Petrochemical Training in Amsterdam

amsterdam traing oct 2009 002.jpgThe trip to Amsterdam for the ICIS Training seminars is a journey of two halves. Heathrow Terminal 4 is spacious and empty after its recent refurbishment and before all the airlines move back in. The KLM flight is punctual, and the afternoon on-board snack is a cup of tea and two oatmeal biscuits – frugal, but still positive.


Then things take a turn for the worse. Peter T has surpassed himself in his economising with the hotel where we are staying, across the road from the hotel where the training will be held. I open the door and sidle in to a narrow single room, with a single bed against the wall and a tiny bathroom one metre square. There’ll be no swinging of cats here, because with my arms outstretched I can touch all four white-tiled walls at once.


It’s a shock to get up in the dark but we get off to a good start to the day, with just the local Dutch delegates delayed as always by the Amsterdam rush hour traffic.





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Over lunch, one of the delegates tells us that only her boss can know that she is out on a training course. She has had to tell her colleagues she is taking a day’s holiday, as all external training expenditure has been axed. The other delegates nod in agreement. Nevertheless, Peter tells me that our training delegate numbers are up and that we will probably squeeze an extra course before the end of the year.


“People are finding there’s a little bit of money left in their budgets, and they need to spend it,” he says.


The other hot topic at lunch is the day’s news of the run on Dutch bank DSB.


During Nigel’s afternoon paper on “Petrochemicals – a changed world,” I help myself to a tea labelled “Sterrenmunt,” thinking with my clearly inadequate command of Dutch that this must be spearmint. My mouth fills with the most disgusting liquid, an indescribably horrible concoction which I later read on the label is a herbal brew of liquorice and anis. To be avoided.


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