Going Dutch All much of a dutchness

Ooh, Heineken in the fridge. That seems apt. I'll have that while I type this out.

At 3am I was pretty worried. I really did feel like shit, with a bad throat and dehydrated and sweaty and that. Initially I was concerned that I'd succumbed to the illness that kept me from work on Friday and made things worse by lowering my resistance through activity and alcohol, but then I realised it was because the room was absolutely bloody boiling. Ah yes, that's right, when we got back last night the room was freezing and we'd discovered the window was open, so Helen had closed that and put the radiator on. Not cold, that radiator.

Managed to sleep for a few more hours and then dick around on the iPad later while waiting for Helen to get up. Felt much much better, and in fact fell back to sleep. Got haranged into blogging, then a disappointing shower and we got packed. The brasserie provided breakfast downstairs between 10am and midday - a staggeringly practical and nice time to serve it for a hotel - so we perilously descended the perilous stairs and sat down.

Would we like tea or coffee? What kind of tea? Orange juice? A boiled egg? Are we allergic to anything? Questions questions questions questions ... food!

Bread and cheese and ham and yoghurt and nutella and orange juice and chocolate sprinkles and apple and nom nom nom nom nom.

While finishing up and getting ready to explore, I noticed my blog post had received two interesting likes: one from the waitress, and one from the venue itself. This was somewhat embarrassing, since I have no idea how to react when people I don't actually know find or read my stuff. So we didn't bring it up. But, we paid, and left our bag behind the bar. Looked like the weather was perking up, and we wanted to see Haarlem.

The square, absent rain and a herring market, looked quite pretty. Almost all the buildings are historic and old and pretty and stuff. There's also statues 'n that. Y'know. It's a lovely old town.

This big church is called "Grote Kerk", or "big church".

Heading out past the restaurants we skirted around last night, we start to take competitive photos of the same things: Helen with her Pixel, me with my iPhone SE. When comparing results later we discover that basically the Pixel is amazing and the SE is dull. I really should set the photos next to each other using Layout or something, and present them in tandem below, but frankly it's too late and I dont really know how to do it easily and quickly so that'll have to wait.

Helen has an instagram account now though, so go follow her.

Anyway. We're wandering around residential Haarlem, marvelling at the pretty streets and the canal. I am walking us in the direction of a big windmill which I fancy seeing. Seems a pretty Dutch thing to do, no?

We take tons of very similar photos and the panorama is typically the best. There's really nothing else to do here but look at the pretty windmill on the pretty river. It's a musem, and you can go and walk around the platform, but we know the view from there is shit and it's better to actually be staring at the windmill from here.

Up the canal and we stumble across a museum, whose gate is open but the sign says it's shut. We think it's the Teyler Museum but it's actually not, because we stumble across that later, after another walk past lovely cobbled streets and a smaller church than the big church and then, oh, big boats on this canal.

The Teyler Museum, as everyone who saw QI on Friday night knows, is where the top of Mont Blanc is. The highest part of the Alps was stolen by the guy who first ascended it, and now it's in this here museum. We thought about going in to see it, but discovered two lots of €12.50 reasons not to bother. That's not a cheap museum to visit!

More wandering back into town, now looking for a gift for a cat sitting neighbour. Lots of shops are closed, but the fantastic cheesemonger is open and he feeds us free samples of great cheese. While he vacuum packs the purchase I ogle at the cheese cave, because god damn it this shop has a cheese cave.

So that's chores done, and we've still got two or three hours to kill. This means owl beer. But first we stop to gawk at the expat shop stocking English and American goods including flavoured Polos. Do these things still exist even in the UK?

At Uiltje we are too early. It opens at 2pm and it's 1.45pm when we arrive. Grr. So we go for a short wander around various side streets, finding nothing much of interest except a Lego Martin Luther by yet another church. But then it's 2pm and we're the first people in Uiltje.

Dark beer and sour beer, please. And again. It's just as great as it was yesterday. The barman is super friendly and chastises me for suggesting that "rauchbier lager" doesn't really make sense, so he lectures me on why it completely does and tells me the beer I'm referring to is from a place in Germany called Bamberg and then I'm like, oh wait! I've had that, when I stayed in Bamberg and drank tons of beer in late 2015. What an idiot I am! So, no sale, because I'm after something new. He sells me a 10% imperial stout without much resistance.

A man comes in with flight cases and very soon I am invited to search through his vast selection of 7" vinyl to help contribute to the afternoon DJ set he's about to commence. Oh, OK then. I pick Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Tavares, Earth Wind & Fire, and Imagination. I could have carried on and on. In the end he plays precisely none of my songs before we leave, but he does come over and apologise profusely for failing to fit Can I Play With Madness? in with the reggae he's started with.

