Tag Archives: Leiden

Alive and kicking

I’m aware that some of you will be thinking, “Simple Minds, Alistair? But.. you’re not plural!”, however… moving swiftly on…

Yes, I’m alive, and yes, I’m well, give or take the sort of muscle ache which comes with some serious usage of bits of me that had forgotten they are required when doing energetic stuff.  After a whopping 4 nights at the Myers residence I landed in Wolves with a bedsit and a job at Amazon. Never let it be said that I sit on my arse and mope. Wallowing is for hippos and pigs (peppa’d, peppered or otherwise!) and while I hear a rumour that there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood (possibly in combination with mud) I’m a single man! My blood has to be hot! Like a curry! Hang on no… the Flight of the Conchords analogy doesn’t work in this instance. Drat!

Anyway, so, I landed in Wolves on the Friday (18th), with two bags in tow as my worldly possessions, only to find that I can’t get into my new bachelor pad until 6.30pm, and I have… no sheets, no duvet, no cutlery, no… you get the idea! It was bereft of anything other than a desk, some draws and a wardrobe. So, I dump my things and using the gods of Google navigate to a reasonably new (i.e. it wasn’t here when I last lived here) shopping complex and buy a duvet, pillows, sheets etc only to emerge from the shop to find the light had died, my battery had died, and … within 100 meters of leaving the shop.. the handles on the bag had.. yes you guessed it.. died. Marvellous! 

However, I made it home.. and then promptly collapsed on the bed and zonked out, I believe the expression is. Saturday was going to (and did) consist of getting to Rugeley to Amazon for induction and I needed to be sprightly! How right I was! Getting there was a nightmare! First the bus driver had a personal issue and had to leave the bus! Then, google led me on a wild goose chase, making me walk for nearly 2 hours in the midday sun around the perimeter of Amazon to get to the entry point. Fortunately I like to get to places early to scout out where they are, but I arrived looking and feeling more than a little bedraggled. 

I suppose the rest is history. I’m working 4 on 3 off Sun-Wed 8-18.30, but travel is making an already long day into a veritable marathon. Leaving the house at 5.30am and returning at about 20.00 sucks, but needs must. The morning walk along the canal has been kind to me. As of yet, no rain and lots of wildlife. A water-vole gave me a surprise as they’re reasonably rare and being “BIP!!”ed at by territorial coots made me smile and remember the good things about living in Leiden, and then realise that maybe they’re transpose-able if you look in the right places. I even hear whispers of Ringnecks having made it this far north.

I still cry on occasion. Things get to me. I know what I’ve given up, the undertaking I’ve, well, undertaken! Leaving an easy way of life, and a pretty home, and let’s not forget, a wife who loved me unconditionally, to come to this : Hours of toil, a grotty bedsit, no-one to lay next to, cold mornings and evenings, barely a weeks worth of clothes, all to the back drop of the words to “Another suitcase in another hall” and a mind which ponders “Did i try hard enough? Did I give enough? Is this now what and who I am? A bastardised version of the man I want to be, defined by my own selfishness because of my own selfishness? And as I type.. my music decides to throw “Hurt” at me by NiN! Thanks for that. 

But I know all of the above passes. I know I should be, and for the most part AM proud of what I’ve done. In something like 19 days in the country I’ve secured a job and done 2 weeks and one half day of work, moved from Holland to Tony’s to Wolves and acquired accommodation here,  made new friends and caught up with old ones, partaken of real beer, real *coughs…. o.k. I’ll concede this is my version of real* Chinese and Indian food, and sat in the Giff, spending money earned by me, for me, and feeling home, and at peace. I was never at peace in Leiden. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: For me, there is something pernicious about the way of life there. I willfully ignored it for years but it didn’t ignore me. It ate at me. Leaving me bereft of anything other than anger and resentment. I’m free of that now, and the weight off my shoulders is literally allowing me to breath again easier. The chest pains have gone, the stress has been replaced with a different kind, but one which is manageable.  
And so it dawns on me. The basterdised version of me is not the me sat here, typing, but the me in Leiden. What I can at times perceive as selfish me, was in fact, my own self preservation instinct which in a last ditch effort to save me, gave me the strength to do this, before I was consumed utterly. The me sat here, is in recovery. Finding what was buried, rather than lost, and rediscovering it. I remember the person I was, waking every day bouncy, daft, jokey, irrespective of if I was due on a 12 hour night shift later, or cleaning a toilet in the Civic at 4.30am.

