Exploring England: Being a tourist in my home country

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have probably noticed that I posted quite a few pictures from England in the past few weeks. That’s because the Dutchie and I spent 10 days back in the ‘hood as we had two weddings to attend, a week apart.

Was it a holiday? Sort of. Do I feel rested? Hell no! Does England feel like home? Definitely not.

So, what to do when you’re in England staying in 10 different places for 10 nights? Pretend to be a tourist! 😀 Or as my best friend described us: “you’re like posh gypsies travelling round in your Audi”. Thanks for that, darling!

Highlights of our trip:

Southampton – Baby Shower for my sister

Baby shower cake

I’ve never been to a baby shower before. There was a game which involved having to guess which chocolate was smeared inside a nappy. I was not impressed. However, all the “baby people” seemed to enjoy it immensely my little sister was glowing which was lovely. Less than 2 weeks to go until her due date!!

My brother’s wedding

Wedding table

Everyone cried. Everyone except the Dutchie that is – who was looking the wrong way when my brother broke down as the bride walked in. I can understand why – she was a princess. A very special moment.

Lyndhurst, The New Forest with my best friend

New Forest ponies

(Despite her gypsy comment. Kinda why I love her… like me… she has no filter whatsoever.)

I feel the same way about horses as I do about swans. They’re pretty, from a distance. Though when horses start running downhill towards you… not so fun!

New forest horses

We skedaddled out of the way with her 7 month year old boy before I felt safe enough to take this. Bit of a scary moment!!

Kittys of Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst is a gorgeous little touristy town. I also recommend the village of Burley which my Mum describes as having “quaint little shops with knick-knacky things”. Pretty much sums up every shop in the New Forest!

Whitchurch near Basingstoke – Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Definitely one of the highlights of our trip! I lived in Basingstoke for 6 years and never knew about this place – but with good reason – it only opened its doors in October 2014. (6 months after I left England.) It was a bit of a dreary day when we visited, but luckily most of the tour is inside.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

This beaut (two greenhouses joined together) was designed by award winning British designer Thomas Heatherwick – famous for the 2012 London Olympic Cauldron, the Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010,  and the New Bus for London.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

The greenhouses are used to house the botanicals needed for Bombay Sapphire: almond, lemon peel, angelica root, coriander seeds, juniper berries, orris root, cassia bark, grains of paradise, liquorice and cubeb berries.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

After schmoozing round for a bit, exploring the grounds and then tasting and smelling all the botanicals which go into Bombay Sapphire… you then go into the “Dakin Still House”… where the magic happens!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

One of the tour guides takes you through the gin making process and you get to see Thomas and Mary – the two distillation machines which produce over 33 million litres of Bombay Sapphire Gin per year. Amazing stuff.

There’s also the heritage room where you can find out the history behind Laverstock Mill and Bombay Sapphire.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

We have the Dutch to thank for gin – as they invented jenever – from which gin evolved.


Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Then the last thing to do on the tour? Drink a gin cocktail!! LEKKKKKKKER!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Hammersmith, London

Hammersmith Canal

Another friend of ours lives in London so we took a walk along the Thames, part of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race course… leading to Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge


St Andrew's Church, Farnham

While visiting another friend, this time in Farnham, we stumbled upon St Andrew’s Church.

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

More walking… I love walking!

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

I also love wine.


(FYI – Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces – THE best pub snack known to (wo)man!  They blew my previous fave – scampi fries – right out of the water!! The best discovery of our trip. The Dutchie and I are now obsessed. We bought 8 bags to take home with us and have since ordered more online!! Wooei… I can’t talk about these bad boys enough!)

2nd Wedding of the trip, near Milton Keynes

Indigo Images

Photo credit: Indigo Images

One of my best friends from University tied the knot. Another beautiful day and the perfect end to our trip!

The Travelling Gin Co.

They had a gin bike… (The Travelling Gin Co.) as if we hadn’t had enough gin that week 😉 and an Oyster Meister. Dangerous and delicious.

Oyster Meister

Conclusion: I love England but I don’t miss it. I only miss my friends, family and English pubs.

Have you been to England? What were the highlights of your visit?

Hayley x

Bitterballen Bruid’s Bruiloft – The Official Photographs

Happy Friday! I’m **SO** excited to show you a selection of our professional wedding photographs which arrived this week! I was actually ready to post Part 3 of the honeymoon today, but I figure this is WAY more important. Hope you agree!

Our wedding took place in Hilversum at the Gemeentehuis (town hall) followed by a reception at The Haven van Huizen (haven = harbour) and a meal at Cornelisz Restaurant.

Zuiderkerk, Hilversum

My Mum being pampered…

On the way!

Our wonderful registrar at the Gemeentehuis, Hilversum

Making it official!

My little sister was a witness AND bridesmaid

The Haven van Huizen

You know it had to happen!! BITTERBALLEN BRUID!

Cornelisz, Huizen

Wow! That was way more than I thought! Hope you like! 🙂

Photo credit goes to the amazing Katie at Indigo Images who flew to Holland and back for the day! An absolute star! Massive thanks.

