Longer articles about living in the Netherlands, Dutch society, culture and travel plus third party content from our partners


Grab your agenda: 52 tell-tale signs you’ve gone Dutch

So there you are, sitting chomping on your French fries with mayonnaise and cheering on Oranje on the telly, or lingering in the bathroom to check which birthdays are coming up, and it suddenly hits you: you're turning Dutch. At what point does integration become assimilation? Here's a list of some tell-tale signs; feel free to add your own in the comments. You complain about the number of tourists in Amsterdam You complain about the way tourists ride their bikes You've learned to cycle while carrying an umbrella You've learned to cycle in the snow You no longer wait at red lights on your bike, or wear a helmet You drop Dutch words like lekker, borrel and gemeente into English conversation You start calling your diary an agenda and keeping it meticulously Bar staff and shop assistants have stopped replying to you in English You correct visitors on the pronunciation of Utrecht, Breda and Maastricht You complain about expats not learning Dutch You arrive at a birthday party and go round the entire circle shaking hands, kissing and congratulating everyone without feeling stupid You own a set of miniature forks for eating birthday cake You've learned to lie to your doctor about how ill you are so they can't fob you off with paracetamol As soon as the sun appears you dash out to the nearest pavement cafe As soon as the sun comes out you wear shorts and flip-flops to work and clock off at lunchtime on Friday to head to the beach You've accepted the absence of Sunday papers You've stopped thinking washing powder was better back home You've given up longing for sweets and snacks from your home country You've found yourself kissing your non-Dutch friends three times on the cheek You've stopped defending your home country all the time You refer to political parties, government agencies and football teams by their initials When people ask where you are from you say: 'I'm English/French/American/Nigerian but I actually live in…' If your home country is taking on the Netherlands in a sporting event, you are torn between the two As soon as the temperature drops below five degrees, you start hoping for the Elfstedentocht You watch the Tour de France round the telly at work with your colleagues You get obsessed with collecting stickers for the latest Albert Heijn kitchenware promotion You have strong feelings about which AH salads are the best You own a flessenlikker, aardappelstamper, kaasschaaf, poffertjespan and gourmet set You can use a cheese parer on very old cheese without shredding your fingers You've ordered pancakes in a restaurant without feeling embarrassed You've learned to call a cheese sandwich lunch and eat it with a knife and fork You call margarine butter You drink a glass of milk with lunch You've considered having boerenkool and snert for dinner You can eat a tompoes without getting cream all over the place You buy raw herring from a fish stall because you like it You don't raise an eyebrow if someone only chips in €15 to the common restaurant bill because they only had one glass of wine and no starter You buy flowers for yourself regularly You have a birthday calendar in the loo You have a birthday calendar in the loo and you've actually put everyone's birthdays on it Trees planted in a neat straight line look natural You no longer freak out if you see a line of cars parked 5mm from the edge of a canal You know who Andre Hazes is and can sing along to at least two of his songs You know that half seven means half six and 'five quarters' is a normal measure of time Really long steep staircases feel completely normal You start saying what you think in an aggressive aggressive way, not just a passive aggressive one When your boss asks you what you think of something, you give him or her your honest opinion You stop inventing polite excuses for skipping social engagements and just tell your friends: 'I don't feel like coming' You describe people with an ethnic minority background as allochtonen You avoid discussions about Zwarte Piet You no longer wince when your kids say shit and kut! You've actually gone the whole hog, signed the participation declaration, sworn your allegiance to king Willem-Alexander, sung the Wilhelmus and claimed your Dutch passport  More >


Orange and black: the forgotten history of black servants at the court of Willem V

Orange and black: the forgotten history of black servants at the court of Willem V

Child slaves, renamed Cupido and Sideron, ended up in the Dutch court as boys and spent the rest of their lives serving the royal family. Gordon Darroch visited a fascinating new exhibition about their lives in The Hague. You can see them in a painting from 1781 by Hendrik Pothoven, titled 'the Buitenhof during The Hague circus': two tiny, finely drawn figures that stand out among the entourage of Stadhouder Willem V for their striking outfits and prominent turbans, but above all for being the only black faces in the crowd. These were the servants, Cupido and Sideron, who arrived at the stadhouder's court as children in the 1760s and whose fates were bound up with the turmoil that engulfed the House of Oranje-Nassau following the French Revolution. Their story is the basis of a fascinating exhibition at The Hague's Historical Museum that trains the spotlight on a point where the elegant traditions of courtly life cross with the murkier aspects of colonial history. Cupido and Sideron were far from the first black servants to appear at a European court. Slave traders had presented children from the colonies as gifts for at least a century, not just to noble families but to sea captains in the trading companies as a kind of bonus payment. Collectors Some of these so-called 'present slaves' were sold on, often to German aristocratic households, for sums as high as 500 guilders, equivalent to a year's salary for a high-ranking servant. In France, the Duke and Duchess of Orléans were avid 'collectors' of African children as young as four. Amsterdam became a centre for this unofficial trade in human ornaments, says historian Esther Schreuder, whose extensive research for her book, Cupido en Sideron, forms the backbone of the exhibition. 'There was a market in children – present slaves, as they were called, were brought to the Republic where they could be sold or given away. But it wasn't advertised openly.' Most of these children arrived from the Dutch Republic's Caribbean territories or the west coast of Africa. Sideron was born into slavery in Curaçao and baptised in the Catholic parish of St Anna in Willemstad with the names Guan Anthony (though as a servant in the House of Orange, he had to observe the Protestant faith). How he came to The Hague is unclear, but it is likely to have coincided with Willem V taking his place in the States General and the Council of State in 1763, when he reached the age of 15. Cupido arrived three years later, probably as a gift from Jan Pieter Theodoor Huydecoper, head of the West-Indische Compagnie. His birthplace was recorded few years later as Guinea, and on joining the Oranjes' household he was given the name Willem Frederik Cupido. Neither would ever see their birthplaces again and all trace of their original names and families swiftly vanished. The status of these children was, as Schreuder points out, far from straightforward. 'As children, they were completely dependent on the place where they ended up,' she says. Playthings The flamboyant names reflect the fact that they were often acquired as playthings or accessories, but as they grew up they had to secure a place in the household. Cupido and Sideron received an education, learning to read and write in Dutch and French; they were given dance lessons, which were otherwise reserved for pages, and taught to shoot. A painting from 1770 by TPC Haag, The Shooting Party at Het Loo, depicts the two boys accompanying the prince on a day's hunting at the Oranjes' Gelderland retreat. At the age of 17 they were put on the wage bill, receiving 156 guilders a year. By comparison, a coachman earned 90 guilders in the same year, a lackey 120 guilders and a page 140 guilders. Their prospects were undoubtedly better than they would have been in the colonies. Slaves brought to the Dutch Republic who had not been sent back within a year were automatically freed. This law, introduced to prevent slave uprisings, meant that long before they reached adulthood, Cupido and Sideron ceased to be items of property and could look forward to joining the ranks of paid servants. (Others were less fortunate; newspapers sometimes carried adverts offering rewards for the return of negers who still lived in de facto slavery, unaware of their rights.) For a nobleman in the Dutch Republic, a black manservant was a walking statement of colonial power and status. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Jacques André Joseph Aved's portrait of William V's father, William IV, which depicts the stadholder standing in full battle dress while his valet, Jean Rabo, sits on his haunches on the fringe of the picture, holding his master's helmet and gazing reverently up at him. Shortly after arriving at court Cupido and Sideron were painted in full servant livery, complete with feathered turbans, and clutching tea trays, suggesting they had a strong curiosity value. They would be painted half a dozen more times during their childhood. As adults they had a status apart within the household. On a list of staff from 1764 Sideron appears at the bottom as 'The Moor Guan Sideron'. Like all black servants, regardless of origin, they wore a turban as part of their official dress. Though their duties and rank were comparable to the pages, that term was reserved for Dutch aristocratic children; to begin with, at least, Cupido and Sideron had no designation other than moor and neger. Etiquette But as their careers progressed, the pair earned the trust and respect of the court. In a society where codes of etiquette governed every aspect of life, rule number one was an absolute prohibition on 'insults or any names that may damage each other's honour or reputation'. Name-calling or personal abuse would be 'exemplarily punished', so overt racial slights would have counted as a serious breach of protocol. In 1782 they were promoted to the personal staff of Willem and Wilhelmina as chamber servants (though they retained their turbans). When the royal household fled to Britain in 1795, as French revolutionary armies encroached on the Republic's borders, Cupido and Sideron were among the family's reduced entourage. The latter was by then Wilhelmina's first valet de chambre, with ultimate responsibility for arranging her apartment, and stayed throughout the years of exile, leaving only after Wilhelmina had made it safely to the Oranjes' German palace at Oranienstein. Cupido was one of dozens of servants Willem sent back within months of arriving in London, as financial duress forced him to cut his staff drastically, and then discharged from the servants' temporary home in Brunswick. As a refugee in Germany his position was precarious, but by the time he rejoined the royal household in Oranienstein he was engaged, to Catharina Löwe, and married her in January 1802. At his wedding he was announced as 'a servant in the household of the prince of Oranje-Nassau and a moor', with no reference to his origins. Later that year Catharina gave birth to a daughter, Sophia Wilhelmina Cupido (two other children died before reaching adulthood). Schreuder traced Sophia's family tree and found dozens of direct descendants living in the Netherlands today. Handwriting One surprise for Schreuder was how many written documents the two servants left behind, especially Sideron, whose meticulous handwriting is instantly recognisable. Many are formal records relating to the household accounts, but occasionally a glimpse of their characters breaks through. Sideron appears to have been a model of dependability – on the journey back from England he was given charge of six women and five children in the party, and after his death in 1803 Willem wrote to his mother that Sideron was 'one of those old servants who will never be replaced'. 'He was a very elegant man, I think he was an ideal servant for Wilhelmina,' says Schreuder. 'Cupido was more vain. He kept running up debts with his clothes bills.' The question remains as to how much two servants, who were cut away from their roots as children and whose identities were wholly defined by the royal household, could really be described as free. Quite possibly it never occurred to them to seek their fortune elsewhere. True freedom in the 18th century was the preserve of a tiny elite and Cupido and Sideron's stories are evidence that black servants were not disadvantaged within the household staff. It is too simplistic to call them slaves, says Schreuder, who prefers the term 'privileged dependence'. 'If they'd wanted to leave, Willem V couldn't have stopped them. But they had no family here and they had a lot to lose: their pension, free medical care, half a bottle of wine a day. A lackey who left the palace had opportunities elsewhere; for them the opportunities were fewer. But I'm cautious about it in the book, because we don't know what might have happened.' African Servants at The Hague Court is at the Historical Museum of The Hague (Haags Historisch Museum) until January 28 2018. Esther Schreuder: Cupido en Sideron: twee moren aan het hof van Oranje is published by Balans You can comment on this article via our Facebook page  More >


