Thu 13 Jul, 2023 Melbourne, AU
Quick update; went to see my doctor about my ear. I'm glad I did. She used a device to clean it out. A pleasant feeling. My hearing is back. She excitingly showed me the basin that caught everything coming out of my ear. Below a list sorted by size.
I asked my doctor if she knew anyone that could help me with my audio setup at home. One speakerbox is still broken. Unfortunately she couldn't recommend anyone to me. I told her I will try and see Dr. Dre.
Sat 24 Jun, 2023 Melbourne, AU
Both my ears plopped shut three days ago. A strange experience; like being underwater. My balance is affected and I have applied to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks. This morning at first light, my left ear popped open to my delight. My right ear was less lucky and is still shut. I can hear, however all sounds seem muffled. Kate wishes her ears were shut too, as no five minutes pass without me mentioning my ear problem.
At home here in Melbourne my audio setup consists of three elements; a record player, amplifier and a pair of BBC Stirling Broadcast loudspeakers. The other day, one of the loudspeakers stopped working. I think it's the driver as higher tones are not affected. It's a little confusing, one broken speaker and one muffled ear.
It's Saturday morning and I am listening to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6. Just like me she is very excited about Glastonbury. I am half listening to half music. Kate's brother Harry walked in earlier. He and Kate are now looking at me lying on the couch with a vegan ear-candle up my sore ear. I asked Kate to closely monitor the candle — I'm worried I might catch fire and won't be able to hear the fire alarm.
Fri 22 Jul, 2022 Amsterdam, NL
Our dog Bell showed signs of getting older over the last few months. Grey hairs. Less running. Trouble getting in the car. Arthritis developed and resulted in medication. Currently Kate and I are in The Netherlands visiting family and friends who we haven’t seen for two years. As life surprises; this is when Bell suddenly got sick, fast, back home in Melbourne. Her back legs stopped working. Painkillers made her dopey and confused. She refused to eat and go for walks. She lost control over her bowels.
Bell has always been a strong dog—with an even stronger personality. however currently she was far from being happy and comfy. We have been on the phone with family and the VET in Australia for hours. The difficult decision to make was to either keep her going until Kate and I would be back in Melbourne (earlier flight) or to release her from misery. We realized she shouldn’t be in pain or be miserable longer than necessary.
Kate’s younger brother Harry, and one of our closest friends Nikki were with Bell during her last few days. They comforted her constantly (meat pack from DOC). Kate and I recorded audio messages in Dutch and English, meaning Bell could hear our voices during her last minutes. It kills me thinking how she must have missed us, and how we weren’t there for her at the very end...
It’s been tough and I’m dreading the flight back to the empty house. Sweet messages from friends and strangers online have been helpful and important. The fact that she touched many hearts means a lot to me. I have always tried my best to make her happy. Kate and I were blessed getting to know her well. A street dog from Portugal. She ended up in a shelter in Belgium. Lived in The Netherlands with us for most of her life, and had her golden years in Australia. It has been a decade. Run free now. No more dog leash. All the pizza you want. Go chase those possums and kangaroos up there. See you on the other side.
Mon 25 Apr, 2022 Moss Vale, AU
Today, my alarm rang at 4am. Kate's father and I attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Mittagong. He has attended the service 33 times. It was my first attending. During a performance of The Last Post and Rouse, a woman fainted. She was carefully helped up by a navy officer during this one minute of silence. There wasn't a single sound. No one else moved. It seemed surreal. Just the kind of thing I will remember for the rest of my life.
Tomorrow, my alarm will ring at 4am. Kate and I are travelling back to our home in Fitzroy. A nine hour drive. We have made the journey from Sydney to Melbourne about seven times and are getting used to the distance. Some European driving distances as comparison;
Drive from Amsterdam
This week there are paintings to paint and drawings to draw. On Wednesday morning I am welcoming the owners of a local gallery in my studio. I take joy in meeting other painters, curators and gallerists. Talking about painting and studio visits are exciting. Art is complicated and therefor conversations about it can be stimulating and insightful. These are, to me, intimate encounters as I am emotionally connected to my work. Although this will be our second date, I think I might be nervous.
Sun 22 Apr, 2022 Moss Vale, AU
Last Thursday Kate and I drove north from Melbourne to her parent's farm in Moss Vale, south of Sydney. About ten minutes before our arrival a gum tree had fallen on the road to the farm, blocking traffic. Kate's dad came to the rescue with a tractor and a chainsaw. A storm had blown over hundreds of trees in the area and as a result the hills are filled with the noise of revving chainsaws. After seeing a wombat later today, I thought it'd be good to dust of the blog and write a post.
A year and a half have passed since arriving in Australia. Though, I have aged five years, as of snake and spider scares. Despite Covid related restrictions, days have been good in Melbourne. Kate and I have met —and made friends with— great people, however I miss my younger brother, my family, and my friends in Europe. We hope to pay them a visit this July. My dad was bitten by a big dog three weeks ago which emphasised the physical distance between us. I consider Kate's family my own family. Her parents and brothers make my time here very enjoyable and I can't wait for our wedding in January.
Moving 15.000 Kilometers away from my agents and gallery contacts in Europe had me worried my illustration business and painting practise would be negatively affected. The year 2020 was creatively quiet and although I trust in myself and my work, there was anxiety there. Currently covid calmed down down here and the creative industry picked up pace; resulting in drawing assignments and painting sales.
Lately, YouTube sucks up all my spare time. I'm researching and tutorial-binging all things related to camera's, microphones, lights, chroma-keying, batteries, adapters, cables, recorders, streaming software, Twitch, and so on. I'm working on a personal project that I am hoping to launch summer 2023. I am not sure yet, if I consider this project productive or procrastination.
Thu 07 Oct, 2021 Melbourne, AU
An estimated 30 million possums fool around urban environments in Australia. There are about 27 species of which the Common Brushtail Possum is the most abundant and familiar. The two noisiest possums that have ever scampered across Fitzroy roofs, took up residence in ours. A mother and a baby. They moved in a few weeks ago, and enjoy hissing, growling, fighting, and playing the Fender Mustang Bass Guitar from 04:00 till 06:00 in the morning.
At 05:00 in the morning the baby possum woke up our dog Bell. At 05:01 in the morning, Bell woke up Kate. And at 05:02 in the morning Kate woke me up, by leaning with her pokey elbows on my fragile thighs. Kate stared through our bedroom window at the kitchen door. It appeared the baby possum had fallen off the roof, tried to climb back up, and got stuck about halfway. The mother tried all she could to help, however without luck. Just like Gabriel 'Gabe' Walker in 1993's 'Cliffhanger'; I came to the rescue.
Think of a possum as a boring coloured Pokémon with the eyes of a koala, the nose of a rat, the ears of a german shepherd, the body and tale of a squirrel and the energy of Jack Black. I opened the kitchen door to expose myself to Melbourne's inner suburb wildlife. I decided to gear up and wear a thick jacket, my motorcycle helmet (vizor down of course) and leather winter gloves. Maybe a bit overdressed for the job at hand. I want to avoid an appearance on the evening news.
I took a deep breath and a broom. My heart was bouncing at the rate of my old 'The Best of Thunderdome' 1996 double CD (Disc 1). Gently, I picked up the baby possum which crawled up my arm. She looked me in the eyes like I was the father (time for a DNA test). The mother looked down from the roof in a "what on earth are you wearing" way (I chose to ignore). Carefully, I placed the baby possum on the broom (Harry Possum) and reunited the mother with her child. Good deed done. I changed my underwear, desinfected the broom and went straight back to bed.
