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


The Bold and the Beautiful comes to Amsterdam

The Bold and the Beautiful comes to Amsterdam

The picturesque canals of Amsterdam have long attracted filmmakers and now the city will feature on the small screen as well, as the American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful films in the Dutch capital. Having filmed abroad in locations from Australia to Paris, Dubai to Mexico, this will be the first time —after 25 years on the air—that the show comes to the Netherlands. And this is no small thing to the show’s committed fan base. The soap opera has been enormously popular in the Netherlands since it first premiered in 1989. According to Marije Onderwaater, a communication adviser with RTL 8, the show has an ‘above average’ market share for a daytime show, and has a very steady fan base, for which RTL makes it almost impossible to miss an episode. The show airs daily on RTL 8 (first run), RTL 4 (second run) and RTL Lounge (preview). It’s also possible to watch on RTL XL. Fans Alicia Vreeman, 26, is the admin for one Dutch-based B&B fan page on Facebook. She began watching the show when she was just 10. ‘I find it very addictive,’ she says. ‘I watch daily, and on the weekends I really miss it.’ For Vreeman, being hooked on The Bold and the Beautiful is hereditary. ‘My mother was a fan when I was younger, so I would watch with her,’ she says. ‘As did my grandmother. She watches every day.’ Vreeman admits she also visits YouTube.com to look up earlier episodes or even later ones that broadcast in the US before being available here. It’s the characters and love triangles that pull her in. ‘My favourite character is Brooke,’ she says. ‘And I love to see Brooke and Ridge together.’ (For those not in the know: the programme mostly revolves around Brooke and Ridge breaking up and getting back together.) According to eight-time Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer, Bradley Bell, the Dutch-based action takes place over seven episodes. ‘We are very excited about showcasing the beauty of Amsterdam during our shoot,’ Bell says. Cast members Ashleigh Brewer (Ivy Forrester), Darin Brooks (Wyatt Spencer), Scott Clifton (Liam Spencer) and Kim Matula (Hope Logan Spencer) are all here to film the Amsterdam scenes. Romance According to Bell, the storyline will involve an unnamed couple that ‘finds love while another is falling apart,’ but Dutch fans roaming the canal belt looking to get a glimpse of the filming may not want to look too closely, as the episodes, which will air next month in the US, will not be shown here until sometime next year. But for fans needing their fix: in addition to those stars coming to film, cast members John McCook (Eric Forrester), Heather Tom (Katie Logan) and Hunter Tylo (Taylor Hayes) will appear in The Bold and the Beautiful Live! stage show at Theater Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn in Utrecht on Saturday. Also appearing will be Thorsten Kaye, who will be replace Ron Moss as central character Ridge Forrestor. Vreeman is skeptical. ‘I’ve seen what the new actor looks like,’ she says. ‘And I don’t know if I can get used to it. There is only one Ridge.’ The live show on Saturday would be a good chance for Vreeman to warm up to the new Ridge, but to her dismay she will not be able to attend. ‘I have a family weekend planned,’ she says. ‘Unfortunately.’  More >


It’s time to get drinking bok beer: here are six not to miss

It’s time to get drinking bok beer: here are six not to miss

It is officially bok beer season in the Netherlands. And there are official rules about these things. PINT (Promotie Informatie Traditioneel Bier), the largest beer association in the Netherlands, sets specific standards for bok beer, including that it must only be for sale between September 21 and December 21 each year. Boks herald from Germany and were traditionally strong, dark lagers brewed for special occasions. The beer takes its name from the mispronunciation of the city of Einbeck, where the style originated. It is so popular in the Netherlands, there are even bok beer festivals in Amsterdam and Utrecht every year. Macro All of the big Dutch breweries produce a bok bier, including Heineken, Gulpener, Hertog Jan, Brand, Amstel, Bavaria and Grolsch. They will all be showing up in your local Albert Heijn, probably alongside the all-too-early Sinterklaas treats. Here are six you should not miss. La Trappe Officially Brouwerij de Koningshoeven, La Trappe is the biggest and oldest of the Dutch trappist beers. Still produced by monks, they make a bok (but spell it as the Germans do, bock.) You can likely find this one in Albert Heijn as well. Jopen Their beers used to be brewed at La Trappe, but now they have a nice brewing space, with tasting room and restaurant, in Haarlem. The Jopen bok is brewed a bit differently than other boks and probably won’t be found in your local grocery store. Head to the brewery instead to try it out and while you’re there, have dinner at the restaurant. ‘t IJ If you want to get a craft bok but don’t want to leave Amsterdam, head over to ‘t Ij for their Ijbok. You can try their bok while sitting in the shadow of a windmill. Bike to the brewery and your experience can’t get more Dutch than that. SNAB Their Ijsbok has won a bunch of awards, including Lekkerste Bokbier and a silver medal at the Beer World Cup. The recipe is based on a travelogue from a Dutchman aboard a ship searching for the Northeast passage in 1597. You can watch a movie, Nova Zembla, about the journey while enjoying your beer. Emelisse A visit to the brewery is as good an excuse as any to visit Zeeland. Their Herfstbock (autumn bok) has an amber colour and a chocolate undertone. You can sample it alongside your meal at their restaurant. Duits & Lauret It’s a dubbelbock, with more alcohol and that makes it a good beer to end on. The brewery advises you to enjoy the beer alongside a stew. If you’ve sampled a number of boks, you may want to try it alongside a large glass of water. This list is published courtesy of Netherlands by Numbers  More >


