That one time I went to Hoorn

Last week, on my day off, it was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to go out and DO SOMETHING FUN! Because why the heck not??

Back in January I asked for recommendations of the best places to go in the Netherlands on my Facebook page and I got loads of responses including: Haarlem (went on Saturday), Gouda (going next weekend), Maastricht, Leiden, Delft, Valkenburg, Harderwijk (been), Nijmegen (going in a few weeks), Den Bosch, The Hague, Texel, Rhenen, Groningen, Oostkappelle/Domburg, Naarden-Vesting (been – in fact, this is where our wedding party was held), Rotterdam (been – lots!), Middelburg, Amersfoort (been) and Hoorn.

It was already 12ish when I decided to go, so I wanted somewhere which was an hour or less on the train from Hilversum so I could be there and back in the same afternoon. After a quick bit of journey planning on good old NS.nl, I chose Hoorn… and I’m so glad I did!

Hoorn – pronounced somewhere between the English horn and the Dutch horen (to hear) is a town in North Holland, approx 35km north of Amsterdam. It’s a harbour town so in addition to the beautiful old buildings and canals you also get a gorgeous harbour thrown in!

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I must admit, it was tempting just to get off at Amsterdam Centraal, since we stopped there anyway… but no, Hoorn was the order of the day. When I arrived at the train station in Hoorn I didn’t really have a clear idea of where to go, so I just wandered around with my camera poised (knowing that if I got lost, I have Google Maps on my phone, so no biggie)… it was a good plan as I eventually ended up at the harbour without even really trying!

The harbour is proudly marked by (probably) Hoorn’s most recognisable landmark, de Hoofdtoren meaning ‘the head tower’. It was built in 1532 and is a registered rijksmonument (national heritage site). Today, it’s a restaurant.

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I had already been exploring for about an hour at this point, so I decided to stop at a pub on the waterfront. I looked for the most traditional one I could find, which happened to be Café ‘t Schippershuis, a traditional bruin café. Perfect!

If you don’t know what a ‘brown’ cafe is, they’re a bit like old-fashioned British pubs. The ‘brown’ title coming from the (often) tobacco stained ceilings, walls and the wooden panelling and floorboards. They’re old and often a bit tatty, but that’s all part of the charm! Oh… and carpet on the table – check!

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The beautiful old bar is shaped like a ship, the friendly waitress was stood behind the bar cleaning glasses and three locals were happily chatting away. As I walked in, the locals stopped briefly to greet me, looked pleased when I returned their greetings (in Dutch) and then went back to their flamboyant conversation and foamy beer.

The Dutch are a friendly bunch – and on the whole – they’re happy to speak English to you. BUT now I’m speaking more and more Dutch, I’m totally noticing that people are even friendlier  in Dutch! They love that you’re making the effort to speak their native language and will reward you accordingly. (This is making me tear up a little bit thinking of the old guy I met in Amsterdam a couple of weeks back – I was in a bar near Centraal Station with my English friend and he offered us a seat, in English. When I replied in Dutch, his face literally lit up like a Christmas tree!)

And the same thing happened in Hoorn. Once I collected my drink and took a seat, the patrons (knowing I could speak Dutch) started chatting away to me and made me feel really welcome. I honestly don’t think that would have happened if I’d ordered my drink in English. Proost! 

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When I first moved here ten months ago, I would have never been brave enough to just get on a train and go somewhere brand new ON MY OWN. It just shows how far I’ve come!

I wouldn’t say I’m fluent yet, but I can do all the basics. Understanding what people say to you is important, and undoubtedly the first step, but now I can not only understand what they’re saying to me… I can reply. My understanding was always pretty good (after visiting here regularly when we lived in England) but gone are the days when I completely freak out when people speak Dutch at me. That whole day, I didn’t speak a word of English.

Initially, a lot of my problem was having the confidence to speak Dutch (this is especially intimidating because Dutch people speak such good English)… but one day I just said to myself: “Fuck it”.

