2016 in numbers

2016 in numbers – or how to make sense of your personal data

Here is a little disclaimer for this post:

  1. <nerd alert on>
  2. This has become a bit of a long post … don’t say I did not warn you
  3. And I am not a designer – so this is not pixel perfect. But for this purpose it is good enough for me. If you look very carefully you’ll probably spot some pixels that aren’t completely aligned but then I am not a designer. I hacked this together in Google Draw, it’ll have to do. I’ll try to explain how I gathered all the data.

1. Cycling to work

This shows the number of times I have cycled to work this year. In order to automatically track this I created an IFTTT recipe which gets triggered on my phone  when I pass a certain location on my route to work. I can only pass this spot on bicycle and will only pass it when I cycle to the office, so this works fine for me. IFTTT logs this in a Google sheet, so the only thing I need to do at the end of the year is check how often this is logged.

So I cycled to work 105 times this year.

  • (Since I am also tracking when it rains (as you do…)) – I only had to cycle 5 time through rain. This is only 4,7% of the time (quite amazing when you think about it).
  • 105 cycle trips to work have saved me about €220 in gasoline and has also saved me from the stress and frustration of standing in traffic jams during rush hour.
  • It hasn’t saved me from some serious bruises though, as it turned out that taking a turn on a frozen cyclepath makes you fall flat on your face… (be careful cycling in the wintertime is the lesson here).

And finally, here is a graph (click for larger version) showing how much I cycled per month. (from the last 4 years). Seems like I finally figured out this year that I can cycle to work in the fall/winter too. Let’s see if we can tackle the spring too in 2017.

Cycle stats
Cycle stats

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Bored is boring – the 2016 edition

You know you are bored when:

  • None of the 352 songs on your Spotify “Happy” (the name of the playlist alone for crying out loud …) playlist seem worth listening to.
  • You start reading the mails in your spam filter…
  • You check your watch too often. And because you can’t believe that only this few minutes have passed since you last checked it, you check the clock on your mobile phone as well. Only few minutes had passed indeed.
  • You keep making cups of tea, even though you are not really thirsty because you already too much tea.
  • You keep eating sweets, even though they are nearly coming out of your nose.
  • You make lists of things you do when you are seriously bored.

Now this list is very appropriate for the day I am having – but a little bit of browsing through my archives I found this one:
from 2007. It is kind of shocking to see that nearly 10 years later – too little has changed. I need to make some serious plans for 2017.

How to cosy up your home

It is slowly starting to look like a real home.

New York I painted the below half of my entrance walls grey, it makes it look a bit more sophisticated (and will go well with pink, which is the colour I will paint my front door!). And I put up some small frames with photos of a place I like – New York (bought those small canvasses for a few euro in a discount shop – they look great though). I will add some London and Denmark bits somewhere in my place too.

These two are tweeting around in my kitchen, holding my towel and tea towel. Aren’t they cute birdies? (They are from Qualy)

Organizing tree
This tree is located on the wall in my entrance. A good place for my keys, and postcards and other stuff. And – isn’t that a ticket for a tv-2 concert in the Opera in Copenhagen? Yes indeed it is! I am off for a short weekend trip this coming weekend. I look forward to both seeing tv-2 again (it has been too long!) and meeting some old Danish friends too.

TV-2 is playing a special release concert for their upcoming album Showtime, they play in the Opera house in Copenhagen, a really wonderful building, and reason enough for me to fly over for a weekend to go and see them. Here is their new single and a very cleverly made black and white video. Good to see that Steffen Brandt still has that grin on his face.

Sleeping in a new home

Sleeping in a new home is always a bit special. Especially when your bed collapses in the middle of the night when you are sleeping.

Which made me think of two things:

  • How can it be that it didn’t collapse the first night I slept in it?
  • I am not the DIY master Jedi I thought I was. (half of the nuts and bolts needed to keep the together were still laying on the floor!)

So yes I am sleeping in my new house. I did assemble the bed correctly now, so hopefully tonight will go better.

