Sunburnt and full of prawns

Alison in Wonderland, Observant, Maastricht

It may be the jetlag talking, but it seems my country is 0.18 points better than yours. Because let’s face it, the Economist doesn’t lie. In its where-to-be-born in 2013 index, the Economist measures ‘which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life’. Australia comes in 2nd place, behind Switzerland, with a score of 8.12 out of 10. The Netherlands trails behind at 8th, with 7.94. So now I’m home and beach-side for the holidays, has my quality of life improved? You bet: I’m sunburnt and full of prawns. Only … Australia always feels Very Far Away. If only it could be towed right up next to Europe. Keeping the same climate, of course. Is that too much to ask for Christmas?


The party must go on

Alison in Wonderland, Observant, Maastricht

Some things I am very good at. Plausibly avoiding my PhD supervisor for months on end. Spending as much time fiddling with bibliographical formatting as doing actual research. Pottering about with programming languages. This year I even learnt to ‘do statistics’ (read: locate people who are prepared to do my statistics with – for? – me). Spelling, baking pastries, jogging very very slowly for very long periods of time – all things I’ve no problem with. Living in Cambridge but doing fieldwork in the Netherlands, I can also do the Stansted–Schiphol Easyjet route in my sleep. Practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help you remember your passport, as I discovered last night – even when there’s an important departmental gathering (read: party) to get home for.

That time of year

Alison in Wonderland, Observant, Maastricht

The end of the year is fast approaching and it’s busy busy busy. Druk druk druk. You know you’re too busy when you start to feel like the Dutch word for ‘busy’ is infinitely more – ok, twice as – economical as the English word, since it has half the syllables. When you start to scrap all non-essential tasks. Laundry? Bathrobe’s fine. Grocery shopping? Why bother – nothing beats cereal for dinner. Christmas presents? I’ll pick some up from the airport on my way home. Christmas cards? You’re joking. When you start to think: sod it, I’m nearly 30, you know what I should do? Get pregnant and have a litter of kids. Because THAT would be relaxing.