18 Dec

Girlfriend: 1 – Stuart: 0

Invading Holland will be taking a short two week break while I travel around England and Holland visiting friends and family. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and I will return in the New Year.

In the mean time you might wish to check out one of my short fictional stories I did for Christmas back in 2007:The Ebenezer Scrooge Timeline

15 Dec

The following takes place between 11:30pm and 11:35pm on a street in Amsterdam near central station. As I attempted to unlock my bike I was approached by a tourist with a strange smile on his face who seemed to want directions and a bit of a chat. English politeness and the inability to get the lock on my bike open forced me to take at least some part in the bizarre conversation that followed.

(Suddenly approaching with a grin)
“Excuse me can I ask you a question?”

(Realizing I can’t easily get away as I fiddle with my bike lock)

“How do I get to the red light district from here?”
(Grinning some more)

“Um… it’s in that direction, past the tourist boats, through the streets until you see lots of red. You can’t miss it.”
(Pointing in the general direction of the Red Light District)

“Thanks… Hey, can I ask you another question?”
(Somehow making his grin even bigger)

“Er… ok.”
(Starting to wonder where the line of questioning is going to lead)

“Are you British? Scottish? Australian?”

(Cutting him off before he can list all the English speaking countries he knows)
“Yes… er… I mean British”

(Shouting in a cheer and suddenly put’s his hand up for a high five)

“Um… yeah?”
(Deeply confused but returning his high five and guessing that he is British too or just really likes British people)

“I just split up with my girlfriend so I’m going to… you know…”
(Pointing in the direction previously indicated and smiling)

“Oh. Ok then. I hope you meet someone nice.”
(Quickly leaving before the conversation gets any stranger)

10 Dec

Coffee Shop Amsterdam

Today’s lesson: How to deal with tourists in Amsterdam who have asked you for directions to a coffee shop with the intention of purchasing and inhaling marijuana.

Step 1) Pretend to be in deep thought for a moment:
You don’t actually need to think about the question you have been asked, you only need to appear as if you are. To aid you achieving the correct look you may wish to use this opportunity to think about what you would like to eat for dinner or what kind of gift you should buy for a loved one.

Step 2) Choose a random direction:
Any direction will do fine but it must be random. You may wish to use a randomizing technique such as ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’. If you decide to do so you must insure that you do not say it out loud. It is important that your tourist does not hear the selection process or know that it is random.

Step 3) Point in the random direction you have chosen:
The arm should be raised and the finger extended to indicate the direction.

Step 4) Repeat the following:
“Yeah. There is a really good coffee shop just a short walk that way. You can’t miss it, mate.”

Be sure to say this clearly and with confidence so that it is believable. Why not practice saying it now in the mirror.

Step 5) Bid fair well to your tourist and wish him a pleasant stay in the Netherlands:
Congratulations. You have just dealt with your tourist. You can now go about your day confident in the fact that they will soon find the coffee shop they desire. After all, you are in Amsterdam and there is always a coffee shop within two minutes walk of any direction. Just because you don’t know it is there does not mean it is not there.

Join us again next week when we learn the advanced technique of giving them directions to Starbucks just for fun.

8 Dec

Last Friday night my girlfriend and I were sitting in a restaurant in Rotterdam overlooking one of the city’s harbors. This was no ordinary harbor we were enjoying our meal looking at. It was the harbor where VallyP, writer of Luxor lives. Anyone who has visited her blog will be familiar with her stories about life living on the waters of Holland. Both my girlfriend and myself are very familiar with her stories so we decided it would be fun to walk around the harbor to see if we could spot her boat.

We ended up spotting more than her boat because as we wondered around we actually bumped into both VallyP and Koos walking in the other direction. However, I was not completely sure it was them at first since I have only seen them in photos. As we passed each other by I must have done a lot of staring as my internal monologue went something like, “Is that them? Naaa.. Wait. Is it?. Naaa… No wait. It is you know. I think it is them. Is it?”

Of course by the time my brain had come to the conclusion that it most likely was VallyP and Koos they had passed us by so I quickly jogged after them, probably making them wonder why the strange guy who had just been staring after them was now coming at them at speed (since other than my cartoons they had no idea what I looked like).

“Excuse me. This might sound like a strange question but are you VallyP?” I asked.

When someone I don’t know starts asking me questions on the street I always expect them to follow it up with a request for change or the offer of a cheaply priced but rusty bike.

“Yes.” She replied.

“Hello. I’m Stuart” I replied.

Meeting VallyP and Koos was great. They instantly invited us along with them to check out the famous Vereeniging where we also met Mo (VallyP’s daughter). Then we had a cup of tea on the equally famous Luxor and spent a very long enjoyable time chatting about all kinds of stuff. At the end of the night we caught the train home, very happy about our lucky run-in and the plan to meet up again later.

(… and I promise you your own cartoons VallyP and Koos when I have more time. You probably have more of insight into the speed I work at now :p).

4 Dec

I was very nervous the first time I met my girlfriend’s parents. In fact, I was so nervous that I forgot to pack certain items before we left the house, one of which was a toothbrush. This became a bit of a problem when I tried to brush my teeth that night. I was forced to ask my new parent’s in-law if there was a spare toothbrush I could borrow for the weekend (which there was). This would not have been such a big deal if I had not made the exact same mistake when we visited again a few weeks later and had to ask the exact same question.

I think this is the reason why a few months later I opened my very first present on my very first real Dutch Sinterklaas pakjesavond to discover my very first tooth brush of the evening. It was a very nice brightly coloured tooth brush with a rubber zebra head on the end.

I say my very first toothbrush of the evening because it was not the last. Later I opened another gift to discover a very pink tooth brush, later still a blue tooth brush, followed by a small toothbrush, a stripy toothbrush, a sparkly toothbrush, then another with a rubber monster head on the end.

I was starting to wonder if Sinterklaas had set up a sponsorship deal with the tooth fairy or if the old man was really that concerned about my dental well being from the alarming amount of pepernoten and chocolate letters I had been consuming.

Eventually I received a gift that was very obviously not a tooth brush. It was far too big to be a dental hygiene implement. I believed this fact so adamantly that I announced it very loudly to the room using words such as, “Thank god,” and “finally” with a smirk. I eagerly tore the paper apart to discover; a toothbrush. A toothbrush concealed with-in an elaborate cardboard construction which had been created to hide the fact that it was a toothbrush. The packaging on this one (the real packaging not the fake “I’m not a toothbrush” packaging) claimed that it lit up and played ‘nighty-nighty music’ while the user (evidently a small child) brushed their teeth.

All these toothbrushes came from my girlfriend’s family along with much roaring laughter. By the end of the night I had received at least one tooth brush from each member of the family (along with other non-tooth related gifts of course) and I had learned several new Dutch words such as; Tanden, Tandenborstel and Tandarts.

I enjoyed my very first Sinterklaas pakjesavond a lot and found the toothbrush surprises very funny. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I plan to enjoy it even more with my revenge which I’ve had an entire year to plot.


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