Today it is ‘animal day’ – but in some places, every day is Dierendag

Today it is ‘animal day’ – but in some places, every day is Dierendag

On the the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the world celebrates World Animal Day - Dierendag. Around the country, on October 4th, business will host special events, children bring their pets to school and more. But, as Molly Quell reports, in some places, every day is animal day. The Dutch have nearly as many pets as bikes, almost two for every man, woman and child. According to Dibevo, the Dutch organisation for animal-related companies, there are 33.4 million pets living in 7.6 million Dutch households. Fish are by far the most popular pet - with 18 million, there are actually more fish in aquariums than people. Birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, reptiles and rodents make up the rest of the list . It isn’t just families trying to teach tweens lessons in responsibility by walking the dog or feeding the fish. Business owners also like to have friendly face hanging around their establishment. 'Who doesn’t love a little puppy?' asks Frontaal Brewery owner Roel Buckens whose dog Simcoe spends her days with him in the brewery's tap room. 'Our customer’s love Claus,' says Cafe Bax owner Clodagh Bax Coll. Cafe cats have their own hashtag on Foursquare so anyone who wants to cuddle with a cat in Amsterdam need only to search the location-based social networking site to get cat reviews from other users. Cafe cats in Amsterdam are so popular that they even have their own book, aptly titled Amsterdam Pub Cats, created by photographer Robert van Willigenburg. The demand for cuddly cats has even led to cafes dedicated to animals, such as Kopjes, a cat cafe in Amsterdam which charges a cat tax to enter. The owner, Lenny Popelier, raised €33,000 in start up funds with Kickstarter to bring the first cat cafe to Amsterdam, in the wake of earlier establishments in London, New York and Tokyo. (Tokyo, in fact, is home to cat, rabbit, dog, bird, snake and goat cafes.) Animals are often more than a fun way to advertise. The police in the city of Delft adopted a cat named Garfield after he was hit by a police vehicle responding to an emergency. They took him to the vet to treat his injuries and tried to locate his owner but none could be found. So Garfield came to call the police station home. 'He doesn’t judge anyone, he’s just a friendly face to anyone who is brought in to the police station,' the police told DutchNews.nl. But the police officers themselves also find Garfield a comforting presence. 'After a difficult call or a serious accident, he brings a lot of cheer to the office.' But less stressful working environments also benefit from an animal colleague. 'He just great to relax with,' says Diana Luchin of Dave, their office cat. Luchin and Dave work at Local Makers, a 3D printing shop, where Dave can sometimes be found napping in the printer. Comfort animals can reduce stress in a number of situations. Mental health facility GGZ Delftland employs Joris, a cat who is a friendly face to patients and employees alike. Animals have been used for therapeutic purposes from as early as the 17th century and Sigmund Freud sometimes allowed one of his dogs to be present during sessions. Many people with physical disabilities utilise specially trained animals to assist them with daily tasks, but there’s been a recent increase in using animals for emotional support as well. Amsterdam, for example, is home to Europe’s largest snoezelen centre. Snoezelen refers to a form of therapy for people with dementia, autism and neurological disorders where they are placed in a room with a variety of stimuli designed to reduce anxiety and encourage relaxation. Dogs, cats and rabbits, who reside at the centr,e are sometimes included in this therapy. Other groups, such as Stichting Snoezelhond, bring their service animals to homes for the elderly to offer comfort and reduce loneliness. Animals can offer more than just emotional support. “Claus keeps the mice out of the bar,” says Coll, of her ginger assistant. This is a common refrain among cafe owners. Owners of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and nearly every other type of shop cite cats as pest control. 'Cafes can’t survive without cats,' says Coll. She’s not the only one. Budget retail chain Xenos even employs night watchmen, as they are known, to police several locations in the evenings and keep them rodent free. Hygiene regulations prohibit animals from being in areas where food is prepared or, in the case of Kimberly’s Beauty Salon, the treatment room. 'Nena is fine so long as she stays out of the back,' says owner Kimberly de Cock. Her three-year-old Chinese crested splits her time between the salon and working on site with Kimberly’s husband who works as a roofer. Simcoe, the brewery dog, isn’t allowed in the section of the brewery where the beer is actually brewed, but is confined to the taproom.This is true of the other pets as well 'When Claus visits, which is nearly every day, he stays out of the kitchen,' says Coll. 'If you don't have a cat, you have to monkey about with traps and boxes of poison. Isn't that more unhygienic?' Katja van der Sluijs of ‘t Blaauwhooft told Vice in an interview. Sometimes, whether a proprietor wants it or not, the end up with a pet. 'Claus just showed up one day,' Coll says, 'and stayed. A few months later, the owner, a local butcher, came by and collected him. But Klaus just kept coming back.' Many owners, however, opt for self-employment precisely so they can be close to their animals. 'I always wanted to run my own business,' says De Cock, 'in part because it gives me the freedom to bring Nena to work with me.' And while most shop animals are cats and dogs, the range isn’t limited. The Eerste Klas Cafe at Amsterdam's central station has a cockatoo named Elvis who, the cafe claims, is the most photographed bird in Amsterdam. 'Anytime a dog comes in, he barks at them,' says one employee.   More >


Pension puzzle: what does Brexit mean for expat Brits’ finances?

Pension puzzle: what does Brexit mean for expat Brits’ finances?

Brexit is set to have more of an impact on expats than many people realise. Residency rules might be changing, but the financial fall-out is already being felt. International workers need to act now to make sure their finances are properly protected in a post-Brexit world. There is much uncertainty surrounding the eventual outcome of Brexit but whatever happens, investments in Britain - whether savings, pensions or property - will all be affected by the changes set to come into effect by 2019. 'Brexit is not going to land on your head out of nowhere. Everyone is watching,' says Paul Brown, director of expat financial management company Blacktower. 'Now is the time to act. You have got to hedge your bets.' So what should expats be doing to reduce potential risk exposure and to take advantage of opportunities which may no longer be available once the outcome of Brexit has been determined? Expats, says Brown, should start planning and considering their options now rather than waiting until it’s too late to do anything. Market volatility The current financial market volatility caused by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is likely to consider for some years and this means the performance of investments and pension may be affected. The weakening pound hit an eight-year low against the euro at the end of August this year and is likely to slip further, particularly if Britain decides to press ahead with a hard Brexit. 'Your pounds are just sitting there going down in euro terms and if you are a deposit investor, with the low interest rates we are experiencing, you are getting nowhere,' Brown says. This, he adds, means expats may have already lost considerably on UK assets in currency terms over the last 12 months. Pensions Pensions are a different matter. In terms of retirement provision, the effect of Brexit depends very much on what kind of pension you have, when you intend to retire and the outcome of Brexit in terms of the rules surrounding overseas pension arrangements. One of the biggest worries is that company pension schemes may not be able to pay out what was initially promised because of low bond yields. Some people are also concerned about a potential UK exit tax for pension transfers and the uncertainty of future pension reforms. Those coming up to retirement age should adjust their risk profile and diversify now in order to protect their accumulated capital, says Brown. The overseas pension scheme QROPs may provide a solution to protect pension assets against future UK law changes and to improve your position when planning for passing benefits on to loved ones. Interest rates Brexit may not be to blame for the historic low interest rates, but this is no help to deposit investors. Interest rates look likely to stay low for the foreseeable future and most bank deposit rates are currently below inflation. There are, argues Brown, more efficient ways in which you can achieve growth on your savings and it is worth investigating these now. In addition, expats should not underestimate the effects of inflation. It  can significantly erode the spending power of capital. One advantage of being an expat is that you have flexibility in terms of the location of your investments and currency you invest in, says Brown. 'Make sure that, whatever way the wind blows, you have a plan,' he says. 'Rather than hoping everything is going to be okay and leaving your finances as they are, sit down with a financial advisor and make a plan so that, when the chips are down, you are in a position to react accordingly.' Paul Brown will be speaking about the potential effect of Brexit on expat finances at a series of seminars in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague in October. Find out more here.  More >