Most of the work is done but I still need to:

Put protection laquer on my dinner table
Paint the colour stripes on my wall
Paint 5 meter of book/photoframe/other things shelf white

I’ll take some photos when all is done. And I will also post the photos of my sofa which had to be lifted onto my balcony by a huge crane (as it was too large to be carried up the stairs – nice way to let the neighbourhood know !)

Home work III -nearly there

Bedroom with Pirates of the Carribean blue wall

Mini garden

There is progress.

All the paint work is done, wowee! Except the stripes in my living room, but that’s not a lot of work and will be done next week.

I have assembled 4 closets. There are two more Billy’s to assemble, that should be a breeze (with a name like that).

The floor has been installed. (Color: weathered oak (grey-ish))

I have a livingroom with a pink chair and two glossy white coffee/tea tables. My dinner table is waiting to get up and my dinner chairs (I ordered an ice blue, purple, orange and grey one – to keep it colourful) are hopefully delivered next week too.

I have a sleepingroom with a Pirates of the Carribean blue wall and 4 closets. And funky curtains!

I have a terrace with flower bulbs, the snowdrops are nearly blooming.

Tomorrow the movers will deliver the rest of my things so I will be reunited with my stuff.

Tuesday my (grey) sofa will be delivered.

Hopefully on Wednesday it will look like a real (ish) home. I really look forward to have some relaxing time on my new sofa having a tea and watching, well Inspector Lynley perhaps on Wednesday? Making a new place your home is a big job but the end is in sight.

How are you all doing?

And where will I live

I visited the apartment near the river for the second time today and this time I was sure: that’s the place for me. I have decided to place a bid on it (that’s the way it works in the Netherlands), and will do so tomorrow.

I don’t know if there are any other potential buyers. I do know that the real estate guy I hired told me that the price the seller is trying to sell for is too high. So the selling game between the real estate people on both sides will begin.

The guy selling the place has already moved in with his new girlfriend. So let’s hope he wants to sell fast and for a lower price – to me. Exiting times ahead!

Where do you live?

As in – what kind of place? A house? An apartment? Did you love your place at first sight?

Why am I asking all these questions you wonder?

I want to buy my own place. And there are two possibilities – I can buy a small apartment with a rather large outdoor terrace (balcony) or I can buy a house with a small garden.

They are the same price and about what I can afford. The apartment has a nice view on the river and the house is in a relatively quiet street. The house has slightly bigger rooms, but has a small living room. The flat is a 2 bed flat but the smallest bedroom is very small. They are both about 10-15 years old.

I would really love to return to the town where I was born, and that’s where those two options are.

The thing is – I can’t really make my mind up about it. I think it’s secretely because I haven’t really fallen in love with either of them as what I would really want is an old (ish) town house with built in atmosphere. (= most probably too expensive for me)

So here is my question – how did you pick your place? And did you love it at first sight? What would you do if you were me?

Ten Things I miss from London

  1. Red double decker buses
    Just because I think they are wonderful. Especially the old Routemasters.
  2. A reliable Oyster card (opposed to a not always properly working OV card in the Netherlands)
  3. The London transport system
    Yes it can be a busy system (and yes sometimes they strike!) but I find it a great system and compared to public transport in Amsterdam – London is way ahead. And hey they have tube trains every few minutes – forget about that in Amsterdam.
  4. The enormous amount of cinemas and films on offer in London
    The time of the year might have something to do with it but there hasn’t been much on lately has there?
  5. The London theatre
    And just living around the corner from it. Plays with dream actors like Kevin Spacey, Ken Stott, Charles Dance, Derek Jacobi. And I wish I could say Bill Nighy, but blimey what does one need to do to get that man back on stage in London!
  6. The language
    I love to hear the Brits talk. Good job I have a UK colleague at my current workplace so I won’t complete miss the British sense of humour and self deprication.
  7. Men in decent suits with great shoes
    Yes men wear suits in Amsterdam too, but it is just not as classy. Far from in fact.
  8. People queueing properly for the tube or train
    Oh and people with manners and being polite. My god – Dutch people are horrible when it comes to that. Lots of elbow and pushing work going on every single time I have to enter a train. And they don’t know how to behave on an escalator either.
  9. British television
    Please give me back the BBC channels. And ITV, Channel 4 and even Five. I really miss quality tv. But I also miss Simon Cowell and the Xfactor! I really hope to solve that tv issue in the future. (I’ll buy a satellite dish if I need to)
  10. A cup of tea the milky way
    I have not drunk a single one of those since my return. Somehow that is such a quintessential British thing that it feels wrong to do it in the Netherlands. And Dutch tea just doesn’t taste as good as Yorkshire tea.