I’m healing. The cathartic therapy of a hard day lugging things about, mixed with support from Tony and Sadie, Paula, and the energy gifted me from the Giffard, will see me through. I’m not whole yet, but i’m no-longer broken. “Under construction” is probably accurate.

Which suggests… perhaps… at least for a while.. anyone venturing too close.. should wear a hard hat as a precaution. 

Wiseman out!

Newcastle Brown in Leiden.

Ah Netherlands, slowly but surely you’re becoming more accommodating to us people from across the pond. For indeed, what the title says is true, Newcastle Brown has made it over the water. I know, I know, it is but a beer, and to those who drink merely Heineken,  or other such lagers, the concept of missing such a curious tasting brew must be something of a challenge to comprehend, which, given the penchant to serve beers here at a temperature so cold it is not actually taste-able, is in turn, understandable . However, things they are a changing, and it is with a heartfelt thanks to the Duke of Oz in Leiden, that this is so. Also pretty much the only bastion of the steak pie in Leiden within the pub environment, the Duke of Oz has once more pulled out a game changer. Newcastle Brown in bottles used to outsell Bud in the UK at 3-1 ratio as the best selling bottled beer in Britain, and while the offering here is Newcastle brown on tap, rather than in bottles, it still means that finally, there is an alternative to Guinness and Heineken for the discerning drinker who wants a taste of home. (I should point out that Strongbow is also available, but I discount that as the work of Beelzebub, rather than constituting an actual drink!) So, slainte mhath Paul and Marco! I’ve got nothing but love for you in this, and I’m sure there are others who would echo that sentiment, albeit possibly with a slight slur, and just a whiff of what is affectionately known as “dog”.

Werfpop Leiden

So, we made it to the Sepultura concert, playing in Leiden for the Werfpop event. Free as it was, we’d’ve been fools not to go. There was some trepidation, different line ups have come and gone but, it was Sepultura, and, it was free! It’s not a difficult equation! Mildly moist initially there was a smidgen of mud floating about, but after download it was nothing really noteworthy. We managed to get nicely up right to the front on the barrier, stuck out elbows and held our ground! 

Es and Me at Sepultura

Roots… bloody roots!

To be fair, it was not that busy! There was very little advertisement that I noticed of the gig, and, only one of my friends here in Leiden even mentioned it on the ever thrilling world of Facebook. So, they started, were pretty much unintelligible, very loud, angry, full of energy, and on the whole exactly what was expected! Roots was saved to the last, no surprise there, but like the rest of the set, was belted out with wild gay abandon! Thoroughly enjoyable it was too!

Sepultura at Werfpop 2012

Right at the front for Sepultura at Werfpop 2012

Wisey’s “Buying underwear” guide in Leiden!

Ahhh Mad? Mad as a bag of spanners! Not amused! No not at all!

So, as the title suggests, I have been presented with the delightful occasion for having to buy underwear in this fair city which I now live in. The reason being, our forthcoming trip to Durham and Newcastle is being facilitated by the medium (that is, a mode of transport, not a psychic teaching us astral projection), of a cruise from Rotterdam to Hull which incorporates an overnight cabin stay. There are 4 of us to the cabin, and as the other couple would doubtless not want unfavorable comparisons to occur it seems only right that I furnish myself with some attire that will keep my flailing manhood (I said flailing, not failing!) in check, (restrained, not covered in gingham!)!

So began the quest. It’s been many a long year since I last bought underwear, save for attempting (and indeed failing due to size issues) to grab some once while training at the Nimpojutsu club, which resulted instead in me just wearing shorts! Commando, I believe is what the kids today call it, but me, I recall the days when not wearing anything was another rebellious swipe at those around me wishing to restrict my penis! Read into that what you will, but what once was daring, became habit, until now, the idea of wearing underwear is as alien to me as perhaps a penguin in a jobcenter being offered a place in the entertainment sector when clearly the penguin is only qualified as a typist!

