10 days of isolation: Day 0

Day 0: Almost all things that could have, did have.

Arrived in Newcastle, England on the mid-morning of June 2. We had 4 large bags, 2 backpacks, 2 laptop bag and 2 kitties. The entire travel process was stressful and sometimes I can’t believe that we actually got out of the Netherlands.

Prior to leaving we had to arrange a place to stay (its home quarantine in England). We planned everything a month in advance. If we had flown to Edinburgh, we’d have to do hotel quarantining, so we opted for England. A dear friend of Chris’ allowed us to stay at his place 🙂 We booked our flights with KLM and then afterwards found out they no longer take pets to the UK so we got a refund a few weeks later. For a hot minute, it seemed that we might be stuck in NL. But we found that there are ferry services that’ll let you take you pets across the channel. So we booked that. We then book our pre-travel covid test, and the 2 & 8 day tests for when we’re in England.

In the weeks leading up to departure, I’m full of nervousness and a feeling of listlessness. I also swing to excitement and start planning what I’m going to do once back. The UK is opening up while the NL kind of kept closed. So a week before we leave we check to see if the covid tests we pre-ordered arrived in the mail in England. We find out from the friend that mine arrived but Chris’ has not. We later found out that the postman arrived but because no one can to the door so it was not delivered. It went back to the post office and then got sent back to the lab. We emailed but after a few days we did not get a response and ultimately we ordered another kit. We plan on getting a refund.

So we start packing, I knew we had a lot of stuff and went to Primark and got the largest suitcase they had. It turned out to be a good thing because Chris’ Magic cards and books took up a lot of space. We also threw out a bunch of stuff to make everything fit. The last few days were stressful.

So on the 30th we go for our covid test. When we get there they ask for our travel ID and I freeze, I forgot my Dutch residence permit. For a second I think that I ruined it, but they accept my Australian driver’s license and all is good. That night at 11 we get the good news. Negative.

The next day we go to the trial of Chris’ attacker and after three hours exit. It’ll be two weeks before we find the verdict. That afternoon we get into a taxi and take all our stuff to a nice hotel in Amsterdam. During, the ride the kitties get stressed and are panting and crying. When we arrive at the Hilton, a pet friendly place, they end up sooking for the longest time. While in the hotel I get onto Vodafone and try to see if i can get my old UK phone number re-instated. But because it hasn’t been active in over a year, they can’t. They send me a link to get a new sim card and I fill in the address.

On the 1st we decide that we should get some calming spray for the cats. I find a nearby pet shop and after getting not only lost on the way to find the train station, but lost inside as the tram line I needed to take had been moved around because of major construction I get to the shop and then return. Later we take a taxi to the IJmuiden dock and while on the way get a phone call and realise that the ferry leaves at 5pm not 5.30. We make it anyway and with a little time to spare. So nerve racking. But the boat trip was pretty good. I think they could have offered internet for free, but they offered it at an hour, 3 hours or a 24 time lots. We had dinner and breakfast and I think there was not that many people on the ship.

The next day we disembark, they had a trolley for all our bags and we exit without problems. So we get to Newcastle, go through customs and exit to terminal. I found that the place was almost deserted. It was unbelievable; it was like it was a holiday or something. I was expecting a taxi ring but there wasn’t one car in sight. We only had a NL phone, and it wasn’t connecting to the UK phone network. So I go back into the building and find a dedicated free phone line to a taxi service. I pick up the phone and find it dead 😦 I exit the building again but with their business card and tried calling with our phone. Our call didn’t go through 😦 But then we hear a man ordering a taxi on his phone and ask to call from that. We tried calling from his phone but got a message saying the taxi he ordered was on his way. So we copy the number and try calling ourselves, it doesn’t go through. But then his taxi arrives and we ask the driver to call another taxi and he does 🙂 The taxi comes within 5-10 minutes and for a moment it seems that we cannot get all the luggage in, but after some tetris we do. The drive was uneventful and we get to our friend’s place. Later that day the 2nd covid kit we need arrives, and all is good 🙂

We spent the day watching TV and catching up with our friend. It was strange watching UK TV. I hadn’t watched a TV since before coming to the Netherlands. It was also strange to find how much I didn’t prefer to watch. We had take-away for dinner and it was so much cheaper than the Dutch version.

As I am writing this, I think back on our exit from the Netherlands and wonder how we even managed to not only survive that country but exit it as well.

The Netherlands Chapter is finished

I arrived on March 15, 2020.

I left on June 1, 2021.

It was a total of 14 months and 18 days. And I based on my experience, I don’t recommend living here.

Utrecht is a beautiful city, no doubt about it. It looks like Amsterdam without the tourists. Come visit it for a day or two but don’t settle in the city, or in the surrounding suburbs or even further out. Rent has been averaging 1200 euros a month, plus the tax rate is too much and healthcare is not free.

I know that the whole Covid thing was just one half of our issues, but it was with a combination of a lot of smaller things that made our stay terrible. I’m just glad that I’m returning to the UK. I had a better quality of life there. In fact, as me and husband self quarantine with a friend in England, we can see that he has a better life on the dole than we did in NL.

It was such an uplifting feeling when we decided to leave NL. And going back to Edinburgh too. I’ve already planned out the next few months. I’m going to rejoin the gym, get a job, get the vaccine and if I might get composite bonding on my teeth.

Also look at this stylised free image of the Netherlands below. It almost looks like this place could have been nice.

Works in progress

Currently, I’m looking at shorter works that I can polish up while I’m in a bit of a writing slump. There is this one group of short prequel stories that belong to a story I haven’t written yet. That’s three years old now and I’m starting to panic. The days are passing by, and I’m not as successful as I want to be. I am also moving to the Netherlands in about two months and the stress is getting to me.

The most current things I’m rotating between are;

  • A social sci-fi YA that I think will be quite long. It’s 60ish thousand words and maybe a third? done. Not too sure where I’m heading with the end. Maybe I might have to break it into two books? Atm, I’ve run out of steam so it’s going on the back burner until I get some more ideas for it.
  • A dystopian novel that is not even halfway through the first draft but I have a guestimate of where the ending is. I’ve changed the POV from first to third so it needs a rewrite.
  • A sci-fi YA that’s over 120 thousand and I need to complete the 3rd draft. I’ve lost a character somewhere and need to resolve that one.
  • The prequel stories I’m editing at the moment does not have a novel attached to them and I need to write a story plan for that, plus write a first draft of the novel.

I don’t think I’ll have any stories ready for publication for at least 12 months. That worries me because I wanted to have more done by now. I’m almost 30 and with not much to show for it. I know when I move I will have some time off and hopefully, I’ll use it to my full advantage.