Thu
27 May

The warrior is always ready for battle when the summer months descend upon him. The warrior is strong. The warrior is brave. The warrior is noble. The warrior knows his enemy. And above all else the warrior lives by the code:

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1) The warrior will dedicate ten minutes of every night to standing on the bed in his underwear so he might hunt the enemy before he rests his head upon his pillow.

2) The warrior will smite the enemy wherever they are found; on the curtain, by the light fitting, on Mr Fluffykins the bear, on his own face.

3) The warrior is highly skilled with all weapons of combat; the rolled up news paper, the sock, the opened hand, the deodorant plus lighter.

4) The warrior will not raise his hand in anger against innocent bugs of the non-blood sucking kind. Especially the noble spider who is his ally against the true enemy (and technically an arachnid, not a bug).

5) The warrior will sleep lightly, with one ear opening, listening for the buzz of the enemy, ready to swat at the air.

6) The warrior will protect his woman by producing higher amounts of carbon dioxide, octenol and other compounds that attract the enemies’ bites.

7) The warrior will protect himself with the armor of battle; the pillow over the head.

8) The warrior will curse the name of the enemy with his every breath.

9) The warrior will treats his itchy red wounds of battle the next morning with soothing cream.

10) The warrior will wear his itchy red wounds of battle with pride and compare the amount and locations with other warriors when telling tales of heroism.

And above all else; The warrior will not scratch.

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Fri
21 May

“What street is that on love?” Our cab driver asked when we gave him the name of the restaurant we were going to. I should point out that he was talking to one of my female colleagues and was not referring to me as love.

We were on a business trip in Liverpool (five of us in total) and had been invited out to a fancy new restaurant which (we had been informed) every cab driver in the city knew. We had successfully busted that myth the moment we stepped into the cab but we did not hold it against him. It seemed that as a cab driver he was probably more familiar with the names of streets than the name of the properties upon them. So we gave him the name of the street was Brunswick.

“Right… Is that off Queens Street?” He asked us with a hint of confusion in his voice. Second theory busted.

We were not able to give him an answer to this question since we did not know. After all we did not have an intimate knowledge of the city’s layout that someone like… oh I don’t know… a cab driver might have for example.

“Ah… it’s ok. I know where it is.” He stated confidently as he began to drive. It seemed like he only needed a moment to think it through and that we were indeed in safe hands. We relaxed back into our seats, happy with the knowledge that we would soon reach our destination.

A grand total of 20 meters later…

“Excuse me mate. Do you know where Brunswick Street is?”

He had suddenly pulled up alongside another black cab and shouted across to its driver, asking for directions. The other driver didn’t seem to know but during the short exchange our driver seemed to have a small epiphany and assured us he remembered where it was. He started driving again. We relaxed again.

Ten minutes of driving around abandoned industrial estates and car junk yards later…

“Excuse me. Is Brunswick Street around here?”

This time he was asking a cyclist that we had just encountered (who was also the only person we had seen for the last 5 minutes). Considering the area I don’t think any of us except the driver was expecting him to reply with yes. Not unless the restaurant was located between an abounded campervan site and Honest Dave’s Scrap Iron Emporium but then again I’m not a restaurant expert. Unfortunately for us neither was the cyclist so we set off with the cab driver once again trying to assure us that he now knew the way for real this time.

Eight minutes of driving long the harbors edge later…

“Is there anyone you could phone for directions?”

We had seen it coming. He’d spent five of the last ten minutes nervously glancing at street signs and muttering under his breath as we got farther and farther away from the city center.

So we phoned the people we were supposed to be meeting at the restaurant and started to relay directions to our navigationally challenged driver. However, this proved to be a little too challenging for him so we just gave him the phone. After what sounded like a very confusing phone call (with all the confusion coming from his end of the conversation) he handed the phone back.

“Sorry about that. It’s not far now.” He assured us. Given his track record and the fact that he was turning the cab around as he said this it was not very convincing.

An awkward silence descended upon our cab as we drove back towards the city center where we had come from, an awkward silence which our driver decided to fill by playing Frank Sinatra… very loudly. I only wished it had been “I Did It My Way.” It seemed like it would have been a fitting metaphor as I imagined old Blue Eyes singing, “And I drove us… the wrong wayyyyyyyy!”

One and a half Frank Sinatra songs later…

“You see that building over there. That’s where passengers for the titanic picked up their tickets.”

This random fact came out of nowhere as he turned the music off. I was not sure if he was just trying to prove that he did know something about the layout of the city in which he worked or if he was just trying to tell us our journey could have been worse. Either way it was comforting to know that if we had told him we wanted to sail on the titanic he would have known where to have taken us.

And there our tale ends. We turned another corner and finally arrived at the restaurant which we quickly realized was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel where we had begun. We said goodbye to our easily lost cab driver and he set off on his way. The only tip he received was to buy a satellite navigational system. I wonder if he was able to find his way back. Maybe he is still driving around Liverpool at this very moment, lost and listening to Frank Sinatra.

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Sat
15 May

Today we have another post from our young guest writer Alex de Leeuw. Since Alex is Dutch I have translated his story into English for him.

