Dutchbike_01So, here’s my Den Haag bike looking surprisingly chic and smart considering it was pulled of a rubbish tip and all I’d done was replace the lights. Unfortunately this is a historical view as on day two several zips on the panniers gave way rendering them useless, and meaning I’m back to Sweaty Back Syndrome until I can figure out some kind of replacement.

It is the way of the world that this happened three minutes before I was supposed to leave and catch the tram.

On the other hand, I’m now set up for transport, and this bike is sitting in a garden near the farm ready for me to pick it up when I get off the tram later this morning. At least I hope it is, as I managed to lose my spoke lock key yesterday. Thankfully, being a farm we had a set of heavy-duty bolt croppers, but all that is stopping the criminal fraternity from sloping off with the bike is a hedge hiding it from the street and a piece of chain and a padlock borrowed from one of the barns.

I hope the local bike thieves are not so well equipped…

TÜ_003Blog entries have been thin again, due to the Bloggers Dilemma: either nothing is happening so there’s plenty of time but nothing to write about, or you’re busy and there’s no time to blog about it.

In my case I’ve been doing lots but it doesn’t make for blogging material. I’ve scythed a lot of brambles and painted the hallway, kitchen, and dining room, and filled in some forms.

See what I mean? not exactly sparkly*.

However, tomorrow is the first day of a fresh start. I’m working at a city farm for seven months, using a bike and a tram for the commute and spending all day with 6-18 year olds and a lot of animals. Surely I’ll get some material out of that…

*I also did a few paintings inbetween, but they are all on my other blog

TÜ_002

Yesterday I had the chance to visit a friend in Tübingen, about 50km south of us. I’ll post more pictures later but here’s part of the route.

It’s tough living without a car, but somehow I cope.

Woodcarving lessons continue, and for the last few days I’ve been making a bowl from pear wood. Now the only bits of my fingers that don’t ache are the blisters, so this post will be mainly pictures:

Stage one was making the inside of the bowl, which also involved working out what shape I wanted it to be. Here’s the basic shape rough carved:

Carved bowl 002

Then finished using finer chisels and then sanding to get most of the mistakes, imperfections out:

Carved bowl 003

My teacher, taking the subtle approach to rough forming the outside of the bowl:

Carved bowl 004

…which left us with something vaguely reminiscent of the Millenium Falcon.

Carved bowl 005

Further progress reports to follow as soon as my arms and brain are working together well enough to type again. And if you’re wondering what I’m doing this for, it does have a connection to the work I’ll be doing from September…

Bed onna Bakfiets

Once again, I am aiming for a niche audience here.

A while ago, the boys managed to break Youngest Son’s bed, which caused much consternation at the time, but I did finally manage to make a new side piece to replace the one that was broken. Because the bed uses mortise and tenon Joins, I had to transport the rest of the bed about five hundred metres up to the workshop during this process to fit the new section to the existing joins, then haul the lot down to the apartment.

As usual I spent some time massively over-thinking things before realising that all I needed was climbing ropes, blankets and wood clamps. The whole operation went pretty smoothly, so smoothly on fact that I forgot all about it until last night when I found the picture while desperately seeking a blog subject at the end of a quiet week…

Rubbish_onna_bakfiets

Bakfiets being a skip for the day. One of the jobs I’d been planning to do for some time was clearing out the cellar, in particular the smaller sized bikes which are lurking in every corner. Of course the appearance of Beautiful Daughter means the bikes need to remain in place for a while longer; not that I’m complaining, I hasten to add.

There’s still plenty of other stuff down there of course because as we all know cellars are breeding grounds for random and miscellaneous things with no obvious purpose, so last week I made a start on shifting some of the more obviously useless things like a broken bike frame and two large bags full of papers which have been there so long they may well be considered historical artifacts.

Expatriate life is full of glamour.

“Speed limit thirty kilometres an hour”…

Dreamon

On a Bakfiets. Uphill.

You’ll be lucky.

007 Boat 03

Beautiful Wife has been sending photos of the family in Japan. Here we see them on the ferry from the airport to Beautiful Wife’s home town.

Beautiful Daughter has just realised that her Brothers are distracted and she is within grabbing distance of Middle Son’s bag. Such opportunities don’t come often.

Carving_04It is hotter here than in Japan where my Beautiful Wife and family are, so hot in fact that I wore shorts yesterday. Conscious of my responsibilities to society I refrained from anything shorter than 3/4 length.

Meanwhile, I’m getting lessons in woodcarving. When I helped build a stage a couple of weeks ago, we agreed that in lieu of payment* I’d get some training in woodcarving  from one of the artists on the project.

She started this week by  saying “Okay, the first thing you need to learn: all those things you were told you can’t do as a carpenter? Do them…” Then she gave me a lump of Lime wood and told me to ‘play’: try things out, learn different methods and use as many different chisels as I could. I made a couple of hollows inside the wood, then and then carved this in the bark on the other side.

When my artist friend got over the shock she suggested a totem pole, but instead we decided a bowl made from pear wood would be less disturbing.

In other news, I’ve discovered the bottom of the wash basket.

*Because I’m technically ‘unemployed’. (Ha.) I can’t be paid in money. I would explain the system but you’d think I was making it up, and if you believed me you’d end up slamming your head in a door…

So, I had plans for today: go to the garden and beat back another swathe of brambles, come back and do some translations before lunch, and then go and chase up a couple of things, make some phone calls and get organised for the 7-month placement I’ve been offered from September.

I didn’t plan to lock myself out of the apartment.

Fortunately the letting agent runs a business in the village and I could catch hold of him fairly quickly and borrow the spare key.

From next month I’ll be helping to do activities with number of young people and assisting in the care and feeding of half a dozen animals. The people there seem to think I’m sufficiently organised to be trusted with this responsibility, so let’s keep this little episode to ourselves, hmm?

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