Day 25: My biggest regret…

I don’t feel old enough to sit here and talk like “oh back when I was child…” yada yada yada, but what I can say is there are moment where I regret not moving away for university. I can’t say that I feel like that all of the time but when I think about my hopes of some day moving to The Netherlands I can’t help but think about what an incredible opportunity it would have been to done it as a student.

Why then and not now? I hear you ask. Student life abroad is anything from 1 to 3 years. There is a protection of student life that comes in the form of having a purpose, accommodation and the support of being a ‘learning foreigner’. I didn’t take this leap as back in 2010 when I was making my education choices I didn’t know what I wanted with my life, I didn’t have the love for the Netherlands that I do now and I didn’t have the confidence I do now. I think that all comes with age and that is most definitely something that has strengthened in me over time. 5 years on I now have responsibilities, a job and savings for my own home. So not only did I missed the first and possibly the best opportunity, I’m not at the stage of my life when I can’t afford to take the risk.

I loved my degree and my university, I genuinely didn’t want to go anywhere else other than The University of Birmingham but I can’t help but wonder what It would have been like to have studied in The Netherlands.

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Should prostitution be criminalised? – No bad women just bad laws.

Opinion is divided across the world with regards to the criminalisation of prostitution. In The Netherlands it is legalised and regulated whereas in the UK it is illegal. Now you’re not going to find an article anywhere online condoning prostitution. Trust me, I’ve looked for them, and this isn’t what this post is going to try and do. I’m not suggesting that prostitution is a career move to consider or any part of a persons ‘life plan’. What I am going to question in this post is the morality of prostitution. Does society still need to frown upon it to the extent it has done in the past? Are we more desensatised to sex than ever before? Can you genuinely argue the case for prostitution as a business? Why will there forever be an divide in opinion, is this generational, cultural or individual?

Europe has very different viewpoint and here on this blog you know how much I like to explore the big arguments of the day:

Is regulated prostitution really a bad thing?

Continue reading Should prostitution be criminalised? – No bad women just bad laws.

NL to vaccinate boys against HPV

IMG_2469What feels like many moons ago I wrote my final university dissertation on the media’s influence in women taking the HPV Vaccine in 2008. This piece of research took me around 9 months to research and write. Now slightly skimming over the particulars but highlighting the fact that I got a First Class Mark and won the Plender Prize for the best undergraduate dissertation written in the Faculty, I’d say it makes me pretty clued up on the facts with regards to Cervical Cancer and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). – “Why are you going on about this?” I hear you cry.

In the news recently a study from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) found that vaccinating boys against the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer in women, protects them against developing cancers in later years. This has sparked my attention as it was one of the conclusions I came to in my research.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 18.10.59The Human Papilloma Virus is responsible for different types of cancers in both men and women. For my research, in terms of Cervical Cancer, the disease is contracted via intercourse. In the UK and around the world a vaccine has been developed which dramatically reduces the chances of getting Cervical Cancer and to some extent can prevent it completely. The vaccine is designed to be given to girls before they become sexually active (around 12/13 years old). This vaccine was a big hit in the UK and in Australia where it was first administered. My research looked at girls’ attitudes towards the injections but an undeniable part of my research findings lead me to question other ways in which preventable diseases can be prevented.

Low and behold : The Dutch!

Not only have the VU discovered an indirect link protecting men from HPV which can lead to other forms of cancer such as throat cancer but…

When 60% of girls are vaccinated, as has been the case in the Netherlands, the risk that heterosexual men will be infected with HPV goes down by 53%, the researchers say.

How amazing is that finding! By extending the vaccination program to boys you are stopping the virus before it is being spread and therefore needed to be prevented in girls. There are many ethical considerations with regards to these vaccines. You can argue that 60% take up by girls isn’t enough, I did in my research and found that the reasons for this lay within the media, and parental opinions and experiences. You can argue that boys wouldn’t want the vaccine and the take up would be even lower and the administration would therefore be too high. However you could argue that if the risk to men goes down so dramatically the benefits far out away the cost of the injection. What price do you put on a prevention of Cervical, Throat, Anal and many other types of cancer? €100? €200?

Australia are already doing it. The UK, I hope, will be following suit and I am so happy to see that the vaccination programme to be extended to boys is on the agenda at the ministry’s advisory health council for The Netherlands.
Prevention is better than cure. I am a firm believer in that and I think that the amount of money that is put into finding cures and preventative methods for diseases such as cancer is only worth it if we take head of them. I had the HPV injection in 2008. To me it was a ‘no-brainer’. I just hope that others will start to see that benefit of these preventative methods and protect themselves, other women and our children.

So here is my plea to you – Girls go out and get the jab. You can have it up to the age of 18. If you haven’t had it yet I would urge you to look into it. Boys, if its offered – take it!  Protect yourself and protect us women! Its 3 injections in 12 months. It could save your life!

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Dear Diary – Day 4

Today marks the last day of my little trip. Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 have been eventful as ever, that it makes leaving my second home so difficult.

In the hotel this morning we walked past 5 more open bedroom doors. We have officially come to the conclusion that it was a hotel made friendly to people with varied tastes. Most definitely bed-hoppers! Why else would the doors be half ajar? I tried to peak in one – shoot me for my curiosity or whatever but I couldn’t see anything. More to the pitty 😉

CockeralChecking out was effortlessly and before I have even left the reception desk and a ‘Thanks for Your Stay’ email was flashing in my hand. Nice touch Bastion Hotel Group! So we jumped on the train into Breda after running down the steps as if our life depended on it. The train we wanted was in the station and we wanted on it – somehow we managed to get it literally by the skin of our teeth. We wondered the streets desperate for food, past the cockerels in the park. From the amount of alcohol consumed on very little food yesterday a large breakfast was required. We sat op de terrace of De Colonie for a good ten minutes and nobody came for our order so we upped and left to the Inspire Coffee Company. I just love it in there! If you ever find yourself in Breda please go and visit!

