Life at the end of the road

December 14, 2012

Things I like about Holland :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:11 pm

Wednesday already and I’ve certainly had no problems sleeping the last two nights. In fact to be honest I’m ready for my bed right now and it’s not even 21:00.

Whoops, it’s now 22:00 on Thursday, I fell asleep last night Sad smile It really has been just a case of work, eat, sleep, OK the eating bit averages about three hours, but to be honest that’s just one of the things I love about the Dutch, the efficient yet unhurried service Smile Every night we’ve met in the bar about  18:30, around an hour after returning from Imtech and not finished dinner until going up for 22:00. Some of the chaps have had enough energy to have a wee wander around Rotterdam for an hour or two but not me. No, I’ve headed straight for my bed even though it’s only actually 21:00 GMT, me, I’m just too old for all this carp, which is a tragedy really, for there is so much going on within a few hundred meters of the hotel. There are at least two museums within sight and who knows what else if I could be bothered ‘Googling’ but I’m just plain shattered.

I’ve lost track of when I actually posted last, or even what I said but suffice to say that the only daylight that I’ve seen since Glasgow has been through the Imtech canteen frosted glass windows Sad smile 



Though I did manage to get a glimpse of the Rotterdam skyline once or twice around sunset Smile



I can’t say that it’s a beautiful city because it’s flat, busy, noisy and very modern, things that I don’t particularly like, however it’s also friendly, clean and everyone that I’ve met speaks English Smile Not only that but I’m refreshed by the total lack of soup spoons, you have no idea how much I hate soup spoons. What is the point of a flipping soup spoon???? OK, I know I promised to stop swearing but I’ve always hated those stupid implements with vengeance and it has been such a pleasure not to be confronted by one at meal times. Could someone please explain to me the purpose of something that you eat with but cannot actually fit in your mouth, a tool that you have to put to your lips and SLURP rather than just insert in you gob and quietly swallow off.

I have to confess at throwing many such a piece of cutlery over the side of the MV Loch Striven and always picking up the dessert spoon to drink my soup if at all possible. Who on earth invented such an impractical tool and why in heck do we put up with it????? I know, I know, I’m swearing again but you might as well use a straw as a soup spoon and I despise them. Continental common sense seems to have decided that they are an English eccentricity that should be scorned and left at the other side of the Channel along with ‘full English and full Scottish’. Now don’t get me wrong, there are few days that I don’t start the day with a portion or variation of either but it’s no wonder that Glasgow is the ‘heart attack capital’ of Europe when you look at a Dutch offering.



Much as I love to start a day on the croft with bacon and the marag dubh (black pudding) I can’t help thinking that smoked salmon, cold meats, salad and olives are a healthier option Smile

Somewhere over the English channel

Well that was a pretty lame effort, it’s now Friday and I’m at 38,000ft on my way home having spent £10 in a whole week and £5 of that was by accident Smile Not that I’m particularly frugal or anything, just that we’ve been spoilt, and after dinner I’ve usually been in my bed before 22:00. However I am at last on my way home leaving behind all those things that I love about Holland,

001  023

like proper towels and none of those silly air driers that leave you wiping your hands on your trousers. Not that I mind using my combats as a towel but it usually leaves me looking like I’ve wet myself Smile Other things I like are men with shaved heads and people not afraid to roll their own cigarettes Smile Not that I’m gay or smoke but a shaved head just seems so practical and home made ‘coffin nails’ have so much more style Smile Thousands of cyclists without the now obligatory crash helmet imported from China also impressed me, as did the light switch inside the bathroom. Are the Dutch less prone to head injuries and electrocution or are we just a little obsessed with ‘elfin safety’ here Smile

Other things that struck me as notable were the lack of overweight people and 4×4’s, of course Holland is pretty flat and the authorities probably quite capable of clearing the roads, so that may have something to do with it. However I noticed the same thing in Italy a few years ago and that country can hardly be described as ‘level’ or having competent officials. It seems that in the UK we need a 4×4 to take the kids to school rather than let them cycle or walk Smile Me, I had free transport to and from school but seldom used  to catch it home, even though it was well over a mile to walk.

