Last summer, when we met up as I passed through Belarus on the way to England’s world cup game in Kaliningrad, my friend A.K. recommended Michael Bulgakov’s Country Doctor’s Notebook.
Bulgakov has a nice description of the doctor starting his new job:
I had been introduced to everyone in turn… I had been shown round the hospital and was left in no doubt whatever that it was generously equipped. With equal certainty I was forced to admit (inwardly, of course) that I had no idea what very many of these shiny, unsullied instruments were for. Not only had I never held them in my hands, but to tell the truth I had never even seen them.
‘Hm.,’, I mumbled significantly, ‘must say you have an excellent set of instruments. Hm…’
‘Oh sir,’ Demyan Lukich remarked sweetly, ‘this is all thanks to your predecessor Leopold Leopoldovich. You see, he used to operate from dawn till dusk.’
I was instantly covered with cold sweat and stared glumly at the gleaming cupboards.
Emigrating Companion, Emigrating Dog and I have moved to Alkmaar, a small old city in North Holland. My new job is in Petten, twenty kilometres away, at a research site on the North Sea. We are in the dunes. There are sixties buildings, rabbits and gulls. This is the view from my office.
The way to work passes three types of windmills: traditional ones, early wind turbines and more modern ones like these.
We go along canals, passing fields and interesting buildings.
When we get near to the sea and the research site, we pass campsites.
On most days, I cycle to this bike park at the back of the railway station in Alkmaar and take the work bus from there.
Sometimes I cycle all the way. The wind’s been strong and it’s a bit further than you’d want to cycle, but I suppose that makes it that much better for me.
At lunchtime you can take a work bicycle down to a café at the beach. It seems to be open all year.
I work for the European Commission as I did in Brussels, but things are different here. There are no AZERTY keyboards. People hardly swear.