Saturday, September 8, 2012
It´s that time of year again when a select group of men in Taiji slaughter sentient creatures and rip families apart in the name of profit under the guise of tradition. It cannot be allowed to go unnoticed. Sign the petition and help spread the word.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
So, you may have noticed a new widget at the top of my page. Well that is my novel word count widget. After getting yet another job rejection letter I decided to give myself a bigger kick up the kiester & start making proper progress on my first book. I've set myself a word limit of 50,000 after reading that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies a word length of 40,000 for the novel category of its Nebula award categories. Okay I'm not expecting to win awards for my story (well, at least not a Nebula as that's for American writers, maybe a BFSA instead... LOL) but it gives me a total to work to.
So far I'm bashing out about 1,500 – 2,000 words a day (I get up late & have other minor stuff to do during the day... mainly Sims on Facebook) and have managed to pass the minimum halfway mark. Hopefully this rate will see me finishing the first draft before the end of June. Then it'll be rewrites galore. So far I've discovered my strengths lay with descriptive writing & battle scenes. My weaknesses are forming emotional moments & getting the right there/their (despite knowing full well the difference). Thank heavens for Word grammar check.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Well I had been doing well on my diet & fitness regime but summer has put pay to that for a while. Winter was too damn cold to use my exercise bike (bedroom = freezer). But, thankfully, the weather improved and I was doing 40mins every other day. I even managed to lose 3kilos! Yay me! Unfortunately, this week summer finally reared its hot fettid head. Instead of sweating away exercising I have been sweating away without having to move. My Germanic genes do not like sunshine & heat.
Hopefully all the water I'm losing will count next time I brave the scales.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
I just witnessed my first Queen's Day in Amsterdam... & by “witness” I mean I hid in the flat with the curtains closed, the windows shut & the TV turned up loud. I'm not comfortable in crowds & the Netherlands' yearly celebration is the mother of all orange-clad, migraine-inducing crowds.
So what is Queen's Day? Queen's Day (or Koninginnedag to give it its Dutch title) is the celebration of the Queen's official birthday. Her Madge's birthday is actually January 31st but I guess as that date is usually accompanied with wind, rain & cold she had to choose another one so the Dutch population can 'party on down' relatively chill-free. Personally I think this is a clever choice of dates as the following day, May 1st, is when all the May Day protests occur, usually followed by the obligatory May Day riots. Not so in the Netherlands. You try protesting with a cracking hang-over.
So what happens on this most orange of festivals? Celebrations kick off the following evening (aptly named Queen's Day eve) when people head off to some of the other major cities (Rotterdam or Utrecht), wear orange & get drunk. So far, so Dutch. Then on the Day itself the entire population of the Netherlands, in a bleary post-alcoholic fuelled funk, tries to shoe-horn itself into Amsterdam. The streets & canals come alive with hordes of hungover Dutch wearing equally headache generating shades of orange.
Here I'll do a quick digress. Why this shade of orange? Yes I know it's all down to 'William of Orange' but he wasn't called 'William the Neon Orange'. There are many calming, toned-down shades of this colour... why oh why did the Dutch have to pick the one that can bring on seizures?
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes... The population of the Netherlands is now stumbling through Amsterdam's streets in a “party mood”. The population of Amsterdam, in turn, takes advantage of all these ex-hungover-newly-inebriated-brain-fuddled outsiders by setting up stalls outside their apartments... & selling off all their second-hand tat, crap & the occasional over-priced can of lukewarm beer. In effect Amsterdam becomes the biggest flea-market in the developed (& possibly developing) world.
The royal family, in general, shun the crowds to “spend time with family”... except the prince who, this year, spent his day chucking orange painted toilets down a field.... yes you read that right... no I don't know why either.
Eventually, after Amsterdam has been drunk dry & there's no more second-hand rubbish to buy, the Netherlands populous heads off home, ready to nurse its collective hangover the following day at work.
