The Truth

Dead Duck Day

You know that scene from ‘About A Boy’ (awesome film btw) where Marcus kills a duck? And then that day is forever referred to as dead duck day?

Well for me, today is double dead duck day.

I wish I was joking.

I woke up this morning and started my normal Workaway routine… first of all I feed the sheep and chickens and then the ducks. But immediately I knew something was off. Every day, the bloody sheep, Gem, goes crazy when I come with the food. She tries to grab it out of my hands with her teeth and makes loads of noise. She has the loudest baaaaaaaaaaaaa I’ve ever heard! Today, she just sat there and didn’t move. Very fucking weird.

So then I go to feed the ducks. Where the hell are they? I scan around and there are feathers on the lawn. Oh shit…

One is sat at the side of the pond, very badly injured, the other I find later, in the generator room where the cats have dragged it and left it half eaten.

Horrific. Fucking horrific.

The ducks have escaped a few times before. Last week in fact, but I found the hole in the fence, secured it and got them back in safely. (Basically by throwing a towel over them and gently lifting them back into their pen.)

Today I wrapped them in a towel for the last time.

I could’ve let someone else do it, but I’ve been looking after them for the past 5 weeks. So I felt like it should be me.

Yes, I cried. I’m actually crying now as I write this.

I feel really silly because they’re ‘just’ ducks, but I have become attached to all of the animals here.

So yeah. Today totally fucking sucked. My Workaway experience has been absolutely amazing so far, but I want to share the lows as well as the highs.

We need more truth online amongst all the fakery. So here you go.

There’s not really a good way to wrap this up except to say that I’m VERY glad I have drinks organised with a friend later. I’m going to need a glass of wine, or 5.

Hayley x

 

 

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Fear is the mind killer

My friend has a tattoo with these words on her arm. She’s been wanting to start a blog for years and never plucked up the courage, hopefully now she will. Because she’s unemployed and looking for her next challenge. 

As am I.

Different circumstances, same end result. 

Fear is the mind killer

I finally built up the courage to leave my current job after 13 years. 5 years working from home. I just couldn’t work on my own anymore. I was so lonely and unfulfilled. 

I started this blog over 5 years ago and I used to write for fun. No one read it but I didn’t care. I just wrote any old crap. My theme was olllllllld skool. I designed the logo myself 😂😂 but I wrote about things that made me happy. 

After a few months I changed my WordPress theme, moved to Holland and started writing stuff about my new life in the Netherlands. About funny/stupid shit Dutch people do. Stuff that made me chuckle to myself on a daily basis. And people started to read it. Hell, people even started to share it! Then one day I reached a million views…

It was awesome, it was scary and it was kinda cool. I shared my blog with friends and family (which I previously hadn’t done). I set up an Instagram account and put adverts on my site and started to take it all a bit more seriously. 

Seeing some of my blog posts “go viral” (ugh) gave me the confidence to write more. People must like it if that many are visiting my little old blog. 

But with that came pressure. Intrusive thoughts. Writer’s block. Self doubt. Who cares what I have to say? 

Friends would talk to me about my blog and specific posts they’d read and I’d physically cringe! I’d see email addresses I recognised signing up to receive notifications every time I posted something.

Then when I came to write, I’d be worrying “Oh but my best friend’s husband doesn’t want to read this shite.” 

Once I had ‘followers’ (also ugh!) I started to care about what I wrote. Give the audience what they want and all that. 

But if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I don’t post much anymore. 

It’s not that I don’t like writing anymore. I have notebooks and diaries full of my thoughts, witterings, all the crap in my head. Over 200 notes on my phone and about 35 draft blog posts. 

I just can’t seem to hit publish lately. 

I’m not looking for attention. I’m not asking for people to compliment me or for “keep up the good job” type stuff. I just want to write again and not worry about it. 

I’ve been pretty brave in the past 6 months. In September I had a bad accident. I’ve never broken anything in my life before. (It’s my family nose!! Dickhead.) 

Anyhoo, I had to have surgery. I was housebound for a while. I had time off work. And I did a lot of thinking about life and stuff. 

I did some other brave things last year too – my first proper solo trip in March, followed up by another solo trip just 7 weeks after my accident. I volunteered for the first time. I quit my job. My comfort zone is nowhere in sight!! 

I’m now in Malta for 2 months on my own, bar a handful of visitors. I’m on a Workaway project, I’ve signed up to Facebook groups and meet ups and I’m going to meet some strangers for drinks this Friday!

After that I’m going to Asia for 5/6 months, some of that will be with the husband, some of it will be solo. 

I’m hoping I have some time to write. 

It’ll be about travel mostly, because that’s what I’m doing now. I can’t write about Dutchies being weirdos if I’m not there.  

Maybe you care about the stuff I’m writing, maybe you don’t. And that’s fine.

I’m scared about posting this, but I’m just going to do it anyway. 

One last thing – if you’re reading this and you’re thinking about starting a blog, or quitting your job, or going travelling… you can do it. If I can, so can you. The hardest thing to do is to take that first leap. 

Hayley x 

 

“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! 😀

 

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!

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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