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Showing posts from 2008

Explorers

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Look at this active couple: Jan’s brother Oeds and his wife Marije are exploring Australia during this Christmas season. And what a program they have! From the tropical rainforest in Cairns, scuba diving with giant turtles and sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, to the crocodiles at the Daintree forest near Port Douglas. Then leaving Queensland to visit us in South Australia, where so far six koalas and seven dolphins have been spotted. Today the hunt for kangaroos is on (also very nice on the BBQ), before they throw themselves into the local New Year’s Eve festivities. Then the four of us will go on a road trip along the Great Ocean road to Victoria for some spectacular coastal views, to end up in the green and mountainous Tasmania. By that time they probably need a holiday to recover from all events!

While crossing half of this continent in just a few weeks Marije and Oeds even found time to bring us lots and lots of Christmas presents. Especially the Fryslân promotion gear for the bab…

Sinterklaas in Aussie

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It was a long way from home, but Sinterklaas made it to Australia this year. As all Dutch kids know St Nicolas celebrates his birthday on the 5th of December with lots of candy and presents. If you ever wondered what he was doing the day after, now you know: he’s visiting the Dutch kids overseas. The local Adelaide kids gathered in Kensington park to welcome the good old man before he returns home to Spain. Funny enough this time he arrived by bike, rather than by boat. As always it was a great celebration for all parents and kids (see pictures and video), and Sinterklaas promised that he would definitely return next year.

Such a shame that Jan missed it all. He arrived just after Sinterklaas had left ;-)

Swedish Girls

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The great thing about having visitors from overseas is that we get to be tourist ourselves. Thanks to the sisters Susan and Annika from Sweden we have been touring around, finding more and more new places close to home that we hardly knew existed. South Australia is a big place, and there is plenty to explore. And on top of that they provided us with an excuse to go on a long weekend to Sydney. Although Jan had been there many times for work, this was the first time that we actually got to see the city. And let us assure you this: it is just awesome. The Sydney Harbor is one of the most spectacular views you will ever see, with the world famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House. See for yourselves on our pictures.

Another advantage of having Swedish girls around is of course that they could take good care of us. Mikaela’s pregnancy is into the sixth month now. She’s going great, but things are getting gradually heavier. And since after his operation Jan hasn’t been of much use, the girls …

Jan's shoulder

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Becoming a parent changes everything. You want to be well prepared, and get as many things done before the baby is born. One of the things Jan had been postponing for a long time was to get his left shoulder fixed. It had been painful for almost a year, especially after lifting things and driving the old Toyota (which was a manual). Neither physiotherapy nor chiropractor helped much. An ultrasound showed that there was really just one option left: a shoulder arthroscopy operation. Definitely not his favorite thing, but you want to be able to lift the baby, right?

The ‘op’ took place last Tuesday in the North Eastern community hospital. According to the surgeon it all went fine. Recovery will take a while though. Need to train up the arm again from zero: every movement feels like new. Meanwhile Jan will be walking around with a sling, like a one armed bandit. The pain may be bugging him at times, but according to him the upside is that he is free from cooking and any household task for…

Mikaela's 30th Birthday

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Today's the big day: Mikaela is turning thirty !!!
A milestone to celebrate, don't you think?
Thirty years young and literally full of life.
What more could we wish for?!?

So why don't you all join us and sing along:

Ja, må hon leva, Ja, må hon leva,
Ja, må hon leva uti hundrade år.

Ja, visst ska hon leva, Ja, visst ska hon leva,
Ja, visst ska hon leva uti hundrade år.

"Ett fyraldigt leve... leve hon.
HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH."



And for those of you who are burning of enthusiasm, don't hold back ...
Presents are always welcome ;-)

The big question

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The big question of course is ‘what’s it going to be?’ Mum thinks it’s a girl, dad says it’s a boy. How classic… time will tell who’s right. Meanwhile it’s getting more visible by the day. Something’s cooking and Mikaela can’t hide it. Isn’t it beautiful?

