Losing Loved Ones From Afar

Losing someone you know is hard, but losing someone you love is harder. ❤

It was something I never really thought about in my future when moving to the Netherlands at 18 years old. So many happy moments and future plans did not involve the death of a loved one, but its so natural and the worlds way of making room.

Back in 2012, I got a phone call that I never expected. I was woken by my partner’s mum with the phone in her hand, telling me to speak to my mum on the other end. It was already strange that she was waking me up as my alarm was always set, but even more strange that my mum was calling the house phone instead of a Skype call or a Whats app message.

My granddad had been receiving treatment/chemotherapy for Cancer for a while. All was going so well and after multiple treatments he was officially cleared and on the long road of recovery. But unfortunately from being so weak from the treatment he caught a sickness bug while at the hospital, without a strong immune system to fight it, fatally sending him to sleep overnight.

He is someone I will always look up to, knowing how proud he would be. He would put a smile on everyone’s face no matter what situation it was and never had a bad word to say. My love of puzzles was through him, who always had a new puzzle being put together every week. Also with the love of cycling, we explored the island, but mostly to Cowes to watch the yachts and eat either some fish & chips or an ice cream together.

I’m not looking forward to more phone calls abroad like this, but life goes on and we will handle it as it comes. I believe that family is the most important thing in life so cherish those moments together.

❤

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United Kingdom

Here are a list of blogs written about locations in England.

Innsbruck (8) Innsbruck (7) Innsbruck (6) Innsbruck (5) Innsbruck (4) Innsbruck (3) Innsbruck (1) Innsbruck (2) Isle of Wight v2 Innsbruck

 

Coming soon!

  • London

Walking Routes on the Isle of Wight

It’s hard to write just one post about the Isle of Wight, as it’s the place I was born and raised for 17 years of my life. So much to say and so much to see! But for now I’ll pick some topics and expand from there!

Whether you are visiting on your own, with your partner or with children these 6 walking routes (which are some of my fav) are fun for all to explore and enjoy!

1. Tennyson Down

To reach the top you can start either at Alum Bay and take the pathed road via the Needles (great views) or from Freshwater Bay. Once you reach the top, there is a memorial to Lord Tennyson, a poet who lived nearby for 40 years. It’s often windy so dress appropriately and don’t walk too closely to the cliffs! For more information check out this National Trust webpage.

Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the Alum Bay while you are there, where you can walk down to the beach or take the chairlift for some fantastic views of the lighthouse.DSC_2912

2. Parkhurst Forest

Are you ready for a red squirrel hunt? There is a special route you can follow to spot the famous isle of Wight red squirrels. They can also be spotted at different locations on the island, but in my experience I have seen most here! There are also plenty of other paths to explore the forest and enjoy the peace and nature too.

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Source: Lin’s Isle of Wight Walks

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Source: Visit Isle of Wight 

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3. Compton Beach

This beach is perfect for walking along with sand in your toes (or exploring the rocks), swimming and to watch the sun set in the distance behind the cliffs towards Tennyson Down (above those beautiful white cliffs). You can walk all the way along the beach when the tide is out, but you can also walk along at the top too. Just be aware that the edge is very slowly falling down into the sea, so dont walk to close to the edge if on the beach or above it. This beach is perfect for dogs too!

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4. Steephill Cove

This hidden treasure can be reached walking down from the parking area, but I recommend to walk to from Ventnor along the coast. Take an afternoon here and stop at the Crab Shed for  lunch. On a clear day you may even see France!

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Steephill Cove; Isle of Wight
Source: Upix Photography

5. Cowes Cycle Track

This track used to be the railway track from Cowes to Newport, transporting goods and passengers from 1859. Now tarmacked, it can be walked and cycled from Newport to Cowes and back. Closer to Cowes there is a refurbished wooden bridge to cross over, a popular place now to feed ducks from. This one is pretty easy with as its flat and just under 10km there and back.