Mon 30 Aug, 2021 Melbourne, AU
It's been a while since I last sat down and summarised the month. The usual freelance gospel; "I have been busy". Coding and preparing all things web-shop related has finished and I am excited to launch jordy.shop in September. I painstakingly payed of my dept to Tom Nook in Animal Crossing: New Horizons which almost took the fun out of Nintendo. A lock-down-achievement. In other news (I should have started with this) I asked Kate to marry me and she said yes. We're planning a wedding the moment flying from Europe to Australia is easier.
Moving to Melbourne involved doing homework on local artists and galleries. I'm curious about the local art climate in which I'm hoping to take part. I'm careful not to rush in and make decisions I'll regret. This new environment inspires, yet comes with a little anxiety. A mix of eagerness and apprehension reminding me of the first few weeks at Art Academy about 5000 days ago. I'm trying not to overthink settling in and solely focus on making new work. I tell myself if any new work seems exciting to me, then perhaps it excites anyone else. I have so far sold two paintings in Melbourne, which should not, but did, boost my self confidence.
My dog Bell is starting to show her age. The 5th of October will mark her 10th birthday. That's 70 years old in dog years. She is mechanically fit, however doesn't listen properly lately. She makes high pitched winey sounds while staring our lunch out of our hands, and barks at Molly the neighbour's dog. I should check her tummy for a zipper as I suspect Bell is actually just a little old lady dressed up in a dog suit.
Since Melbourne locked down I'm having digital disscipline difficulties. I started playing Fortnite on my Nintendo Switch Lite. Kate is not exactly throwing herself at me when I'm on the Nintendo, and I don't blame her. Sometimes she looks at me from the corner of her eye when I am stressfully blasting through an Fortnite endgame wearing worlds dorkiest headphones, completely forgetting about the tea she made me twenty minutes ago. I wonder if pawning the engagement ring has crossed her mind yet.
Sun 28 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
The Tasmanian adventure is almost over. I woke up in the Lisdillon cottage and packed my bag. A decision to make; drive to Launceston through the valley (shorter route) or the mountains (longer route). I decided on the mountains and did not regret this. They came diverse nature, curvy roads and bird's-eye views. I stopped occasionally to make pictures, and went for a short walk in a small mountain village named Derby; a once booming tin mining town. The road from Freycinet to Launceston was right up my street. There was little to no traffic, allowing me to slow my pace and admire the surroundings. All four windows of the rental were down. The wind made my hair look like I touched the car's battery. Evening fell around my arrival in Launceston. I walked around for a while looking for a place to eat. There was a lot to choose from. I decided to turn to Tripadvisor for trip advise. Geronimo popped up. A modern European menu, rich of locally produced ingredients. The restaurant was 50 meters away. They had a spot for me at the bar. One steak and old fashioned later I walked back to the Airbnb for my final night in Tasmania.
My alarm was set at exactly 7am. Early; allowing me to make the most out of my last day in Tasmania. Annoyingly, I slept right through the alarm, and woke up at precisely 9.47am. I got up, dressed, packed, tidied the place and stood outside the AirBnB 15 minutes later. Over a coffee at Sweetbrew I remembered Kate's mother telling me about a "lighthouse-worth-a-visit" north of Launceston. After all my city slicking I decided I could do with some more nature and drove out of town, headed for the lighthouse. I followed the river Tamar, north of Launceston. I was on my way to a place named Low Head, close to George Town, in the north of Tasmania. The drive wasn't long however the traffic was strong. While following the 'Batman Highway' I noticed a sign saying 'Batman Bridge' and the little boy inside me had to investigate. There wasn't much Batman about the bridge at all. The bridge has nothing to do with Bruce Wayne's alter ego and has been named in the honour of John Batman, a Launceston businessman and co-founder of Melbourne. Not a nice man I've heard.
I arrived at Low Head early in the afternoon and followed the signs pointing in the direction of the lighthouse. I arrived and boy was I disappointed. The lighthouse was no higher than two meters. I could easily touch the top of it. The boring white phallus shaped structure did not even have a light in it. "This can't be it" I wondered for a while. It wasn't. I went online and quickly learned the lighthouse I was aiming for was a ten minutes drive away. I was relieved when I drove around the last corner, seeing a high, proper, red and white painted lighthouse on the cliffs ahead of me. Without luck I searched for penguins. I finished my bottle of water, went for my hourly leak, and drove back to Launceston. I had a few spare hours before my flight back to Melbourne and figured that I might be able to squeeze in a quick visit to the Queen Victoria Art Gallery. I managed to do so, and visited both the temporary and the ongoing exhibitions currently on display. Time to return the rental and catch my flight at Launceston Airport. It has been an incredible few days and I feel both rested, inspired and satisfied. I checked in at the airport at 4pm. My flight was at 10pm. Six hours too early at an aiprot no bigger than a large Whoolworths. I ordered a beer, found a sofa, and sat down to organise my thoughts. Time to start wondering about the screenprint I will be making, based on my Jaunt in Tasmania.
Sat 27 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
When I arrived at my next location yesterday early evening, I was welcomed by a group of hand painted signs. Private property! No Access! No surfers! You should have bought a squirrel! As I am surfing the web a lot lately, I hesitated. I decided to blindly trust Google Maps and continued down the dirt-road I was on. Once arrived, I was relieved to find a friendly small wooden cottache. The house is painted white, with a terracotta coloured chimney and a wide wooden porch. Inside, a living room dressed in heavy carpets and thick floral patterned curtains, a fireplace and basket with wood, a cabinet with books and cd’s, and two big comfortable couches. Set amongst scenic farmland, the cottage named 'Gregan Retreat' stands at the edge of a vineyard on Tasmania's East Coast. I woke up early and started reading a brochure I found inside a fruit bowl. I read about the interesting history of the farmland I was staying on. A short blurb; "Lisdillon was established in 1830 when James Radcliffe arrived from Belfast and was granted the land, it was then that he established Lisdillon’s salt works and sheep farm. At one point Radcliffe decided to travel back to England, and in a gruesome twist, Radcliffe’s headless and mutilated remains were discovered some time later on Waterloo Bridge in London. Who did it, why and how this happened to poor Radcliffe remains a mystery." This was a lot to take in early on the morning. I realized how lucky I was still having my head attached to my body, and decided to make way to Wineglass way.
On my way to wineglass bay, I drove passed a sign saying 'Kates berry farm'. I like kate and I like berries and had to visit. I ordered an oversized coffee and a undersized box of locally produced chocolates. The round white chocolates had berries inside. I still had a bit of a drive ahead of me and continued. Wineglass bay is part of the Freycinet Peninsula, encompassed within the Freycinet National Park. Online I read that it is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. I like wine and I like the beach and had to visit. A sign at the beginning of the track warned me on mosquitos being bad today, and that these might carry the ross virus. I added mosquitos to my 'list of creatures to worry about in Australia' and started my walk. After ten minutes of walking uphill I stopped, and pretended to admire the view to cover-up the fact that I was out of breath. Wineglass bay is a short walk for mankind, but a giant one for me. My knee-pits are as sweaty as my arm-pits, and I wondered if deodorant for knees exists. I kept going. It has now been thirty minutes of climbing steps. I’m dried out from the inside and sweaty at the outside. Remind me to put flowers at the grave of the person that invented escalators. I wasn't expecting to tire this easily at the age of thirty-five.