Improving Your Life Through Language

Improving Your Life Through Language

Speaking more than one language fluently is a great addition your skill set, and it is never too late to get started. Being a multi-lingual adult can be hugely beneficial for both personal and professional endeavours, furthermore it’s never too late to improve one’s language skills! The benefits of early years linguistic development are well documented, however the benefits of learning languages as an adult are also wide ranging. Personal Whether you’re new to the Netherlands and just looking to communicate with a shop assistant, doing your online banking or greeting your neighbours, having a basic understanding of the Dutch language will provide you with a better sense of belonging to the community, and therefore an enhanced quality of life. Here’s one expat’s personal story: Lisa, an expat mother from Staffordshire in the UK moved to The Hague in 2013 for her husband’s work. Lisa had never lived abroad before and although many Dutch speak perfect English, she felt awkward not speaking the language. She initially tried studying online, as she said “I foolishly thought I could do it myself”. Then, with the help of The British School in The Netherlands Language Centre, she began a Beginners Introduction course.. Initially, Lisa was concerned about the amount of homework required, but quickly discovered it was quite manageable. “The textbooks are easy to use. You can pop in and out of a subject and it was quite easy for me to catch up, when I was unwell last month. In addition our group discusses everything from recipes, to our children, to telling the time and I also found the topic of Dutch etiquette to be really helpful.” Together with the day-to-day benefits of learning the Dutch language, Lisa is thrilled to be sharing this experience with her four year old daughter. “I can now practise Dutch with Annabel and understand the songs she sings from school. I also enjoy being able to communicate with my Dutch neighbours and interact with people in the shops. Raising bilingual children in the UK is not as common as it is here and I’m happy both my daughter and I are experiencing an enhanced future because of this opportunity.” Professional Naturally, as an expat seeking employment in a foreign market there will already be less opportunities for those that do not speak the native language.  All things being equal between candidates, the differentiator can often be the knowledge of additional languages. Therefore to improve the chances of landing your dream job, experts highly recommend improving ones knowledge of additional languages. The Employable, an organisation which provides career advice to people seeking employment, shares the following information: "When working in recruitment, we often found that sourcing candidates with proven abilities in a second language was one of the most difficult things to find. In sectors as varied as I.T., Marketing and Hospitality, proficiency in another language was often one of the most employable skills that a candidate could have. In addition it is a skill which, once acquired, could potentially benefit you wherever you go." Whilst many seek to improve their Dutch for local positions here in The Netherlands, there is also a worldwide trend towards improving English for career prospects. Sofio began her journey when she applied for a 10 week study leave from her employer, The Ministry of Defence, in her native land of Georgia. Working in Public Relations, she recognised the inherent value of improving her English speaking skills. The opportunity to be more comfortable when speaking English with foreign diplomats, could potentially advance her prospective career-path. "I realised how valuable it is for me to know the internationally important language of English. I already speak Russian and of course Georgian, but English is becoming more important. When I studied English in school in Georgia I learned the vocabulary and I could read and write quite well, but I was not confident in my speaking...until I came to The BSN Language Centre. Now I can go back to Georgia and do a better job speaking English with the foreigners I meet. This was very good practice for me." When asked about how she selected The BSN Language Centre, Sofio shared: "Since my cousin lives in Veghel (north of Eindhoven) I wanted a programme in the Netherlands so I could stay with her. After reviewing many websites, I chose the BSN Language Centre for two reasons. Firstly it was the only school I could find nearby that is British, and secondly, the website was easy to use. I spend 3 hours travelling each way by bus and train, but I only do it one day a week and I am very happy with my two months here." If you or someone you know is looking to improve their knowledge of Dutch or English, you may want to visit The BSN Language Centre in Leidschenveen for their Open Day (please link to www.bsnlanguagecentre.nl/openday), to be held Saturday 13 September between 10.00 – 14.00,  during which you’ll be able to meet with staff, ask any questions  you may have, carry out a language level test or register for a course. For more information on courses at both the Language Centre and at the new location: ZEIN Childcare, The Estate, close to the centre of The Hague, please visit BSN Language Centre Locations (include link www.bsnlanguagecentre.nl/locations) In celebration of 30 years of language teaching services to the International Community of The Hague, all BSN Language Centre private lessons will be offered at a reduced fee from September 2014 – July 2015. To sign up for private lessons or any other courses, please complete the registration form on the BSN Language Centre website or email: languages@britishschool.nl    More >