I will make mistakes, but it’s the only way I’m going to learn. And with that, I somehow just got over my fear. This makes me VERY happy as it’s opened up a whole new world of adventures! I love visiting new places with my husband or my friends, but I now I don’t HAVE to wait for them. If I have a day off and want to go somewhere on my own, I damn well can.

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So, like any good tourist, I took a whole bunch of photos. I can’t post them all here as you might lose the will to live… but I’m going to add my favourites at least. (That’s a lot, still. It’s Hoorn’s fault for being so damn gorgeous!!)

As you may have noticed, especially if you follow me on Instagram, I have a bit of an obsession with Street Art.

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And churches. (This particular beauty is Grote Kerk.)

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And skulls. (This one is Noorderkerk.)

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I visited the central square in Hoorn too, called de Roode Steen (The Red Stone) to check out the Westfries Museum. An amazingly impressive building, I’m afraid my photo just doesn’t do it justice though… as I was fighting with the sun the whole time (not that I’m complaining!) so you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!

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After more walking, admiring and photo taking I fancied a bite to eat and stumbled across Bagels & Beans on my way back to the train station. I remembered that the one in Hilversum had good reviews, so decided to give it a go. Turns out, it was a day of good choices. (Unfortunately it was a one-day-only special. I went to Haarlem the next day with the Dutchie and all of my good fortune had run out. It wasn’t a bad trip… but it was nowhere as good as mijn dagje uit in Hoorn!)

The hot chocolate comes – not as a hot chocolate – but as a mug of hot milk and a shot glass of chocolate buttons to make it yourself! Very novel! I also loved the ‘heaven & hell’ saucer!

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To accompany the best hot chocolate ever… I had a delicious Paddoburger van champignons (mushroom burger in bagel) but I can’t post that picture now or I might chew my arm off.

Think I’d better go and make some lunch…

So, have you been to Hoorn? What did you think?

Hayley x

Ps – and now for a shitload of photos that didn’t fit into the post… but I don’t know what else to do with them. (I didn’t Photoshop any of these btw, so no idea what’s going on with the crazy variation in sky colours!)

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22 Dutch Foods You Must Try

Get your taste buds ready to sample some traditional Dutch food! In order to experience the Netherlands in an authentic way, you just HAVE to try traditional Dutch cuisines and specialties. So, here are the Top 22 Dutch foods you must try:

1. Haring (Hollandse Nieuwe) 

Ok, so herring isn’t that weird. But the Dutch like to eat it raw. To eat it the traditional way: tip your head back, grab the fish by the tail and bite upwards! Completely unglamorous, but fun! If this doesn’t appeal, it can be eaten in a bun, with or without optional extras: finely chopped onion and/or sliced gherkins. Eaten this way, it’s called a broodje haring.

Herring is available all year round, but if caught between May and July, it is referred to as Hollandse Nieuwe. The herring season starts every year with the traditional auction of the first tub of Nieuwe Haring. After that, herring may be sold everywhere and ‘herring feasts’ are organised in many towns and cities.

© Alix Guillard / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© Alix Guillard / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

2. Stroopwafels

Stroop = syrup/treacle and I’ll let you guess what wafel is ;-) This is Holland’s most famous pastry dish – quite rightly! A stroopwafel is made of two thin layers of baked dough/batter/waffley stuff with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. LEKKER! 

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3. Drop

Dutch people love liquorice. So much so, they eat on average 2kg per person, per year! That’s (unsurprisingly) more than any other country in the world.

A word of warning: they also think it’s a funny game to try and feed it to unsuspecting foreigners! Kijk uit! (Watch out!)

Liquorice choices

© Autopilot / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

4. Friet / Frieten / Patat / Patatje 

Chips. These are all names for the same thing, depending on where in the Netherlands you live. There are also disagreements about what they’re called with different combinations of toppings, but it goes a little something like this:

  • Friet of patat met mayo: chips with mayonnaise
  • Patat met satésaus: chips with peanut sauce
  • Patatje oorlog: chips with a combination of peanut saté sauce, mayo and onions
  • Patat speciaal: chips with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onion
  • I’ve given up caring… just give me some chips.