Armed with my trusty sidekick, a lady versed in the local vernacular, a brief (!!) tour of the shops (called “winkels” here amusingly) took us into the main department store in town. V&D. VD for short! I find it difficult to attempt to enthuse about VD. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t fill me with a sense of gladness. I know I know, I hear of other people having positive experiences with VD but, and especially considering the delicate nature of that which i was intending to purchase, allowing VD to engulf my reproductive parts and having to pay for this vaunted pleasure just.. well… it left me with a sort of nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

However, time was pressing, Once VD had us in its clutches it would’ve been silly just to ignore what it had to offer, so we ambled across to the men’s undies’, where I was confronted with a veritable menagerie of junk clutching costumes. Seriously? This much choice? For what reason exactly? I understand (and reject) the concept of underwear, but surely this array was merely put there to confuse, to bamboozle, and most of all, to put in fear, a poor unsuspecting customer such as I!

But I digress. My mind is strong, I know what it is I require. Something innocuous, not even especially stylish. Something which acknowledges the fact that it is there, while being understated enough not to draw attention to its self. No need for patterns, or some long forgotten tennis player’s name splattered across the elastic, proclaiming that assimilation is the way to go, and resistance is futile. When dealing with toilet parts, in my view, the only way to go is, bog standard! I find exactly what i require. They’re black, boring, and unassuming. Now for the sizes.


I cannot stress the above strongly enough. Arrrrrrrggggggg!!

You see, it’s like this. I understand I am no longer in the Uk. I get that the sizes here are measured differently. Well.. technically they’re not measured differently, but with a different base unit,often the device doing the measuring has various types upon it, such as inches and cms etc. The measuring is done the same way, but the outputted number is different. Ah you get what I mean! So for example, a woman buying a bra in the Uk would have band and cup size, band being measured in inches, cup size in letters (something which always puzzled me), and here it would be similar but in cms, however, you need to increase the cup size on most bras by one.. so.. 38e becomes 85f .. etc etc. Fair enough.

So, I understand the conversion for normal things. My waist, being not what it was back in the day, is now 34, which here would be 75cm, if they were to convert it like they do with ladies stuff, however… in all my time of spotting jeans here, those measurements are given in inches for guys. Except now. As my gaze ambles across the awe-inspiring collection of underwear, not once can i see a size that corresponds with either a cms measurement… or a measurement in inches. The smallest size appears to be a 40, but 40 of what I do not know. Is it like a curtain, and perhaps it is a 40 cms drop, where the elastic is one size fits all waist? If so, what kind of giant of a man wears the 60s nestling at the back? I think back, to the last attempt to buy underwear here, where the choice was S, M, L, Xl and I’d plumped for the M, not being large of belly, only to find my voice an octave higher while wearing them. If I can’t trust S & M to not mean the same.. here in this “winkel” of the VD persuasion, for the love of all that’s holy someone explain to me what these sizes are!!

It’s at times like this, it is handy to have a local with you. My good lady wife, whipped the things off the hanger, stretched them in a way that made me want to stand with crossed legs, pronounced “I’d fit in them”, and for her, that was it! But by now it was beyond if they fitted or not. It was about the principle of the thing. I can only assume that, the whole process is designed to be as complicated as it can possibly be, for no other reason than to egregiously infuriate, something which it had done with impressive alacrity. “Tell me what these numbers mean!” I demanded. “Why is it not in a uniform standard of measurement?”, I continued. Warming to my theme now and getting up a head of steam, “You’ve lived here all your life, you must have encountered sizes of mens underwear before, why can you not explain to me how they come to use this number as an indicator for me to purchase the right size!”.

And so I’d had enough! “These will do!”, I said, resisting the urge to cancel 4 days and a couple of hundred quids worth of fun over 2 pairs of mens knickers, and instead picked up something which I assume equated to medium, on the grounds that it was not the smallest number I could see, but was not close to the largest. Feeling aggrieved and impotent as answers were not forthcoming I stalked away, Esther in tow, only to run into two friends outside whom I vented my spleen at with gusto!

Conclusions to be drawn from this? I’m not sure. Days later and I still don’t know what the numerics relate to, but i do know I shall be suitably attired to cohabit a 4 birth cabin without eye-widening/watering (viewpoint dependent) consequences, and for that, I am sure we are all grateful!

