‘I enjoy my life and our setting here and this feeds my soul’

albert dolmans Artist Albert Dolmans, 86, was born in the Netherlands but emigrated to the US when he was 11 during World War II. Back now for 32 years, Albert lives near the water close to Rotterdam and thinks the Dutch weather is getting better.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I made frequent visits from the US to my parents who had returned here after the war. I later met my present partner, and together we organised exhibits of my work, art workshops both here and in France and other art activities. The good life!

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc – and why?
I’m an expat though my partner thinks I still have some typical Dutch idioscyncracies I will not divulge!  I was born in Breda, but at age 11 travelled across Europe by train to Genoa and a ship that would take my mother, sisters and me to NY. One month later the Germans marched into my home town. We proceeded to California where I spent the next 40 years of my life in Berkeley.

How long do you plan to stay?
Until 2029 when I will be 100 or have a lived a century or whatever is the longest. I enjoy my life and our setting here and this feeds my soul.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Yes, fluently. I learned Dutch during my early years like all Dutch kids at home and at school.

What’s your favourite Dutch food?
Nasi goreng, boerenkool en worst, croquettes.

What do you miss about back home?
Food-wise, I miss a good T-Bone steak and real hot dogs. I miss real camping, particularly in the rugged mountainous scenery and spacious landscape you generally find there; the silence of nature. I also miss my friends.

How Dutch have you become?
I don’t think I have changed. I guess after 40 years in California, I was too old to change when I arrived back.

What’s your top tourist tip?
I can give you many. The white village of Thorn in Limburg, the Keukenhof during tulip season, the windmills of Kinderdijk, the Open Air Museum in Arnhem… I could go on.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands.
The climate here has improved if anything. It has been much more moderate of late. During my childhood, winters were more severe and I remember summers being a wash-out with much more rain. Global warming seems to be working in our favour.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
Without telling them why, I would bring my friends over for a great meal and a good glass, and I would tell and show them what it was that had held me here in the lowlands all these years.

Albert Dolmans has published an autobiography, ‘Painting is my life‘, which contains many of his watercolours and drawings.  An exhibition of his landscapes is being held at Kunstzaal van Heijningen, Noordeinde 152, in The Hague from July 11. The book is available as a free download for iphones and ipads.

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