5. Frikandel

My nemesis. They do however belong on this list, because they are VERY popular in the Netherlands… and you should try everything once!

A frikandel is a long, thin, skinless, dark-coloured meat sausage. Usually eaten warm. They are often served with curry ketchup or mayonnaise, though some eat it with tomato ketchup, mustard or even apple sauce (!)

6. Oliebollen

(Literally: oil spheres) I got in a lot of trouble on a previous post for saying that they’re “basically doughnuts”! Dutch people are clearly very passionate about oliebollen and will defend them to within an inch of their life. So ok, I will amend my statement: they are similar to doughnuts…

The history of the origin of doughnuts is disputed, but one theory (the preferred theory for Dutch people) is that Dutch immigrants introduced them to the States, so if it’s true then it’s actually their fault that Americans have such high cholesterol. ;-)

The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas or raisins. They’re then sprinkled with icing sugar. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten at New Year but there are oliebollen stands around for the whole festive period (so basically the whole of December).

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© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

7. Kibbeling

Deep fried pieces of fish, I guess it’s Holland’s answer to fish and chips (if ordered with een portie patat). Originally cod cheeks were used – but due to high prices of cod, today you might be served off-cuts of cod or possibly even hake, pollock or whiting.

8. Poffertjes

These sweet little treats are popular in winter and you will often see dedicated Poffertje stalls and stands. Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes, served with powdered sugar and butter (yup, you read that right – butter!) and sometimes syrup.

9. Stamppot

Meaning “mash pot”. Stamppot consists of (lumpy) mashed potato with vegetables of your choice thrown in. Popular vegetable choices include sauerkraut, spinach, swede, carrot, onion and kale (with kale it is known as boerenkool). Stamppot is often served with rookworst (smoked sausage) and/or bacon lardons.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also get gravy: make a small hole in mash and fill it with gravy, known in Dutch as a kuiltje jus (little gravy pit).

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10. Erwtensoep (of Snert)

Pea soup. Typically made from dried peas, such as the split pea. A bit like English pea soup… but better!

11. Speculaas

Spiced shortcrust biscuit, served around Sinterklaas time. Dutch people go wild for it. You can also get spreadable versions, with a peanut butter kind of consistency. Niet mijn ding. (Not my thing) but each to their own and all that.

12. Hagelslag

… or sprinkles as we call them in England. Not that weird, on top of your ice cream, but the Dutch eat this on bread, with butter, for breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you really want to fit in, give it a go!

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13. Filet Americain

This has a bit of a Marmite reputation: you either love it or hate it (probably more do to with the associated health risks than the taste!) Personally, I bloody love the stuff!

It’s like a steak tartare, but in spread form. A sandwich spread, if you will. Normally served raw on bread with onion, and if you’re feeling a bit fancy – add mayonnaise and a hard boiled egg.

14. Appeltaart

Apple pie is an English thing, dating back hundreds of years but it’s also popular with the Dutch, Swedes and of course the Americans. Dutch appeltaart (apple tart) is hugely popular and a different variation of what you’ve had a home, so worth giving a go!

15. Vlammetjes

One of The Dutchie’s absolute favourites – he missed these loads when we lived in England. Vlammetjes translates as ‘little flames’.  Spicy ground beef enveloped in a little parcel and deep-fried, normally served with sweet chilli sauce. (The things sandwiched between the bitterballen!)

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16. Ossenworst

Originally made of ox meat, hence the name, this raw beef sausage originated in Amsterdam and is often served with Amsterdamse uitjes (Amsterdam onions) which are onions pickled with turmeric or saffron to give them the yellow colouring.

17. Pannenkoeken

Dutch pancakes are much larger and thinner than American or Scotch pancakes. They can come sweet or savoury and are offered with a gazillion topping options.

Pannenkoeken are so popular here that there are tons of dedicated pancake restaurants throughout the Netherlands. The only choice you need to make is what to put on it!

18. Kapsalon 

Try this after the pub, when you’ve had a belly full of beer.

