“But you’re so good with kids…”

A few weeks back, my brother commented “You’re so good with kids.” It came a bit out of nowhere, but I said thank you and genuinely accepted the compliment. Something I’m not normally that good at doing. I went back to playing ‘tea party’ with my nieces and felt satisfied. HE GOT IT.

I’m tearing up right now, writing this.

You see, normally when people give you such a compliment, they have to go and ruin it by adding “You’d be such a good mother…” or “When *are* you having kids?” or my personal favourite: “You’ll feel ready / change your mind one day…”

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is.

I am child free, by choice.

If you’re good at cooking, no one bangs on about how you MUST be a chef. (Unless you’re like reaaaaaaally good, Masterchef standard, and then they’ll just send the application off for you! Bastards!) Anyway, just because you’re good at cooking doesn’t mean you want to dedicate your life to it, to spending your evenings and weekends in a hot, sweaty kitchen. The long hours, the pressure.

Maybe you just want to cook in your own kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, at your own pace, with a glass of wine.

I’ve got plenty of other metaphors and I could bang on for another few paragraphs, but I’m sure you get my point.

I’m 35 now. Almost 36. Most people have stopped asking me if/when I’m going to have kids… thank god! I think about 90% of my close friends and family now understand and accept the fact that it’s not going to happen.

But maybe you’re not so lucky – and I feel for you. Really I do.

I’ll just wrap up by saying another thank you to my brother. You are a legend in many ways, and this is just one of them.

Hayley x

 

Are you child free? What have your experiences been? Please do share – if you feel able. It’s good to talk! 😀

 

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11 Questions

Cancale

My friend Senja from Het Finse Meisje nominated me for a Liebster award, and although I’ve been nominated in the past I’ve never done anything about it. There are lots of rules and you have to tag other bloggers and stuff (it’s to introduce people to new bloggers and I get that it’s a nice initiative) BUT me being me I’m not going to do any of that. Rules schmules. However, I did like Senja’s questions so I spent a bit of time answering them while the Dutchie was driving us back from France on Sunday. So if you fancy a read… here goes:

1. What made you start blogging?

Insomnia. I’ve had insomnia on and off for over 10 years and 2013 was a particularly bad time. I was awake most nights thinking about everything that was going on in my life and I thought writing some stuff down might help. It started in diary form and I found it so therapeutic I wanted to write more than just an insomnia diary and do something more ‘useful’ with my (unwanted) spare time. Towards the end of 2013 I was on holiday in Thailand and the name Bitterballenbruid came to me. I started the blog as soon as I got back.

2. What is your dream travel destination and why?

Funnily enough I’ve always thought it was Japan, but I got the opportunity to go this year with one of my best friends and I didn’t take it. I came to a realisation earlier this year that I dislike big cities, and so on researching Japan – Tokyo in particular – it just really didn’t sound like my cup of tea. I know it’s an amazing country and I’m sure I will visit one day, but my gut instinct told me not to book the trip, so I didn’t.

Ha, that went off on a massive tangent, sorry. But in answer to the question, Australia and New Zealand have been on my bucket list forever and I think that the nature aspect might suit my travel personality more. I also really want to give Vietnam another chance, we had a bad experience there in 2016 but I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone else who has visited!!

3. If you had to move abroad tomorrow, where would that be?

Another tough one. Anyone who knows me will have heard about my unbridled passion for Malta. But with it being such a small island I’d be worried I’d get bored too quickly. So my back-up choices would be Portugal, Thailand and Cambodia.

I really like NL though! Anyone who is thinking about moving to Holland should seriously consider it. I can’t answer with the Netherlands though as I already live here!

4. Which dish can you cook very well?

Chilli con carne served with nachos and all the trimmings. I’m known as the Chilli Queen in my circle of friends. It’s the dish everyone requests when they come over.

5. If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would that be?

Hahahaha, I am going to sound right up my own arse… but my own chilli and nachos 😂😂😂

6. What is the silliest thing you have ever done?

It’s a toss up between driving on the wrong side of a dual carriageway in Holland (there were roadworks!! It was very confusing and the sat nav sent me there!) and sleep walking into my ex-boyfriend’s Mum’s bed… NAKED… and then when she tried to wake me up… kissing her… TWICE.

Oh wait… the question wasn’t the most embarrassing thing you have ever done…

7. Which language would you like to speak fluently?

Spanish or Italian. Though I think I’d get more use out of Spanish because I really want to go to South America one day, so let’s go with that!