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Source: Worthing Wanderer

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6. Newtown

This less popular touristic area is a place I would visit often as it does not compare to anything else on the island, reachable by car, bike and a local bus. Mostly used by birdwatchers, it’s also a natural harbour and marshlands that is used by local fishermen. The 17th century historic town hall is now open to the public so take a look and learn the history of how the French raided in 1377, which destroyed most if not all of the village. Take the wooden walkway all the way along to the end of the route to try and spot some uncommon native species!

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DSC_2720Check out more walking routes and extra information on the National Trust – Isle of Wight routes.

Graduating Abroad

Wow!! What an amazing feeling it is to say I have passed my graduation project as well as four years of school abroad!! Studying in the Netherlands has been pretty amazing.

At the beginning I was against the idea of going back into studying and attending school, as I had already been working full time for nearly a year at a previous job in England followed by my 1 year Au Pair job in Rotterdam. But I knew I wanted, and needed, a degree.

My time as an Au Pair was ending and I needed to see my options into studying in the Netherlands, else my next option was to go back to England, which I didn’t really want. I started by making a pros and cons document listing everything regarding my present and future options.

When I think back I must have been crazy, but I hated the idea of going back to school for 4 years for my degree. At the time all I wanted to do was find a full time job, which would give me and my partner the option to move forward, such as a place to live together, travelling to destinations and having the extra money for saving, date nights and future plans. Plus, I was already 20 years old, rather young of course, but I couldn’t imagine being 25 by the time I graduated with the thought of still attending school. I think I got this impression from England, with only a few friends attending university straight from school at 17 or 18 years old, who would have graduated by 22 years old.

Realistically the pros outweighed the cons and I had started my search of a university that taught something related to business in English, since my Dutch was nowhere near ready to study a degree for!

Before leaving England I completed a 2 year certificate in Business Administration at college, which was not high enough for the specific degree I wanted to complete in the Netherlands, so I first had to pass an economic class during the summer, which would allow me to enter the 4 year course of my choice.

September came around quickly and with my economic class passed I was ready with my school books, pens, laptop and notebooks to start the scary process of my first semester at Rotterdam Business School. My chosen study was the International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) with topics such as marketing, logistics, economics and finance.

Rotterdam Business School - Rotterdam, Neherlands

Studying in the Netherlands requires you to pass all exams in your 1st year before you are allowed to continue to the following 3 years. This 1st year certificate is called a Propedeuse. Getting into the rhythm of having exams every 9 weeks was a little difficult, and after needing to resit a few exams I finally received my Propedeuse in time to continue on to the 2nd year the following September. What a relief that was!

propThe main challenge for me was that I did not receive student finance, the nice low interest loan from the government that you pay for school and transportation with. This was due to the rules of needing to work at least 56 hours a month as an EU citizen, with proof of contract. Since year 1 of my studies I have actually always had a job, such as working in a fast food restaurant, but with always a 0-hour contract I could not prove the 56 hours. However I still managed to pull through each year by working my ass off with more than 56 hours to pay off the costs of school and either cycle or walk to school to save transportation costs. So I’m also very proud to say that I have no debt from my 4 years of study!

Now looking at the present time, it’s the end of June and it’s the end of my 4th year at school. I have officially had my defense presentation for my graduation project. The last few weeks have been increasingly stressful but I got though it AND I can officially say that I will soon be able to pick up my certificate for my Bachelor degree!! Wohoo!

Graduated!

I don’t think it has truly sunk in yet that I am actually done with school, but this weekend I’m going to sort out all my old school books to sell (or burn!) and throw away old notebooks. I was taken out to dinner by my partner and I will celebrate more with family soon! For now I’m going to get stuck in with planning our next holiday too!

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Feyenoord Champions Once More!!

More than 18 years ago, on the 25th April 1999, the Rotterdam team Feyenoord won the Eredivisie Championships. Today, they have made history again by becoming the 2017 Champions!

