So last weekend we went off to visit The Netherlands, we go there fairly frequently mainly because we used to live in Amsterdam and hence we miss the place, but also because Catherine's dad lives in The Hague and he's always very hospitable and very pleasant to spend time with. I'll post twice about this trip, today mainly about the trip in general and again in the next day or two about the horror that was the trip home.
We left home at 8am sharp on Saturday morning (well 8.05 but that is fairly sharp for us) for the hour trip to Heathrow to multiple cries of "Bus, Bus" from Emma, she loves being in the car. The journey was uneventful we arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time, we did miss the turn off to the car park because of fairly bizzare signage but anyway with a couple of hours to spare we were checked in and going through security, then came a slight problem, as my bag came through the scanner it veered off to one side, mmm couldn't think what the problem was until Catherine happened to enquire as to whether I had been stupid enough to pack any toiletries in my hand luggage and indeed I had shaving gel, a razor and deodorant in there (I hadn't put these in the main luggage as we were going to seperate cities for the first night we were in Holland so I thought it would make life easier). The problem then was that to have my bag checked properly I was behind 3 more people and once your bag is pulled accross they go through it with a fine toothcombe, eventually my time came the security guy was very upbeat and even tried to cheer Emma up by giving her somebody elses sweets. I was rather pissed off with myself over all this as I am quite well travelled and don't normally make silly mistakes like this, oh well you live and learn don't you. It did kill quite a lot of time though and before we knew it we were boarding the flight, I don't think Emma has ever atcually been awake for a takeoff or landing she usually falls asleep just before takeoff and wakes up shortly after hitting the tarmac at the other end, and this was the pattern again today.
We arrived at Schiphol a little late and John (Catherines Dad) was there to meet us and after a quick refreshing drink off they went to The Hague and off I went to Amsterdam.
I had arranged to stay at our old flat in Amsterdam with my friend Mark but I knew he wouldn't be home until 6pm so I had a couple of hours to kill, I decided to go down into the South of Amsterdam and visit my friends Mark and Jeff, they moved into a new apartment a while ago and I hadn't seen it as yet. Loved their apartment, felt much bigger than the old one, was really nice to see them both aswell, I hung around and had a couple of cups of tea and then bid them farewell (I was meeting up with them for dinner that night anyway) I then went off and visited our old apartment on the Nieuwe Kerkstraat, was really good to see my old friend Mark and our old cat Tegan (We had to leave her behind when we moved back from NL to UK).
Dinner and beer that night were at one of my favourite places and somewhere I always visit when in the dam, De Zotte http://www.dezotte.nl/ it's a small Belgian beer bar near the centre of Amsterdam but does Steak with pepper sauce, to die for. So we filled up with steak, chips and beer and then after that went off to Oporto a small brown bar in the centre of Amsterdam which is run by another friend of ours Brian who used to be a barman at O Donnels an irish bar we used to frequent quite a lot. After a couple of hours in there I decided that was enough beer for the night, so went off for a wander. I love to just wander the streets of Amsterdam and observe whats going on, wandering lots of cities in the UK at 1am could be quite intimidating and dangerous but Amsterdam has never given me that feeling, after an hour of wandering I decided it was getting a bit cold and that being in a warm apartment would be a good idea but for some reason the cold had also made me hungry again, so I called for Shorma on the way home, I'd never bought it from the place I went to before (very close to the old apartment) but it was fabulous (or maybe I was drunk enough that anything tasted good)
Next morning I had a lovely lie in (got up about 10.45 I think) which is very much a rarity when you have a 2 year old. Cath and her dad came around at 12 and after a cuppa we went off to visit the Hortus Botanicus it's a kind of musuem of plants and things in the centre of Amsterdam http://www.hortus-botanicus.nl/ had a lovely lunch and a wander around the plants, it's not really my thing but it was Catherines birthday and it was fun seeing Emma running around, it was very very cold though so after a couple of hours we wandered into town for a couple of drinks in Delmondo's (an old haunt of hours) and met up with Mark and Laura (who Catherine and I used to work with at the RIPE NCC) it was nice to see them both. So off we went back to the Hague where we had a lovely night in with John, a nice meal which we all helped to cook and a few glasses of wine.
Monday, I started to feel like I had a cold and for some reason Emma woke up in quite a bad mood, Catherine, Emma and John went out in the afternoon but I went back to bed, so It was a bit of a lost day really. The evening was very nice though after Emma went to bed Catherine and I went down the local pub had a meal and a few beers, we don't have a babysitter here in Abingdon so we never go out together, for years we were best drinking buddies aswell as a couple and I kinda miss that so it's really nice when it can happen.
By this time we had seen the horrific weather that was happenning in the UK and were fairly convinced our flight (scheduled for 11.45 the next morning) would be cancelled.
Next blog entry: The (Long Long) journey home.
Pictures from our trip to the Netherlands are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettcarr/sets/72157613400485418/