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No business like snow business

January 4, 2010

Today is the last day of the holidays 😦

Every other child in the country went back to school today apart from those attending the same school as my children, all of whom return after the two week Christmas break on Tuesday.  This is because Monday is an ‘inset’ day for the teachers.  A what?  How convenient that the ‘inset’ day should immediately follow the holidays.  Hmmm… I can’t help but be sceptical.

I go back to work on Wednesday afternoon, being a 50% part-timer working the latter half of the week and I’m really looking forward to that…  not.  Husband went back today but I don’t think he dreads his return to work as much as I do mine, fortunately for him.

Milly, our spare cat, (see previous post) went home yesterday.  The house is eerily quiet without the sporadic ther-dunk-dunk-dunk of cats fighting upstairs to interrupt the peace.  Stella has returned to her previous pace of life, pretending to be old and doddery at the grand old age of three and a half and is currently seated next to the lap top doing a fair impression of a nodding dog as I type.  Why don’t you just lie down if you want to sleep, dopey feline!  Next she’ll be dribbling and incontinent and knitting mittens.

Having a cheeky young whippersnapper usurping her authority reawakened the wild child within.  No longer is our TV viewing interrupted by the streak of a giant stripey-grey furball with eight legs and two heads rolling past.  Only when the romping turned nasty, with teeth and claws drawn, would one of us step in to break it up, usually unsuccessfully, as the ball would somehow steer itself to the remotest and most unreachable spot behind the Christmas tree.  This probably saved us from a few shredded arms.

The Christmas tree has gone, too – the day after New Year’s Day – taken by an enthusiastic friend of Ten’s who is trying to win the prize offered by the town council to the child who collects the most post-Christmas trees.  Such a clever ploy – all the children of The Hague race around clearing up trees conveniently left outside front doors in the hope that they will be the one to win the coveted iPod that is on offer.  They do the same with bags of spent fireworks on New Year’s Day.  Saves the council a fortune in clean-up bills.

If you have never experienced a Dutch New Year’s Eve, you wouldn’t believe me if I tried to describe it to you.  Suffice to say that there are fireworks (turn speakers up loud for that link) going off literally everywhere you look by midnight and up at the beach they build gigantic bonfires using JCB’s and pallets.  That last clip is an excellent example of young children being allowed to run around unsupervised with fireworks which they often light and let off whilst holding.

It’s an incredible spectacle, with the whole skyscape lit up.  Every household buys their own equivalent of the London Eye’s stock of fireworks (using savings put by for offsprings’ weddings and university fees, I suppose) and all are set off at midnight.  The noise is amazing, as are the colours and even the smells.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it goes on for a couple of hours.  Last New Year’s Eve we were in England and Fourteen and Ten were unable to understand why I tried to send them to bed before midnight.

‘Really, there’s nothing to see,’ I insisted.

Ten dutifully went off to bed but Fourteen steadfastly refused to believe me and stayed up watching Jools Holland with us.  At midnight she raced outside, her expectant face turned skywards.  One rocket went off somewhere across a field.  That was it.  This year she said she never, ever wants to spend New Year’s Eve in England again.

The Christmas / New Year break proved to be fun, eventful and relaxing as well as exhausting on occasion.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten and drunk so much for such a prolonged period without doing any form of exercise in between.  The latter I blame on the snow – how can you go running in 18 cm of hard-packed snow and ice?  Once the snow went though, I did pull my trainers back on and greeted afresh the delights of over-zealous dogs (read ‘uncontrolled and off the leash’) and their innumerable deposits that did not melt away with the snow.  Aaah, the flip side of the delights-of-Dutch-life coin.  Being all cosy and cossetted in the house with my family I had forgotten for a moment where we were – until 31st December at midnight, of course!

Earlier in the day, Husband had been packed off to the infamous Simonis fishmongers at the harbour to buy, amongst other things, oysters.  It’s a tradition in our house to kick the evening off with oysters and champagne on the 31st.  This year, or I suppose I should say, last year, Simonis had the oysters on a display table in the middle of the shop and were offering free samples.  Once his oyster was sucked off the shell, the empty half was then filled with vodka straight from the bottle and that, too, was consumed in one swift gulp.  Husband reported back via sms that he had a nice warm feeling in his belly for the duration of the shopping trip!  Hmm, I should coco.

Before Christmas, we had huuuuge snow and, on a walk out one evening we encountered amongst the many snowmen…

… a real igloo!  Not so much made with bricks as carved out of a giant snowball, perhaps, but it was brilliant and was the first and only one I’ve ever seen or been inside, for that matter!

♥ Happy New Year to all three of you, dear readers♥

… and here’s to a deliciously exciting 2010 xxx

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