The cake lady

One last thing for this evening. Several times I’ve mentioned Helen and her cakes and that I’d share the link to her page if (and when) she finally set it up.

Well the time has come, and here it is: The Baking Tin.

Just as a refresher, this is what she made us when we moved:

Housewarming Cake!

A cake which actually has its own post.

Commission a cake quick! Before she gets too well known and the prices go up! (Though if that happens, I’m sure we can set up some kind of discount voucher for readers… 🙂 )


DIY: The workbench

As I noted in my weekly post, there was some DIYing going on in the Ward/Coppage household this weekend.

I wanted to have a workbench in my basement so that I’d have a surface to undertake other projects, store my tools and just carry out repairs and maintenance on things around the house. And also because I fancied building something with my bare hands (and some power tools).

I roped Matthijs into helping, so first off, we needed more parts on top of what I’d gotten Sunday morning. (This is where a classical “Transport fiets”, literally a transport bike, comes in handy, for those of us who do not have cars). The hardware store being a 10-15 minutes cycle, this wasn’t too bad anyway.

Trip 1: flying solo, thankfully it wasn’t too windy.

We then set to with the tape measure and the square. We measured out all the lengths we needed. At this point, I must confess to some geekiness, over the week I prepared by optimising the amount of wood I would need to buy for the cuts I needed. And by optimise, I mean quite literally, running an optimiser in excel.

However, at this point, a further confession is needed, in that in my plan, I calculated something wrong, meaning I programmed the optimiser wrong, and bought one piece of wood to many. (That’s not the problem, I can always use it for something else).

A few minutes typing in the constraints, and off we go!
A few minutes typing in the constraints, and off we go!

So yes, I learned a lesson in the importance of accurate planning. There are a few other instances where I planned things wrong, which in my mind is simply knowledge I can apply to the next project (like the tools I bought).

Anyway, it’s a simple enough design based roughly on the designs found at the art of manliness, which in turn are contributed by the folk over at one project closer. Though much smaller than either designs proposed there, which is due to the constraint of living in a small apartment in Amsterdam, rather than a large house in the mid-western USA.

But enough waffle, here are some pictures:

Trip 2: one method of strapping timber to a bike
Method 2 for strapping timber to a bike.
Busy screwing the fixings to the inderside of the top surface. Can you spot my first mistake?
Various bits and pieces at various steps of completion
Almost done, just the shelf to add below and the castors to bolt on.
Leave tools on top to weigh it down so that the glue can set.

All-in, I’d say it was just over €80 worth of material, and a decent afternoon’s worth of work (plus an hour next week to polish off the last few steps like the shelf and wheels). If anyone would like to commission one, I’d be happy to make them one! (with a small mark-up) 😉

Week 39!

A review of my post naming scheme as you can see!

So what has happened this week?

Monday night I cycled to IKEA in the rain to return some stuff we’d bought which was extra, somehow we had calculated we needed 8 baskets for our wardrobes, we needed 3…..

I had another quick run on Tuesday at lunch time, and was planning to repeat the feat on Thursday, but instead got volunteered for a yoga class a work. I thought, “why not?” and went for it. I kind of expected and both did not expect it to be a lot tougher than anticipated (it was). Also, I did not need reminding, but it turns out I’m not very nimble, so theres some work to do there.

Thursday night we went to view “Straight Outta Compton”, which we both liked very much. Some may find it surprising, but I like rap music quite a lot. This being said, Friday night we stayed in and watched the Disclosure gig at the Apply Music Festival, that looked pretty cool, and we’re looking forwards to them coming to Amsterdam, if and when they do.

Friday I also managed to hook up my iPad to the corporate network to access my OneNote notebooks (as I’m not yet of the grade to have a laptop). Anyone who’s ever tried to connect to locked down corporate network will agree this can be tedious.

Saturday morning we set to work in the apartment and finally sorted the guest room/study. It looks less like a dump now, so a few more hours work, and it’ll be fit for doing some actual work in. Saturday afternoon I went for a long run, which went  a lot better than the last long run I went for. Details here.