8. Which celebrity would you like to invite for dinner?

I would have said Jim Jeffries, hands down, but I’ve just seen his most recent Netflix show and he’s lost it 😕 so I’m going to have to go with Khloe Kardashian pre-baby.

9. What is your favourite film?

The correct answer to this question is Clueless but I often say True Romance because it’s way cooler. (This question/answer is actually already on my About page.)

10. Who is your biggest idol?

Hmmmmmm. I honestly don’t know. I want to say Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King or something like that but I actually don’t idolise anyone. We’re only human after all. At a push I’d have to say Marilyn Monroe because I’ve had this picture of her hanging on my wall forever and I just think she’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Perfectly imperfect.

Actually, I also have to say my Grandad because he was the greatest man who ever lived. He was so kind and put everyone before himself. All of his grandchildren thought they were his favourite, my siblings and I still regularly argue over it 😊 It was definitely me though! Haha.

11. What is your life motto?

Jeez, I can’t answer any of these questions directly can I!? 😂😂 I have a few:

Love is all

The happiest people don’t always have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything

Fuck perfect

And #bitterballenforlife

Hayley x

 

How about you? What’s your life motto? I love a good quote… so hit me up in the comments!

 

 

My personal tips for Malta

Mellieha, Malta

Mellieha, Malta

Hi! The title of this post could’ve been catchier I realise, but what it actually is – is 100% honest. I could’ve called it ‘The Ultimate Guide to Malta’ or ‘Top 10 Things to do in Malta’ or something SEO-y like that (yes, obviously I get why other travel bloggers do it) but I’m calling bullsh*t on people pretending to know everything about a place when they’ve been once!

This is a personal pet peeve of mine because I work in the travel publishing industry and I’m currently working with a lot of bloggers… so the first thing I’ll always check is what posts they have about Amsterdam. Most of them are complete crap (#sorrynotsorry) so it’s a very quick way for me to separate the wheat from the chaff…

Anyway, small industry rant over!

Full disclaimer: I’ve been to Malta three times. Therefore I *do* know more than the average bear… but I’m no expert. Nor do I profess to be. These are my tips for Malta, ones I’d give to family or friends who are going on holiday there. Things I did and thought were awesome, without a side of bs.

You’re welcome!

 

Where to stay in Malta:

I’ve stayed in 3 different places in Malta:

The Waterfront Hotel, Sliema – 4 star (apparently – it’s more like 3 tbh). Great views and cocktails. Rooftop bar / pool, but the pool itself is teeny. Would recommend it if you want to be close to St Julian’s but not stay in St Julian’s… or if you want to be close to Valletta but not stay in Valletta 😉

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Sliema, Malta

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Sliema, Malta

db Seabank Resort and Spa, Mellieha – another 4 star but this one probably does deserve 4 (at least it did when we last visited). It’s an all-inclusive resort though, which I DO NOT recommend. The food in Malta is soooooo goooood you do not want to be all inclusive! Good location, very close to Mellieha Bay and Popeye Village (more on those later).

Pergola Hotel and Spa, Mellieha – also 4 star but more like 3. Great location and views, but it’s a very noisy hotel. (Especially where we stayed which was right by reception.) Great full English breakfast in the on-site cafe.

View from Pergola Hotel, Mellieha, Malta

View from Pergola Hotel, Mellieha, Malta

Conclusion: I personally wouldn’t stay in any of these hotels again as I like trying new places, however I do recommend Mellieha as a base. I recently helped my Mum and Dad book a trip to Malta and they’re going to the Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa which looks awesome! (I haven’t stayed there myself but it’s very close to the Pergola hotel, so we walked past it pretty much every day on our last trip. The rooftop restaurant looks ace!)

If you don’t fancy that, there are plenty of other hotels and Airbnb properties in Mellieha! Just make sure you read lots (and lots and lots) of reviews before booking.

 

What to do in Mellieha: 

So, if you’ve listened to my advice 😉 you’ll be basing yourself in the north of the island in Mellieha. Good choice! I’ll start there first, and then give some tips for the rest of the island.

 

Views

As I’ve already mentioned, there are fantastic views from The Pergola Hotel (if you’re a non-resident you can still visit the bar/restaurant), same goes for Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa.

You can also get a fab view from Sea View Café – they do simple food like sandwiches and salads, plus lots of cocktails.

