The Ostrich

Whatever you do, avoid restaurant ‘The Ostrich’ in Utrecht.

Having been turned down at two other restaurants – fully booked – we finally got an ‘ok’ at the Ostrich. A table would be ‘free in seconds, just wait at the bar’. It was 7.20. We had to be at the cinema at 9.30, and we were told that would be no problem.

Half an hour later it was obvious they’d forgotten about us. We asked again and they seated us outside. Nice table – menu looked ok – we were both going for ostrich meat, why not.

They were finding it hard to cope with the amount of customers. The waiter kept bringing round the wrong dishes to the wrong tables – and he looked panicky.

At 8.45 (!), having waited an hour and 25 minutes, we asked if it was going to take much longer. We were told the food would be ready very soon. We emphasised the fact that we had to be elsewhere at 9.30.

At 10 past 9 we asked again. I told the waiter that we would definitely be going if they didn’t deliver. ‘Any minute now,’ he said.

At 9.20 I told him to bring us the bill for the wine. It took him another 5 minutes to get it. ‘That’ll be 37 guilders.’

Excuse me? 37 guilders for half a caraffe of wine? ‘Yes, you had Perrier at the bar, and two beers, and the wine.’

We never had any beers, and if you are asked to wait at the bar, the water should be complimentary. The wine came down to 25 guilders. Ridiculously overpriced. I will never, ever, set foot in that place again – and I think I’ll write management a letter about it.

the Ice Storm

The film we saw, The Ice Storm, was good, but depressing. An excellent cast effort, beautifully filmed. Starts out as a tragi-comedy… but ended full on tragedy. I haven’t figured out why the kid has to die.

It makes you wonder whether your parents were like that in the 70’s.

The warm weather continues this Sunday – but I’m stuck at the desk doing my tax form. I’m only 5 months late.

Another short weekend – and I’ve the feeling I forgot to do something important (like… work on an intranet design, grab video images from a tape I brought home from work, get that vote script to work…)

You know what… let’s work on the vote script now, before Star Trek’s on.

Cabbie

Took care of business today – got cab into town, stopping by my p.o.box to finally get the mail, then had a haircut & agreed with J. (the girl who cuts my hair) to grow it. Haven’t had my hair long since 1987. I’ll try it for a winter… if it doesn’t agree with me next summer I go crew cut again. J. wants to move to Amsterdam as well – her friend lives in the Oud-West area & she’s grown very fond of it. She too originally comes from around Amsterdam. Maybe we’re all going back to our roots?

The cabbie was talkative – they usually aren’t over here as we’re not a nation of chit chatters. Got talking about the Internet and he said with perfect ease that he knew nothing about it, had surfed once and had gone straight for the sex sites. He wasn’t ‘admitting’, he wasn’t coy… just straightforward ‘I went straight for the sex sites’. We casually talked about porn on line. Fifteen years ago, this probably wouldn’t have been possible, not because we were shy about it, but because it was not “p.c.”.

The mail brought me some exciting stuff I’d ordered from Amazon and other unexpected delights. Someone I’m taping some music for included a fab looking book (Slow chocolate autopsy) which looks like a combination of art & literature. It follows a character around London. The other books were ‘Dutch Graphic Design 1918-1945’ and a book about the Stenberg Brothers.

Will be going to see ‘The Ice Storm’ tonight with D. Drinks and dinner first – she’ll have to cart me around on the back of her bike. Looking forward to being in town again – amongst people.

Spilt shake

Very annoyed today by flames on two mailing lists I am on. Considering leaving one and ending the other. Need to fix my e-mail filters to get rid of off topic posts.

Worked intensively on wwwboard script today and got it running. Very pleased with that. I’ll do the vote script on monday. Might try it out on own server first.

Came home, struggled at the chip shop, spilled milkshake all over shop and myself… a klutz on crutches, also baffled with Chinese shop owners’ attitude. They seem more depressed every time I see them. Husband has problems with multiple orders and looks absent minded. Wife looks pissed off. She has a scar in her face that didn’t used to be there. Felt annoyed with their lack of service but also kind of concerned about their well being. What can one do.

Flog em

TV stations are having quite a bit of success with programmes like ‘Changing Rooms’ and the ‘Ground Force’ in which two teams of friends either redo one of the other team’s rooms or gardens.

Two interior designers come in to help the teams. Last night on changing rooms I was pleased to hear the one room was going to be changed to a ‘khaki’ look… which is what I want for my new house. Basically… I want my new house to look like this web site. Black and khaki… (actually… wouldn’t that be black and tan?) and terra (the colour the month at te top of this page has).

Great, I thought, I’m going to know what that looks like in a room! So this designer goes out to buy ‘khaki’ paint and he comes back with the green of army fatigues. He didn’t quite know what khaki was. So those people ended up with an army green room. I’m talking olive green. Poor sods. I preferred the other team’s room… who were going for a ‘vampire, gothic’ look… and ended up with something a lot more classy than that. I think those designers do whatever the hell they feel like doing.

I talked to my neighbours today, they want to move to Amsterdam as well and have a hard time finding something that suits their purpose and their purse. At the moment they’re looking at something… literally a stone throw away from my prospective property. Guess we’ll have to put up with eachother again. They’re lovely people so I don’t mind.

