I have just been to the dentist here in Holland. I have two teeth whose fillings need to be replaced - and these are living teeth still, mind. He asked me whether I would require anaesthesia. I just looked at the man like he was mad, I mean, doesn't everyone? No, as it turns out, 25% of the Dutch are determined to one day be able to withstand torture without losing face. I had much rather have a horrible migraine than a small toothache so I am still horrified. I made sure he knew I wanted to feel nothing, less than nothing even if at all possible.
We now live in Holland, you lot, God help us. David, the House Geek, was offered a wonderful job in Amsterdam and here we are now, in Almere, where the water is wide, the birds are plenty and the amount of foreigners causes the Dutch, who might just be a tad racist, to not want to live here ever. [Our car has a "P" on it, from Portugal, obviously, but the Dutch think we're Poles. Experience quickly taught us it is not a good thing to be a Pole in Holland even if the Dutch themselves don't care to pick the bloody strawberries, the Poles are still stealing their jobs.] We rented a gorgeous, ridiculously big house with an even more ridiculous garden, with which tripod cat, who's never been an outside cat in her life, is completely obsessed. As I type she is parked in front of the garden door, chirping mightily, because she wants out, she must go out, she needs out NOW! I bought 5-m leashes so I can let them roam but J.I.P. becomes afraid and then cries for us to come rescue her, and Tripod becomes entangled in the vases and bushes and then cries for us to come rescue her. We then come inside and repeat the scene ad lib throughout the day. It's super fun.
The thing I find really hard about Holland is how cold it's becoming. There was ice on my windscreen this morning - and did you know that, when it's 0º outside and you just use water it will freeze back in about 5 seconds? Reminded me of the time in Lisbon a few years ago when we had abnormally low temperatures and I came down to a frozen windscreen too. I had to run back up, go on IRC and ask those sturdy, Northern foreigners what to do. They thought I was pulling their leg till I mentioned Portugal. [A Norwegian bloke once thought the same when I became all excited that they built snow forts - ! - and then, listen to this, stuck torches on every corner! I was fascinated, how exotic is that? To Norwegians, not at all.] You can't just pour water on the ice, the collective wisdom of IRC said, it'll just freeze again (I'd forgotten that bit, obviously), valiantly take a CD case or credit card to the windscreen. Then I thought they were pulling my leg but it works. It's time to buy one of those ice scraping thingies, is what I quickly concluded. The House Geek, whose DNA is obviously not comprised of delicate Victorian flowers and unicorn dust fares much better with the cold than I do, he loves riding his bike to the station every morning and comes home popsicled but envigorated. Me, I would be enthusiastically willing to give up all my pretty warm clothes if I never had to see a Winter again.
The Dutch, despite being surrounded by loads of water, somehow manage to lead happy, fulfilled lives without fresh fish. All we find in the supermarkets is frozen codfish (and every Portuguese is hardwired to think that any codfish that is not our beloved salted codfish is not even worthy of being called that), frozen tilapia, frozen salmon and frozen something else that is so not particularly ode-inspiring that I have forgotten what sort of fish it is. I keep telling people that surely there must be at least one shop that sells fresh fish and they all say 'Oh yes there is, somewhere downtown,' but its location has so far eluded me. You can't also find any turkey, ostrich, lamb, goat, octopus, squid or cuttlefish in the shops but have a look at our fine horse delicacies! They do have kibbeling, for which a multitude of sins may be forgotten, and the most gorgeous wakame salad.
Kibbeling (still can't centre my pictures, it is driving me batty)
So this is where we are, David bravely going to work every day to ensure the free world has access to the internet, and my going to a colleague's clinic to learn how vets work and how things are called here and to Dutch classes, where our teacher is less than impressed if we profess anything short of absolute love for Holland and regales us with the paranormal events in her life. But it's alright, since she got a cat she no longer wakes up with scratches on her shoulders.