The Return on Investment of my MBA in the Netherlands

The Return on Investment of my MBA in the Netherlands

Studying for an MBA abroad takes all sorts of investments but the returns are definitely worth it, says Yoony Kim. Like many important steps we take in life, deciding to study for an MBA abroad is a serious matter that requires huge in­vestments. You need a financial investment to cover tuition and living costs, time investment to research the right course and to study, and emotional investment as you have to leave your fam­ily and friends for a new life in a foreign country. You also need to consider your career opportunities should you decide to continue with your current career. Getting an MBA from a foreign institution could be considered a leap of faith, because it’s difficult to predict what you will get out of it, and what your future career path will be — whether you de­cide to return home, stay in the country where you studied, or even move elsewhere. Korea I cannot tell you what your return on investment of doing an MBA would be, but I can tell you about mine which has, so far, proved more than satisfactory. After getting my BA in Korea, I chose to study further in the UK and got my MA in marketing communications as I was thirsty for more knowledge in an inter­national context. My investment was worth it as I instantly got a job with a global PR consultancy. For the next nine years I worked as a marketing and communications professional for various companies in Korea. I was in a stable middle-man­agement position which involved communicating daily with differ­ent organisations, departments and nationalities, which could be very challenging. I often wondered why it was so difficult to communicate with such a varied group. I came to realise that problems occurred when people were unable to see or understand the other person’s perspective. A lack of good com­munication between these groups meant nobody realised that objec­tives may differ from one depart­ment to the other, let alone the differences in communication between cultures. Multicultural environment I thought that doing an MBA in a multicultural environment would be the perfect solution to overcome this challenge, as I would learn the theories and practices of almost every depart­ment within an organisation whilst sharing ideas with like-minded professionals from differ­ent backgrounds. But, another degree? Giving up all I was enjoying? Leaving my family and friends? At the age of 32? I considered all of these questions, but I decided to invest in an MBA because I had a clear objective: to acquire knowledge, skills and experiences that would allow me to put myself in others’ shoes. After setting my objectives, the decision-making process was relatively straightforward. Find­ing the institution to fit me came out of the blue during a business trip to the Netherlands. At that time, I was working for Nuffic Neso Korea — a Dutch organisa­tion that helps Korean students with their decision to study in the Netherlands. I already knew a lot about it, and I liked the idea very much. I realised that  due to the open-mindedness and trade-oriented nature of the country, it would be the right destination for me. During my business trip I visited Nyenrode Business Uni­versiteit. I believe that education is a very personal experience which should meet your needs and desires. And Nyenrode was one of the few schools I encoun­tered which really put this into practice. Small, culturally diverse classes — I studied with 36 stu­dents of 18 different nationalities with diverse backgrounds — al­lowed students to interact with each other and staff in the most personal manner possible. Campus The prospect of doing a one-year intensive course whilst liv­ing on campus was also appealing as I’d be constantly surrounded by my fellow students, and would get to know them and learn from them in more ways than just professionally. This combination of being rationally prepared and emotionally taken by the institu­tion had made it easy to decide where to study. I am a good example of the phrase 'where there is a will, there is a way,' as I was so cer­tain of my path, both in my head and my heart. I applied, attained a scholarship, and started to study within three months of vis­iting Nyenrode. Challenges Staying true to my goals helped me to remain passionate about my studies and overcome various challenges. I used to say I was 'allergic' to numbers, but the MBA helped by requiring me to present reports in classes such as Accounting for Managers, International Financial Markets and Business Process Manage­ment. In addition, I became a member of a truly global fam­ily comprising my classmates, alumni, faculties and staff who know me not as just another stu­dent, but as a person. I was also emotionally torn to pieces when I had to return to Korea during my studies as my father had become very ill, but my classmates took care of me as if I was family. The ROI of my MBA has been higher than I expected. It started with setting a goal for myself — not what society im­posed on me. I’d suggest others should do the same: set a clear goal, be rationally prepared, listen to your heart when making deci­sions, and continue following your passion. Then I am quite certain your ROI will surge through the roof and you will not hesitate to answer the question 'are you happy?' with a definite 'yes'. Yoony Kim completed her full-time International MBA at the Nyenrode Business Univer­siteit in the Netherlands and is now working as the international marketing manager for the university. Discover the ROI of your MBA and become the best leader you can be. Meet Nyenrode in your city during the MBA Roadshow: 30 September 2014, Amsterdam WTC 14 October 2014, The Hague WTC 2 December 2014, Rotterdam WTC 9 December 2014, Eindhoven More information  More >




10 things you didn’t know about renting an apartment in Amsterdam

10 things you didn’t know about renting an apartment in Amsterdam

You are bound to have lots of questions when it comes to renting an apartment. Here is a top 10 of things you might not think about, but that you really need to know, compiled by the experts at Perfect Housing. 1. Painting and drilling When moving into a new apartment you will want to make it feel like home. But changing the décor to suit your own tastes is something you should discuss with the owner. You can ask your rental agent what the situation is concerning painting the place, but ultimately it is the owner who has the final say. It may be that the owner says you can paint and drill holes to hang up your favourite works of art but that you will have to return it to its original state when you leave. On the other hand, the owner could be very kind and take responsibility for re-painting the apartment. Just make sure you ask before doing anything! 2. Prepare to pay four months rent up front This probably sounds like a lot, but it is an accumulation of costs. You will have to pay your first month rent, two (or one if you’re lucky) month’s deposit, and one month commission to the rental agent (plus taxes). If you are being relocated by your employer you should check with your HR manager and see whether they will cover the costs. 3. Who should you call if something goes wrong? Your rental agent can unfortunately not help you if something breaks down or the roof starts leaking. In the event something happens, you will have to contact the owner. If the owner is abroad, there should be someone in charge of managing the home. Your rental agent will inform you who your contact person will be during your stay. 4. Taxes not included in ‘all inclusive’ It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but ‘all inclusive’ does not include everything. Water, gas and electricity are included in the rent but not local taxes, so keep this in mind! 5. Pets Please remember to mention if you have a pet which will be moving into your new home with you. It will make it a lot easier if your rental agent knows not to show you places which don’t allow pets. Having a cat or dog may also lead to other changes in the rental agreement. It could mean, for instance, that you need to pay a higher deposit as there is more risk of damage. 6. Sharing Like pets, some owners don’t allow flat-sharing either. There are plenty of apartments available for sharing, but please do remember to inform your rental agent if you are planning to do this. It will be much more efficient for you to look at properties you could actually rent rather than those which don’t allow living with a group of friends. 7. Expat housing versus Dutch housing There is a difference between renting through the purely Dutch market and renting as an expat. Rental agents specialised in expat housing will usually have both furnished and unfurnished apartments available. Some families prefer bringing their own furniture so an unfurnished home is ideal. If you try to rent without using a specialised agent, beware. The Dutch market includes a lot of shell properties which are not only unfurnished but don’t have flooring or lighting either. As an expat this is usually very impractical. 8. Verbal agreements are binding According to Dutch law, if you make a verbal agreement, even without signing a physical agreement, it is still binding! So please beware of this when taking thinking about your options, and remember that when you come to an agreement with someone, by law, it is as if you signed a contract. 9. Point system and salary requirements In the Netherlands, rents are determined by a point system which is used to calculate the quality of the house, apartment, or room. Cheap apartments are usually rent-controlled and can only be lived in by people who earn a low salary. So make sure you are eligible to rent the apartment before you start the process. And remember, if the deal sounds like it is too good to be true, it probably is. 10. Amsterdam Canal Belt → no double glazing The apartments within Amsterdam’s central canal belt usually have no double glazing. These buildings are mostly rijksmonumenten or listed buildings. They are splendid to look at but may be poorly insulated because of regulations which determine what their owners can and cannot do with them.  More >


