Saturday, May 30, 2009

Crime in The Netherlands

Apparently the crime in the Netherlands is now so low that they either have to start shutting down prisons or bringing in criminals from neighbouring countries. Click here to read the full article.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thoughts and too much red wine

Mats and I were sitting on our balcony last night drinking wine, listening to music and talking about how much we love Amsterdam and how much Sydney wore us down. It's occurred to me many times that on the road to Hawaii I ended up in Amsterdam... physically and climate wise further away from Hawaii than Manly, the little beach town in Sydney where we used to live. Regardless of this it actually feels closer to the dream to be here. For one I'm actually on the road, but most importantly the people here have the laid back beach spirit. Manly didn't have this because there was always tension under the surface, plenty of rude and racist people* and zombies...

I call Sydney people zombie's for good reason. And last night when the song 'Mad World' was playing ('dead faces') and I had a few too many glasses of red wine I remembered exactly why I call them zombies...
The ferry which takes you from Sydney City to Manly in half an hour crosses Sydney heads, there is almost always a swell as you cross the heads, because they open up to the pacific ocean. As you cross this the ferry rocks from side to side, on the days with the larger swell the captain makes an announcement and warns everyone to remain seated. One day the swell wasn't particularly big, but big enough for someone drunk sitting on the outside to fall into the water. Ten minutes before docking the captain announced someone fell off the ferry and regulations required the ferry and all other working vessels in the area look for him. Everyone on the the ferry at peak hour, that is roughly 600 people, sat there, reading their books and their newspapers, no one flinched, I watched in amazement... Completely flabbergasted...
The people who moved first were the American tourists who worriedly wanted to see what happened, after they moved around for 30seconds trying to get a good view of the water people started looking around to see what everyone else was doing, one of the Americans yelled "hey look the zombies are waking up!"

Is it just me and the American tourists that find this behaviour completely and utterly bizarre and maybe just a little bit fucking scary?

*Looking the way I do I always encountered racism in Sydney as far as I can remember, this didn't change in Sydney's picturesque Northern Suburbs, if It wasn't directed at me it was directed at someone else, but I always noticed it. The only thing that changed between the Western suburbs and the Northern suburbs was that the Northern suburb racists' teeth hadn't fallen out. In the west it came in the form of a buck tooth redneck screaming at you on the street to "go back to your own country" in the North it came in the form of chasing people from your market stall yelling at them and telling the other browsers how much you hate "Chinese and Indian people because they steal my ideas and sell them cheap". Or maybe in the form of 60 teenage kids going on a racist rampage on Australia Day, smashing Chinese and Lebanese shop windows while screaming out "Australia is full". The media's and government's reaction to this? "Oh it's just young boys being boys" No no, Australia doesn't have a problem with racism at all...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pogo is settling in!

On Saturday when Pogo arrived into her new home it was so hard to take a picture of her because she would not stop walking around exploring her surroundings. As it turned out we forgot to turn off the sound blaster that's supposed to scare away the mice. Poor pogo must have been walking up and down trying to figure out where that damn mouse was all day (the sound blaster mimics mice sounds to make it appear as though there is a dominant male mouse already living in the house). So now with that sorted out she is behaving like a normal cat, that is she sleeps and plays all day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pogo the Cat AKA Mouse Hunter

Amsterdam is probably the most cat friendly place I have ever been. Cats are everywhere, in home and shop windows, sleeping under the tables in cafe's and restaurant's, jumping on your lap in bars and pubs. Up until 2 weeks ago I thought it was probably all part of the gezellig (cozy) Dutch charm.

Then it happened... Mats was woken up by something darting across the room on our second night in our new apartment, he bolted up and said "I think there's a rat in flat!" I got up in a panic and in the garbage we could hear what seemed to be a massive animal but only turned out to be a small mouse. For about an hour as we decided what to do, Mats heroically picked up the garbage and put it outside the apartment to deal with it in the morning.

The next morning after sleeping with my head under the blankets to make sure nothing crawled on me during the night. I decided we'd been duped into a mouse infested apartment. Mats mentioned this to his work colleagues who assured him mice are so common in Amsterdam that people basically live amongst them in fact they barely notice them (well some people). Of course why wouldn't they be common? Amsterdam has water, canals and old homes, it is the perfect place for them to take up residence. It was then that it struck me "THIS IS WHY THERE ARE CATS EVERYWHERE, mouse control!" (especially in shops that stock food) Mats agreed.

After a week with a high frequency sound blaster and keeping a meticulously clean apartment, our little friendly household mouse was still causing us sleepless nights. We decided that the Dutch had the most effective mouse control in action and this cat idea that had been in the air for the past few weeks was our best plan of action.

Everyone meet Pogo. She is our Mouse Hunter. We are in love with her already.

More pictures soon! (When she's more comfortable in her new surroundings, It has been almost impossible to get a decent shot of her, she is so quick and curious in her new home that she is a black blur in almost every shot).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Our Apartment!

When our journey began last December our plan was simple, we did not anticipate we would be living in limbo and out of a backpack for about 5 months. On May 1st we (finally!) moved into a more permanent place. Isn't it fab?!

Mats enjoying the view over the park