First few months of the 12 Provincies Challenge and why I haven’t been writing lately

Hello and Happy Sunday!

I normally have my ideas (especially connected to writing/work) when I’m in the shower (TMI?) and today is no exception. My brain is literally buzzing with so many ideas. And I realised I haven’t written anything in like, forever.

My massage lady (a newish addition to my life) says I have a creative block. As in I’m not creating anything so I’m blocked. That sounds way too hippy to me. But maybe she’s right.

I haven’t been writing because I haven’t felt strongly enough about anything to write about it. I thought I’d come home from my Asia trip and be writing 100+ blog posts but they just haven’t come. They take sooooo much time and that’s something I haven’t had a lot of lately. Since we got back I’ve been working loads (to make up for my 2.5 month absence) we also bought a camper van (more travels coming soon!!) and a new HOUSE!! Yes, we are those crazy all or nothing people.

So, excuses excuses. But it’s not just time… My Britishness means I constantly want to apologise if things aren’t good enough and I’m a Virgo so I want everything to be perfect. My writing is FAR from perfect. I know that, but this quest for perfection is holding me back.

I have to take my own advice, like I did with speaking Dutch and just fuck it. (Old post: Learning Dutch is fucking hard)

I can’t always write about things that you want to read. Sorry. I mean Dutch people are funny and that, but there’s only so much you can go over the same ground. I want to write about travel and food and maybe a little interior design stuff here and there, seeing as we’re going to be redecorating a whole new home. You want to read about crazy Dutch people and expat struggles.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you are interested in other things. One of my favourite ever blogs ( covers lots of subjects. I read all of her mental health posts, travel posts and home decor posts. I always skip the fashion ones because it simply doesn’t interest me. We have completely different body shapes and tastes. I know lots of people do read (and love) her fashion posts, but they’re not for me.

So I guess what I’m asking is for you to do the same. For me to carry on writing, I need to do ME.

So please, if it interests you, carry on reading and if it doesn’t – skip it 🙂

Thanks in advance and here’s the post I actually wanted to write today…

First few months of the 12 Provincies Challenge 

I’m almost 4 months into my 12 provinces challenge and I’ve ticked off the following:

Gelderland: Arnhem 
Utrecht: Kasteel de Haar (Haarzuilens)
Zuid-Holland: Delft, Scheveningen, Lisse, Noordwijk, Katwijk
Zeeland: Renesse

I also went to Utrecht and Amsterdam multiple times but I’m not counting them as I go all the time… I’m also not counting Nuenen in Brabant (where we picked up the camper van from) or Zaandam, again – I’ve been there loads. Or Huizen, Laren, Loosdrecht or Kortenhoef as they’re all too close to home!

But 4 months down and 4 provinces ticked off sounds pretty good to me.

I may or may not get round to writing individual posts about all these places… but if not, here are some edited highlights 🙂

Arnhem – January 2017

Ok, Arnhem was a bit of a cheat because we had limited time there on our way to Germany… so I should definitely revisit Gelderland (and Arnhem) later in the year. But it does deserve a mention because I had my first bitterballen of the 2017 there! And also there was a snowman. So…

Bitteballen in Cafe Meijers, Arnhem

Bitterballen in Cafe Meijers, Arnhem

Snowman in Arnhem

Snowman in Arnhem

Kasteel de Haar – April 2017

Sooooooo pretty! And by far the most impressive castle I’ve seen. (I still need go to that Instagram-famous German castle too!) But really, if you’re in or near the Utrecht area it’s worth going for a stroll around the grounds. And FREE! 😀

Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht

Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht

Delft & Scheveningen – February 2017

We went to both places in one day when my sister and niece were visiting back in Feb. I’m not gonna lie… I don’t like Scheveningen. It’s so busy/touristy and overpriced! There are lots of better Dutch seaside resorts. (Coming up…)

I loved Delft though!! And want to go back asap! If anyone has Delft tips for me… please leave a comment below. I’d be extremely grateful 🙂 🙂

Oude Kerk, Delft

Oude Kerk, Delft



Lisse – April 2017

We also had tourists, I mean friends, over in April… so we took them to see the flower fields in Lisse.

Tulip fields, Lisse

Tulip fields, Lisse

Don’t be a dick and trample the tulips or pick them! Pretty please.

Noordwijk & Katwijk – April 2017

Two lovely seaside towns (which are both a lot nicer than Scheveningnen!!)

In Katwijk I had the best kibbeling I’ve ever tasted in my 3 years of living here – from a seafood stand along the promenade.

Kibbeling in Katwijk

Kibbeling in Katwijk

Garnalen kroktjes in Katwijk

Garnalen kroketjes in Katwijk

Rose garnalen in Katwijk

Roze garnalen in Katwijk

Not the best pic… but here’s the food stall in question 🙂



And we had to take this one for the Dutchie’s Mum, Willy!


Meanwhile over in Noordwijk we went on our first camping trip in Janis. (Named after the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue.)