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The Champions Festival of Feyenoord on the Coolsingel on 25 april 1999
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Another photo from 25th April 1999

Since the last two weeks there has already been preparations for the celebrations, such as a 500-600kg flag hung up at Hofplein, projecting the logo against the 5th tallest building in the Netherlands, cakes with the logo and Rotterdam harbour workers making the letter F for Feyenoord with red and white containers. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention even cheese!!

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Source: Unknown
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Source: Unknown

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account

Match One

Last Sunday was the first chance to become champions, with their match against Excelsior. Since the morning from 10am there were already cars tooting past the house, flags hanging out the windows. Fireworks heard going off all around the city and everywhere you look there were people in red and white.

The city was prepared for the match, with big screens and public areas completely filling up ready to watch! Containers were put around the city in place for security measures but most people used them to see the big screens!

DSC_3683DSC_3680The match started at 14:30 against Excelsior in their home stadium, but not that far from De Kuip, home stadium of Feyenoord.

The first half wasn’t the best, making a few tries but nothing really special. By half time they were 0-0 so it wasn’t looking too good for them. The 2nd half caught them even more off guard as Excelsior scored 3 goals within 9 minutes of each other. Unfortunately Feyenoord didn’t make a single goal and lost the match 0-3 to Excelsior.

It sure was disappointing feeling walking back through the city full of supporters, who were ultimately starting riots against the police with so much alcohol in their system. The riot police were already ready for the rioters.

DSC_3727Match Two

This match was the deciding factor of whether Feyenoord would be champions of not. The pressure was on them even more, but there was a sense of confidence throughout the fans as Feyenoord would be playing at home, in De Kuip.

This time they were against Heracles starting at the same time of 14:30.

More regulations were set this weekend in the city, such as tickets needed now for certain open areas and all supermarkets within the center were banned to sell alcohol during a specific time limit. But that didn’t stop the supporters, bringing alcohol with them obviously bought the day before.

Well what a way to start a match! 40 seconds into the start was the first goal scored by Dirk Kuyt, followed by the second before half time. The last goal was scored also by him in the second half, making it a perfect hat-trick. Heracles managed to score a goal in the second half but with a strong defence the championships were already won. Finishing the game with 3-1 to Feyenoord!

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Kuyt Celebrating in De Kuip! Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

Once the match was ended, the whole city was crazy!! Now I’m not really a big football fan, but to experience this was unbelievable!! So much energy and excitement from EVERYONE. The one place all supporters go to visit is Hofplein, the fountain shown in the third photo. It is a well known spot to celebrate victories!!

DSC_3786DSC_3805DSC_3794DSC_3800As you can see below, you actually cannot see the fountain any more!!

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account from Bart Luters

DSC_3837Tomorrow supporters and the team will celebrate on the Coolsingel for the champions ceremony, just like in the first photo 18 years ago.

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Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

After 5 years of living in Rotterdam I finally got the chance to visit the beautiful Kinderdijk. I took the opportunity to visit Kinderdijk at the same time as my family visiting me in the Netherlands, combining both was a good chance for us all to visit something new together.

Day One (8)Planning our visit we decided to take the Waterbus from the Rotterdam stop at Erasmus Bridge that takes only 30 minutes to Kinderdijk. A perfect mode of transport to also enjoy the views Rotterdam from a boat, as you can stand on the open section at the back of the boat as well as sitting inside if it’s cold. You can use your OV chip card or buy a ticket on board.

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Arriving at Kinderdijk you will know exactly where to walk with the first windmills in sight. Paying only €8,00 for adults and €5.50 for children (4-12 years) to get in it’s well worth it. The main path takes you past the first restaurant along the walking route to see all 19 windmills that stand there since 1740. The whole route is 15km which can be done in a day with sensible shoes.

Day One (62)Kinderdijk is not just a pretty site, it’s actually needed for the land. Since most of the Netherlands is below sea level, including Kinderdijk, the function of the windmills are part of the water management system to prevent floods.

Day One (34)We took some lunch with us, stopping on a bench to each and drink while other tourists walked by. There are a few restaurants and a cafe too, where you can buy souvenirs, refreshments, lunch or some typical Dutch snacks like bitterballen while waiting for the boat trip back to Rotterdam.

