7 ways living in the Netherlands has changed me

You're so weird

1. I’m bilingual… kinda. 

I think and speak in two languages and I can switch between the two. (Most of the time, anyway.) Apparently, I now talk differently when I speak English – so my friends from the UK tell me. More slowly. It’s probably not a bad thing. My best friend also says that my intonation is different but she’s the only one to comment on that. I don’t care though. I feel like speaking Dutch is a super power!


2. I travel more…

I travel more because everything’s new and exciting – and close by!! I actually feel bad for the Dutchie, because when he lived in the UK, we didn’t do that much exploring: we went to London of course… and Brighton, Bournemouth, the New Forest and Weymouth… but apart from that – not a lot. Now we’re slap bang in the middle of Europe, it’s so much easier – no flights, no ferries, no schedules – you just jump in your car (or in our case our camper van) and drive. It’s definitely made me (and us) want to travel more.


3. Fashion & grooming aren’t so important to me anymore… 

Last time I had my hair cut? December. In the UK it was every 6-8 weeks, except when I was a student… then it was whenever I could afford it. Last time I bought clothes? Also December, I think. I used to shop once a WEEK in England, seriously! Sometimes even multiple times a week! Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes slick on a bit of red lippy or very occasionally wear high heels (if I don’t have to walk or cycle long distances) but that’s about it. I’m a very toned down version of my English self – and I like it.


4. I rarely talk about money… (and I care A LOT less about material things in general!) 

Dutch people don’t talk about money. Not the people I know, anyway. No one asks how much you earn or how much your last holiday cost or how much you pay per month for your car. They just don’t. I find it refreshing. When I go back to the UK, I feel like everything’s a competition – who has the biggest house or the fanciest car/watch/jewellery. Here, no one gives a fuck. And the majority of Dutchies don’t use credit cards either, it’s all cash or bank card. They live to their means. (Very sensible in my opinion.)


5. I am confident on a bicycle… (and I don’t own a car!) 

I used to be confident riding a bike until I was about 16/17! (A BMX btw, I was a total tomboy.) Then I bought a car and didn’t cycle again until my late 20’s. These days, my sole mode of transport is my bike… or my own two feet! I work from home, so it’s not necessary for me to own a car. I occasionally drive at weekends, or in the evening if needed – but like a lot of Dutchies – cycling is my primary mode of transport.


6. I have a much better work / life balance… 

I work 4 days a week. So does the Dutchie. Last year we had friends over from the UK with their toddler, they both work full-time and were astonished that we both work part-time. “But how do you afford it?” Well, we don’t have kids for one…

We share a car, we have a mortgage we can afford (we don’t need lots of space because there are only two of us) and we have money left over for meals out and holidays. Why would we NEED to work more?


7. I have embraced deep-fried snacks… 

In a previous life, I would avoid anything deep-fried. “Too unhealthy, too fatty” etc etc. Now that I walk or cycle every single day, I can embrace the occasional treat. Why the heck not? I’m not a cake/sweet person… so Dutch deep-fried snacks are my guilty pleasure. Bitterballen for life ❤


How about you? How have you changed since you have lived in NL?

Hayley x



An alternative way to explore Amsterdam

I used to think that the best way to explore Amsterdam was on foot. In my opinion, it’s definitely not by bike! But since taking two boat trips in Amsterdam last year, my mind has been firmly changed!

My first proper boat trip in Amsterdam (excluding the drunken times late on Queen’s / Kingsday when it was dark and blurry) was in August last year when my English friend came to stay. One of the Dutchie’s best friends has a boat, so he offered to take us out for the day. Literally the best day I’ve ever had in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam by boat

Amsterdam by boat

Our friend is a born and bred Amsterdammer, so he navigated the canals with ease while we sat back and relaxed, enjoying the views and drinking chilled white wine! Absolute bliss!

Amsterdam by boat

So when the lovely Marcel from Mokumboot contacted me out of the blue shortly afterwards, asking if I’d like to use one of their boats for me and up to 7 friends, I jumped at the chance!

It was tough deciding who to take, but my parents came over in November with two of their friends, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to show them a different side to Amsterdam. They had all visited the city before, but none of them had been on a boat trip – so we set sail with Captain Dutchie at the wheel! (I was much too much of a wuss to drive the boat myself!)



