Saturday, May 29, 2010

Scenes from Saturday afternoon

DSC00122There’s a bit of weather moving in, but the morning was sunny  and the streets were full.  The tour boats competed with the fishermen for space on the river…

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…and people stroll in twos and fours along the banks beneath the DSC00123trees.  The cafe’s are full, sunglasses and tank tops are everywhere…

DSC00119…and the apartment is just about packed to go.

   70 euro for 25 boxes from Praxis, six friends with three cars on standby, two sets of landlords with contracts and inspection papers, and one day to execute on Monday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pedaling into balance

One of the nice things about being self-employed is the opportunity to seek the right life balance, fitting the day’s necessary tasks alongside diversions that lift the soul a little.

With the arrival of nice weather, the best temptations are all in the countryside.  Especially when the day has been filled with sorting receipts and summing the accounts from a month of travel (above, left)

On a perfectly balanced day, I wrap up work by three or four, close the lid on the computer, unlock the Locomotief, and take a brisk pedal on my fiets south along the Maas towards Eijsden.  DSC00069 The curve of the river at Ceramique opens to green countryside beyond Groensveld.  Cyclists (and motorbikes) thin at the city limits, and I generally have the path to myself to stretch my legs into the straights.

DSC00073 The hills (and the cows) to roll past as I reach the holiday camp and the orchards. A right turn towards the river, then hook into the Jacht Haven for a quick spin around the perimeter to check out the boats and enjoy the breeze off the river.

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The Portifino Cafe is a good midpoint for a drink and a rest to watch the people and the do a bit of reading in the late afternoon warmth, then back onto the bike for a leisurely (downwind) coast back along to the Wyck.

I don’t always get it right, but I do get closer, day by day, all the time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steps in moving the business

Moving day is fast approaching; I’m due to pack up over the weekend, sign for the new apartment and take possession at noon on Monday, and move my archetypical “13 boxes of stuff” from the old residence to the new that same afternoon.  A phalanx of phriends is on standby to grab boxes and convoy across the Stone Bridge.

Of course, as General Manager and sole shareholder, Stone Bridge Biomedical moves with me.

The first step in any Dutch move is to visit the Gemeente Maastricht, the city hall (above), and declare the change of address.  There is no cost, just bring the old and new addresses and your identification and the process takes about ten minutes. To be safe, a signed copy of the Rental Agreement answers any questions.  I also pick up a new Uittreksel, the stamped certificate confirming my residence address, which is needed for IND yearly renewals of my residency permit.  The document costs 10 euros and is prepared on the spot.

The next stop is the Kamer van Koophandel (KvK, righr), the local Chamber of Commerce that handles business registrations.  Their database may be updated automatically when the Gemeente updates their records, but I like to do it in person.  Again, address details, identification, the signed rental agreement, and (to be safe) the Uittreksel is all that is needed; there is a form to be filled in and no charges.

The KvK gives a paper confirmation of the change which can then be taken to the banks and services that support the business.  It’s fraud to change the mailing address for bank statements and telephone bills ahead of the KvK change, so take things in sequence.  It takes an afternoon to make the rounds of the various services, post office, telephone, and banks: each will want to see the statement from the KvK and each will encourage the change to be made by mail.  I’m not a very trusting soul, and asked for each to simply walk through the process and make sure it was entered correctly and completely into their computers.

I pre-notified the accountant and then sent copies of the relevant paperwork from the city and KvK.  They will make sure that the tax and pension authorities get the changes, and keep my quarterly audits and VAT reports current with the new information.

Finally, I make the changes to the stationary, business cards, web site, signature attachments,and social networks, following up with clients or services that miss the first round of messages.  I’m sure I’ve probably missed something, but the sequence is holding up so far.

(PS:  I missed KPN, the Internet provider, of course.  They need 21 days to move the ADSL line, even though I can continue to use the same distribution box.)

(PPS: The Postoffice takes six days to register a change of address submitted over the internet.  The process is painful: there are a dozen screens asking for account numbers so that they can notify individual vendors and utilities.  I stop short of giving the post office my bank account numbers, but it’s worth letting them talk to magazines and loyalty cards.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Navigating new roads

DSC00070 Today’s note is a link to another blog post, but still mine.

Amanda van Mulligan writes the Letter from the Netherlands blog, a literate and insightful series of essays on her experiences as a writer in Zoetermeer.  She’s on maternity leave this month, and asked her expat readers to contribute guest submissions around the theme of “Highs and lows of your expat experience”.

It’s been fun to read the responses from the various bloggers that I follow, and the way that everyone’s experiences balance out.  My contribution, comparing the difficulty of being part of a business shutdown to the joys of having my daughter visit, was posted yesterday.  The series is worth enjoying, and is probably about midway through it’s run.

(And good luck Amanda!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back from my travels

DSC00071 I arrived back in the Netherlands this weekend to wonderful summer weather.  The trees have full, the grass is lush, the cafe’s are bustling.  It is wonderful to be back, I immediately took the bike out for a spin along the river to reconnect with the sun, smells and landscapes.  I visited with friends, churned through the Albert Heijn, shed the suit and tie in favor of jeans and t-shirt.  It’s been too long a trip.

  • Air travel continues to be intermittent because of the ash clouds.  I was delayed on every transatlantic leg, but friends were stranded for days while they waited for an opening.  I think life is going to be like this for a while.
  • DSC00022 The place in Barrington is coming together nicely.  It will be a good base for the British side of the business and a welcome connection back to Cambridge, but is also a rural retreat that makes a nice counterpoint in life.  I need to take my bike over.
  • DSC00055 A college friend called to say that he was traveling with his family and would like to get together.  It was a wonderful evening; 25 years since we’d last seen one another, but the years melted away over dinner.  Its funny what we remember and connect with; delightful to hear how everyone’s lives unfolded, humbling to meet their children, now as old as we were ‘back in the day’.
  • We took an afternoon to tour a formal English Garden; a thick jungle of flowers and greenery.  I like to just sit and take it in, but the British test themselves by trying to name each plant. Successive pairs and groups pass by me, mumbling Latin, turning the blooms, discussing the soil: the compulsion seems part naturalist and part boarding school.