Sea View Cafe, Mellieha, Malta

Sea View Cafe, Mellieha, Malta

 

Food 

One80 Kitchen and Lounge have the most amazing Octopus carpaccio… hands down one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life. I’d go back to Malta just for that tbh. The scallop and prawn dish was also top-notch. I didn’t get a photo of that as I devoured it in about 10 seconds flat!

Octopus Carpaccio at one80 Bar and Kitchen, Mellieha, Malta

Octopus Carpaccio at one80 Bar and Kitchen, Mellieha, Malta

Ocean Bar for the best fish & chips I’ve had in a long time. They have a gluten free version too! The bar looks a bit ropey from the outside, but the owners are really friendly and it’s so worth it for the food!! Very budget friendly too!

Fish & Chips at Ocean Bar, Mellieha, Malta

Fish & Chips at Ocean Bar, Mellieha, Malta

Debbie’s Café is a good bet for brunch if you want an avocado based meal. If you want a full English, the one at the Pergola Hotel and Spa is better.

We also ate at Rebekah’s restaurant… which was a bit stuffy, overpriced and disappointing and at Bouquet Garni (no website) where we had amazing seafood platters which were really reasonably priced… but the lighting was bad so no pictures. Soz.

 

Bars

There’s a bar/restaurant at Mellieha Bay called Munchies, I’ve never eaten there but it’s nice for drinks if you can get a table on the terrace.

We also liked Charlie’s Bar. It’s a bit of a dive bar and it’s popular with local expats, but everyone was really friendly and we loved the pub quiz (every Thursday night). We even won the 90’s pop quiz! Score!!

 

See & Do

Parish Church of Mellieha – also known as The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha is a beautiful highlight of Mellieha. You can’t miss it, literally!

Parish Church of Mellieha

Parish Church of Mellieha

It’ll be in pretty much all of your Mellieha photos, it’s such an iconic building perched on the hilltop. It’s also worth exploring the beautiful gardens for the amazing views. I’ve never been inside the church, but I’m told it’s spectacular so that’s on my to-do list for next time!

 

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay is well worth a visit. (There’s no need to visit Popeye Village itself unless you’re with kids. The film set from the 1980 film has been turned into an open air museum / theme park). Depending on where you’re staying in Mellieha you can either walk here or take the bus. More info on their website.

Hopefully this photo explains why you should go there:

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay, Mellieha, Malta

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay, Mellieha, Malta

 

Paradise Bay – I’d like to say it does what it says on the tin, but in the interests of remaining 100% honest… it’s not exactly paradise. I mean it’s nice, but if you want paradise beaches you probably need to go to Thailand…

Anyway, it’s still lovely and well worth a visit, even if the name is a bit over-confident 😉 And it’s easy to reach by bus!

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

 

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay / Golden Bay are next to each other, so if you visit one, you might as well visit t’other! Again, very easy to reach by bus and the views are beautiful…

Ghajn Tuffieha Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Mellieha, Malta

 

Red Tower (St Agatha’s Tower) 

Much like Mellieha Church, you can see the Red Tower from most places in Mellieha. If you like hiking, it’s well worth the climb to see the tower close up. If you plan your visit around the opening times, you can also get a magnificent view from the tower itself.

Red Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Red Tower, Mellieha, Malta

More info on St Agatha’s Tower website. It can also be reached by car or by bus, the closest bus stop is Qammieh.

 

What to do elsewhere on Malta:

There are SO many places to go on the island – so it really depends how much time you have and your priorities. But here are some of my faves:

Comino & Gozo – if you have time, I highly recommend taking a boat trip to Malta’s sister islands. Unfortunately, Gozo’s main tourist attraction, the Azure Window, is no more after severe storms in March 2017. But it’s still worth a visit. Gozo has a lot more going on, however many people still visit the site of the former Azure Window and the nearby Blue Hole. (I’m also making a mental note to explore more of Gozo on my next trip…)

Comino is really all about the Blue Lagoon. It can become really over-crowded in the summer months, so try to go in winter or shoulder season if you can. And if you must go in summer, then at least try to avoid the weekends.