Global memories: an expat archive

Global memories: an expat archive

The Expatriate Archive Centre in The Hague is preserving a global memory of expat lives, writes Molly Quell. Would you like to preserve your memories as an expat while helping academics with research into expatriate issues? The Expatriate Archive Centre is actively looking for new material to add to its collection. Scrapbooks, diaries, even school reports and greetings cards are among the tangible evidence of mobile lives being collated at the centre in The Hague. The EAC has its roots in the The Shell Ladies Project, an organisation of Shell wives who wanted to document the lives of the Shell employees who were frequently posted to various places in the world. The group collected writings, poems and drawings from Shell families and published them in an anthology in 1993 entitled Life On The Move. It was such a success they followed with a second one in 1996. Mayor Ultimately, a former Shell CEO donated an unused property in The Hague to the group and they were incorporated into the Shell Outpost. Eventually the organisation became an independent one, inaugurated by the mayor of The Hague in 2008. The EAC has gone from a small project organised by the spouses of employees at a single company to a fully-fledged archive ‘We started it not knowing where we would go… empty rooms with five hundred separate pieces of source material… And now it is absolutely in place as a top-notch… dedicated collection,’ says EAC co-founder and former director Dewey White. Contributions to the collection originated from over 64 countries and are in 12 different languages. The staff have been digitising the entire collection so it can be made accessible to academic researchers. ‘It’s a growing field. Our collection offers a uniquely rich picture of global expatriate life that could be useful to researchers in social history, migration studies, human geography, psychology and more,’ says Kristine Racina, who is the centre's current director. Counted in the collection are the detailed account of the voyage of a ship from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies in 1917 and the personal letters of the Verkerk family who worked for KLM in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Turkey among others during the 1950s and 1960s. Away from home The collection isn’t limited to traditional expats either. The centre defines an expatriate as 'someone who is temporarily outside the country that he/she considers to be his/her home country'. Alongside the memories are items from au pairs from Thailand and cleaning staff from the Philippines. It also includes a selection of materials from migrant workers who came to the Netherlands, including those from southern Europe and later Turkey and Morocco. The EAC is currently accepting donations of diaries, letters, scrapbooks, and other printed materials such as school documents and greeting cards. There is a full list of the items they accept on their website. Items can be in any language and from any expat worldwide Find out more about donating your story  More >


10 Dutch theme parks

The Efteling is the eighth best amusement park in Europe, according to Tripadvisor travellers. Here is the Netherlands by Numbers list of 10 Dutch theme parks. The Efteling (Kaatsheuvel) This popular park started off as a sports facility for Catholic youngsters and was turned into a theme park in 1951. The Efteling has some deeply impressive rollercoasters and a fair number of the original fairy tale displays, designed by artist Anton Pieck, are still there and haven’t lost their magic.  Sprookjeswonderland (Enkhuizen) For the little ones and (their nostalgic parents) - the name Sprookjeswonderland translates as 'fairytale wonderland'. Delightfully cheesy and old fashioned but very charming all the same. Originally a small settlement of only a couple of kabouters or gnomes, these quickly proliferated and there is now a sizeable kabouterdorp, or village where children can see the inhabitants ply their trade. Their movements are mostly restricted to arms going up down and heads turning from left to right but children love it all the same. There’s also a petting zoo and playground. Madurodam (The Hague) Madurodam deserves a big entry in spite of its littleness. Small but perfectly formed the miniature town combines a number of important architectural  landmarks/institutions in the Netherlands. The town was completely redeveloped in 2012. You can have a go at loading a ship in Rotterdam harbour, or saving the country from flooding by closing the Oosterschelde sluice doors. It’s all very educational but fun at the same time. Try not to tread on anything. Walibi (Biddinghuizen) Walibi (formerly Six Flags) is the next stage after the sedate tranquility of Sprookjeswonderland when your child may want a bit more excitement. The Walibi motto is faster, harder, higher so should will fit the bill.  Attractiepark Slagharen (Slagharen) Apart from its not too blood-curdling mechanical attractions, Slagharen is really most famous for its pony rides which is what the park started out with fifty years ago. The ponies disappeared for a while but are no back. Quite how they will compete with the Jules Verne World remains to be seen. Duinrell (Wassenaar) The posh one - given its location on the estate of the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt family, Duinrell is  most famous for its 'tropical swimming paradise' named the Tikibad which has the longest water slides in the Netherlands. Julianatoren (Apeldoorn) Julianatoren dates from 1910 and is the oldest theme park in the Netherlands. The park was named after the late queen Juliana. Slightly irreverently  the park has employed a full-time entertainer in a mouse suit named Jul in order to make things a little zippier. There’s lots of gentle rides so good for the smaller members of your household. Verkeerspark Assen (Assen) ‘You’re the driver’, is the Verkeerspark motto. But, for all those aspiring young drivers out there, that doesn’t mean you can zoom around and bump into people. In fact, it is very sternly educational: children can practice on a circuit in little leg-powered cars and then do a driving test after which they get a driver’s license. There’s karting for the older children. Avonturenpark Hellendoorn (Hellendoorn) This is another theme park that started out as a quiet tea garden with some swings and things to keep the little ones happy while mother and father had tea, or a g&t.  That was in 1936. Hellendoorn – no longer in the hands of the De Jong family who managed to hold on to it for two generations – is the usual mix of rides, slides and upset stomachs. Plopsaland (Coevoorden) The only Dutch branch of the Belgian amusement park chain dedicated to the delightful kabouter (gnome) Plop and his friends. The ticket price depends on your height. Conveniently located next to Centreparcs - which is a Dutch invention. This list was first published on website Netherlands by Numbers.  More >


