn!

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Biking’ and Family

After leaving Noord Holland we biked south to Haarlem where we had a couple of days with Maaike’s Aunt & Uncle. It was lovely exploring around a bit.

canalMore forest

Next it was on to Utrecht. One of Maaike’s friends, Nelie, very kindly offered to move out of her place for a week and to let us have it! It was lovely to have our own space again for a week, unpack a bit, spread out! While I do love the travel, I admit I’m quite looking forward to having my own space again.

More UtrechtUtrechtBEER!Utrecht pedestrian signals are different.

We had a lovely week in Utrecht, it’s a very pretty city and lots to see and do. We met up with our friend Harold who we’d met hiking the NW circuit on Stewart Island back in 2014. It was super seeing Harold again, and he took us on a very nice walk. It’s amazing how quickly you can surround yourself by nature even in The Netherlands where there’s a pretty high population density, at least compared to NZ. Again, it’s reclaimed land, quite a bit of the walk was at minus something meters.

Harold and Maaikenot actually reclaimed land.under water.Harold and Maaike

You can see here a red line, this shows were the water level is expected to get to in times of a major flood. They have barriers they can put down across the road, if your house in on the wrong side, well, hard luck! (though presumably a cheaper house to buy ;)

red line is flood line

We also visited Maaike’s sisters family, took the kids to a “show farm”. The youngest, Daphne, absolutely loved being spun around on the .. spinny thingy. Really as fast as I could spin her she wanted more. My arms and shoulders were wrecked by the end of it!


We visited Sjoerd, Maaikes brother in Nijmegan and then onto Germany to see another Aunt and Uncle. Beautiful Autumn light and colours, which my little phone camera doesn’t do justice too.

fietsenhappy daysloving the rainpower!16% hill, went on for milesscenery on our rideBart and Inecoloursno idea, but looks fancypull!A German Forest

We also got out for a nice ride around Maaike’s parents place. Good route choice chosen by Femke. Maaike and I tried to keep up with them on our mountain bikes, but no match for their fitness (and proper road bikes ;). They also have an incredibly prolific walnut tree, planted when they first got to the house – very cool!

molenpumpkinoroamaout on the bikesI does like Autumn I does.

All in all a really lovely month in The Netherlands.

They do like their mayonaissechocolate sprinkes, on sandwiches...Good workers! You can be my wingman anytime.

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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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