Somewhere in Barrhead

Sorry peeps, I’m kind of losing the plot a little here, this blogging carry on is fine if you start with an idea and then finish it, but I’ve been writing this one now for three or four days and keep getting distracted Sad smile Anyway, I’m sure there were more things I liked about Holland, like the total lack of Christmas hype, hard hats, fluorescent vests and half eaten ‘take away’s’ left on the pavement but I’d better move on.

It’s now after 21:00 and I’m determined to get this finished Smile 

Like I said before, the week was pretty intense both in the classroom and down in the workshop, as we learned all about the various systems on the Imtech designed hybrid drive  for the MV Hallaig.


hybrid arrangement

The lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries, variable frequency drives, 375Kw electric motors and their various methods of connection to, and independent from, both shore power and diesel generator were covered by our excellent Dutch tutor.


hybrid arrangement 2



We were also shown how to take out of service and replace the individual battery modules,



 006 (Small)003 (Small)


using specially insulated tools and PPE.

Excellent grub

As Thursday was our last night we ‘pushed the boat out’ and dined in the restaurant rather than the ‘Brassiere’, though I’m not actually sure there is any difference in quality or price but they certainly seem to look after you better Smile Not that the service at Inntel Rotterdam was anything other than fantastic and the food of the highest standard.

  021 022

A tiny ‘pre aperitif’ of a smoked mackerel soup was delivered to all prior to our starter, and for me I chose ‘steak tartare’ . Now this is basically raw mince covered in raw egg white and some spices, I know, I know, it sounds disgusting but I nearly reached a state of orgasm eating it, it was delicious.



Eventually, after that I had a paella, and once more you can see that the tuna is raw inside, truly awesome Smile 


No wonder we’re all smiling, for whatever you decided to eat, it was first class, un hurried but well worth the wait. I think the quickest meal we had at Inntel was around two and a half hours. However we all had great ‘craic’ and it was always well worth the wait, lets be honest, if you’re getting food any quicker it has already been prepared, but not here Smile

Well, it’s after 22:00 now and the pork chop, chips and peas that ‘mum in law’ dished me up in Barrhead was just as good, well it certainly felt that way eating it in Scotland Smile Anyway, it’s time for bed so I’ll just leave you with this ‘dogs breakfast’ of a post as i slurp my last mouthful of red wine and head upstairs.



  1. Glad you where fed well over there Paul, the meals look fantastic! Nice to know that the streets are clean and there are some things that have not been affected by the Elfins over there. You’re week certainly has went quickly.
    All the best

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 14, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

    • Morning Graham, aye it was good to get back and have a bacon butty 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 10:27 am

  2. That’s a fine photo of the seven of you gathered round the dining table. I assume Snow White took the picture.

    Comment by drgeo — December 14, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

    • Morning DrG, not Snow white but Queeny 🙂 yes our waitress for that night was really called Queeny 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 10:28 am

  3. Paul, Glad to see that you have been actively employed and the taking your time to enjoy a meal (that looked mighty fine). Not sure I would push the boat out to steak tartare although I like to hear it moo a little.
    I think all your readers should send you for Christmas at least one soup spoon, maybe even one of the type you find in a Chinese restaurant :-).
    A soup spoon is not meant to go into the mouth to unload its contents just to sit on your bottom lip & let the contents pass into the mouth. I only know this as my Nan on a Sunday would ensure we ate our soup correctly, even to the point of putting the spoon in the soup, pushing it to the back not the front of the bowl to fill the spoon.
    On the other hand we were allowed to break up our roll or bread and put that into the soup to be fished out with the spoon.
    Back to the promised land & piglets today? 🙂

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — December 15, 2012 @ 8:37 am

    • Morning ATB, can’t say that I liked the idea of raw mince but then I’ve eaten plenty of raw sausage meat when making links and that tasted delicious so I thought I’d give it go. I’m quite aware of how to use a soup spoon correctly, I too received lessons as a child, but what is the point??? I would much rather have the tool in my mouth than slurp off it and it’s shape is not conducive to removing every last drop from the soup bowl no matter which way you tip it, hence the need for the bread. The soup spoon in my opinion is about as much use as one of these.

      chocolate teapot

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 10:51 am

      • I guess it is one of those items that the reason for its invention in a bygone age we shall never understand.
        On the same theme, fish knives, I do not understand them. Are you pro or anti?

        Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — December 15, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

      • Definitely anti ATB 🙂 same with steak knives, if you need a special knife to cut your meat then it’s too tough 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

      • Much prefer to drink my soup from a pint mug and mop it out with some garlic bread! Good thing about Garlic bread is that I am the only one in our house that likes it so get to eat the whole loaf! Not a lover of soup spoons for similar reasons to you Paul, although lately it is more because that with failing grip in my fingers the spoon method sees me depositing most of it down my shirt! 😉

        Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 16, 2012 @ 6:16 am

      • Morning Graham, glad to find at least one ally in my war against the soup spoon 🙂 I really don’t understand why, when you go out for a ‘posh’ meal here you have to confronted by a bizarre array of eating implements.

        set place

        I’m sure it’s just done to confuse us plebs 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 8:48 am

      • Wifey was a silver service waitress so maybe it is just as well, she might not have had a job if it wasn’t for the cutlery! lol
        I tend to think my youngest grandson has the right idea, pick it up with your fingers and tuff it in your mouth, no ceremony and gets the job done, although its just as well that they have wooden floors in his house as the carpet cleaning bill would be huge! 🙂

        Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 17, 2012 @ 9:57 am

      • Hi Graham, you certainly need to be ‘switched on’ to sort out that lot 😦

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 17, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

  4. Sounds as if you all enjoyed yourselves as well as picking up some useful knowledge. I love the idea of you eating in a ‘brassiere’!!!!!

    Good journey home


    Comment by Sue — December 15, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    • Morning Sue, I did wonder about that spelling 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  5. You could have done with an extra day just to look around. Could do with that battery bank, mine’s paggerd. Can’t begin to imagine the cost of that system, but by damn it looks the biz…

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — December 15, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    • Just four of those batteries would do you nicely Steve and I believe that would set you back 6K 😦 for 560ah at 24v or 270ah at 48v That’s only a quarter of the size of my current bank which would cost me half the price to replace, so eight times the price if you just compare Kwh stored. However the LiFePO4 can be discharged much deeper and will last far longer. The trusty FLA still has the edge in terms of cost but not by as much as you’d think and prices of these batteries will fall.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

      • looks like it’s going to be next time around for me then.
        spotted these ones, they are supposed to be longer lasting than normal FLA. i alway go on price per KWH

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — December 15, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

      • Don’t do it Steve, you’ll regret it, leisure batteries are for just that ‘leisure’ you need at the very least ‘fork lift’ or Rolls, you will be lucky to see the winter out of a set of those.

        Good luck, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

  6. Funny,I don`t like eating soup without a soup spoon these days.Maybe it is like the difference between a shovel and a spade, both will do the same job more or less but each has different qualities.Use a spade to handle wet concrete and you will know the shovel always works better, likewise a spade cuts through soil better when digging the garden and,before you ask, Janes` homemade soup does not resemble wet concrete or topsoil(well not recently) 🙂

    Comment by Andy — December 15, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  7. Your description of Holland makes me want to go to Belgium again. Belgium is like Holland only with lumps and better beer.

    Steak tartare eh? Did they do the usual thing of warning you it was raw? Mind you if Holland is anything like Belgium the default cooked steak is just about mooing in any case.

    Comment by Phil Cook — December 15, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    • Hi Phil,

      I don’t recall being warned it was raw, but I already knew, though only because of a rant by a friend of a friend many years ago. This cockney had never been outside London other than a trip to France and his staple diet was big Mac’s. When in France, and being unable to find any ‘golden arches’ he’d ordered the aforementioned dish and was obviously not impressed 🙂 “I always eat in MacDonald’s, there is everything you need in a big mac, you got meat you got bread and fresh salad” he would say, neglecting to mention that the only product on their entire menu that did not contain sugar was the diet coke. “you can live healthily of MacDonald’s” he exposed ” I was in France recently and got served a raw burger called steak f*****g tartare, steak f*****g tartare, I gave them ‘steak tartare’ I can tell you, f*****g unhealthy and uncivilized if you ask me” 🙂 Mind you he wasn’t that impressed at not being able to find a ‘carry out’ on Raasay either.