From pieta to pumpkin – 12 great things to do in October

From pieta to pumpkin – 12 great things to do in October

October is the time for Halloween pumpkins, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and the school half-term holidays. Hanneke Sanou has some suggestions of things to do. Get to know Couperus – surtitled in English For the third consecutive season, Ivo van Hove presents an adaptation of a novel by Louis Couperus (1863 – 1923). The Small Souls (De Boeken der Kleine Zielen), the story of a once prosperous The Hague family in decline, will premiere on October 8 in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. For tickets and other performance dates go to the website. Look up at Haring at the Stedelijk The Stedelijk Museum of modern art, also in the capital, welcomes back Keith Haring's 12 by 20 metre sun screen. Sprayed onto cloth some thirty years ago by the artist in a day long performance in situ, Haring's cartoony creatures needed restoring. Haring's 'velum' will be back shielding the museum's former entrance staircase from October 12. Website Raise an eyebrow with 007 On October 13 the Eye film museum becomes the Eyebrow for a day: Roger Moore would have been 90 on the 14th had he lived and to honour his memory the Dutch James Bond Society is screening The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977, apparently one of the actor's own favourites.007 has no trouble thwarting the evil psychopath trying to start a new civilisation under water and evades the metal dentures of homocidal maniac Jaws using only his irony! What a hero. Tickets can be bought on the website. Catch a 'relevant' movie The offerings at the Amsterdam edition of the Lift-off film festival are once again at the forefront of new and exciting independent cinema from around the world. Catch some documentaries, shorts and feature films that don't rot the brain. October 4 to October 7. Website Gaze at a Pieta The Rijksmuseum has managed to prise from the Louvre's reluctant curators' hands the most celebrated work by Dutch painter to the duchy of Burgundy Johan Maelwael (Nijmegen, 1370 - Dijon 1415). Few of Maelwael's works (his name translates as 'he who paints well') remain but here is a chance to see 'De grote ronde Pieta' (large round Pieta), which very rarely travels, surrounded by 50 works by other artists from the period. From October 6. Website Educate your child in Maastricht Is your child complaining about having to do some household chore? Take the little  brat to the Centre Céramique in Maastricht where there is an exhibition about child labour in the glass and ceramics industry in 19th century Maastricht. The ceramics sold far and wide but workers were exploited and their lives shortened by lead poisoning. Children as young as nine worked night shifts under dreadful circumstances. Photograph that on your iPhone, Tristram. Verloren Jeugd (Lost Youth) is on from  September 10 and is part of a wider manifestation about child labour then and now. Website Brush up on your Dutch history The Openluchtmuseum in Arnhem opens its exhibition 'Canon van Nederland' with a not very loud bang: children up to 14 get in for free (but you'll need to order the tickets online). The exhibition brings to life in glorious interactive technicolour the glories and ignominies of Dutch history according to the new canon, a series of landmark events and people from the stone age to the present. October 23 Website Send your sprog to Cinekid The autumn holidays are approaching again and what better to do with your sprogs then take them to a Cinekid film while you snore. Except you won't because the festival has great films that adults will enjoy as well. And activities but to those adults are not invited. The films are on in cinemas across the country from October 14 to October 27 and from October 21 to October 27 in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. Website And, by the way, Cinekid is looking for English speaking children willing to listen and give the thumbs up or down to directors pitching their projects. Discover Dutch Design Dutch design in all its variation -  food design, industrial design, product design, textile & fashion design and a whole raft of other designy design categories, will be on show during the Dutch Design Week at Eindhoven. Personally, DutchNews would make room in its cutlery drawer for these. Just hold the peas. From October 21 to October 29. Website Get out the creepy pumpkins October is Halloween month and scary clowns will jump you at every corner so carry a handy stick to beat them off. If you are up for this kind of thing you can come to any of the Amsterdam events listed here and have the daylights scared out of you. There are plenty of semi-scary events for children as well. October 28. Of course the effects may be with you much much longer. Collect something, anything Finders Keepers is the very aptly named exhibition of collections of, well, stuff, from carpenter's pencils and roof tiles to staircases, dip pens (there are 867) and bottle tops. Why and what do people collect? Where do you keep a collection of staircases is what DutchNews would like to know. Come and marvel at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Until February 11. Website Go contemporary The Dag in de Branding music festival features 21st century composers and organises concerts on four days of the year in different locations around The Hague. Here is where you hear the latest developments in contemporary classical music, jazz and pop, opera and electronic music. This year the piano has been given pride of place.  October 14. Website  More >


Here’s what you need to know about a Dutch divorce

Here’s what you need to know about a Dutch divorce

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances. Separating from a partner is a challenging emotional time and it also carries a number of financial, legal and practical implications. Those issues can be made more complicated if you or your partner (or both) are non-Dutch nationals. If you have more questions, you can visit our stand during the I Am Not A Tourist Fair on October 8th 2017, where we will be giving free fifteen minute legal consultations. Here are the top eight things that you should know. Regardless of which country you married in or what your nationality is, it is possible (in most cases, there are some exceptions) to divorce in the Netherlands. You do not need to provide a reason to get divorced in the Netherlands. All divorces are considered no-fault and can be requested for any reason. You must retain a lawyer to file for divorce. You and your ex-partner can share a lawyer or you may retain your own lawyers. You can also make use of a mediator during the divorce process. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement, Dutch law instructs that all marital property is community property and all assets will be divided 50/50. Matrimonial regime, or the system of dividing marital property, can change after living in the Netherlands for ten years. For example, you got married in France in February 2002. You and your partner moved to the Netherlands in June 2005. Now, it is 2017, and you have decided to divorce. From February 2002 until June 2015 (ten years after you arrived in the Netherlands) French law applies to the matrimonial regime. From June 2015 until now, Dutch law applies. Dutch law provides for both partner alimony and for child maintenance. You may be obliged to pay money to your former partner, depending on your financial situation. You also may be obliged to financially support your children. Should you be required to pay partner alimony, that spousal support can last for no longer than twelve years. However, if you were married for less than five years and do not have any children, then you only have spousal support for the period of time that you were married. If you want to move to another country with your children after your divorce, you will need permission from your ex-partner to do so. In fact, even to travel abroad, you may be required to provide proof of permission before you can do so. If your ex-partner is unwilling to provide this permission, you may be able to request it from the court. If you are considering a divorce or even if you’ve already decided to go forward with the separation, our specialised lawyers can help you with dividing marital assets, determining partner alimony and/or child maintenance and settling any sort of related issue. If you have further questions or you want more information, you can find the Legal Expat Desk at the I Am Not A Tourist Fair on October 8, 2017. We will be giving free fifteen minute legal consultations during the fair.  More >


New in Amsterdam: walk-in emergency dentist Dental365

New in Amsterdam: walk-in emergency dentist Dental365

Imagine falling off your bike and breaking a tooth before a crucial job interview or a great party that you've planned. Help is now at hand in the form of Dental365, the new walk-in emergency dentist in Amsterdam. Dental365 was established by a group of dentists and specialists who believe there is too little emergency assistance in dental treatment in The Netherlands. The concept of Dental365 is that quality, emergency care and availability are complementary to regular dental care. To get the most out of this concept, Dental365 works closely with dental care practices, hospitals and specialist in the regions The Hague and Amsterdam. When they are not able to provide aid, they can redirect their patients to Dental365 for example, outside working hours, at the weekend or when a dental practice is closed due to holidays. The first Dental 365 practice opened over a year ago with the emergency dental service in The Hague. This was followed by a second practice to deal with dental emergencies in Amsterdam. Tourists Both are regions popular with both tourists and expats, who are more than welcome to visit if they have a dental emergency. For tourists in particular, a chipped or broken tooth needs to be dealt with quickly. Aside from the impact on your holiday photos,  the longer you leave a chipped tooth untreated, the more likely you are to have added problems resulting from it. Thanks to Dental365 you can walk in to the practice and walk out again as if nothing ever happened. Dental365 is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 11pm and during the weekend as well. You can turn up without an appointment or make a phone call to find out more. In case of emergency, there is always a dental professional available to carry out treatment. Insurance You don't need to register in advance with Dental 365. After the treatment, you can pay directly if you are not insured. Otherwise Dental 365 will send an invoice to your dental insurance. Dental 365 does more than treat emergencies. The team can also deal with lost or loose fillings and provide urgent care in case of root pain as well as sort out problems with braces. For routine check-ups, please see your own dentist. The dental practice in Amsterdam has six treatment rooms and is equipped for emergencies. This way Dental 365 can treat patients with the speed that is needed in case of emergency. The teams at both Dental365 practices are multicultural and speak multiple languages, including Spanish, Greek, Moroccan Arabic, English and Dutch. This can be of a great help for expats and tourists, and above all for children. The practice also has a special room to put younger patients at their ease.  More >


What is a taalcafé and can it really help improve your Dutch?

What is a taalcafé and can it really help improve your Dutch?