I arrived at an intersection, and could either go left, towards the lookout higher up the mountain, or right, towards the bay itself. I was curious about the view, and took the left turn. This walk was shorter, which came in handy as the skies were colouring dark. Once arrived back at the parking lot, I got in the car and put the machine in reverse. I could not believe my eyes, when I noticed a small part of what I thought was a kangaroo in the Reverse Camera display mounted in the Toyota's dashboard. Was I hallucinating? I got out of the car and saw two small kangaroos. In my mind I said 'fascinating animals' in Steve Irwin's voice. Adventuring around made me peckish and a quick google enquiry later I was on my way to a place called The Fishers at Devils Corner. A name any pirate would like. I do not have an eye patch, however, my eyewear is patched and I hope this will allow me to sit with the locals. I ordered fish, chips and a bottle of rum. Suddenly, drips the size of big drips started falling from the sky. At first three at the time. Then thirty. Then thousands of them. A Proper rain storm. I wondered if this was the storm from New South Wales arriving in Tasmania. I rushed to the rental. My shirt was soaked to the point of transparency. Not a great look for a pirate. The weather calmed down soon. Me and my newfound nipple awareness drove back to the little cabin in Lisdillon.
Fri 26 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
The alarm of my phone woke me around 6am and I am adding this hour to the list of least favourite ones. I was expected back in the Harbour of Hobart at 9am. A few days ago I impulsively bought a ticket for a flight. A tour of the coastline in a seaplane, which I thought was a better name for a boat. I arrived thirty minutes too early and walked to a cafe named 'Jam Packed'. I ordered a coffee and a croissant as they didn't sell any banana flavoured goods. "Would you prefer the croissant heated?" the waitress asked. "Yes please." I answered. Little did I know this would take ages. Over ten minutes. I looked at my phone and it was nearly 9am. "I'm sorry, I have to return some videotapes" I said, and ran off in the direction of the boats, to catch a plane. The girl at the desk of the airline company was happy to see me. She was waiting for me, together with a couple that was on their honeymoon. I wasn't sure if the married couple was happy with me crashing their romantic trip. We received our boarding instructions while we waited for the plane, which was running late. The girl from 'Above and Beyond' told us more about the company and the flights they offer. A distant roar coming from the sky informed us on the plane's arrival. A short moment later we were standing next to the seaplane, wearing tiny lifejackets. I kept all jokes to myself. The girl pointed out to us, the emergency exit; easy to find as this was the only door in the plane. We where shown how to buckle up, and in which bag to vomit. I asked the lad flying us around, if he wants me to refer to him as "captain" or "pilot". He stared at me in silence for a while, obnoxiously chewing gum. I saw my own face reflecting in his big black Ray-Ban sunglasses. "Pilot" he said. "Hop on board buddy!".
The flight was short but all pennies worth. Incredible to see the island's coastline from the sky. I couldn't hear much of what was said through the headset, as the radio frequency cracked a lot. I gazed out of the window. Amazing. Both the take off and landing were as smooth as the pilot himself. After we had landed there was a ten minute trip back to the harbour. "Fucking Ferries" the pilot mumbled, when he had to do a wide manoeuvre around an incoming ferry. The ferry was a high-speed catamaran, covered in camouflage, with neon-pink rockets mounted on its roof. This was the ferry to the Mona, The Museum of Old and New Art, located on an Island near the city. The married couple told the pilot that they were going to the Mona right after the flight. "Same" I said! And again I wasn't sure if the married couple was happy with me crashing their romantic trip. After the flight I went back to the cafe around the corner with my tale in between my legs; I asked if the croissant was still waiting for me. It was. And I ate it on my way to the ferries. The camouflage made them hard to find, but I managed. Once on board I noticed I was the only one not wearing jeans that had the knees cut out of them. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There were 99 steps to climb after our arrival at museum island. Both the stairs and the view took my breath away. Once at the top, I wasn't disappointed; the MONA turned out to be an impressive location. The whole place is carved out of stone. I did not know the museum was mostly underground! The name of the place was fitting, as they had a lot of old and new art.
At the end of the museum visit I wasn't sure what I enjoyed more; the work on display or the building itself. The structure was an interesting one. Tunnels and steel stairs connected all the rooms with each other. A lot to discover. The inside was dark, with every now and then a brightly lit room. There was a Library located at the deepest part of the museum. After some nosing around, I found the book by Robin Boyd that I was looking for. What I don't like about libraries is that the books are not for sale. I sat down to read a chapter or two. Every now and then a family walked in, and started looking around the library. It was usually the youngest member of the family that would then state out loud: “oh wait guys I think this is not an artwork but an actual library, lol” . I liked the elderly woman behind the front desk. She was friendly and she reminded me of the lady that worked at Dunder Mifflin, the Paper Company. I escaped from museum island at 4pm and made my way to the next location. Again a bit of a drive, but at least it felt as if I was going places. Before I went, I stopped at a local grocery store. Two Tasmanian apples, two one litre bottles of water, and a big bag of "salted peanuts" which I came to understand is a slippery slope to pronounce with an accent and a facemark on... I started the journey towards Lisdillon Vineyard, where I will be spending the next two nights. When I left Hobart for one last time, I realised that in one day I had driven on, sailed under, and flewn over the Tasman Bridge. I felt like I was James Bond. When I arrived at the next accommodation I went for a shower and put on my checkered pyjama - matching jacket and pants. I looked in the mirror. Something green in between my front teeth and tape holding my prescription glasses together; Im so not James Bond.
Thu 25 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
The second night at Connie the Caravan contained zero creepy crawlers or at least I didn't notice them and had a good nap. I packed my bag, tidied the place and headed to the airport to pick up the rental car. Once arrived at Hertz, I asked if there was a bigger car available than the one I had reservations for. I’m expecting gravel roads during my trip northwards later this week. "I would like a Mega-Hertz" I joked. No reaction. "Please don't give me the car with the faulty airbags" I continued. Tough crowd. I ended up with a SUV from Toyota that had not yet shaken off its new car smell. The car was silver, elegant and had sophisticated curves. I like naming cars, as it makes them less of a robot and more of a friend. I settled on 'Carbra Streisand'. Without a destination in mind I drove back to the city. I ended up at Ginger Brown again. Same waitress. Same flat white. Same banana-cake. Same seat. It must be Groundhog Day. After driving over the Tasman Bridge earlier today, I noticed signs pointing in the direction of the Botanical Garden. It started to rain, and I decided to visit the gardens as I figured there would be plenty of trees supplying shelter. And I like the way nature smells after rain showers. Small trees, big trees, and trees strangely named. I sat on a wet bench looking over a pond with waterlilies. A white bridge bridged over the water. The scene reminded me of Claude Monet. An old brick wall was built next to the entrance, and looked like it was ten times my age old. It had small tunnels running through it and there used to be ovens build in the base of the structure. Governor George Arthur ordered this heated wall to be built in 1829, to extend the growing period of fruit trees.
After visiting the gardens down the river, I drove to the summit of kunanyi (Mount Wellington). As mentioned earlier, The Netherlands is flat as a pancake and thus, I have not been on many mountains. I followed 'Pinnacle Road' and enjoyed the views and curvy drive upslope. Once arrived, it turned out the old saying speaks truth; it is lonely at the top. Nobody around. There was a significant difference in temperature when I stumbled out of the car. It was almost as if I ended up on another planet. Cold clean air. A curtain of mist hiding the views. Strangely shaped rocks surrounded the empty parking lot. A high concrete tower stood tall. Its top reaching the clouds. The tower looked like a rocket ship. I went for my hourly toilet visit when the button of my pants popped off and fell in the loo. I like touching buttons but I won’t be touching this one ever again. Another couple made it to the top in and old Volvo. I asked them to make a photograph of me. My next overnight stay will be in Port Arthur, a two hour drive away. I better start going. The road to Port Arthur was a good one. Hills, ports, shores, sea sights and mountains. Seagulls flying high in the sky, and kangaroos lying motionless at the side of the road. Sad to witness. I made sure I kept all four eyes on the road. A feeling of freedom came over me as the distance between the capital city and myself grew. The road trip has begun. When I stopped for petrol I browsed through my 'recently added albums' folder in Apple Music. I enjoy a scenic route with music emphasising the views. Tough choice. Pink Floyd works well on highways. The Cure works well in cities. I settled on Prefab Sprout when driving near the Sea. Enya was my companion while driving through the mountains. Every now and then I got out of the car to make pictures. The closer I got to the next destination the prettier the scenery.
