Never Lands – The Time I Didn’t Go To Holland (September 2001)

netherlands 1991 school trip

I went to the Netherlands in 1991 – I ain’t been back since and fate just didn’t take me there. Next time…

Most people will remember September 2001 for the 11th day of that month and the attacks on the USA. MOst of us had to get on with our ordinary lives and in my case sorting out a new adventure. I had been working as an ambient stock control assistant in Tesco in Northern Ireland (and previously Crazy Prices) for about 3 years or something ridiculous. At first I applied for loads of jobs all at once. One of them was working with my mate Darren in McMillens Bar and Restaurant in Bangor Seafront as a barman. That was pretty good and a nice change, but soon I was applying for many and various jobs, including Royal Mail postman and Halifax Sales Adviser. However the most promising job prospect was one in The Netherlands. I was 21 and had never lived away from Northern Ireland or even away from my parents. It was all too boring and it was all too easy. In a rut such as that one, I sent my CV off to a place in Glengormley in North Belfast and applied to work in Holland (a part of The Netherlands).

At the interview, it was more of an informal chat. I simply filled in all the forms and also at the time got in touch with Andy McQuillan a mate who worked with my brother and who was also keen on the idea. We were both well up for the challenge of working in a factory in Holland. I couldn’t wait to leave and start. I had been to Holland once before to Vollendam and Amsterdam on a school trip and had thoroughly enjoyed it. We filled in all the forms, I’d already handed in my notice to Tescos, and was still working in the bar the odd shift, and everything was ready. We would be based some 20 miles south of Amsterdam and would probably be making clogs and living with random people. It was only for 3 months and there was to be a bonus. Even a week before we were due to go I was very excited!!

And then for some stupid reason my parents jumped in and said they wouldn’t let me go. Now I was too old to be under their control anyway, and they were hell bent on spoiling my Dutch dream. I don’t know how or why the job fell through in the end, but my parents played the main part, I tagged along, took the job in Royal Mail by October 2001 (which as I’ll explain sometime, I also soon left) and later in the year, by the end of November 2001 I was working for the Halifax Building Society (later to be named HBOS) and also detailed elsewhere on this blog. My dutch dream had died, when I had passed and signed everything and was good to go. Andy McQuillan also didn’t go. We needed to get out of that rut! And strangely in the past 7 years I still have yet to live abroad (outside of the UK I mean), spending most of my time in my current location, a sunny enclave in England’s Dorset, known to the world as Bournemouth. A lot of people I have met over the years have talked about how much they enjoyed living in a different country at one point or other, and I’ve only ever lived in England or Northern Ireland. I’ve seen many places I could settle in but have just never done that. Perhaps on that murky September night back in 2001 when I turned my back on the little Dutch dream, I closed the door forever on manual labouring work in another country. IT’s another dream to have, but at the moment its pretty much all double dutch to me…

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