Learning Dutch can be a tricky thing, so teachers are always coming up with new ways to help learners absorb the language. So what is a taalcafé and can it really help improve your Dutch? Deborah Nicholls-Lee tests it out. I have just had a French conversation with a Dutchman about Russian literature, discussed the shortage of student accommodation in Dutch with a Turk, and learnt - thanks to an English-speaking German PhD student - about Economics’ inability to provide concrete answers. I was nervous as hell beforehand, but the language café experience is proving fascinating. Tonight is party night where language learners are invited to come together in one big melting pot. It’s a polyglot’s paradise, but can it help me learn Dutch? According to Koen Gyzel, from Amsterdam Dutch language school Koentact, it can. He opened the school’s first language café to provide ‘a more free-style playground’ for students who had completed his courses to keep up with their Dutch and stay in touch. Learner in the lead Unlike lessons, where the focus is on the structured building of language, the language café is more about communication skills and lets the learner take the lead. In the Netherlands, says Koen, this works particularly well. ‘The Dutch are very interested in languages and the expats are interested in learning Dutch,’ he explains. ‘It’s like this perfect platform where you can use each other talents.’ Three quid in, beer in hand, and determined to overcome my shyness, I have found - to my surprise -that he’s right. Everyone is really friendly and keen to help me with my Dutch. The stickers - with our names on, the languages we speak, and the ones we want to practise - act as the perfect ice-breaker. I adopt a tactic of bee-lining anyone looking lost, on the assumption that two lonely people make one grateful conversation – and it works. People are brushing up their languages for a range of reasons. I meet Ahmet, a doctor from Turkey, who needs Dutch for his work; Stephan from Germany, who is in a long-distance relationship with a Brazilian girl and wants to improve his Portuguese; and Ruben, from Utrecht, whose list of languages is extensive, and who tells me with a grin: ‘It’s my hobby’. Range of nationalities Since the range of nationalities and ages is broad, it is remarkably easy to feel at home. As well as improving their target language, newcomers like me get an enthusiastic reception to their mother tongue – an aspect I hadn’t expected. ‘It has to do with feeling that you belong to something, feeling that your language skills are of benefit to others as well,’ says Koen. ‘Every single expat that comes to the Netherlands is an added value for our society; not just work-wise but also culture-wise and language-wise.’ Back at the language café, the salsa class on the mezzanine is in full swing. It’s a big hit with the party-goers but feels like a hip-thrusting step too far for me at this point. Besides, I am having too much fun downstairs to focus on choreography. I go home much later than anticipated, slightly tiddly, and excited by this underground language scene that I have uncovered. Emboldened by the success of the evening, I sign up for a language exchange at Pages Bookstore  the following afternoon. All in the same boat In contrast to the sweaty dancing and lively bar at the Salsa party, Pages – an Arabic bookstore in Amsterdam’s canal district - is a small-scale homely affair that feels rather like school crossed with afternoon tea. A small group are gathered around a dining table, cradling hot drinks in floral mugs, while our group leader, Ghiath from Damascus, directs the conversation in a mixture of Dutch and Arabic. He is also learning Dutch and it is encouraging to all be in the same boat. Among the group are Dutch Arabists, Tunisians, Syrians, and me – a Brit. Though I know just a few words in Arabic, I am made to feel very welcome and enjoy the opportunity to practise my Dutch and help others with the basics. Some of the group are teenage refugees who have been in the country just a few months but are already making great progress in the language. The liberal use of translation creates a nice safety net for beginners and the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. I go home feeling that I have not only stretched my Dutch language muscles, I have learned about other cultures and met some lovely people. French language night Four days later, I go slightly off-brief and attend a French language café in the Jordaan. This time the structure is more like speed-dating meets quiz night. We are grouped around tables and are tasked with making introductions, solving riddles and singing along to Les Champs Ėlysées as the group leader strums on his guitar. There’s a bar again – that’s good – and I am still there when they are taking down the flags and stacking the tables. There are familiar faces from the Salsa night and some exchanging of numbers. Focused on the language-learning aspect of the cafés, I had overlooked the important social benefits. ‘Language cafés are a great way of meeting other expats as well as friendly locals,’ says British expat Ben Compson, who has lived in the Netherlands for four years and is taking Dutch lessons with the ROC in Amsterdam. Though he acknowledges the ‘initial awkwardness’ of speaking in another language, he has found that struggling over a language together can be a great ice-breaker. ‘You tend to make mistakes and laugh together, as well as finding things out about the other person,’ he says. Excuse to meet people Koen agrees. ‘Learning a new language is the best excuse to meet new people,’ he tells me. I dig deeper. There seemed to me to be another extra-fun side to this language scene that no-one is mentioning. I ask him outright: ‘Have there been any language exchange weddings?’ ‘I have five friends who have relationships through the Amsterdam language café,’ he laughs. ‘I’m 100% sure that there will be some marriages coming up.’ I knew it. The matchmaker in me loves the concept even more. I’ve signed up to the Dutch one next week - and I’m bringing some single friends. ‘Deborah attended the French language café and salsa night with Amsterdam Language Café and the Dutch-Arabic language exchange at Pages Bookstore Café. To find a taalcafé near you, check out Meetup or Facebook. Many libraries also run language exchanges.  Here are a few that we know of. Most are either free or charge a small fee. Feel free to suggest more in the comments section below. Amsterdam The Amsterdam Dutch Language Meetup Group Mixtree Elsewhere Arnhem Deventer Eindhoven Enschedé Grave (Nijmegen) Groningen The Hague Roermond Utrecht   More >


September 23 is Burendag: here are six ways to get to know your neighbours

September 23 is Burendag: here are six ways to get to know your neighbours

Neighbours needn’t be strangers. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on six neighbourhood initiatives that are connecting local residents in the Netherlands. How well do you know the people next door?  If you still haven’t borrowed a cup of sugar, enjoyed a pavement borrel, or shared a moan about dog mess/bin days/noise, Burendag - Saturday, September 23 - is a great opportunity to meet your street, discuss the issues of the day, and lend a helping hand. To mark this most gezellig of events, here are six other Dutch initiatives connecting local communities. De Buurtcamping What if there was just canvas between you and your neighbours rather than bricks and mortar? De Buurtcamping helps neighbourhoods organise camping weekends in local parks across the Netherlands. This year it is celebrating its 5th anniversary. For Annemiek Tigchelaar, the organisation’s communications officer, the most special thing about the event is the coming together of diverse groups: ‘Neighbours of all backgrounds, all ages – everybody can meet each other. In normal life people live in their own bubble and you don’t really meet other people all the time, so it’s good to be for one weekend all together and really talk to each other.’ ‘A lot of people say it’s their only holiday,’ says Annemiek, stressing the social dimension to the project. De Buurtcamping reserves a third of the places for low-income residents. These campers – mostly families - benefit from a subsidised rate for their three-day stay. Local businesses are encouraged to get involved and do a good turn, such as provide breakfast for the campers or organise some entertainment. There is a festival atmosphere and a sense of community.'It’s a small world in the bigger world,' says Annemiek. NextDoor Research undertaken by NextDoor revealed a frustrating paradox in our neighbourhoods. Most residents, they discovered, are willing to do more to help each other but are not sure what is needed or how to help, while a quarter of those polled said they could do with extra help from a neighbour but did not know who to ask or were too shy. Co-founder and chief architect of the app, Prakash Janakiraman recognised a sad irony in the way we live today. Speaking at the Amazon Web Services summit in California earlier this year, he said: ‘Despite having hundreds of Facebook fans and thousands of Twitter followers, I only knew two of my neighbours in my San Francisco neighbourhood.’ The NextDoor app is helping to resolve this by creating a private social network between neighbours. Founded in California in 2010 and currently used in 40% of Dutch neighbourhoods, the app enables residents to organise events, report lost and found property, share documents, sell or borrow goods, and report suspicious activity. Feedback has been very positive with users reporting that they know many more people in the street and feel more involved in their local community. A real, more meaningful network has been created and it’s much closer to home. Bankjes Collectief  Bankjes Collectif organises the biggest open-air street borrels in the world, reconnecting residents by making the pavement an extension of the home. Participants simply register the bench or chairs outside their house as a meeting place and serve nibbles to their neighbours. The directory of listed benches with their welcoming messages and open-armed calls to exhausted carers, the homeless, or just neighbours who like pancakes, makes a heart-warming read. On October 1 there is special global open air café where masses of spaces will be opened up simultaneously. Make a gastronomic tour of your neighbourhood and meet some new people! Mijnbuur Mijnbuur is about people power, says Paul Meijer, who together with Erwin Kleinjan and Quirien Aretz founded the app in 2016. ‘It’s empowering people. It’s bottom up and it’s not top down.’ The new app, developed in association with the municipality, is a non-profit project which, say its founders - in a climate of government welfare cuts and devolved responsibility - recognises the important role of the neighbourhood in supporting its residents. ‘You’ve got to get the community stronger again,’ says Paul. ‘This is a tool to get it stronger.’ For Quirien, the aim of the app is simple: ‘To connect the neighbourhood together, to solve things together, to make things more social again, because we don’t know each other anymore.’ Slicker than some existing social networks, Minjbuur lets you choose who in the neighbourhood you want to connect with and which conversations you want to join. Users are not disturbed with a barrage of irrelevant messages. Instead, they can choose which exchanges they take part in and come and go as they please. ‘We want to connect people,’ explains Erwin. ‘If you want to connect them, you make sure they won’t get annoyed and they will stay around to help you.’ The app includes an automatic translation function for foreign language users and a handy map of where people live. Profiles show people’s skills so members know who to ask for advice. And if the community can’t find a solution, the app has a clever function enabling you to hook up with your local police officer or with a representative from the municipality, smoothing the channels of communication between different agencies and saving valuable time. ‘Everybody is a neighbour,’ says Paul. ‘If it’s police or gemeente or the neighbour itself. We are all human and we have to be connected.’ Thuisafgehaald Behind all those closed doors in your local area, are people who love to cook, merrily chopping, peeling, braising and boiling - and those who don’t or can’t. Thuisafgehaald is a thoughtful food-sharing scheme which pairs cooking enthusiasts with hungry neighbours. Run in association with Stichting Doen, the scheme enables people to collect tasty food - usually for a small price - from their neighbours, promoting community cohesion and reducing food waste. Founder Marieke Hart got the award-winning idea when the enticing cooking smells from her next- door neighbour’s kitchen made her knock on the door and ask for a cheeky taste. With these first few mouthfuls, a new relationship began, and fed an idea for an innovative sharing platform. Thuisafgehaald and its English-language counterpart Shareyourmeal are based on a belief in the power of sharing. ‘There is a basic psychology behind sharing that is so counter-intuitive that we tend to forget it,’ says founder Marieke Hart. ‘It’s actually quite simple: sharing makes you happy. The simple act of sharing can really brighten your day.’ She gives the example of a Russian home cook with depression who found that the scheme helped to reduce her symptoms and her sense of isolation. ‘For the first time in 13 years, she feels at home in the Netherlands, because she can now contribute to her environment and get to know people.’ Peerby Being a good neighbour is great for the environment, say Peerby, a free-of-charge, award-winning app that helps you share and borrow objects from your neighbours rather than fill up your home with items that you rarely use. Based on the sensible question ‘Why buy if you can borrow for free?’, Peerby seeks to release people from the First World problem of owning too much, which they see as a burden. Crowd-funded in 2011 through One Planet Crowd.com, Peerby was financed within days, securing over 6 times the sum it sought, and breaking Dutch records for the speed and size of the investment. ‘Sharing items is a serious alternative to buying,’ they argue - and a great way to meet your neighbours too. If you've always been curious about what goes on in refugee centres, some 20 around the country are also open on Saturday. Check out ww.openazc.nl for details  More >


