You will always know these photos were taken in 2020. Okay, I guess 2020-2021 will probably end up being more correct…
The blue eyes make it cute. Don’t miss the mustard squirting of the bottle, or the (easier to miss) ketchup hair curl. This was next to a food vendor on the pier in Scheveningen.
I also spotted a giraffe with a face mask. As you might be able to tell, it is a promotional statue outside of the not yet opened Legoland Discovery Centre. It should be open already but, as the Dutch say, corona heeft roet in het eten gegooid (Literally “Corona threw ash in the food”, or better “Corona threw a spanner in the works”, or most simply “Corona messed it up”).
The sun was already setting as we wandered down the pier. By the time we turned around and headed back to the hotel, the lights on the pier had turned on and it was pretty much dark everywhere. (While we were walking it was cool to see a bit of light left on one side of the sea, with the other half already completely dark.)
I have never booked a hotel room only a few days before it was needed, but here we are in corona times. Marco and I celebrated wanted to go somewhere for our wedding anniversary this weekend. We booked the days off work at least a month ago but I was a bit hesitant about choosing where we would go thanks to the weird times we live in.
Things got a bit stranger on Wednesday, when they announced that new regional corona measures for The Hague (among other cities) would be coming. In the end the new measures were that cafés and restaurants are required to close by 01:00 in the morning and they would only be able to serve a maximum of 50 people (inside or outside) instead of 100. No mandatory face masks outside of public transportation yet. I’m not sure that will ever come in this country.
But! Back to our anniversary. Since things were a bit dicey we decided to stay in the area; we booked a room at the 5 star (!) Kurhaus hotel in nearby Scheveningen. I’m glad Marco persuaded me to go for that one.
The room itself was unexpectedly modern, but still cool. The view at night was awesome:
The room’s window was double-paned, so we didn’t hear anything from the boulevard unless we opened the window. Speaking of the boulevard, we walked up and down it on Friday and Saturday. You could tell there were less people around, although it might have also been because it was no longer the high season for tourists. At least the restaurant owners on the beach don’t have break down everything for the winter (a one-time rule passed earlier this year to help save costs this year, article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).
Note: for those Americans among us, by football I mean soccer. But since I now live in Europe, I am required to call it football.
Today I have two of the most random articles ever for you, spotted recently. The first article – imagine you’re a football referee at home, a linesman to be exact. You’re enjoying dinner with your mom and her friend when you get a call asking if you could quickly come over and help with officiating the rest of the game. Why? The head referee was injured and there was no backup available at the game. That is exactly what happened to this referee: Grensrechter opgeroepen om in te vallen tijdens voetbalderby: ‘Zat bij mijn moeder te eten’ from omroepwest.nl. Luckily he was able to gather his gear really quickly and the game itself was only about 5 miles up the road.
The head referee was able to walk off the field with a calf injury. The other linesman took over as head referee and (after confirmation from the Dutch football league KNVB) this gentleman was allowed to take over as linesman. Because of that the last 20 minutes of the game could be played. I’m mostly amused that he talks about how he was at home eating with his mom when he got the call.
The other news story is a minor blooper that I read about last week. During a live broadcast the makeup artist walked on set to touch up the presentator’s makeup, not realizing the camera was still rolling. He was quite the gentleman though and was able to laugh it off and keep going. The best part? She didn’t believe him at first.
I’m sure we have all heard stories around the world of creative ways of supporting hospital workers this year.
A local hospital in Delft now has a 15 foot high plant-based teddy bear to call their own (omroepwest.nl). The bear is supported by an invisible steel frame on the inside and covered in winter-hardened plants. The hope is that it can survive at least five years (!).
Also plant (well, mushroom) related:
This coffin helps speed up body decomposition (two to three years instead of up to ten years), giving nutrients to the nearby soil. It also has the benefit of being a rather lightweight coffin that can still carry up to about 450 pounds (220 kg).
I’m intrigued, but mainly because I would have figured this was already possible. But it’s a nice advancement.
So, news broke this afternoon that there would be another press conference on Friday. One expectation is that additional corona measures will be passed for the bigger Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. However, news hasn’t leaked yet on what the measures will be, because the government and the regions are still finalizing them.
This news comes on a day when the Netherlands registered more than 1,500 infections in the last 24 hours, which is easily a new record. RIVM released the weekly Covid-19 update yesterday, noting the rising percentage of positive tests (2.8% two weeks ago versus 3.9% last week) among other things. The number of people getting tested was almost 200,000, and most people now need to wait more than 72 hours to get tested. And we’re not even in the flu season yet. Yikes!
A portion of the issue comes from student organizations, as new clusters of dozens of students are reported on a daily basis. But that’s not the full picture either – it’s clear to see that some people no longer care about keeping their distance from others and the city centre gets more packed by the day. It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring.
