(Dutch-related) Stuff That Happened In March 2015

Bit of a quiet month blog-wise as March has been a reeeeeally busy month at work (yep – I have a real job and everything!) Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’ll let up anytime soon, so you’ll probably only be hearing from me about once a week for the next few months. Just so you know and that. I haven’t been kidnapped.

Tomorrow we’re off to Brussels (for one night) en route to France to see my parents for a few days. (Yep, the ‘rents are expats too – they moved to France a couple of weeks after I moved to Holland!)

So before we go off gallivanting… here’s some stuff that happened this month.

 1. Rediscovering Etsy 

I’m very happy to have discovered some extremely talented Dutch illustrators in the past month… Introducing Kim Bell Illustrations. Love her work!!


After living here for nearly a year… the office/blogging den/spare room is finally finished! (Crikey, we are terrible DIYers!!)

I was looking for some funky postcards to frame and brighten up my office –  so there’s the obvious, Paperchase, but their delivery rates to the Netherlands are ridiculous (£5 for a postcard… huh??) so I decided to look elsewhere.

Bravo, Etsy! Bravo!

These fine specimens are from a seller named Darveelicious:


I also bought postcards from Moa Gift Ideas, Steak & Eggs Please and Le Lapin Blanc. I specifically opted for Dutch illustrators / Etsy shops (with the exception of Steak & Eggs Please) because they ship to the Netherlands (obviously) but also because they are friggin’ awesome. Why look further afield when there is so much talent right here in the Netherlands? Can you tell I’m a BIT excited about this!?!?

And the final result…



I should probably also show you the other side of the room, aka the Blogging Den, but hmmmm my desk is a bit of a mess now… and can I be arsed to tidy it for photos? No.

2. Clog slippers

Possibly the best slippers ever? The Dutchie has been without slippers for about six years, but whilst in tourist paradise at Zaanse Schans, he was sucked in by the clog slippers.

Nothing to do with me, honest!


3. Visiting Haarlem, Zaanse Schans & Gouda

Pretty impressed I made it to three new places in March. In case you missed those posts, there was A Quickie in Haarlem and Tourist Paradise – Zaanse Schans.


I didn’t write a post about Gouda because, well, there were no rose-tinted spectacles involved!! ‘Twas a dreary and cold day and the photos I took on my iphone just didn’t do it any justice. My American friend and I did however discover a fantastic cafe thanks to Sophie in Clogs (big thanks again, Sophie!) This is an especially good tip for mamas who are visiting Gouda… we went with a one year old and the place was totally kid-friendly. It’s unofficially split into two parts, the right-wing for kiddie winks (with loads of toys and high chairs etc) and the left-hand side for grown ups who’d like to enjoy their coffee in adult company.

Zoet & Zalig (yup, that’s my full review on Trip Advisor) is most definitely off the beaten track and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. Here’s the entrance:


But once inside – it’s a complete hidden gem!




Fantastic food, beautiful interior details and a great atmosphere. It’s set in a former orphanage but they have completely transformed it – including the outside. When the weather’s nice, there’s a gorgeous courtyard with funky tables and chairs. Ohhhh and THE CAKE. I’m not at all a cake person, but their selection of cakes and tarts was too hard to resist. The coconut and pineapple taartje was stunning. If you visit Gouda, go here for coffee and cake, minimum!

4. Masterchef Holland

A new series of Masterchef Holland has started! YAY! Pretty much one of the only Dutch TV programmes I can watch! I love you guys, but you really don’t have the best TV… Thank funk for Netflix! So yeah, one of the contestants is an undertaker… or so I thought when I translated ondernemer  literally. It actually means entrepreneur! Oops!


I have also been watching a few Dutch films: Gooische Vrouwen (yes, I know, I’m totally behind the times!!) Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!) and Jackie, which I watched last night. If anyone has any other Dutch film / series recommendations for me – preferably on Netflix – I’d love to hear them please! Trying to watch as many Dutch programmes as possible. It all helps, right? It’s still such a strange concept to me that I can actually watch films in another language. Fuck! (Sorry Mum!)