With the big news comes of course the big preparation. We started making shopping lists, reading books and internet sites, and visited some baby shops. What a world?!? You almost need a degree to understand everything. Luckily we have friends with kids here, who are helping us to get started. Thanks a lot guys!

Most tangible thing we bought so far is our new/used car. It took a couple of weekends (and a lot of patience) to find one that suited both the requirements of a young family, as well as the need for a 40 year old to get over his midlife crisis. Result: a Hyundai Tucson 4-wheel drive. Take a look here. Nice ah?
According to Mikaela the best thing about it is that we won't have to go to another car yard in the next 5 years.

Look who is there?!?

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Yep, it’s for real. We are officially expecting! An Aussie-Swedish-Dutch-Frisian baby is in the making. In week sixteen now and it’s all looking very good. Due date is somewhere half March, at the end of the summer.

For us it is of course the greatest news ever. Mikaela has followed a typical textbook pregnancy so far: some nausea, tiredness, mood swings and a totally messed up taste for food and snacks! She even dislikes chocolate now!!! How crazy can it get?!? But it’s all looking good. We already had an early ultrasound and we saw the little one actively twisting, turning and even waving at us. It was even making loops! Clearly it is having a good time in mummy’s womb.

So once again we are ‘on the move’: another big and exciting change ahead of us. We can still hardly believe it ourselves. It’s such a new world to us that we often feel a bit lost. How do start a journey like this?!?

Visitors

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See here the winners of the ‘Who will be the first to visit us in Australia’ award: Denyse and Jeroen from IJsselstein. They were on their pre-honeymoon trip to visit friends and family Down Under. Congratulations guys!

We’ve had an absolute great and action packed time together. Went to see Adelaide, cycled the linear park, did the wine trip to Barossa Valley, explored the wildlife in the hills, sent them off to Kangaroo Island, drove the Great Ocean road and went dining and shopping in Melbourne. And all of that in just 10 days!

There were many highlights in this week, but one event really stood out: we finally saw a Whale! Yep, it was lying and waiting for us at Warrnambool beach last Friday morning. Apparently our visitors brought us luck. And good weather. Cause believe it or not, spring is coming!

Thanks Denyse and Jeroen for this wonderful visit. May it be the first of many more to come. And for all others: click here to see the photo’s. Or even better: come and visit us yourselv…

One year in Aussie

It's one year ago now that we arrived in Australia. Can you believe how fast time has been flying? It honestly still feels as if we just started our life here Down Under.
Although well underway with our jobs, many other aspects of our integration are still in an early stage. We still live in the same rental place that we found last year, and we will do so for at least another year. Not until we are permanent residents can we possibly afford to buy our own house (March 2010 earliest).
As for the social integration: that’s also just started. We have a lot of contact with other Dutch immigrants. They seem to find each other easily. But building more frequent and deeper contact with the locals is a slow process. This seems to be something that even Aussies from interstate confirm: it just takes time to become part of the South Australian communities.
Also, there is so much for us to explore in Australia. We’ve hardly seen anything of this continent yet. Although very soon we are goin…

Whingers

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One of the most frequently used words in the vocabulary of Australians is ‘Whingeing’. According to the dictionary it means complaining, moaning, grumbling. A whinger is someone you don’t want to be, but somehow is easily said about everybody else. In fact, most people here would tell you that South Aussies generally are just a bunch of whingers. Bosses tell their employees that they should stop whingeing, and all injured sports people are by default whingers. There’s even a radio show you can call that will broadcast your message live, as long as it starts with “I am not a whinger, but …..”

All in all it is safe to say Australians love to whinge a little bit. So from that perspective our integration is really going well. Since a couple of weeks we are whinging our hearts out about the weather. It is mid-winter now, and believe it or not: it can be freezing cold here. An average day temperature of 15°C may be decent, but at night it can get as low as 3°C. Mind you: in a house with jus…

Anniversary

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Can you imagine? Exactly five years ago the city of Salamanca in Spain was sighing under a heat wave. A Swedish student almost finished her term and was ready to return home, when she walked into the ‘O Harris bar. Her friend was talking to this Dutch bloke, who thought he could learn Spanish in just two weeks. He disqualified himself even more by admitting he had no motorbike, no tattoos and he could not even tell Michael Jackson song from Prince. Worst match ever, you think?!?

