Foto’s

Lazy weekend (Or: Games and books)

I’m all in favor of a lazy weekend myself. Even if the reason it is so lazy is because we are trying to stay inside more often. Breakfast for Marco and I was brioche bread (a type of sweet bread). I toasted mine and added peanut butter, and Marco had one with the more traditional Dutch butter and hagelslag. That’s chocolate sprinkles for any American readers.

I finished a few of the books I was reading: The Institute by Stephen King. It was pretty good – just the right amount of horror for an October read. Although it reminded me a lot of his other book The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Both main characters are kids, and both suffer a lot of mental and physical pain. (I admitted to Marco that I was skipping ahead a bit at times just to get a broad sense of where the storyline was before heading back to where I was.)

I also finished the other perfect-for-October horror read The Graveyard Apartment by Japanese author Mariko Koike. It was much slower pace and there were a few elements or character actions that took me out of the story. But I think the characters will stick with me for awhile.

Gaming wise – I’m wrapping up an Xbox game called Coffee Talk. It’s a visual novel by an Indonesian gaming studio. It is about exactly what it sounds like – you’re a barista who listens to others’ problems and makes coffee for them while you do. I feel like this game has taught me a lot of coffee recipes… Cinnamon ginger coffee, anyone?

Oh, and the resuable face masks I got from Uniqlo yesterday are great. They fit much better than the ones I had before and the fabric does indeed feel much more breathable.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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Rainy days (Or: Plein in The Hague)

Last weekend I was a bit too early getting outside and had to wait for a local store to open, so I decided to take a walk. I took a photo of the Plein while dodging rain drops:

This is the same Plein that I was talking about during yesterday’s blog post, with Dutchies partying minutes before the partial lockdown started. I serendipitously ran into a coworker right after taking this photo, so that was unexpected and nice.

But, I must celebrate the fact that it has finally been dry the last few days! I think we’ve had rain every day for the last three weeks or so. My rain jacket certainly felt loved.

Michelin star restaurant stops sly scheme to skirt Covid rules from nltimes.nl. During the partial lockdown restaurants and cafes are closed except for takeaway. An exception to that rule is hotel restaurants which can remain open to feed guests. A restaurant and hotel decided to create a package where you pay 10 euros extra to be registered as a hotel guest, although you don’t stay overnight. The 10 euro lets you eat at the restaurant – but you need to make sure you use the hotel entrance to access the restaurant. Heh.

And here is a short article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl, because it’s a cute story: Hond pakt in z’n eentje de bus en eindigt op politiebureau (Dog takes the bus alone and ends up at the police station). A bus driver noticed a dog in her bus Wednesday evening, but didn’t think anything of it because there were other passengers in the bus. Until the driver got to her last stop, with no passengers left, and noticed the dog was still there. The story has a happy ending: she took the dog to the police station where its chip was scanned. As the article writes “The fare skipper got a warning and a free ride home to its owners”.

The best part? The image in the article shows the dog, its face not visible behind a seat. The caption reads: “The dog didn’t want to be recognized in the photo”.

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The Hague in the international news (Or: How dumb can you be?)

Late last night I saw a story on Omroep West, a local news website, with a link to this video on Twitter:

The video is from a BBC correspondent. It shows Dutchies partying at 21:35 last night, right before the partial lockdown went into effect, closing restaurants for four weeks. Sure, let’s get some dance music going and have a great old time… That’s perfectly fine. Idiots. The craziest part? This is at the Plein in The Hague, which is literally at the doorstep of the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives). Politicians were discussing the particulars of emergency corona law at the same moment these folks were partying right outside.

The owner says it was a combination of the wrong music, saying goodbye to restaurants and cafés, and emotion (omroepwest.nl article in Dutch). There is also an article in English at nltimes.nl: Parties held outside parliament as Dutch pubs close for lockdown.

On a related note: Berlin gives middle finger to anti-maskers in tourism agency ad from theguardian.com. It is exactly what you think it is. Though I try not to pass judgement on those without a mask, since there are valid reasons that someone cannot wear one. But I reserve the right to roll my eyes at people who have a mask on but do not wear it correctly. No, I don’t want to see your nose right now!

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Anyone up for gourmetten? (Or: Fun times in October)

Another “Wow. Is it that time already?” type posts. Next week’s Albert Heijn discount flyer includes discounts on meat for gourmetten. In October. Does anyone remember if that is actually normal?

Like my post about the Christmas display at the CASA store, I am not against this. However, gourmetten is a social activity so you’re more likely to invite people over to your house. Which doesn’t sound that good in corona times.

