Boxes, oliebollen and even more new baby plants

Last week, I had to dig into our stash of Corenza-C and Sinucon as I got my first little cold here. You might remember that I’ve written about hauling over the likes of Corenza, Sinucon and GenPayne because one can’t really get the good stuff here. There’s sometimes criticism about the medical system here, and there’s a joke that you are prescribed Paracatemol for everything from a sore throat to a broken arm, but it’s more of a holistic approach here. It seems doctors want you to try rest and look after yourself before prescribing antibiotics. It’s not like adequate care or antibiotics aren’t available. Rather, the latter aren’t the first option, and if you really want them, you need to be quite straightforward about it (much like the Dutch) – you need to explain your symptoms specifically, and ask for what you want.

According to Dutch Review, the Dutch have the lowest rate of antibiotic use within Europe. Antimicrobial resistance is remaining stable in the Netherlands, compared with most of the rest of the world, which is experiencing increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance each year.

Anyway, thanks to the meds, time and sleep, I’m on the mend, and for a few days last week we were busy unpacking our 33 boxes that arrived in our container, just over four months since it left our old house in Joburg. I was quite anxious about getting our stuff. Excited, yes, but I was nervous about finding place for everything, and dealing with things like boxes and bubble wrap (yes, big problems, I know).

When I saw the Seven Seas truck outside our apartment, I started crying. It signified the full circle to me, and it seemed like just the other day the South African version of the truck carrying the exact same container left. We hired two guys off an app called New Ones to help us carry the boxes, and everything was in within about 45 minutes. These guys were great and literally saved us hours of time and frustration.

That night, I started unpacking, and part of me was resentful that we had to make space and energy for these things again. I’ve loved living minimally, and we got rid of boxes and boxes of things before we left for Amsterdam. However, I felt the “burden” of more clutter and things around, and seeing things that I would have no use for here, even though we had been quite strict about only packing up what we really wanted. While unpacking, I started some charity giveaway piles, and managed to fit the rest in. It was wonderful to have our coffee machine, small appliances, books and crockery etc back. However, I’m 11 out of 10 sure that our hot tray won’t be used for the next two years, and that our more “fancy’ dinnerware set will remain untouched for a loooooong time.

Museums and theatres are now closed, and since travel anywhere looks out of the question over the holidays, I’m going to bunk up and eat oliebollen (basically they’re delicious doughnut-like balls), with stands popping up around the country. I saw a gluhwein stand on someone’s Instagram feed, and I’m here for that too. Add some roasted chestnuts (I hope they have them here?) and it will be the best winter ever. The Christmas lights are out so we’ll be going to the centre soon to have a look.

The kids are well, and Rebecca has started riding her Hello Kitty bike with training wheels, which, if were a couple of sizes bigger, would be the perfect bike for me. She’s loving practising, and gets up swiftly after all her minor tumbles. She’s made some Dutch friends at school, who understand a bit of her English, but who only speak Dutch, so presumedly Rebecca knows what they’re talking about. Her classes are all in Dutch, but I think the teachers will communicate with her in English if necessary.

I’m starting a beginner’s online Dutch course soon. I’ve tried learning by myself via apps, but I don’t really have the discipline, plus I miss interacting with people, and practising/conversing. Next year I plan to do another more intensive course.

I know I’m continuing to be as minimal as possible, but plants are where I draw the line, and I bought some new little babies from Plnts. My plants are still thriving, and “only” one has died from overwatering. I’m holding on to my orchids in the hope that they reflower next year. If this happens, I will dedicate an entire blog post to them!

Tot ziens!




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  • Denise Kemp

    10 November 2020 at 11:01 am

    Amsterdam is prettier in winter than I thought it would be - the canals and buildings, the people and the shops.

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