I’m a ten minute drive away from the wooden cabin I am staying in tonight. I just drove past an impressive row of decorated mailboxes and decided to turn in the shape of an U and capture them on SD card. The series of mailboxes made me want to design one myself. Evening fell at the time of my arrival, coloring the skies pink and rendering the cabin cosy. The girl running the place was kind and showed me the cabin I would be sleeping in. I asked her for restaurant tips (I came unprepared) and she mentioned there are some nearby, however the restaurants all close at 7pm. She figured I missed the window for fish & chips, and she kindly asked if I would like a tosti. Boy did I. Every now and then, Kate’s father reminds me of the following; if I’m not visiting the lavatory once a hour, I am not drinking enough water. I woke up at one hour past midnight, and I suspect this had something to do with the litre of water I drank earlier. The toilet was located inside the main house right next to the cabin. I got up, got dressed, and turned on the flashlight that was hanging conveniently next to the door. Once outside I froze in my steps. Right in front of me, in the circle of light, I saw my first Australian scorpion. Not a big one but not a small one either. If I would fold the scorpion in half, it would fit inside one of those milk-chocolate Kinder Surprise eggs. Now thát would be a surprise I thought.
Wed 24 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
The night wasn't an easy one. Right before lights out, I noticed a spider right next to the light switch. I tried to catch it with a plastic cup. The spider moved with such speed and ease it gave me cold sweaty goosebumps. When I opened one of the caravan's cupboards I noticed a spray-can. With one eye on the spider and my other eye on the can I read; 'Easy Reach Surface Spray Crawling Insect Killer' and I knew enough. This would be a battle with only one survivor. Readers discretion advised; I sprayed the spider. Suddenly, an unpleasant loud beeping tone. The spray had set off the fire alarm. I moved with speed and ease, and dismantled the device like I was a secret smoker in an aircraft's lavatory. A few hours later, I figured the spider had a buzzing social life, as I was quickly outnumbered by mosquitos. When I turned on the light, ready to "applaud" a few of them I noticed my glasses in bed. I must have slept on them as the left temple had broken off. Spider karma. The couple running the place is kind. I texted them about my broken glasses, and asked for Super Glue. An unusual request but they were happy to help. I walked up to the main house and my glasses were glued and drying in the windowsill a little while later. Time for town. I walked around the city centre looking for bookstores as I have my mind set on a book by architect Robin Boyd written 60 years ago. I found a second hand bookstore named 'Cracked and Spineless' which perfectly described how I felt yesterday getting out of bed at 5am. Sadly I couldn't find the book that I was looking for and left the store with three other books; rebounds, for emotional compensation.
The Muttaburrasaurus was a seven metres long herbivore, named after the town in Queensland where its remains were discovered. And today, a 1.8 meters long carnivore, is enjoying his lunch right under its one-hundred-million years old anus. If only he knew. I'm sat at a wobbly round table outside the entrance to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and I'm enjoying my first banana cake of the day. Inside the museum I was educated on Tasmanian history, flora and fauna. The last stop of my visit; the paintings room upstairs. There was a painting of a lady titled: 'The Artist's Wife in a Sun Hat'. She looked annoyed. Sometimes Kate gives me this look when I'm being annoying making pictures of her. On other portraits I noticed a lot of well-painted hands. I wondered if artists are good at painting hands because they are almost unavoidably, constantly looking at their own hands while holding pencils or brushes. Time to leave the museum. The weather is grey, with just the faintest hint of sunshine shining through. I like bananas and I like cake. Your first name doesn't have to be Albert to do the math; I love banana-cake. They are selling them here at 'Ginger Brown' a busy lunchroom in a quiet street in South Hobart. I was peacefully enjoying my coffee when suddenly; a full-volume radio voice blasted through the iPad speakers of the lady-of-age seated next to me. I looked over and we locked eyes; she looked frightened and I looked surprised. Painstakingly, she tried to stop this sudden burst of loud local broadcast. She swiped! She flipped! She tapped! She clicked! She had pressed the home button a hundred times before I could even finish saying “banana-cake” and eventually decided to pick up the iPad and run out of the cafeteria. As she ran past me, I heard her saying “sorry” at every step she made. "Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry" It was outside in the misty rain where she managed to solve her noisy modern problem and silenced the device. She walked back in with an embarrassed expression on her face, with just the faintest hint of smiling shining through.
The rest of the afternoon I spent aimlessly walking around the city. I walked past an impressive looking beer brewery. Every now and then I stopped to admire a building. The houses here are different from the ones at home-home back in The Netherlands. They remind me of the houses I saw in Portland a few years ago; almost as if they could be in an Edward Hopper painting. The afternoon was coming to an end, and I ordered an Uber as I was keen to visit an art academy at the other side of the city. The Uber was five minutes away. I thought to be clever and changed the pick-up spot to a location more in the direction the Uber was coming from. I did not realise I placed the new pick-up location marker on the top of a hill. "I am Dutch and not used to hills" I told the driver after he noticed that behind my facemask I was out of breath. "My favourite hills are the ones that go down" I continued. The driver looked at me in his rear view mirror, nodded friendly, and turned the music up a notch or two. When I arrived at the School of Creative Arts, I learned that the ateliers and classrooms where not accessible for the public. This made perfect sense, and I paid the galleries on the ground floor a visit instead. Opposite the art academy I walked into a dark bar with a bright view on the harbour. “Hello darling!” The bartender said. “What can I get ya?” The rain and mist outside made me crave a hot chocolate and I ordered the first one of the year. I asked for whip cream and did a Indiana-Jones-like whip motion in the air. This was confusing both the waitress and myself. I stuttered for the first time in my life and barely managed to string my next sentence together. I'm pretty sure I mumbled a thank you for the hot chocolate while asking for the wifi password all in one sentence. Thank god for my accent, making me getting away with situations like this. The password was storytelling, with a capital S. I walked away and sat myself down around the corner, embarrassed, with a capital E.
Tue 23 Mar, 2021 Tasmania, AU
I prefer some hours of the day over others. Noon is good as that’s lunchtime. 7pm is great, as this means its time for the magic skies. 5am however, must be amongst my least favourite hours I thought to myself, when my phone’s alarm sung for the second time. I picked up the sound of snoring but had trouble figuring out if the source was Kate or our dog, Bell. My eyes adjusted to the bathroom's bright light while the mirror revealed the beginnings of my beard. I closed the door, as I didn't want Kate to wake up to the sound of my electric shaver. I turned the shaver on and its battery indicator started flashing red. This means I have two minutes to shave the lower half of my head, or I will be flying to Tasmania with half a shaved face. I made it in time! Good onya mate! It's six in the morning and Kate is dropping me off at the Kiss & Ride area near Terminal 4 of Melbourne Airport. The parking sign warned us; we are allowed to park for one minute. Kate managed to push me out of the car, hand me my luggage and hug me like there is no tomorrow in under 30 seconds. I noticed a few weeks back that Kate owns a Guinness Book of World Records, and it is likely that she has now earned a mention in the next edition. Terminal 4 is not a big terminal and I slipped through security no trouble. Sometimes, when going through security, I try to act as normal as possible. I stink at acting and I'm therefor pretty sure this behaviour makes me look not only like an idiot, but extra suspicious. Almost like I'm hiding forbidden exotic sea turtles in my Pringle's can.
