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Today was almost entirely one of travel. We needed to get from Ramsley Fields to Volendam, outside Amsterdam, where we are based for the next few days with Jane, Virginia and Margot.

As I went to bed last night I remembered a work event on my diary for today. A doctoral student for whom I am associate supervisor was scheduled to present his confirmation proposal to a panel. The presentation was to be done using Zoom because he was in New Zealand, the panel members were in Brisbane, and I was in England. The time was 3:30 pm for him, 1:30 pm for the panel, and 4:30 am for me. I set a Fitbit wrist alarm for 4:00 am to give me time to be ready.

I slept well enough but was awake before the alarm went at 4:00 am when I rose, showered, and fired up Zoom on my computer with headphones to spare Majella, who was asleep in the same room. That didn’t work because, although I tried using chat nobody at the other end appeared to notice and I had to speak to answer questions. Majella seemed to be able to repeat much of my end of the conversation when she woke later in the morning. The student did not appear and the meeting finished earlier than scheduled so I was able to spend some time before breakfast clearing a few email messages.

Breakfast was whatever of our usual fare was still available plus anything else that we could not take with us. Once that was done we finalised packing and were on our way around 8:30 am. Majella drove us toward Birmingham airport. Not long after we got on the motorway that should have taken us almost directly to the airport we began to see signs about long delays ahead and the navigation app was showing heavy congestion. We rerouted via country roads which were slower but uncongested. There was some delay caused by trying to access fuel to refill as we reached the airport but the trip was otherwise uneventful and we reached the airport about 10:00 am.

Return of the rental car was quick and simple. Check in was smooth, we had coffee and settled down to wait for our 1:00 pm departure. We departed Birmingham and arrived in Amsterdam on schedule, passed easily through immigration, collected our bags, passed customs, and called for the pickup to collect our lease Citroen Cactus. The van arrived promptly but the trip to the collection location was long and it was south of Amsterdam so further away from Volendam.

DSC_6368.jpgJane, Virginia and Margot had their filght delayed but their transfer was quick and they arrived here in Volendam well before us and had access our 3 bedroom apartment. Jane came out front to meet us as we arrived and guided us to parking and the apartment. It has 3 levels with living on ground level, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom one level up, and a third bedroom and bathroom in the attic. Majella and I have the attic and the others are on the first level.

DSC_6374We took a few minutes to settle in and then walked via the small store at the park reception and on into town to look for dinner. There were a few eateries, all with views across the water. We ate at the Lotje where we all enjoyed our meals with drinks and the view. There were boats along the front, some sailing or motoring out on the water, and a stream of people on foot and bicycles just outside. Fortunately the staff at Lotje spoke English and had menus in English because none of us has more than a word or two of Dutch.

DSC_6377On the way back we paused at the store to pick up some essentials for breakfast and then walked back to our apartment along the quay. The water there is thick with boats, evidence that the long maritime tradition of the Dutch lives on.

We relaxed and spent some time planning our travel into Amsterdam tomorrow. Jane has planned and booked a full program for the day, starting at 10:00 am so we need to be in the city centre before then. Amsterdam has a Park and Ride system with parking stations on the outskirts but the website does not have them mapped so we had to locate each on a map to compare ease of access from here and availability of transport to where we need to be. That and travel had tired us so it was an early night all round.