Dutch Fun.

I’m looking forward to ISE immensely. I get to meet lots of new people in this industry and catch up with people that I may not have seen since Florida in November, or before. It’s great to discuss ongoing and upcoming projects, as well as finding out what’s around the next corner. That’s what’s so great about this industry; there’s a constant flow of exciting projects in all corners of the world, and even if someone else (less skilled) than me should get the job, it’s still fascinating to watch it’s progress.

            But it isn’t just ISE that gets me excited. I go to Amsterdam for the whole week, and when not at the RAI I like to go sightseeing, eating, drinking and generally enjoying the wonderful atmosphere in this fab city.

            The usual suspects will be joining in the fun: Rich Kemp, Rob Strefford, Paul Summerbell (TBC) and, most importantly, Viki. We will, courtesy of our pumped-up black Club Carlsson loyalty cards, be staying in upgraded suites in the Radisson Hotel, free of charge. I’ve heard that some other friends will be around, including Dave Lascaut (freelance programmer), Kevan Stratton (freelance electrical PM) Paul Kent (Electrosonic) and Stephan from Smart Monkeys. So, the scene is set for a week of fun and games.

With Rob Strefford in 2012, working our way down the beer menu.

With Rob Strefford in 2012, working our way down the beer menu.

            Last year was the coldest few days that I’ve ever experienced. Ever. And I live on the English North East coast, so that’s saying something. My abiding memories are of Rich wrapping his head in generous layers of home-knitted scarf every time we ventured outdoors: ‘Where we can we get some coffee?’ Nothing changes. And Viki nearly losing her ankles after deciding that the only things to pack for a week in an Amsterdam January were cropped jeans and heels or Converse shoes. Unfortunately, it meant constant deviations into bars so that we could drink beer and defrost the blue bits.

            During the time that I was in the RAI, Viki took herself off into the City, found a warm café and wrote a short story. It was published! So we clearly have high expectations for her time here this year! There’s definitely something in the air over there.

            I was looking forward to the (very) long-awaited reopening of the Rijksmuseum this year, but it looks as though we’ll miss it by a few weeks. So we’ll save that for 2014. We’ve ‘done’ a lot of Amsterdam after so many years of visiting (my 10th ISE – wonder what the ‘limited edition free gift’ will be for this auspicious anniversary. We’re placing bets that it’ll be a lanyard in a special colour that will pick us out from the common plebs! I’ll let you know!). So we have some days to kill and we’ll probably end up venturing further afield to try something new. Last year we tried out the new tattoo museum (anyone who’s met me will understand). Viki blogged about it at the time (http://vikisvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/bit-of-hanky-panky.html). It was fascinating and, more importantly, warm. Lovely and warm.

Don't think we'll be visiting the zoo in January!

Don't think we'll be visiting the zoo in January!

            The last time I went to Amsterdam it was hot. But then it was July. We called in during our 2012 Birchall Family European Vacation. The kids knew that me and Viki had made a habit of visiting over the years and finally said ‘enough’s enough … take us to Amsterdam.’ So we did, and Rotterdam. It was red hot. We visited the Artis zoo and the Hard Rock Café. The youngest, Clara, forced us to buy her some wooden clogs from the flower market so that she could clunk her way around the cobbled streets, much to the amusement of absolutely everybody. She knows how to garner attention and is definitely one to watch! 

            Anyhow, I’m looking forward to catching up with as many people as possible this year, and if any of you have suggestions for things to do that we may not have done before, please get in touch!

Viki Birchall