The Truth

“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!

 

 

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

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

Trying hard not to trample the tulips...

Trying hard not to trample the tulips…

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

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

“Amsterdam…?”

*sigh*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Love,

Hayley x

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 (hannahgale.co.uk) 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:

Groningen
Friesland
Drenthe
Overijssel
Flevoland
Gelderland: Arnhem 
Utrecht: Kasteel de Haar (Haarzuilens)
Noord-Holland
Zuid-Holland: Delft, Scheveningen, Lisse, Noordwijk, Katwijk
Zeeland: Renesse
Noord-Brabant
Limburg

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

Delft

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 🙂

Katwijk

Katwijk

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

Katwijk

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