As an Englishman I have a very particular view of Holland. Due to the average height difference between English and Dutch men this view is about a foot or two lower then the natives. This is sometimes makes it very easy to feel short in Holland and it always makes it hard to find jeans that are the right length with out resorting to turn ups.
However, I have found one place in Holland where a person from a height challenged country like myself can feel like a giant and that place is Madurodam. Madurodam contains several famous Dutch locations in miniature form as if an eccentric mad scientist has used his newly invented shrink ray to collect his favourite tourist locations in one place. Everything is in 1:25 scale and includes places like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and more.
I was able to walk around the place and feel like some kind of English, non-green and less scaly Godzilla. There were a few times when I had to suppress the urge to raise my arms in the air and go, “roar!”
Despite having to behave myself and stick to the laid out path I felt tall. I felt big. I felt elevated. However, it only took one look at my Dutch date who was taller then me (I’m talking about the average height for Dutch women now not Dutch men) to remind me of the reality that I should consider platform shoes if I ever want to pass as a local. Plus the fact that she might start to question my sanity if I had actually begun to make monster noises at the exhibits. Sometimes it is easier to get away with being a child. They were allowed to do it.
Mini Schiphol Airport: Complete with mini Easyjet and mini chavs on their way to the mini red light district.
Mini Dam Square: I walk through this area every morning but as hard as I searched I could not see a mini red head version of myself. It’s not that accurate if you ask me.
Mini Amsterdam: Even with a scaled down canal of this size there is a drunk English tourist somewhere that will find a way to fall into it.
Mini dam or bloody big sea gull: Alfred Hitchcock was right! Quick! Everyone evacuate Holland!
I watch a lot of TV series. In fact you could call me an addict but I am one of those addicts who hides their problem well by reading a book every now and then.
However, when you watch as many TV series as I do if starts to get a little hard to keep track of the individual plot lines and they start to blur together. Take this show I am watching at the moment for example:
The survivors of a plane crash find themselves on a mysterious island where everything is not what it seems.
One of the survivors is a doctor who unintentionally becomes the leader of the group of castaways. He spends most of his time on the beach with three of the other survivors and a white board (that they found in the plane wreckage), performing differential diagnosis on the tropical diseases the other survivors start to catch. Mysteriously, no one on the island catches lupus.
Things get worse when they discover they are not alone on the island. After taking a census of the survivors and comparing it to the flight manifest they discover that one of the survivors is not who he says he is. In fact, he was never on the plane. He is one of the human cylons who inhabits the island and have their own dark secret addenda.
Luckily, one of the survivors might have the answer to their escape. He develops a strange connection with the island after regaining the ability to walk again following the crash. He also has a map of the island tattooed all over his body which includes the network of strange hidden scientific research stations that were once part of the mysterious Cyberdyne Initiative. It is with in these research stations that the survivors uncover the shocking true.
Will they get off the island with in 24 hours and be able to warn the president of the impending assassination attempt by a cigarette smoking exploding man that they have learned about on the island? Only time and the season final will tell.
Whoever can work out all the TV show mentioned above wins a prize.
This blog is two years old today. That means it was 730 days ago that I first put fingers to keyboard and started telling the people of the internet about my life in Holland. This now means my blog is at the age were it is constantly asking annoying questions like ‘why is the sky blue’ and following up with ‘but why?’ when they receive the answer. It also cries when it can’t have ice-cream or candy floss and I have to spend a lot of time rescuing it from trees it some how managed to climb up but can’t get down from. It also can’t be left alone with other blogs of the same age because they would only end up getting each other in trouble.
Here are some of the highlights from the past year:
I said ‘yeah I do’ to a friend’s proposal of marriage and spent a few hours as a married man on Valentines Day.
Putting My Foot in It:
The language divide led to an embarrassing situation when I accidentally accused a random tourist of being a prostitute.
Jimmy the Spider & The Ebenezer Scrooge Timeline:
I explored creative writing with two short stories.