Camping in Noordwijk

Camping in Noordwijk

We stayed at Camping Op Hoop van Zegen which was one of the closest to town but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a silver fox. Literally the dullest/quietest campsite ever!

Bitterballen in Noordwijk

Bitterballen in Noordwijk

Noordwijk itself was great though and I recommend Branding Beach Club which is currently #1 on Trip Advisor. Average bitterballen but the seafood platter was great, if a little overpriced. You are sat ON the beach though… so 100% worth it. Oh and make sure you book a table! They’re rammed!!

Sunset at Noordwijk

Sunset at Noordwijk

I never used to get sunsets when I was younger (my friends berated me one summer in Ibiza) but now I am fully on board!! Stunning!

Renesse – April 2017

Last, but certainly not least is Renesse… we went here for 3 nights over Easter and loved every minute of it. I’ve heard it does get very crowded in peak summer, so maybe best avoided during that time, but over Easter it was pleasantly populated 😉

De Haven van Renesse

De Haven van Renesse – nice place to go for a drink

Oh, and guys… I have seen the future!! Mosselen kroketjes! Of course, I wish they were bitterballen, but they taste the same. So, so good. 11/10 seriously. Believe the hype. It’s worth going to Renesse just to eat these in my opinion…

Mosselen kroketjes at Grand Café Helder

Mosselen kroketjes at Grand Café Helder

And what trip would be complete without a chocomel and a slice of appeltaart after a long walk on the beach?

Chocomel and appeltaart, De Branding, Renesse

Chocomel and appeltaart, De Branding, Renesse

I hope the rest of the year measures up to these adventures! I love exploring Holland! 🙂 If you want to join in, please use the hashtag #12provincies and if you have any tips for me for the remaining 8 provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland, Noord-Holland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg – please do let me know!

Hayley x


  1. Hi hayley, how did you explain your MIL’s first name to your English friends and family😂? Looking forward to more posts about NL. Maybe the Dutch don’t appreciate their own country enough. I’ve never been to Groningen for instance, while I’ve been to London at least 9 times. I can highly recommend Friesland. Loads of campsites, kind people. There’s a YouTube vid by the way in which an Englishman tries to talk to a Frisian farmer in Old English 😂 I loved the arena around Sneek in Friesland ,there’s a village nearby that you can explore by boat, nicknamed Kameleondorp. Maastricht is also a personal favorite, very grand, very international. I also recommend Haarlem and Alkmaar and the surrounding areas. Seaside towns: Schoorl and Bergen, although I prefer the village Bergen-binnen to its beach. Very cute market town with a lot of nice restaurants and shops. Rather chic as well. Hope this helps

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yep!! That always gets a giggle 🙂

      I’m totally guilty of it too… when I lived in England I just stayed in the South! I still haven’t been to Scotland or Ireland which I find pretty embarrassing! And I only made it to Wales after I moved here. Return visits to England now always involve visiting friends/family so there’s not much scope for exploring – though in May we are managing to set aside 4 days to explore a bit of Cornwall. Can’t wait! 🙂

      Great tips – thank you so much! I will keep them all in mind for my adventures this year!

      I STILL haven’t been to Maastricht or Groningen which is one of the reasons I set myself this challenge!

      Thanks again for your comment 🙂


  2. Hey, some tips for Delft: climb up the new church, beautiful view! Visit museum Het Prinsenhof (where Willem van Oranje got shot) and het Agathaplein with park behind. If you like pottery: visit the Porceleyne Fles. Flea market (across city center) in the summer on Saturdays. Watch a movie in Filmhuis Lumen, have an ice cream at De Lelie. Eat some good locally produced food in a historical building at De Centrale. Enjoy a coffee at Uit de Kunst. Have a beer from a Dutch brewery at De Wilde Hollander. And soooo much more… Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog.Have lived in New Zealand for 60 years (since I was 12).Have been back 3 times but it is great to read about Holland in English.Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much, love reading your blogs, have been living in Adelaide for the last 45 years, but can relate to the “funny” Dutch customs! Pkease keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally understand the creative block problem. I’ve been suffering from the same off and on for a while. I’ve not figured out a solution yet but at least I can say you are not alone.

    So are you going to give a run down of the best to worst provinces at the end? :p


  6. Hi Hayley, I love reading your blog! Been a lurker here for quite a while but now it’s time to speak up I guess.

    So my #1 favourite place in our kikkerlandje is the island of Texel! Have you been there? I really feel at peace there (not so much during the summer holidays though). And what’s not to love? There are sheep and little lambs everywhere, lots of cottages and holiday parks, some great boat trips from the marina of Oudeschild to visit the seals. And did I mention the great ‘Texelse’ craft beer that you can get anywhere?


    1. Hi Hanno, thanks for your comment! I have been to Texel, we visited last summer with the family but only for a couple of days so I’d love to go back! Many thanks for the tips – I will definitely bear them in mind for our next trip 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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