Sunday was a fresh, sunny day and we set about cooking and cleaning for the impending visit of Matt & Helen, who had not been over since the day we moved in. I went to the hardware store to buy some additional tools and timber for a DIY project to which Matt and I set to after a gorgeous vegetarian korma prepared by Catherine followed by heavenly sticky toffee pudding (one of my favourites).

Project (nearly complete), we settled down for some beers which M&H bought for us, both of which are on my untapped, and one of which was a “English breakfast beer”, with actual tea, white beans and marmalade in….

What happened this week and weekend? Week 38.

The first half of the week was devoid of excessive excitement, with the exception of a quick run during lunch break on Tuesday (the perks of working for a sporting goods company, where this kind of behaviour is encouraged).

On Thursday Catherine had an early start again as work took her to Paris for the day. With the added benefit of a flight home in Business class, which got her very excited! Thursday night, I joined some French colleagues to watch the Eurobasket semi-final, France v Spain, which we lost at the last minute. 😦

Friday night I had the boys from Groningen over for a beer themed night, as a continuation of the beer nights we started whilst we were students. Mike and Arjen joined me after work for some beers, as well a Duvel-stew, and a Guinness cake (both courtesy of Catherine). After playing some cards against humanity (hilarity ensued), we headed into central Amsterdam for what appears to be my usual haunt, Craft & Draft, to sample delicious beers, as can be seen on our various untappd profiles. Here’s mine, Mike’s and Arjen’s. We met Matt there too, so his profile is getting fleshed out in inspiration for our next project.

Speaking of which, Saturday we went over to Matt’s place to…..brew beer (there’s a theme going on this week). Whilst it may only be a starter kit, it’s our first attempt and we cannot wait to bottle it, and give it a go. Unfortunately, these things take time, so we will have to make do with other beer for the next 8 weeks. Though we have set a bottling date for 10 days from now.

Here are a few pictures:

Brewmaster 1
Brewmaster 2
At this point, the wort is truly disgusting.

I have received an update that our beer has successfully begun fermenting!

What happened this week and weekend? Week 37.

Monday evening Catherine and I went to the climbing hall again. Slightly more crowded than last week, but I followed one of the “routes” this time. The purple one, averaging a level 5 with the odd foray into 6.

Wednesday marked an important day! Catherine and I celebrated being together for five years! We met in Amsterdam for a dinner date at an Ethiopian restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious, and as an added bonus we ate with our hands! Surprisingly, we wolfed it all down very quickly.

Cheshire cat smile on the Cat-herine

I had an interesting “African” beer (Mongozo, flavoured with mango), which turned out to be brewed in the Netherlands (I like beer, as evidenced by my Untappd profile). We topped it off with Ethiopian coffee, which was much milder than the coffee we’re used to here, but very fragrant. I thought I got some clove flavours out of it. Despite it being our “anniversary”, Catherine opted to sleep on the sofa-bed that evening because she needed to leave for work at 04:00 the next day!!! Being an intern at an air freight company, she got to go see a jumbo jet get unloaded , having flown in overnight from Africa full of fresh cargo (mostly flowers and mange-tout). Unfortunately for security reasons, I cannot share some of the cool pictures she took of the plane and surrounding apron during the unloading. She also got to climb into the plane for a good look around. Being a bit of a supply-chain kind of guy myself, I’m very disappointed I couldn’t have joined the field trip! This not being enough for Catherine, she went straight from the airfield to a job interview… (no, I don’t get it either).

As a result, Thursday evening was very quiet, and Catherine went to bed very early. To make up for the lack of interesting stories on Thursday, here is a picture of my bike, which I promised in a previous post.

My new ride

Friday evening I declared I would quite enjoy a pasta bake for dinner. So we got the ingredients together after work. Unfortunately we hadn’t read the recipe in sufficient detail, and began what turned out to be a 2:30 process. Halfway through I cycled back to the supermarket for some pizza, as we were halfway through and it was getting close to nine o’clock. (To be continued).