We picked the boat up from Mokumboot Oost which is conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from Brouwerij ‘t IJ. (A brewery next to a windmill – an Amsterdam institution! I highly recommend that you visit! Maybe after the boat trip though, eh?)

It was a slightly different kettle of fish to our adventure in August… in that it was freeeeeeezing! So much so that my iPhone actually died halfway through the trip and we had to go to a pub to warm up!! But at least it mean the canals were empty! We only saw a couple of other boats during our 2-hour cruise.


Mokumboot Amsterdam

The best thing about seeing Amsterdam by boat is that you get a totally different perspective! You can take photos that you just wouldn’t be able to on foot.


Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

At the end of our trip, we were treated to a spectacular sunset (*pats herself on the back for exceptional planning*)! The perfect way to end the day!

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Would you be brave enough to drive a boat around the Amsterdam canals? Or have you already done so?

Hayley x


Total blogger transparency: I was given complimentary boat hire without pressure to write a post. I am writing this post because I LOVED it. All opinions and witterings are entirely my own. 


21 places to visit in the Netherlands (that aren’t Amsterdam)

Hi! *waves* 🙂

So… my plan is to write about all these places individually, if I haven’t already, but that might take a while… and you know how I love a good list!! So in the meantime, here’s a list of my favourite places to visit in Holland! How many have you been to?

1. Amersfoort

I have definitely overlooked Amersfoort in the past, but this is soon to be rectified! It’s perfect for an afternoon of wandering and/or if you want to combine a city trip with some shopping. Make sure you visit Koppelpoort, the Medieval city gate. (I took my friends here last year and nearly forgot it!! Doh!)

Koppelpoort, Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Koppelpoort, Amersfoort

2. Arnhem

Arnhem is situated close to the German border – and that’s the precise reason we’ve been there – on the way to Germany! It’s also close to Hoge Veluwe National Park (see point 11.) and Nijmegen (point 15.) so it’s the perfect destination to combine with other trips!

3. Delft

Delft is sooooo pretty. I really loved my first visit here and I’ve been dying to go back ever since. You’ll probably recognise the name from the famous Delft blue pottery which comes from the area.


4. Domburg

Domburg is a seaside town in Zeeland which is probably about all the explaining I need to do. Beach, seafood, more beach, more seafood. It’s lovely. You should go.

5. Giethoorn

Giethoorn is a tourist paradise, so it can get pretty overcrowded… but if you go in shoulder season (April/May or September) you should miss the worst of the crowds. It’s mostly a car-free village, known for its boat-filled waterways! Hire an electric boat and go on a self guided tour around the “Venice of Holland”.


6. Gouda

You’ll probably recognise the name because of the world famous cheese – and if cheese is your thing – get yourself there on a Thursday for the weekly cheese market. (Open from April until August.)

Gouda, the Netherlands

7. Groningen

I finally made it to Groningen!!! My friend Sophie from Feast with Sophie used to live here, so along with Senja from Little House in Utrecht, we went exploring there last Saturday. I’ve got to say: believe the hype! I liked it so much I want to go back in the summer once the weather is a bit better. It’s got a studenty vibe similar to Utrecht (I’ve never seen so many colourful bikes) but then with more canals and boats!

8. Haarlem

Come here if you want to go shopping! Cute town which seemingly always has a market going on! (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday!) Be sure to try Viqh wine bar and Jopenkerk brewery! The latter sells BEER BITTERBALLEN! Need I say more?


9. Harderwijk

Known for the Dolfinarium, there’s more to Harderwijk than just a sea life attraction – so I’m told! This is somewhere I definitely need to revisit.

10. Hilversum

Ha ha ha. It had to be done! So, I’m 100% biased on Hilversum. But if you find yourself in ‘t Gooi, come and have a look at the nature and the Foodhall (MOUT) at least. There’s also a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the main market square. Plus loads of bars, restaurants and shopping… we even have a Primark!!! ❤

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

11. Hoge Veluwe National Park

One of my favourite places to go when I’m in a nature mood! Which these days, is quite often. As part of the park’s entry fee, you can hire bikes at no additional cost. It’s a great way to explore and you can cover much more ground than if you were on foot. The bonus is there are no cars or any other traffic, you only need to avoid pedestrians and other bikes – so it’s perfect for tourists or those less comfortable on two wheels!