I enjoy flying; sitting on a chair in the sky, listening to music (album: Avalon), looking over clouds, while travelling far away at great speed. I even enjoy the fasten your seatbelt chime. It's an exciting experience, and I count myself lucky for being able to travel. I'm at the gate, waiting to board domestic flight JQ703 which will bring me from Melbourne to Hobart in Tasmania. As I have lived in The Netherlands for 34 years I am not yet understanding thoroughly, the size of this country. In Australia a Boeing 787 Dreamliner can fly in a straight line for five hours straight, and never leave the country. In The Netherlands one can drive from The Hague to Rotterdam in twenty minutes. Boarding has started. I booked seat ‘4D’ as this sounded similar to ‘Jordy’. Touchdown in Tasmania. All passengers are immediately directed to the BioSecurity area. A friendly middle aged medium sized man pointed a plastic laser gun at my facial expression. I was told I had the right temperature. Medium rare; good to go. I arrived at arrivals and was welcomed by a poster with lions, tigers, elephants and a zebra. I immediately realised I should have done more research about Tasmania. I wasn't sure if this poster was an ad for the Hobart Zoo, or a heads-up about the local wildlife. Next to the poster I noticed a big sign saying 'The Circle of Life'. This was a shop and I wondered what they were selling. Donuts. It was comforting to know that if a snake or spider gets me, I will end up here as a donut; one sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, for sale at the arrivals terminal of Hobart International Airport.
Outside the terminal I bought a ticket for a SkyBus, which I thought was a better name for a plane. I stared at the folder. A daunting task for a libra; there were six drop-off locations in Hobart to choose from. After a moment of doubt I went for location two: Brooke Street Pier. The Skybus dropped me of at the harbour. The water and weather both grey; the boats brightly coloured. A big hand-painted sign on a restaurant near the water reads ‘cooked seafood’. It's a good thing fish can't read, I thought to myself. I'm ripe to be a dad. I went for not one, but two chocolate croissants as Kate is not here to protect me from myself. I wandered around the harbour area until it was time to head for 'Connie the Caravan' where I will be spending the first two nights. Connie, is a small, blue, lovingly restored old caravan. Beautifully located near a couple of poplar trees, surrounded by a rose garden. The caravan stands on a private property in the middle of Moonah, a suburb of Hobart. Immediately after entering the caravan I felt as if I was back in 1995 and inside the caravan of my grandparents. Memories. The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology mentions a 70% chance of rainfall and I am looking forward to falling asleep to the sound of raindrops on the roof.
Wed 18 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Some days in Sydney, back in the apartment at Macleay Street in Potts Point. I went for a walk in the direction of the city's shopping center. About halfway I paused for a bit; mostly to catch my breath after climbing stairs. I had a look at the construction site of the Sydney Modern Project, a new building and public art garden next to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Quite a sight as the new gallery is being build on top of a former WWII fuel bunker. I continued walking straight through the Royal Botanic Garden. I saw an Ibis and the Ibis saw me. Both puzzled, we observed each other for a while. I wondered about Darwin, observing new species for the first time; and how those new species must have felt, seeing an animal wearing a hat, glasses and clothes. I realised I was now staring at the Ibis for a weird amount of time. Bit awkward. I continued my quest; hoping to find oil-paint, oil-pastels and a place where I can get canvas stretched on aluminium. Wandering around in the area near the Ken Done Gallery, I stumbled upon 'Parkers Sydney Fine Art Supplies' in a district called 'The Rocks'. Bingo! Two Ibises — one stone; not only did I find my favourite brands of oil-paint & pastels, I could also order canvasses stretched exactly the way I like. Now I must admit I am hopeless at stretching linnen myself (my patience doesn't stretch much). After several attempts over the years, I stopped the struggle, and gave up wasting expensive materials and time. I am happy to pay a little extra and get the job done flawlessly. I continued the afternoon spending my yearly materials allowance in thirty minutes, and can't wait to start painting.
Sun 15 Nov, 2020 Moss Vale, AU
Bell has been running around chasing kangaroos and joeys. Earlier this afternoon I saw a blue-tong lizard; one of Australia's most iconinc reptiles and usually reffered to as a 'bluey' which I think is a good name for a child. Blue-tongues are not venomous but they do give me a bit of a fright as their faces look very similar to that of a snake. Snakes do give me the heebie jeebies. The other day I read the following in the Australian Geographic: "Australia is home to over 190 species of snake, 25 of which are toxic to humans and twenty of those are among the most venomous in the world." I wish Kate told me this before we moved here. The article then states: "Despite Australia harbouring many of the world's most dangerous snake species, snakebite deaths are rare and only account for about two deaths a year." Most of my time here I spend avoiding snakes, as I have no desire to be fifty percent of the yearly snake deaths. It's not all scary and creepy animals I must admit! Other less frightening animals I have seen this week, four wombats (two of them were either having a nap on the side of the road, or road-kill) two Echidna's, and a Pheasant Coucal. These were all incredible to see walking and flying around in the wild, reminding me of Pokémon.
Sat 14 Nov, 2020 Moss Vale, AU
It has been close to two years, since Kate has been in her own room at the family house in Moss Vale. Apart from a new bed the room is how she left it after her last visit. We have been spending some time on the internet looking for a house in Melbourne. We are hoping to find a place for ourselves after months of hotels, Airbnb's and staying with friends. Kate went through the cabinets in her room today, trying to make sense of what to bring and what to leave behind. When I returned from picking up some dog food in town, Kate was sitting on the floor surrounded by cardboard boxes. Some of these were labeled 'Melbourne', one was labeled 'trash' and one was labeled 'thrift shop'. In a box with things to leave behind, I noticed a small black lether case about the size of a pack of playing cards. "What's that?" I asked curiously. "Sunglasses", Kate answered "You can have them if you want!" she said. This confused me a little since the box was tiny and my imagination limited. Sunglasses my ass I thought, and I opened the small leather case Kate now had handed over to me. I opened it. A classic pair of Ray-Ban Folding Sunglasses. and I even liked the colour! I have seen a good ammount of foldable things over the years but never before did I come accross a pair of foldable Ray-bans. My ass stood corrected.
Fri 13 Nov, 2020 Moss Vale, AU
Superstition is a funny thing. I avoid walking underneath ladders, and when I book a seat on an airplane the seat number of the outgoing flight has to be the same as the seat number on the returning flight. When I save files on my computer I skip number 13 (I go from "drawing_12.jpg" straight to "drawing_14.jpg") and if I come across a black cat I get a bit nervous. I might be a little superstitious. Today is Friday the 13th and I could not think of a better day for sorting out my Australian health insurance. Medicare is Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. It guarantees all Australians (and some overseas visitors) access to a wide range of health and hospital services. Today I registered. We went to the Bowral Service Centre (Centrelink). When we entered the premises we we're asked the usual COVID-19 questions. No symptoms, so they allowed us in. We were handed a form and a ballpoint, and took a seat. I started to pencil in the answers to the questions. One of the first questions was an easy one "Date of birth?" I wrote down "Birthday". Some questions were harder: "Do you want a My Health Record?" I had to go for one the lifelines; '50/50', 'Phone a friend' or 'ask the audience'. I was directed to a gentlemen sitting behind window number 5. He kindly assisted me with some of the questions on the form. Halfway through the progress of registering for Medicare I heard him say "uh-oh" and asked what was wrong. My name turns out to be too long. The last letter of my last name doesn't fit on the plastic Medicare card and he asked if I really needed the last letter. "I think I might" I answered. We ended up removing the space between the particles 'van' and 'den' in my name. Not ideal. But a small price to pay for insurance.
