Saturday, January 30, 2016

Februari Feesten


Carnival comes early to Maastricht this year: Feb 7-9. My PT tells me that, since the mayor has to parade through the Wyck atop his float in early January, the Christmas garland had to come down the day after New Year’s to make way.


IMG_20160128_111332I missed the parade, but there is an unusual amount of prep going on well ahead of the usual time.  Store windows are already being boarded up, the painted murals appearing along the ‘skade.  Bert and Benthe are putting up real Venetian masks at Le Cle, next door.

IMG_20160129_101406IMG_20160128_214901 - CopyIMG_20160129_101545~2

received_10209216335184981In the middle of gearing up my Carnival thinking, I got a message from a US friend: Did I know what the February Kruikenjacht celebration is? 

She sent this helpful picture of a trophy.

This took some digging.  The Kruikenjacht seems to be a winter competition held in woodlands north of Amsterdam.  Web sites indicate a cold February weekend in the , a mix of orienteering and pub-crawl.  Teams of two or three sleeping out overnight, hike from pub to pub,during the days.  There is a party at the end and awarding of a stone-bottle trophy. 

The video summary raises more questions that it answers for me.  

kruikenjacht 1kruikenjacht 2

I likely prefer Carnival, but has any reader done this, or knows more about it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Changing out my travel kit

IMG_20160126_105949I haven’t been to the Netherlands in a few weeks: I arrived at New Years, but only skipped through Schiphol in a couple of hours, missing a brief trip home.  This would be a bit longer visit, and a break from setting up the QMS paperwork back in the UK.

Since I have all of my clothes and things waiting in Maastricht, I’m able to travel light, even by Ryanair standards.  A carry-on suitcase with a few essentials and room for my shoulder bag and computer.  I always existed carrying bags onto the plane, but was gifted a small hard-side case a few years back that has worked well for me on trips like this.

Well, until this trip, anyway.

DSC08636The handle fell apart when I extended it to deplane, and I ended up breaking off the handle just to exit.  ‘Headed to Amsterdam for meetings with the accountant, then on the train down to Maastricht, it wouldn’t last long.

I dropped into de Bijenkorf, the major Dutch department store, to see what might be done.  The luggage  section sprawls across a quarter of the floor, so I snag a young, hip salesperson who looks like who I want to be.

It has to fit the carry-on rules.  It needs to be durable and light.  It needs to fit my budget.

He suggested something hard-sided and on-special, the store brand.  Not my style.

One step up.  Soft-sided.  Not Samsonite.

Better alternatives: collections of straps, buckles, and expandable zippers that suggested versatility and exploration-chic.

Executive-style, guarantee…

Price went towards 500 euros, now it was leather hard-shell.  Too much.

IMG_20160421_202503I selected a nice soft-side for around 100 euros.  They fellow was willing to dispose of the old case, and I ,move everything to the new.  40 minutes, in and out, back on the road.

Is Road-Warrior still a phrase?


DSC07376_thumb[2]I’m making one more change, this one more subtle.  For years, I’ve traveled with an MP3 player, loaded with podcasts  that I collect with gPodder.

The problem is that the system is labor intensive and inflexible.  selecting and transferring a selection of  what I do.

If new podcasts arrive, i can’t really sample them easily.

I have a lot of dross taking up space that i should listen to, but don’t.

Realistically, I have a lot of bandwidth, and should treat this more like radio than records.  I should be streaming from a catalogue, rather than archiving and curating.

So, I’ve transferred my subscription to Stitcher, and am experimenting with playlists, shuffles, and accelerated playback.

I like the flexibility, but can’t find all of my usual shows, cant alphabetize within a playlist, and  an;t play a single show.  Stitcher says that these are ‘features’, not issues, when I write support to ask.

Still, I’m liking the alternative, as long as I download before I board the plane and watch my roaming mobile data usage.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Harbour lights, Sunday evening

IMG_20160124_160637A long day getting the end-of-month accounts done: receipts, exchange rates, time sheets, VAT.  It’s probably the worst job of the quarter, every quarter.

At the end, I just needed to set it aside and get a little bit of an airing.  The Quay is always a good destination, people and a festival spirit, boats and beers.  Tonight was misty low cloud and mist, hard to get any photos that weren’t just grey and flat.

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But when it got a bit darker and the lights came on, it took on a nice character, even with the crummy camera built into the Nexus.

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‘gotta love catching the ‘Magic Hour’