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

12. Hoorn

Hoorn is so pretty! But then again, aren’t most places near water? 🙂 This place will always have a special place in my heart as it’s one of the first places I visited in the Netherlands on my own.

13. Kinderdijk

With a whopping 19 windmills (that’s 6 more than Zaanse Schans) this is without a doubt my favourite place to see molens! You can easily spend a few hours walking around and then relax in the friendly on-site cafe afterwards.


14. Leiden 

Predominantly a University town, Leiden is a nice place to visit if you’re in Zuid (South) Holland. As well as Molen de Valk, there are botanical gardens plus a lively food & drinks scene. The best way to explore is on foot, or via a canal tour. It’s also close to Katwijk aan Zee if you fancy combining it with a beach trip!

Leiden, The Netherlands

15. Nijmegen

Another one on my ‘places to go back to’ list, Nijmegen’s Grote Markt is one of the prettiest market squares I’ve seen. And I’ve been to lots of Belgian cities!!

16. Renesse

We visited Renesse in April 2017 over the Easter holidays and immediately fell in love. The beach is 13 miles long and is dotted with bars and restaurants so you can walk and bar hop to your heart’s content. The town itself is picturesque and has a great vibe to it. Over the summer it becomes packed with holidaymakers, but visiting off peak will ensure a more pleasant experience! I recommend Grand Cafe Helder (seafood) and Wijnbar BRUT (everything)!

Foodie delights in Renesse

17. Texel (or any of the Frisian Islands really…)

The Waddeneilanden (known in English as the Wadden Islands, Wadden Sea Islands or Frisian Islands… come on people, pick one!!) are popular and with good reason! Texel is the biggest and most popular island, but my aim this year and beyond is to visit at least one of the other islands: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland or Schiermonnikoog. The Dutchie used to go to Terschelling loads when he was a kid, so that’s my first priority!

18. Utrecht

I love Utrecht (as you might have heard!!) and I visit all the time. Probably once or twice a month. It’s Amsterdam’s cooler, younger sibling! My fave places to go: Kimmade, Beers & Barrels, Konnichiwa, Daen’s, Blackbird Coffee & Vintage, Jozef, Sla, Bagels & Beans… I could go on… or I could get my arse into gear and write a whole post about it…

19. Zandvoort

The best beach I’ve been to in the Netherlands so far. For drinks and a chilled out vibe head to Ubuntu and for delicious seafood go to Hippy Fish. A dedicated post about the best beaches in Holland is coming soon! (I hope!)

20. Zaanse Schans (and Zaandam)

Totally touristy, but fun! Lots of windmills, clogs and cute Dutch houses. And if you’ve travelled all the way here already, you might as well visit Zaandam briefly as well to see the ridiculous looking Inntel Hotel!

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

21. Zwolle

It’s tiny, but good things come in small packages, right? My nephew studies here, hence why it was on our radar. Known locally as Zwollywood, this is another vibrant student town. (Actually I just Googled it and it’s a city.) Anyhoo, if you go make sure you make a stop at Brasserie Jansen for “de lekkerste bitterballen van Zwolle” (their words – the tastiest bitterballen in Zwolle). I haven’t tried all the bitterballen in Zwolle (yet) so no comment… 😉

Where else would you add to the list? (Maastricht.. I know, I know, I *HAVE* to visit this year!!)

Hayley x

Some people are like wild horses…

Something a little bit different today.

I’ve had a theory about this for a while now, a couple of years at least, but I’ve never put pen to paper. Or fingertips to keyboard…

However, I have used this analogy when talking to a couple of close friends who were struggling to deal with their partners’ ahem, behaviour.

I was reminded about this subject last week when watching The Crown (OMG!! Have you seen it yet?? So awesome!) Anyway… there’s this conversation between The Queen and Lord Louis Mountbatten (her second cousin) and he advises:

“You married a wild spirit — we both did” (referring to his own wife)

“Trying to tame them is no use… when you really adore someone as fully and as hopelessly as I think you and I do, you put up with anything.”

I disagree.

I will not put up with ‘anything’ – not even from the people I love. My theory is that some people are not wild spirits, but more like wild horses. Bear with me for a minute…

If your partner/best friend/family member is a wild horse, you can’t just run wild alongside them. Two wild horses equals trouble. Whether it be an addiction or substance abuse or god knows what other things you could get yourselves into, in my opinion – it’s just not a good idea.