So another new year passes. Actually NYE was really quite a good laugh. Not that many of us in the place, but that probably helped things be quite so convivial. A big shout should go out to Daniel and Florien as the host/hostess at Vi-Kings in Leiden for looking after us all. Many guinness’s were consumed, and I was finally tipped over the edge my a couple or so glasses of bubbly stuff! I remember some of the walk home but it was all good! I think I was still making vague sense, although in all honesty I think only Esther knows what I’m on about half the time anyway so there is no proper gauge! 

So, goals for this year. I don’t know really. My understanding of written dutch is now I think not that bad. I should try harder though. Or… i think I should, but then don’t bother, so i suppose that means it is not that important to me. Writing too, I should do more of. Many things were planned and started last year, and none of them finished. Was it simply procrastination or was my heart not in it? 

There is talk of a new laptop. Can I justify that without writing? Will buying it make me write out of some sort of vindication of outlay? I don’t know. Over the course of last year many relationship statuses have changed. I never speak with any of my brothers anymore, not even in some sort of passing dig at them/them at me for something. To top that off I’ve knocked speaking to Susan on the head as far too much of a drain. Anyone having read the last entry here knows that probably the closest person I have had to family in my world for 90% of my life has now been ostracized too. I wonder where this puts me in terms of being a social animal? Friendships in Holland simply cannot develop like in the UK due to the fiscal burden that is incurred in simply setting foot in a pub! This in turn means that my world becomes ever more centralised around Esther, which I suspect is not good for either of us. Too much of a good thing? I’m not that conceited lol, but I do know that over exposure to anything causes pernicious cancers to appear. 

I think the main thing I want is to be fit and strong again. It’s been too long since I actually felt fit, rather than managed to pull of the illusion! The weights bench has been a boon, and having put work in, efforts are being rewarded. The big 40 is not that far away. I remember dad doing 100 press ups at 50! If i could do that at 40 I would be happy. I think ridding myself of the puppyfat which still keeps my waist size at 34 will require running again, which is a shame, considering my running shoes STILL have not found their way back from Sweden, despite Susan again telling Esther  2 weeks ago that they would be sent.  No shock there then!

It’s good to have something to look forward to mind. Download should be something of an experience. Still not sure exactly what we will be doing around and about that time, Ireland is still a big possibility. So are rail/coach trips around the UK. Scotland maybe, or Brighton. The world is our clam! Having a point in the future where I know I get a break from Holland is a good thing. The fact that Black Sabbath are involved, makes it better. 

Right… bread needs to be bought, more reps on the weights… and maybe a couple of rounds of battlefield playforfree (AliWiseman) just to let off steam.

Welcome to 2012 people. Better than last year shouldn’t be a goal… it should be a reality! At the risk of sounding like a bald captain…. make it so!

Travelling again

So, it seems I am off to Sweden to go see Su in her new abode. Be nice to break in the passport on a swift 2 hour flight! Still seems crazy that it’s that simple to hop over a few countries. Am not in need of a break from Holland at the mo, but I’ll take it anyway! 

Helped young sir Mike shift some stuff as he goes off galavanting again and realised it was the first time since I’ve been over here that I actually spent 8 hours in someone’s company without it being in a pub! ha a good laugh actually, though the stress of seeing wing mirrors twisted and contorted did make me a little jumpy for a while lmao!

It’s funny really. I came to realise over the last few weeks that one of the reasons that my friends over here are probably still nothing like the people I knew in the Uk in terms of closeness because as lives go, we have very little in common. I used to work all the hours god sent, and have no one to report back to about where I am, what money I’ve spent etc etc etc. None of the people I know here who I spend any time with are married. The concept of having to consider how their actions might impact their wife, doesn’t exist, and in truth that was exactly how I was in the Uk. I worked and bonked all the hours I had the chance to, often managing to at least tenuously establish a link between the two, (albeit the lady involved was a variable), and spent accordingly!  Now I don’t work, rarely spend without first thinking “is this ok”, and restrict the rodgering to milady!

It’s different! I’d write more… but the washing’s done! lol

Late entries.