Saturday was given over to finishing the pasta bake and just getting the usual household-y stuff done like shopping cleaning and the like. My shopping trip to buy a couple shirts was hi-jacked by Catherine as we went out, she dragged me into a different shop, and wouldn’t let me go until…..the shops closed. This was followed by a night out to catch up with Matt, Helen and Tashi. Turns out Helen has had a few cakes commissioned and we’re very pleased for her. I will include a link to her page as soon as she sets one up (fear not, we’re encouraging (nagging) her to do it).

Sunday lead to a bit of a lie-in, more chores and a long run in the afternoon. I pushed my furthest distance up to 27km (still a long way to go before Marathon-readiness), and experimented with SIS energy gels, which I think on balance will be my sport gel of choice come race time. Unfortunately Andrew had not yet gotten the all-clear from the physio, so I went solo. Here’s the link to the strava file. The last couple kms got very slow and shuffly, so there’s work to be done there. The plan is to break 30 next weekend, 35 the next and then bring it back down for October 18th.

Another week gone! (Where do they go, and how do they go by so fast????)

What happened this week and weekend? Week 36.

It’s felt like a long week… August has gone, September has arrived and with it, seemingly, autumn. We’ve had a week of, quite frankly, appalling weather. Absolutely torrential rain and cool temperatures.


Very wet, as shown by this crow who refused to fly away no matter what.
Monday night I went to check out Monk Amsterdam. A bouldering (climbing) hall in Noord. I had a really good time, though having not climbed in over two years my skills were questionable. Still, I tackled a few grade 5s and up. Irritatingly, my fingers (and thus forearms) quickly ran out of gripping power, so I was reduced to swinging around like a monkey and not really climbing more than a metre off the floor (that, and my fingers were bleeding). I stayed about an hour and a half, headed home around 9 and snapped a picture of the Ij (the river that flows through Amsterdam). The intention is to recruit a few friends to join on a weekly/fortnightly basis.


Not all that great to get to, but the climbing and view is worth it.
Tuesday, I was reunited with Catherine who flew back from the UK, bringing with her chocolate.


Tasty choc!
Wednesday, I picked up my new bicycle! (I’ll take pictures). The evening was an Ikea night, where we went to pick out wardrobes, lamps and other important household items. Late evening I installed a couple of ceiling lamps and quickly went to bed.

Thursday, was an intense day at work for me, really quite busy, but I still mustered the courage to return to Ikea and buy about 200kgs worth of wardrobes. which we loaded into a van and quickly drove home. As luck would have it, it was match night, making it difficult to drive round our neighbourhood (we live near the football stadium), and we interrupted Andrew mid-game to come and help carry things up the stairs). After a quick unload, I dropped the van off and cycled home (in the rain…what’s new?).


Flatpack Fun!
Friday, was another busy day, but thankfully work wound down a little earlier so I could get home and play with my new tools (power drill) and assemble these wardrobes. I got one done on Friday night.

Saturday, was another crazy errand day, where the day seemed to fly by, though I got another wardrobe built, went to the supermarket twice, went to another shop to get kitchen implements (we never seem to have exactly the right gadget).

And finally, Sunday. An early rise for me gave me time to catch up on a bit of reading. Eventually we were ready and headed into town, where we picked up an oil lamp for our balcony (to make it cozy on autumn evenings). It’s one of those proper storm lamp jobs like you see in old films. We also checked out the Amsterdam City Swim, which Helen suggested we participate in (next year). I’m up for it, anyone else?

Later on, I scheduled a run with Andrew, though unfortunately about 7km in, his knee gave up. We walked a couple kilometres before deciding to stick our thumb out at passing cars (edit: Andrew stuck his thumb out, even walking was causing him pain at this point). Eventually, a very swish VW Golf R stopped and kindly gave us a lift to where we could catch a bus. (Passing note: if money were no object, that car is high on my list). Only problem: only one bus card between us. Eventually it was agreed that Andrew would catch a bus and that I would run home. In total, I got about 10km in. Which is good, but means I need to get another long run in this week. A good dinner and some banter later (obviously too much, Andrew forgot his phone, which I then brought to his house), and another week is gone!

Till next time,