Equally, trying to tame them in the sense of locking them up in a stable and expecting them to behave like other horses isn’t going to work either. They will resent you, and try to bolt at any given opportunity.

So you need to learn to ride the horse. Without a saddle or stirrups. Now, I’m no horse rider, but I know that this is a challenge. One that is possible however. Through trial and error you will get there. You just need to master the balance and learn when to pull in the reins and when to let them be free…

Hayley x

The 13 best Dutch food and drinks to devour at Christmas time

Oliebollen stand outside Hilversum station

Oliebollen stand outside Hilversum station

Guys, is it even December if we don’t talk about food!?

It’s dark and cold outside, so you might as well use the excuse of Sinterklaas, Kerst (Christmas) and Oud en Nieuw (New Year) to sit indoors and get as fat as Santa. So without further ado, I present to you Bitterballenbruid’s 13 best festive food and drinks from the Netherlands…

1. Advocaat

Or eggnog… a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy. The Dutch love it because it’s basically boozy custard. And who can blame them?

2. Appelflappen

When anyone thinks of New Year in the Netherlands they think of oliebollen – but apple fritters / beignets (or apple turnovers as we’d call them in English) are v.popular too! My Dad used to be a baker and I loooooved apple turnovers when I was a kid.

3. Banketstaaf or banketletters

Pastry shaped into a log or a letter containing an almond flavour paste (known in the Netherlands as spijs or amandelspijs.) Absolutely delicious and about as traditional as you can get!!

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

4. Bisschopswijn

The Dutch version of glühwein (or mulled wine). Need I say more?

5. Bitterballen

Hahahahahahaha… not Christmassy at all. But fuck it – it’s my list! 😉

6. Boerenkoolstamppot

My favourite of all the mashed Dutch food.


Stamppot (meaning “mash pot”) consists of (lumpy) mashed potato with vegetables of your choice thrown in. My fave is with kale aka boerenkool. Stamppot is often served with rookworst (smoked sausage) and/or bacon lardons.

7. Erwtensoep (or Snert)

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

8. Gourmetten

Technically not a food or a drink, but a popular way of cooking / dining especially during the festive period! Read more about gourmetten.


9. Kerststol

Oval-shaped Christmas bread with dried fruits and more amandelspijs. The Dutch version of the German ‘Weihnachtsstollen’.

10. Marsepein

Marzipan, but in Dutch it’s pronounced something like mars-ze-pain (which makes me cackle every time)! Ewwww… I am not a fan, but a whole lot of Dutch people would disagree with me!

11. 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 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).


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

12. Pepernoten and Kruidnoten

Pepernoten  literally ‘pepper nuts’ are small, round-shaped cookie like things made from flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and cloves. My friend bought me some glutenvrije pepernoten this year so that I can still join in the fun! (Thanks, M! xx)

Glutenvrije pepernoten

Glutenvrije pepernoten

Not to be confused with kruidnoten literally meaning ‘spice nuts’ which are harder, have a different colour and shape and contain the same ingredients as speculaas… which leads me onto last but not least…

13. 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.

And the most important question: which is your favourite?

Hayley x


My 2017 Highlights

I’ve never written a post like this before (except perhaps this one) so please excuse the narcissism. Normally I keep things like this for my diary, but I think sometimes it’s good to share. I’m quite a private person, but do you know what… I’m grateful for this year and I aint afraid to show it. (And yup, I just referenced LMFAO. What have I become?!😂)

 Asia trip

Technically, the majority of this trip took place in 2016 – but I woke up in Thailand on 1st Jan 2017 (with a slightly sore head from multiple Long Island Iced Teas the night before) and boy was that a great way to start the year!

Thailand trip 2016

Yes, I took this photo. Monkey proud on myself!

We got back to Holland on 10th Jan, so we had a decent burst of sunshine before we returned to the cold, dark and wet weather here. Speaking of wet: we had torrential rain in Phuket for the last 48 hours of our trip, which was super annoying. However it did mean that I was able to reflect on the trip and write pages upon pages of my most memorable moments. (Something I probably wouldn’t have done had it been glorious weather – in that case we would’ve been out on a moped exploring and making the most of our last few days.) So although at the time we were disappointed, I think it happened for a reason. Something I’m a firm believer in.