Six tips to unveil your leadership potential

Six tips to unveil your leadership potential

Up for a challenge? Here are six tips to unlease your leadership potential, by Nyenrode's Christo Nel. When I was in my mid-20s I had the exceptional privilege of being involved in a nationwide project in which more than 100 CEOs and 2000 managers participated. It is where my lifelong love affair with the phenomenon of leadership and how to grow leaders started. Quite naïvely I was still in search for the formula that defines what makes a good leader, and what pathway is best to follow. Leaders are not born Listening to the stories of so many people in positions of influence rapidly made it clear to me that leaders are not born – they are developed and grown. The myriad of life journeys that defined individuals, and just how many started out life either from humble beginnings, or without showing early signs of leadership until they blossomed in early adult hood or even middle age laid to rest the idea that some accident of birth creates leaders. There is no ideal formula As I worked with these hundreds of people in managerial and executive levels I was faced with a conundrum. Sometimes a person would be very outgoing, charismatic and seemingly capable of energising and entire hall full of people – and the individual would have a reputation as a good leader. At other times I would cross paths with other similar people, but those around them would be very critical and have little respect for them as leaders. Then I got to know people at the other end of the spectrum who operated in a very quiet and low profile manner. They seemed to eschew publicity and performance in front of others. Yet again, some would be deeply respected and loved as leaders, whilst other similar individuals proved to be disappointing as leaders. So, if leaders are developed and there is no ready-made formula then the answer must lie elsewhere. Here the explosion of research that has taken place over the past 20 years is very helpful. A key theme that is repeated over and over is the need for individuals to cross and develop their own Personal Authentic Leadership. My own career spanning 40 years and working with hundreds of people in leadership positions and several thousand dissidents in MBA programs has led me to believe deeply in these six tips for driving personalised and sustainable high-performance leadership. Embark upon a life-long journey of learning Your own life journey holds very important information about what has shaped you as a leader. By understanding how your life journey has shaped you, you can make rapid progress in courageously defining and living out your own authentic being. Initially it can help to work with a good leadership coach to turn your life into a perpetual University of personal development. Define and live out your authentic leadership fingerprint Do not try to clone yourself based on what others do. Of course, others can always provide very valuable lessons for us to learn and apply, but to be comfortable and confident as a leader you must be yourself. Take time to think about and reach conclusions on who and what you are is a leader and what you are unlikely to be. Do not try to be all things to all people! Leverage strengths – yours and others Focus on your strengths and those of others. It is not our weaknesses that drive success – it is the integration and application of either’s strengths that make the difference. Have a council of peers High performance leadership is a team activity in which we cannot make it alone. Make sure that you always have a small group of friends or “council of peers” who care for you enough to be robust, share your celebrations, and give you tough feedback when needed. Invite dissent One of my mentors taught me that if you have two people in your management team that are continuously agreeing with one another, then one is probably redundant. Do not look for or expect agreement that is reached to quickly or without robust dialogue. By creating an environment of trust where people feel free to disagree with you, you will tap into their experience and complement your own contributions. Ready, Fire , Aim - learn by doing It is not possible to plan things into perfection. Winston Churchill famously commented that planning is critical but plans are useless. Do your homework well, but then act. It is only by doing something that you can rapidly discover what is working well; what can be refined; and what should be rejected. When these six leadership lessons start to operate as one system it creates an extraordinary energetic and creative environment which is capable of ongoing innovation and self-correction. At Nyenrode we have specialized in the design and implementation of processes that enable our MBA participants to use the entire duration of their studies to explore and develop their Personal Authentic Leadership. It is embedded in the vast majority of MBA courses, and is also a dedicated career and personal development process that significantly enhances the leadership capabilities of our graduates. Boilerplate Getting your MBA at Nyenrode is a 360° journey of discovering you potential as a leader and entrepreneur who creates value for society. Do you want more than just a degree? MBA Leadership Boot Camp(Aug 15th-16th) - Compete in groups to solve a business case - Assess your MBAbility with Nyenrode's LTP Test for free (normal price €220) - Win a Nyenrode Revolving Scholarship for full-time MBA starting in October. - Airfare will be reimbursed to invited talents who live outside of the Netherlands. Register here Hangout with Nyenrode: Leadership & MBA (online) Interact online wtih Christo Nel, Program Director of International and Executive MBA about the role of leadership for MBA students. July 23rd, 2014 (01.00 p.m.- 02.00 p.m. CET) August 6th, 2014 (06.00 p.m. - 07.00 p.m. CET) Christo Nel is the Program Director of International MBA and Executive MBA at Nyenrode Business Universiteit in the Netherlands. Christo Nel is a previous head of the Centre for Leadership Studies at the Stellenbosch University School of Business (USB), where he specialized in leadership development and high performance organization cultures and practices. His wealth of experience of the challenges facing leadership of medium to large and corporate organizations makes him one of South Africa’s most respected consultants and executive coaches.    More >


10 great Dutch reads in translation

10 great Dutch reads in translation

Heading off on summer holiday? Here's a list of 10 great Dutch reads in translation to take with you. The Dinner by Herman Koch Novelist Herman Koch’s fifth novel takes place in a well-known Amsterdam restaurant (a thinly disguised De Kas) popular with the upwardly mobile. Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner and as the evening wears on some very unsavoury truths emerge. The narrator  is disillusioned and deeply cynical former teacher Paul. Although he and his wife Claire seem to enjoy a happy home life, free from the hypocrisy he lays at his politician brother’s door, it transpires that his son has committed a disgusting and cold-blooded crime. Paul may have mislaid his moral compass but his vicious comments on middle-class tastes are right on target. In my father’s garden by Jan Siebelink The book, which won the 2005 Literatuurprijs, follows Hans, a father and gardener who becomes more and more obsessed with Calvinism as the story progresses. Set in several parts of the Netherlands, the book does a wonderful job of depicting the Dutch countryside and living conditions of the time. Siebelink develops interesting characters whose stories you genuinely become involved in. The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch This book is truly about ‘life, the universe and everything’ and consequently the plot of the Discovery of Heaven is far too convoluted to explain in a few lines. But here goes: God has decided to break his contract with mankind and wants his tablets back, seeing that no one lives by them. Two of his angels are given the task of manipulating earthly circumstances which results in the birth of a boy who is destined to bring back the tablets. We are told about the events that shape the lives of the people involved and their own attempts at coming to grips with destiny. The Evenings by Gerard van ‘t Reve The Evenings, Reve’s ( he dropped the Van ‘t later) first novel, was published in 1947. It chronicles ten days in the life of 23 year-old Frits Egters which also happen to be the last ten days of the year 1946. Frits works in an office, lives with his parents and finds both frustrating. Frits’ encounters with friends and family show his unerring and merciless eye for the desolate minutiae of life: the decay that comes with passing time – a friend is going prematurely bald – , the dreary lives of his parents and his own less than promising future. A book that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. Max Havelaar, or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli Max Havelaar is a civil servant in the Dutch East Indies who, appalled at the cruelty and corruption of Dutch colonial rule, writes an inflammatory book about what he has witnessed. The manuscript makes its way to pompous coffee trader Droogstoppel who, wrong-footed by the title, promises to publish it. Multatuli ( pseudonym for Edward Douwes Dekker), like his protagonist, was a civil servant in the East Indies. His book is said to have hastened the demise of colonialism. Max Havelaar lives on in a 21st century fair trade food label. The Darkroom of Damocles by WF Hermans Another Dutch WWII classic. Hermans’ novel tells the story a man whose double/alter ego encourages him to get involved in anti-German activities during the second World War. When the war is over he is branded a war criminal. His double, the only one who can clear his name, fails to materialise, convincing his prosecutors that he is a figment of his imagination. To Hermans’ dismay critics tended to believe the same. Anything by Marten Toonder Okay, we can’t choose here. Many of writer and illustrator Marten Toonder’s Oliver B. Bumble stories have been translated into English. Bumble is a great comic character. A ‘gentleman of means’, he is always aspiring to greatness but never seems to quite get there in spite of the help of his friend Tom Puss. Very funny, and great drawings. Tonio by A.F. Th. Van der Heijden Van der Heijden’s requiem novel about the death of his son. The rights of this novel were bought by publisher Scribe and it should soon be published in English. The Tea Lords by Hella Haasse The story of ambitious and straight-laced Rudolf Kerkhoven who becomes a tea planter in the Dutch East Indies. Haasse based her documentary novel on documents and letters from the relatives of the characters. Here’s what the Guardian critic said about it: ‘ Realising her characters were once flesh and blood made me feel I had read the most humane sort of biography, in which the writer inhabits every emotional recess and significance’. The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah Novel about the deposition of the Shah and the return of Khomeini and the political division that grips Iran seen through the eyes of the Aqa Jaan family. Abdolah, who fled Iran and was given political asylum in the Netherlands in 1988, wrote the book in Dutch. This list was first published on website Netherlands by Numbers.  More >


