This week, my blog post is not coming from Nijmegen. It is coming from Knotsenburg! Why? Because it is Carnival!
Carnival is from Sunday to Shrove Tuesday (which my team find hilarious that I refer to as pancake Tuesday. When I mentioned that as a child we only ever ate pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, I was met with very confused faces from this pancake and waffle loving nation). It is like St. Patrick's day on speed. There is a parade which varies in size and effort depending on the part-taking towns and cities. Kids dress up and are high on sweets. Adults dress up and get as pished as newts. Solid celebrating. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I personally loved it.
I had a very unusual scenario today. As I found myself in this weird and wonderful craziness, I discovered something about myself that I hadn't noticed before. We all know that I have no fear of attending things solo. In fact, sometimes I really do enjoy just being by myself. Today, I experienced something that will probably be a once in a lifetime thing (unless Stuart and I decide to gatecrash Carnival again), and the buzz wasn't nearly what it used to be. I had a great time, I really did. There was a tent that was just fabulous chaos. The fancy dress was phenomenal. I was only sad I didn't know to bring some of my costumes over for it. The reason that the buzz wasn't what it used to be was because Stuart wasn't here to experience it with me.
I was speaking to him earlier about it and I think our wires got a bit crossed when I tried to explain this and the poor lad is now concerned that I am in an isolated bubble of loneliness. I am not. I have got a few things actually lined up over the next few weeks and everyone here is very friendly and inclusive. What made today's feeling unusual was that it was uniquely about him. For those of you seasoned in marriage, you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking that I am talking some nonsense. Perhaps I am, I have just had a very nice glass of tempranillo and decided to write this before I have my second!
I just felt that celebrating Carnaval in the Netherlands is a hugely unique moment for someone who is not from here. I enjoyed it so much, but I definitely would have enjoyed it so much more if I had Stuart with me.
Before you think that I am in a terrible way let me tell you that we have some amazing things planned over the next few months, including an Andre Rieu concert in Maastricht, a wee trip to Paris, a trip home to Ireland (dates in diary nothing booked other than a wedding so far...) and that is barely touching the sides of the barrel. We have a lot of unique experiences coming up, but I guess because half of our relationship before the wedding was lock-downs, and the since the wedding it has been snatched weekends here and there, I didn't realised just how much sharing the experiences I have with Stuart, enhances the experiences. I actually think it is a really nice thing to feel this way.
Thankfully we see each other in two weeks. I can't wait. I also can't wait for two more days of Carnival and pancake Tuesday.
Dutch update: I can now say most basic greetings, count up to ten (really up to 100 but sometimes get confused when people say big numbers very fast), and I adore that when you say you are going for lunch everyone shouts 'Eet smakelijk'. I still occasionally sound like I am coughing up a hairball when I try to pronounce a G, but you know... I'm getting there!
Bedankt en tot ziens!