Weekendje weg tip: Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee

This place is so friggin’ cool that I thought I’d share it with you guys, because I’m nice like that.

Yesterday we took our second trip to Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee. Technically it’s located in ‘s-Gravenzande but it’s very close to Hoek van Holland and a little town called Monster! (Yep, you read that right. Monster. Tee hee hee…)

And why is it so good I hear you ask? Let me show you :)

If you bend over in front of me, I will take a picture of your ass and post it on the internet.

[If you bend over in front of me, I will take a picture of your ass and post it on the internet.]

The End.

Just kidding, the view is equally as good without rollerblading chicks. Right?

 's-Gravenzande

The gorgeous beach is only a 10 minute walk from the campsite (and no, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love it here!)

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd, 's-Gravenzande

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd

If you enjoy a borrel – there are three bars on the beach: Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd, De Pit and Elements Beach. Especially for you, we went to all three! (Only for testing purposes, obviously.)

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd is the classiest (read: most expensive) of the three, and De Pit and Elements both have a more relaxed, hippie vibe. At the first two, we only had drinks… but we tasted the food at Elements, including bitterballen!

Bitterballen at Elements Beach

It was a mixed bag. The bitterballen scored a 7/10 because they were slightly overcooked and they were tiny! (Except one! I think that one came from a different bag…)

The kibbeling was good, the mussels were average. I would avoid the groenten tempura (vegetable tempura) as it was super greasy!!

The service was also really (really) slow at Elements but they were busy, what with it being a Saturday afternoon in August and all… so I can forgive them. Totally worth a visit for the atmosphere and cool setting. Good vibes is no understatement!

Elements Beach, s Gravenzande

Elements Beach in 's-Gravenzande

Elements Beach in 's-Gravenzande

I love the wood carvings too!

Oh… and let’s talk about the beach again…

Hoek Van Holland

In the background you can see the Hoek van Holland :)

's-Gravenzande strand

I was doing my Instagram / blogger thing here… and the Dutchie thought he’d do the same…

's-Gravenzande strand

Hup Holland indeed! And speaking of… how Dutch is this next photo!?

's-Gravenzande strand

Thank you cycling Dutch person for coming into my shot at the exact right moment!

Back to the campsite… it’s definitely one of the better ones: well organised, clean, fantastic location and well priced! Just beware though, the reception operates limited opening times. On Saturday that was 10am – 3pm, we didn’t know this and arrived at 3.15pm. Luckily there was a member of staff still there and she happily helped us. Phew! It also closes for lunch (12 – 1pm) so just make sure you check the opening times in advance to avoid disappointment!

There’s also a pancake restaurant on site. We didn’t go there but it has good reviews on IENS (a Dutch restaurant review site similar to Trip Advisor).

He pannenkoek, 's-Gravenzande

Leuke naam, hé?

's-Gravenzande strand

If you love camping, the beach and being a hippie for a day… you should totally go here. It’s brilliant.

Do you know any other awesome campsites that you’d like to share with me?

Hayley x

Live in Hilversum or nearby? You might want to go to Hoorneboegse Heide right about now…

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

Hoorneboegse Heide

Hoorneboegse Heide, Hilversum

No filters, no Photoshop, no fancy camera – just my iPhone.

It really is this beautiful!

Want to visit? Just put Hoorneboegse Heide into Google Maps.

You’re welcome!

Hayley x

Exploring England: Being a tourist in my home country

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have probably noticed that I posted quite a few pictures from England in the past few weeks. That’s because the Dutchie and I spent 10 days back in the ‘hood as we had two weddings to attend, a week apart.

Was it a holiday? Sort of. Do I feel rested? Hell no! Does England feel like home? Definitely not.

So, what to do when you’re in England staying in 10 different places for 10 nights? Pretend to be a tourist! :D Or as my best friend described us: “you’re like posh gypsies travelling round in your Audi”. Thanks for that, darling!

Highlights of our trip:

Southampton – Baby Shower for my sister

Baby shower cake

I’ve never been to a baby shower before. There was a game which involved having to guess which chocolate was smeared inside a nappy. I was not impressed. However, all the “baby people” seemed to enjoy it immensely my little sister was glowing which was lovely. Less than 2 weeks to go until her due date!!

My brother’s wedding

Wedding table

Everyone cried. Everyone except the Dutchie that is – who was looking the wrong way when my brother broke down as the bride walked in. I can understand why – she was a princess. A very special moment.

Lyndurst, The New Forest with my best friend

New Forest ponies

(Despite her gypsy comment. Kinda why I love her… like me… she has no filter whatsoever.)

I feel the same way about horses as I do about swans. They’re pretty, from a distance. Though when horses start running downhill towards you… not so fun!

New forest horses

We skedaddled out of the way with her 7 month year old boy before I felt safe enough to take this. Bit of a scary moment!!

