Thursday 16 May 2013
I woke with the birds at 4:30 a.m., still jet-lagged. We packed up, had a decent coffee in the local Italian café and boarded a tram to Central Station where we bought a ticket to Tilburg. The intercity train was incredibly fast by Australian standards, and it even had Wi-Fi on board. The countryside gave the impression of being cultivated in every corner: even trees in forests are planted in rows.
At length we arrived in the town of Tilburg in the South of the Netherlands. It was cold, raining and windy. We walked a few kilometres to the building where we would be staying, and phoned our hosts, Patrick and Wendy. They greeted us warmly, told us what we needed to know about the flat, and also passed on some useful information about what was going on in Tilburg that weekend.
The flat was very well-laid out, with a modern, well-equipped kitchen and a wall of windows that looked out on the town square so that we could observe the good citizens eating and drinking in the cafés below, as if it were a scene from a Breughel painting.
Ruby came to the flat at about 12:30 p.m. and we had a happy reunion. We went to the local supermarket and bought of groceries for the next few days. When we returned to the flat, I made summer pasta and Ruby made tomato soup. We ate the pasta and then went out shopping for a dress for Ruby to wear to her gala night that would mark the end of the semester for the international students on exchange in Tilburg. After visiting a dozen shops we eventually returned to the first one we stopped at, and bought a slinky black and white number with a pair or peach-coloured pumps. Needless to say that by this stage I was ready to strap on an exploding vest. Shopping for clothes has that effect on me.
Afterwards we returned to the flat and enjoyed Ruby’s tomato soup for dinner. Susie turned in for the night and Ruby and I sat up and tried to watch a DVD of what has to be one of the most turgid, boring, bombastic and overrated films of all time: The Godfather. I made a point of taking a nap between each murder, hoping that at some point there might be no-one left alive in the movie, which would have improved the plot no end.