Author: P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

GPS

Where’s a GPS when you need it?

Everyone seems to have a GPS device in their car these days. You look across at the driver next to you and they have this tiny TV thing stuck to their windscreen. In the UK, driving while using a cell phone is illegal and attracts a hefty fine, unless you are talking on a hands-free kit, but even that is coming under scrutiny and may be outlawed one day. So if it is considered dangerous to drive while talking on the phone, how can it be fine to drive while watching TV? Because, let’s face it, that is exactly what you are doing when you take your eyes off the road to follow the arrow on the little screen of your satellite navigation entertainment system. (more…)

The Great National Dutch Bicycle Race

Living in Holland has many advantages, the most obvious of which is the fact that it is so easy to use a bicycle–and almost everyone does. People here learn to “fiets” (cycle) before they can walk and indeed the Dutch seem happiest when they are moving at speed atop at least one set of wheels. The only thing they like more than this is to ice skate, preferably on natural ice, and for distances measured using Astronomical Units.

The government in the Netherlands knows that the only reason the country’s road network is not one giant car park is because so many people use their bikes, and so they build bicycle lanes next to or on every road. In fact the rule here is that, when it comes to accidents between bikes and cars, the cyclist is automatically assumed to be innocent. As you can imagine, this makes cycling here very attractive. It can, however, lead to some people taking advantage. It is not uncommon to see people cycling four abreast in the middle of the road, or cruising across a blind intersection without even bothering to look. The worrying thing is that motorists here are either ignorant of the rules of the road, or they don’t care. In theory, there should be carnage on every street corner. I have a few ideas about this, but more on that some other time.

Hoog inspecting the gate on his farm, which is used by the government to make sure the country is level.

The other reason why cycling in the Netherlands is so easy is because the place is flat. The whole country is flatter than a pancake used for target practice by the national Olympic Anvil-Dropping squad. In fact, the highest point in Holland is not a place but a person. Thirty-six year old Hoog van de Langbroek* from Utrecht holds the current title of Highest Point in the Netherlands. At six feet seven inches, Hoog stands a full two inches above sea level and, on a clear day, can be seen from anywhere in the country. A ditch-and-puddle farmer by trade, Hoog is a man of few words. When asked what he thinks of being the custodian of such an important title, his usual response is: “Leuk, he?’” (nice, hey?)

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