Get ready for the 15th ‘I am not a tourist’ expat fair in Amsterdam

Get ready for the 15th ‘I am not a tourist’ expat fair in Amsterdam

Sunday 8th October 2017 sees the 15th edition of Amsterdam’s renowned 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair. Come to the stunning Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam to explore what the Netherlands has to offer you! Every year we give you the chance to take part in engaging and useful workshops, mingle with thousands of fellow internationals and network with companies from across the country in what has become the largest expat focussed event in the Netherlands. And, what’s more, it’s free! Get your complimentary ticket right here! Whether you have just moved to Holland, are a long-term resident, or a digital nomad the 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair promises everything you need to know about living, working and enjoying your time here. This year’s fair will be the biggest yet; offering more than 3,000 expats the chance to talk with professionals from diverse industries and explore a wide variety of social clubs, volunteering and entrepreneurial opportunities. We have over 125 exhibitors and 40 professional presentations arranged around the themes of Relocation, Finance, Jobs for Expats, Families, Healthcare, Education, Transport, Housing and Setting Up Home. Our venue the Beurs van Berlage is a spacious, welcoming place with room for the many exhibitors, workshop spaces, a grand main stage for presentations, and on-site childcare. Don’t miss this unique, one-day only event which allows you time to enjoy great food and entertainment while getting the best tips, tricks, and insider secrets from your fellow expats. The highlights of which we have condensed for you in our very own Expat Survival Guide! Jobs for Expats We have a special theme at this year’s fair: 'Jobs for Expats'. The theme is designed for visitors who are pursuing an international career in the Netherlands. Employers, experts and recruiters will be on hand to help expats wishing to build a professional network, continue their education, pursue their career or succeed as an entrepreneur. It’s designed to be much more than just a career event. Follow the carefully placed signs and fair floor plan to discover the employment stands at the event. There will be experts ready to answer your career-related questions and exhibitors ready to help with your recruitment queries. Grasp strategic networking moments and mingle with specialists from major industries. Find everything you need to succeed in the Dutch job market under one roof at the Expat Fair. Time to get in touch with all things Dutch Whatever your question, from ‘How do I set up a bank account and do my taxes?’ to ‘What is the best childcare, school or university for my child?’ the “I am not a tourist” fair can point you in the right direction. Both settled expats and new arrivals can find out about study, clubs and cultural activities. There will be interesting live performances and presentations, for all ages, on the main stage. Our extensive program also includes a variety of workshops to help you integrate into life in the Netherlands. For families with children, the Expat Fair has a dedicated kids’ area managed by childcare professionals, Hestia Kinderopvang. Whether you have lived in the Netherlands for days, months, years, or are yet to move - you are not a tourist! So make sure you keep Sunday 8th October 2017 free! Places are limited so book your FREE ticket online now to avoid missing out!  More >


Summer in the Netherlands: our favourite readers’ photos

Summer in the Netherlands: our favourite readers’ photos

We asked our readers to send us their favourite summer photos in the Netherlands. We got lots of great photos from far and wide but we had to narrow down our favourites to pick the winner, who gets two tickets to MUST. You can see all of the photos that were submitted on our Facebook page. A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:15am PDT A summer terrace - Stepan Khachatryan A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:46am PDT One happy couple - Jaileen Jasleen A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:36am PDT Local wildlife in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park - Karolina Kasperek A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:25am PDT The Pooping Man in Flevoland - Marko Markov A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:21am PDT What's a Dutch summer without rain? - Hanneke Sanou A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 2, 2017 at 1:55am PDT Ferris wheel - Ron den Hollander A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 31, 2017 at 1:03am PDT Amsterdam - Ayşenur Kuran A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 30, 2017 at 12:21am PDT A sunny day on the canals - Matt Peters And finally, our winner! A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 31, 2017 at 2:50am PDT An evening in Rotterdam -Egle Budryte  More >


Forget savings accounts: Buy-to-let is catching on in the Netherlands

Forget savings accounts: Buy-to-let is catching on in the Netherlands

With interest rates at record lows – making the return on savings minimal – investing in property to rent out is becoming increasingly popular. Buy-to-let has been big business in Britain but is now catching on in the Netherlands as well. ‘A buy-to-let mortgage is intended specifically for someone who wants to buy residential property to rent out,’ says Ralf van Arkel, of Expat Mortgages. ‘For expats who have the financial means, it's a great way to invest their savings and enjoy extra, tax-free income in the form of rent.’ Buy-to-let mortgages were out of favour in the Netherlands for years but in 2015 the tide began to turn. Expat Mortgages, which specialises in helping expats find a mortgage, has now introduced a special unit Expat Buy2Let, specifically to help international workers looking for an alternative to banks to put their money. ‘Given the incredibly low interest rates right now, it is a much more lucrative thing to do than putting money in a savings account,’ says Van Arkel. ‘Property also represents a sound long-term investment.’ Tax advantages Tax-wise there are benefits too. The rental income from one or two properties is tax-free. Your property (part of your assets), is taxed in tax box 3 of your annual tax return, but the size of your mortgage is first subtracted from your total assets. The assets left over are taxed, depending on your total net worth, at 0.86% to 1.62% - an added bonus from an investment perspective. The first bank to reintroduce buy-to-let mortgages in select Dutch cities was NIBC which offered a maximum loan-to-value of 70%. Other players have now come on board, offering mortgages of up to 85% of the value of the property with interest rates of around 3% - well below that offered by NIBC when it started out in the lucrative buy-to-let market. Who qualifies? So who qualifies? You will either need to have Dutch nationality or you need to be registered in the Netherlands. Some banks, such as NIBC, require non-Dutch citizens to be registered in the Netherlands for a minimum of three years but other banks don't have this requirement. Your financial situation needs to allow you to pay for your owner occupied or rental place as well as your buy to let property. Sometimes it’s possible to also take potential rental income into consideration. Please check with Ralf van Arkel at Expat buy2Let what your personal options are! And as for the future, Van Arkel expects interest rates to remain virtually stable in the Netherlands for some time to come. However, he says, predicting what will happen to interest rates is like trying to predict the Dutch weather. Nevertheless, he adds, ‘buy-to-let is proving to be a stable investment and solid source of extra income from rent.’ After all, demand for good housing in the Netherlands is only set to increase in the future. Thinking about buying an investment property in the Netherlands? Contact: www.expatbuy2let.nl ralf@expatbuy2let.nl +31 20 7173908 or +31 611151553.  More >


Banks, bulbs, beer and oil: The 10 largest Dutch companies

Banks, bulbs, beer and oil: The 10 largest Dutch companies

Annual revenue is usually the main yardstick in judging corporate size. In the Netherlands, however, another standard has to be applied: Dutchness. Many large global companies are domiciled in the Netherlands through a shell or letterbox construction, but their presence in the domestic market is much smaller than the figures suggest. Chief among them is LyondellBasell Industries, a multinational chemical company with American and European roots, incorporated in the Netherlands and based in Rotterdam. However, its US headquarters are in Houston and its global operations are run from in London. We say it ain't Dutch enough. The same goes for EADS, the parent of European aerospace group Airbus. EADS Is headquartered in Leiden, but its very substantial operations are elsewhere in Europe. That has the distinct clatter of the letterbox, so we've discounted it too. And with the current global takeover mania just warming up, who knows how many of the companies on our list will remain Dutch? So, with those filters applied, here is our top 10 list of Dutch companies 1 Royal Dutch Shell Shell is not just the largest company in the Netherlands by far – Forbes ranks it first in Europe and number five in the world. Shell was formed in 1907 with the amalgamation of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and UK-based "Shell" Transport and Trading Company, a move largely driven by the need to compete globally with Rockefeller's Standard Oil in the US. In 2005, a new parent company  was formed, with its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange, a secondary listing on the Amsterdam bourse, its headquarters and tax residency in The Hague and its registered office in London. Dutchness? When the company's shares were issued they were weighted 60/40 in favour of the shareholders of Royal Dutch, in line with the original ownership of the Shell Group. 2 ING ING is a multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Amsterdam. Its name stands for Internationale Nederlanden Groep and the company was formed from the 1991 merger of insurer Nationale Nederlanden and state-owned NMB Postbank. Its primary businesses are retail banking, direct banking, commercial banking, investment banking, asset management and insurance. ING has more than 48 million individual and institutional clients in more than 40 countries, with a global workforce exceeding 75,000. 3 Unilever Even if is Anglo-Dutch, with each party holding 50% of the shares, it would be churlish to deny the food and detergents group its certificate of Dutchness. Founded in 1930 through the merger of the Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie and the British soapmaker Lever Brothers, Unilever has twin headquarters in Rotterdam and London and operates as a single business with a common board of directors. The company's focus has shifted recently towards high-margin personal care products. 4 Ahold Delhaize The 2016 'merger' of Dutch supermarket group Ahold (Albert Heijn) and its Belgian counterpart Delhaize left Ahold with 61% of the shares, Delhaize with the remaining 39%. But the Dutch are firmly in the driving seat, which is located in Zaandam, just up the coast from Amsterdam. The first Albert Heijn grocery store in was opened in 1887 in nearby Oostzaan. The grocery chain expanded through the first half of the 20th century and went public in 1948. In the 1970s Ahold went into the off-licence sector (Gall& Gall) as well as health and beauty care (Etos). Ahold also holds major supermarket interests in the US. 5. Aegon Aegon is a multinational life insurance, pensions and asset management company headquartered in The Hague. At the end of 2015, Aegon employed approximately 31,500 people worldwide, serving millions of customers. The company was created in 1983 with the merger of several Dutch insurance companies and has been expanding rapidly ever since. Aegon's other major base is in the US, where it is known as Transamerica. 6 Rabobank Once unkindly labelled the farmers' bank, Rabo is a cooperative whose scope today goes far beyond its agrarian roots. Utrecht-based Rabobank is a multinational banking and financial services company specialising in food and agriculture financing and sustainability-oriented banking. The group comprises 129 independent local branches and is the second-largest bank in the Netherlands in terms of total assets. 7 Philips Philips was started up in 1891 in Eindhoven with the production of carbon-filament lamps – lightbulbs to us – and other electrical goods. So successful was Philips that with a nod to Paris, the southern Dutch city became known as 'the city of light'. Nowadays the company is headquartered in Amsterdam and concentrates on healthcare. The lighting division was hived off in 2014. 8 GasTerra A newish name for a thoroughly Dutch company. Groningen-based GasTerra is active in the worldwide trade and supply of natural gas. It is owned by Royal Dutch Shell (25%), ExxonMobil (25%) and the Dutch government (50%). The company was formed in 2005 from the break-up of gas company Gasunie. Before then Gasunie was authorised to sell and transport natural gas discovered in the Netherlands. But the liberalisation of the European gas market meant transportation and trade and supply had to be divided among independent companies. In 2005, this separation created both GasTerra and the gas transportation company which retained the Gasunie name. 9 SHV Utrecht-based SHV Holdings is a privately owned Dutch trading company, regarded as one of the world's largest private trading groups. The highly diversified company's interests span transport, retail, oil, food and financial services. It currently employs around 47,000 people. SHV is owned by the Fentener van Vlissingen family which also helped found KLM as well as steel producer Hoogovens, currently part of Indian-owned Tata Steel. 10 Heineken The world's second largest brewer, Amsterdam-based Heineken was founded in 1864 by Gerard Adriaan Heineken. As of 2017, Heineken owned over 165 breweries in more than 70 countries. It produces 250 international, regional, local and specialty beers and ciders and employs approximately 73,000 people. The company remains majority owned by the Heineken family. The original brewery in Amsterdam, which closed in 1988, is preserved as a museum called Heineken Experience. Our list leaves out a lot of large companies in the Netherlands. But an honourable mention is certainly due to the Aalsmeer flower auction, now known as Flora Holland. The largest flower auction in the world, it moves 12.6 billion flowers and plants each year. Flora is housed in the second-largest building in the world, with 518,000 square metres of floor space. Flowers from all over the world – Europe, Ecuador, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and other countries—are traded there every day.  More >