(With all of that doom and gloom, I will say it’s going well for Marco and I. We’re working hard but we’re looking forward to a few days off to celebrate our 7th anniversary this weekend.)
On Sunday I realized that I was now at the six month mark for working at home (13 March to 13 September). I’ve got about another four months to go, unless the return to office is delayed again. I will be going into the office however later this month – to get a new work computer. That came as a surprise to me! On the one hand I’m glad as I hope it will be faster. On the other hand I am worried because it means I need to hope all of my existing software reinstalls properly. But I did pick a day that will hopefully be less busy, so I will just cross my fingers.
Of course there are a lot of rules, which is a good thing in my opinion. Only two people can share the same time slot to pick up their computer, you need to wait in reception to get picked up, you can’t wander around (with the exception of getting coffee, since hey, they aren’t evil), you need advance permission to visit your desk, etc. etc. etc.
Let’s go for some public transportation related news today:
Erasmusbrug closed after overhead tram cabling collapses from dutchnews.nl. This happened yesterday morning. It sounds really bad, but luckily there were no injuries. The bridge was re-closing (after having opened for ship traffic) when the cabling fell down. The bridge was able to re-open for pedestrians and cyclists on Monday evening.
A campaign by the Dutch public transportation branch, called “OV OK”. Two things to know if you’re not from the Netherlands: OV means public transportation in Dutch and it is pronounced oh vay so that you get the rhyme oh vay oh kay. See also this article from ov-nl.nl: Het licht staat op groen voor het openbaar vervoer (Public transportation gets the green light). I can see where they are coming from, to a degree. While we are told to work from home as much as possible, we are currently allowed to use public transportation. The rules are that you need to wear a face mask and that you should avoid rush hour wherever possible. But for now I view it as something to use if absolutely necessary (even though it pains me to say that, as I love riding in trams!)
On Friday the biggest carnival in the Netherlands this year opened at the Malieveld. Over 90 attractions have been set up. The carnival is open a full month (11 September to 11 October). Check out some photos over at denhaagfm.nl:
The local news site Omroep West has some more information about the corona precautions, including two entrances and exits fitted with a digital counting system (the maximum visitors at any one time is 5,000, which still seems like a lot). There are also extra wide paths in most areas.
With that being said, I think I’ll skip it this year. Marco and I usually only take a walk around it and maybe buy some oliebollen before we leave. And now the city has promised us oliebollen from 1 October, so we should be fine to wait a few more weeks for that.
Check out this photo of a lunch I recently had at Lebkov café here in The Hague:
Sparkling water, a BLT sandwich and a ginger molasses (!) cookie. The cookie was awesome. Perhaps they added a bit of black pepper to it? It had a kick, that’s for sure. It was interesting to taste both spicy and sweet at the same time.
A bit of corona-related news, since it has been a while:
from nltimes.nl: infections are increasing. There has been talk of extra measures in the three big cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. The number of infections there has been high. However for now the three cities have agreed with the Dutch cabinet to be more strict about corona rules and close down areas of concern faster (read: not much will change, I think).
from nltimes.nl: Amsterdam postpones New Year’s fireworks ban over Covid-19. It really, really seems like a lifetime ago, but in January 2020 there was was a lot of talk about banning most consumer-bought fireworks due to a number of incidents, including incidents against paramedics, police and firemen. Yikes. Amsterdam has put a temporary hold on the ban due to the fact that the promised alternatives (city sponsored fireworks shows and similar) just aren’t reasonable in these socially distanced times.
Otherwise, the days are blending into each other now. I really had to stop and think of what month it was the other day. I was trying to remember when certain TV shows would restart, and then I realized it’s impossible to tell for most shows. But otherwise Marco and I are doing fine.
On the one hand, it was quite challenging. On the other hand, most of the pieces were subtly different. I was only left with about 15-20 black pieces in the upper right at the end. I was reduced to sticking in random pieces in each slot until something worked.
Of course I finished the bottom part rather quickly, and then it sat there for 6 months while I ignored it… But once I got motivated again it went rather quickly.
And now for something completely different: last week there was a secret fireworks event at Scheveningen (omroepwest.nl in Dutch), complete with drones! Note: the second video in the article with the grey box doesn’t work. Apparently the video was pulled from YouTube. But the article does have a few pictures and links to a few shorter videos.
The fireworks show was in celebration of 75 years of freedom since WW2 and was organized by the International Fireworks festival of Scheveningen (official site in Dutch). This was especially important because the show was cancelled in 2019 due to overcrowding concerns. And when I mean overcrowding, I mean overcrowding. Check out this photo from denhaagcentral.net in 2018. Roger, Marco and I went in 2015. It was a nightmare getting home…