5 Things I will always love about the Netherlands

As a fan of a good old list I took the liberty of picking just 5 things that make me keep coming back for more.

  1. c175The love for diverse European music. Be it on the radio or Spotify the diversity of the playlists in and across The Netherlands is richer with culture than ours here. From French hip-hop to latin grooves, English ballads and Dutch pop. The radio is always a treat.
  2. The (overly) friendliness of folk. Once you get past the 3 kisses which really calm down the introductions of new people. Its so apparent the difference with the firm handshake of your best friends, dads work colleague compared to the million kisses from your pseudo-mama. There was kiss-gate once when I threw myself in to the culture of kissing everyone and did so with a stranger – totes awks.
  3. The Dutch attitude. Their cool style and straight talking attitude its always a joy to observe. They look far more comfortable on a bicycle than I do. Double denim is always acceptable and who needs all that make up or perfectly coiffed hair?!  grachten-utrecht-high_rgb_6311
  4. Cake for breakfast is ok and should be utilised at any and every available time.
  5. The outdoor life. Taking a coffee or your dinner out on the terrace in the street instantly puts England and the Netherlands poles apart. My trip in September was the second opportunity I have had to eat outside all year. How we live like this here is beyond me. There is such a relaxing feeling eating your dinner outside and enjoying the warm evening air. We don’t get that here and it makes me very very jealous.

 

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My last little trip

My time in the Netherlands was all too fleeting. 5 days felt like nothing more than a weekend and with lots to fit in there was never a dull moment. My host family had me covered with everything from a cozy night sleep to sampling new foods. After an 8 year semi-dutch adoption I thought there was very little I hadn’t tried or had managed to sneakily avoid but even now my trip was filled with new experiences.

To bring you all along for the journey my Dutch Guide and I penned a few little reviews of our eateries. You can find those here:

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My new experiences this time included seeing the inside of a working windmill. You can read all about that here.

Shopping for Dutch real-estate took my snooping to a whole new level. The subtle yet distinctive differences were a real treat to see. img-20160928-wa0019

Also my first experience of cycling – spoiler alert – it involved a lot of screaming, a near miss with the a hedge and a very sore bottom for a few days afterwards. You can read all about that by clicking on the picture and see various other pictures where I do not look quite as chic as the Klompenmeijses lead me to believe.

Leaving the Netherlands is always pretty shit. Once I pass through customs and wave my family behind for the last time I can’t help but shed a little tear. Brexit or no Brexit the Netherlands will always have a special place in my heart for as long as they are happy to have me in their country. I have even considered offering to do the negotiating on behalf of the UK with King Willem et al., I think we could reach a happy medium and it would give me an excuse to make the Netherlands my temporary home once again.

I will be back soon, I miss you already and I am most grateful for always feeling so welcome by every single person I meet on my travels.

Tot ziens my friends, tot zeins! 

Kinderdijk – Ik hou van windmolens

Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its unique collection of 19 authentic windmills, an icon of Dutch culture known the world over and one of my favourite tourist spots in the Netherlands.

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Continue reading Kinderdijk – Ik hou van windmolens

How to fend off a cold in Holland and lose

I’m not back from my trip where it was inevitable for something to disrupt my mojo, this time it was ‘Travellers Flu’ – yes its a thing and after being incubated in a metal box (aeroplane) a million miles high (30,000ft) and in buildings of recycled air (airports) its hard to escape the spread of nasties.

My little trip to the apotheker and some €20 lighter in my pocket I came away with the medicines that would ease my sore throat, blocked nose and flue-like symptoms. 

Citrosan became my poison of choice. It was drinking it like pop.

Trachitol was my numbing pill which I later learnt actually works better if left to melt under the tongue rather than on it. I spent the first day with a very numb tongue a painful throat.

Xylometazoline is a nasal spray. It is vile, it tastes horrendous and has a million side effects which include the thinning of the nasal cavity but my god does it work. After psyching myself up for it just one spray in each nostril really is enough to bring back the ease of breathing that we all take for granted and the wonderful sensation of taste and smell.

Oscillococcinum – This was just fun to say. I’m still non the wiser as to what this was actually supposed to do its apparently a homeopathic preparation marketed to relieve influenza-like symptoms. It comes in little files full of tiny white balls. You tip it under the tongue and let it melt there. It has a very pleasant taste to be honest but I cant really say it worked for me in any particular way I took all six files in 2 days. Maybe it did help, maybe it didn’t, who knows.

So all in all none of this really worked after all. I’m still suffering and I’m pretty sure nothing will really prevent a cold of manifesting itself. I tried my best and fought through it with my cocktail of medicines.

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Ik heb a confession.

In just 10 days I am returning to my home land. Well ok, not necessarily my ‘home land’ because that’s England but the country which has my heart will soon have the rest of my body I nit for a few days.

i-see-your-mouth-movingWhen I first started this blog I was all about the language, I threw myself in to learning Dutch and loved it. I even got 2 certificates and by March 2014 I could hold a pretty normal conversation, my final exam was a discussion on animals and fun facts about the long neck of a giraffe. But with just 10 days to go I have to openly admit my Dutch has melted away to nothing. There we go, I’ve put it out there. Ashamedly so Ik heb geen Dutch.

As much as I am ashamed by this, I spoke very little Nederlandse in the Netherlands anyway but I fear slightly that I won’t remember enough to pick up on conversation topics. I am rather hoping that once I hear those dulcet tones on the aeroplane security video it will all come flooding back (fingers crossed).

I can’t wait to get back onto the Lowlands for a few reasons, a few of which I am going to share here.

  • twitter-fed458I am long overdue a hug from my Dutch family. My best friend in particular – is that too much to ask? I’ve had a pretty trying year and some 500+ days since my last trip has left me almost desperate to see them.
  • I miss the Dutch people. I am a people watcher, no matter where I am or who I am with I like to watch people and the Dutch way of life fascinates me and always has done, from the relaxed style of the guys and gals to their very active cycling chic and questionable supermarket items.
  • It the place I feel most relaxed. In my nine years of visiting NL it feel like my second home, I know where I am (to a certain extent) and being away from the UK in a place I find so comfortable helps me to put my every day stresses to one side. I get the chance to just be me and with my ever growing responsibilities to my family, as a new home owner, and in full time employment in Politics life gets pretty stressful at times. In the Netherlands I am anonymous and don’t have those responsibilities. I even get the chance to let someone else decide what I do and what I eat every day. (No it’s not just indecisiveness – I really don’t mind if we do anything or nothing).
  • Singing in the car. Dutch radio is one of the greatest assets to The Netherlands. I just love it. It’s so varied and one minute it’s the latest number 1 and the next track is a belter from the 80’s followed by some Dutch song I’ve never heard before but am singing along to by the 3rd chorus. Variety really is the spice of life over there and that’s something we don’t get much of here.  the-radio-was-on-a-commercial-break-the-whole-time-humor

So off I go, here I come. I simply cannot wait to get back to the land of clogs, the cheese eating, fish swallowing, bike riding, lanky lands of Orange. There will always be a piece of my heart in Holland. Its a love that words can’t describe and a pain that only return tickets can heal.