You might think that I am missing London badly and regret having moved from there. But strangely enough, apart from the above list, and maybe a couple of other minor things, I haven’t missed London that much actually. There is no doubt in my mind that I have taken the right decision to move back to the Netherlands. Living close to my family again is really nice and life is just not as hectic (and therefor more healthy) as it was in London.

I am still on a quest to find a perfect place to live though. I am currently living in Haarlem (renting) where I have the unbelievable luxury of having my own kitchen, with own micro wave, cooker and fridge. And six (six!) whole kitchen cupboards for myself! I am still getting used to it, having lived in a shared household for more than four years.

So on that front, life is certainly improving. But Haarlem might not be the place where I am going to stay very long though. We’ll see what happens.

How are you all doing?

Oh, and here is a new (and this time decent as my mum filmed this) video of Gijs the Hedgehog. He is still a regular visitor in the garden!

Gijs the hedgehog

Meet Gijs, our hedgehog

We have a new daily visitor in the garden, meet Gijs the hedgehog!

You can nearly put your your clock on it – Gijs will appear around 16.30 every afternoon, entering the garden from the neighbours garden.

Gijs the Hedgehog - enters the scene

He then has a little walk through the garden to see if there is anything interesting to eat for him. We have been feeding him small bits of cheese the last couple of days, and he loves those.

Gijs the Hedgehog - are you looking at me?
And after a bit of time in the garden he leaves again.

Gijs the Hedgehog - leaving the scene

Isn’t Gijs cute!

Here we are

Where have you been?
Well I have been kind of busy and I have left London and moved back to the Netherlands.

What? Why?
Good question. Because four years 24 hours a day in the hustle and bustle of central London was enough for me.
London is a very exciting and fantastic city and there is a lot on offer. But living there 24 hours
a day is different from visiting it as a tourist. There are great jobs in London, and a lot of people
come to London to work and get great working experience. This also means that everybody is always in
a hurry and building up a social life is hard. And I was incredibly tired of flat sharing too.
So after four years I decided that it had been enough. I packed my stuff, called a man in a van, and
voila I left.

When and where to?
I am back in the Netherlands – back to my roots. After 14 and a bit years abroad I felt that it was time to
move back to my home country.

I have been here since the last week of June 2010.

Do I miss London?
Sometimes. I miss that life never stops in London and that there is always something to do. That the shops
are always open and that there are so many theatres, cafes and cinemas. That you can attend events with interesting
people like Bill Nighy or Kevin Spacey. And the English sense of humour. And the charity shops with
cheap English pockets. The red busses. And ok then, the tube outside rush hour hours.
I better stop now otherwise I might want to move back.

I will definitely be back in London as a tourist though and I am still waiting for Bill to get his act (literally)
together and take on a play in London.

What now, then?
That is something I am asking myself too. I have found a job and am currently working in
Amsterdam. I am back on my bicycle which makes me happy. And I am looking at potential nice places to live.
I am not sure if I want to live in a house with a little garden a bit away from a city or in a flat a bit
closer to a city. Decisions, decisions!

And seeing as I have been away for such a long time, I need to start from scratch building up a social life too.
In other words – there is enough to keep me busy for a while (besides filling out a million forms – which
you have to when you change country)

So that’s the story, morning glory. How have you all been?

I will also try to post more regularly but posts might be shorter and sometimes just contain cool things I find on the net. But it is better
than nothing at all right? And as a new thing you can Facebook “Like” posts here on this weblog.