The cat that hitched a lift on a train and other stories

Husman rests at home. Photo: Margot Reesink, the blog that is now a column, continues to bring you odd and fun Dutch things for your entertainment.

History was made on February 1, as Dutch courts and lawyers said goodbye to the fax. The legal system apparently receives some 30,000 faxes every month, and sends 3,500 of its own. Working from home has meant 30% fewer faxes, while secure e-mail has increased by 50%.

As one lawyer put it, ‘Sit down kiddo and I will tell you the story of the fax machine.’ ‘Didn’t you have e-mail back then, grandpa?’ ‘Yes, decades ago, but the judiciary hadn’t received the faxed memo yet.’


More history has been made in Museum Huis Doorn which has just acquired jewellery from world-famous Frisian spy Mata Hari (aka Margaretha Zelle). The jewellery includes silver arm  and ankle bracelets, which Mata Hari wore as a dancer. The museum is also exhibiting a necklace, hair clips and a shoe buckle, among other things.

In 2016 the Frisian History and Literature Centre Tresoar in Leeuwarden exhibited the gift of 48 letters and 14 photos never been seen before they had received from Mata Hari’s ex-husband’s family.

Second-hand ashes 

Early February in Dieren, Gelderland, a man bought a rather nice tear-shaped pot at a second-hand shop. The one problem, it was a funeral urn that still had a loved one’s ashes in it. The man is now trying to return the urn to its rightful owners and you can help out here.

Everything but the kitchen sink

Amsterdam tenant support agency Woon recently helped three city students lower their rent by a whopping 75%. Living in a shared flat in the east of Amsterdam, the students were each paying way more than the legally allowed maximum rent.

The kicker is that the kitchen part of the flat was built in the bathroom, with no ventilation. The landlord, well-known for his creative approach to renting property and for barging in unannounced, claimed that the setup in the bathroom was ‘just extra cooking space’. With a shower on the side, no doubt.

The littlest hobo

There I was, retweeting a picture of Husman the tabby cat who had gone down the garden and went missing. Owned by a fellow translator, Husman was part of a set of three cats, and nobody likes to break up a set. The local baker saw him, and later he was spotted near a major rail yard not far from the house. But where did Husman go?

A week later, Husman was spotted and picked up some 100 kilometres away by a railway employee with a cardboard box and a good heart after hearing some meowing.

The cat probably hitched a ride on a train at the rail yard from Beverwijk to Zwijndrecht. The owner was soon reunited with her adventurous cat who had lost some weight. ‘It’s a good thing they found the owner or else I would have kept the cat myself,’ said the man who found Husman. Now, don’t we all like happy endings?

Compiled by Natasha Cloutier. Next update, next month

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation