Most people who know me know how much I LOVE my birthday. I get very excited and usually think about it for weeks in advance. It was a bit different this year as the lead up was us arriving here and all of the chaos, excitement and pressure involved in that.

Well I am pleased to report that my first birthday overseas was the best birthday EVER!

I woke up to lots of emails and texts (thanks all) which continued until the next morning – I felt very special! Alex made me breakfast in bed and we just generally had a lazy start to the day. The weather was mild and dry and we had nothing planned until the evening.

At the farmhouse (our current digs) there are a bunch of very old, dodgy bikes – 1 had a wheel that was being held on by a Heineken cap – actual! We had taken one into get a new tire the day before and picked it up with the most functional of the others around lunchtime. This is quite momentous because bikes mean that not only are we really ‘living’ here now, but it also means that we are relatively mobile now. Big excitement!

We did a wee explore of Badhoevedorp. The week before when Alex had done a solo mission on the least dodgy of the bikes to get a few groceries he had been given a flier. It was for one of the chocolate shops in the area and they were having their first birthday on my birthday so we thought we would go and check it out. There was a chocolate fondue fountain – oh yeah – and you could just help yourself. We also bought a box of chocolates to take home.

Birthday celebrations at the chocolate shop - just for me!

Then we went and had lunch at a Vishandel – a fish shop that also sells cooked fish. There isn’t a New Zealand equivalent really.

Fish for lunch.

After that we biked home where Alex found out all the football scores from this weekend’s premier league matches and just about wet himself with excitment!

The planned part of the day began after this. We biked to the bus stop. This might not sound that exciting, but it’s awesome for two reasons:

  1. Our house is on a building site and mud and dirt are a factor. I could wear nice clothes and not get them dirty!
  2. We didn’t have to walk for 10 minutes – which when we got home very late was especially nice.

We bussed into Amsterdam and went to an Indonesian restaurant for dinner where we had Rijstafel (rice table) which is a bit like a little smorgasbord served to your table. They could even do a vege-quarian one for me and meat one for Alex. It was delicious – and very reasonable.

Rijstafel

We then walked about one kilometre through Amsterdam to Carre – one of the most famous theatres here where we saw Herman van Veen perform.

Carre - I want to perform on that stage!

Herman van Veen is a Dutch cabaret institution! Even though most of the show was in Dutch it didn’t matter, it was moving, funny and just incredible to see such a master at work. The show was so well crafted and had beautiful absurdest moments as well as just simple singing and music making.

First encore

He did about three encores which we thought was amazing, but the locals kept stamping their feet and clapping and by the end he had done about SEVEN encores – incredible. And his season is seven weeks long at Carre which seats at least 2000 people.

The crowd keep wanting more!

Well this is where it starts to get really cool. I had decided to give him a copy of my EP – nothing ventured, nothing gained – and the girl at the merchandise stand said “You can meet him afterwards if you like” so after he had performed for an extra 40 minutes he then spent time signing CDs, books and talked to people – what a man. We were two of the last people to see him and he said to me “You sent me the CD. Where abouts are you performing? Is there an email address included?” and then introduced us to his guitarist as “two colleagues of ours!” We were so incredibly overwhelmed by his artistry and generosity.

Herman van Veen and me

Then we met up with Sacha (van Beek – our NZ friend who arrived two months before us) and had some drinks with her at a nice pub until the early hours of the morning.

Sacha and me

We got back to our bikes at about 3am and were very grateful that the clocks were put back for daylight savings giving us an extra hour of sleep!

What an amazing day! Thanks to my gorgeous husband for making it so fun and special. And thanks for all the good wishes from you all.

Nom xx

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