Very happy to be at the Blue Lagoon, Comino on our 1st wedding anniversary

Very happy to be at the Blue Lagoon, Comino on our 1st wedding anniversary

 

Sliema – we loved our first visit to Sliema, but after visiting Mellieha, the north has won our hearts. Sliema is still well worth a visit though. There’s cool street art, some lovely bars and restaurants, plus it’s an ideal location if you want to be close to St Julian’s and/or Valletta. (Tip: for cheap and cheerful Thai food, go to Good Thaimes! Props for the name too…)

Sliema. Malta

Sliema. Malta

 

The best place for lively nightlife is St Julian’s / Paceville… so stay away if you’re not into that! There are also several casinos. It was a little while back, but our favourite place in St Julian’s was Fresco’s Cafe & Restaurant. (Happy to see it still has great reviews on Trip Advisor!)

St Julians, Malta

St Julians, Malta

 

Marsaxlokk is fantastic if you like seafood. There’s a fish market every Sunday, but seriously, who wants to cook when they’re on holiday? A few years back we went to Tartarun Fish Restaurant which is apparently still a good shout (Number 2 of 48 seafood restaurants in Marsaxlokk). Looks like it’s a bit pricier these days, but when we went it was worth every penny. Make sure you book!

If you do go to Marsaxlokk, you might as well also go to St Peter’s Pool too, as it’s close by. It’s not a beach – more like a rocky pool as the name suggests. When we visited loads of people were jumping off the rocks – even the Dutchie had a go! (I’m a wuss, so I did not!!)

St Peters Pool

St Peters Pool

St Peter’s Pool is no secret (unfortunately) so try to avoid the weekends if you can, otherwise it’ll be crazy busy. It’s also a bit of a pain in the arse to get to (we ended up spending a lot on taxis that day!) so if you can I would suggest hiring a car and driving yourself.

 

Mdina also known as the Silent City is Malta’s old capital – it dates back more than 4,000 years! You could spend hours wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets… and we actually did. This ancient walled city is tipped as one of Europe’s finest examples with its stunning mix of Baroque and Medieval architecture. My tip for Mdina is Fontanella Tea Gardens – you will thank me later for the views 🙂 🙂

Fontanella Tea Garden

Fontanella Tea Garden

 

Valletta for the historic stuff… I’ve left Valletta until last when I’m sure most people would’ve put this top of the list. After all it is the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and Malta’s capital city. I wasn’t a massive fan, I found it all a bit samey tbh… but you can’t go to the country without visiting the capital, right?

 

Food & Drink – Maltese specialties

Make sure you try pastizzi on your trip. As Malta’s national snack, they’re widely available at cafes and bakeries. They’re basically filo pastry filled with either ricotta or mushy peas. But which is your favourite? You’ll have to try both! 🙂

A Maltese platter is always a good idea – and it almost always come with bigilla (a broad bean dip) which is surprisingly awesome. I mean, it’s a bean dip. BUT IT’S SO DAMN GOOOOOD.

Maltese Platter

Maltese Platter at Ta Randi, Mellieha

One of the other famous dishes is rabbit. It’s on the menu at most restaurants in some shape or form. I had rabbit pasta twice on my first trip to Malta (ohhhhh, the good old days when I could still eat gluten… *sob*) and it was freaking delicious.

To be fair, all the food in Malta is just bloody amazing… so just go and eat everything! (Ps – I’m jealous!)

The local drinks are Cisk beer (pronounced “chisk”) and Kinnie which is kind of like coke. I say kind of because it’s bittersweet and has an orangy tang. It’s probably not for everyone, but I love it!

Cisk beer, Sliema, Malta

Cisk beer, Sliema, Malta

I can’t eat many desserts, coz y’know, lactose and gluten are in pretty much every dessert…  dammit. But what they do well in Malta is sorbet. Mmmmmm, lemon sorbet. For an extra kick, sometimes I’d also order limoncello liqueur and pour it on over! I got the idea from one80 Kitchen (mentioned earlier) when they served a limoncello slush puppie at the end of the meal. Yum!!

 

Transport:

Car hire: We’ve never hired a car in Malta, but obviously if you want to see and do a lot it’s probably a good idea! Seeing as I have no experience, I’ll let you Google that one for yourself 🙂

Taxis: On our first trip to Malta we took LOTS of taxis. (Tbf it was our 1 year wedding anniversary so we were celebrating!) But they’re flipping expensive and it certainly adds up. Not recommended unless you’re on a Kardashian budget!

Bus: If you don’t mind being a bus w*nker (and if you get that joke – you have very good taste in British TV shows!!) then it is definitely the cheapest way to get around! It costs €1.50 per journey in the winter to any destination, within two hours. So depending on how far you’re going, it can also serve as a return ticket. In the summer it’s €2 per journey for night buses it’s €3. You can find more info on the Malta Public Transport website.