Thu 12 Nov, 2020 Moss Vale, AU
Last night we stayed in the Sydney apartment of Kate's parents in Potts Point, a small and densely populated area in inner-city Sydney. This morning I very much enjoyed being able to leave the apartement, and go for a coffee. We did some grocery shopping (biggest strawberries I've ever seen) and had a quick breakfast before we drove down to Moss Vale, two hours south of Sydney. Kate grew up in Moss Vale, a town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. At the moment of our arrival Moss Vale had a population of 8,579 (wombats and possums not included). We picked up the mail at the PO Box in the towns centre. I couldn't believe the Dutch had already chased me down; two official letters from The Hague's city hall, and one blue enveloppe from the tax services; addressed to Jordy van den Nieuwendijk in Moss Vale. It is starting to dawn on me more and more that I'm not just on some holiday trip. We continued our afternoon by picking up fresh fish at the gas station and buying a pair of Blundstone's. I can't walk around on the family farm wearing penny loafers (probably something to do with high grass, snakes and spiders). Back in Zoetermeer I used to go by the graffiti pseudonym Cowboy and it looks like I'm finally about to live up to this name.
Wed 11 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
By order of Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour, we hereby advise that you are evicted from the hotel. The reason for this EVICTION NOTICE is: Congratulations, you have succesfully completed your 14-day quarantine period.
Please vacate the premises on Wednesday 11th of November 2020 between 4pm - 6pm. We hope your time in quarantine with us was comfortable but it is time to get back to your family and friends. We thank you for your contribution in the fight to combat COVID-19.
Tue 10 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
At the start of our quarantine adventure we were given a pile of papers; safety rules from the Australian Government, warnings of the NSW Police Force, basic information from the Novotel management, COVID-19 information from the Public Health organisation, a "hello how are you?" from the hotel's Health Care Team and lastly the room service menu from the always-happy-to-help Jared downstairs. The health care team calls daily to check on our health and wellbeing. According to their schedule we would receive our second mandatory COVID-19 test this morning. At 9am we could hear our neighbours on the left, acros the hall and on the right getting tested by the Health Care Team. No knocks on our door. For the next few hours we didn't hear anyone on our floor getting tested either, and we worried they might have forgotten about us. First Kate gave reception a call and asked if we would still get tested today. "They're on their way" they told her. An hour and a half later it was my time to call reception and check. "The doctors are having lunch and will be with you shortly". When another two hours had passed we got a little anxious, and called again. This time I changed clothes before I called reception as I didn't want them to know it was me calling for the second time. "The're coming up now" mister van dehn Neu-when-daik. As we both need a negative COVID-19 test result in order to leave the Hotel, we were relieved by hearing the doctors knock on our door at 4pm and happily received a few more sticks up our noses.
Mon 09 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Quite an achievement if I may say so, as the small hotel room has limited hiding options; today I managed to succesfully hide from Kate. When she went to the bathroom this morning, I jumped out of the double bed and looked underneath it. The bed sits only 5cm (1.96in) from the floor, however, I discovered that the base was hollow and probably spacious enough for a Dutchman. Doing push-ups is paying off as I was able to lift the double bed, crawl under it, and lower the bed back down on top of myself. Dust everywhere. I don't think the carpet under this bed has ever seen a vacuum cleaner making breathing a little difficult. The middle beam of the base structure was pressing down on both my thighs, causing a pins-and-needles sensation. I wasn't to worried about the lack of bloodflow through my legs as I'm only doing about a hundred steps a day in this hotel room. By the sound of it Kate has left the bathroom. Not a single sound for a while. I wondered if she had already forgotton about me. I waited in silence and suddenly saw her feet walking past. The search had begon. I heard the doors of the closet open and close. I heard the curtains move. "Jorda?" Kate asked. After a bit of nervous laughter and her second "I don't like this" I couldn't help myself from chuckling; I blew some air out of my nose and by doing so almost blew my cover too. She heard this, but wasn't sure where the nose wind was coming from. A brief moment later Kate leaned on the bed (possibly to look between the bed and the wall) and pushed the bed's construction further into my thighs. I started laughing (instead of crying) and revealed my hiding spot. Gladly she helped me lift the bed otherwise I would still be under there.
Sun 08 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
I must have forgotten to turn on the cold water, as never have I sat in a hotter bath before. They smell a little but my feet usually collect sensory information pretty well. Today they didn't. Perhaps the excitement of holding my Gameboy and wearing my headphones got me distracted a little. Either way I stepped in a bath without paying attention to my feet's thermoreceptors. It was only after I started squatting that I felt the water was close-to-boiling-hot. "It's water" I convinced myself "not fire" and fully reclined. After spending twenty minutes shaking twenty digital trees for the unsatisfying reward of twenty digital pears, the Nintendo Switch Lite's battery ran out. I got up, got out, dried myself and looked at my reflection in the mirror. Yikes! The water was too hot indeed and tinted the lower half of my body bright red. The top half was still the usual pale white; not a great look. For a moment I stood there wondering what my recolouring options were. The way I saw it there were two solutions. Option A: sit in a cold bath until my body's bottom half turns white again. Option B: sit upside down in another boiling hot bath. Picture that...
Sat 07 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Both Kate and I had some work to do today, which brought to our attention the absence of proper desk-space in our hotel room. I started the day by pressing speed-dial 01, and asked reception for another chair. They would bring one up for us. The day I moved out of my parents house (a decade-and-a-half ago) was the day I officially became a wrinkly-clothes type of guy. When it comes to laundry, over the years I have developed a slight disliking of hanging wet washings and ironing clothes. Perhaps something to do with my chronic lack of patience. Ironing really gets me a little, I guess I feel it just requires too much preparing and setting up. In fact, according to my personal all time top-ten of boards the clunky one used for ironing would be located at the bottom. If I remember correctly, the last time I got my fingers stuck in the folding mechanism of an ironing board, was exactly thirty minutes ago. Unhandily I folded out the hotel room's flower patterned ironing device to create myself a wobbly desk. I sat down and continued todays trend of folding things out by opening my MacBook. Suddenly, an Uber Eats notification popped up. Our schnitzels are on their way, and I'm about to turn this temporary desk into a temporary dining table; strike while the iron is hot!
Fri 06 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Back in The Hague Kate and I did not own a television. We weren't poor, we just thought the internet and streaming services would provide sufficient entertainment. We usually spend our evenings watching the same fake Adele episode on YouTube over and over again anyway. At one point I believed that Kate, our close friend Sara, and I were responsible for half of the video's view count. This hotel room is equipped with a 48-inch smart TV and Kate is attracted to it like a moth to a flame. If only I'd receive half of the amount of affection the remote control does, I'd be one happy fella. We've been watching quite some stupid programs on our smart TV, yet mostly had our eyes peeled on the international news. Just like the rest of the world, we too focused on the presidential race in the USA. Over the last few days, the Trump and Biden show has probably been receiving more press coverage than COVID-19. Biden took the lead in Georgia & Pennsylvania, moving him closer to Presidency. I don't know much of what Joe Biden stands for, however he is not Donald Trump and therefor
probably hopefully receiving the majority of the votes. Around this same time next year, I hope that the now seemingly Divided States will be the United States again. While watching more and more states turn blue I wondered, if Donald Trump will be capable of leaving the White House without a fight.