Kapsalon: chips, kebab meat or shawarma with cheese – normally Gouda. It is often served with a dressed salad, garlic sauce and a hot sauce or sambal. In my opinion… the yummiest kebab possible. Kapsalon also means hairdresser or hairdressing salon, after the creator – a hairdresser from Rotterdam!

19. Kroketten

Similar to bitterballen but cylindrical in shape. (Bitterballen are better.) They come in a variety of fillings: beef, pork, satay sauce (peanut sauce), vegetable, potato, shrimp/prawn… make sure you know what you’re getting as they all look the same! Sold almost anywhere, in supermarkets, restaurants, snack bars and even in McDonald’s.

20. Kaas

The Dutch are famous for their cheese. Obviously – it’s amazing! The best known is Gouda, followed by Edam and Leerdammer (the trademarked name, thought it is often just called Maasdam).

You’ll struggle not to try cheese in the Netherlands… it’s everywhere! The best places to sample different cheeses are specialist cheese shops, or alternatively, most pubs will have cheese on their bar snack menu. Go for the oude kaas (literally: old cheese).

© kaasmisdrijf / Creative Commons / CC-BY-2.5

© kaasmisdrijf / Creative Commons / CC-BY-2.5

21. Smeerkaas sambal

I can’t let the occasion pass without mentioning my personal favourite spreadable substance… ok I lied, that’s Marmite. My second favourite then. Spread cheese with sambal (a hot sauce made from chilli peppers). It’s amaaaaaaazing.

22. Bitterballen

And last but certainly not least… I can’t miss off my precious deep-fried balls of heaven!

THE best borrelhapje (bar snack) imaginable.

(New here? Want to know what bitterballen are?)

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What’s YOUR favourite Dutch food? Anything missing from this list?

Hayley x

Just call me Tante Bitterbal

Tante Bitterbal

I have a confession to make: I have a superpower. It first started when I was aged 17, on the bus to college. A friend of a friend began sitting next to me on the bus – a very friendly chap – but even at the time I could tell that his bubbly personality was all bravado and he had more issues than de Volkskrant! (The original line came from my best friend: “He has more issues than The Beano!” The Beano is a long-running British children’s comic, 1938-present.) But anyway, I digress.

After about a week, he came out. I was the first person he told he was gay, despite him having a group of close friends at college and being pretty close with his family.

Since then, people have been regularly telling me their deepest darkest secrets and / or their life story. This is never coaxed or encouraged by me, it’s just like I have ‘confession’ tattooed on my head or something.

I knew there was a reason I should do this blog (semi-)anonymously! So that I can tell stories like this, but never give anyone’s game away.

Sometimes they are friends, sometimes strangers. Once, in England, our hot water tank was broken so I called a plumber out. Whilst clambering in the cupboard, I saw him deliberately pulling his hot pink lace thong up above his jeans so that I would see it. Then he went into a whole spiel about how he was going to a Moulin Rouge / Tarts and Vicars party in a couple of months’ time so he was just ‘practicing’.

I think sometimes people want to confess to ‘random’ people first, so that they can gauge reactions and practice ‘coming out’ before they do it for real to their friends and family. Luckily for him, I don’t judge and I wasn’t offended or horrified by my 50 something year old, married, plumber wearing women’s underwear. I just wanted him to fix my hot water tank.

Another guy told me his entire life story on one of our first meetings, on New Year’s Eve, before we’d even got drunk. I could have named all of his previous girlfriends, which ones he was in love with, his difficult relationship with his family and his struggles with depression. In that hour, I probably knew more about him than most of his close friends did.

Maybe I have an honest face, or a non-judgmental face at least… because people just want to tell me things. Another man also showed me that he was wearing female underwear on our first meeting (what is this thing with people showing me their pants!!), seriously, I’d known the guy about 10 minutes. He’s now transitioning.

And it’s not just men either. I mean, girls like to talk… that’s a given. But women I have just met tell me everything too!

I know about infidelities, people who are silently struggling with depression, marriage near-misses, secret credit-card debts, failed pregnancies, abortions and struggles to conceive. I know about relationship issues that even the partner doesn’t know about, problems in the bedroom, eating disorders, drinking and drug problems – you name it – someone has told me their secret. And I don’t have enough friends for them to all be this fucked up – many of these are strangers or friends of friends who I met at a party once.