Footnote... Yes I'm sure there's a more sensible/historic reason as to why we celebrate the Queen's birthday on April 30th (or 29th if it falls on a Sunday). Just check Wikipedia. However, I like my reasoning better.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The massive chocolate binge that is Easter has come & gone... & it pretty much went same way as it did in the UK. Good Friday consisted of a mad dash to find Easter Eggs before they were all snapped up. Once again Waterstones in Amsterdam was my saviour... especially after one of the girls at my last cocktail night mentioned Cadbury Creme Eggs. Agh! How could I have gotten this close to Easter without thinking about their sickly sweet gooey-ness? Luckily the book-store did not disappoint & I left happy with a bag of mini Creme Eggs a bag of Mini Eggs (how could I forget about them to?) & an Aero Egg for my boyfriend.
|Easter survival pack|
Friday & Saturday saw the rapid demise of all the mini & creme eggs but they were replaced on Easter Sunday by the combination of a chocolate bunny & a chocolate egg from my boyfriend. I was quite please with myself actually, as I only devoured the bunny on Sunday. And the egg itself lasted a further two days.
Apparently chocolate bunnies are the more “in thing” in the Netherlands. I'm not sure if that's down to the prevalence of Miffy (aka Nijntje) or if there's a more Pagan reason to it. After all, The festival of Easter, the image of resurrection & rebirth & all it's accompanying symbols are based on the old Pagan spring festivities & the Netherlands was a typically pagan place. Even more so in the northern lands.
Anyway... The Easter weekend was rounded off in true Bank Holiday style, i.e. continuous, pouring rain! It's always nice to experience familiar things in an unfamiliar land.
Oh... & I made up a poem for Easter Sunday based on my experience.
First the ears.
Then the head.
Now chocolate bunny,
You are dead.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Is there some subtle, underlying context to that congratulations that I'm not getting? “Congratulations... for not offing him & allowing him to reach this age!” “Congratulations... for putting up with him for another year & not running back, screaming, to the UK!”
If I was his mother I could understand the random congratulations “Congratulations... for birthing him & for him reaching a ripe old age”. But as a girlfriend, well it just seems a little weird.
Mind you, there's a lot about the Dutch I find weird.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
I have a question. Are the Dutch tone deaf? Ok, this may seem like a rather rude question but having spent nearly a year living some 100m away from Amsterdam's Zuiderkerk (South Church) I would have to answer this question with an emphatic YES!
Pretty church... shame about the noise
Every Thursday at midday, come hell or high water, an organist (or perhaps, more likely, an epileptic spider on speed) begins randomly hammering at keys. The tuneless metallic cacophony that blasts from the tower lasts from 45 minutes to an hour and is enough to drive a sane person psychotic. There is no identifiable tune that comes out of the bells just a random series of discord notes... although one day during the summer I swear I heard brief excerpts of “home, home on the range” & “merry Christmas” between bouts of noise.
Now imagine that going for an hour non-stop (& it really does sound that tinny)
At first I thought maybe it was just that the Zuiderkerk was in need of some SERIOUS tuning but one day whilst stood in Dam Square the bell above the royal palace rang... turns out it wasn't just the Zuiderkerk that produced tuneless noise. If the royal palace can't hold a tune what hope is there for the rest of the bells in this fair city?
On top of the general noise is the effect this ear-sore has on the stress levels of the people around the church... I'm sure it's not just us it effects. During hot summer months I have to close all the windows in a bid to stifle the noise. Instead I just end up sitting in stifling heat unable to concentrate on anything as the sound reverberates around the flat. Then there's my poor boyfriend who quite often works at night & who, not only loses an hour's worth of sleep thanks to the ringing, but further subsequent hours because he's been woken up & is stressed out about losing precious sleep before work.
Apparently we are not the fist to loath the church. Several years ago a petition was collected to silence the bells once & for all. It worked... until a new mayor came into office. A couple of old ladies wined that they missed the bells (I can only presume that they were deaf) & the bells were started up once more. So, thanks to a couple of old biddies (who are most likely dead by now) the rest of us in the area have to suffer the weekly noise from hell.
It kinda makes me miss the glorious deep-throated church bells of ol' Blighty... at least we know how to bang out a good tune &, more importantly, know when to stop.
My boyfriend has set up a Facebook page to gauge local opinion. Check it out here... http://www.facebook.com/AntiZuiderkerkAmsterdam