5. D’ Vijf Broers, Zaandijk

Gah! More food! Yup, pretty much sums the month up: working & eating!

You know when you go to a restaurant and fall in love? I really did with this place. D’ Vijf Broers in Zaandijk is truly unmissable if you’re visiting Zaandijk / Zaandam. Full review here.


6. Port tasting

Oh, and we did a cheeky bit of drinking too!

Our friend works at a Gall & Gall store and we went to a port tasting evening (in Dutch might I add!) at the beginning of the month.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and although I didn’t understand absolutely everything – as there were so many technical words – it was fun and something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months back.


It’s not a wine tasting until you’ve spilled wine, right?


7. Bagels & Beans

And while we’re on a food and drink theme… I have to mention Bagels & Beans which we have visited twice in the past week!! If you follow me on Instagram you will have probably already noticed my new obsession!

If there’s a Bagels & Beans in your neighbourhood and haven’t visited yet, I encourage you to do so now!

Koffie – check.

Goedkoop – check.

Lekker – check.


There is a distinct lack of bitterballen in this post!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

Have a great weekend everyone!

Hayley x

It’s all about you: An interview with The Dutchie

In his natural habitat

In his natural habitat

Maybe it’s just me (and I suspect it isn’t) but when I’m reading a blog – and I read a few – I’m always curious about the author’s partner. You could politely just say I’m a curious person, but like a lot of people, let’s be honest: we’re just nosey!

Bloggers partners usually get mentioned in their blog (a lot) but you rarely get any more information than that. One of my favourite ever posts on a blog was a post her husband had written about her. It was just so refreshing to see his take on things and I’m pretty sure it made me cry, it was that beautifully written.

My husband, aka The Dutchie, isn’t that guy though. That’s not his thing. He doesn’t do slushy or soppy and that’s fine too… so instead, I did a mini-interview with him to celebrate my 100th blog post! As my number 1 fan, he deserves a bit of appreciation! 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

Where were you born? And where did you grow up?
I was born in Amsterdam. I lived in Bovenkarspel for the first 6 years of my life and then we moved to Huizen in ‘t Gooi. After that I lived in Amsterdam for a few years before moving to Hilversum. From there I went to England for 3 years and now we’re back in Hilversum.

What do you do all day? 
I’m an SEA Consultant. So if you see paid adverts at the top of Google results, that could be me. And if you’ve visited a website and are (annoyingly) followed around with banners… that’s what I do as well.

Favourite Dutch food(s)?
Vlammetjes. Preferably on a platter along with bitterballen.

What Dutch dish do you think everyone should try while here?
We’re not known for our great food, but I think everyone should go to a Febo or a different ‘eten uit de muur’ (eating from the wall) place and get some kroketten and other random stuff that’s in it. Make sure you’re not that tourist who opens an empty slot though!

What is the one thing you recommend someone does on their trip to Holland?
If you’re in Amsterdam on New Year’s eve – find a rooftop to party on. The 360 degree fireworks at midnight are absolutely unbelievable (don’t even try to imagine). I’ve seen many English friends literally get tears in their eyes when they’ve been there.

What is it like being in a relationship with someone from a different country?
Fun and sometimes difficult. Fun as in I love the English culture and I’m in the middle of it. Hard because apparently the Dutch come over very rude and sometimes (for me) I’m acting normal and am being accused of being very rude. <Editor: He is rude. But he doesn’t mean to be. We’re still working on that one…>

What do you most miss about England?
The pub culture. And more specifically, being able to chose from different types of cider from draft and bottle in any random pub. Every pub I went to in England has a selection of cider. Here you’re lucky if they have one brand, and then it’s Strongbow!

Favourite place in Holland?
Out on the water in Vinkeveen. My best friend has a boat.

Favourite country you’ve visited?

What is your favourite trip we have taken together?
Mojacar, Spain. As a country I’d say the trip to Thailand – but so many crazy things happened in Mojacar and it’s the first and most likely the last time I’ve had success with karaoke. (I’m not known for my beautiful singing voice!) I sang Pulp – Common People.

