Misty morning

Cycling is my life-admin thinking time. Thinking about who I’ve forgotten to call, who I need to text back, the mortgage advisor that I need to reply to, that sort of thing. Please note, this is not by choice. I didn’t think one day, ‘y’know Lydia that time when the wind is in your hair and you’re peddling about with no access to your phone to text or laptop to email you should think only about tasks you’ve neglected on these devices at the exact time you can’t do anything about it, that’ll be a really valuable use of your time’. No, it’s just crept up upon me and now I can’t rid myself of it. Well, as I was cycling my route to work down the Prinsengracht I came out of my admin stupour for the briefest of seconds to look up and view the most perfect of scenes: mist on the canal. It was like a backdrop to a moody film where french lovers would quarrel dramatically over morning coffee, or something. So naturally I stopped and took a picture of it and uploaded it to Instagram. Otherwise it never happened, right?

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#nofilter btw. yeah.

Misty morning

Oh Amsterdam, you beauty

So. Hello again. As you can see by my massive post count, I don’t blog that much. You want to properly stalk me on the internets, you’re looking in the wrong place…

I’ve been in Amsterdam for 18 months now. 18 month olds are that difficult age, when they’re all opinions, staying up late, and smashing their food up the kitchen wall. I’ve reached the potty training stage of expat life.

Most expats get itchy after about this time and bugger off home, or go somewhere else. Me, I don’t feel itchy. Not even the slightest tingle. Every time I cycle round this weird tiny town, I think ‘wow… this is so not London’. So not London in the ‘I’ll be there in two hours’ kind of way (in two hours, you’re in Germany from here).  So not London in the ‘wow I’ve just sneezed in Sainsbury’s and spent 50 quid’. And so not London in the ‘yeah, I can’t make our coffee, how about in three month’s time?’.

Although Amsterdam is like London in a lot of ways… all the good ways. It’s got art and culture and gigs and all that stuff. But most importantly, just suddenly, basically just when I arrived in town, there are all these cafes popping up all over the shop. Tasty food cafes, with tasty waiters with beards.

I had brunch in one today that served me scrambled eggs with chilli and bacon.  Proper chilli that makes your mouth go bang, not the wimpy flaccid Dutch idea of chilli. YUM.

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I realised I forgot my bank card. After I had finished my food. And they let me pay later. And were really nice about it. Okay, so I still haven’t paid and they’ve run me three times already, but I’m going to totally go in tomorrow and pay. Honest.

The reason I haven’t paid is not because I’m an egg robber, is that today I’m a long-distance cycler. I went to a meeting outside of Amsterdam… in Schipol. Most people know Schipol as that place where the airport is. Well, there’s other stuff there to, including a very nice agency who my company will hopefully be working with soon.  I arrived a bit warm, after cycling at full speed through Amsterdamse Bos – an actual forest on the outskirts of Amsterdam. On the way home, there was the most amazing sunset and then I got lost and ended up next to a lake. Not bad Amsterdam. With views like this, I don’t want to leave you quite yet.

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Oh Amsterdam, you beauty

Friends not things

Moving to a new city is scary and exciting, sad and delirious all in one. It means you get a fresh start and leave some old shit behind. It means making new friends but saying goodbye to old ones. Being an expat in a (relatively) small city means that there’s a ready made group of friends who were all new once, so are really welcoming, friendly and keen to invite you out to stuff to keep your weekends busy. I’m already lucky enough to have met people who I hope to grow into very good friends. Serendipity brought me here in the first place and has since showered her gifts upon me: starting off with Queen’s day was almost too much fun. Here was my view from the ping pong table towards the end of the day.

View from the ping pong table

But a new city means leaving old friends behind. My dearest friend came to visit me last weekend and played mum, dad and best gay straight friend all in one whilst cooking me meals for the week (and until now I had not fully appreciated the usefulness of freezer bags), unpacking my boxes and helping me purge old clothes from my wardrobe to make room for Me Mk 2 outfits.  He left all too soon on the Sunday evening and I went off to dinner with my new planner colleagues. It was only this morning that I really felt the pang of his absence as I cycled to work through the park knowing that it would be a while before I see him again.

Then, mid morning I was told the dreadful news of someone from university had died very suddenly in an accident. I hadn’t seen him much, if at all since I left 10 years ago. But now I felt a lot of very overwhelming emotions as I was invited to join the memorial group on Facebook and see friends’ tales old and new of him from their collective memories.  It’s peculiar  that I remember some friends from those days with such clarity – entire scenes and conversations I can play out in my head. But with this person I have much hazier recall. Even now, with all the photos, I’m grasping for details of my experience of our friendship.  All I have is a nebulous memory of a cheery soul, always smiling, always there with open arms ready to dance.

It’s friends not things that matter. And that life, life is for living so get on and live it big.

Friends not things

Bikes, bikes everywhere

My bike arrived today from London. His name is Roger (or Rodrigo for long). I debated long and hard about whether I should bring him over, or sell him and get a cheapo Dutch bike.  People told me that bike theft is rife here in Amsterdam and that a nice looking bike is hot property. I didn’t think I could bear it if old Roge’ was stolen as he has been such a loyal and trusty steed in London. But then I realised that there’s a reason that bike theft is so commonplace in Amsterdam. Is because locks in Amsterdam are shit. What is with those rubbish hair-clips through the back-wheel nonsense? And the big chain locks that can be smashed open with a hammer? So I’m risking it and riding Roger so he can be with his biking brethren. I’ll just make sure I double lock him good and proper

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Bikes, bikes everywhere