Addressing my health concerns with the doctor

Probably should be a negative, but I’ve got my Positive Penny pants on today, so let’s turn it around! I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I was ill in Asia. Like really ill. Not just Bali belly; well unless Bali belly lasts for 2 and a half months…

I won’t say it ruined the trip, because I had an amazing time… but it definitely hindered my experience. So when I got home I went to the doctor and had loads of tests. Turns out I’m lactose and gluten intolerant, so that’s been fun completely overhauling my diet. (I’m not celiac thankfully, so silver linings and all that.)

Now, I know that Dutch doctors don’t have a great reputation, but my doctor was an absolute star. She listened and gave me every test under the sun for the food issues, plus sleeping pills. (I’ve had insomnia on and off for about 10 years and tried everything!) I’ve got to say, I’m still not 100%… but I feel 100 times better than the way I felt in Jan / Feb of this year.

I’m waffling now – but my point is to remind you that doctors are there to help. Many people fear going to the doctor, but they shouldn’t. It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help and just means that you want to get better.

So if you’re twijfeling about going to the doctor – just do it!


Buying our 2nd house in the Netherlands

This one is a no-brainer. Of course this has got to be a highlight! Well, the actual selling / buying process was a bloody nightmare (obviously) but now it’s over we can reflect on it positively.

Quite significant too as it means we’re in it for the long haul. We loved our old house, but we love this one even more and we both feel really settled in Hilversum. So much so, that I’m applying for Dutch citizenship. I need to do my inburgeringsexamen… hopefully early next year and once that’s done I can officially apply. If anyone’s interested, I might do a post about this next year in case it’s useful for anyone who is in the same boat.


New places opening in Hilversum

This might seem like a strange highlight, but long-term followers of the blog will know about my love affair with Hillywood.

There’s a new foodhall, Mout which is SUCH a good thing for the town AND it means I don’t have to go all the way to Utrecht when I fancy Vietnamese food now. Biercafé de BarBier also opened, which is another of my favourite new hangouts! Presto coffee had a refurb – it looks awesome! Oh and VIDA opened a wine bar! I haven’t been there yet but it looks really cool.

Mout Hilversum

Basically Hilversum is the next Utrecht: you heard it here first! 😉


Janis the VW camper van

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen Janis, named after Joplin, obvs. I got the idea for her name after watching the documentary ‘Little Girl Blue’. Seemed like the perfect hippy type name for a camper van.

Janis the camper van

Having a camper has opened up so many more travelling opportunities for us in 2017! This year we visited Renesse and Noordwijk in Janis, we also went to the UK (Cornwall and Devon), plus a road trip to France and Spain (Île de Ré, Burgundy, Girona and Barcelona) and we have lots more trips planned for 2018 and beyond.

As we all know, the Dutch love camping and caravanning and I am very happy to have joined the club! 😀

Now it’s your turn! What have been your highlights this year?

Hayley x


The 10 best pubs & bars in Hilversum (updated Oct 2017)

I first wrote this list about a year and a half ago, but things have changed since then! So it’s time for an update. Here’s a local’s guide to the best pubs and bars in Hillywood:

1. Cafe ‘t Tolhuis

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

This is staying at #1 as it’s still my favourite pub in Hilversum. I kinda don’t want to tell you about this one… but y’know, I’m a nice gal, so I’m gonna. But first a warning: it’s preeeeetty bloody hard to go here just for a drink without ordering food. As well as standard borrelhapjes they serve platters, tapas and a variety of mains. Everything is delicious. I think we managed to go here once without ordering food and we both complained the whole way home.

They have fantastic wine and I have no idea about the beer. They serve beer.

Apparently there’s live music here every Thursday, I have no idea how, it’s teeny! But anyway, go check it out. Brilliant place! (Oh and make sure you book a table if you want to eat!)

Soestdijkerstraatweg 2, 1213 XA Hilversum | tolhuis-hilversum.nl


2. Karroesel

Karroesel, Hilversum

Karroesel, Hilversum

My second favourite pub is definitely an acquired taste. It’s rustic… and by rustic I mean it’s a shithole. But a nice shithole. It’s where the ‘alternative’ (for want of a better word) crowd go in Hilversum. They’ve taken down the smoking room wall (which used to take up half of the pub!) so it looks way bigger these days. So now there’s a tiny smoking room – or just go outside! Pool table is still there and the music is loud and mostly aggressive.