Kittys of Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst is a gorgeous little touristy town. I also recommend the village of Burley which my Mum describes as having “quaint little shops with knick-knacky things”. Pretty much sums up every shop in the New Forest!

Whitchurch near Basingstoke – Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Definitely one of the highlights of our trip! I lived in Basingstoke for 6 years and never knew about this place – but with good reason – it only opened its doors in October 2014. (6 months after I left England.) It was a bit of a dreary day when we visited, but luckily most of the tour is inside.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

This beaut (two greenhouses joined together) was designed by award winning British designer Thomas Heatherwick – famous for the 2012 London Olympic Cauldron, the Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010,  and the New Bus for London.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

The greenhouses are used to house the botanicals needed for Bombay Sapphire: almond, lemon peel, angelica root, coriander seeds, juniper berries, orris root, cassia bark, grains of paradise, liquorice and cubeb berries.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

After schmoozing round for a bit, exploring the grounds and then tasting and smelling all the botanicals which go into Bombay Sapphire… you then go into the “Dakin Still House”… where the magic happens!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

One of the tour guides takes you through the gin making process and you get to see Thomas and Mary – the two distillation machines which produce over 33 million litres of Bombay Sapphire Gin per year. Amazing stuff.

There’s also the heritage room where you can find out the history behind Laverstock Mill and Bombay Sapphire.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

We have the Dutch to thank for gin – as they invented jenever – from which gin evolved.

DANKJEWEL DUTCHIES!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Then the last thing to do on the tour? Drink a gin cocktail!! LEKKKKKKKER!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Hammersmith, London

Hammersmith Canal

Another friend of ours lives in London so we took a walk along the Thames, part of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race course… leading to Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge

Farnham

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

While visiting another friend, this time in Farnham, we stumbled upon St Andrew’s Church.

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

More walking… I love walking!

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

I also love wine.

IMG_4744a

(FYI – Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces – THE best pub snack known to (wo)man!  They blew my previous fave – scampi fries – right out of the water!! The best discovery of our trip. The Dutchie and I are now obsessed. We bought 8 bags to take home with us and have since ordered more online!! Wooei… I can’t talk about these bad boys enough!)

2nd Wedding of the trip, near Milton Keynes

Indigo Images

Photo credit: Indigo Images

One of my best friends from University tied the knot. Another beautiful day and the perfect end to our trip!

The Travelling Gin Co.

They had a gin bike… (The Travelling Gin Co.) as if we hadn’t had enough gin that week ;-) and an Oyster Meister. Dangerous and delicious.

Oyster Meister

Conclusion: I love England but I don’t miss it. I only miss my friends, family and English pubs.

Have you been to England? What were the highlights of your visit?

Hayley x

The Dutch Guide to Cycling

Your alternative guide to cycling in the Netherlands…

“There is no happier cyclist than a Dutch cyclist” (CyclinginHolland.com) but why is this? The flat land? The most extensive cycle network in the world? Priority over motorised vehicles? Who knows for sure… but the Dutch bloody love their two-wheeled best friends.

So, what does it take to be a Dutch cyclist?

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

1. Your bike has no gears and a foot brake.

2. You lock it with a strange ring contraption – a “ringslot”, which no one else has ever heard of.

3. Your bike is named after a granny.

4. You scoff at the mere thought of wearing a helmet! How ridiculous!

5. You take your bike on holiday with you. And if you can’t… you hire one instead.

Camping with bikes

6. If you are in possession of children, you buy a bike with a wheelbarrow on the front to transport them to school.

7. You can carry multiple children.

8. Or a fully grown adult on the parcel shelf.

9. There are more bikes than people in your household.

Bikes at Hilversum Station

10. Ladies: You have adorned your bike with a basket, flowers, a colourful paint job… or all three.

11. In order to prevent theft – your bike is a rust bucket with a permanent squeak.

12. You park it next to a nicer bike in the hope that it won’t get stolen.

13. You can ride whilst rolling a joint.

14. Or carrying a case of beer.

15. Or a printer.

Cycling whilst carrying large objects

16. In fact, your ability to ride when stoned, inebriated, or both means you can cycle to the kroeg (pub) or to parties!

17. You can have a completely normal conversation on your mobile phone without wobbling, swearing or falling off.

18. Hell, you can ride with no hands.

19. You are a champion, superhuman bike rider.

20. You are Dutch.

Hayley x

Sunflowers in Hilversum – Remembering the victims of flight MH17

A year has passed since the MH17 air disaster. It happened on July 17th 2014 and Hilversum was one of the towns hardest hit. Fifteen residents were killed among the 298 passengers on board.

To commemorate one year since the tragedy, Hilversum is in bloom. The town is awash with bright yellow sunflowers.