Well here we are, celebrating our fifth anniversary this weekend on a romantic getaway in Victor Harbor. On the shores of the southern ocean we were looking out for dolphins, penguins and whales. This time no heat wave and no Spanish classes, but still just as happy as that summer in Salamanca. It's been a great adventure all along. Too bad for that motorbike though ;-)

Euro 2008

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In the past two weeks we were reminded how Swedish and Dutch we really are. The Euro2008 soccer tournament made our hearts beat faster. It dominated our life completely, as we went up early for all games of the Yellow and Orange: at 4 AM in the morning!!! Only a few games were live on public TV, but the other games we watched on the internet, or with Erik-Jan & Pien, who gained immense popularity among friends by subscribing to Foxtel pay TV. As the days went by the confidence kept growing and growing, and the lack of sleep almost brought us in some sort of trance. We kept going and going like real fans do. No stopping us, at least that’s what we thought …..

This morning however Russia rudely ended the Dutch dream. Same way as they did a couple of days ago with Sweden. So in this house the Russians are not very popular anymore;-) All in all we enjoyed it a lot. Too bad for the result, but we simply weren’t good enough.
At least now we can we can finally catch up some sleep again. …

Mountain bikers

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How glorious to race down a hill, full speed across small dirt paths, frantically holding on to your handle bars while dodging tree stumps, branches or even wildlife, followed by a murdering ascend back up, to find yourself completely gasping for breath at each hilltop, being overwhelmed by the stunning views for a second, before crashing downhill once more! Truely 'breath taking' stuff ;-)

Here’s Jan with his biking mates Mark and Erik, on top of Thomas hill in Cudlee Creek - Adelaide Hills.

Australian rules Football

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You might think that European football is an exciting game for well trained athletes, fighting for the honour of their team or their country. Well, just so you know: the Aussies think that we Europeans are a bunch of sissies. “What do you mean Football? That’s just soccer?!?”.

Aussies claim to play the real Football: Australian Rules. It’s a mix of soccer and rugby, spiced up by a lack of rules and a preference for physical contact. Jan watched his first live AFL game the other week with our neighbour in the local Footy stadium. The Adelaide Crows were playing North Melbourne in a sold out house: 40.000 people. Quite an event and very entertaining.
The locals explained that this was nothing like soccer, with only two halves played by boys running after a (round) kiddie ball, dropping on the floor in agony after the very first instance of physical contact, shouting for a yellow card. On the contrary: Aussie rules Footy doesn’t even have yellow cards. A player can knock everyone off thei…

KoninginneNach'

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Hollands national day 'Koninginnedag', celebrated last night with around forty Dutch immigrants and backpackers.
Remarkable detail: it took place in the Belgian Beer cafe !!!

Locked out

(Jan's phone conversation with RAA Road Watch late this afternoon….)
"So let me try to recap this: you want us to break into your car, but the car key is not in your car?!?"
"Eh, yes"
"Where is your car now?"
    "At home"
 "So why do you need us then?"
"What do you mean?"
"If you are home already, you don't need the car to get home, right?
"Well yes, but the thing is that my car key is in the house. You see?"
"No, I don't see"
   "And we left the home key in the car"
 "So why don't you grab the car key, open the car and get the home key?"
"Because I can't get into house either!"
"Hang on: so you locked yourself out of your car and out of your house at the same time?!?"
"Something like that yes"
"How the %$#%@ did you do that?"
"Don't even ask."
"And now you want us to break into your car, so you can get the home k…

Bye bye Summer

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Summer is officially over: last week our sweet honeymoon with Australia was rudely interrupted by something we had not experienced in a long time: rain. For a couple of days we had stormy weather, and even some hail. For a moment it felt like back in Europe: getting up early and whinging about the cold (although it was still 20°C). But then we noticed an important difference: rather than being grumpy, the locals were actually very happy. Finally fresh air, and some relief for the poor dry countryside. Indeed the rain was desperately needed, as our photo impression “Around Adelaide” proves. So funny enough South Australia is hoping for a wet winter…