I fear I’ve been neglecting this again. The much promised pics from Vegas have not happened, and there have been no updates of any shape or form. Bad me. In truth although I suppose there has not been massive amounts to add. I’ve gotten annoyed about stuff over here, walked out of Brothers of Beer and Vi-Kings only to decide to go back to Vi-Kings and keep Brothers soundly knocked on the head. I guess it’s the lesser of two evils. Actually had some good fun in The Duke of Oz on a couple of occasions and am about to head back to Crewe for a few days in an attempt to sort out my passport. I’m not sure it will do as it’s supposed but we shall see. 

aliwiseman new york

42nd street

Dads birthday today. Always makes me raise an eyebrow, if not a glass. Not one for being emotional it generally passes without incident, which is nice. Without incident doesn’t mean unnoticed though.

Purchased weights and bench. Hoping this should get me back in the right direction! Put on 7lbs since returning from Vegas! Hope it’s muscle!

Esther Wiseman

Es in Circus Circus

Hmm.. seems I am due to hit the shop, so this blog… is cut short, and sweet. just time to throw in a couple of pics from Vegas that have been toyed with for FB and so should fit here ok! Enjoy!

Vi-Kings Sports bar and Brothers of Beer Leiden

I seem to have neglected to mention on here that Leiden has a cool heavy metal bar, or as google might like it, rock bar / rock pub.

Brothers of Beer in Leiden carries the name Hard Rock cafe and in truth it fits the bill quite nicely. Situated near Leiden town centre and in between Vi-Kings sports bar and The Duke of Oz closer to the shopping street, it does a mean set of metal, with a mix in of local and international bands passing through. Dutch is not essential but is always welcomed, not least as anyone pronouncing a dutch “G” who’s not used to it will give everyone a good chuckle! Ed and Remy, the two owners, are both great guys, and do what they can to make the atmosphere just like a metal bar should be.

I had removed this post due to a couple of issues but decided to repost. 

Troublegum Therapy?

Ah it should be a good night tomorrow! Heading up to the Melkweg in Hamsterspam to see Therapy? do the full Troublegum album! Songs that came from the Cheshire Cat nights in Nantwich still manage to stir fond memories but this album got me through some rough times in the years since then. Looking forward to it!

I guess I can say I’ve seen Meat Loaf do Bat out of Hell, Hazel O’Conner do Will You, Fish do Sugar Mice, Deep Purple do Black Night, and Blackmore do Child in Time, oh.. and The Mission do Butterfly on a Wheel, and will now be able to add Isolation and Brainsaw to that list!

I wrote on a verrry old site my top 10 songs were : “Child in Time, Will You, Bat outta Hell, Fake Plastic Trees-Radiohead, Butterfly on a Wheel, Breakin the Law-Judas Priest, Whole lotta Rosie-AcDc, Romeo and Juliet-Dire Straites, When a Blind Man cries-Deep Purple, and Supermans Song-Crash test Dummies”, so I’m not doing too badly. Having seen Radiohead a few years back I’m glad they never played Fake Pastic Trees… because frankly they were awful!

Have had a couple of crazy nights out and let off a bit of steam in the last month. I suppose life here was getting to me a bit and I needed to go off pop! Tis out of my system now, ejected reasonably forcefully, and I think I feel better for it. Combine that with a windfall of Hobgoblin beer, now mixed in with Pedigree, Banks and a selection of other real ales in bottles and this makes for a more relaxed me again.

Trundled off to see Es’s Grandparents on the weekend. They seem well and Gran is especially, how can I put this, ummm… aware that he is alive and can have an opinion on things! I like it! She’s alive and seems to still be enjoying that fact. I think if we spoke the same language we might get on, or at least be able to discuss things with equal vehemence depending on the subject! Tis good to see the interaction with Es. As for her parents, since I decided to see how long it would be before they came round instead of me going with Es all the time there, well, they’ve not bothered to show their faces. It is still crazy that my sister has been in the house more times in the last 2 years than Es’s parents, considering Su is 1600kms away and they are 30kms! Coming up to Xmas it still baffles me how they can be so distant with her. To me.. she deserves their respect enough for them to be interested in her world. She deals with it, but I know it smarts, and that annoys me.


And so to bed I think for me! Here’s hoping tomorrow in Amsterdam is fun!