The last few days have been busy with picking up our new bikes, parent induction course completion and familiarizing ourselves with the Netherlands health system.
It was very exciting when Mark (next door neighbour) took us down to the bike shop where he had organised for our bikes to be purchased from. They were all set up and ready to go. We added four panniers, locks and spare tubes. It hurt paying the bill but this is going to be well worth it. In the short ride back to the house we could tell that we had quality bikes. Gears were very smooth and it rode well, even through the rain. The last few days have been very wet with blustery winds coming straight off the North Sea but they were warm-ish.
We have had the bikes out and attached a few extras such as lights and odometer reader plus shower caps. The last item is a must as it protects the seats from getting wet. Have not had a chance to do any decent rides yet due to the weather though we did take them down to the shops today.
It is quite amazing just how intergral bikes are in the lives of the Dutch. Everyone has one if not two bikes and they take precedent over cars and pedestrians. It is quite dicey just walking around as you need eyes in the back of your head keeping a watch out for all the cyclists. Generally the bikes do not have any gears – that is how flat this country is. They have a vast array of bikes which suits all lifestyles and some of them involve having a strong sense of balance.
It was really cool to bike down to the High Street to get some groceries and it was totally dominated by cyclists. Had to be extra careful as the kids had come out of school and they were all around us texting whilst riding – not sure if there is a law here against that kind of thing.
We also needed Di to have some blood work done for a follow up and without Ali assisting us we would have been stumped. Everyone here has insurance so when we went to get the request form from the doctor and then go to the hospital for the blood to be taken they didn’t know how to charge for it as no one has cash. We ended up paying the hospital shop the money as that is where the only till was.
We have now had our parenting training wheels removed as Ali and Ads left this morning for New York. So far things are going smoothly with the kids getting themselves off to school. Took Bronte for a long walk on the hyda (off leash area) and then caught a train to Utrecht to go and sort some of our up coming train trips out. Utrecht is only ten minutes down the line.
As we are travelling with bikes on trains you must reserve places on the carriages as there is a limit as to how many bikes they will take. We also had to reserve a seat from Frankfurt to Paris and another one from Rodez (southern France) to Amsterdam. This last train is overnight and involves a couchette. Even though our Europass is first class (have no choice as over 30), we still have to share with two other people – this will be interesting.
The lady we were dealing with was very tolerant as some of our train trips are very involved as we cannot take bikes on the ICE trains which means we have to use all the slower trains. This also means we must swap between trains a lot. On one of the trips we have five different trains we have to use and when you have bikes it is very difficult. We will pare back our luggage even more than what we have already done. At this rate we will be biking in the buff – hmmmm…….
Had our first FaceTime with Joannie and Simon this evening who are the couple looking after the girls and the house. Joannie brought Toque and Maples to the computer but they didn’t seem at all interested. Obviously we have been superseded. Toque has managed to also wheedle her way into their bed in the mornings as we knew she would. They have also worked out Maples personality and were able to pick her up after only two days. Obviously these guys have a way with dogs.
We were pleased to hear that they have also picked up another three month house sitting assignment not long after our return. So if anyone out there needs their house sat we have the guys for you.
Ads and Fraser were comparing clothes styles the other night and Ali and I are sad to say that they have as much poor taste as one another. Fras wants to borrow Ads outfit for when we bike around Germany. – over Di’s dead body!!!!!!
Ooops, don’t tell Ali and Ads but Bronte has made her way up onto the couch already. While the cats away the dog will play.