Looking for a new challenge? Climb Kilimanjaro, raise cash for War Child

Looking for a new challenge? Climb Kilimanjaro, raise cash for War Child

Dutch aid group War Child is looking for internationals with a taste of adventure to join the Kili Challenge - to climb mount Kilimanjaro and collect as much money as they possibly can to save children affected by war. If you love adventure and change, you will definitely enjoy the Kili-Challenge offered to you by War Child. You are invited to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and while you’re at it, collect as much money as you can to help children living in war zones around the globe. You will pay for your own trip, and War Child will challenge you to raise that sum by at least € 2,400 through sponsorships. To make sure you are perfectly ready to climb Africa’s highest mountain (5,895 metres) not only physically, but mentally as well, War Child is offering you an inspiring programme. This month we are organising the first out of at least three get-togethers. We will help you collect funds and make sure you are physically ready (think a weekend training in the Belgian Ardennes). Friends 'In the beginning I was unsure how I could collect the required sponsorship money because as an international living in Amsterdam I did not have a large family to get support from,' says expat Halima who did the challenge in 2015. 'But as soon as I announced my participation on social media, people around me responded with great encouragement and offers of help. A friend baked cup cakes I sold during Gay Pride, and others donated unwanted items which I sold at second hand markets.' So far over 250 people have climbed Kilimanjaro for War Child before. Tired but satisfied, they have reached their targets, marvelling at the rising sun from the rooftop of Africa. The three previous editions of the War Child Kili-Challenge have exceeded all expectations. Thanks to our participants, War Child has been able to help out thousands of children, offering them a better future. International group There are three departure dates: 20, 23 and 29 January, 2018. Departure date 23 January is an international group and the going language is English. The whole trip takes 10 days, of which you spend seven days on the mountain. Please bear in mind that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a demanding adventure and the total cost will be about €4,000.  Find an overview of the costs here. Do you want to take up the challenge and help War Child provide a better future to thousands of war children? Then sign up for the Kili-Challenge! You may sign up as an individual or as a group of friends or colleagues. Attend our information evenings or join our webinars. You can also visit our FAQ page, check the brochure of Mountain Network, email us via challenge@warchild.nl or call us on +3120 422 77 77.   More >


5 great tips on how to get a prospective landlord to pick you over other hopefuls

5 great tips on how to get a prospective landlord to pick you over other hopefuls

If you are looking to rent a private property, you will have to be accepted by the landlord of the property. So how do you make sure he or she picks you, rather than the others queuing up to view? At a time where housing is in short supply, and every available space will have a number of keen tenants lining up, here are some ways in which you can stand out and persuade the landlord that you will be the right person to let the property to. How? Be prepared, be professional and be polite. Tip 1: Make a great first impression When going to view a property, or even when going to an open house viewing, make sure you come across well. Wear smart clothing, look neat, clean and respectable. If you think of it as a job interview, you won’t go far wrong. Also, make sure you arrive on time if a time has been agreed, don’t stand outside smoking while you wait, and make sure you put your phone on silent before the visit. Tip 2: Paperwork Check if the advert stated anything about bringing along paperwork such as proof of employment, credit history or references, and make sure you have this with you in case you are asked for it. Also, be prepared for the fact that your landlord may need proof of the fact that you have the money for the deposit and rent, possibly in the form of a bank statement or in the shape of a guarantor. If you are able to provide references from previous landlords, say so. Tip 3: Know your limits Save yourself and the landlord a lot of time and disappointment by being realistic about what you can afford. Landlords won’t miraculously lower the rent just because they like the look of you, so work out in advance what your monthly outgoings are going to be, and whether you can afford the associated costs such as first (and sometimes last) month’s deposit, fees for credit checks, security deposits, application fees, etc. Tip 4: Ask the right questions Come across as an experienced tenant by asking relevant questions of the landlord, such as which utilities are connected, whose responsibility it is to look after the garden, what the arrangements are about rubbish collecting, who to contact in case of an emergency and what the situation is regarding insurance. Does the property have broadband or a satellite dish, and if not will you be allowed to have these installed? These are things it is best to know in advance, rather than after you move in. Tip 5: Don’t hide anything If you have special requirements, be honest about them. Landlords often worry about pets, small children, multiple people sharing a property, and so on. If they feel that problems may arise in the future, they may just take the easy way out and choose another tenant. If the property has rules about no smoking, no pets or no children, respect them, because chances are you will be found out and asked to leave. Lastly, don’t forget to be enthusiastic if you like the place, and to let the landlord know that you are seriously interested. Ask when a decision will be taken, or follow up with a quick phone call to the landlord or agency after the visit to confirm that you would like to be considered as a tenant. Then just keep your fingers crossed and start planning your move! Rental apartments in Amsterdam Rent out your apartment as a landlord  More >