How about your least favourite trip we have taken together?
Hmmm… I guess Brugge <Editor: He’s Dutch, he means Bruges.> when all the bars and restaurants we wanted to visit were closed. And actually the whole city was dead for some holiday or something.

Best bands?
**Rubs his hands together** Mmmmm… Music, my favourite subject! 🙂 In no particular order… Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, SLAYER, The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnyman, Roxy Music (with Brian Eno), Primus, The Clash, Sisters of Mercy, New Model Army, Rammstein, Television, Doe Maar.

Best song ever made?
Roxy Music – If There is Something. <Editor: This song was played at our wedding.>

Best gig you’ve ever been to?
Sonic Youth. Pukkelpop 1990 or something. Gig doesn’t completely cover it, the whole festival was amazing: The Pogues, Ramones, Nirvana (before Nevermind), Frank Black, Ride, Dinosaur Jr.

First tape you ever bought?
**Laughs** Yeah yeah, I’m old! I’m too old to remember the first. The first I remember is Depeche Mode – Black Celebration, but there must be ones before that.

Favourite TV show?
Masterchef. (Or MotoGP if you can call that a TV show.)

Favourite film?
LA Confidential.

Proudest moment ever? <Editor: Puke fest coming up!!> 
Marrying Bitterballenbruid 🙂

What’s your special talent?
I guess I have to say pingpong. And I deliberately say pingpong as people who take it too seriously call it table tennis. <Editor butts in again: He’s being ridiculously modest here! He plays in the 2nd division in Holland and in the UK he played regionally. He’s good. Really bloody good.>

Anything else you’d like to know about The Dutchie?

Comment below and I’ll get him to answer any additional questions 🙂 Today is your chance to be as nosey as you like!!

Hayley x

Just call me Tante Bitterbal

Tante Bitterbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I have no words for you.

So tell me, what’s your superpower?

Hayley x

10 English terms containing the word ‘Dutch’

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

Trivio Restaurant, Loosdrecht

1. Dutch Courage – drinking to increase bravery.

2. Dutch Widow – prostitute.

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

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

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

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

7. Dutch Cap – contraceptive diaphragm.

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

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

And for my personal favourite…

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

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

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

Hayley x

2015 Bloggies

So, it’s the 12th January and I’m asking you for a favour already. UN-BLOODY-BELIEVABLE, huh?

Ok, bit of an exaggeration... but would be awesome if you could help me out please!

Ok, bit of an exaggeration… but would be awesome if you could help me out please!

But yes, I am asking a favour so soon in the year. It would be totally-super-fan-dabby-dozy-awesome-with-a-cherry-on-top if you could help me get nominated for the 2015 Annual Weblog Awards. Pretty please 🙂

Want to help a girl out? Here’s how to nominate Bitterballenbruid.com:

1. Click this link: http://2015.bloggi.es/#european (which will take you directly to the Best European Blog category). Nominations close on 1st Feb.

2. You can’t only nominate me. Sorry, it’s the rules. Please nominate 3 different blogs by entering the blog name and URL into the relevant category. If you’re so kind as to nominate me, please do so in the Best European Blog category section. (There are 30 categories in total.)

3. Nearly done!! Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and enter your name, email address and submit your nomination.

4. Ok, I lied. Now please go and check your email for a confirmation thingymebob (if it’s not there – check your spam / junk folder). Then click the link in the email confirmation so that your nomination counts.

5. THANK YOU. DANK U. By the way, did I tell you how sexy you’re looking today?

Hayley x

How to be English (or Weird Stuff English People Do)

© THOR / Creative Commons  / Attribution 2.0 Generic

© THOR / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

Happy New Year! Let’s kick off 2015 by poking fun at English people! Yep… I don’t only joke about Dutch idiosyncrasies… English people are pretty bloody weird as well! I should know…

Recently, I read two articles about being British by two Dutch bloggers. Now as much as I agree with many of their points and found myself laughing and nodding along… I thought seeing as I’m actually English, I’d like to stick my two pennies worth in…

Oh and as I’ve never been to Wales, Scotland or Ireland (shameful, I know!!) I’m not talking about being British here. I’m gonna stick to what I know… How to be English.