Thu 05 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Three times a day we get to air this vacuum sealed room a little, by answering to mysterious knocks on the front door. Breakfast at seven, lunch at noon, and dinner at six. So far I have not been able to spot the hand that delivers the knocks. I's a quick hit and run, best for their own health & safety. The meals are all right but nothing to write home about. So I won't. Immediately after noticing today's date, a voice inside my head went "remember remember the 5th of November" and I realised it's my friend Robin's birthday today. Better give him a call later. Today I've been reading about The Melbourne Cup; Australia's most famous annual horse race which took place two days ago. The eight-year-old Irish Thoroughbred racehorse named Twilight Payment had ran the 3200 meters in 3 minutes and 17 seconds. Winning the race by a long neck. Quite an achievement, however, my thoughts go out to the five-year-old Irish stallion named Anthony Van Dyck (not to be confused with the painter) who broke down during the race, was taken from the track by ambulance and later humanely euthanised.
Wed 04 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Travelling must be one of my favourite activities and I count myself lucky for having been around a bit. I do like a good hotel room, and over the years I seem to have developed a bit of a hotel-room-ritual; Firstly, after placing the hotel key card in the card slot at the entrance, I play with the light switches for a minute or two. Secondly, I curiously walk to the window and check out the view. I do enjoy an ocean view but never mind looking out on an apartment complex either. They remind me of dollhouses with all their similar room structures decorated differently by their occupants. Thirdly, I take my shoes off and jump on the bed for a while, testing out the innersprings of the mattress by doing so. This can go on for minutes depending on my stamina. Fourthly, I pick up the phone to listen for a dial tone. I enjoy calling reception and saying; "Hello, roomservice speaking, what can I get you?". Fifthly, I take inventory of the mini-bar with its uninviting ten dollar Kit Kats. When lucky, there is a cocktail-kit. Sixthly, I search the closet hoping for a bathrobe and slippers set, they usually have the same colour which excites me tremendously. Seventhly, my favourite part of the ritual; checking out the bathroom (more often a without-a-bath-room) and testing the water temperature and pressure. I like going through the amenities; the soap, toiletries, toothbrush & paste, shampoo supplies and sometimes a condom (ew). Lastly I end the ritual by noticing, to my embarrassment, the Bellboy I forgot about, patiently waiting at the entrance. I apologise and thank them/their for showing me to my room.
Tue 03 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
After staring out of the hotel window for over an hour, I started wondering if I was standing at the window, by the window or in the window. Trivial thoughts like these have been colouring this quarantine Tuesday. Maybe it's cabin fever. Perhaps more something to do with the current lack of real decision making. Do I shower in the morning or evening? Shall I wear socks today? Should I brush my teeth at all? Do I fancy sitting on the couch or shall I recline on the bed instead? To be honest, there is hardly anything to report about today. I decided to tidy-up the 'Notes' folder on my MacBook. Keeping notes of all sorts and kinds is something I take joy in. The system update of a few years back allowed for creating tables; never has Apple released a feature floating my boat more. A small selection:
12 Mar 2020
29 Jun 2020
01 Jul 2020
My body is a temple and working out is important. This table sums up all the push-ups I've done this year. I'm aiming at 15 push-ups in December. Pain is weakness leaving the body.
My close friend Rogier and I have played many games on his Fussball table, which I believe is rigged with magnets. This game-score is solely responsible for me leaving The Netherlands.
As the window in our hotel room can't be opened, Kate and I have agreed on a penalty of two Australian Dollars per fart. We have made $102 so far and, are saving for a car.
To my satisfaction many notes could be archived as they were of a temporary kind; ISBN numbers of books already purchased. Bit's of jQuery already implemented, old shopping lists, a cookie recipe I'm sick off (literally), and so on. One question rose to the surface and kept my head spinning for the rest of the Tuesday. How to best arrange my notes. Do I sort them on alphabetical order, date-of-creation or date-edited...
Mon 02 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
Only four sunrises in quarantine and I have already ran out of places to hide. To try and make our stay a little more adventurous, every now and then I pretend to have left the room by hiding from Kate. This morning, her immediate giggle after coming out of the bathroom, proved that hiding behind the transparant curtains wasn't my cleverest moment. Yesterday I discovered that no matter how I bend, I do not fit in any of our suitcases, nor the television cabinet or the fridge. I did find a spot with great potential; the trapdoor in the ceiling. However, an incident taking place thirteen years ago keeps me from climbing up. Let me take you back to the summer of 2007; Once every five years the charismatic exhibition called Documenta takes place in Kassel, Germany. We, the first year students of the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, were there for the 12th edition as part of our orientation program. Around 11pm on the first night, a small gathering took place in one of the top floor hotel rooms. It was then and there were I discovered a small trap door in the ceiling. As it was unlocked and as we were
naive curious and intoxicated, we decided to open it. To our befuddled excitement we discovered a small dusty, fully furnished room. After climbing up, we quietly wandered around in the dark. Suddenly, a loud cracking noise; My classmate fell halfway through the ceiling, dangling his legs high above the hotel's staircase. I pulled him out of his situation and we hastily left the secret room closing the trap door behind us. We realised there is no way we could get away with this and had to face the abbatoir. Sheepishly, we left our room to check the damage. The commotion woke up two of our teachers. Thankfully they too had a few drinks as we were greeted with laughter instead of anger. With our tails between our legs we went to see the hotel management and explained what happened. This must have been the last time the academy was welcome to stay there. Not my proudest moment. Ah! By the sound of it Kate has finished showering. I hope I fit behind the couch.
Sun 01 Nov, 2020 Sydney, AU
According to the figures on COVID-19 cases and deaths provided by Australian's states and territories, New South Wales saw 5 new cases and 0 deaths today. Kate and I both had our tests this morning and I surely hope we won't be responsible for an increase of new cases. I enjoy the evening news, I just don't want us to headline it. The standard COVID-19 test involves collecting nasal and throat swabs. A friendly nurse arrived at our room this morning, placing a swab on a thin stick in the back of our throats and deep up into our noses. Over the last few months I have seen these tests being done on TV. As they look a little painful, I was a little nervous. There is a reason pushing things deep up my nose is not part of my daily routine. Rest assured; the tests are quick, and although they feel quite weird, there is nothing painful about them. Kate and I will receive the outcome of the tests within 48 hours. Luckily for now, we don't have any symptoms. I'm measuring our temperatures daily with a Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer. This device works with a infrared sensor (I prefer saying laser) and therefor no bodily contact is needed. Which is a relieve; since childhood Kate is used to having her temperature taken orally (burps), and I'm used to having my temperature taken in the rectum (farts). You can see the difficulty of us sharing a regular thermometer together. I mean, I wouldn't want to use one that has just been in Kate's mouth, would I.
Sat 31 Oct, 2020 Sydney, AU
As much as I enjoy celebrating, celebrating Halloween has never been high on my list. I feel this is something the Australians and the Dutch might have in common. Although Halloween's origins date back to the Celts, I class Halloween today more like a (Northern) American celebration along the lines of Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Never have I hollowed-out a pumpkin, and I can't remember doing any trick-or-treats as a kid either. Besides, all my life I have had something more exciting to celebrate on October the 31st. The birthday of one of the most important people in my life and probably the only person reading this blog; my mother. Someone who (just like my dad) has always put my needs before her own, giving me and my brother everything she ever could. My mum made sure I was never bored, never missed out on anything, and most importantly gave me all the freedom and guidance needed to pursue my dream; making a living drawing. Having moved 14.784 km (9.189 miles) away from her is a new experience for me and something I'll have to get used to. Like who's going to do my laundry, tidy my room and make my bed? I guess it's time to teach my dog new tricks-for-treats.
