SportMail’s Craig Hope sends in his first diary from Pools’ pre-season trip to Holland.
AMSTERDAM has been the home of my Dutch diary offerings for the past two summers.
However, having failed to find the fame of fellow diarist and one-time Amsterdam resident, Anne Frank, I’ve decided to head for pastures, or canals, new.
I still do harbour faint hope that some Poolies will embark on a pilgrimage to the guest house in which I have resided for the past two years and, gazing toward my attic skylight, remark “that’s where he used to write Hope in Holland, you know”.
In fact, I wouldn’t advise it, the district in which I stayed was Holland’s answer to Helmand Province.
Indeed, soaring hotel prices coupled with shrinking budgets for us reporters are part of the reason why I’ve turned my back on the capital in search of safer surroundings.
No, it shall be Hope in Haarlem for the next five days.
Located about 20km west of Amsterdam, Haarlem, Wikipedia tells me, is a charming city steeped in history.
Cultural pleasantries aside, however, it also has hotel rooms at half the cost and twice the size of its red-light-laden neighbour.
But delving deeper into its Wiki entry I learn that what really tears Haarlem apart are three of its most famous products – beer, tulips and trams …
And here was I thinking I was set for a new experience.
What’s the Dutch for deja vu?!
I MUST thank easyJet and Advanced Motor Components of Burn Road in Hartlepool for kindly helping to sponsor my trip to Holland.
I did send emails to Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch but, as of yet, haven’t heard anything back.
I have considered boycotting the above products in protest.
However, if the miserable weather and even more miserable football are anything like last year then I shall be revisiting that sober stance …
EASYJET, as you’ve probably gathered from the surrounding pages, are providing my transport for the tour.
Two years ago, when I last travelled by aeroplane, I had a certain Pools player for company.
With his passport having already unwittingly made its way to Holland as part of his kitbag, it was Evan Horwood with whom I shared an aisle on the belated flight out of Leeds/Bradford.
Thankfully for Evan, his new club, Tranmere Rovers, are only going as far as Wales this summer.
Although, knowing Evan, it wouldn’t surprise me if he produced his passport when crossing the border into the land of Saint David.
But, on a serious note, he’ll be a big miss at Pools, both on and off the pitch.
Mobile journalist it stands for, apparently.
Yeah, I thought it was a cocktail as well.
But no, that’s what we are these days.
So, thanks to new technology this particular MO-JO will be bringing you the best coverage yet from the tour of Holland.
Follow myself on Twitter @CHopePoolsMail and log on to our website, hartlepoolmail.co.uk, for all the latest news, views, videos and pictures over the course of the next six days.
If any of you are in Holland following the lads then please give me a shout and we’ll get your pictures on our website.
Safe trip if you are heading over and, if not, then I hope you enjoy our coverage.