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I plan to go again this summer, but then by bike like a true Dutch person!

Turning 25

Currently sat on the balcony of my beautiful apartment. The sun is shining and I’m wondering whether I need to get my sun cream out. Turning a quarter of a century old has definitely given me time to think of some things I am proud of so far in life.

Passed my driving test… 3rd time. Wow I remember being so nervous for this! The first time I failed due to hitting the curb while trying to park and second because I pulled out of a junction in front of a slow tractor that was apparently too close. No one wants to get stuck behind a slow tractor.

I left home at 18, not just around the corner but to a whole new country. This year I’ll be celebrating 6 years in the Netherlands (and deciding whether to become a Dutch citizen depending on Brexit).

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Learnt Dutch, although consequently losing all my French and even some English!

I have a caring, trustworthy and not to forget HANDSOME partner who shares the same tastes in food, interests like music and travel, and can have a really good discussion.

I ran 10km at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016. Pretty amazing achievement for me!

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Plus I am more active than ever, with up to 4 days in the gym follwing a fitness programme and easily reaching my 10k steps every day using my Fitbit.

I’ve rode a bike since I was little, but have acquired the skills to cycle with two children on front and back, with an IKEA 4×4 Kallax and up to 6 full bags of shopping. Not all in one go of course!

I’ve become less fussy with food. Like there is fussy and there is MAJOR fussy, which was me, so this is pretty big. I grew up only liking potato waffles and fish fingers. These days I still surprise my family with what I eat!

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I’ve NEARLY completed my bachelor degree in International Business and Management Studies, how exciting!

I have been to more than 15 countries. Even with little money over the years it’s always been possible to explore! Check some places I’ve visited here.

Goals before turning 26…. (and 27, 28, 29 and 30)

Travel more! maybe a place from the list of future travels.

Receive my degree, hopefully by July 2017! -> Wohoo graduated!

Learn to make more delicious meals.

Keep up the fitness goals -> New road bike hobby!

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Finding A New Home in Rotterdam, NL

Moving house can always be a challenge. Finding a suitable place that you like and that matches your requirements such as the space and more importantly the price. It can be both a long or short process, but the outcome is usually rewarding.

During my childhood I had moved to a few different houses, all with different unique selling points that my parents fell in love with. But at that age you never think about how much time and energy it takes to find a place and move in!

When I decided to move to the Netherlands to become an Au Pair I never had to choose where I would be staying, as I lived in the same house as the family. And once my 1 year contract was finished, I moved in with my partner’s/his family’s apartment. It got a little crowded at times but we made it work perfectly, until the time came that we couldn’t really live in 1 bedroom any more (maybe too many clothes had something to do with it!). We were craving for our own little place. The next place was our current place from a different family member. A cute one bedroom house in Rotterdam provided us the space and independency we were looking for.

However for the last 5 months I have been on the lookout for a new place to live. Our living arrangement contract was coming to the end and we needed a new place by the end of January. It was time to find a new place of our own.

One of the most challenging things was finding a place that fit all of our requirements, such as the total square metres, storage, easy to move to (not much DIY needed!), maybe a view and the price. Looking in Rotterdam has been a BIG challenge, as houses or apartments that fit our budget didn’t fit the rest of the requirements, or the other way round, fit all our requirements but then was way over our budget! We realised half way through our 5 months that we would have to make compromises. One thing we knew for certain was that the new place had to be in Rotterdam. Why move away from a beautiful city?!

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We signed up to many websites such as Pararius.com and Funda.nl to see all the latest houses and apartments for sale, checking through the lists for something suitable. We also had help from friends and family when they had found something we might like. We visited many houses all shapes and sizes, buying or renting, with not much luck. Even when we did find a place we thought was good, we applied and we were not chosen or lucky enough to win the lottery for the place.

