4th of March 2016 - 7th of March 2016
score: 1-1 (85' min Jermain Defoe 0-1, 90+3' min Virgil van Dijk 1-1)
4th of March 2016 (day 1)
Two cars (Frido and Nilis) left from Hillegom to Dunkirk to catch the ferry to Dover. Sven and Tim sat with Frido in the car and Peur and Nick accompanied Nilis. We've decided not to take any risks, so the original time of departure from Hillegom (8 o' clock) got reduced to 7 o' clock. That's four hours to drive to Dunkirk. Once we reached the Hague, we already started discussing about the potential toll tunnel in Antwerp. Peur thinks that's a good idea. "I've some change on me," he said as he felt for his pockets. For a moment it was dead silent, and then: "OK, turn around, Nilis." Nick had decided to not ask the inevitable "does everyone have their passport on them" question this time, and that has proven fatal immediately. Peur left his wallet as well as his ID on the piano at home. So, we didn't really have a choice. The other car was informed and Nilis' car took the first exit back home. Frido kept driving the original route to the ferry, which is where we decided to regroup. It remained silent in Nilis' car. Peur felt awful about himself, Nilis concentrated on the speed cameras and Nick regretted that he hadn't asked him in advance. At any rate, everything was still neatly lying on the piano, so we didn't have to search for anything. Almost an hour and a half later we departed for the second time. We remained in touch with the other car and luckily traffic wasn't that bad. But the question remains: will they still make the check-in time of 11:15? At 11:14 Nilis enters Dunkirk's ferry terminal. Frido, Sven and Tim are patiently watching in the queue of departing cars whether or not Nilis' car will still join. Luckily, that is the case. All of us still caught the same ferry. Peur admits his mistake and buys us all a round of coffee on-board.
Dover's in sight, so we leave for the cardeck. Without a problem we drove off the boat at 1 o' clock UK Time. If everything went according to plan, we should've arrived at our cottage in three hours. A little before reaching our destination we could stop at a large Tesco's to get groceries, because we had more than enough time to make it in time. But alas, the traffic was awful and there were road works everywhere. Most of the time we were either driving very slowly, or simply not driving at all. The clock kept on ticking and with every passing second, we seemed to be getting even grumpier. In the meantime, we phoned the landlord. Naturally, we had to inform them we'd be arriving a little later, however they immediately told us there were some problems with the boiler. The boiler had to be reset periodically to maintain the warm water, so we'd take that into account. Eventually we arrived at the cottage at half past seven. We quickly fetched some groceries (macaroni and minced meat for supper and some drinks for next breakfast) at the supermarket, and we were exhausted. When we went into the cottage, we noticed another setback. We found a bucket and a mop drenched in filthy water, the kitchen floor and the table were sticky, there were still little crisp crumbs on the couch and when we went to set the table, we discovered the plates, glasses and cutlery weren't clean either. So, the next thing on the list: cleaning. Meanwhile Frido started cooking and at around half past eight we finally sat at a clean table with clean cutlery eating some delicious macaroni. We agreed this was a disappointment, but we weren't going to let it ruin our weekend. After a few pints and a long day, we tiredly went to bed.
5th of March 2016 (day 2, matchday)
Today's matchday. Sadly, we weren't spared with the setbacks today either. Frido had had a strong allergic reaction to the dust. The filthy carpet and curtains appeared to be the culprits. He did not feel well at all and had a huge headache. We decided to quickly eat breakfast and then go outside. Inside wasn't the best for him. And so we did. The problems with the boiler were big indeed. Apparently only two people could take a shower and after that the water got cold. Again, we weren't gonna let that ruin our trip and we went outside. The temperature was a little below zero last night and the weather forecast promised it would be a beautiful, but cold, day.
We were picked up by a taxi who brought us to the city centre. We promised to meet up with Jonathan at the Rockstone pub, who, especially for today's match, came down by train. We sat at a nice booth and the pints kept coming in. Jon soon assimilated and we quickly caught up on each other's lives.
