Kruimel the cat

Femke has had a cat named Kruimel for almost 13 years. She was brought to the house, to help with mice issues and due to a younger Femke’s persistence. When Fem was travelling Australia and New Zealand, Kruimel stayed here in Holland and waited for her to return.

Femke was so delighted to see her cat again when we arrived here. Kruimel was a very talkative cat and was spoilt rotten by Fem’s dad and us as well of course!

She was always at the dinner table patiently waiting for some food to be given to her. If these were not given she became less subtle and asked for the food and even putting her two front paws up on our legs. You basically almost had no choice but to give her something then! She was also a playful cat who didn’t like fancy toys, instead preferring to attack a shoelace that was moved in front of her.

In the last few weeks, since I have been working from home, it was common for her to curl up asleep in a comfy chair behind me where I sit all day. I was surprised how attached I had got to Kruimel given I have only known her for 6 weeks.

Unfortunately she became sick in the last 2 weeks. She was taken to the vet several times and specialist tests were completed. To our sadness we found out that Kruimel had cancer of the liver. Last night she was put to sleep. We are all glad to know she is no longer in any pain but we will all miss her terribly.

I have taken a lot of photos of Kruimel to provide us with lasting memories.

Kruimel 

Relaxing  Peeking through the certains On the chair in the PC room With Fme's mum Close up On Matts lap Cat sneerKruimel with Fem On the lounge chair

Loevestein

On the 14th of December, we decided it was high time I went and saw a castle. There are not a lot of castles in Holland, and luckily there was a pretty good one about 30 minutes drive north. This is Castle Loevestein. The Garmin GPS I took with me proved itself rather useful, as neither Fem or myself knew how to get there. But we just searched for it, added as a Favourite and away we went!

Fem pointing to the map The main moat to the castle

The castle itself has a moat all around it. The water was rather icy from the shot you can see below.

Icy water! Another view of the moat

Once over the moat there was a small village. But now it just holds a Museum, a tourist centre and some cafes. In older times it was a base for the troops.

The main street The Main house?

Once we paid our entrance fees and turned around the corner at the end of the row of houses we are greeted with the castle itself on its own mini moat. It’s a pretty impressive sight!
Once inside the middle area is all completely hollow.

 The entrance to the castle The whole castleThe hollow inside area

There are actually not a large number of rooms inside the castle, just a lot of big ones. It was also built for defence, so the staircases up to the next level are very narrow and tight. There was not a lot of furniture in the castle. The two rooms below has the most decorations. The majority of the other rooms were barren.

The main hall The discussion room

The dark shadow at the bottom of the photos above is my lens. I should have brought my external lens for these shots. 🙂

A knights metal outfit A basic pulley ssyetm Fem squeezing up a narrow staircase. Imagine how cramped I was!

It was a good “first” castle for me. Hopefully I might get a chance to see some more!

Photographic shot in the main hall View of the moat as we were leaving.

Moon shots

A bigger moon? What do you think?After seeing this article stating that moon was going to be the biggest for 15 years on the 12th of December, I took out my camera and walked into the backyard, looked up and took a shot. Now this was on the 13th of December, so I was off by a day. Or maybe not by that much, given all the time zones around the world. Lets just say I was close enough 🙂

I have been trying to find some photos I took of the moon from the southern hemisphere to see if it looks much different. But it appears on my laptop I don’t have ALL the photos I have taken. If anyone has some good full moon shots taken in Australia or NZ please let me know!

Football in Waalwijk

On the 12th of December, Auke took me to see the local football team play the visitors from Den Bosch, It was actually my first live football game I have been to.

After rugging up with what I thought was enough clothes we set off. There were many police around (normal for football matches I am told), so we took our seats up at the back of the stadium and waited for the game to start. It was a small stadium with all seats nice and close to the action. Most of the “Den Bosch’ens were isolated to a small section of the stadium to prevent trouble makers.

The stadium the visitors supported isolated

I got the following photos during the first half. The  lighting was good. but not the best for shooting fast action shots. I really needed a faster lens!

During the second half, it got so cold I had to put the camera away to stop my fingers going numb! When you are sitting still in an exposed stadium, you really feel it. I looked around and thought everyone was smoking, but it was just them all breathing! Once it was over and we went back to the car park, all the cars were covered with frozen frost. That’s how cold it was!

The game was good to watch and I hope to see some more games in the future. The final score? It was a 1 all draw.

the teams march on away we go

a player get scratched. he goes down. a penalty goal

a failed attemptat goal the mascot

Immigration Dramas

Well things are heating up here as the temperature drops.

As a lot of you know, the plan for us when we arrived in the Netherlands was for Femke to get a job, and then I can get a residency permit. With this permit I would be allowed to work here for up to a year. At that stage we could renew the residency permit if we wanted to stay.

When we were in New Zealand I made several Skype calls to Dutch Immigration ensuring that we would be right as long as Femke had a job. We were assured this was the case. So after the New Zealand adventure ended and three weeks rest in Australia, we were off to Holland!

So skip to December 2008, Femke has a job, and I even have a local job offer as well through a friend of a friend. Awesome! Things are looking up! So we try to get the Residency Permit so I could start work ASAP,  only to be told that no we can’t get it. Umm WTF? and why not? Because Femke’s contract is for 6 months and not 12 months. 12 months is required to qualify for a residency permit. Was this explained to us when we were in New Zealand. No. Hell no.

Surely they could be lenient? I mean 6 months? Fem’s a good worker. Every company she has worked for has been sad to see her move on. It’s practically ensured that she would get extended. Nope. they don’t budge nor do they care. Sigh. Wonderful.

So why is that? do they think that I would be fine for 6 months, and the suddenly after 6 months I would become like a leech on the Dutch government? Even offering assurances (backed by Fem’s parents) that I would not become a dole-bludging leech this has no effect.

So with my primary method of legally staying here now more sunk than the Titanic, what are my other options?

Sponsorship via Fem’s Parents? This will cost over 800 Euros and will only be for 6 months. Also I would not be able to work during that period. This is more like an expensive extended tourist visa. Umm.. no thanks.

Sponsorship via Femke herself? Again she needs a minimum of 12 months contract and earning more money she is currently on. So this is a no go.

The highly skilled migrant visa: If I get a job earning 47,500 Euros a year, I will qualify for this visa which will allow me to stay here. Only issue is that it is a very high amount to be paying someone (especially someone new), and the number of English speaking programming jobs is very small. Also to apply for this there is still a 2 months waiting period for this visa to be approved. Normally this visa would be used to entice people over from overseas. They could all the paperwork before they came here. So when the time came they could arrive, get off the plane and go straight to work.

I can try to give my resume to some agencies and see what happens. But with Christmas and new years very fast approaching, it seems that employers are not really going to be looking for new people until mid Jan 2009. But it certainly won’t hurt to try.

The work permit visa. This allows me to accept a job at a company after they have advertised a job for up to 6 weeks and shown proof that no local Dutch people could satisfy the role. This might be difficult for the company offering me the job as they have not advertised the role, but I am yet to hear from them. I can look for other jobs online that have already have been advertised and hope they are close to their 6 week date. But again it’s going to be slim picking with my inability to speak Dutch.

The worst case scenario is that my tourist Visa runs out and I have to return to Australia in early February. We’ll just have to see what happens. Cross your fingers for me!