I made it to Amsterdam.

When I entered Gatwick Airport at half past five on the third day of 2007, I started my trip to Amsterdam by having a subautomatic machine gun pointed at me. Not out of malice, more out of there being any other suitable place for the armed police on duty to point them as they yawned. I located my ticket (I couldn’t automatically log in as I didn’t have the credit card I bought the ticket on with me), checked in my small blue bag and wandered though security and towards the nearest bookshop. Thus prepared for the journey, I attempted to locate a new pair of jeans, as I only managed to take two pairs of trousers with me when I left home a few weeks ago.

Oh, yes, my sporadic updates. I left Bedford on the morning of the 23rd December 2006, went home (Kent) for Christmas, then to Wales for New Years, then straight to Amsterdam from there, via Gatwick. I’ve been living out of a small blue bag for that time. I’ll get back to Bedford on the 7th, back to work on the 8th, and then in Cambridge that evening and all day on the 9th, back at EM for the 10th. I intend to spend the weekend of the 13th mostly being dead.

I failed to find trousers. Apparently only thin people buy trousers from airports.

It has been a long time since I left the country. In fact, I haven’t been out of the UK since I went on holiday with my parents just before my second year of Uni started. This is distinct from my brother, who has been to Thailand every six months or so since then, so I was unduly excited by the idea of actually going up in a plane. I have flown in the last decade, since I took the plane from Newcastle to Heathrow while I was in Sunderland, but this was my first non-local plane flight since I was sixteen.

I’ve decided now – as I did then, though the veil of history fortunately draws a dark curtain over my exact thoughts at the time – that I like flying quite a lot, and should do more of it. The feeling of looking down over the world spread out below you like a quilt, and the fact that I got to watch sunrise over the clouds (one of the perks of a 6:30 flight) have convinced me of this. Now I have a passport, I shall travel more.

I landed, got off the plane (Soundtrack: “Lemon Jelly – Rambling Man”) collected my baggage and attempted to buy a train ticket.

Amsterdam is apparently becoming a cashless society, starting with the train tickets. There was, above the machine, a video. It said “These machines don’t accept cash” in both english and dutch, and how to use the machine and what it accepted. At the head of the queue was a german with a small stack of credit cards the machine wouldn’t accept, which he went though one by one. Behind him was a man with a 20 euro note, feeling the surface of the machine for slots that might take the note. Behind him was a pink-haired bint with another credit card, and behind them was me with my nice new 20 Euro magic card (Basically, it’s a 20 euro credit card, for things that don’t take cash anymore, like parking places and trains).

Amsterdam is a city of suicidal cyclists, buildings of hundreds of years history pushed against each other, canals and more coffee shops than you could possibly imagine. Well, “Coffee” shops, and it was one of these – Barney’s – in which I found the rest of the people I’m here with and waited for the rest.

We have a boat.

More on boats, bridges, and stuff later.