1. Be polite

If I had to guess the most frequently used words in England, I’d go for sorry, please and thank you. We say sorry ALL THE TIME… even when it’s not our fault!

2. Drink tea

We fucking LOVE tea. I only drink one cup a day, but I’m a freak. We’re the 3rd biggest tea drinking nation in the world, after Turkey and Ireland (source). English people think that tea solves everything… and it kinda does. Heartbroken? Tea. Lost your job? Tea. Mother-in-law coming over unannounced? Tea.

Oh… and when we say tea, we mean with milk. I’ve upset many a Dutch person by putting milk in their tea. In England – it’s standard. So if you’d like it zonder melk  you’ll need to specify. And yes, you will get a funny look.

Proper English tea and toast... with marmite!

Proper English tea and toast… with marmite!

3. Queue

Yup, we love that too. Well, we don’t actually love it… but refer back to point 1. We’re so polite, the thought of taking someone else’s turn or pushing in terrifies us!

4. Talk about the weather

Because there’s not a lot else to make small talk about… and the weather is always so shit. I find that Dutch people talk a lot about the weather too, but they just take it a step further than us with the phrase “kut weer”. Yep, it translates to cunt weather.

5. Call people love or darling

Or sweetheart, treacle, pet… whatever takes your fancy. It can also vary depending on whereabouts you are in England. “Alwight, luv?” is pretty commonly used throughout. (These greetings are not intended to be offensive or sexist by the way – just friendly – though they are often perceived that way.)

6. Eat Baked Beans & Marmite (sometimes even together!!)

A staggering 1.5 million cans of Heinz Beanz are sold every day in the UK (source) and the United Kingdom eats more cans of baked beans than the rest of the world combined (source). Jeez, Louise!

Marmite… the light of my life! It’s slogan, ‘Love it or hate it’ is perfect for us because we love to love stuff as much as we love to hate stuff. We love complaining, we do.

7. Eat traditional English cuisine grub

See point 6 😉 We English get a very bad rep for our food, but we’ve come a long way in recent years. You only have to look at programmes like Masterchef UK to see that we’re producing some bloody good food these days!

That said, it’s also important to know the classic and traditional dishes… So if you haven’t tried them yet, here’s your checklist: Full English Breakfast, Bangers and Mash, Shepherds/Cottage Pie, Sunday Roast Dinner, Pie & Mash, Ploughman’s Lunch, Toad in the Hole (nothing to do with toads!!) and Fish and Chips. You’re welcome.

8. Know what Yorkshire puddings are

A sweet treat from Yorkshire? Nope. Batter poured into pre-heated cake tins, cooked in the oven and served with a traditional Sunday roast dinner. About as savoury as they come. (Image source.)

© robbie jim / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

© robbie jim / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

9. Learn the pub culture

And by this I am talking about actual pubs… not pubbing/clubbing… I’m way too old for that shit! I’m talking about taking a nice stroll to your local pub on a Sunday afternoon, with the dog – if you have one – and sitting in the sun (ok, mild drizzle under a pub umbrella) or by the roaring fire in the winter. If you’re in a rural town, bonus points for spotting the elderly local gentleman with his flat cap, newspaper and pint of ale… which takes him about 3 hours to drink.

Going to the pub in the daytime is about having a walk, getting some fresh air and socialising… not about getting hammered. We save that for the evening.

10. Avoid pork scratchings

You’ll thank me for this one! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Just ew. Especially when you find one with hair still attached. Step away from the pork scratchings.

11. Party etiquette

In short: bring your own booze.

English party food in a nutshell… it’ll probably be a buffet: sandwiches cut into triangles – especially weird – cucumber sandwiches, cheese and pineapple, vol-au-vents (yes, it’s a French word, but no English person says vols-au-vent), mini cocktail sausages, sausage rolls. Or if it’s a kids party you’ll be treated to the 70’s delicacy which is still going strong: jelly and ice cream.

12. Say “lovely” a lot

Even when you don’t mean it. Also, fine does not mean fine. You have been warned. If someone says they’re fine, they are massively pissed at you.