As I say, an acquired taste. What I will say though – you’ll meet some interesting characters here!

Spoorstraat 44, 1211 GB Hilversum. No website. Proper old skool. 


3. Foodhall MOUT

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

A new addition to the list and to Hilversum! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I’m there quite a lot! It’s a great place to visit day and night – sometimes I go there to work, other times to eat and drink lots of wine. It’s an all-rounder and as many Dutch people would say, “een aanwinst voor Hilversum” – an asset to Hilversum. I couldn’t agree more!

Naarderstraat 8, 1211 AL Hilversum | mouthilversum.nl


4. The Guardian

Guardian, Hilversum

Photo credit: The Guardian  Hilversum Facebook Page

I had to get an English pub on the list, right?!?!? A pretty standard pub, slap bang in the middle of the Groest (the main street for bars/restaurants in Hillywood).

Does what it says on the tin.

Groest 33, 1211 CZ Hilversum | the-guardian.nl


5. Café Moeke

Cafe Moeke, Hollandsche Rading

Photo credit: Cafe Moeke Facebook Page

Ok, technically not Hilversum… but Hollandsche Rading. I can get here on my bike in 15 mins, so close enough I reckon.

Another bar / cafe / restaurant. Fantastic food… like a gastro pub. Their slogan is “de vijfsterren kroeg met eetallures” which roughly translates to “the five star pub with fine dining intentions”. Occasionally things sound better in Dutch. This is one of those times!

Anyway, never had a bad meal here and it doubles as a pub. Closest thing I have found to an English pub in Holland (and yes that even includes the “actual” English pub above!)

Utrechtseweg 263, 1213 TR Hilversum | cafemoeke.nl


6. Winebar Vintage 

Winebar Vintage, Hilversum

Photo credit: Winebar Vintage Facebook Page

I’ve been here a few times now and had some really delicious wine! They have “Meer dan 100 open wijnen”  – more than 100 open wines – so there really is something for everyone!

They also do hapjes and platters if you fancy a little something something next to your wine!

Spoorstraat 65, 1211 Hilversum | wijnbarvintage.nl


7. The Skiff

The Skiff, Hilversum

The Skiff, Hilversum

This place has to be on the list as they do FREE BITTERBALLEN for a couple of hours every Friday (6-8pm I think). Another pretty grungy place, but also frequented by hipsters.

Kampstraat 2bc, 1211 GE Hilversum | theskiff.nl


8. VIDA Vineria

VIDA Vineria, Hilversum

Photo credit: VIDA Vineria Facebook Page

I’m not sure if this one should be on the list because I haven’t been there yet… but I’ve heard good things and it has fab reviews on Trip Advisor, so 💁🏻

The people behind VIDA tapas restaurant have opened this second location next door to cater for those wanting wine and snacks rather than a full meal. I like.

Groest 16, 1211 EC Hilversumvida.nl


9. Barracuda

Another ‘acquired’ taste. This one’s a metal bar. There’s live music every Saturday. We went here late on Kingsday and the lovely bar lady let us play whichever songs we wanted. Good reason to go back in my book!!

Herenstraat 43, Hilversum. No pics, no website. You’ve got to see it to believe it.


10. Eetcafé Gulle Graef

Gulle Graaf Hilversum

Photo credit: Gulle Graef Facebook Page

Eetcafé technically means eatery but it’s going on the list because of their extensive beer menu! They also have cider which isn’t Strongbow or that sweet crap Apple Bandit, so they’re doing right in my book. Order a steak alongside your drinks and you won’t be disappointed!

Laanstraat 37, 1211 HG Hilversum | gullegraef.nl


Where’s your favourite place to go in Hilversum?

Hayley x


Leiden in pictures

I was looking through some old photographs last night and found some rather cute ones I took of Leiden in April last year. I’ve not got a lot to say about Leiden to be honest as I’ve only been twice. It’s a nice place to go and wander around for a few hours as it’s very pretty, but I personally didn’t think there was that much to do.

Still, if you’re in the area I think it’s worth having a look… but I’ll let the photos do the talking and let you decide for yourself:

Leiden, The Netherlands


Leiden, The Netherlands


Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands



Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands


Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands

What do you think?

Have I persuaded you to visit Leiden?

Hayley x

20 things that happen when you have visitors over to the Netherlands

Trying hard not to trample the tulips...