Fri 30 Oct, 2020 Sydney, AU
Once again, I'm sat at a wobbly round table in a dimly lit room. Yesterday evening we settled inside room № 540 of the Novotel Hotel. Carrie Bradshaw loves to wonder and so do I, and so I did. I couldn't help but wonder if the interior decorators had mistakenly received their instructions printed out in black-and-white instead of colour. The walls, doors, carpet, curtains and furniture of our room all have a different shade of grey; a colour representing neutrality and balance, yet carrying negative connotations like depression and loss. Not a great pick for a room to stay in for fourteen days. Let's hope at the end of our stay we will be balanced instead of depressed. Fortunately, the sunny, bright view on Darling Harbour makes up for the lack of colour inside. Google taught me this area was originally known as Long Cove and was generally referred to as Cockle Bay, until 1826 when a certain Ralph Darling renamed the place after himself. I've read about this general in Bill Bryson's book 'Down Under'. Apparently they couldn't stop him from naming places after himself. So far I have found on Google Maps a Darling River, Darling Harbour, Darling Downs, Darling Range, Darling Street, Darling Point, and the suburb Darlinghurst. I'm picturing a man riding on his horse, pointing at things and going "this has my name now!". (Imagine having recently ordered your new bussiness-cards carrying the old address.) After marriage he finally got to call his wife Darling too (don't we all), and again they couldn't stop him; ten children! *knock* *knock* went the door, followed by a soft voice; "room service". Thrilled by the idea of meeting someone new I parkoured through the room and eagerly stuck my head around the door. I looked left, right, and left again. No one there. But I wasn't defeated this easily, and continued my search. I looked down, up, and down again. Bingo! I said to myself, after noticing the brown paper bag with breakfast; three pancakes, two strawberries and one yohgurt. Each. I grabbed my spoon and started breakfasting when suddenly I stopped. I looked at my spoon, at the wall, and at the spoon again, and spent the rest of the afternoon daydreaming about our escape...
Thu 29 Oct, 2020 Sydney, AU
For ten thousand American Dollars, thou canst buy a special issue (№ 36) of The Arm Chair Library printed in New York on the 9th of September, 1893. A ten cent weekly back then. Published inside; 'A Trip to the Moon' a science-fiction story by the then 65 years, 7 months, and 1 day old Jules Verne. Reason for the price increase of 9999900 percent; this particular edition carries the autograph of Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon. In the transcription of the Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transmission from the Apollo 11 moon mission, Neil Armstrong mentions the following on the 7th of July, 1969; "Good evening. This is the Commander of Apollo 11. A hundred years ago, Jules Verne wrote a book about a voyage to the Moon. His spaceship, Columbia, took off from Florida and landed in the Pacific Ocean after completing a trip to the Moon. It seems appropriate to us to share with you some of the reflections of the crew as the modern day Columbia completes its rendezvous with the planet Earth and the same Pacific Ocean tomorrow." This evening on the 29th of October, after over 18 months of planning, Kate and I landed our spacecraft at Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, Australia. Our temperature was taken and the usual Covid-19 symptoms questions where asked. Without the least delay the Sydney Police escorted us from the baggage carousel directly to a bus outside, engine running, ready to leave for the mystery hotel where we will be facing mandatory quarantine. Once arrived at the Novotel Hotel in Darling Harbour, a muscled member of the Australian Defence Force directed us to room 540 and kindly carried our luggage inside. After a friendly smile and an even fiendlier "Welcome to Australia" the door was shut, locked, and not to be opened again for fourteen days.
Wed 28 Oct, 2020 Kochi, IN
Five hours since Doha Airport. The display on the back of the seat in front of me, shows we are 10 hours and 10 minutes away from Sydney. We are currently flying over Kochi, a port city on the south-west coast of India; a country that I have only visited in books and movies. The movie 'Lion' jumps to mind. I remember the first half being better than the second, yet quite a satisfying ending. And although I've only read 10 minutes and 10 pages of 'Third-Class Ticket' by Heather Woods, both the book and the country seem fascinating. Australia, I imagined, would be located closer to India than The Netherlands is. I was wrong. However, most of Asia will be quite nearby, an exciting thought and a real perk to the move. This time, aboard the connecting flight, I tried to finish an entire movie and had my small triumph; Edward Norton's 'Mohtherless Brooklyn' a good noir with all its ingredients; slow jazz, night clubs, shadows, flashbacks, by-now-classic-cars and a healthy dose of tough guys in hats. Megan, our flight attendant, couldn't keep herself from refilling my empty plastic champaign glass, and I couldn't keep myself from refusing. Kate had fallen asleep and I was wide awake when it dawned on me that from now on, my family and friends back in The Netherlands will also be asleep when I'm awake. A strange realisation. I will be living in the future.
Tue 27 Oct 2020 Prague, CZ
Precisely 12.497 meters (41.000 feet) below my seat lays the city of Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. I looked down yet didn't immediately recognise anyone. Although my last name isn't Hilton I am finding myself comfortably sat in an Airbus A350-941, travelling at the speed of 870 km/h (541 mph), while sipping champaign. My second glass. Quite the opposite of yesterdays meadows. Reason to celebrate; Kate and I have officially started our migration to Australia. By now I have watched around ten minutes of give or take twenty in flight movies. It's a real disease I've got. One of those situations where I utterly fail to just pick a movie and sit it out. The fasten-your-seatbelt chime plays and the corresponding illustration illuminates. Five hours ago, from take-off to lift-off, I was paying close attention to the safety video that played twice (once in Arab and in English) on the back of every single seat. And so it was I learned about the fastening of seatbelts and it took me under a minute to complete the job. My competitive side proudly eye-balled the immediate surroundings to check if I was the first to fasten it. I wasn't. Suddenly a voice, speaking from the sky. Not the Almighty, just our pilot. Shortly we are touching down in Doha; Sunny and 30°C (86°F). A 20 hour layover awaits, before boarding our connecting flight with final destination; Sydney. I am already excited about unbuckling, as this too, I learned today.
Mon 26 Oct 2020 Warmond, NL
Suitcases packed, midnight approaching. I'm sat at a wobbly round table in a dimly lit Airbnb at the edge of the Boterhuispolder in Warmond. Crisp and dark meadows lay quietly at the other side of the window. A few distant honks of geese, who are not the only ones preparing to migrate. One last move on www.chess.com where my younger brother Tobin just captured my queen way too effortlessly. The faint sound of snoring is dancing down the stairs revealing Kate has fallen asleep. Shortly I will join her and quietly climb in the cold side of the bed upstairs. Today my mom came to say goodbye and tomorrow my dad will drive us to Schiphol Airport where we hope to board flight QO3QTS from Qatar Airways mid-afternoon. Awaiting us; a 43 hour flight (21 hour layover in Doha) to Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, Australia. This emigration has been a year and a half in the making; months of planning; weeks of paperwork; days of packing and hours of stress. We're eagerly awaiting reunition with our dog Bell, who arrived in Melbourne about a month ago. An Email notification pops up; The moving company. Our belongings are currently floating somewhere along the coast of Morocco. Although I have a good feeling about tomorrow; it's quite a struggle to type with my fingers crossed.