      I’ve never forgot that but it’s the first time that I’ve actually seen one on a menu, yes I see what you mean about bleeding steaks but that’s how I like them, had to finish off my mates ‘well done’ fillet because it was raw in the middle 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  8. Recently caught up on your blog, and noticed the mention of cycle helmets
    One certainly saved my life recently, only a shame I wasn’t wearing full body armour.
    Which reminds me you are 100% correct about the 4×4 in Italy.Devon country lanes somewhat like your Italian ones don’t lend themselves to these collosal vehicles. But here every other car seems to be a 4×4.
    I’ll have to get some tips from Danny Macaskill.
    Good your back at South Arnish.
    Good luck.

    Comment by chrisbbbbb — December 15, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    • Hi Chris, still in Barrhead unfortunately, not back home until Tuesday, I’m absolutely sick of traveling 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  9. Dear Paul,
    glad you enjoyed your stay in Holland. one of the wifes favourite foods is Steak Americien or raw chopped beef she tends to use it as a spread on different types of bread, not my favorite I have often wondered how well we get on seeing as we are so different. We have been together for 30 year now and we have so little in common. We tend to eat a lot of Mussels because we both like them, By the way Holland or too be more precise Nederland has its hilly parls where I live it is more than just undulating if you know what I mean.



    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — December 15, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

    • Hi Dave, I think that’s why wifey and I will endure, we have absolutely nothing in common 🙂 As for hills, I was stunned to discover that you have bits that actually approach or may even exceed 300m 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 15, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

      • Yes your are talking about Drielandenpunt which is where the borders of Germany Holland and Belgium meet, its about a 1,000 feet above sea level Really basically the Northern most point of the Ardennes. Boarders really do define the language bariers here Achen is no more than 3miles from there and they only speak German Vaals in less than a mile and they only speak Dutch, go down the hill turn left into Belgium and it is French all the way. There was even a neutral zone radiating out from the point on the boarder which nobody claimed. I live about 20 miles from there. Boarders can make you crazy I live at the end of a one mile salient that pokes into Germany. It is a beautiful litle hamlet of 17 houses consisting of a pub fish and chip shop a chapel and a post box. I live no more than 20 meters from the border Peter my next door neighbour is German his kids are Dutch because they were born in Holland the boarder goes right through his farm yard his chickens are German but his cows were Dutch. The boarder post used to be in my Father-in-laws farm yard. In about 8 of the houses the border goes directly through there garden. the bottom half is in Germany the top half in Holland. You are not allowed to burn Garden waste in Holland but you are in Germany guess what you do.. The Wife works in Belgium she is head buyer for a specialist cycle firm think tour de France to get too her work she has to drive into Germany travel about five miles back into holland then throught Holland for five miles and into Belgium If you think that is bad enough remember my Doctor is in Gemany I live in Holland and because I am now retired a large part of my health insurance is paid for by my wife intio the Belgium health insurance system. You can imagine the problems.

        regardsd Dave

        Comment by Yorkshire Miner — December 16, 2012 @ 12:48 am

      • I can foresee this confusion spreading over here if Scotland becomes independent 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  10. Dear Paul
    I see you got to use a fuse glove. I can still remember coming across them nearly thirty years ago. when commisioning a sub station in the Botlek in Rotherdam I had helped build they are not nessary and always use safety glasses

    Regards Dave

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — December 15, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    • I see you got to use a fuse glove. I can still remember coming across them nearly thirty years ago. when commisioning a sub station in the Botlek in Rotherdam I had helped build they are not nessary and always use safety glasses

      should that read most Dave??

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  11. Dear Paul,
    they are not nessary, It all depends on how you write your regulations concerning electical installations. I have worked in many countries and they are all different. and whats more they all work. All you have to do is write a regulation that says fuses have to be isolated from the imput power before they can be withdrawn or changed. You can most likely remember when a fuse blew in your house. What did your Dad do, he went too the fuse box he had to pull down the switch to disconect the power before he could pull out the fuses to see which had blown there was never any voltage difference across the fuse and there could never be any sparking. Here in Holland the rules are different you can pull out the fuses under tension which can cause sparking hence the fuse glove. hence the fact that I said always wear safety glasses.


    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — December 16, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

    • Thanks for clearing that up Dave 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

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