The Netherlands’ hidden holiday gems

The Netherlands’ hidden holiday gems

If an exotic foreign holiday is a bit beyond your budget this year and you’re still digging around for something closer to home, then look no further: Esther O’Toole has dug up some hidden treasures for you. Feather Down Get unwired and back in touch with a simpler way of living. Feather Down (in Dutch, Het BoerenBed) has a variety of working farm locations geared up for guests who still want comfort when they're in the great outdoors. If you like to 'rough it' in style then this is a great stop. The children can help fetch water and firewood for your stove and enjoy the novelty of sleeping in a cupboard bed or looking after animals, while you can still be assured of a great tent that doesn't leak, a comfy bed and a hospitable welcome. Special horse riding locations also available. From €455 for a weekend tent stay. De Vreemde Vogel If you're looking for something really quirky then De Vreemde Vogel has lots to offer.  It's in Vlaardingen between Rotterdam and the beach at Hoek van Holland, so a good place from which to explore the surrounding area. From treehouses to olde gypsy wagons, sleeping in a reclaimed aircraft or a giant birdhouse, they pride themselves on variety and comfort. Prices vary, starting from about €155 for a weekend stay, but all general information and contact details in English can be found at the above address. Stortemelk If you're looking for a real getaway how about Vlieland? Tucked in behind the dunes on this protected Wadden island is Stortemelk. It offers a variety of accommodation including small attractive cottages and different types of camping, e.g. family and teen areas. One thing they don't cater for is camper vans, because you can't take any vehicles onto the island at all. For a real 'get back to nature' feel this is a beautiful, untouched and remote spot.  Look at the site for details of how to book the ferry from Harlingen to the island and how to hire a 'baggage car' to go on to Stortemelk itself. Prices vary but tent hires start at €630 for a week in the school holiday season. Luxury and Romance Dutchen Holiday Parks Dutchen promise unusual holiday homes, in small numbers, located at beautiful spots throughout the country; complete with all luxury mod cons, including options such as a sauna or Jacuzzi. For example, Weideduyn has up-to-date luxury eco-cottages, lots of space from your neighbours and a beautiful beach; Vlindervallei is in the middle of the Veluwe woods, outdoorsy yet complete with spa and wellness facilities; at Baayvillas, on the border between Groningen and Friesland, there are large houses with lots of amenities for sea and sailing enthusiasts overlooking the sea off the Lauwersmeer National Park. Though their website is only available in Dutch and German at the moment all customer service workers speak English and can help you book. Prices upwards from €460 a week. Ask for details of where last minute discounts can be had. De Verrekijker If you want to,  you can sleep in a windmill. You can't get much more 'Nederlands' than that. Beautiful and atmospheric mills can be hired for private holidays, such as this one near Gelderland, one of many good quality holiday homes to be found on Belvilla. Prices for the Verrekijker start from €943 Friday to Friday. If you have special access needs, do check whether this is suitable for you. Castles from Bilderberg Hotels Who doesn't want to sleep in a castle? Honestly, who? At least once, let loose your inner Romantic or sweep someone else away with a special castle B&B such as these from Bilderberg Hotels located near Utrecht, Venlo and Maastricht. From €94 per person per night. Tugboat Willem If you're over 18 years old and a water lover you could opt for an unusual stay for 1-2 people on Tugboat Willem; an original 1930's working boat now transformed into a lovely bed and breakfast. Moored at Zoutkamp near the village of De Marne, you will get a truly personalised trip. If you have special access needs, do check whether this is suitable for you. As a sailing ship, it won't be able to accommodate wheelchair users unfortunately. Upwards from €80 per person per night, for a stay of 1-7 nights, including breakfast. Budget Camping Zeeburg, Amsterdam In high season, hotel prices in the capital may price out many families and students, so why not try an alternative city break at Camping Zeeburg? Located in the old harbour area to the east of Amsterdam, Camping Zeeburg offers you the chance to camp out in the city. Be it overlooking the water in your own tent or camper van or in one of their brightly coloured gypsy style 'wagonettes' or 'eco-cabins'. Good amenities include fresh baguettes/croissants daily and free wifi across the whole site.  They're located a short distance from tram 26 which takes you into Amsterdam centre in about ten minutes. Prices start at €25 a night for a three person tent spot, €105 a night for a 3-4 person wagonette, to €115 a night for a four person eco-cabin, in high season. Cube Houses, Rotterdam Another alternative city stay can now be had in the famous Cube Houses in Rotterdam which have been made into a Stay Ok Hostel; a great location from which to explore the city.  From €24.30 per night for a bed in mixed-sex shared rooms. Cycling Tours You're in the Netherlands so get on your bike. All sorts of bike tour holidays, including biking between hotels, family biking and short breaks are available to suit every pocket. All the information you could possibly need about cycling in the Netherlands can be found at Nederland Fietsland, the site of the official Dutch organisation for recreational cycling (Nederlands Fietsplatform). It includes maps, where you can hire bikes and a variety of  information on reputable tour operators.  More >



