Well, finally some progress on a number of fronts. After what seems like a lifetime of dealing with government departments, we have finally managed to gather together all of the documents we need to submit our wedding dossier in France. I’ve got certificates of just about everything, translated, stamped, and sealed by government agencies I didn’t know existed. I’ve even got a Certificate of Celibacy (which is basically a certificate that says “this certificate doesn’t exist in the UK” – come on, with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe you don’t think we issue many of these, right?)
So arrived back from a couple of glorious days in Paris – beautiful sunshine and warm, clear skies (all of which I only gazed through the office windows) to be greeted by three days of rain for our three-day weekend in the UK. We had a lovely meal on Thursday night at L’Etoile, a horrendously-overpriced restaurant with a great view of the Arc de Triumphe. I caught the Friday night Eurostar back to Ashford and reminded myself again how civilised rail travel can be.
Three rainy days later and it was off to Amsterdam, this time via London City airport and the comfort of a VLM Fokker 50 turbo-prop. The weather was windy and the ride was bumpy – I fly a lot, and this was the sort of “I think I might throw up a little bit” kind of bumpy. I managed to land in Amsterdam vomit-free, but not before I’d managed to spill my half my Coke down my shirt. I like to do big first impressions when I arrive in a new town.
The Hotel Pulitzer was lovely – loads of old townhouses all knocked into one. Just as well, too, as I didn’t see the outside of the hotel much in the four days I was in Amsterdam. The course went really well (must have been down to the quality tutoring!) and, with the exception of a few Germans who wanted to be spoon-fed the methodologies, was received with rave reviews. I left on Friday night totally shattered and arrived at Schiphol to discover that my flight had been cancelled.
It was chaos at the airport – despite having a fully-flexible ticket, they couldn’t seem to load me onto another flight. My passport was being passed between the check-out counters like a hot potato. After thirty minutes of phone calls, they finally managed to get me onto a flight.
How the Dutch are the tallest people in the world is beyond me. The food was, without exception, crap. I hardly ate anything in four days. Breakfast was reasonable enough, but lunch consisted of sandwiches so stingy that even the English seem generous and thin, watery soup that would discourage even young Oliver Twist from begging for more.
Dinner was a choice of meats in gloop, surrounded by vegetables in gloop and served with potatoes in gloop. I don’t know what the Dutch name for our dishes was, but I suspect it was something like Meet en Gloop met Karrets en Gloop. Bear in mind we were staying in a 5-star hotel and eating at (supposedly) some of the best restaurants in Amsterdam. The monotony was only broken up by the unexpectedly pleasant starters – Smooked Feesh en Gloop.
Enough about Dutch cuisine. Back home on Friday night for a beautiful, sunny weekend in Canterbury. Mowed the lawn and caught up with errands on Saturday, then spent the afternoon in the park. Sunday we took the Corvette out for a spin to the Duck Inn, a lovely country pub, where we sat in the garden and had a lovely pigeon breast salad (“PoopenShijtenBuurdBoobs met kein Gloopsaus” in Dutch), then headed back to the park for a few beers and some sunbathing.
Off to my new client this morning, and a chance to do some real client work for a change. So far, so good – watch this space!
* Please note: the Dutch translations in this entry may not be entirely accurate. I don’t actually speak Dutch.