We’re meeting some really lovely people here in Holland who are looking out for us in all sorts of ways. Although it doesn’t quite make up for missing our NZ buds, it’s nice to think we’re starting to establish some relationships here.

Last week we were very well looked after by new friends.

On Tuesday night Jurriaan, the son of the folk who looked after us so well in Groningen, cooked us a lovely feed of Moroccan stew with yummy herbs and cheese and salad. He is about 25 and doing his masters in Music and Media in Amsterdam. He’s a real hard case and very intelligent. We’ve hung out with him a few times and we have had lots of fun.

Jurriaan

Because we stayed with his folks we feel we know him better than two meetings so Alex has started razzing him immediately! We actually have some of his books from when he was a child on loan from his parents to help us with our Dutch. They are about two kids called Jip and Janneke and are lovely stories with the most delightful illustrations.

A Fiep Westendorp illustration of Jip and Janneke

On Friday, Tom, who lives around the corner came over for coffee and a chat. He’s a musician who we were introduced to by our next door neighbor, he’s about 6’11” (well you get the idea) and a total hippie. He recognised the brand of incense we were burning by the smell of it! We had a lovely afternoon talking about music, the environment, food, politics – you know the usual. Then he took me to a shop that sells second-hand sewing machines (which I never would have know was there in a million years of internet research) and I bought an old Singer sewing machine. The asking price was E75 and he got the guy to sell it to me for E50! Then he picked up a spare amp on the way home so that we have something to run the keyboard through – what a guy!

Tom - see how little the double bass looks!

On Saturday night we were picked up by Nigel and Roelie. Nigel is related to a work-mate of ours from NZ and is a Kiwi guy, and Roelie is his Dutch partner. They took us into a jazz festival in Asmterdam. It was pretty crazy and cool with some great music really pushing the boundaries of what is defined as Jazz. They also had us around for lunch the previous weekend and Nigel had made roast lamb (and fish for me) with all the trimings. Nigel is a really typical laid back Kiwi guy and Roelie is really lovely and bubbly. They are trying to help us out in all sorts of ways, with Alex’s job hunt, where to buy cheap groceries – all sorts. Roelie is also really into theatre, markets, second hand shopping etc. so that’s nice for me!

We’ve seen Sacha a few times too. It’s nice to see people who have known you for a while.

Me and Sacha at De Zotte - a Belgian beer bar

Alex’s cousin Nico is in town from London too at the moment which is really fun. We saw the Sinter Klaas parade through Amsterdam with him and are planning to go to the Tin Tin (or as the Dutch say Kuifje) movie with him sometime this week.

Zwarte Piet - Sinter Klaas' shoe polished helper - playing a horn!

L-R Friar Tuck, Nico, Alex and I - yes it's the same bar and the same booth!

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