English

10 Things British Expats Miss The Most

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to win the AngloINFO & British Corner Shop #HomeComforts competition back in November.

As my prize, I won £100 to spend on British groceries, delivered to my home in the Netherlands, for a WHOLE YEAR! I can safely say that it’s the best prize you could ever give to an expat. EVER!

Now obviously, there are some things I miss which money can’t buy: my friends and family, people saying sorry all the time, our sense of humour, traditional British pubs and of course… our beautiful landscape. There are HILLS and everything! 😉 But thanks to the British Corner Shop, I now have the contents of a British supermarket to comfort me in between my visits ‘home’. So here’s a sneak peek of what you can find in my online shopping basket…

Top 10 Things British Expats Miss The Most:

1. Marmite

Marmite has to be top of the list for me! You either love it or you hate it – so I speak for at least 50% of British expats here. Best on toast or crumpets. Mmmmmm…. crumpets!

2. Tea

Proper tea. Builders tea, none of that freaky Rooibos or herbal crap! Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips, Tetley, Typhoo and Twinings. (My favourite is actually Tesco own-brand… I’m a cheap date!)

3. Roast Dinners / Full English Breakfast / Fish & Chips

This one isn’t so tough here in the Netherlands, you just have to put a bit of effort in and make your own… but I imagine for some expats it could be difficult to get your hands on all of the key ingredients. *Sob*.

4. Ale and cider

That fizzy, foamy stuff you drink – technically, that’s lager. English folk drink ale – the room temperature, flat stuff. Want to know the difference between lager and ale? Cider: Ok, so there is cider in Holland: Jillz and Strongbow, but that’s about it. In the UK there are 480 Cider Makers (source). Resulting in hundreds of cider options, and a whole dedicated bay in the supermarket, from traditional scrumpy and fruit flavoured ciders, to the more modern brands like Magners and Gaymers.

5. Cheese

One word for you: cheddar. Two words for you: Dairylea Dunkers. (Ok, so the second is probably just me.)

6. Lamb

Searching for supermarket lamb in the Netherlands is like searching for a kangaroo in the Antarctic. Once I found lamb sausages (huh??) … once! They’ve since disappeared from the shelves. You see, lamb is a key ingredient to many of our traditional dishes – so an absolute must! Minted Lamb Steaks, Rack of Lamb, Lamb Stew, Shepherd’s Pie and of course Lamb Curries! (Not technically British of course, but curry is hugely popular in the UK!)

7. Heinz EVERYTHING

Beans… sauces… soups. You can get baked beans here in the Netherlands – and if you’re lucky, even tomato sauce. But the soups haven’t made it over here yet… How else is a girl supposed to survive the winter without Cream of Chicken?

8. Crisps

Yes, they have crisps in other countries… here in the Netherlands the standout is paprika! BUT, ask any British expat and you’ll get the same answer: they’re not the same. British crisps are just something else. Go to any large British supermarket and you will find a whole aisle dedicated to crisps and savoury snacks. Sometimes even two! And for some reason, no other country finds salt & vinegar crisps as delicious as we do! There’s no accounting for taste…

9. Chocolate

DAIRY MILK and GALAXY. When you’re homesick: no other chocolate will do!

10. Bacon

That wafer thin stuff you get at the slagerij (butcher) called spek (bacon)? Just because you call it bacon, doesn’t mean it is. British bacon comes in slabs! Thick and meaty. ‘Nuff said.

And what do Dutch expats miss most when they’re abroad?

According to a survey by Dutch television station BVN, top of the list of items missed by Dutch expats is herring! Some 9% of those polled said they missed the herring most of all, followed by kroketten (8.6%), cheese (8.1%) and household goods chain Hema (8%). Family and friends came in only fifth place, with 6.7% of the vote, followed by cycling (6.5%), Dutch bread, cakes and biscuits (2.7%), the warm atmosphere (2.2%), Sinterklaas (2.1%) and things to eat on bread (2.1%). Source: DutchNews.nl.

What do you (or would you) miss the most if you live(d) abroad?

Hayley x

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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.

beer-will-change-the-world-posters

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.

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

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

Welkom op Bitterballen Bruid

Welcome to Bitterballen Bruid!

Bruid = bride. Bitterballen = a delicious Dutch snack. They’re pretty hard to describe seeing as a Dutch person will tell you they’re filled with “ragout” – however ragout to us English folk is a French stew. (Either that, or you’ll think of the pasta sauce jars: Ragù!) The outside of bitterballen is breadcrumbs, think something like a potato croquet… but the inside is where the magic happens! It’s like a thick, creamy meat paste… sounds disgusting, tastes heavenly! They’re little round balls of deep-fried deliciousness, served with mustard. Normally I avoid anything deep-fried at all costs, but these are an exception. Don’t think about the calories or what’s inside them, just sit in the kroeg (pub) with a glass of Amstel, or if you’re a hater like me, een glaasje wijn (glass of wine) and enjoy!

Bitterballen

© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for ages, but just never got around to it. Excuses, excuses! But whilst on holiday in Thailand (lucky me!) the name Bitterballen Bruid just came to me. I talked to The Dutchie (aka my husband) about it and he liked it too, so here I am! The blog will mainly focus on being an English girl woman getting married in The Netherlands, learning the Dutch language and moving there… but having just returned from an epic 3 week trip to Bali and Thailand, I might have to squeeze some travel pics and stories in too!

First post, over and out 😉

Hayley x