While drinking one beer, the brewery toasts my check-in on untappd; seconds later, I spy there's an Untappd feed on the revolving bottle menu monitor and there goes my avatar and name for having just checked in. My name's in lights!

I love Uiltje. We love Uiltje. So desperately tempting to pop over here on an early flight, back on the last flight of the day basis numerous times a year. At one point I try to settle up because we want to go to their other venue and buy some merch - their own website says they're open 3pm-8pm on Sundays. He says, whoa, no, that's not true, that was a pop up shop that finished ages ago. So we stay for another beer and he says it's on the house. I told you, this place is fantastic.

But, anyway, we have to leave. So back to the hotel, pick up our bag. Up to the station, there's a train to Sloterdijk fairly soon. Nothing breaks down and we move to platform 10 by leaving the damn station and walking 500 yards to where platforms 9 and 10 are. Look, Amsterdam, just man up and admit these are separate stations.

Train to Schiphol is a 15 minute wait and 10 minute journey. Helen has a vape while I check on the BA app, can I spend some miles to fly us back to Heathrow? It's a semi-serious idea - there seems to be train fail from Gatwick which I'm sure wasn't there when I checked early last week, and apparently it's going to take us 90 minutes plus to reach Surbiton/Thames Ditton. Hence the Heathrow thing. But, it would cost miles and money and meh no, c'mon, we've got tickets already.

Through boarding pass check and security, once again both of my trays are chosen for secondary inspection. Also Helen is frisked and her coat is picked out too. Perhaps this time we really are being bullied? Through into the departure area we wander around and then plonk in a bar to get some bites and a pint. Ooh, I can have the Jopen Extra Stout after all.

There is arithmetic fail. We are told three things:

  1. Our gate will be announced 40 minutes before takeoff
  2. It's a 20 minute walk to the gate
  3. Gates close 30 minutes before takeoff

So apparently it's impossible to make flights at the H gates because of the 10 minute overlap. But of course it's all bullshit. The gate is announced earlier; it's a far quicker walk; and the gate doesn't close for ages. We enter the gate area about, I dunno, halfway in the end. I can make this estimation because we could see the entire plane full of people stood in a mostly orderly queue, because oh bollocks.

There's a medical emergency. Someone is still on the inbound plane and requires urgent attention. An ambulance arrives, paramedics board, etc etc. About 5 minutes after we were meant to have left, someone is finally helped very very slowly down the front steps and whisked off to hospital. Poor bastard.

As soon as they leave, the gates are opened and we flood forwards. Up the rear steps and into seats 18A and B again, this time round the plane is rammed and there's all kinds of overhead-storage-tetris being played. But it's all much more genial than seems to happen on similarly crowded BA flights, as if people are reasonable after all.

It takes a while for the seat belt signs to go off, and then they come back on because yay! Turbulence! Not quite as bad as on the way out, but approaching. As soon as the air gets less bumpy the service starts, and very few people buy anything. We do, though: Punk IPA and an Aperol Spritz please. Even though I tasted the latter I still have no idea what it is.

I'm too busy playing Microsoft Solitaire to even notice that we're about to land, and then we land. Oh, that was quick! We're about 30 minutes late. Let's see how bad the journey home is, shall we?

OK so we're in the mystery satellite building across from the mystery bridge at Gatwick. So it's almost a kilometre walk just to reach passport control. And we're at the North terminal, which means a monorail ride to get to the South terminal and train station. We reach the platform with 90 seconds to spare before the East Croydon train.

Nothing's going to Clapham Junction. This sucks. Most apps are suggesting we go to East Croydon and get a tram to Wimbledon, then train out. I think perhaps the X26 bus might not be a bad idea either, and en route we also consider heading all the way into London Bridge and then hop across to Waterloo. None of these options are nice, easy or quick but they are all nicer, easier and quicker than the option we eventually take: the rail replacement bus service to Clapham Junction.

For fucks sake. The bus we got was not an express one. No, this was a bus to West Croydon, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, Norbury, Streatham Common, Balham, Wandsworth Common, and Clapham Junction. There seems to be no quick and straight road route between any consecutive station and it's just a massive 75+ minute long journey of fail and hell. I am somewhat OK with it due to the nostalgia value - has the Thomas Farley gone? How is "Doneagles" chippy still going with that name? Does Streatham still have an Elvis theme cafe? Etc. But for Helen there are no positives at all.

Still, at Clapham we can go into Sainsbury's for sustenance, and there's a Surbiton train in 3 minutes which we make. There are leftover prawn crackers on my kitchen table, and that Heineken in the fridge. Uiltje it ain't, but it'll do as a nightcap.

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