Trying hard not to trample the tulips…

We’ve all been there. Your friends or family want to come over and visit you! YAY!

“Where do you want to go?” (You’re hoping for aaaaaanything but Amsterdam.)



“OK. You know there’s more to Holland than just Amsterdam though, right?” “Oh but I reeeeeally want to see Anne Frank’s House…”

So, you end up going to Amsterdam for the three-hundred-and-forty-first time. It’s lucky I fucking like Amsterdam, you think through gritted teeth. And then the following happens:

1. First they complain about how steep the stairs are. EVERY TIME. The buildings are narrow, stairs are narrow, that means they’re steep. Get over it you stair loving freaks!

2. “What would you like to see while you’re over here?” “Oh… nothing in particular.” LIES!! What they actually want to see: coffeeshops, weed, space cake, prostitutes, Anne Franks’s house, windmills, tulips… FFS Susan, it’s October!! There are no fucking tulips in October!!

3. You show them what they actually should see: canals, architecture, Vondelpark, the Skylounge, Jordaan, street art, Foodhallen, Brouwerij ‘t IJ and they realise you’re the Queen of everything and they should’ve just let you plan the itinerary in the first place.

4. They marvel at how good the public transport system is. Like, I know bitch… that’s why I live here 💁🏻

5. You make them taste bitterballen. They fall in love and want to eat bitterballen at every available opportunity from now on. Oh and kaasstengels.

6. They are in awe of how everyone speaks such good English, but still want you to order *everything*… in Dutch. They look at you like you’re from another planet and are hooked on you performing your wizardry in real life.

7. They think you know the answer to *every* question about the country. “What are Dutch roofs made out of?” Like seriously dude, I know I live here but I’m neither a builder, roofer nor an architect! Google it FFS. “What kind of tree is that?” Ditto being a gardener or a frigging conservationist! I just live here!

8. They fancy going on a boat tour, but you gently persuade them that sitting on a huge canal boat with 50+ other people just isn’t authentic, neither is hiring a pedalo (non-tourists would rather cut their right arm off!) and your mate who owns a boat is at work – so a walking tour it is!

9. You get them to try stroopwafels and they buy approximately 97 packs to take home with them.

10. They stare in wonderment at the poffertje man and his amazing flipping skills (and are slightly bummed by the fact they can’t take poffertjes in their suitcase).

11. You decide you’ve been too nice so far and make them try haring. Pure evil… wahahahaha.

12. Ditto licorice. But because you call it drop – they’re stupid enough to try it! Hee hee 😀

13. You take them to the SkyLounge for prosecco and more bitterballen, and pay, because the prices are eye-wateringly expensive! (We’re talking €4.50 for a WATER!!) But it’s all worth it for that Pretty Woman moment when you see the flash of excitement in their eyes as you get in the lift and push the button to the top floor. (Without the American prostitute, obviously.)

14. They want to go in every Bulldog and/or Irish pub they walk past but you distract them with promises of more bitterballen. Over my dead body!

15. You are constantly on suicide watch as they inadvertently stumble into cycle lanes – completely oblivious to angry Amsterdammers who want to knock their block off.

16. They casually suggest hiring bikes and you casually reply “HELL NO!” Ask me again when you’ve lived here 3+ years, can actually ride a bike AND you’re not full of hipster beer and joints.

17. To ease the pain, you take them to FEBO and they almost come in their pants.

18. They want to go to the sex museum so you roll your eyes and begrudgingly pay €4 to have your picture taken with the human-sized veiny penis AGAIN.

19. They also want to go to a live sex show but you draw the line at spending €50 for watered down vodka and ladies pushing ping pong balls out of their laa-laa.

20. On the train home, they declare that Amsterdam is the best city in the world ever. And you agree, wholeheartedly.


Do you have any to add? What funny things do your visitors do when they come over to visit?

Disclaimer: I’m actually a very pleasant and patient tour guide to all my friends who come over to visit. If you’re reading this, dear friends: I don’t think you’re stupid, just English. 


Hayley x

24 hours in Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden Street Art

Nope, I haven’t forgotten… the 12 provincies challenge is still firmly in action. I haven’t written much about it (yet)… but behind the scenes, I have been visiting more of Holland than most Dutch people probably have!