New Year’s Eve 2013

But, one step back: there’s no good translation of gourmetten in English, but it is sort of like an indoors barbecue. You have a special grill or baking plate which you place in the centre of the table. You can grill almost anything you want (meat, fish, veggie meat, bell peppers, mushrooms, pineapples…). Generally the meat goes on the top. There are also 6 to 8 slots underneath with ‘little pans’ where you put the more fragile stuff like veggies and mushrooms, or even pancake batter to make pancakes. Add some baguette bread with butter and other toppings and you are set for the evening. But generally gourmetten is very popular at Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, not in October. (Or sometimes you can request it for your birthday. I think I did that one year!)

Christmas 2012 (check out the mini pans underneath)

Hmmm. Gourmetten, anyone?

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Rainy days (Or: October is upon us)

Rain rain rain. That’s all it does these days. It’s cold and wet and dreary and (even without the corona issues) it would be the perfect time to stay inside.

This morning I searched my drawer for an appropriate sweater to wear. I don’t have many – I found one, which is actually one more than I expected to find. I don’t usually wear sweaters, but maybe that will change now that I am at home and not in a climate controlled workplace. We’ll see…

Some interesting things I came across today:

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A vision for the future (Or: New plans for The Hague’s Central Library)

Plans for redesigning the interior of The Hague’s Central Library made the news recently. The building which houses the library and the city hall celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. it was opened by then Queen Beatrix on 8 September 1995. It’s an interesting building, having been given the nickname Ijspaleis (Ice palace) by locals.

The original architect (American Richard Meier) knew exactly what he wanted and didn’t want any changes at all, which is why a plan to redesign the interior is so surprising. But the architects in charge of this project admit problems with the design – the entrance is hidden and it looks more like an office than a library. I definitely agree with that!

The redesign will focus on the entrance, the café and the children’s area. There will also be a new debate space on the fifth and sixth floors and a rooftop terrace. Actually, I think there is a terrace already but it’s not in use at the moment.

Minder boeken in Haagse bieb van de toekomst (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch)

Mecanoo designs masterplan for The Hague Central Library (mecanoo.nl). Click “View project” at the bottom of the page to see a few additional photos.

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That’s useful (Or: Store map of Blokker in Rijswijk)

I saw something cool in Rijswijk’s In de Bogaard shopping centre: a Blokker store with a map by the entrance:

The map makes it easier to see where you need to go before you enter the store so that you don’t mindlessly wander up and down the aisles (and up and down again, seriously) trying to find what you are looking for. And the store map goes perfectly with one of their corona measures: Koop doelgericht or “Buy purposefully”. In other words, know what you want (when possible), get in, get out. Kudos. More stores should have maps at the entrance and/or provide them online.

So Blokker is pretty smart. For a less than smart company, try the Samen restaurant in The Hague. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. For the last few months the rule in the Netherlands has been that up to 100 people could gather inside or outside, including restaurants. But since it is going in the wrong direction (we’re up to 3,000 cases per day now, from nltimes.nl) a lot of places are only allowed to have 50 people inside or outside. Including The Hague. And then you get this…

Crowded Hague restaurant busted with 200 guests; Covid rules allow only 50 from nltimes.nl. (nos.nl reported that it was 200-300 guests.)

While most of the blame must lie with the restaurant, I think people must be mathematically challenged if they don’t turn around when they see the actual restaurant area and demand their money back. I’m trying to give some people the benefit of the doubt, since if you came early it probably wasn’t that busy… but really, people. Come on.

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Despairing statues (Or: Beelden aan Zee, Scheveningen)

…2020 in a nutshell

I told Marco we needed to take this photo and caption it simply “2020”. You can see all the cool stuff off in the distance, but you’re stuck here not able to do any of it.

The statue itself is from the outdoor Beelden aan Zee exhibit (Statues at sea) on the pier. The statues belong to the nearby Beelden aan Zee museum.

But here is a cute tweet to counterbalance the photo above – a mischievous cat.

This cat resides at a police station in a nearby city, Rijswijk. The tweet reads: “As if @Winston_topkat is sometimes waiting. Briefly went to the printer and he’s lying stretched out on my chair.” Winston has his own Twitter feed as well (Winston_topkat).

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Face masks of Scheveningen (Or: Giraffes and hot dogs)

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”).

Bummer. But if you’re an adult without a child, don’t get your hopes up too much anyway. They’ve already said the exhibitions are intended for children; adults on their own aren’t welcome (omroepwest.nl). But they do plan on hosting adult-only nights – at some point.

And, here’s a sunset for you:

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.)

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Grand hotel Amrâth Kurhaus (Or: 20 minutes from home)

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.

View of the hotel from the pier

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).

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Categories: Marco&Niki, Scheveningen | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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