Lately, since writing this blog, I’ve become somewhat of a go-to expat agony aunt.

Previously, my ‘thing’ was just about people opening up to me. Not necessarily about me giving them advice, they just wanted someone to talk to, someone to listen.

Now I’m getting emails and Facebook messages asking for advice. It can’t be my ‘honest’ face as I don’t plaster selfies all over my blog (that would be my worst nightmare!)

I have no idea what it is, but I’ve had people asking for job advice, relationship and long-distance relationship advice, housing advice and even advice on how to publish a book! (Huh??) Other people just write and tell me about themselves and their situation and thank me for writing the blog.

I’m really flattered that people want to tell me about themselves, about their lives and ask for advice – I think it’s really sweet that people would even think of coming to me! But the advice part I do struggle with sometimes… a) I really don’t feel qualified to answer some of the questions and b) I don’t always feel like I can give advice to people I’ve never met. But I do respond to every email and I try my best to at least offer some words of wisdom.

I love all of the messages, emails and comments I receive. I read every single one… and where possible… I try to reply to those which require a response. So please keep ‘em coming! If you want to spill your guts to someone, I’m your girl! (Apparently!)

Except if your comment is “Suck on my hairy balls.” (That really happened.) The guy gave no reasoning, no explanation. Just – “Suck on my hairy balls.”

Then I have no words for you.

So tell me, what’s your superpower?

Hayley x

10 English terms containing the word ‘Dutch’

We’ve all heard of ‘Dutch Courage’ and ‘Going Dutch’ but do you know what a Dutch Oven is? Or a Dutch Rudder? Here are my top 10 English terms containing the word Dutch:

Trivio Restaurant, Loosdrecht

1. Dutch Courage – drinking to increase bravery.

2. Dutch Widow – prostitute.

3. Dutch Uncle – someone who gives frank or harsh comments, much like a close member of the family would.

4. Going Dutch – in dating, when you split the bill 50/50. Or in groups when parties pay for their own bills.

5. Double Dutch – hard to understand, incomprehensible, nonsense.

6. Dutch Door – a door which is divided horizontally, so that the bottom half may remain shut while the top half opens (American English).

7. Dutch Cap – contraceptive diaphragm.

8. Dutch Auction – an auction that starts at a high price, then lowers dramatically until someone is willing to buy the item.

9. Dutch Oven – the act of trapping a person under the bed covers after farting.

And for my personal favourite…

10. Dutch Rudder – while masturbating, another person pulls up and down on the (masturbating person’s) forearm.

Colourfully explained in the film Zack & Miri Make a Porno, you can watch the clip here:

Which is your favourite? Or is there something I’ve missed from the list?

Hayley x

Vier Porties Bitterballen, Graag – A weekend of gluttony

Four portions of bitterballen, please – Een weekend vol vraatzucht

Last weekend, we had friends over from England, so despite my suggestions of a day in Utrecht or Gouda, they were fixed on Amsterdam. No surprises there. So when in Amsterdam… do as the Amsterdammers do. We took them for bitterballen… and they were perhaps the best bitterballen I’ve tasted thus far!!!

Saturday (Valentine’s Day) 

We went to the SkyLounge at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam (cor, that’s a mouthful!) because it’s close to the station and THE VIEW… oh, THE VIEW! Undoubtedly one of the best views in Amsterdam. My Dutch friend introduced me to this place last summer but told me I had to keep it a secret… however a) I asked her permission before posting this and b) if you Google ‘best views in Amsterdam’ it comes up anyway… so…

Yeah, the SkyLounge. (Other sky bars are available.)

This place is ultra-swanky, so when paying €8.50 for 6 bitterballen: they’d better be damn good! And that they were! Seriously posh bitterballen – they tasted homemade. So I’ll give them my highest score so far – 9.5/10 with half a point being deducted due to the price. (Ha! Look at me being all Dutch!)