Tour buses: I DO NOT recommend the hop-on-hop-off tourist buses. We did that once in Gozo and had a very bad experience. The driver was a maniac, you couldn’t see any of the sights from the bus – so it was hard to know when and where to get out and the roads are so narrow and unsuitable for buses that we kept getting hit by tree branches etc while on the top deck. Don’t bother!

 

When to visit:

We have visited in August and twice in January. August was waaaaaay too hot for our liking, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Probably the perfect time to visit would be in shoulder season – e.g. April/May or September/October. But we’ve always had a great time visiting in January. Sure, the weather’s not perfect as it’s still technically winter there, but it’s a damn sight better than the winter in Holland or the UK!

Golden Bay, Malta

Golden Bay in January 2018

 

So there you have it: my personal tips for Malta… now if you don’t mind me I’m off to torture myself by looking at flights to Luqa on Skyscanner.

Have you been to Malta? What was your favourite thing to do / eat / drink / see?

Hayley x

 

Thank you and good night…

Sunset, Polzeath, Cornwall

Sunset in Polzeath, Cornwall

It has dawned on me that my teeny tiny thank you about the blog awards in my last post was rather lacklustre and fleeting, sorry. So let’s rectify that.

I have posted my thanks on my social media channels, but perhaps there are readers out there who only follow me via the blog and therefore have not received the appreciation they deserve.

You see, my parents brought me up well. When I was young it was all “manners cost nothing” and that’s still true. We English love to be polite and I’m no exception.

Thus, to all of the people who took the time to vote for me in the Expat Awards last month: a huge thank you to each and every one of you. I really appreciate your support and I couldn’t have done it without you. THANK YOU with whipped cream and a cherry on top!

Dutchies: Hartelijk bedankt dat je de tijd hebt genomen om op mij te stemmen. Ik waardeer jullie steun enorm en ik had het niet zonder jullie kunnen doen. DANK JULLIE WEL! Ook slagroom en kersen voor jullie 😉

English peeps: yes, I said slag 😀

And anyhoo, since I’m here I just wanted to say doei (bye) for a few weeks. As I previously mentioned, I’m popping off to the UK for a bit and taking a proper break from everything. In between seeing family and friends, we’ll also be visiting Cornwall and the Lake District (my first time in the latter!!) so I’m very excited! I might post a pic or two on Insta if I can be arsed… my main account is @bitterballenbruid and my travel account is @bitterballenbruidtravels if you can be arsed to follow along 🙂

So enjoy this lekker weer (lovely weather) en tot een paar weken! (See you in a few weeks!)

See ya!

Hayley x

 

5 places I’ll be hanging out by the beach this summer

This weather right now is giving us a delicious taste of more sunny days to come in the Netherlands (I hope!!) and what better way to hang out in the sun than by the beach? Dutch people love terraces (terrasjes) when the sun’s out but I like to go one further when I possibly can. Being by the sea is probably my favourite thing in the world. And I know I’m not the only one. There’s something about the crashing waves, the fresh air and seeing the beautiful blue sea meet the sky on the horizon that makes me feel so calm and peaceful. After I’ve had my walk along the beach, I love going for a drink (and maybe some bitterballen!!) afterwards. Here a few of my favourite places:

Ubuntu Beach, Zandvoort

Ubuntu beach

Zandvoort is my favourite beach in the Netherlands. We’re lucky in that there are loads of beaches here and while I’ve not been to every single beach in Holland yet (a girl can dream, right?) I have been to a fair few. And of all the places I’ve been to in Zandvoort – since my first visit about 9 years ago – Ubuntu Beach is my favourite. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a view, Instagrammable shit (they have swings!!) and good bitterballen. Ubuntu beach has it all.

Bitterballen @ Ubuntu beach

Obviously if you go on a weekend when the weather’s nice, it’s going to be rammed – so if you can, try to go in the week. Or if you are visiting at the weekend, especially in summer – make sure you book. www.ubuntubeach.nl 

 

Hippie Fish, Zandvoort

Almost as good as Ubuntu but the interior is slightly less Instagrammable. My advice is to go to both! 🙂 Ubuntu for a drink and borrelhapjes, and then Hippie Fish for seafood.