Last week we ticked Friesland off the list! 🙂 Ideally, I would have liked to go to one of the islands – I’ve only been to Texel so far – but we only had limited time (and funds) so decided to stay on the mainland and visit the capital of Friesland instead.

I’m probably going to offend a lot of Leeuwarders now… but I thought Leeuwarden was just ok. Average. Sorry guys.

It reminded me a little of Utrecht without all the cool shit. Read: hipsters.

I don’t want to upset people who love Leeuwarden, honest, but I’ve got to be real. If people came to Hilversum and were disappointed, I’d get it. I know that I view Hilversum with rose tinted spectacles because it’s my adopted hometown.

When I was searching online for things to do in Leeuwarden (in both English and Dutch) it was slim pickings. I get it now. There’s not that much to do!! Hence why no one has written about it!

That’s not to say that we didn’t have a lovely time. We did. The people we met were lovely. (They did have very funny accents though, like a mix of Dutch and Norwegian. Friesland has it’s own official language!) The wine and food we had was lovely… so do go there if you just want a lovely time. If you want a fucking aaaaaamazing, staggeringly awesome time – go somewhere else! Amsterdam, Utrecht, Renesse, Zandvoort… I’m looking at you.

I’m glad I went, but I wouldn’t be climbing over myself to go back, nor do I recommend it as a must-see in Holland.

However, *if you do find yourself in the capital of Friesland*… here are my tips:

De Walrus

Trip Advisor to the rescue, you little beaut. This place was rated highly and praised for its wine. Sold!

Delicious wine and Dutchman's elbow

Delicious wine and Dutchman’s elbow

It didn’t disappoint. To go with our delicious wine, we also ordered a lil side of chips. Which turned out to be frigging massive! I’m not complaining. They were delicious.

Gouverneursplein 37, 8911 HH Leeuwarden | dewalrusleeuwarden.nl


Chips, jalapenos, red onion, pulled pork and cheese sauce. AKA chips on steroids. They were amazing!

Sjoddy wijn & spijslokaal

Definitely not shoddy! (Sorry, had to get that one in there! My Dad would be proud…)

Yummy mussels, friendly advice, trendy decor. A little pricey, but average for a wine bar in my experience. I’d go again (if it wasn’t in Leeuwarden!)

Druifstreek 55, 8911 LH Leeuwarden | sjoddy.nl 

Sjoddy wine bar, Leeuwaarden

Leeuwarden Lounge

I found out on TA that this place is owned by two brothers, with their Mum as the chef (she has now retired, but we were told the new chef uses all of her original recipes). One of Oma’s dishes is still on the menu too.

Leeuwarden Lounge

One of said brothers was our waiter for most of the evening, a very friendly chap who chatted to us in between courses. Highly recommended!! Excellent prices and the food is divine! Neither the Dutchie or I had ever tasted Afghan food before, but we will be looking out for it in future. Yum!! I can’t really recommend a dish in particular because everything was so good.

Also, voor de liefhebbers… they have shishas for after your meal.

Korfmakersstraat 13, 8911 LA Leeuwarden | leeuwardenlounge.nl



Top things to do in Leeuwarden: Fries Museum. We didn’t go because I already know everything there is to know about chips! 😉

De Oldehove is an unfinished church tower in the medieval centre which apparently leans more than the tower of Pisa in Italy. I couldn’t get the Dutchie to pretend to hold it up, so here it is in all its boring glory: De Oldehove, Leeuwarden

Boomsma Museum – we had planned on going here and tasting some of the brown stuff. (Beerenburger for you uncultured slobs out there.) But when we walked in it was busy and smelled like old people, so we went to the pub instead.

Canals and Historische binnenstad – does what it says on the tin really. It’s just nice to have a little mosey around the small streets and enjoy the architecture.




Red light district – no photos, obviously. (It’s illegal.) I was surprised to see that Leeuwarden even had a red light district! It was pretty ropey to be honest, as you might expect. But still worth a peek for the curious Englishwoman who still can’t get her head around legalised prostitution.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Where to stay 

We stayed at the Bastion hotel, nothing fancy but it did the job.

It was super clean, had free parking, free wifi, a fridge and tea and coffee facilities and was only a 20 min walk from town. If you walk the right way that is!! It took us almost an hour because we are morons and went completely in the wrong direction! 😀

Have you been to Leeuwarden? Did you love it, hate it, or were you just a bit indifferent towards it like me?

Hayley x