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After devouring our borrelhapjes we set off towards Woo Brothers on Jodenbreestraat. We’ve been here once before for their Asian fusion food (with the same friend – her choice) and yet again, they didn’t disappoint. Here’s their sashimi platter, plus marinated oysters just to the right. Mmmmmmmmmm…

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I love that this place is full of locals and the tourists haven’t cottoned on yet. It’s quite young, hip and trendy (and I realise I sound completely old, unhip and untrendy just by saying that) and the prices reflect the outstanding quality of food. It’s not crazy-expensive, but it’s not cheap either. Here, you definitely get what you pay for.

We had to take an early dinner slot as it was Valentine’s day and they were fully booked after 7.15pm (unsurprisingly – so best to book in advance if you want to eat here). Food tips: the oysters, salt and pepper squid and the soft shelled crab are all finger-lickin’-good!

At the end of the evening – and I have no idea how they managed it – but my friends wanted to order a waffle, so we took them to Delicious on Nieuwmarkt square. Along with The Dutchie, they had a huge waffle, ice cream AND cream each. I didn’t take a photo as I might just have split my stomach in the process!!

Sunday (Tour d’amour)

We were back in the Dam again on Sunday for a Tour d’amour of the Rijksmuseum. A (Dutch) friend of ours is a tour guide, so this was her wedding gift to us. All together now: “ahhhhhhh”.

We went with the Dutchie’s family and some friends, 11 of us in total, and learnt about many of the lesser known paintings in the museum, all with the theme of love.

The tour ended with De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch). Not really about love, but you can’t go to the Rijksmuseum and not visit the most famous painting there, right?

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[Want to see more Rijksmuseum pics? Check out my Instagram account.]

Back to the food: we visited Cafe Loetje which is around a 5 min walk from the Rijksmuseum. (They have seven branches in total, the one we went to was on Johannes Vermeerstraat).

“Specialty steaks & classical Dutch dishes are served at this bustling cafe with a shaded terrace.” Right you are, Google.

So, what did we order? More bitterballen!!! :) I feel full just looking at this picture…

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They look the same, but in fact: the bitterballen on the left are gewoon bitterballen (normal bitterballen) and the ones on the right are garnalen bitterballen (prawns!) In the middle you see vlammetjes! (Spicy ground beef enveloped in a little parcel and deep-fried.)

These bitterballen get 8/10. Love the flags, a really cute touch! But the colouring is too dark and they’re not round! 10/10 for taste though, especially the prawn bad boys!

After the sharing platter (which we shared with the whole table, not just us fatties), the Dutchie had a ‘Bali’ steak, served with a special hot sauce – this place is famous for its steaks, so it had to be done! I went for the slightly less adventurous Pastrami club sandwich. All in all: good grub, good service and the place had a really friendly atmosphere.

And, when the bill came? We went Dutch!! (Everyone paid their own bill.) What else? ;-)

A weekend of pure gluttony. Oh… and this coming weekend I have another friend coming over from England! Eat, Sleep, Bitterballen, Repeat. Poor me, eh?

We’re probably going to try Brouwerij ‘t IJ but if you have any other ideas or inspiration, please let me know in the comments below! Thanks!

Hayley x

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5 Peculiar Things You May Find In A Dutch Bathroom

Don’t worry, no toilet humour here. I’m not going to let this get (too) gross… just pointing out five things that you may find in a Dutch toilet or bathroom that you’re not quite used to…

1. Old faithful, the Toilet Calendar

Toilet Calendar

Go into any Dutch person’s toilet and the thing you are most likely to see is a calendar hanging on the back of the door. This is not any ordinary calendar. It is the Dutch birthday calendar or verjaardagskalendar

Never forget a birthday again! What with the Dutch being so tight I mean, thrifty, this calendar is perpetual so it doesn’t have any days of the week or years. That way, they can use it year after year without the need to replace it. After all, people’s birthdays don’t change – so it’s very Dutch, very logical.

And why in the bathroom (or toilet!) I hear you ask!? Well, without going into detail… it’s a place where you go every day and have some time and space… Kinda makes sense, don’t you think? Forget the hallway or kitchen – toilet calendars are the way forward!

