This was our last day in Amsterdam, but as our flights weren’t until 9pm-ish, we had plenty of time to slowly get our stuff together and head on a bus back to town for the last time. I still had a wide variety of supplies to finish off, some herb crushing equipment that I’d not have time or energy to properly clean, and a bunch of pre-rolled empty cones that after experimenting with, I knew would find a better home with someone else. We grabbed a few stools at Voyagers, and got down to the serious business of finishing everything off. I grabbed a couple of space cakes (or they might have been left over from last night, I forgot to include our trip to Hunters when searching for a CS still open in Amsterdam that sold decent enough edibles. Anyway, Cisco and Gapie turned up, and HB was serving at one point. I’d remembered to take a few photos of the houseboat and the surrounding area, and I think there are some videos hiding somewhere that I need to upload to YouTube. I’ll try and get around to writing at least one proper post on some of the finer details of this trip – the houseboat, the GPS files and the shortlist of strains and CS I’d created/updated just prior to the trip.
Jan 27 2012
Two days left in the Amsterdam 2012 photo series. Having missed out on getting over to Haarlem yesterday, ChrisB and I decided to commit to getting there come what may on Sunday. I sent a message to Cisco & gapie from the forum that the Haarlem trip was happening today, but by the time they’d picked up the messages it was too late. I think we got to Centraal station eventually around 4pm, and after a short train ride, found ourselves drifting towards a Burger King to fill up before our tour.
Using the GPS files built up in the last five years, we had already planned our route on the train, so headed off to Birdy. Having missed one required turn, we eventually just walked an inwards spiral until we found the right street. The premises didn’t seem to have any sort of sign on the front, so we popped in and checked it was the right coffeeshop. For people just buying some tobacco, one end of the bar is easily accessible. To sit down in the bar (no alcohol) you have to be buzzed through. I’m not sure if it was required, but flashed my UK driving license as ID and we went in. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the place, I suppose the real estate prices are a bit lower than Central Amsterdam. I had already decided which strains I wanted to sample, so grabbed some Amnesia and Jelly hash. The hash became difficult to store properly if it was anything slightly over room temperature, to the point that I lost about 5-10% in the end. Probably could have recovered it using a freezer, but didn’t bother. Nice smooth smoke. I grabbed a picture of the menu, after I’d chatted with the budtender(ess? ? is for the existence of such a term, not the applicability 🙂 ) and the owner a little. I explained what the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory and FbN’s fine services were. They were happy for the shots to be taken, some interior shots are missing as there were too many people around to get all angles covered and avoid snapping random strangers. The first couple of smokes hit hard, and after a few minutes of reaffirming the presence and operability of all limbs, I ventured up the tight(ish) spiral staircase to find the Gents. Upon arrival, I did take around 30 seconds to convince myself that I was heading to the right door – check out the photos below to see why. A little later, the lovely lady came over to our table and presented us with a couple of grinders as freebies. Call it welcoming a new customer/hoping for a positive review/karma/bribery, but the decor, vibes & products had won us over already 🙂
Despite Birdy having a very welcoming & chilled atmosphere, ChrisB and I were on a mission to cover at least a couple of coffeeshops, so we forced ourselves outside and wandered (with my Touch Pro2 reading out directions to my headphones via TomTom & the custom GPS set I took this year. Need to upload the updated versions to the Amsterdam page here) across a little stroll to find Theehuis. Quite different from Birdy in a few ways… a) There was a lovely clear sign that even bleary eyed, floating along travellers can see from a distance b) It was a lot smaller (not a complaint, room enough for a good 10-20 people to sit/stand and chat/smoke, just an observation) c) Birdy felt more like a dry bar with smoking, Theehuis was much more of a straight CS feel to it. We stayed for a while, again explaining who we were, where we hailed from, why we ended up there (at the time of visiting, most definitely a local hangout feel to it, but not elite/exclusive. Act like a tw*t and I can see them acting differently, but we only experienced curiosity, rather than the jaded frustration with high volumes of international visitors you sometimes feel in the more touristy CS in Amsterdam. Judging from the photos, I apparently bought some bubble here, unfortunately I have no idea what it was like. Hazy memory.
From here we decided to catch a train back to Amsterdam, as we had to pack our bags, tidy up the houseboat and checkout the next day. On the way we saw Willie Wortel’s Sativa CS, so I took a shot, but I was looking forward to a night of good tunes, great company with my mate, a few movies and starting to finish off the various products I had harvested over the previous few days. The journey back to KNSM island was uneventful, so I’ll finish this post now…
Click below to see more pictures…
Continue reading “Amsterdam (& Haarlem) – 8th January”
Jan 20 2012
To those waiting for Anna’s 2011 photo posts, Tim’s recent pics, or completion of the Amsterdam photos… they should all be published soon.
Jan 16 2012
Saturday was the second meeting I had planned, except this time I was in the right country! ChrisB had had a pretty nasty car accident the week before in India, so decided a day in bed was a better idea for his back than traipsing round Haarlem. ChrisD was in default mode, reverting to beer and rugby, so that left Gapie (a local ACD member) and Cisco (a man as enthusiastic as I was to get to Haarlem), along with any of the other ACD members in town.
Eventually, and to no great surprise, it was decided that the trip would be delayed at least. No one had much energy, and to be frank just sitting down and chilling out in Voyagers seemed like a much better idea.