Hidden like Anne Frank: children who survived WWII tell their stories

Hidden like Anne Frank: children who survived WWII tell their stories

Anne Frank and her diary are a symbol of the Holocaust, but many other children also went into hiding and some survived World War II. Anne Frank has become both a symbol of the Holocaust and of the city of Amsterdam, attested to by book sales, film rights, and an annual figure of over one million visitors to the Anne Frank house on the Prinsengracht. Yet the story of Anne Frank is not the definitive Holocaust story.  An estimated 28,000 Jewish people living in the Netherlands were forced into hiding during WWII. Of this number, an estimated 16,000 people survived the war years, avoiding the concentration camps responsible for the deaths of an estimated 75% of the Dutch Jewish population during the 1940s. As a child, Marcel Prins became familiar with the story of his mother, Rita Degen (77), who at the age of five was separated from her family and hidden in the homes of non-Jewish families. Later, it was his mother’s story that motivated him to embark on a research project seeking other Jewish people with similar childhood experiences. Collaborating with Peter Henk Steenhuis, the project encountered individuals who agreed to have their stories made public, initially on a website (www.hiddenlikeannefrank.com) and later in a book entitled Hidden Like Anne Frank, recently released in English. Personal stories Hidden Like Anne Frank contains the personal accounts of 14 Dutch Jewish people, who like Anne Frank, hid from the Nazis during World War II, but unlike Anne, survived. All fourteen individuals were children when they were separated from their parents and siblings and concealed, sometimes with a frequently changing roster of strangers and sometimes with non-Jewish family members or friends - who had agreed to protect and hide the children from the German soldiers.  It was a time of uncertainty, loss and fear that forever shaped the lives of the survivors. Loss of Identity From 1941, Dutch Jewish people over the age of six where required to identify themselves by prominently wearing a yellow star inscribed with the word ‘Jood’ on their clothing. Obviously when a Jewish person went into hiding, the yellow stars were removed. Next, new names were given, personal stories discarded, new stories created, appearances were often changed, and behaviours modified to camouflage the person into the non-Jewish society. For young children already exposed to the loss of a familiar existence, this loss of identity was especially difficult.  As one woman who was eventually betrayed and imprisoned in Auschwitz recalled, 'It was good to use my real name again.  It was only then that I realised how difficult it had been to keep using that other name.  Bloeme Emden – I savoured my own name.' Loss of Attachment Attachment theorists have provided strong evidence of the correlation between childhood attachments and adult capacity to create and sustain good relationships. Adversely, a child removed from a loving supportive home and placed, over an extended period, in a stressful environment  risks developing problems with future close relationships.  This phenomenon is evident throughout many of the stories in the book. Leni de Vries, now 74, went into hiding at the age of four. 'I found it hard to become attached to people after the war,' she says. 'During the war I’d often longed for my parents, but once I was back at home I realised something was broken.  My mother was no longer able to make me feel safe and loved.' Similarly Jack Eljon (77), who was hidden in numerous homes between the ages of four to eight and eventually reunited with his parents, says 'I couldn’t forgive my parents… That warm feeling I had as a little boy sitting on my father’s shoulders was gone for good.  I rejected my father.' Anger It is almost 70 years since the end of WWII yet the memories are still fresh for many survivors.  Rose-Mary Kahn (89), daughter of the previous owner of Hirsh (a large clothing store on Leidseplein in Amsterdam), claimed that going into hiding 'was the worst time of my life'. Like many Jewish people who survived the war, the time of liberation was not the end of the suffering for Rose-Mary’s family:  their home was occupied; the family business destroyed; and they were given little assistance by the Dutch government who considered the Jewish survivors to be 'an administrative nuisance'. Jack Eljon says that even now, he still becomes anxious at the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. Tolerance Feeling towards the German soldiers was surprisingly tolerant.  Some survivors felt that the soldiers were forced into their role, often themselves only children blindly following orders. Jaap Sitters (80) identified a more human side to the soldiers with his account of being discovered by a German soldier as he hid in a cupboard.  The soldier closed the cupboard door and left the house crying, leaving Jaap in his hiding place. For others the anger lingers, as admitted by Jaap’s daughter, who spoke of being angry for many years at the persecution of the Dutch Jewish people, and the suffering her father had endured as a child.  More >


