Friday, 27 December 2013

Here's to a New and blissfully happy New Year

It's never easy to capture a year gone by in a few catchy phrases. This year being no exception. The mayor life transition I am going through will only let itself be properly analysed in a year or two.  But for all the people that have asked me (and also for those that will probably still ask me in 2014) 'how it feels to be back in the Netherlands?',  I will try and put some of my feelings in writing. So in no particular order:



* Having Mr. S. come home most nights. It's so much nicer to talk face to face than through a stop-and-go Skype connection. Added bonus: I don't have to discipline the kids all by myself anymore. So some days I actually am a great mum again. On those days I happily leave all the shouting to Mr. S.

* My sons's secondary school, where he found some great mates that are just as silly, ball obsessed and i-pod depended as he is.

* Our renewed relationships with bikes, that we use nowadays for any trip under 5 miles, as well as for the weekly shop or a trip to the local DIY store.  I must admit though that after my last wood buying frenzy I had to call Mr. S. to hop in the car to come to my rescue.

* Ice skating. My daughter and I love it. It's such a great excuse to drink hot chocolate all the time.

* The fact that someone hired me to do something that I love doing. I found myself a proper job again and I can't wait to get started

* Rowing. Twice a week I get to go out on some ancient moats around a very pretty fortified little town in a rowing boat. It's absolutely brilliant. It might take some years to master the basics (e.g. not putting the oars the wrong way round, not forgetting to look over my shoulder to see where I am going, never arriving at the club again without at least one change of dry clothes in an emergency bag), but I'll be patient.

*My cleaning lady. May be I should put this at the top of the list! I feel absolutely elated every Wednesday afternoon when I come home to an immaculately tidied and spotlessly clean house! After years of doing the cleaning myself it feels like the greatest luxury in the world to have someone else push the hoover around.

* The good fortune to find my daughter and international scout troop close by, so she can speak her beloved English once a week.

* Having family and old friends close by, so that we can share more of your day-to-day life.

* Enrolling the 12yo in a field hockey club. He has two practice sessions and a proper game each week. The other four days he likes to go and see if there is someone that wants to practise some more. He always finds someone.

* Indonesian and Chinese food being readily available again. Yam! I must admit we also love having a local chip shop again.

* Being able to talk to the butcher, people at the bus stop, fellow passengers on the train, other shoppers in the queue at the supermarket. I am very chatty and always hated the fact that chatting in either Swiss German or Italian was so tricky. I would only ever come up with a great thing to say when there was absolutely no one around to say it to.


* Rain, rain, wind, wind, rain, rain, wind, wind. How can it be Christmas if it is twelve degrees, wet and windy? It just doesn't feel right.

* No mountains on the horizon, so no skiing, mountain hiking, or even just gazing at distant peaks. It helps if I don't look at my Swiss friend's pictures on facebook too often.

* The fact that we're in rented accommodation and probably will have to move again this summer. If we find a place we want to buy (and can afford)  that is.

* Supermarkets that sell more varieties of milk and yoghurt, than fresh vegetables and where you can get almost everything you could ever want for dinner either pre-cut, pre-cooked or ready made.

* Lunch consisting of two limp cheese sandwiches that have been packed into a little plastic bag around day break.

* Missing my Italian, Australian, Canadian, Dutch, Irish and  English friends, scattered around the globe. I think about them all the time.

* My fast expanding waistline. I have a tendency  to console myself with chocolate and cake.

* Getting soaking wet on my bike at least three times a week. The novelty has definitely worn off.

* My 12yo wanting a Play Station, because every single one of his new Dutch friends has one. It's a catch 22 really. If we buy him the darn machine he is going to play on it the whole time, but if we don't he will be going over to one of his friends and play on it the whole time.

* No distant horizons to discover in our new habitat. No pouring over Lonely Planets and no inviting stacks of leaflets scattered all around our living room. Although we did visit the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and it really was quite splendid.

* My children becoming way more independent than they would have whilst living abroad. In the Netherlands they take their bikes and go pretty much where they want to. It's undoubtedly great for them, but it will take me a little while longer to get used to it.

* Knowing that we won't be living abroad in quite a while. I don't like the idea that the expat part of our life is over.

Have a great  2014!