13. Wear whatever you like, whatever the weather

English people don’t dress for the weather. Especially the young’uns. A 20-something going clubbing won’t look out the window and think “oh, it’s a bit cold for a short skirts and high heels tonight” even if it’s freezing winter. They’ll just go out in a top, skirt and heels and wear their ‘beer bacardi breezer jacket’ instead. I should know, I only stopped doing it 3 years ago 😉

14. Be bad at languages

We’re notorious for it… and it’s true. I was in Spain last week and The Dutchie and I learnt the basics so we could at least order a drink in Spanish and be polite. I was a bit ashamed when every other English person I heard did the classic English tourist thing: speaking LOUDER and SLOWER.

Yeah, that’ll make Spanish people suddenly understand English. *Facepalm*.

15. Know that ‘public schools’ are actually private schools

Makes total sense, right? I know… we’re weirdos.

16. Understand our sense of humour

This basically means balancing sarcasm and self-deprecation along with deadpan delivery. They don’t call it dry wit for nothing.

Oh, and don’t forget innuendo and satire! Still don’t get it? Try this Buzzfeed article.


17. Panic and stay at home if it snows

Fact: we cannot cope with snow. When it snows the whole country comes to a standstill.

18. Talk about Europe as if you’re not in it

Phrases I have actually heard English people say: “He has a really European haircut!”, “That cardigan you’re wearing makes you look so European!”, “I’d love to go to Europe”.

19. Be obsessed by Downton Abbey

Ok, this is only for the chicks, but it’s still a very important fact of being English. It’s what Sundays on ITV at 9pm were made for…

20. Have no idea why Boxing Day is called Boxing Day

*Quickly checks wikipedia*

So… you lot are good are telling me what I missed. So, what’d I miss?? What other weird stuff do English people do?

Hayley x

Ps – Special thanks to Explorista.nl and Anna Naomi Blogs for planting the seed for this post.

Merry Christmas!

I had intended this post to talk about the differences between Dutch and English Christmases and ultimately decide which is the best (English, obviously… purely for the silly Christmas jumpers, crackers and hats) but I’m ill.

So instead – you get this half-arsed drawing! (Yes, that is supposed to be a bitterbal wearing a Santa hat on the right!) Merry Christmas!


Or if you’re Dutch:
Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Vrolijk Kerstmis, Prettige Kerstdagen, Prettige Feestdagen, Prettige Kerst, Prettig Kerstmis, Fijne Dagen, Fijne Feestdagen, Fijne Kerst, Fijne Kerstdagen, Gelukkig Kerstmis… Did I miss any!?! 😉

Hayley x

A Year of Blogging

So, it turns out that this Friday will see Bitterballenbruid.com’s first anniversary. I’ll be in England this weekend (woop woop) so no time to post then. I’ve only lived in the Netherlands for 6 months, so it seems weird that I’ve already been blogging for a year! It’s had its ups and downs! On the plus side, I only started it for myself – to use my time more productively when I was having problems sleeping – so the page views, follows, comments and likes have all been a surprise to me.

On the downside… there are times when I have no idea what to write, other times I have 20 posts in my head and don’t know which one to write first… and other times when I start a post and don’t finish it. (I must have at least 15 drafts sitting here all sad and unwanted.) #Firstworldproblems eh? But turning a year old does make you think about things: Is the blog going where I want it to? Have I found my niche yet? Shall I continue blogging? You see a lot of blogs fizzle out in a year (or less) and I can totally see why.

Who knows. We shall see. You’ve probably noticed I changed the theme, it felt like time for a little refresh. I would also like to blog more about Hilversum (and surrounding areas) because before I moved here I really struggled to find anything online. What else do you wanna see? More lists? More Dutch stuff? More posts about bitterballen? 😉

3 happy things to end…

1. I won the AngloINFO competition!! Thanks to those who voted!! I now get £100 A MONTH FOR A YEAR (!!) to spend at the British Corner Shop. Best prize EVER for an expat!