We shopped and wondered around for a good few hours around Breda. More lipsticks and clothes where nicely purchased too. Hema has become our favourite place. I’ve shopped in stores I probably wouldn’t have visited without Layla. It has been a varied shopping experience and not really an expensive one either!

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IMG_7656We wondered the streets a little more after breaking for a chocomel in the intermittent sunshine. Even managed to waste an hour staring at the cyclists and admired their bottoms as well as their bicycles. The weather was perfect for it – sitting on the terrace that, is not ogling peoples bottoms (handy tip: sunglasses hide where your eyes are looking very well ;)).

We circumnavigated the Netherlands back north up to Schiphol. Layla’s iPod provided the soundtrack – we went from Mr Sheeran to rave music to a nice bit of the Mumfords. She likes to keep things varied around here and there was no complaints from me. The journey back wasn’t too bad. It was a lot quicker than the one from the airport on Friday! We stopped for petrol and Layla put that silly plastic glove on. Who does that?! I don’t get it. Its not a Dutch thing either because I couldn’t see anyone else doing it.

In other news…Layla was introduced to her very first Whopper Burger at BK.


I love people watching. Like really love it. My observations today from Schiphol departures…

Everyone is very relaxed. I suppose that’s because they are all going somewhere nice if they are sat in the airport.

The women here, at least the majority of the ones I’ve seen around me, don’t seem to bother too much with makeup. It goes back to my point before about casual being ok all the time. I’ am currently road testing a matte balm and a long lasting gloss from Hema (purchased today). Make up doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda of Dutch girls. It’s not like they need it. They embrace their au natural look. They are comfy in their own style, their own bodies, it’s quite refreshing to see. Its probably easy to be like that when you are all so beautiful – the men too! aa46884eddcd415959ccc59e9e07acfb
Obviously this is all helped with there tallness, tight legs, firm bottoms from the cycling and of course their diet high in dairy making their skin and hair much better. The women here just seem so comfortable and the men accept that too. I’m putting it down to all of the Dutch Mama’s for bringing up their little boys so well. (Sidenote to all you Dutches – its Mothers Day on the 10th May – don’t forget to treat your Mama!)

The women are strong and independent and the men compliment that. It’s good. I like it. They are just enough of a gentleman to compliment the women. It’s a dynamic that really works in Holland.

The people here are clean too. As we sat in BK everyone cleared their own tables, any rubbish that was accidentally dropped was instantly picked up. Possibly due to the high turn over of people here in Departures every empty chair and table is replaced super quickly. Schiphol is ALWAYS clean though, personally I’ve never seen it a mess. The new departures lounge that they are working on needs some loving tho. I wasn’t too impressed with the wooden pop up shops!

At 20:00 Schiphol stopped. Completely. Everyone stood still, planes didn’t land, radio announcements stopped. Today is Dutch Remembrance Day this year marking its 70th Anniversary. The KLM staff by came from their offices and stood together in a line, heads bowed. Like dolls they stood in line pristinely turned out and all worthy of the prestigious blue twinset. People from all over the world and of every nationality stopped moving and stopped talking. The Last Post was played over the PA and then the silence began. To mark its end the joyous sounds of the Dutch National Anthem rang out all around and the world started moving again. It was a surreal and moving two minutes to be a part of something that is so special to the Dutch and so important to their culture. Similar to our November 11th Remembrance Day in the UK its a patriotic thing, and heartwarming moment to just stop and take note and most of all to remember.

Our last port of call and where I will end this post is in Starbucks. We are ready to board now, suitably fuelled with Coffee and Cinnamon Swirls. We are ready to go. The sun has set in The Netherlands and as I sit here typing all this up I am sad to be leaving but excited for my return in just 3 weeks! I have had a great weekend and I hope if you’ve followed all of my reports about it you will already know that.IMG_7657

A summary of the statistics:

  • 400km traveled in and around The Netherlands
  • 2 packets of car sweats eaten
  • About 5 bottles of wine/Prosecco drank
  • 55,351 steps!
  • 2 new lipsticks
  • 2 new tops
  • Pair of Shoes
  • A Jip en Janekke book purchased

Holland – a pleasure as always. 

10:10 – Favourite Dutch People

As April is well and truly upon us i’m feeling all springy and rather excitable. Leaves will soon be back on the trees, little flowers will be popping up here and there and everything starts to thrive.This month, twice a week, I am going to give you my top 10 on various things! Now these lists are obviously going to be Dutch related, possibly favourites or objects or songs or whatever. They are going to come to you on a Sunday and on a Wednesday. What?! Of course there are rules, we like a little organisation over here! This way I get to fuel not only my planner addictions but my Dutch ones too!

Aside from my Dutch obsession I am equally as obsessive in all aspects of my life. I am never without a couple of pens, a pack of post it notes and my filofax. They are a comfort blanket I suppose you could say an extension of my being. I’m not ashamed by it I don’t hide it. Up on the beloved Instagram I foliow lots of other planner obsessed people and I am always on the look out for a new layout to try or a new method. I discovered Bullet Journaling in Janauary and use it at work – it is a total game changer! The main planner hashtag for April is #ListersGottaList. Erm hello?! How can I not get involved.

So lets get on with: List Number One!

Continue reading 10:10 – Favourite Dutch People