2. A tiny sink with only cold water

Thriftiness strikes again. Dutch toilets are often separate from the bathroom, and they’re tiny. You have just enough space to squeeze in, spin around and plonk yourself down. No square metres are wasted here.

Do your business, then wash your hands… in the tiniest sink you’ve ever seen. Wanna kill bacteria? Get pumping on that handwash! You sure as shit aren’t going to kill any germs with the water… there’s no hot tap.

3. Inspection shelf toilet

Ok, this is a bit gross. But before you ask… I am sooooo not putting a picture of one of these on my blog. So if you wanna see a photo (you sicko) then just Google image ‘inspection shelf toilet’.

Otherwise, use your imagination. Think about the bowl of a toilet. There’s the ‘normal’ hole filled water but instead of being in the centre of the bowl, it’s at the front. At the back of the bowl, instead of sloping upwards gradually – there’s a porcelain shelf.

So you go to the loo, it lands on the shelf. Then when you’re done ‘inspecting’ – you flush it off the shelf. Apparently a German invention… and quite frankly, not one of their better ones!

4. Scheurkalender

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In addition to a birthday calendar, you might also find a scheurkalender  (literally meaning tear calendar) which comes in the form of block of single sheets, almost like a notepad, for you to read and then rip off every day.

These calendars are normally funny and entertaining… or at the very least educational ;-) The idea is that you learn something new every day… or at least get a laugh…

The Dutch obviously like to keep busy when they’re on the throne!

5. Washer and Dryer

I’ve seen this in Norway too and I’m sure other countries do it… but Dutch people often have their washing machine and tumble dryer in the bathroom.

Often they’re stacked on top of one another to save space. Typically, in England, you’d find this equipment in the kitchen, but I like the Dutch way much better! Means there’s more room in the kitchen for an oven and dishwasher!

So, anything missing from this list? Are there any other strange quirks you’ve noticed about Dutch bathrooms / toilets?

Hayley x

You Know You’re Becoming Dutch When…

© in pastel / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© in pastel / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

If you have lived in the Netherlands for a certain amount of time, you may find yourself exhibiting some strange new habits. Be warned: You are becoming Dutch! Here are some signs to watch out for:

1. Air raid sirens. At midday on the first Monday of the month, you no longer jump out of your skin when the emergency alarms are tested.

2. Chocolate for breakfast. Chocolate sprinkles on bread, with butter is an acceptable (and preferred) breakfast option!!

3. Advanced cycling. You are able to ride your bike whilst doing one or more of the following: texting on your phone, rolling a cigarette, holding an umbrella, carrying 23 bags of shopping, a case of beer, an item larger than yourself, 3 children.

4. Pro cycling. You are also perfectly capable of cycling whilst stoned, inebriated, or both.

5. Windmills. There are no excited yelps or screams in the car when passing a windmill.

6. Calcium-rich lunch. You consider bread, cheese and a glass of milk a satisfying and well-balanced lunch.

7. Oranjegekte. You not only love the colour orange, you possess a box dedicated to orange clothing and accessories, used once a year in April and during major sporting events.

8. Net curtains. You don’t own them.

9. The Guttural Dutch G. You can confidently pronounce Gefeliciteerd without it hurting your throat or spraying people with saliva.

10. Birthday parties. It’s your male friend’s birthday. You congratulate his partner, son, daughter, his mother and father, plus his brothers and sisters. Oh, and his neighbour.

11. Doe normaal! You have unintentionally uttered one or more of the following phrases: Doe normaal! Ja, hoor! Het was gezellig! Helaas Pindakaas! Wat jammer! Wat een kutweer!!!

12. Lekker. When eating something delicious, you wave frantically at your own face.

13. Love for camping. When asked about your holiday plans, “I’m going to a camping” (note the countable noun) is the most commonly adopted answer.

14. Stamppot. For dinner, you are particularly fond of lumpy mashed potato, mashed vegetables and a U-shaped boiled sausage.

15. Pepernoten. In December, you enjoy having nuts thrown at you.

How Dutch are you? Anything else to add to the list?

Hayley x