Dear Diary Some Days In My Life Seems So Long Ago
Names have been changed to protect identities.
That weekend Chris and I had really got to know each other well, it was just a case of making a special effort to let him know how much appreciation there was for him letting me stay...in fact It surprised me how well I did settle in.
Deciding he really liked me, Chris asked if I would like to come to Holland with him for his cousins wedding, of course I jumped at the chance, especially as he offered to pay for me, I felt so lucky to get this opportunity.
There was a lot of planning involved, even though we were going to stay at his parents flat. I asked Chris what his cousin would like for a wedding present, but he told me not to bother, that they would probably be getting loads of gifts and anyway he'd rather give them money from both of us. I was broke and hadn't even stopped still long enough to sign on, or look for work, but he said I could pay him back when I found a job, so I felt slightly better. I wasn't used to being so dependant on others, which I felt I had been over the passed couple of weeks.
Chris got the time off work, from his job on British rail, so I was raring to go. I went mad with the cleaning, making sure there was enough food stocked up for Mark, as he wasn't coming with us.
We also went to see his friend who was coming over to Holland with us in the van, though he wasn't actually attending the wedding. The guy lived in a caravan and his parents looked after the mentally handicapped people who lived in a forest, in chalet style cabins.
Jake was a hippy, he lived alone, exactly how he liked it. He had a long beard and long hair which he tied back in a ponytail. Jake was always rolling joints, but he never forced anyone else to smoke, it was just his thing. I'd never smoked in my life and had no intention of starting.
When we arrived, Jake was already at the door to welcome us, it was only later that I realised he could be standoffish with those he didn't know, but I really got on with him, so everything was cool. The caravan was very small, with just enough room for one, so when we stepped inside, it became restricted as I sat down drinking a can of beer he'd offered me. We talked about arranging to pick him up on the Wednesday, I couldn't wait.
It was quite an eventful journey down to pick up the ferry, as Jake sat with Chris in the front of the van, I sat in the back keeping warm by the engine, it was so hot, that I fell asleep and ended up scolding myself and burning a hole in my tea shirt...what an idiot I was! Luckily for me it was nothing to drastic and the red burn mark on my arm soon disappeared.
I don't remember much about the ferry over, but when we got to the Dutch border, there was a bit of a panic, although Chris and Jake were quite calm. We got stopped by the Dutch police, who then insisted they search the van, Sitting down by the harbour, Chris took my photo as we waited for what seemed ages for them to do their job, I suppose it was because we looked like we had suspicious drugs on us. I was so afraid they were going to rip the seats apart and we'd have no transport, but after some consideration and politeness from Chris and Jake, they let us go...to my great relief.
I had no idea of where we were going, as I never kept a diary at this time, so all my recollections are from memory. It did surprise me just how clean everywhere was, I expected there to be litter flying around for some reason, which I cannot recall.
I liked the fact that they had special lanes for cyclists with their own traffic lights, which I thought was a great idea and couldn't understand why they never did something similar in this country. We stopped off at the toilets on the way and they were a pleasure to walk into, with their vases of flowers on the ledges and everywhere was clean and spotless.
When we arrived at Chris's mum and dad's flat, they were so welcoming and friendly. His mum lay so much food out, I hardly knew where to start, though I do remember the wonderful salad dishes she prepared...the Dutch love their healthy foods so I discovered.
Once we'd eaten, Chris said he was taking me and Jake to one of the local bars. I vaguely remember walking into quite a modern building, where we sat drinking beer up at the bar. Jake was staying with a friend in Amsterdam, so this would be our last night with him, until we picked him up and returned to England.
We got chatting to a nice old couple who were drinking at one of the tables, they invited us back to their flat for more drinks, so seeing as we had no where special to be until the Saturday, we said we'd love to spend the evening with them. At closing time we left and wandered down streets with flats on all sides, until we came to a very posh block, with huge windows. Walking through the doors into the entrance, The old Gentleman pressed the button to go up in the lift, I noticed even that was clean.
Reaching their floor, the doors opened and we went along a carpeted landing, where the old couple lived. It was a very plush flat, I was in awe of their well kept surroundings, which I found surprising for an older couple, I could tell they took a pride in their home.
They had a parrot close to the main window in the living room, that wouldn't stop talking...it was amusing to hear a bird from Holland communicate in an English, almost human like way. I think I remember it saying; “Want a cup of coffee?” And, “Good night dear!” The old couples English was excellent too, which made it so much easier to socialize, so much so we ended up staying there all night drinking and chatting, I think they enjoyed the company too as they were so keen to keep us there.
By the early hours of the morning we'd run out of conversation, feeling tired we were ready to leave. Finally arriving back at his parents flat, they were asleep, so we crept along the hallway to our bedrooms, while Jake kipped down on the settee. Chris didn't think it wise for us to sleep in the same bed as we were at his parents, that was fine by me, cause all I wanted to do was flake out anyway.
The next morning I was woken by Chris's mum with a cup of coffee, it was a very welcome sight. Now daylight filled the bedroom, it was noticeable how clean and tidy the room was, no mess or clutter to be seen, just some clean towels and a flannel on the end of the bed. It was a pleasure to sleep here.
At breakfast which as I recall consisted of croissants with various jams and marmalades, they were delicious, also scrambled eggs with bacon...very yummy, followed by cups of coffee, I was eating like a queen, ready for the day ahead. Jake had already gone before I was even awake, so that just left the two of us.
Chris's dad suggested we hire a couple of bikes and go sightseeing while we were here. So after eating, we made our way down to the van and drove to pick up some bikes, which we put in the back of the vehicle. Cycling was easy because of the flatness of Holland, there were no steep hills to climb. The fact there were bike lanes too, made it a lot safer and pleasurable.
We first drove to the beach, then rode along the coastline, you could see for miles and the beach was so clean. It was a warm day and the sand dunes were a wonderful shelter from the ocean breezes. There were long grasses growing out of the dunes, the sand was so soft, it was a pleasure to sit and just observe the tide going in and out, but there wasn't too much time to waste, as there was still a lot more to discover.
I cannot remember exactly the name's of places we visited, but I do recall sitting on a jetty where boats were moored, dangling my feet in the cool water and watching the windmills with their huge sails going round and round. I also remember visiting a castle and standing on the drawbridge with Chris having our photo taken. It was so long ago, I wish I'd recalled the names of places we went to, but sadly I didn't, it seems so long ago and remains a mystery to this day.
To be continued...