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Spot the snow plough [December 20, 2010]

Having smashed up my camera with an ill advised race outside to capture a long row of snow-covered bikes, I am, alas, photoless to illustrate any more items about Amsterdam in the snow.

I don't think in all my years here I have ever seen so much. Nor have I seen so much as the tail lights of a snow plough or grit lorry... where are they all? Or is this the result of government spending cuts already.

Today I decided to take the plunge and cycle to work... being a cowardy custard my bike is small enough so my feet can easily touch the ground in case of skidding. Given large stretches of the route involved negotiating slush-covered cycle lanes or hard ice, at least I was saved the ignomity of falling off.

Amsterdam may be in the grip of winter but it is also in the grip of a massive child abuse scandal at three creches. (See DutchNews.nl for more). Apparently so many police officers are involved with investigating the case that proper policing levels for the New Year festivities may be hit. A bizzare claim by the city's mayor who is also chief of police so he must know what he is talking about.

Talking of New Year. A bunch of people living in the swanky Concertgebouw neighbourhood are going to court in an effort to have the traditional Museumplein concert scrapped.

Apparently they suffered terribly last year with the sound checks, the noise and people peeing on their doorsteps. The latter I can sympathise with but as for the rest - you live in a city for god's sake. It ain't quiet.

Same goes for the houseboat moaning minnies who want the Prinsengracht canal made one way to reduce the nuisance caused by all those pleasure boats disrupting their peace.

Given the Dutch weather, I'd have thought it is actually sunny enough to have jams on the water on about three days a year - excluding Queen's Day of course.

Talking of boats and canals - Thursday evening sees the traditional (well, second year) of the Christmas canal boat parade - in which a flotilla of boats will sail from central station along the Prinsengracht to the Amstel, all lit up by fairy lights.

Last year's event was rather jolly, low key and anarchic but this year, alas, it is in the hands of a dreaded stichting - which describes itself as a charity on the website without stating what it is actually raising money for.

Jolly has now become jolly expensive - for €99 you get drinks and 'meal-replacing snacks' on a boat - not the boat of your choice, you understand, but the boat the organisers assign you to. This could mean a boring old canal tour boat or an atmospheric 100-year-old wooden cruiser - its pot luck.

Stop Press: just had a quick dekko at the website and it seems they've changed the menu yet again. You can now opt for a €99 extended dinner or a €30 ticket for pea soup and drinks. Tickets not selling well perhaps?

The meal replacment snacks still feature in the body text, however, so what you'll end up getting is anyone's guess. Cheese cubes and liver sausage anyone?

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