corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shots ring out

THE HAGUE, Netherlands _ The early afternoon calm of The Hague's historic Zuidwal canal was shattered Wednesday when a mob-style shoot-out erupted leaving two men hospitalised with gun shot wounds and my bike temporarily impounded by police when I went to check it out.
I was on the phone when I heard four bangs in rapid succession that were pretty obviously (based among other things on the sound and the crappiness of our neighborhood, number of drug dealers/pimps/general hoodlums who hang out here) gun shots.
I wandered down to the street a few minutes later and found one man sitting calmly in a hairdressing salon talking on his mobile as blood poured pretty liberally out of his leg. Another injured man was sitting on the other side of the canal. A third man, apparently also injured in an unspecified way, had done a runner. Pretty soon afterwards a police helicopter began circling overhead as police started rounding up witnesses and refused to give me back my bike which I'd parked behind their Do-Not-Cross-This-Line tape while I also interviewed witnesses.
It was soon obvious that the shooting was not terrorism related so my interest waned and I headed off to a press conference at parliament.
When I got back an hour later our road was still closed off, the helicopter was still in the air and the police appeared none the wiser as to what had happened.
In the meantime, Irmie had arrived home with the girls who were pretty entertained by the whole thing.
I used to think this city was dull ...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mill run

Belatedly, a picture of Esther and Julia after they tore apart the field in the Voorburg Mill Run - a 2.5 kilometer dash around the village windmill.
Julia ran the entire way pretty much on her own, and Esther and I caught up with her just over the finish line.
We all completed the course in just over 17 minutes, overtaking more people than overtook us.
Julia was first over the line, Esther a close second and me limping in a ragged third. Posted by Picasa

Dutch idiosyncrasies 1:

The is the first in an irregular feature of this post that will shine a light on Wierd Dutch things:

When you sit in a waiting room, like at the doctor's, Dutch people greet you. They walk in and say "Goeiemorgen/goeiedag" or some such and then sit down and ignore you.
I've been walking into waiting rooms for years and have never felt the need to greet my fellow waiters.
Irmie and I were sitting waiting to sign our lives away at a mortgage broker's office last week and a couple walked in and said hello and sat down.
I racked my brains wondering where I knew them from before I remembered this strange Dutch habit.

Outback Julia

On Sunday we went to Museon, a science museum in The Hague which had a great exhibition on making music. In a section on making videos, you could dance in a green room and see your image projected onto a video. Here's Julia in the Outback in The Hague.
The room was very badly lit and my handy phone camera couldn't quite cope with it, but I like the effect. Posted by Picasa

Julia's tooth

This could be the last photo of Julia with her first two front teeth. One is already on its way out and the other will not be far behind. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

new job Irmie

From this week I am the new OT in de "Bieslandhof " in Delft. I have no desk as we are all flexworkers so I have no idea what to do with my stuff, I have a new mobile phone which is only for business use and all my patients are disabled and sick and old. And I miss my old collegues. Yet it is nice to be back in OT land and solve problems with wheelchairs, cushions, bathrooms etc. We also do our home vistis on the bike. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming and to get to work only takes me 20 minutes by car. I'll ride my bike very soon.
I am exhausted but feel very satisfied and can't wait for my first payslip. I might buy some nice winter clothes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A story

Here's what i've been doing in the spare minutes between house hunting etc.

The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Jennifer van den Broeke tried toting her son and daughter around Amsterdam on her old bike with two child seats, but the weight buckled the wheels and the stand snapped.
That was when she decided to join the growing Dutch army of pedaling parents using so-called transport bikes.
Now Van den Broeke’s 18-month-old son Jasper and 3 1/2-year-old daughter Benthe can clamber into the sturdy wooden box of her new transport bike so she can ride them around town.
“With the kids and the shopping bags and everything, this is just easier,” said Van den Broeke, a 30-year-old student at Amsterdam University. “It’s a very robust bike.”
The transport bike — called a bakfiets (pronounced backfeets) in Dutch — is making a comeback decades after butchers, bakers — maybe even the odd candlestick maker — first began using them to carry their wares around the narrow streets of this nation’s towns and cities.
The bikes, sporting two or three wheels, have a sturdy wooden or plastic box on the front or between the front and back wheels, and are often kitted out with a rain cover, seats and even seat belts for pint-sized passengers.
Nowadays cars and vans clog city streets, making progress slow and parking a nightmare.
Regular bikes have remained popular, but for parents with a couple of kids, the car was often the only option.
Not anymore.Maarten van Andel, 46, started making cargo bikes in 2001 when he was looking for a cheap way to transport his two children around Amsterdam.
“It’s a timesaving device,” he said. “It’s a lot quicker to get around town with your kids in a bakfiets than in a car.”
These days it’s also a fast-growing trend fueled by glossy magazines showing celebrities and even members of the Dutch royal family riding the bikes.
The extensive Dutch network of cycle tracks also helps — keeping bikes and cars safely separated.
The resurgence may stem from the use of the clunky, heavy, original transport bikes by left-wing Amsterdam residents and squatters.
“People started turning up on them at organic markets and people would say, ‘That’s sweet, even if it is being ridden by hippies,’” said Henry Cutler, who runs an Amsterdam cycle store that specializes in transport bikes.
In the past, Dutch parents like Van den Broeke have attached a small seat to their front handlebars and another over their bike’s back wheel.
But the new generations of transport bikes are much more stable and easier to get children onto and off, says Van Andel.
His best-selling Cargobike model — a two-wheeler that can carry up to 80 kilograms (175 pounds) — sells for around euro1,400, or about $1,780.
Cutler estimates there are 5,000 to 10,000 floating around Amsterdam, and they are gaining popularity in Denmark, too.
“It is a growing market because many families with small children want to try it because they believe it is a better and easier way to get around in the cities and leave the car at home,” said Erik Oddershede, the manager of the Danish national bicycle shop organization, Danske Cykelhandlere.
Now the question is, can the bakfiets break into overseas markets?
Cutler, 39, an American who remembers riding around Brooklyn on the back of his mom’s bike, says that while it’s growing fast the market is still small even in Europe and almost nonexistent in many other parts of the world.
His is one of the few stores that exports transport bikes.
But overseas sales are expected to pick up in coming years as more people turn to bicycles as a way of beating skyrocketing fuel prices and congestion taxes slapped on motorists by cities such as London.
In the United States, “in places like Silicon Valley, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Portland, Ore., we’re starting to see them show up,” Cutler says.
Cutler sometimes sounds like he’s selling not just bikes, but a way of life.“We are trying to promote products that change people’s perspective about living. Bikes are not fast, but does life have to be fast?” he says.
For Van den Broeke there’s also a feel-good factor.“People always smile at us,” she said. “Every time we ride it people smile and tourists take lots of photos.”

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New House

Here it is - the new Corder residence. You like? Plenty of room for visitors and free fishing from your bedroom window. Posted by Picasa

Real new house

Alright so the castle was a bit out of our price range - and the heating bill is astronomical. This is the real thing. Two bedrooms and play area for the girls on the top floor, our bedroom and AP Hague bureau on first floor and living room/dining room/kitchen downstairs. A building report today said the place is not sinking into the North Sea so now we just have to talk a bank into loaning us a large amount of money and it's all systems go for moving on October 16. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

new saddle

This is Julia's latest way of getting to school without expending any energy beyond the odd hand signal - which are not done in NL anyway - other road/bike lane users had better just KNOW where you're going.
Irmie has a small saddle attached to the bike that Julia clambers onto. Esther's legs are too long and she enjoys cycling too much anyway. Posted by Picasa