Hippie Fish

Their seafood is the shit! www.hippiefish.nl

 

Beachclub de Branding, Noordwijk

My friend M introduced me to this place and I must say it’s quite similar to Ubuntu with the swings and the general vibe / Instagrammability… but then in Noordwijk. Last time we were here we had a delicious seafood platter (and bitterballen, obvs!) add a glass of chilled white wine and the view – you can’t get much better in my opinion!

Branding beach club

Branding Beach Club

As per the above, you’ll probably need to book if you’re visiting at the weekend! www.brandingbeach.nl

 

Key West Beach House, Utrecht

“Utrecht??” I hear you cry… and you’re right. There’s no real beach here, but to get to an actual beach from Hilversum (where I live) takes at least an hour in the car. However, this place delivers with a beachy vibe even though it’s only a lake. I love this place! Every time I come here it always feels like a little mini-holiday, if only for a few hours. You can get here by bus from Utrecht centraal or by car. There’s loads of free parking and depending on where you live you could also cycle.

Varied menu – we’ve only ever had hapjes but they’ve always been great! Not the cheapest place I guess, but you get what you pay for. In my opinion it’s really worth it for the holiday vibes.

www.keywestbeachhouse.nl

 

Dikke Muis, Loosdrecht

This one also isn’t a ‘real’ beach, but the lakes give you enough of a beach vibe to make it to this list – and it’s the one closest to Hilversum. Vuntusstrand (Vuntus beach) is mostly grassy, but there is a tiny patch of sand so you can get sand between your toes! Loads of Dutch people swim here in the summer, I did once but tbh I found it too gross and had to get out shortly afterwards. The water was so dirty / murky… not really selling it am I!! 😉

Vuntusstrand

I often come to Vuntus beach in the summer, the advantage of working from home is that I can do whatever I like on my lunch break and my hours are flexible, so I often cycle here on a sunny day and chill out and read a book. There are toilet facilities (if you’re desperate!!) but nowhere to get food / drinks so you can either bring your own or visit the ice cream parlour at the end of the street.

If you want a ‘real’ drink, I recommend the Dikke Muis (the Fat Mouse!). I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten more than bitterballen here but it’s all about the views! The interior décor is pretty cool too and the staff are always quite relaxed and friendly.

www.dedikkemuis.nl

 

Other places to consider:

Those 5 didn’t tickle your fancy? Or perhaps you live too far away… if so, here are a couple more which didn’t (quite) make it to my top 5:

Renesse – I loooooove Renesse but I’ve only been once and I’m not sure if I’ll make it back this year. It’s quite a long drive from where we live and we’d like to explore some new places this summer. However, if you do go I highly recommend: Bar Brut.

Domburg – Same excuses as above, but is is a fab place!! I recommend Oase Domburg  It’s right on the beach, expect to pay for the privilege 😉

Hoek van Holland – We’ve been here a few times now and love camping at Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee. I’ve already written about that, so click the link if you fancy reading more 🙂

Texel – or any of the Waddenzee Islands for that matter. At Cocksdorp (Cock Town, hahahahaha) we liked Paal 28.

 

Where will you be hanging out this summer? And do you know somewhere awesome that I’ve missed?

Hayley x

 

 

4 years in the Netherlands – am I finally feeling homesick?

Polzeath

Exploring Polzeath in Cornwall

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced homesickness before (hmmmm… except maybe when I went to Brownie camp when I was about 9 or 10). But since I’ve been living in the Netherlands? Nah! Not at all. Missing my family and friends, yes. Missing English pubs, definitely. English food in general, hell yes. But yearning to be in the UK. Never.

In case you haven’t noticed… I love Holland and I love living here. My 4 year expativersary (gasp!) was a couple of weeks ago and I also won an Expat blogger award last month!! Massive thanks again to everyone who voted! 🙂 But on a recent trip to the UK, I realised I actually missed it.

My Finnish friend, Senja, and I went over for the weekend for work and it made me see England with fresh eyes. She giggled at actually being able to wash your hands with hot water in bathrooms (in Holland they often only have a cold tap), she marvelled at the trees and all the greenery whilst we were on the train, and she was super-impressed by all the hills!

On said train – we were both beaming after the ticket inspector had been along to check our tickets. His enthusiasm and gorgeous English accent was infectious: “Good afternoon lovely people, please can I check your tickets on this fine day?” then each person got a different response for handing over their ticket: “Thanking you, cheers, much obliged, ta, thanks, excellent…”.