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Vandaag hebben we in de douche geklust. Gisterenavond heb ik voor het laatst onder de oude douche gestaan.

Today we rebuilt the shower. Last night I took my last shower with the old shower.


Toen zijn we naar de klusmarkt gegaan.

Then we went to hardware store to buy new parts.


We moesten een hele hoop doen.

We had to do a lot.


We moesten de pijpleidingen verleggen…

We had to fix the pipes…


…en hout op maat zagen…

…and cut wood…


…en nieuwe tegels plaatsen…

…and place new tiles…


…en nieuwe tegels snijden…

…and cut new tiles…


…en nog meer nieuwe tegels plaatsen.

…and place more new tiles.


Toen ik klaar was, kon ik wel een nieuwe douche gebruiken…

When we were finished I needed another shower…


..en een kopje thee.

…and a cup of tea.

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Sat
8 May

Last Tuesday I was standing in a queue outside the Melkweg in Amsterdam, waiting to see Flight of the Conchords live on stage. I’d been looking forward it for weeks and had shown up early with friends to make sure that we got good seats. We were not the only ones that had had this idea either. There were a lot of people queuing. I knew there were more friends somewhere in the queue, as well as some coworkers and a fellow blogger that I had not yet met in person but was probably going to bump into.

After an hour of waiting in the queue, just 5 minutes before the doors were going to be opened I discovered that I had made a small error. This came to my attention as my friends began to look over their freshly internet printed tickets. I noticed that they each had two print outs. I on the other hand had only one print out. This seemed worth questioning.

“Why do you guys have two print outs?” I asked.

They looked at me and laughed, assuming that I was making some kind of joke. I wasn’t.

It turned out that in addition to being emailed our tickets we had also been emailed a membership pass for the Melkweg. Without realizing this I had only printed one of the two. Of course this was not a problem if I had only printed out my ticket and forgotten the membership pass. I could simply show my ticket to the doorman and pay the 3 Euros membership fee again. A small loss but at least I would still be able to see Flight of the Conchords. No problem.

However, if I had only printed out the membership pass and not the ticket I was in trouble. Guess which one I had not printed out.

I gasped. My friends gasped. Nearby people I didn’t even know gasped. There was only one thing for it. I had to get back to the office and print out my ticket, quickly.

I sprinted passed the entire queue, jumped on my bike, cycled like hell back to the office, ran past the security guard, dashed up the stairs, turned on my computer, waited, gave up waiting when it got stuck on configuring updates for too long, commandeered the computer of someone else who was working late, printed out my ticket, checked very carefully that it actually was my ticket, dashed back down the stairs, passed security, jumped on my bike, cycled as fast as I could back to the venue, locked up my bike, ran inside, showed my ticket, searched for my friends, found my friends, dropped down in to the seat they had saved me and tried to catch my breath. I was out of breath, sweating, red faced and looking like I had just ran from a crime scene. It was at this point that the girl sitting in the row in front of me asked, “Excuse me but are you Stuart?”

It was Alison from the blog A Flamingo in Utrecht. My reputation has preceded me once again.

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The concert was great. If you are not familiar with Flight of the Conchords they are a comedy band from New Zealand. Here are some of their songs: Jenny, Business Time, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros, Most beautiful Girl in the Room.

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In other news: My girlfriend has a guest post up at Greetings from Holland. Her own blog can be found here: Ladybird & Butterfly.

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Tue
4 May

This morning I went on an adventure.

I had not been planning to but as I waited so very patiently for my morning train a strange and curious desire for exploration overtook my legs and propelled them, one in front of the other, forwards. At first I did not think anything odd of this for it is my habit to wonder about, back and forth, up and down, around and around as I wait for any number of things. But this morning the realization dawned upon me that they seemed to be taking me in a single determined direction; towards the end of the platform.

Do not be alarmed dear reader. This was not a suicide attempt on the part of my legs due to wiriness of country wonders and tiredness of long walks on the beach. Nor am I writing this to you from beyond the grave. My legs very much like life and walking, as do I. No, they were not taking me to the ‘edge’ of the platform; they were taking me to the ‘end’ of the platform, the far end where no one goes.

Have you ever wondered why station platforms are so very long and yet trains are so very short? No one ever does but I was starting to. As I got closer and closer to the end of the platform my mind started to question what amazing and wondrous things I would find there. Would it be the home of a monster? An eight legged tentacle thing? Or a troll perhaps that ate railway line bolts?

I stopped and looked back for a moment to see how far I had come. The people, the other commuters, seemed so far away back where I had started. I wondered if they could even see the end of the platform, if they could even see me? For a moment I wondered if I should turn back, if such adventure was foolhardy. But the desire to discover what was at the platforms end was growing stronger and stronger within me.

Slowly, with each step the end of the platform drew closer and closer, until… suddenly… I was there. My toes were at the very edge of the platform world, softly touching the void. I looked out at the realm beyond the platform and beheld…

No matter how amazing the wonders contained within the view at the end of my adventure are there is one thing, one detail which is the most amazing of all. Do you see it? It’s the most fascinating thing. Do you see it yet? Look closer. There. By the stairs. A fiets goot (a bicycle ramp)… How Dutch can you get?

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