Have a great weekend!

Hayley x

Bitterballen Bruid’s Bruiloft

Wow, that’s a mouthful. As promised… I said I’d share a few snaps of the day! Well actually, days: we were married in a small, intimate ceremony on Friday and then on Saturday we had a huge party with around 130 guests! Suffice to say it was the best weekend of our lives! 😀

Bride mug

The service was beautiful and very personal… we only had 11 guests. Just our closest family. ❤

At the Gemeentehuis

On Saturday I had partymaids, rather than bridesmaids! With orange flowers, of course… Go Holland!

Party maids

It was an emotional day to see friends and family, many of the UK contingent I hadn’t seen since I moved here, so a few tears were shed!

Welcoming a friend to the party

Everyone had an amazing party and we danced the night away until 4am or so!


Now it’s time to finally relax after months of planning… we leave on our honeymoon tomorrow! Italy for 2 weeks… Can’t wait!!

Professional photos to follow – the above were taken by family and friends. And of course… I will be sure to blog about our amazing honeymoon too!

Have a good couple of weeks!


Hayley x

Wedding Card Post Box

Today I have mainly been drawing… with a sharpie… on a cardboard box.

When looking for a “wedding card post box” online, I couldn’t find anything I liked. Except for a real English post box… but being in the Netherlands means it’s practically impossible to hire one here and getting one from the UK would be extortionate. Even adding the words “customized” or “alternative” to my Google search didn’t help a bit… I then got results for card boxes with ribbons round them, or diamantes… or badly printed lettering with the bride and groom’s name on them.

Nope. This just wouldn’t do. So I ordered a plain white cardboard post box and decided to decorate it myself…

With a sharpie!

Card post box

1. Take one boring white wedding card post box, purchased online from Amazon for around £10 including delivery (around €12.50) plus 2 black markers. One thick, one thin (around €2 each from local stationery store.)

Wedding card post box

2. The lettering is the most important bit, so I used a pencil and ruler first… just to be sure.

Wedding card post box

3. Once you’re happy… fill in with the marker. (This was the most annoying bit and I ended up having to re-do it twice because all the letters didn’t fit in!!)

Card post box

4. Then… get creative!! I had the idea a couple of weeks ago, so while I was waiting for the box to arrive, I spent some time practicing and using the world wide web for inspiration!!

Wedding card post box

It’s sure as hell not perfect… but it’s personal… and that’s what matters. No one else in the world will have the same post box as me on their wedding day!

Wedding card post box

5. The finished result…

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Hayley x

**Wedding Update**

Considering the title of this blog is Bitterballen Bruid… I haven’t posted much about the wedding… at all! I put this mainly down to the fact that the Dutchie reads every single post (how sweet!) so I don’t want to give away any secrets… and secondly, that we’ve been so busy planning the wedding that I haven’t actually had any time to write about it!!

So just a quick update… it’s exactly 3 weeks from today!! Eeeeeeeek!! Very exciting!! But we still have so much to do… I wouldn’t say I’m stressed, but I would prefer things to be ticked off the list a lot quicker than they currently are!

Wedding bits

I’m very much looking forward to it, obviously (!!!!!) and I promise to post a few pics of the big day before we go off on our honeymoon! (A road trip to Northern Italy! Yippeeeeee!)

Hayley x

Pot of Dreams: Wedding Fund

I’ve had them all: the 80s Natwest piggy banks, shopping funds, holiday money-boxes, rainy-day savings… but now it’s serious. Now we have to save for a wedding – without a doubt – the most expensive day of our life. And… we’re on a budget… but it’s still going to be the most costly day of our lives so far. Not that I’m complaining, AT ALL! I can’t bloody wait. I’m looking forward to spending it on the happiest day of my life! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Pot of Dreams: Wedding Fund

Pot of Dreams: Wedding Fund

First things first, we had to decide how much we could actually afford to save every month.  Times this by the amount of time until the wedding, and hey presto! You have your budget! Of course, this isn’t the way everyone decides their budget, but that’s how we came to ours. And it suits us just fine! The Pot of Dreams is an add-on to the budget: whenever we have loose change (£1 / €1 minimum) or notes (!!) it goes in there. We haven’t quite decided what this will go towards yet – honeymoon spending money, I suspect – but hey, don’t weddings always go over budget anyway? It’ll come in handy whatever happens!

We’re very (very very) lucky in that our parents are helping too – most unexpectedly, I had a phone call from my Mum the day after we went wedding dress shopping.

Her: “I’ve have a talk to your Dad and we’re going to pay for your wedding dress…”

Me: **longest pause ever** with a Cheshire cat grin on my face…

First time I have ever been speechless in my life.


Obviously, after an uncomfortable few seconds (which felt like hours), with my brain racing at 100mph, my verbal diarrhoea returned and I continued thanking them for weeks and weeks afterwards!

The Dutchie also brought good news when he told me his Mum had offered to buy his suit! Amazing! So, we’re suited and booted! Now time to get saving for the rest! Wish me luck 😉

Hayley x