My previous job really took it out of me. Oh the memories… more bitter than sweet. Being told to show more initiative… when ever single initiative I took was nipped in the bud and then I would be spanked and humiliated for it because I didn’t stick to the book.

Grab my crutch

You should see me hurl myself down the corridors on my crutches. Now that the leg is getting better and can hold a bit of weight, I’ve become a *lot* more mobile. Does wonders for my mood, as does the lovely Indian Summer type weather we’re experiencing at the moment. One thing that tried to ruin my upbeat mood is the arrival of the dreaded blue envelope: ‘why haven’t you filled in your tax form yet, young lady, please do so RIGHT NOW or we will take possession of your all and everything and throw your body to the hounds!’ This means my next weekend will revolve around the following thought ‘I will start on my tax form today… just let me do this one thing first… oops, it’s bed time… well, I’ll do it tomorrow… at 11. Oops, it’s 12… well, I’ll start at 1… oops… etc.

Work has been tough-ish with lots of meetings (my favourite pass time, NOT) – had a bit of a laugh today about a proposal by an outside company… their html skills are… minimal to say the least. Snigger. Miss Fixitall will just have to fix it… heh heh.

Lots of fugging about with cgi scripts in the next few weeks – always a great sense of achievement once you get some script working. Hmm… this is turning into ‘Day in the life of a nerd’.

Talking sense of achievement – Jason Kottke… one of my webrus (the html version of gurus) told me he had been thinking of doing something like CROON for his 0sil8 web site. I don’t believe it… I actually had an original idea before somebody else did. Hallelujah.

Free Billy

So did you watch? I did. Well, bits of it. Watch what? The Starr Evidence – Clinton’s testimony. You know what? I think he did ok. The lawyers tried to trap him any old way they could… and he held ground best he could. I watched with three other people and we all felt the same.

I spent a very quiet weekend at my parents’ – quiet in that I didn’t *work*. I sat in the autumn sun, read books, drank wine and let myself be pampered. Still, a weekend to me is not a weekend unless I get time by myself in my own place (with my own comp!).

The leg is slowly recovering – I estimate I’ll be off the crutches by the end of next weekend.

Soup and hiking

Strange stuff on telly last night – I had never heard of an – apparently french – recipe of peas, lettuce & butter & baby onions, but on Tuesday afternoon, one of the cooks on Ready, Steady, Cook prepared it. Last night, on Two Fat Ladies, we got the same recipe. Odd. I’m going to have to try that now.

The girls also prepared a Spanish ‘bean’ soup. If someone saw it, please tell me when they put the beans in, because I didn’t catch it – all I saw them put in was sausages (fresh chorizo and blackpudding, yum!), a leg of ham and some cut pork, water and potatoes. It looked good though and reminded me of my favourite soup: portuguese kale soup.

Caroline’s Portuguese Kale Soup:
ingredients: 5 large potatoes, a large handful of shredded kale (for the dutch: this is boerenkool), 2 table spoons of olive oil and a whole chorizo (I dunno, about 200 grams of it, I suppose).

Cook the potatoes in a liter of water with the olive oil, until they’re ready to mash. Mash the potatoes in the pot. Add the kale… now, when I say shredded… I *mean* shredded. Really thinly sliced, all right? Like strings. (Roll up the leaf, and then slice it… that’s the easiest way & for god’s sake buy a decent knife) Add the sliced chorizo. Season to taste. Eat! Delish! (I always forget which herb to put in, so use your imagination and choose something mediterranean.)

I don’t know whether these are the proper amounts of ingredients – I don’t really measure stuff, I just add whatever seems right on the spot. Con amore. I can’t wait to move out, have my own kitchen and practice my cooking again… because I know I like good food better than I’m able to cook it these days!

Update on the house: it’s still there… I’m still #1 on the list… just have to wait.

Got some surprise e-mail today… from the singer of a once rather well known Irish band. (hmm… if anyone wants to guess this one… feel free. He actually looks like Gavin Friday a bit, when he’s got his hair short) Apparently the band’s still together & he needed some advice on web sites. Chuffed to find he remembered me. Guess ‘that Dutch chick who wrote the book on Gav’ isn’t too hard to forget.

Hmm, I’m getting hooked on Eastenders a bit… that Grant fella is a bit of a bad boy & yours truly has a soft spot, I guess.

Dad called and said it might be a good idea for me to come down for the weekend so they can take care of me & the leg. Ok then. A bit of pampering will do me good. :) And at least this time they won’t make me go hiking with them! I wonder how many children suffer their parents’ love of hiking. I *hate* hiking… unless it’s actually somewhere *interesting*, and there’s a mountain to conquer… hiking in Holland is a joke… yet the entire country seems to be addicted to it. Y’all must come have a look – the Dutch dress up for it in weird khaki clothing (as if we’re in the desert) with pants you can zip the legs off… and fleece sweatshirts & Gore-tex jackets. It’s hilarious. Every weekend, they dress up like this and go hiking.

Mebbe I wouldn’t be such a stressed out maniac if I was a bit more like all those weird hiking Dutch…