Strange Kittah Behaviour:
It seemed very likely that I would have to hold an intervention when I discovered that my cat was an alcoholic.
I Fought the Law:
I never thought jogging was illegal until I nearly got arrested for looking suspicious.
Everything seemed to go wrong as I spent a Saturday afternoon trying to capture a photo of the illusive Sinterklaas.
Ever wondered why so many people in Amsterdam are looking for Charlie? I discovered the answer.
Confusing and Baffling:
Imagine the must unexpected thing possible happening to you and then multiply it by ten. Then you might just come close to how surprised I was when I was approached in the street by a woman wearing a fake penis.
Let Them Eat Space Cake:
After eating space cake I discovered that it is possible to think that Twister is the best movie ever and forget where you are even though you are sitting on your own couch.
The following takes place between the hours of 11pm and 12pm one night of this week while standing in my kitchen after a long day of working late with out a weekend.
“Working all this overtime is really messing with my sense of what day of the week it is. I keep on forgetting it’s only Monday.”
(Pausing to check if I really am that dumb)
“But it’s Tuesday.”
(Pausing and trying to act as if I just said nothing)
“Er… working all this overtime is really messing with my sense of what day of the week it is. I keep on forgetting it’s only Tuesday.”
A few months ago I wrote about the rather large welcome banner that can be found outside Amsterdam’s central train station (Link). I wrote about how it displayed a group of very unfriendly looking Dutch people and possibly did not give visitors a very good first impression of the locals. Despite the banners rather inhospitable look it has become a sight I was used to seeing every morning on my tram journey.
So imagine my surprise when one morning I looked out of the window of my over crowded tram and saw something completely unexpected. The banner has been changed. I could not believe it. Could it have been that my previous post about its appearance had sparked this change? Is it possible that my words had started a panic with in the Dutch government?
Government Official 1: “Sir, sir! You are not going to believe this. A young Englishman has written something slightly negative about the welcome banner we put up outside Amsterdam central station.”
Government Official 2: “Oh my god! This is terrible. This could bring down the entire government. You must see to it that the banner is changed at once.”
Government Official 1: “But what do we change it to sir?”
Government Official 2: “Dam it man! There is no time to think. Just change it to anything else before it is too late.”
Government Official 1: “Anything?”
Government Official 2: “Anything!”
This scenario might sound very random and bizarre but it is the only explanation my over active imagination can come up with as to why the banner out side Amsterdam central station has been replaced with such a random and bizarre image.
Behold, people jumping off stuff:
If the idea behind this banner is to give visitors an impression of what life in the European city is like there are going to be a lot of disappointed tourists wondering around with stiff necks, trying to capture a glimpse of Amsterdam locals leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Is the Dutch government trying to give the impression that the primary method of travel for the average Dutch person is leaping buildings with a single bound?
I have done some research and found that there is more to some of these strange images:
1) The Velcro Kid:
The short lived fashion in 1980’s architecture of using Velcro bricks led to the rise of the famous cat burglar known as ‘The Velcro Kid’. He was able to sneak into people’s houses by wearing clothing made out of the corresponding Velcro. Although Velcro was very affective as a method of climbing into buildings it was in fact very slow and noisy. This photo was taken when ‘The Velcro Kid’ was caught. It took five police men two ours to pull him off the wall.
2) David de Gedeprimeerd:
Here we see a very nervous man attempting suicide. He is very scared of heights and it has taken him three months to build up the confidence to get up to this high. Originally he started by jumping off the curb. It will take a farther two years for him to achieve a height that will finally result in his death. This includes the recovery time for broken legs in-between attempts.
3) Timmy de Young
It was during this routine family photo that Timmy’s mum realized no obstacle can stand between a twelve year old boy and an ice-lolly when they hear the sound of a ice-cream van driving by.
4) James de Ongelukkig
This was the moment that James fell victim to one of the very rare urban concrete venous fly/man traps that have been known to grow in Amsterdam.
5) Vicky Gru:
Little is known about this man but if your name was Vicky Gru wouldn’t you want to keep your face out of the photo as well?