Thursday, 25 February 2016

9 Not So Serious Tips to Help You Use Public Transport in the Netherlands

The public transport system in the Netherlands is in general good. There are buses, trams, metros and trains to help you make your way across the length and breadth of this small nation. But what do I know, I grew up with British Rail so anything seems good in comparison.

1. Get Yourself an OV Chipkaart

Those of you who were in the Netherlands prior to the dawn of the OV Chipkaart will remember having to travel with a strippenkaart. Thankfully, that is now obsolete. It was one of the most convoluted elements about travelling on public transport in the Netherlands. You needed to know how many transport zones you were travelling through (and then add one, double it, half it and guess which number I first thought of) to pre-stamp the paper strip; that was if your strippenkaart wasn't in at least two pieces because it was long so you had to continually fold it multiple times to get it in your purse/wallet/handbag/pocket and it tended to erode along the creases.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dutch Football, Racism and The Wisdom of a Child

Dutch football has been tarred with scandal over the last few weeks and my local eredivisie club is no exception. When racism reared its ugly head at ADO Den Haag in January I decided to use it as a teachable moment for my eldest son.  As it turns out it was a teachable moment he didn't need - if only some other football supporters had the The Wisdom of a Child!

"(ADO Den Haag football club) is a community that was caught up in a scandal in January when a handful of fans chanted racist and insulting slurs against Ajax. There were two appeals over the loudspeaker to stop. It didn’t. It was disturbing. It was uncomfortable. This was happening at my club. Our club. I left the stadium with a bad taste in my mouth that, for once, wasn’t attributable to ADO’s defeat or on pitch performance." 
Head over to Passionate Parenting to read my latest article in its entirety......

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Expat Activity Book by Jodi Harris - A Book Review

Twenty personal development exercises to get you thinking about the challenges, the growth moments, the gifts and the things you lose when you choose an expat life. That's what Jodi Harris's expat activity book (Amazon US link) is about in a nutshell.

Amazon UK Link
From 'The Hello Checklist' at the front of the book to 'The Goodbye Checklist' at the back, Jodi (World Tree Coaching) guides you through activities designed to get you thinking about who you are and how you can be your best self as an expat. 

The first exercise is designed to help expats plan for settling into a new home, whilst the second is a means of visualising how a new adventure will look. They are exercises specifically for expats making a transition. They are the kind of activities that would certainly provide me with support and direction if I was planning an international relocation. 

However, I'm not. At least not yet.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wednesday Afternoons for a Primary School Child - Dutch Style

In primary schools in the Netherlands children are off school every Wednesday afternoon. The idea is that it gives children time to do extra-curricular activities without cramming every afternoon after school full. 

Or they get together with school friends and play on the streets, build dens in the local park, clamber around in the mud and fall in the shallow sloot in shoes they've owned for less than two weeks...... and this expat mama wouldn't have it any other way! (Though my son will be paying for his next pair of shoes himself......) 

I am extremely grateful for Wednesday afternoons Dutch style.

Friday, 12 February 2016

An Overseas Love Turns Life Upside Down

With Valentine's day around the corner AngloInfo has been running a series called Lovepats. It's all about those expats among us who moved overseas for love. And so when I was asked to contribute my story I was happy to oblige.....

Anyone who has moved overseas to be with a partner will know that it turns your life upside down - and inside out. You'll already know it's not the easiest thing in the world to do...... but many of us do it anyway. Here's my story......

"Sixteen years after our chat room meeting we are still together. We are married. We have a family together. We are still planning for the future, even though we still don’t have it all mapped out. But neither of us is under any illusion that our journey to this point has been an easy one........."
to read more go to AngloInfo's Overseas Love Turns Life Upside Down and Inside Out

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Are You a Sucker for Dutch Sugar?

Sometimes the translation from a Dutch menu into an English language menu doesn't go quite right... this one made me giggle.....

Mind you, now I'm looking at it I'm not at all sure about the multigrain cheese stick either.....

Feel free to share the best translation hiccups you've noticed below in the comments! 

Monday, 8 February 2016

A Harry Potter Birthday Party

Last Friday the day my eldest had been looking forward to since his birthday finally arrived - his birthday party. This year the theme was Harry Potter.

(Click picture for link)
We've been reading the Harry Potter series books in English together for about a year now, having just started the fourth one, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My son loves them. I surprised myself and found that I love them too. Prior to last year I had never read a Harry Potter book.

When we decided on the Harry Potter theme it didn't click straight away that my son's friends would know the Dutch versions of everything but probably not the English ones. And that means that some of the characters have different names: Dumbledore is Perkamentus; Hermione is Hermelien;  Ron Weasley is Ron Wemel and Vernon Dursley is Herman Duffeling. The snitch is a snaai and even Hogwarts changes and becomes Zweinstein. Another twist of expat life when you're least expecting it! It went ahead in English - but the films were watched dubbed in Dutch.

The week leading up to the party I landed in bed with flu and my husband was still battling the mother of all ear infections that had had him consulting an ENT specialist in our local hospital. We mumbled about postponing. There were tears. We backed off. And it went ahead......