Amsterdam’s Paradiso: from flower power to punk and beyond

Amsterdam’s Paradiso: from flower power to punk and beyond

There can be few people in the Netherlands who have never been to Paradiso in Amsterdam. Everyone has played there - the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse... the list is endless. Next year, the celebrated former religious community centre will celebrate 50 years at the forefront of modern music. Brandon Hartley has been delving into the history books. Courtney Love was not having a good evening. The infamous lead singer of the grunge band Hole was in a particularly foul mood when she finally took the stage in the main hall of Paradiso on 24 April, 1995. After a long delay, the band managed to get through six songs before someone in the crowd hurled a drink at her head. That’s when Love completely lost it. Moments later, she was rampaging across the balcony in search of the culprit. The incident is just one of the countless unforgettable moments that have taken place in the venue after it first opened its doors on 30 March, 1968. Since first launching as a ‘peace and love culture centre’, Paradiso has played host to some of the best, worst and most notorious musicians of the past 50 years. James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Dexter Gordon, David Bowie, Willie Nelson, Frank Zappa, Curtis Mayfield, The Ramones, Prince, Duran Duran, U2, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Nirvana, Nick Cave, Ice Cube, Rage Against the Machine, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Arcade Fire and even 'Weird Al' Yankovic have all performed there over the years. The list goes on and on but Paradiso has also hosted political debates, cultural events, film and television shoots and even birthday parties for kids. As Paradiso rounds the corner towards its 50th anniversary next spring, its management is already in a celebratory mood. They’ve created a website that recollects performances that have taken place at the venue. Every day you can dig into a collection of stories and photos that commemorate one or more of the club’s events. Located near the Leidseplein, the building that currently serves as Paradiso’s home was originally built in 1880 as a meeting place for a Dutch religious organisation called the Vrije Gemeente. It’s often described as a former church but that isn’t quite true. The stained glass windows behind the stage in Paradiso’s main hall continue to contribute to this misconception (even though the current ones weren’t installed until 1993). The Vrije Gemeente relocated in 1965. Two years later, after briefly serving as a carpet store, a group of music fans fuelled by ‘flower power’ that included Willem de Ridder, Koos Zwart, Matthijs van Heijningen and Peter Bronkhorst set their sights on the building. They decided that it would be a fantastic spot for a youth centre. Amsterdam officials, who were in charge of the building, weren’t so sure. While the negotiations dragged on, a group of youths attempted to set up a squat there. Clashes with local police officers ensued. Despite crackdowns, De Ridder and Zwart remained undaunted. They started hosting musical and theatrical events in the building. As the fledgling entertainment centre started drawing larger and larger crowds, city officials finally gave them the go-ahead to convert it into a proper club. Folk and a steel band Paradiso celebrated its opening night the following March with the Dutch folk rock outfit CCC Inc., a steel band from Suriname and a dance event for women. A music publication called Hitweek gave the evening the following review: ‘Paradiso opened on the 30th of March. 1300 visitors helped create a fantastic light show, witnessed a unique, mind-expanding and breathtaking programme, heard excellent music and helped ensure a fantastic atmosphere.’ Within a few months, the club was drawing international acts like Pink Floyd and Captain Beefheart. Its organisers also created a description for it that served as a sort of subtitle: ‘cosmic entertainment centre.’ In addition to music and light shows, Paradiso also became known as an easy place to buy marijuana. It was one of the first places in the city where ‘soft drugs’ were tolerated. As De Ridder recalled in a 2008 article in Ons Amsterdam: ‘It was very cosy, jovial. People often sat on the floor, everyone was open and everything was very spontaneous. There was a kind of living room atmosphere.' The times, they were a changin’ But all those peaceful, easy feelings faded as harder drugs and harsher vibes began infiltrating the nation’s capital in the early 1970s. A reporter for Rolling Stone was in the city in the summer of 1970 and described Paradiso and Amsterdam’s increasingly dark atmosphere: ‘And everything seemed good. At Paradiso and Fantasio, state-supported youth clubs, and on the street, dope, music and atmosphere were cheap and abundant. Amsterdam was the most relaxed place anybody knew. But then, with August two-thirds gone, somebody up there pushed the harass button and ‘Head City’ began to disintegrate.’ As the world around it changed, so did Paradiso. Financial struggles, squabbles among management and staffers, and heroin dealers gave the club a nasty reputation for anyone not looking to zone out in the balcony or slam dance in front of the stage. Members of the Hells Angels biker gang became regulars and the American singer Iggy Pop had an unpleasant run-in with them during a gig in 1979. But things weren’t all bad. The late 1970s featured performances by now legendary acts including Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Police, The Ramones and Talking Heads. ‘In the early ‘80s, you might get hurt at a show there,’ Robbert Tilli, a web editor for Paradiso, recalled. ‘Not because it was dangerous but because there were so many people in the room and they were all so excited. It was still the punk rock period. So different than these days. The attitudes have changed. Back then, it was a lifestyle. People  completely identified with their music.’ Tilli remembers seeing The Undertones from Belfast when he was 18 or 19. 'They were the favourite band of my favourite DJ, John Peel from BBC Radio 1. It was so thrilling. They have a song called ‘Teenage Kicks’ that really sums up what makes life exciting,' he says. 'The Ramones also played there almost every year. They were always fantastic. At one of those shows, which were always very wild, I lost a shoe. I couldn’t find it and had to go home with only one.’ From raves to debates As the 1980s became the 1990s and the 1990s the 2000s, Paradiso continued to evolve and accommodate an increasingly eclectic series of events and performances. If you take a step back and look at the scope of the venue’s history, it’s not hard to see Paradiso as a sort lightning rod for whatever zeitgeists are dominating the music industry at any given moment. While it has and continues to throw open its doors for the latest and greatest musical acts out there, the venue has also hosted raves - Eddy de Clerq ran the Pep Club dance nights in the early 1980s -  classical orchestras, debates about politics and science and film screenings Many artists have grown to love the venue primarily for its intimate vibe, wrap around seating and a quasi-religious atmosphere that has earned it the nickname ‘rock temple.’ It was a natural pick for The Rolling Stones when they decided to take a break from playing stadiums in the mid 1990s and focus on smaller halls. The band played two nights at Paradiso in May of 1995. Hundreds of lucky fans were able to catch the shows live while thousands of others made do with video screens on the Museumplein. A performance of ‘Street Fighting Man’ from one of these shows was later included on the Stones’ live album Stripped. Along with drawing music fans to new and emerging acts as well legendary ones, Paradiso has also helped build the careers of local artists, promoters, and graphic designers. Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers, and Danny van den Dungen among them. They currently collaborate together as part of Experimental Jetset, an Amsterdam-based design studio that has worked on projects for institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. ‘In the mid-’90s, while we were still studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, we designed record sleeves and t-shirt prints for some friends who played in a punk band called NRA,’ they said. ‘Somehow, the shirts we designed became quite popular and they caught the attention of Top Notch, which was mostly known as a hip-hop label. They approached us and asked us if we wanted to design flyers for ParaDISCO, a twice weekly club night they organised for Paradiso. We gladly accepted their invitation.’ ‘We see Paradiso as a very important collaborator,’ they said. ‘They were one of our earliest supporters. Besides that, as a venue, they have had a huge influence on us. We spent so many nights at Paradiso and saw so many bands there. That place has been our cultural education. We really feel Paradiso is part of our DNA.’ Into the future Nowadays, Paradiso is contending with stiff competition from places like the Melkweg and AFAS Live. To keep up, it’s begun hosting shows in other venues around Amsterdam. One is Het Zonnehuis, a small theatre located in a community centre in Tuindorp Oostzaan, a former garden village on the edges of the city. Catching a show there is like taking a trip through time to the mid-20th century. Hank Williams or a young Bob Dylan wouldn’t have felt out of place on its stage. Paradiso’ management typically uses it for smaller acoustic sets by musicians including Josh Ritter and Father John Misty. There’s also Paradiso Noord, a mid-sized venue in Tolhuistuin near the EYE Film Museum. Its retro interior looks like a late 1970s discotheque and features wicker furniture, a disco ball and an old car from that era. In addition, Paradiso has recently begun hosting a regular series of concerts that celebrate new artists or those not well known in the Netherlands. Ticket to the Tropics is devoted to world music. Fans of indie bands can get an annual pass for Indiestad and their current lineup of shows can be found here. Those eager to learn more about fresh Americana, roots and country acts can check out Sugar Mountain. These latter two series have relied on the efforts of volunteer ambassadeurs to choose which performers to highlight. ‘With some genres, it can be easy to get people to come to the concerts,’ says Tilli  ‘With others, it can sometimes be really difficult. So it’s great to have people like the ambassadeurs who also help spread the word.’   More >


See out the Dutch summer with an exclusive party in Scheveningen

See out the Dutch summer with an exclusive party in Scheveningen

If you are looking for an amazing night out to celebrate the end of the summer, where better than an exclusive party at Scheveningen’s stunning Kurhaus hotel? The Kurhaus, where Europe’s elite came to take in the sea air, has seen its fair share of magical events over the years. The Rolling Stones even ran riot there in the 1960s. This year the MUST party team are back in town on September 23 for the latest edition of their legendary dance events, set against the stunning backdrop of the Kurhaus ballroom. The dress code is come as you are – but make sure it is the most beautiful version of yourself, of course. Dance the night away to a top line-up, sipping on champagne from the Moët & Chandon bar or a cocktail from Belvedere and Bacardi. Good tip: you can order your bottles in advance at a discount via must.cc. This year's performers include Shermanology and Benny Rodrigues, and more star names will be announced next week. And then after the party is over, you can tuck up in bed in one of the hotel’s great rooms. What better way to start a new day than waking up to the sound of the sea? All you need to know: Date : Saturday September 23, 2017 Time : 20:30 uur – 02:00 uur Location : Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus, Scheveningen Tickets : www.must.cc/ticketskopen Prices: €44.50 per ticket or €249 for two including overnight stay and breakfast Website : www.must.cc Check out the DutchNews.nl Facebook page to see how you can win two tickets!  More >


From visiting borgs to singing sea shanties: 11 great things to do in September

From visiting borgs to singing sea shanties: 11 great things to do in September

It's almost September, so here is our list of some of the best things to see and do next month - from visiting Groningen's historic country houses to watching a Greek tragedy and checking out the wonders at the Netherlands' botanical gardens. Sample different cultures The annual Embassy Festival in The Hague is all about great music and delicious food. Visit the cultures of exotic countries against the backdrop of the Lange Voorhout which is saying a temporary goodbye to its august dignity in favour of colour and sound on September 1 and 2. Website Get stitched up 24 international textile artists show their work and techniques at the Textiel Biënnale for the fifth time at Museum Rijswijk.'Hard-hitting messages about repression, terrorism, old age and gender packaged in soft textiles', is how the museum puts it. Until September 24  website Enjoy a little bare cheek Theatre company Illyria's acclaimed version of The Emperor's New Clothes comes to Raadhuis de Paauw in Wassenaar on September 2 & 3 ('strictly for people between 5 and 99') and it will be performing Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors - featuring a Mexican band - on September 2 at Landgoed Schovenhorst in Putten.  Both plays are performed in the open air. Go to STET for tickets and info. Sing sea shanties in Rotterdam Rotterdam's annual celebration of its port is livened up with rollicking sea shanties courtesy of the International Shanty Festival which is held at the same time. 40 (!) choirs from the Netherlands and abroad will sing of lost love, strange ports and the seaman's longing for the sea. It's free. September 1-3 Leuvenhaven Rotterdam Website Marvel at Medea, with surtitles Simon Stone turned Euripides’s Greek tragedy about revenge into a contemporary play, inspired by the true story of an American doctor who set fire to her own house after a difficult divorce in 1995, killing two of her children. There's just one chance to see the play with surtitles this month, on September 7. Website Visit a listed building The Open Monumentendagen have a distinctive rustic flavour this year, with a strong emphasis on 'working' buildings, such as farms, milk factories, mills, breweries etc. Over 4,000 monuments across the country will be opening their doors on September 9 and 10. Website Accessorise in the museum of bags and purses The delicious Tassenmuseum Hendrikje in Amsterdam went digging in some musty old chests in the attic of the Rijksmuseum and emerged with armsfull of superior old tat in the way of parasols, umbrellas, hats, hair accessories, shawl, gloves, fans, stockings and shoes. Contributing some exquisite bags of its own the museum put together 'Accessories are a girl's best friend'. From September 16. Website Don't forget your glasses A great exhibition of tiny carved religious objects from the late Middle Ages is entering its final two weeks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Marvel at the craftsmanship and steady hands of these Dutch artists. Small Wonders is on until September 17. Website Bag a borg Still plenty of time to visit the Groninger Museum and gawp at the riches of bygone ages. Paintings, silverware and all manner of expensive furniture filled the urban mansions and country villas, or borgen, of rich Groningers in the 17th and 18th century. The museum also organises a bus tour of various Groninger borgen. Until November 12. Website Eat appeltaart at the Hortus 2017 is the year of the botanical garden and 25 botanical gardens throughout the Netherlands have been showing off their 'Crown Jewels'. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam has one of the longest running exhibitions and has set out a route along its rarest and most interesting trees and plants. The café does an excellent appeltaart as well. Until November 1. Website Say cheerio to summer Why not say a final goodbye to summer, such as it was, and go for a walk on the beach at Scheveningen. If it pours down you can always pop into the Muzee Scheveningen which has a fine collection of beach and fishery related objects, among wich a bathing machine for discreet ablutions. Alternatively, you could risk life and limb and climb the lighthouse. Website  More >


