Well, here I am in Haarlem (cue song?). And listening to a lot of Dutch. The first thing you notice about speakers of this fine language is that most of them suffer from some sort of bronchial infection which causes them to hawk – but not spit – every few seconds. Very sad really. But they are nice people. By and large.
Talking of spitting . . . When I was a kid, there used to be signs on the buses instructing you not to do this. And I'm reminded now of an old limerick on this subject:
There was a young man from Darjeeling
Who went on a bus trip to Ealing.
It said on the door:
Don't spit on the floor.
So, he lay down and spat on the ceiling.
I guess this would be seen as racist these days and I'd have to come up with something to replace Darjeeling, so as not to imply that all Indians are in the habit of expectorating at will. Life was much simpler back then.
I'm taking a coffee in a new shop-cum-café-cum-library near the railway station. Naturally, the young lady speaks excellent English and was able to explain that I couldn't pay €2.50 in cash but would have to use one of my cards. Then we ran into the problem that their machine only accepts Dutch cards, which we solved by me giving her the €2.25 I luckily had in cash. I'm sure they can find a use for it.
I flew here on a nice little airline called Transavia, which I suspect is KLM's cheapie option. As my take-on bag somehow reached 9.7kilos, and I lacked a scarf with hidden compartments, I decided to go with the mac-with-deep-pockets option for my camera and all the chargers one needs these days. Plus the adaptor plug(s). But I needn't have bothered; no one weighed the bag. What they did do at Security, though, was relieve me of my watch and everything that I had in my pockets and then put them on different trays. I'd gone 400 metres towards the gate before my brain told me I didn't have my phone, and one or two other things. Fortunately, though, I retrieved everything and made the plane with a few minutes to spare. And was happy to see that, though they didn't offer a gin & tonic, they could give me a vodka & orange. Though the charming hostess did try to palm me off with a water & orange. Clearly, I didn't hawk enough when saying 'vodka'. And she thought I'd said 'vater'
The other thing you notice when you land in Amsterdam is that it's bloody cold. Only 2 degrees, in fact, compared with 15 in Pontevedra. Fortunately, I'd remembered that the mac I've only worn about 10 times in 30 years also had a warm lining which I'd never once used. This proved a wise recollection, especially as I knew where it was hanging.
I'm off to do some sightseeing now, in advance of much-anticipated Indonesian food tonight. And very probably at lunchtime as well. I miss it hugely.
I hope you all have as nice a day as I plan to have. No doubt some readers will be delighted there's no political news in today's post. Others, I hope, will be sorely disappointed. But I'll be boning up on Dutch politics today, of course.
Postscript: The drug smugglers arrested by the Galician police a couple of days ago numbered 14 in all. Sadly, 7 of these were Brits. Even more sadly, 5 of them were from Liverpool. I wasn't aware that Scouse-Gallego commercial relations were so strong.