Hope in Holland - Feeling lonely now

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TWO free days without any matches and I’m getting a bit lonely.

A young couple asked me for directions in Amsterdam last night and I wanted to send them a Facebook “friend request”.

By Craig Hope - email craig.hope@northeast-press.co.uk

The process of ordering food and drinks in a restaurant is the equivalent of a holiday romance.

Even a work-related email is to be cherished.

So you can imagine how I felt when BBC Tees telephoned asking if I could speak to them on the radio.

I was thrilled – live, real-life company.

I even asked to pre-record the interview so I could “Listen Live” on the BBC iplayer later that night and relive my conversation joy, which I duly did!

Please call again, if you’re reading ...

● While I’ve been starved of conversation these past few days, it’s been an even tougher couple of weeks without any football.

That post-Euros abyss makes you appreciate the domestic calendar with its daily dose of action.

Sunday’s game against Telstar only partially satisfied my thirst for football and so I’ve spent the past two days trying to find some other pre-season matches in Holland.

A shout-out on Twitter soon saw a set of friendly fixtures land in my feed, the most appealing being Helmond Sport versus Ipswich Town.

Brilliant – and so to the train station.

However, only once at the information desk did I realise the mammoth journey which awaited me.

Two trains, the best part of two hours and no idea where the ground was when I eventually reached Helmond put paid to my hopes of making the game, not to mention the £30 return ticket which, I’m pretty certain, would not have found its way through the company expenses.

Helmond or Helmand Province, it made no odds, I was resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going and had another football-free evening ahead of me.

So imagine my delight when sloping glum-faced into the nearest sports bar only to find a re-run of Newcastle United’s friendly with AS Monaco on one of the screens.

I even knew the score, a fairly dull 1-0 win by all accounts, but it mattered not, I had my fix!

Roll on Crewe Alexandra on August 14 I say …

● Finally, three days in and no mention of the hotel – it must be good?

Kind of.

The guy on the front desk is helpful.

He’s told me where I can buy towels, soap and even bed linen.

It was also nice of the decorators to move out of the room while I’m in there – at least I presume it’s under renovation.

And I’m guessing that ‘breakfast included’ means the directions to McDonalds pinned on the wall in reception.

The location is good, if you want to lose weight walking – normal civilisation is at least 40 minutes away and the centre of Amsterdam half an hour.

But it’s a roof over my head, quite literally.

They’ve put me in the ‘penthouse’ on the top floor, complete with sloping ceilings.

Now if you’ve met me you’ll know that I’m the best part of 6ft 3ins, and such a room design isn’t conducive to simple tasks such as standing up which is taking its toll on my frame.

Anyway, yours until the next point of interest – The Hunchback of Amsterdam!