He really made a thing out of NOT saying the standard “thank you”, it was so cute.

I love my mother tongue and this was a perfect example of why. You can be so creative because we have so many words for everything. My inner geek was brimming with joy!

Then there was the food.

I introduced Senja to the delights of Scotch Eggs and proper British cider… not that Apple Bandit crap we get in the Netherlands!! (Where is that even made?)

We went to a typical English pub along one of the canals in Oxford and feasted on proper English pub grub.

Oh… and the people… *swoon*! It wasn’t just the train inspector who made me miss home. All of the people in the cafes, pubs and shops we went to were all so friendly and welcoming. I forgot what customer service was actually supposed to be like.

Since that visit, I hadn’t been ‘home’ for 5 months – since just before Christmas. That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from the UK. Normally I go back every 2 months or so, but for a variety of reasons (including not having a passport plus other trips we had planned etc) it just didn’t happen. And I’m not sure it was good for me. I’ve been pining.

In a way, I’m glad I was away for that amount of time because it’s given me the chance to realise and appreciate that I do miss my home country. Quirks ‘n’ all.

I’ve really missed my friends and family too. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s just not the same… there’s something about meeting face-to-face and there’s also something about talking to people you have known all your life.

I have some great friends here in NL, I really do. I’m lucky. But there is something different about friends you have known for 3-4 years and people you have known 20+ years. The history, the gags, the nicknames, the days before Facebook and smartphones. We knew each other before all of that. Remember when you used to call each other’s house phones? Or a REALLY long time ago… knock on their front door!?

I miss those people. The people who know who I really am. Before I was a blogger and an expat. Just Hayley. Not Hayley, the one who moved abroad…

I realise that this isn’t one of my most structured or elegant posts (no shit Sherlock) and that it’s got a bit rambly so I’m wrapping it up now. I think I needed to write this for me, to acknowledge this feeling, and if anyone enjoys reading it then I’m glad I posted it here and not just in my diary 😉

I’m an expat who loves living in Holland. But I also love the UK. The eternal expat dilemma right…?

Luckily for me, in a couple of weeks I’m going ‘home’ for 16 whole days… and I can’t bloody wait!!

Have you ever been homesick? If so, how do you deal with it?

Hayley x

 

Weird things Dutch people do: hanging their duvets out of the window

I’ve caused quite a stir on my Facebook page today! And it’s all about the very exciting subject of… DUVETS! Hahahahaha! 😂

The Dutch Duvet Dangle

The Dutch Duvet Dangle

Lately, on my walks around the local neighbourhood I’ve noticed that loads of Dutch people are hanging their duvets out of the window and I’ve been taking photos purely for my own entertainment value. It’s not something that’s new to me, in fact I wrote a post mentioning it in Jan 2016 (15 Weird things Dutch people do) but today I decided to post some photos of what I like to call the “Dutch duvet dangle” and now there’s quite the conversation going on! 🙂

You can check out the discussion on my Facebook page but I thought I’d also write a quick post for my blog readers who may not be on the Book of Doom! So here goes:

Why do Dutch people hang their duvets out of the window? 

Apparently sunlight and fresh air kill bacteria and germs / bedbugs / dust mites… whatever. I haven’t actually Googled this yet but I have it on very good authority from LOTS of Dutch people so I’m just going to have to go with them on this one.

Apparently it also makes your sheets / duvet very fresh smelling. (Washing machine, no?)

Is it just a Dutch thing?

Hell no. According to my FB followers, they also do it in Romania, France, Greece and even Japan!

So why is it weird to hang your duvet out of the window?

Where do I start 😂😂

First, I think the thing that tickles me the most is that people do it out of their front windows for all to see. No shits given! As an English person, if we were to ‘air’ our duvets (which we don’t) we would at least hang them out of the windows at the back of the house or perhaps a washing line in the garden. We’re English: subtlety is key.

If our sheets are dirty, smelly, whatever then we just wash them! If the duvet is the problem… we wash that. And if it doesn’t fit in our washing machine we take it to the laundrette.

So who is right or wrong here?

No one. It’s just a cultural difference. And one that I personally find amusing…

I guess after all this discussion I’m going to have to try it myself (in the name of research, obviously!)

What’s your take on it? Do you hang your duvet out of the window?

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to dangle my duvet out of the window and see what all the fuss is about! 😉

Hayley x

 

 

Rokjesdag…?