The summer has been great though, with almost six months of sun, beach, BBQ’s and loads and loads of festivals around the city. Especially in Feb and March it was just impossible to keep up with everything going on. You need at least a couple of summers to be able to attend all activities. Click here for some photos of our first Summer in A…

Heatwave

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It was the longest heatwave ever in any capital city in Australia. For 16 days in a row Adelaide suffered temperatures from 35° to 40° C. The streets were like a sauna, the walls in the houses started sweating, and the air-cons worked around the clock. South Australia has not had any proper rain since December, so the state is on high alert for bush fires in the hills areas. Funny enough that’s when you see most umbrellas around town: used for sun protection!

So what do you do to survive? If your name is Mikaela, you actually enjoy it and wished it could last a bit longer. However, most people stay inside, do nothing, and get a little grumpier every day. They just wait it out, and pray for some relief. Finally it arrived, with a forecast of around 25°C for next week. Still sunny and dry, but I bet Mikaela will dig up her winter coat soon ;-)

See what's new

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It took some effort and patience, but finally Mikaela found her way back into the job that she likes best. "Detail handbags" is the employer, with exclusive stores in Norwood, Burnside and downtown in Rundle street and Myer shopping centre. So from next week on she is back in business!

Supercars

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Sunday we were at the Clipsal 500: the yearly V8 supercars race in a street circuit downtown. For days you could hear the rumble of racing engines all around town, even in our own backyard. The roar made Mikaela’s heart beat faster, so of course we had to go. It’s the biggest event of the year in Adelaide, with crowds of almost 300.000 people spread over four days. Twenty years ago this was the scene of the Formula1 - right downtown - but today it serves the 8 cylinder cars (Holden versus Ford), plus all kinds of other motorized vehicles. There’s even a show of jetfighter airplanes. All heavy and noisy stuff! And although the day ended a bit more subtle, with a concert of Santana, we could still hear it when we closed our eyes at night:
VRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM ……

Please allow us ...

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"Promise we won't remind you too often ....."

The big FOUR O

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There you go boy: 40 years old today. Or should we say ‘young’? Either way, it’s a milestone. I took a day off work to get to terms with it. If you consider this ‘halfway’, you could question what on earth I have been doing in the first half?!? Anything significant at all? Well, apart from meeting all you guys, getting all stressed up about study, work and theatre, and moving to Aussie with the love of my life, I guess the most significant achievement in my life so far is making it to my 40th birthday in one piece. Surely that counts for something, right?!? At least well worth a celebration.

The festivities started this weekend with a BBQ in the Adelaide hills with colleague Peter. To my great surprise his wife Sarah made me a real birthday cake. They even put candles on top! Now is that a real birthday or what?!?

Moonlight cinema

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With Christmas behind us it is back to reality. Hard work and hot days. South Australia is sighing under the ongoing drought, desperately longing for some rain. The upside of this is that the heat doesn’t feel that bad, because it’s dry. We’ve had the first +40˚ days, but it was still bearable. And with airco virtually everywhere (work, car and bedroom) we are well equipped for the season.
Another upside is that the outdoor season really took off. A lot is going on right now: festivals, music and sports events. Next week the Tour Down Under will hit South Australia, which is the official kick off for the UCI cycling season. Most of the ‘tour de France’ teams will show up. Let’s see if they can handle the heat ;-)

One particular special event is the Moonlight Cinema. Every night around sundown people gather at the botanic gardens to have a picnic and watch an open air movie. While the film progresses the night falls and you’re laying under the stars, quietly enjoying the intimate atmosp…

Happy Newyear

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Newyears eve in New Zealand, with Mirjam and Karl. Feel like joining us? Cheers to all of you !!!

We had a fantastic week in NZ. Beautiful country, and we were lucky with the weather. Thanks again Mirjam and Karl!
For a photo impression click here.