Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 2015 -

The day before we left for Amsterdam, a crew set up scaffolding around our house and delivered insulation panels.  

In February, our neighbour began looking for an apartment to rent or buy in Gelibolu. She happened to meet the real estate agent who helped broker the deal, for this house, between us, Cam's employer and our landlord in 2011. She told him that we were thinking of moving to Gelibolu because our house was cold.  

This was a bit of over dramatized wishful thinking on our neighbour's part, but it does demonstrate the nature of communication here.  So the next thing we know our landlord is arranging to insulate and paint the house in addition to arranging the repair of the retaining wall that broke in a winter storm. He also offered to have the interior painted as well.  We declined this offer, because of the mess and disruption it would cause; although after nearly four years the inside needs painting and some plaster work rather badly.

Nearing completion - insulation installed, plastering complete, trim installed and painted green.
We were told the work would take two weeks.  It took a lot longer than that. The crew left most of the clean up to us and still haven't been back to reinstall the awning, the clothes line or any of the outside lights.

Sam and I cleaned up the rubble at the bottom of the stairs
and yes that's paint on the door and no I can't get it off I've tried.

One Saturday while they were painting the other gate we got to weave through this to get our groceries into the house.

Having the workmen in the yard for most of a month made us all very unhappy.  It wasn't bad enough that it was difficult to get in and out of the yard, but they were outside every window so we felt either trapped because the blinds were drawn or exposed; like zoo animals. 

Cam was busy with meetings this month, but organized his schedule around, basketball, my teaching commitments and Nicole's work in the language school's pre-school classroom.  

Sam went back to basketball after we got home from Amsterdam, Classes were 60-90 minutes Saturday and Sunday each week.  Cam ferried Nicole and I around on Saturdays so we could grocery shop while Sam practiced and Sunday's Cam watched the practice.This photo is from February - that tall guy in the blue t-shirt is Sam.

One weekend, there was no basketball, because the gym was being used to process a boat load of Syrian refugees who had been apprehended in Turkish waters.

I taught my last two ESL classes in March. Cam had resorted to coming with me to the classes rather than waiting in the car. I worked exclusively with adults and enjoyed it immensely, although like any job there were frustrations when lessons were planned and students were late or failed to attend. 

Nicole continued to volunteer in the language school's preschool classroom one afternoon each week.

I've been crocheting a lot and sewing this year.  We discovered that Nicole's bed skirt had been water damaged from the continual damp in her bedroom, so in addition to making a "Downton Abbey" style apron from a pattern I brought from home, I also made a little apron from the undamaged parts of her bed skirt.  Nicole and I had a fun little photo shoot.

I love that laugh!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 2015 -- Amsterdam

This blog post has been a long time coming.

March was a long month and started off with a 4 day trip to Amsterdam.  Cam was invited to tour a facility there and he in turn invited us to tag along. So what could have been an overnight trip for Cam turned into a long weekend away for all of us. (I'll just say up front, it was very weird to be seeing and doing without Johanna sharing our adventures - but she was having her own adventures in Canada.)

The palace on Dam Square.  (Nicole in particular got a kick out of saying "Let's go to the "Dam Square".)

The sign says Dam Good Coffee - but Nicole was excited to see giant jars of Nutella!
Our first stop after Dam Square was the Rijksmuseum.  I read somewhere that 
Amsterdam has more museums than any other European city.  We only went to one.

I was a teenager when I first saw a photo of this painting "Night Watch" by Rembrandt.
I was very excited to see it in person.

These are communion cups! Super size me!

This is a paint box - with our painter in the back ground!

Modern art

Nicole found Mr. van Gogh's brush strokes needed closer inspection.

I learned that Napoleon helped standardize weights and measures across Europe.  

Back at Dam Square we watched a performance of  break dancing.

We enjoyed a tour of the canals by boat. I was surprised by the number of house boats moored along the canals.

We should have rented the hotel's bicycles and saved our poor feet!

Saw a few of these decorative signs on old buildings.

Lots of unique restaurants! This one is vegan Japanese and Caribbean.

Waiting outside our hotel for Rolf, Cam's business contact kindly spent a day showing us around
We didn't choose the hotel, but it had a good breakfast, and was centrally located.  On the downside, we were a
couple of floors from the kids, the rooms were tiny and the lighting was poor.

Zaanse Schans:

Rolf took us first to Zaanse Schans which is a bit like an historical village, except people live and work there.
The first thing we noticed was the amazing smell from the chocolate factory nearby.  Mmm!

Handmade shoe making demo - for the tourists.

I tried some on - but they hurt my feet!

Sam tried some on too!

We walked along the canal.

We got to go inside a windmill, which I thought was really cool.
The one we were in was grinding peanuts and producing peanut oil!

Nicole watching the blades turn.

Next Rolf took us to Volendam (fishing village) where we had lunch. 

Lunch menu

Mmm!  Kibblings!  

We also ate raw herring while we waited for the kibblings.

Then we went to Marken by boat.

The harbour at Marken.

Marken was a delightful fishing village with canals and drawbridges. 

People live and work here.  There is access by car and by boat.
There wasn't much open, but we walked around for a bit before Rolf took us back to the city.

Back in Amsterdam Central:
(in no particular order)
Flower market ... too early for blooms but just right for bulbs!

Iconic Amsterdam, cheese, bikes and slippers shaped like wooden shoes!

Het Scheepvaartmuseum
The National Maritime Museum
Sam outside the Maritime Museum
It looks kind of dull on the outside, but they had fascinating displays.

Below deck, Sam is testing his strength by moving some crates.
This replica of a Dutch trader was great fun to explore!

Walking the plank ... into the ship!

The Captain's cabin - guess who is sleeping in his bed?

Ready, aim, FIRE!
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum:

This one is for Johanna!  At Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

Oprah getting ready to interview Nicole.
Cam and Dame Edna

Sam and Spiderman

I don't know what it was about Amsterdam, but it was the most exhausting trip.  I was foot sore and cranky the whole time we were away. It didn't help that we got terrible directions a couple of times, so ended up walking a long way out of our way and still not finding what we were looking for. (Sorry Sam and Nicole!)