Once again, for photos with a more obvious Amsterdam theme to them, click the link below (or keep reading if you accessed this post directly)…
Continue reading “Amsterdam – 7th January”
Jan 15 2012
After the false starts of the day before, I was eager to get a few things done on Friday. I arranged to meet up with Gapie from the forum, and after ChrisB and I had visited a couple of coffeeshops for supplies, we settled into a chilled out routine.
I’ve occasionally blurred faces out in the pictures below – some people don’t want their photos online.
Once we met Gapie in Nes (and DC as well, who’d not been working the night before), ChrisD phoned me, with the good news that he was in Amsterdam and not too far from us!
After a good few drinks and smokes, we decided to try out one of the burger restaurants that had good reviews online – so Burger Bar was selected. I snapped a few pics, but wasn’t actually very hungry, so just had chips and tomato soup.
ChrisB had heard about some sort of freeparty at a squat on Friday night, so after a LONG walk we eventually found the place. I had been expecting dance music, UV lights and loved up people, whereas the event was actually an open-mic night organized by the group that had reclaimed the derelict building. They also had a small art show. Actually not too bad considering what I’d been expecting.
Any photos more interesting than that are being held off the front page, you’ll need to click the link below this to see them.
Continue reading “Amsterdam – 6th January”
Jan 15 2012
I’m going to write a few posts and include a few of the photos from last week’s Amsterdam trip. As this post is focused on the 1st day of the trip, it should have details of getting into the Netherlands at just past midday, a smooth journey into Central station, meeting ChrisB and checking into our houseboat, and meeting online friends in real life.
Unfortunately, the first flight was cancelled. This meant potentially hanging around Cardiff International Airport for six hours or so. Luckily, John came back to take me out for a pub lunch. Upon my return, I was once more ready to go with my hand luggage packed tight, tickets to hand etc. etc. Once again, it was not to be, as Schipol airport was still having weather problems, and not accepting any flights from Cardiff that day. This left me a little peeved off, and KLM put me into a taxi to get to Heathrow for their last flight to Amsterdam. Even with clear roads it would have been pushing it, but I was a little late arriving to Heathrow. However, as there were a lot of delayed flights, I didn’t end up missing it.
Finally I got into Amsterdam with most of Thursday gone, but at least I was there! Skipping the planned tram card and local SIM card sourcing, I dumped my bags at a locker in Central Station, and used TomTom to ensure I was wandering in the right direction for Nes – where I had arranged to meet ChrisB (and in fact where I had arranged to meet some friends from the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory a lot earlier in the day). Although Nes allows smoking in their bar, they don’t sell anything to smoke, just alcohol. ChrisB had been talking to a few people though, and one of them had gifted us a little something to tide us over until the morning. After a few beers and vodkas to sooth my frayed nerves, ChrisB pointed out the way to our houseboat, and a few hours later, we were both sleeping on a gently bobbing boat.
Jan 14 2012
Alt Shift Ctrl S.What a great keyboard combo.Saves_so_much time.Time 4 something more convenient I think.Amsterdam & Anna posts coming soon.
Jan 13 2012
Almost four weeks since this blog had a “proper” post on it. Since Christmas, New Year and Amsterdam all took my focus away from the blog, I tried to tweet photos or updates occasionally to keep some fresh content coming in. Anyway, back home now, though in a month or so we will all be moving back to Astana. I will try and post up the rest of Anna’s photos from last year, and also some info/pictures from the recent Amsterdam trip as soon as I can.
Before I forget, if anyone has noticed graphical glitches in the last few months, after a few WordPress core and plugin updates, please do let me know.
Anyway, I’ll be trying to use this netbook’s keyboard more often when adding to this site, and once Anna is at most one month behind in her photos, I’ll try posting Anna and Tim pictures within a week or so of them being taken. That way Ira’s family and friends can see Tim before he gets there, and once we move back to Kazakhstan, our family and friends back in the UK can keep an eye on the children in something closer to real time 🙂
When we are in Kazakhstan, Irina has some more maternity leave available, so it will be both of us looking after Tim and Anna a little longer. One possible direction to take would be me taking on more daytime work, and finding a nanny/childminder for a few days a week. The obvious field of work would be more IT based work, as this requires virtually no preparation time (beyond my normal techy-based idle research) compared to teaching English, my main other work when in Astana. Given regulations soon to come into force in Kazakhstan, I will not be able to write about some current topics of interest, but others who aren’t based in Central Asia have been doing a good job keeping people updated with links and thoughts. When fund management jobs were recently juggled around a little, KZBlog, eurasianet.org and neweurasia.net all caught some articles worth reading.
Anyway, I have not had any voice-over work since before Anna was born, and although there are definitely a lot more students who want extra lessons, the time spent preparing for each one can sometimes double time away from Anna (and now Tim). Fixing computers, installing new set ups and recovering from digital disasters also don’t require me to pay special attention to the (English) vocabulary spilling out of my mouth, lest I should pass on any bad habits to locals wanting to use English for academic or job related reasons! I just have to hope we can get a GPS sorted for our Kazakh car, as trying to find streets can take a long time in Astana, not only do you have the near gridlock achieved when traffic lights are turned off in favour of manual control, but with names actually changed fairly frequently, you want to spend your time away from home working on a errant computer, not battling against the massed 4x4s around the city!
Jan 10 2012
On plane to Cardiff. Great time in Amsterdam bar false start… Good to see old friends and new…
Dec 16 2011
“Short”list (so far) of coffees to consider trying in Amsterdam in 3 weeks time – http://t.co/iW8nFvQY
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