Yesterday, I won my own version of provincial bingo. I was also the only player so it’s not like it was a tough competition. There are 12 Provinces within the national borders and three more in the Caribbean.

When I first came to the Netherlands, I used to keep track of every trainstation I went through where I stepped out of the train. I would note in my digital notebook if they had toilets, a coffee bar, fantastic architecture, etc. Dutch people found this a weird and slightly amusing ritual. Of course, if you have lived somewhere your whole life and speak the language comfortably and have no problems peeing anywhere outdoors (aka Wild Plassen – Wild Peeing) then you spend your time complaining about your national train system instead of appreciating it. 😉

I saw a lot of the Netherlands via train. This brought me to my Provincial Bingo. I wanted to see every province in the Netherlands. I would have to spend at least a day there for it to count for the bingo. My last province was Zeeland. Yes, it’s where New Zealand gets it’s non-indigenous name from.

I never quite got around to Zeeland. Partially because every time we would look for a place to escape to, GG would say “Oh, the landscape is so boring there.” Or because everything was full. As it is very close to the coast it attracts lots of German and Belgian tourists. Or because it’s a part of the Netherlands that everything is closed on Sunday and deeply religious.

When we decided a two weeks ago to run away for the weekend with the boys, Zeeland was available. For the past two days, we have been wandering along the beach and in the dunes. It’s a bit hard because the last time we were at the beach, we still had our Nel (of the jenever drinking fame). She would have loved it here and they have done a good job of making things accessible here. Much more than in our province.

She passed on the 2nd of October, between the checkin points of the nightshift and the dayshift. The last time I spoke to her was a few days before when she was so angry that it was taking so long to die. It was in the early hours of the morning and by 11am when the doctor came on his rounds, she gave him a very clear indicator of what she wanted. It didn’t take long and I am glad that I was there to listen to her. I’m glad also that she made through to George’s 16th birthday and the last things she heard from me was that we loved her and George was going to get his scooter license.

Her funeral was the best it could be under the circumstances. We had sent a lot of photos for the digital wall and many people were under the impression that GG and I were in our 70’s and more mobile than our Nel. They thought all the trips she made with us were senior excursions so they were quite surprised to see the adventures she had been on and how “young” we are. The boys were also in attendance and received much attention, including pieces of wurst.

As for today, it’s very early still and George is snoring away next to my chair in the basket. It’s still dark outside and I’m on my way to my second cup of instant coffee (the one downside of weekends away from home). Eight years ago, I was spending my first week here as a resident. We arrived just before Halloween and I was due to report to work on the 4th of November. Crazy. How full the past eight years have been.

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