According to some news reports, the seeds were taken from a field near the Ukrainian town of Torez, where the plane crashed, and were given to a victim’s father by a journalist who covered the disaster. They state that some were passed on to St Vitus church and others were entrusted to the city’s chief gardener, Hans Roon, who planted them in Hilversum’s botanical garden. (Sources: RFE/RL and The Guardian)

Hayley x

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum.)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

 

Strange Dutch Celebrations: Having a baby in the Netherlands

This is the last post in the mini-series: Strange Dutch Celebrations.

(Just in case you missed the other posts: Seeing Abraham & Sarah (Turning 50 in the Netherlands) and The 12 and a half year wedding anniversary.)

Beschuit met muisjes

From these previous posts, we learned that Dutch people are a bit barmy when it comes to celebrating birthdays and anniversaries… So what happens when they have a baby?

Well, my dear readers… you’re in for a treat! It’s about to get a whole lot weirder.

Back home, in England, when someone has a baby… they will probably call their Mum… and then after a few days, the (hopefully) happy couple will get in touch with other friends and family to announce their new arrival. Some people plaster the event all over Facebook. Their choice.

In Holland?

You just announce it to the whole street! With coloured banners, bunting, balloons etc (blue for a boy, pink for a girl) possibly a stork… and any other baby related paraphernalia you can think of.

Situatie gewijzigd = situation changed

Situatie gewijzigd = situation changed

Situation changed! It sure has!!

Then comes the baby announcement card aka the Geboortekaartje.

Organised parents-to-be will have already selected the card design and the baby name, so when their little bundle of joy arrives… all they have to do is fill in the date, time and weight at birth. Oh and because they’re Dutch = the baby’s length! A very important detail!

The geboortekaartje (literally: birth card) is something we Brits could definitely learn from the Dutch! All the vital statistics, on one piece of card – it’s so handy! (Especially if you’re like me: terrible with remembering birthdays and suchlike!)

So. You’ve got your card – which means you’re part of the inner circle. Now to visit the little pipsqueak.

Brace yourselves for the worst part.

Even worse than holding a brand new, tiny baby and thinking the whole time: “Shit… what if I drop it!?”

You need to eat a rusk with butter and aniseed balls on top.

Beschuit met Muisjes

Beschuit met Muisjes

Told you.

**Bleeeeeeeeeugh!**

I’m not a baby. I don’t eat rusk. I especially don’t eat rusk with butter! I especially, especially don’t eat rusk with butter and ANISEED BALLS!!

Yet, it’s a Dutch custom… so when a baby is born, you’ve got to do it.

Beschuit met muisjes (literally: rusk with little mice, real meaning: rusk with aniseed balls) come in three types. White and blue balls for a boy. White and pink balls for a girl. And white and orange balls when a new member of the Royal family is born!

Are you looking forward to geboortekaartjes dropping through your letterbox!? Wahahahaha!!

Hayley x

Strange Dutch Celebrations: 12 and a half year wedding anniversary

Wedding rings

Next month it’ll be mine and the Dutchie’s 1 year wedding anniversary. WOW – how quick has that gone!? So now seems like a good time to talk about Dutch wedding anniversaries… but first, to put it into context… here’s what we’re used to in the UK (and from what I can gather, it’s pretty similar in the US too).

The English tend to celebrate their wedding anniversaries every year, well at least the two of them anyway. But how long do you have to wait until it’s time for a big old party!? Generally, people celebrate ‘properly’ when they make it to 20 or 25 years.

In case you’re not au fait with traditional wedding anniversary names, here’s the list of edited highlights:

1st Paper
10th Tin
15th Crystal
20th China
25th Silver
30th Pearl
40th Ruby
50th Gold
60th Diamond

The names of some of the anniversaries are supposed to provide guidance for appropriate gifts for the spouses to give each other, but I’m not sure if people still do that nowadays. We still call the biggies by their traditional names though, for example most people would know what a “Golden” wedding anniversary is.

So anyway, if you’re Dutch… when do you celebrate your wedding anniversary?

After 12 and a half years, of course!

Sorry, you what?

So you get married in August 2014 and you have a party to celebrate your anniversary in February 2027… Riiiiiiight…

12.5 jaar getrouwd

Good old Wikipedia confirms that in Holland, they also have a similar method to the UK, but they also (apparently) celebrate 37 ½ months, 6 ¼ years and 12 ½ years:

jaar = year
maanden = months

1 jaar Katoen (Cotton)
37 ½ maanden Blik (Tin)
6 ¼ jaar IJzer (Iron)
10 jaar Blik (Tin)
12 ½ jaar Koper (Copper)
20 jaar Porselein (Porcelain)
25 jaar Zilver (Silver)
30 jaar Parel (Pearl)
40 jaar Robijn (Ruby)
50 jaar Goud (Gold)
60 jaar Diamant (Diamond)

And the real reason why the Dutch celebrate 12 ½ years of marriage? They can’t be arsed to wait 25 years for an excuse to party!

Hear! Hear!

Yet another reason why I love the Dutch.

Hayley x