Hi guys,

I don’t know about you… but looking at the weather forecast, I’m pretty sure tomorrow is going to be Rokjesdag in the Netherlands!

Rokjesdag

A dress, not a skirt I realise… but do you know how hard it is to get a pic of me in a skirt…!?

‘Rokjesdag’ literally meaning ‘skirt day’ is the first day in spring when women suddenly decide it’s warm enough to wear a skirt with bare legs. The term was coined by dutch writer and columnist Martin Bril who made the word ‘rokjesdag’ popular in the Netherlands. He died on 22nd April (in 2009) so for some people this is considered National Rokjesdag to honour Martin.

However, there is no official date for it, as it’s just collectively when people, or specifically women, decide to wear a skirt with blote benen (bare legs) en masse…

So, in preparation, I’ve shaved my legs and slapped some fake tan on as my legs are currently whiter than snow!!

Will you be joining me in getting your legs out tomorrow? Or in unfortunate Dunglish: haal je je benen eruit? 😉

Hayley x

 

If you go out for a walk today… funny things you might see whilst out and about in the Netherlands!

(Intro to be sung to the theme Teddy Bear’s Picnic – you’ll most likely know it if you’re English. If you don’t, check out this YouTube video.)

If you go out for a walk today…

You’re sure of a big surprise.

If you go out for a walk today…

You’d better go in disguise.

For every expat (that) ever there was, would gather there for certain because…

Today’s the day that Dutch people do their weird shit!!

New in Holland? I’ve devised a little game for you! Take a walk around your neighborhood and see how many of the following you can spot:

 

1. Duvet(s) hanging out of a window

Dutch duvets out of window

Photo shamelessly stolen from my Dutch friend M…

2. Kids being transported in a glorified wheelbarrow attached to a bicycle (it’s called a bakfiets)

3. A house with no net curtains, curtains or blinds

4. People enthusiastically advertising / celebrating the fact they have given birth or turned 50. (Bonus points for inflatables!)

5. Someone on a bike carrying something larger than themselves (for example: another person, a printer or a canoe. True story, bro.)

6. Beautiful chalk drawings on the footpath. Some of these kids have real talent!! 😉

7. Someone running with eye averting neon trainers

8. A trampoline in someone’s front garden. (I’ll also give points for a swing, slide or all three. They have to be in the FRONT garden though!)

9. A little community library. Love these things ❤

10. Someone riding a moped without a helmet on the cycle lane. (Let’s not get into it now… k?)

11. Impossibly long / hard to pronounce street names. Soestdijkerstraatweg anyone? In the words of Jim Jeffries “You f*cking what what?!”

12. A cyclist who is texting, calling or completely no handed. (Not condoning it… just saying what I see.)

13. Someone carrying an Appie bag. Good old Albert Heijn! (I even spotted some Dutchies in Bali once! Complete giveaway carrying their bright blue bag!!)

14. Clogs. If you see someone wearing clogs it’s actually pretty special. They’re a dying breed… unfortunately.

15. And lastly… how could I forget about dog shit?? Be careful not to tread in it!! It’s everywhere! (More about Hondenpoep.)

So, how many points did you get? And what’s the weirdest thing you’ve spotted whilst out and about in the Netherlands?

Hayley x

Expat Blog Awards

Lieve mensen!

Ik ben genomineerd voor een blogging award! Ik vind het super spannend omdat ik nog nooit een blogging-prijs heb gewonnen – behalve die Liebster-prijzen (die geen echte prijzen zijn) dus…

Bitterballenbruid

Kan je een meisje een plezier doen en op mij stemmen? Alsjeblieft met een kers op de top 🙂

Klik hier om te stemmen

Je hoeft alleen op mijn logo te klikken, dus je hoeft niet in te loggen of je aan te melden of zoiets raars. Het is gewoon heel makkelijk!

En ik beloof dat als ik win, ik meer blogberichten zal schrijven in 2018! Deal?

Dank jullie wel. Kusjes!

Hayley x

 

***

 

Hello lovely people!

I’ve been nominated for a blogging award! I’m really excited because I’ve never won a blogger award (except those Liebster awards which aren’t actually real awards) so…

Can you please do a girl a favour and vote for me? Pretty please with a cherry on top 🙂

Click here to vote

All you have to do is click on my logo. You don’t have to login or sign up or anything weird like that. It’s really easy!

And I promise that if I win, I will write more blog posts in 2018! Deal?

Thank you in advance and big kisses!

Hayley x