Decoding the history and mysteries of the Dutch national anthem

Decoding the history and mysteries of the Dutch national anthem

Suggestions that the next government might make lessons about the Wilhelmus part of the Dutch school curriculum led to raised eyebrows and considerable criticism earlier this month. But then, as Ryan Walmsley reports, the world’s oldest national anthem is steeped in heritage, myths and misunderstandings. It’s the 1570s. Spain is in the midst of a golden age after conquering the mighty Incan and Aztec empires. Silver, gold and other treasures from the New World are flowing into the Spanish Hapsburg’s coffers through newly-opened oceanic trade routes. King Phillip II rules over a formidable and extensive global empire. But for Spanish interests in continental Europe, things are starting to unravel. Religious unrest, brewing in the Netherlands since 1566, led a famous nobleman named William of Orange to lead a revolt opposing the unbridled persecution of Calvinists and the inefficiencies of some Spanish governors. Against this background, and in ode to their leader, the world’s oldest national anthem Het Wilhelmus was penned. Although the genuine author is wrapped in mystery, Wilhelmus is written from the point of view of William. The structure is complex and symmetrical, with each stanza having a related partner on the other side: the first and last verses emphasise William’s loyalty, while the second and penultimate highlight religious devotion. The anthem is also an acrostic, meaning the beginning letter of each fifteen stanzas spell out the name William van Orange. First verse Since its official adoption in 1932, the length of the piece means that usually only the first verse is sung. A decade later, under Nazi occupation, the sixth verse was popularised by resisters, with the last two lines reading: 'And drive the plagues that try us, And tyranny away'. The anthem was adopted by all Dutch - even the anti-monarchist socialists - and helped to unify the nation. But Wilhelmus might hide a more chequered past. One legend asserts that during the gruesome torture of Balthasar Gérard, William’s assassin, guards sang the anthem to drown out his screams. Another rumour claims Dutch sailors, mocking the warning shots fired by their English counterparts, sang Wilhelmus during a tense encounter in the North Sea. Upon finishing, captain Maarten Tromp fired on the English flagship, beginning the first Anglo-Dutch War. Rumours aside, Wilhelmus has a long history of controversies and misunderstandings. The the first verse is often a cause for confusion, where William seemingly speaks of his German blood and professes his loyalty to the King of Spain. Why would the author, speaking as the father of the Dutch independence movement, want to highlight his loyalty to Phillip? The answer lies in the structure of society at the time and the ‘divine right of kings’ argues Jan Burgers, specialist in medieval history at the University of Amsterdam. Monarch's authority 'At that time, most people were convinced that society, as it is, was ordered by God’,  Burgers says. And so it was extremely uncommon to question a monarch's authority, as the King was 'set by God to reign the land, and to stand up against the King was felt by many as heretical’. Unlike today’s European monarchies, a ruler in those days held absolute, unquestionable authority. They were not accountable to any legal constitution, or anyone other than God. What’s more, a lot of the popular discontent centred on the incapable (and often oppressive) Spanish governors, rather than the King. By stressing William’s longstanding allegiance to Phillip, he effectively shifts the criticism onto the administrators, and does not question Philip’s ‘divine right’ - a highly unorthodox act. Another controversy concerns William’s origins. A direct translation of the original text refers to William as being ‘van Duitsen blood’. Today in the Netherlands, the word Duits is used to reference anything relating to Germany, and it can come as a shock to hear the narrator, the patriotic symbol of the Netherlands, speaking of his 'German blood'. However, this view rests on a historical misunderstanding of the word Duits, says Thijs Porck, lecturer in historical linguistics at the University of Leiden. German ‘Duits, as well as the English variant Dutch derive from a word that meant people or folk’, explains  Porck. Old English, along with Middle Dutch: 'are known as Germanic languages, and were spoken by the people who lived in North and Central Europe’. Anyone in this vast area not speaking Latin (which would have been almost everyone outside the Church), would be said to have used diu diutisca zunga, or ’the language of the Germanic people’. Porck says the confusion around William’s heritage is a recent development, as only in modern language has the meaning of Duits narrowed to refer exclusively to Germany. When the Wilhelmus was composed: 'the Dutch word Duits could have referred to Dutch, modern-day Germany, or simply of the people’. The historical context supports this argument. The nation we now know as ‘Germany’ would not exist for hundreds of years, and simply did not exist in the collective imagination of people at the time. During this period ‘Germany’ was a patchwork of loose, interconnected peoples and states. William would have been referring to a large stretch of territory including Central Europe, Denmark and the Netherlands. Amongst its most famous enigmas, the author of Wilhelmus is unknown and has always been fiercely debated. For years, many assumed it to be Philips of Marnix, the mayor of Antwerp and a close friend of the House of Orange-Nassau. The changing of certain vowels in order to pair them with others is, however, very different from the mayor's style of writing. Last year, the debate over the authorship of Wilhelmus was blown wide open by a team of Dutch researchers using advanced computer analysis techniques. ‘Our model is called the imposters method’ explains Mike Kestemont, a researcher on the project from the University of Antwerp. ‘This method for authorship verification will compare an anonymous document to a document written by a known author’, before comparing these findings with a large database of ‘imposter’ authors whose styles are similar to that of the Wilhelmus. From this, it is possible to build a statistical database of different writing styles used by each author, and check for similarities between these and the style of Wilhelmus. Things like word frequency, word patterns, and the frequency of conjunctions are all taken into account. After analysis, the findings presented a strong connection to a previously overlooked candidate - named Petrus Datheen. 'Petrus Datheen was a Calvinist theologian from the West of present-day Flanders’ says Kestemont. ‘He enjoyed good contacts with William of Orange’, and was present at the Siege of Chartres: ‘where he could have picked up the melody for the Wilhelmus’. Although it is unlikely we will ever know for sure, this new method has shown remarkable similarities between Datheen’s style and the anthem, far more than candidates posed by previous historians. Whoever the author, the text’s advocacy of religious liberty, and its symbolic meaning during Nazi occupation, stand as a testament to Dutch unity and multiculturalism. The recent discoveries show that the world’s oldest national anthem is an example of a core belief in Dutch culture: when an ancient society embraces new technologies, it can uncover important new ideas.  More >


Dutch food which has officially protected status within the EU

Dutch food which has officially protected status within the EU

You thought the Netherlands was all mashed potato dishes, cheese and herring when it comes to traditional food? But there are a fair few Dutch items on the EU's official lists - even if rather a lot are cheese. And just so you know what we are talking about,the EU logos PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) indicate region while TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) means the production process is as old as the hills. Hanneke Sannou has the the Dutch score. 1 Boeren-Leidse met sleutels (PDO). The sleutels, in case you are wondering are imprinted on the reddish rind of the cheese and refer to the keys of Saint Peter who is the patron saint of Leiden. The cheese, from the Leiden region and from the Leiden region only, is made from skimmed cow’s milk and therefore only has a 30% fat content. Available with or without cumin and said to go down very well with stewed rhubarb. 2 The Westlandse druif (PGI). This Dutch grape actually has its own theme park in the Westland area in the province of Zuid Holland. Anyone who’s ever flown into Schiphol at night will have seen the light given off by the green houses there which may very well have housed, at that very moment, a bumper crop of Westlandse druiven which by all accounts are sweet and delicious. 3 Brabantse Wal asparagus (PDO). Dutch white asparagus, also called ‘the white gold’ is grown in the area of Bergen op Zoom in Brabant. Apparently its unique flavour is a result of the pure groundwater that runs underneath the Kalmhoutse heath and the salty sea wind blowing in from Zeeland. With a buttery sauce and sprinkling of boiled egg, yes please. 4 Kanterkaas (PDO). This cheese comes from Friesland and the Westerkwartier, which is part of Groningen province. Made from cow’s milk it comes with either cloves or cumin. Its deliciousness is a result of a clean environment, the EU says, which leads to a superior type of grass and, presumably, contented cows happy to produce good milk. 5 The Opperdoezer Ronde (PDO) is a potato which can only be grown around the town of Opperdoes in the province of Noord-Holland. In spite of its knobbly, pale appearance it is a delicate flower of a potato with a thin skin which has to be harvested and sorted by hand. It has a relatively short growing time although it is no longer the ‘nine weeker’ it used to be 145 years ago. The Meerlander (PDO) is another protected potato, developed and grown in the Haarlemmermeer in Noord Holland. The taste, according to potato connoisseurs is ‘mildly velvety, somewhat dry but with a lot of body’. 6 Gouda Holland and Edam Holland (both PDO). We are lumping these two together because there are an awful lot of cheeses on the list and because these two had a battle on their hands with Germany which produces cheeses labelled Gouda and Edam as well. It took seven years for a solution to be found and it simply consisted of adding ‘Holland’ to the original Dutch, now protected, version. The Brexit negotiations will be shorter. Confusingly, the protected cheese platter also comprises Noord-Hollandse Gouda and Noord-Hollandse Edam. Not that it matters; it will all be eaten: the Dutch munch their way through 16 kilos of cheese a year. There’s also a Dutch goat’s cheese (PDO), made from milk from Dutch goats. 7 Jenever (PGI), or Dutch gin, can only be produced in the Netherlands and Belgium. The most popular drink during the 1960s and 70s, its consumption has now plummeted to record lows. The drink does not appeal to the young: the image of an elderly man gingerly bringing a kelkje filled to the brim to puckered lips is not the coolest in the land and the competition from drinks like vodka and British gin have further done for jenever. Producers are, however, trying to boost its image by introducing different flavoured jenevers. 8 Suikerstroop (TSG), a thick sugary syrup, is a traditional Dutch product used to put on sandwiches and pancakes. It also goes by the name of pannenkoekenstroop or simply stroop. Little Dutch children (and many an adult) like to write their names in stroop on their pancakes. 9 Basterdsuiker (TSG), a type of caster sugar has also made it onto the list; its production process is apparently unique to the Netherlands. ‘Basterd’ comes from ‘bastard’ as the stuff is made with a waste product of sugar production mixed with suikerstroop, sugar, glucose, fructose and a little acid. It dissolves easily and gives your apple pie a nice colour. 10 Hollandse Nieuwe, Hollandse maatjesharing (TSG). The Hollandse Nieuwe pickled herring was accorded protected status as well, not for being Dutch, which it isn’t, but for the way it’s processed. The young herring is gutted and salted but with the pancreas left in place. This organ contains an enzyme which allows the fish to ripen. Nieuwe herring is caught and sold between June 15 and September 30, after which it goes by the name of Hollandse maatjesharing.  More >