That’s the negative part about finding a place to live in a city that is growing and growing. One house we viewed had at least 20 other people viewing at the same time! It felt rather strange, after my experience of viewing houses with my parents as a child, being the only people in the house with the selling agent. Now it was like a fight to get to the kitchen first, to stand on the balcony or to squeeze into the bathroom. Definitely more efficient for the sales agent at least! You also had to be fast in responding and applying, as it would be gone within 2 days of being advertised.

But it wasn’t until the day before Christmas Eve that we viewed a new apartment to rent. We were one of 6 people in total who had the chance to view it, as the selling agent only took the first 6 people who called, saying that it would definitely be taken by one of us. We’ll he was right, out of the 6 people who viewed it, 3 people applied, including us… AND GUESS WHO GOT IT?!

We did.

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Becoming Dutch

Gezellig

This word has become one of my favourite words to use since living in the Netherlands. It’s one of few words that cannot be perfectly translated into English, as there is simply no English word that is the same. If I had to describe it in my own words I would have to describe a situation.

Some of my examples:

  1. A cozy evening on the sofa with a film or series playing from Netflix, while underneath a warm blanket, a bowl of crisps on my lap and candles lit.
  2. A lively party full of family members celebrating someone’s birthday with cake, wine and a great mix of music playing.
  3. Sitting in a small restaurant with friends while stuffing your face with delicious food, while being provided with great service.

One word to describe these situations is definitely gezellig. It’s about feeling comfortable in the situation and being confident with the people you are with. The pleasantness of being with that someone or the inviting fun feeling that a party offers is also gezellig. The moment has to be right.

“Gezellig; cozy, nice, inviting, pleasant, comfortable, time with loved ones, relaxing atmosphere, fun.”

Cycling

I bought my first bike from Queens’s day a few years ago, now officially King’s Day. It was for about €25 Euros, didn’t need much work and perfect to get from A to B. Lennart fixed the lights for me and I gave it a good clean. It was just what I needed and intended to buy that day, as well as clothes.

Cycling in the Netherlands is pretty different to cycling in England. For a start there are no hills, unless you live in the south. You don’t have to worry about cars passing closely to you, as there are separate bike lanes basically everywhere. So you only need to avoid other cyclists and the occasional idiot on a scooter. You also have to avoid getting your tires stuck in the tram rails when crossing over them, as you will literally get stuck. Finding a spot to park your bike in the city can also be a nightmare.

Bikes are pretty much most peoples first mode of transport in the cities, unless it’s really bad weather and you catch the tram. The Dutch love using their bike to transport stuff too, like children on the front/back or a dog. But there is also some crazy things that I have seen being transported by bike, like a matress, a built billy bookcase from Ikea and full grown christmas trees.

After a year my first bike was the subject of drunken thieves. I had not used my bike in at least two weeks, but I checked on it often to make sure it was still there, as it was chained to a lamppost near where I lived. Well the third week came as I was actually going to use it. Arriving at the lamppost I had emotions to laugh and cry at the same time. During the night thieves had taken basically every part and left only the frame, attached to the lamppost with my chain still there.

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My latest bike was bought on Marktplaats, a dutch version of Ebay. I definitely keep it safer, with two locks and I use it daily so its less likely to be stolen. But you never know…

Flowers

Flowers are popular in the Netherlands. On a sunny market day the flower stalls are so popular you may have to wait a while for your turn to be helped. Plus they always have so many different types and colours to choose from, beautifully making a bouquet of your choices. I’ve definitely become a fan of buying flowers every month!

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Even though tulips are originally from Turkey, it has become the flower of the Dutch. The Keukenhof is exreamely popular in the spring months when it’s open. If you love tulips and walking around decorated gardens then it is well recommended. The gardens have more than seven million tulips each year growing and well worth a visit.

Three Kisses

Having travelled to France yearly as a child, i knew their tradition of 4 kisses to greet someone who they knew well. However I didn’t really do it as i was still young. Since arriving in the Netherlands and being greeted by Lennart’s family, it’s something I have got used to. Going round the room and greeting everyone in this way is definitely welcoming. The usual three kisses goes left-right-left, but every now and then theres someone who wants to do it differently and you clash noses.