Furnished, unfurnished or shell. Those are the options if you are renting a property in the Netherlands. We took the shell option. Not surprisingly, it’s cheaper than the others but that’s because it really is a shell. There are no light fittings – just wires poking down from the ceilings. The floors are bare concrete – upstairs as well as downstairs. This means that DIY Dave has been spending a lot of time up stepladders connecting the lights with his trusty mains tester (no, Dot, it’s not a screwdriver and you can’t borrow it to prise open a paint tin…). The big bonus with our particular shell is that Mr Landlord had fitted a shiny new kitchen and bathroom before we moved in. Nice! The weird thing is that when you leave you have to return the house to shell status: remove all light fittings, make sure all the walls are painted white and lift all the floor coverings. Anyway, we love the shell. It’s big and has huge Dutch windows and this week we have had lots of sunshine in our south-facing back garden. DIY Dave has become a fan of Ikea instruction manuals and is very proficient with a rechargeable screwdriver. (He has also burnt out his electric drill, but we won’t dwell on that!). I have been altering and hanging curtains, unpacking boxes and generally settling into shell life. The town we have moved to is called Nieuw Vennep and is about 23km from Amsterdam. David has become a commuter this week – for the first time in his working life! The journey into Amsterdam takes about 25 minutes by car (not in rush hour) or 50 minutes by bus and train. Public transport is excellent here so you don’t usually have any long waits. It is lovely to be settled into our own place and within a day or two we will be ready for visitors – just don’t all come at once or the shell might crack!
Once upon a time Jack went to market and swapped the family cow for a handful of magic beans. His mum was delighted. Wrong! She was mad with rage and she flung the beans out of the window. Next morning Jack heard screaming in the back garden. He ran outside to hear the beans yell: ‘Look at us! Look at us!’ On closer inspection, he saw that overnight they had grown into coffee plants which were covered in lovely ripe berries. Jack and his mum harvested the berries, roasted them on the fire and within a year they had established a chain of coffee bars across Amsterdam – all called Screaming Beans.
This week was Futures Week here at IBTSC and on Wednesday morning all seven of us on the staff team took a break from talking, planning, listening, debating etc and caught the bus into Amsterdam City centre to have brunch together at Screaming Beans. The coffee bar website gives no explanation of their strange name so I felt compelled to supply my own version above…
Also one evening this week David and I had a takeaway pizza and chips for dinner. I had a strong craving for baked beans with my chips – preferably but not necessarily Heinz. So I skipped across the road to our local supermarket and waded through the aisles of gherkins, pea and ham soup, stroopwafels… no baked beans anywhere. Never mind. I trudged home and managed to enjoy the pizza and chips despite my disappointment. After all, mission workers have to make sacrifices! Next morning on my way to the Baptist House I glanced through the window of the same supermarket and spotted… yes, a whole shelf of baked beans, including Heinz. They were placed, for some odd reason, in the fruit and veg section. If only baked beans could learn to scream!