Commuting Gems…Something To Aim For

Being a half Dutch person so to speak, most regular Gidday-ers will know that I have a finely tuned radar for all things clever clogs. Remember last year’s excitement about Den Bosch catherdral’s modern nod to the man upstairs?

Well, I was reading The Metro on the way to work last week when I came across yet another example of Dutch pragmatism and ingenuity. Apparently the fine folk at Schipol Airport had reached the end of their tether about men…well schhh-ing everywhere but where they should be schhh-ing. In the bowl, that is.

So what do you think they did?

They etched an image of a house fly in the bowl, giving the ‘little gentlemen’ something to aim for…and thereby ‘increasing accuracy up to 80%’.


And given I was in the land of the clogged just a day later, it got me thinking, I wonder what other clever things the Dutch have done? So I googled when I got home and here’s what I found (on

Father and son team Hans & Zacharias Janssen invented the first microscope so that they could see really small things. (Could they be related to Linda of Adventures in Expatland fame? It’s a small world you know…)

Hans Lippershey invented the first telescope so he could see far away things. Given the Dutch liked to voyage, this is likely to have proved quite useful.
In the natural world, Jan Ingenhausz discovered the process of photosynthesis in 1779 and Anton van Leeuweenhoek was the first to observe bacteria in 1626. Not to put too finer point on it but these gents probably needed to get a life (and one of them new microscope things).

In the modern age, the compact disk appeared in Eindhoven in 1979 thanks to Dutch company Phillips and the company founded by rally driver Maurice Gatsonides developed the first ‘road-rule-enforcement-camera’ in the 1950s thus creating the concept of revenue-raising amongst local constabularies the world over.

And last but not certainly not least, the Dutch claim to have been the first to discover Australia with Willem Janszoon checking out the Gulf of Carpentaria – that’s in the north bit – in 1606. No doubt helped by Lippershey’s telescope.

In fact, did you know that Australia was called New Holland for almost 190 years? The monikker was first coined in 1644 by Dutch man-about-sea, Abel Tasman, and remained part of the lingo right up until 1837.

But interestingly it was the English who first colonised that big, brown, inhospitable land down under, landing in Sydney Cove on the 26th January, 1788.

Seems like everyone was aiming for a piece of the Lucky Country.

But the ultimate clever clogs, the piece d’resistance of going Dutch, struck me full in the face as I walked into Eindhoven airport on Wednesday afternoon…

And I am left wondering whether in fact, I grew up in the wrong lucky country!

Part of the Post of the Month Club for June 2012

My Village Is An Onion…

Today I sat down in front of my computer, coffee in hand, to meander happily through cyber-space. This is a Sunday thing, a sacred fragment of me-time and a pleasure I rarely feel guilty about. While I try to keep up with it all during the week on my commute, there’s something about the big screen and multiple tabs that makes a Sunday trawl more delightful than flicking between windows on my phone and keeping half an ear out for my station announcement.

You see this is my village, or a large part of it anyway. Scrolling back through Facebook updates and tweets often uncovers a delightful surprise from a friend or loved one that may have passed me by in the busy-ness of the week. And checking out what my fellow bloggers have had to say – and perhaps leaving them with a thought or two of my own – is like peeling back layers of an onion. At different times, in different ways, each reveals something new, a different dimension that in my mind’s eye, I had not imagined.

Today, I clicked on one of my Gidday faves, Adventures in Expatland. Linda is an American, living in The Hague with her family, who is forging new paths for herself as a writer and ‘go to’ person on the highs, lows and in-betweens of expat life. She’s featured a few times on Gidday from the UK before and today, she’s here again for two very special reasons:

…she’s received the Versatile Blogger Award (And deservedly so. Good onya, mate!)


…she’s nominated me for one.

(That’s an excited squeal for you newcomers to Gidday)

The Versatile Blogger Award is a peer acknowledgement and apart from getting to put the little Versatile Blogger logo on my blog, I get to share with you 7 things about myself as well as another 15 of my favourite versatile virtuosos. As this post is already getting on a bit, let’s just get cracking…

The Seven Wonders of the world Kym

  • My birthday is August 1st (which most of you probably know via the sleeps to go posts). My point is this – it’s the Horse’s Birthday.
  • I was actually due to ‘arrive’ on this here planet on the day ‘The Eagle’ landed and man set foot on the moon – 20th July 1969. I’ve not been late since.
  • If you’ve been reading Gidday for a while you probably know that Dad is Dutch but did I ever tell you that on my Mum’s side we are descended from Bernadette Devlin, the youngest woman to be elected to British Parliament?
  • I jumped out of a perfectly good plane somewhere near Bendigo, Victoria in 2003. Note: I was strapped to the front of a burly skydiving instructor.
  • I was blonde (and I mean Annie Lennox blonde) for about 18 months. This happened to coincide with Lil Chicky’s wedding so my bleached barnet is preserved for all eternity.
  • I received a scholarship from The Order of the Rechabites at age 13 and received my Alliance Francaise certificate at age 14. I drink and don’t speak French. Cest la vie.
  • I played the role of Frenchy in our High School production of Grease. I wore a pink wig as Teen Angel (our Maths teacher Mr Smith) crooned ‘Beauty School Dropout’ at me.

