Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

We don't know if it has already screened in New Zealand but we have just returned from a rainy Sunday afternoon at the cinema watching "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer". The cinema was miniscule with 27 seats and almost a full house. No ads, no breaks just the movie.

This tale is a must see with the same magical feel as Chocolat but darker (Dark Chocolate?). In some ways it has a lot in common as Chocolat focuses on taste, Perfume is about smell.

It is the story of a child born in the slums of Paris in the 18th century with an extraordinarily powerful sense of smell. The tragedy is that he has no body odor himself. How that is a problem you'll have to see the movie but he becomes obsessed with making the worlds best perfume.

Rarely a film of this character comes along. It is visually appealing, original, and captivates you from its beginning to interesting conclusion.

Oh yeah, there are hot red head chicks in it too.

PS: The main character looks like a young Martin Kleine-Deters (Renate's cousin in NZ).


Apartment living

I've never been keen on the idea of apartment living. Firstly I can't imaging living in a sterile hotel style place and I like to have some greenery (trees, grass etc). In most cities around the world its not an option to have your own house in the burbs.

When Renate moved back to Holland after her stint in New Zealand she wanted to find a place that would suit us both. Keeping me in the loop with photos she finally decided on a top floor apartment overlooking the local Park. It's a beautiful location surrounded by green trees and everything is accessible by bike include the local mountain bike park.

It is a spacious single bedroom open plan design on a corner. Two sides are covered with windows providing plenty of light and of course we look out straight onto the trees.

Unlike New Zealand the Dutch are proud of their living rooms and maybe because they also have double glazing there are no curtains (except the bedroom). You can look straight into anyone's house day or night and see what they are eating for dinner or watching on TV.

Because of all the greenery there is a huge amount of wildlife in addition to our experience with a Marten. Along with the usual city birds there are also Ravens, Crows, Eksters (European Magpie), Doves, Squirrels (Acorns in Dutch) and even bats as the sun disappears below the horizon.

Another observation is that Dutch houses are built to look old to fit in with their surroundings. I know some of the Dutchies will disagree with this but they are built with brick and don't have any of the modern stylings kiwis are used to. The opposite should be said for the insides which are a lot more modern than the kiwis houses.

It is certainly a nice place to live. Lovely surroundings, plenty of light and of course good company.


The Wedding of Giny and Nick

Yesterday we attended the wedding of Giny and Nick (our first wedding when we could both attend at the same time).

When compiling the invites the engaged couple decide on how good a friend they are. Should they be invited as a day guest with the dinner or only invited to the party in the evening.

Dutch weddings are spread across the entire day, firstly with everyone visiting the local government in the morning for the official part (signing the documents). Afterwards it is the Church service for those religious folk followed by entertainment for the day guests whilst the photos are being taken. It is then time for dinner and speeches for the day guests. In the evening the big party takes place sometimes filled with songs, sketches and games.

The party was in a beautiful old castle Slot Doddendaal flying the Dutch flag proudly as we entered. We lined up to have our photos taken and write a message in a book in which the photos will be added later. Inside we were offered coffee and tea with a selection of hand crafted cakes. It was a warm night but people like to have tea and coffee after dinner.

Giny and Nick entered the party to a songs sung by the guests. Not understanding them they sounded like the sort of songs you expect to be sung at football matches or out at sea on a cold night. Something was missing, there were no groomsmen or bridesmaids and this is normal. They made their way to the stage and started receiving the guests for congratulatory messages and the gifts.

The stage was set for a live band. In fact a 10 piece band with 3 vocalists, 2 guitars and a selection brass instruments but before they kicked off the DJ played a selection of familiar of tunes including the Cheers theme. Giny and Nick took their place for their first dance to an upbeat number. It was a cover band who did a fantastic job singing in English and speaking in between in Dutch.

I felt like I kept getting in the way. Every 7 seconds or so I was tapped on the arm by one of the waiting staff but apparently this is how they make their money. "Drink sir, drink sir..." even if you are dancing or have a full glass in your hand.

All in all it was a lovely night. Congratulations Giny and Nick.


Moeders Dag (Mothers Day)

Yep, it's the same day New Zealand as it is in Holland. In fact the largest percentage of countries have it on the on the same day (2nd Sunday in May) and the rest are pretty much randomly spread across the year.

This is just a quick post to wish my mum Pauline a wonderful day and big hugs from across the world. I'll also throw in a couple for Renate's mum as well.

Like every good Dutchy it's back to the weather...

After 7 weeks without hardly a drop of rain just as sprinkler restrictions here about to be put in place the skies opened and haven't stopped. Since Monday its been raining most of the time giving the ground and sandy mountain bike trails a good drink.

One evening Renate and I just turned off the lights in her lounge to watch and listen to the electrical storm overhead.

Love you Mum


Koningindag (Queen's Day)

Every 30th of April Holland turns Orange (the colour and name of the royal family - "House of Orange"). This year the weather was perfect and in reality its a great excuse to have a party with people decorating their houses with the national flag. Traditionally the Queen takes in a small town and a city so we headed straight for Den Bosch to see what all the fuss was about.

First of all we headed through the local Goffert Park where another Queen's Day even was taking place. Queen's Day is also the day when the Dutch have a giant garage sale (Vrij Markt) across the whole country. The city centre parks and streets are filled with people selling all their junk. It was massive and the selection of goods covered topics from old records, furniture and pieces of drain pipes.

The train station was a sea of people wearing Orange heading to Den Bosch and Amsterdam but we managed to meet up with Renate's sisters and Maarten. On our arrival we were having numerous pieces of head gear offered to us from foam orange crowns to hair pieces of the Queen. The pick of the bunch was the Dr Seuss style Heineken hats.

First we headed to the bank of the canal to watch the Queen arrive by boat. Whilst waiting we sampled Oranje Tompoezen (Custard squares with orange icing) one of the special foods of the day. Not knowing what she looked like, when she arrived I miss took for a lady wearing pink. After her arrival we headed to the town centre as this was apparently the thing to do. The Queen had to make her way from the river taking in all the activities the town had set up (The Vrij Markt, Salsa dancing and sports activities) before making it to the centre.

A few songs and a quick speech and it was all over to we then attempted to find a place for a spot of lunch ("Yeah right", with so many people in town).

We headed back to Nijmegen later that afternoon and checked out the centre which was just as mad with people. Waiters walking the streets carrying beer above their heads and music coming from all angles.

Later that night over dinner we watched is all again on TV.