2. The weather is gorgeous this week! Look where I got to cycle on my lunch break yesterday!  Told you Hilversum is beautiful 🙂


Loosdrechtsebos, Hilversum

3. I have my 6th Dutch lesson tomorrow. It’s been going really well and the teacher even asked me if I wanted to try out the advanced course (I’m currently on the intermediate course.) What a geek! I decided not to though, because (due to my geekiness) I need to know all of the rules and grammar etc first… and the advanced course is only speaking. There’s no coursebook or structure like I have now in the intermediate lessons. If I make a mistake, I at least want to know why!

3.a. Some Dutch friends taught me how difficult English pronunciation is at the weekend. I knew Dutchies had problems with our “th” as that sound doesn’t exist in Dutch… but check out this poem about English spelling and pronunciation: The Chaos by Dutchman Gerard Nolst Trenité. It certainly made me think twice and I’ll definitely complain 50% less about Dutch pronunciation from now on…

Hayley x

Home Comforts

Happy Monday!

I’ve been selected as a finalist for AngloINFO’s #homecomforts competition! The winner receives a year of shopping from the British Corner Shop… a very exciting prize for an English girl who is missing home!

It’s a tough competition between the five finalists so I’d be very grateful for your vote! All you need to do is click on the picture below and then “like” it on Facebook! Easy peasy!

Proper English tea and toast... with marmite!

Proper English tea and toast… with marmite!

You have until Wednesday 5th November to vote!

Thanks in advance for your support!

Hayley x

I’m going to Spa!

Nope, that capital letter isn’t a typo. Not a massage, chill out and put cucumber on your eyes spa. The race circuit in Belgium! The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps… the real Spa!!


Spa circuit

Now, I know what you’re thinking… girls don’t like racing… well actually, some do! I’ve been to five races at Le Mans, France (24 Heures du Mans), once to Nurburgring (1000 km of Nürburgring – as it was called then – part of the Le Mans series) once to Spa (WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps) three times to Silverstone (FIA WEC 6 hours of Silverstone) and to Thruxton for the British Superbikes!

I also had a brief fling working as a “hostess” (read: waitress) for the British Touring Cars series at Thruxton and Brands Hatch. The pay wasn’t great and I didn’t like being nice to snooty people for (not very much) money, so that affair was short, unsatisfying and over after two races!

So, anyway. Yes, I’m a girl AND I like racing. The atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in my life. It tops every party or gig I’ve even been to (and believe me, I have been to A LOT of amazing parties and gigs in my time!!) The people, the cars, the smell, the noise. It’s addictive. The adrenalin rush you get walking around the track is immense! And you’re just watching!! Imagine what the drivers must feel like!!

This year is particularly exciting for race-nerds as none other than Mark Webber (of F1 fame) is going to be there! Like many sports personalities, he’s a bit like Marmite. He has a lot of haters, but he’s going to attract fans who have never been to a WEC race before, so that’s great for the sport. I for one will be supporting him at Spa!

Walking around the circuit at Spa

Walking around the circuit at Spa

If you’ve never been to a motor race, but have always wanted to: Spa is a great taster session. It’s in Belgium, so easy to get to from surrounding countries: France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany. From the UK it’s pretty easy too (especially if you live in the south) you can get cheap ferries from Dover via DFDS Seaways (other ferry companies are available ;-)) to Dunkirk or Calais and it’s only a 3-ish hour drive from there.

Tickets are €35.00 for the whole weekend including Paddock entrance, which in racing terms, is peanuts. (Ever looked how much it costs to attend an F1 race?) There’s camping around the circuit and if you know the right place to go it’s FREE! You’re also allowed to take food and drink into the circuit!! (Excluding glass bottles – fair enough.) Something which is extremely rare these days! (Man, I sound old.)

Eau Rouge

Eau Rouge

So there it is. I wholeheartedly recommend that even if you have the teeniest tiniest bit of interest interest in racing – go to Spa. The websites you need are here:  FIA WEC and here Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

You’re welcome!

Hayley x

Ps – Take a waterproof jacket. It ALWAYS rains at Spa! But don’t worry… as Norm used to say: “it’s a dry rain”. (RIP Norm Koury, Turn 10 legend.)