The Fellowship of Fifteen

Ham Life
Local lad Matthew blogs about living in London, camera always at the ready.
The Vegemite Wife
Fellow Aussie somewhere up north who blogs with irony, humour and originality.
Perking The Pansies
One half of ‘absurd’ gay couple trying their luck in secular Turkey. He (Jack) wrote a book about it.
Lost in Cheeseland
An American in Paris. A recent addition to the blog roll.
Happy Homemaker UK
The name says it all. A pleasure to dip into.
4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle
Another fellow Aussie living in Qatar. Always frank, often poignant.
The Displaced Nation
A group of cyber friends gathering yarns from global travellers everywhere. Confession: I am a Libby groupie.
Spies, Lies And Pies
Writer Charlie Wade leaves stories, book snippets and occasional ‘old man’ rants here.
She calls herself the oldest working writer in advertising. I call her brilliant.
In Search Of A Life Less Ordinary
Expat Brit exploring life in ‘The Lucky Country’.
The New Australian
Another Expat Brit in Oz finding much to write home about.
Postcards – The Blog
Published and proud. Celebrating a decade in The Downs.
And Here We Are
Fresh off the boat from Bavaria. Another recent addition to the blogroll.
A Big Life
An Aussie in Germany. We from Down Under get around you know.
A twenty-something artist living in Denmark. My little dash of creative juice.

To put my thoughts out there on Gidday From The UK is an amazing experience.To be acknowledged by my one of my virtual village absolutely rocks. Hope you stop and visit them for a while.

Turning Points…Blogging and Beyond

One of the best things about blogging is that you get to open up your world to all sorts of amazing, generous, interesting and talented people that you just might not bump into when immersed in the minutae of day to day life. Linda Janssen is one such person for me – amazing that is, not minutae!

An American living in The Hague in Holland, Linda is the lady behind the fabulous blog Adventures in Expatland where she charts her particular journey as someone who wants to make a difference: as an expat, a wife, a mother and as an aspiring writer. 

But wait…aspiring no more. She IS a writer. And as you know, I love to support those who are brave enough to reach for what their deepest heart desires so I am both completely thrilled and deeply honoured to play host to her virtual book tour here at Gidday from the UK.

So here’s to you Linda – chin chin! And for all you aspiring…well anything you want to be’s …out there, read on to see how inspiring reaching for your dreams can be.
Blogging and Beyond
by Linda A. Janssen
On the latest stop of my ‘virtual book tour’ I’m here in London at Gidday From the UK. I’m visiting  a number of my favorite blogs to share a little about the writing journey that has led to the publication of a book to which I’ve contributed. 
Specifically, I’m in Fabulous Finchley in Northern London today. A big thank you to Kym for hosting me in her new abode so soon after moving, but she’s a brave gal and not one to let a recent move keep her from having company.
Last week was the launch of Turning Points: 25 Inspiring Stories From Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Turned Their Careers and Their Lives Around, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since. The book is edited by Kate Cobb, a women’s business and executive coach ( and Brit now living in France. Our publisher is the formidable Jo Parfitt ( who runs Summertime Publishing, a niche publishing house that specializes in fiction and non-fiction books by and about expats and international living.
I’m new to the publishing arena, and while I did a fair amount of research beforehand into what I could, should and would do to help get the word out about the book, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would all go. The answer in a word is fabulous. But I would credit the book’s concept for that more than anything else.
Turning Points is an inspirational collection of uplifting personal essays in which women from all over the world, living different lives and working in various fields, reach a pivotal moment or series of events that triggers within them the acknowledgement that they simply cannot continue on in the same manner. Change in their professional and personal lives is demanded and inevitable.
Each woman shares her own situation, how her particular turning point came about, and  the manner in which she responded. Even better, each contributor offers the resources (books, websites and the like) that helped her implement change, and lessons learned along the way.
I’ve been reading Kym’s posts for quite some time now, and it’s difficult to point to just one aspect that pulled me in. She’s witty and amusing with an eye for the absurd yet isn’t afraid to display her romantic side. She’s a voracious reader who kindly shares her mini-reviews; I enjoy the range of titles and authors, constantly adding to my own ‘must read’ list. I’m drawn to her story (arriving in the UK for love and courageously choosing to stay when it didn’t go as planned) but am liking her ending even more.
When I started my blog, I was in the early stages of ‘coming out’ as a writer. I’d hidden my dreams and aspirations for too long, and knew that in order to move forward I’d have to put my writing and myself out there for all to see. Like Kym, I started writing articles, book reviews and interviews and slowly began to build up my published portfolio.
We can’t do it all. In truth, who can? So we choose to do the things that bring us closer to our goals. I’m writing a non-fiction book about the importance of emotional resilience in living in countries and cultures other than your own. Contributing a chapter to Turning Points was a fork in the path, an opportunity that presented itself, another decision point.
I helped start a writers’ group along with some other wonderful writing women here in The Hague, and over time I’ve come to trust their instincts and feedback. Now I share my deepest secret with them in the form of sections of a novel I’ve begun to write. The pace is slow, almost glacial at times, but just the fact that my words are seeing the light of day is enough for now.
Blogging is the public portal through which many a writer now steps. As Kym states herself in her Gidday bio, sharing bits and pieces of everyday life has ‘reignited her passion for writing and she now wonders where it all might lead.’ With a writer as talented as Kym, it will be fun to watch.
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If you’d like to find out more about our book, please take a look at the website, or follow along on Facebook’s The Turning Points Book page or on Twitter @Turning_Points. A portion of all sales will benefit