Free Lunchtime Concerts

A local meetup did free lunchtime concerts but when I tried to snag a ticket, they we all gone. Turns out, this didn’t matter as they let people in without tickets and anyhow, when the concert started there were always a few free seats. I went ahead and booked myself five lunchtime concerts for May. First up, the Concertgebouw is a magnificent building. It would be nice to see something in the big room rather than the small one.

Recorder and banjo
Recorder and guitar thing

The first week was some kind of recorder and guitar thing.

Piano and flute
Piano and flute

The second week was piano and flute.


Week three was opera.

String trio and oboe
String trio and oboe
String quartet
String quartet

Week four was half string trio and oboe and half string quartet.

Middle-eastern instruments
Middle-eastern instruments

Week five was very much in the middle-eastern mould, in some musical mode us Westerners don’t get to hear very often.

All in all, a worthwhile experience.

Dutch Weekend

This weekend, thanks to a friend from Bristol, I did a typically Dutch thing and spent a couple of hours in the sun on a boat.

A boat
One of many other boats going in the wrong direction.
A Long Straight Canal
A Long Straight Canal

We went anti-clockwise from Brouwersgracht, up the Jordaan, past the Rijksmuseum, up the side of Museumplein, across to the Amstel, past Station Centraal then back home.

The Margere Brug, the “skinny bridge”. Legend has it that two sisters on either side of the canal built a bridge so that they could see each other.

Nemo, the science museum.
The central library
The central library, the Oba.
Station Centraal
Station Centraal

And so to home.

All in all, a lovely day even if the wind was a little nippy on the open water, despite it being a sunny 20C day. Only a little beer was consumed.

2022 was a crap year.

I can safely say 2022 was a dreadful year for me.

In the macro, the combination of Covid, Brexit and Ukraine conspired to make the U.K. an awful place to be. The utter stupidity of twelve years of conservative rule basically ruined the country. There are now more food banks than ever, energy has become unaffordable for many and many industries are striking to have their pay and conditions reverted to pre-Tory levels.

On the micro level, I conspired to blow up my life. One careless throwaway comment rendered twelve years of what I thought was a happy marriage null and void and it is now in the hands of her solicitors. I was made homeless and ended up camping with friends from a previous life. On the slight upside, I got a job in the Netherlands so skipped there, negotiated the bureaucracy (I hate you, Brexit) and found an apartment in basically the Camden of Amsterdam. I go into the office maybe one day a week, so there’s that.

The swimming pool I used to use is still here, and I got myself a museumkaart which is good for 450 museums here. So far, I can say Van Gogh is great, it’s sad he died so young. Vermeer’s paintings are vibrant. Banksy is inspired.

I can safely say that native Dutch cuisine is pretty awful. Asian food is plentiful and good, however. When they get round to opening it, I’ll be practically living above a Vietnamese banh mi place. Thanks to Duolingo my Dutch is coming on by leaps and bounds and thanks to market traders who speak good English anyhow, I can generally negotiate the market in Dutch.

I’m slightly annoyed that the Dutch prime minister has apologised for slavery but not for the genocide of villages of Taiwanese people.

So that’s my life now. I’ve resurrected a few friendships of survivors from the last time I was here, I’m still cranking out Perl, doing loads of corporate training and negotiating an extremely secure environment. 300 people doing what half a dozen of us did ten years ago, with an interesting mix of nationalities.

That’s my life now.


Chstsworth – a good day out.

So I happened to be up in the Peak District and obviously had to visit Chatsworth. Ok, between paying for parking, a tour book, access to the house and garden and finally spending money at their farm shop, it was not cheap. It was worth it! The Cavendishes are currently showing off their art collection which ranges from the ancient, through Picasso to Damien Hirst and a collection of sculptures in the gardens.

From the ancient
To the modern

One thing that really stood out to me was the chairs. Having been to the chair museum in Copenhagen, it takes a lot to impress me, but these did!

Obviously the wildlife was amazing. Aside from finches begging for crumbs, I also saw a load of wagtails.


he geology was impressive. I didn’t even walk through the coal tunnel. Yes, the Chatsworth greenhouses were lush.

And finally, the farm shop.

So, if you’re in the vicinity and want to kill a day, do visit.