At half past two we decided to take a hike to St. Mary's Stadium. It wasn't far, but a nice burger wasn't out of order and we wanted to take in a bit of the atmosphere anyway. St Mary's looks exactly the same as the Stadium of Light, just a little smaller ("My garden shed, is bigger than this..."). We sought our seats and the sun shone directly on our faces. The match started but there wasn't that much going on. A few chances were created. Tadic was denied by the fingertips of Vito Mannone and on the other side it was Khazri's shot that was deflected against the post. In the second half more of the same. Borini volleyed over the bar for Sunderland and Graziano Pelle looked like scoring for the Saints but Sunderland somehow blocked the shot. Things all changed in the 79th minute. Borini was through on goal but was denied with an unfair challenge from Fonte. A straight red card for the Southampton player and a free kick for Sunderland in a promising position. The resulting free kick went over the bar (by van Aanholt). In the 85th minute Jan Kirchhoff heads the ball in the box, Koné squares the ball for Defoe and his shot went in from close range. 1-0 to Sunderland with 5 minutes to play and a man advantage. This cannot go wrong! Allardyce decides to swap Kirchhoff for O'Shea in the last minute of the game. We were very tense at that stage. And in the 94th minute it is a Virgil van Dijk left footed drive that puts Ronald Koeman's Southampton level with Sunderland. 1-1, How Dutch can it get? What a damper. At first you sign for a draw, but now it feels like two points dropped.
We walked from the stadium to the centre. We booked a table at an Indian restaurant at eight o' clock, but we still had time for a few pints. We entered a somewhat fancy establishment. At 8 o' clock we left for the Everest Cuisine. This was picked by Jon, because it had many positive reviews. It was a shame there was also a wedding in progress in the same room. The food was fine, though. After supper we all said our goodbyes to Jon and went back to our cottage.
6th of March 2016 (day 3)
Because we need to be well-rested. The next day we had a cycling tour in the New Forest nature reserve planned. Nick has part of this route as a Tacx Video, so he wanted to try it out in real life. Frido still had big problems with his allergies. He's conflicted as to whether he should go or not, but decided to go anyway. After all, staying in the cottage is out of the question, so perhaps some fresh air would do him some good. With the necessary medication he recovered a little. At half past ten we arrived at a bike rental shop. Nick made a reservation for the mountain bikes in advance and has prepared a 24-mile trip (38 km) with some small climbs. After posing for the picture it was time to get started. We had to get out of the small town of Burley, after which the route starts at a gate on the forest path. Arriving at the gate, we discovered Nilis' rear tire was flat. So far so good... Nick went back with Nilis' bicycle in hand and Nilis next to him on another bike, back to the rental shop. Also nice to mention there's a climb right before getting back in the village centre. Upon arriving the man takes Nilis' bike and within a minute returns it with an inflated tire. So, we returned to the gate, after which Nilis' tire appears to be flat once again. Apparently, that bloke only inflated the tire! Nick phoned the shop, because nobody was willing to get back up there, and a short while later a small van arrived and replaced the flat tire for good, so we could finally start the route for real. It was beautiful. There were barely any cars, it was forest paths alternated with open areas where horses were grazing and the climbs were quite intense but short. One having more difficulties than the other, but regardless, everyone had fun. At a certain point Nick seems to recognise a part of the route from his Tacx Video. "Right around the corner we can go for a drink," he said. "Yeah, right." We turn around the corner and what do we find? The New Forest Inn! However, it's Mother's Day, so it's very crowded with people having lunch with their mother. We sat down at a table outside with a drink. After a little while we continue our trip. Eventually, after two hours and fifty minutes, we've gone all 38 km and climbed 231 m in total. Time to return to the cottage and take a well-deserved shower.
Oh, no! The boiler is broke! Merely two to three people can shower consecutively, if you don't shower for too long. Nick gets the first go ahead from his mates, considering he's skipped all other times or decided to take a cold one. Eventually all of us managed to restore a little (short sessions).
Afterwards we hiked to the marina near the cottage, where some restaurants lie. We wanted a quick bite to eat and then return to our cottage to play some Great Dalmuti. First, we come across a pub with some delicious Doombar Ale on draught, after which we move on to the Victory for some food. At 7 o' clock we return to the cottage and the games began. After the powder fumes have lifted after seven games, Sven came out as victor of the game, with Frido taking second place with pride. The evening closed off with Match of the Day on the telly, after which we went to bed, satisfied about our great trip.
7th of March 2016 (day 4, dawn of the final day)
The next day we left early to catch the ferry and avoid another disaster like before. We needed to check in at 11:15, and this time everything went smoothly as we arrived with time to spare. After a pleasant crossing we drove from Dunkirk back to Hillegom. It's been a nice weekend, regardless of the setbacks. However, we do unanimously agree that the tremendous drive (despite the rather low costs) was a bit too much for three days.
(Written by Nick)
(Translated by Liam)