Dutch Beatlemania 50 years on

Dutch Beatlemania 50 years on

On June 6, 1964, in an auction hall in the Dutch village of Blokker, four musicans played two concerts – each lasting only about 25 minutes – and caused a national sensation, writes Tracy Brown Hamilton. It was the second stop of the Beatles' first world tour, which was nearly cancelled when drummer Ringo Starr fell ill in London a few days earlier and was unable to travel. Beatlemania had hit the Netherlands. By that June, the Beatles had already had two number one records in Holland, and had six others ranking in the Hit Parade charts. Shops sold dresses, neckties and even pantyhose featuring the band members’ faces. Yet this would be the Beatles’ first and only time performing on Dutch soil. Photo journalist Eddy Posthuma de Boer, 83, was on assignment for the Volkskrant when Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and temporary replacement drummer Jimmy Nichol touched down at Schiphol on June 5, 1964 (Ringo rejoined the band ten days later in Australia). The 'missing' Beatle did not discourage Dutch fans. The band was greeted by women in traditional Volendam clothing, journalists, police and thousands of shrieking, ecstatic fans. 'It was the first time that you really saw Dutch people going crazy for popular musicians,' Posthuma de Boer says. 'Today you see it often, but this was quite new.' Posthuma de Boer, then 33, was granted full access to the Beatles’ Dutch leg of their world tour. This included joining the band on a cruise through Amsterdam’s canals, where a crowd of more than 50,000 people lined the banks and bridges. Boat 'The Beatles were flabbergasted by the attention,' Posthuma de Boer recalls. They were really just four young chaps from Liverpool – so fresh-faced and youthful – and they were delighted and surprised to have their own boat going around the city, and for all the people so thrilled to see them.' One photo shows a young man treading water in the canal, gazing up starry-eyed at an amused Paul McCartney before being dragged out of the water by police. Looking back at his photographs, which were recently exhibited in Haarlem and feature in a new book, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: Twee dagen met the Beatles in de polder, the photographer wonders about the fates of some of his subjects. 'Imagine, this was fifty years ago,' he says, flipping through his photos. 'These people, all these kids in these photos, they are now in their 70s,' he says. 'I was hoping the boy from the canal would turn up at the exhibition, but he didn’t. You never know where they are now.' He says he’d particularly like to meet people who came to see the Beatles fifty years ago who are now 64, a reference to the Beatles’ song, ‘When I’m 64’. 'It’s strange to me that it was so long ago,' he says. 'I wonder how it feels to have been a teenager then and be 64 now. Myself, I still feel 18.' Although he remembers the Beatles fondly, he was not a fan of their music when he was first assigned to photograph them. 'I had heard of the Beatles, of course,' he says. 'But there was a lot of new rock music at that time that I did not like. I was a jazz man.' But the experience converted him. Their playlist consisted of just eight songs, including Twist and Shout, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and Can’t Buy Me Love, and Posthuma de Boer took notice. 'I did not have any of their albums before these shows, but after I bought them all,' Posthuma de Boer says. 'The Beatles were really something different. The sounds, the rhythms, the words. It actually changed how we spoke English in Holland. We started saying things like "let it be" and "yeah".' And as in other parts of the world, the band’s style had an influence on young Dutch people. 'It was the hair,' Posthuma de Boer says. 'Today you do not consider their hair long, but back then it was really something unusual. Six months after they came, you saw young men with long hair in Holland as well.' Posthuma de Boer is not surprised by the attention the anniversary of two short concerts is getting. 'There are other bands that are still around – like the Rolling Stones,' he says. 'But the Beatles. That’s something different. Their music from then is still loved now. People keep liking the Beatles, at any age.' The jubilee has also allowed him to reminisce about his experience. 'I have a lot of files, a lot of work that is put away and doesn’t come out for a long time,' he says. 'And then something like this 50 years anniversary comes along, and this file comes out again. It’s wonderful when that happens.' Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Twee dagen met the Beatles in de polder, available from bol.com  More >



Vermeer’s Girl with a Lego Earring in Amsterdam

Vermeer’s Girl with a Lego Earring in Amsterdam

Childhood memories, art and engineering come together in the new Lego exhibition in Amsterdam, writes Ana McGinley. Ever wondered what Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring would look like if it was created out of Lego? How about Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Michelangelo’s David or da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? Opening in Amsterdam this week is The Art of Brick - an exhibition showcasing the work of American artist Nathan Sawaya, an ex-corporate lawyer, who has successfully tackled these artistic challenges in his chosen medium - Lego bricks. Childhood The exhibition is an amazing mix of childhood memories, artistic talent and engineering prowess. Sawaya owns over four million Lego pieces, arranged by colour and housed in one of two studios based in New York and Los Angeles. Like many people, Sawaya was five years old when he was given his first Lego set, which he opened and immediately assembled a house.  Later, he claims to have made himself a Lego lifesize dog when his parents refused to buy him a pet. The Art of Brick showcases 75 works constructed from over one million Lego bricks.  The exhibition includes a self portrait of the artist, a T-Rex dinosaur measuring 6 metres and made from 80,020 Lego bricks, and numerous replications of famous paintings, sculptures  and photographs. All pieces have been made by Sawaya, including the gluing together of the bricks to give the artworks permanency and to make transportation of this internationally touring exhibition possible. Rectangular bricks For the most part, Sawaya uses the basic rectangular brick and restricts his 3D pieces to a single colour scheme.  He explains this fascination with creating art from a single shape thus: 'I love seeing how curves can be made out of rectangles.' Lego creator, Ole Kirk Christiansen, started producing the bricks as an addition to his wooden toy business in 1932.  The Danish carpenter and his son Godret Kirk became inspired by the works of Hilary Fisher Price, a British child psychologist, who made interlocking plastic bricks for children. The father and son team produced their own version of the interlocking bricks and launched their own company Lego, the name derived from the Danish 'leg godt', which translates as 'play well'.  As of 2013, approximately 560 billion Lego pieces have been made. The exhibition Rated as one of the world’s 10 must-see exhibitions by CNN, visitors can marvel at The Art of Brick exhibition from 29 May until 14 September 2014 at Amsterdam EXPO. In addition to the exhibition, younger visitors are invited into the Play Zone to explore their own Lego construction skills and creativity.  Tickets are available at the exhibition centre or via www.amsterdamexpo.nl In the meantime if you are in Amsterdam look out for Hugman, Sawaya’s contribution to street art.  Hugman is a yellow Lego sculpture created from 273 pieces, who has been seeing hugging streetposts, bicycle stands, fences – around the world.  More >


10 reasons why the Dutch women are hot favourites for the hockey World Cup

10 reasons why the Dutch women are hot favourites for the hockey World Cup

Blog Netherlands by Numbers has been looking at why the Dutch are so good at field hockey - ahead of the World Cup which takes place in The Hague over the next two weeks. Forget Brazil and the football. The hockey World Cup kicks off in The Hague on Saturday – both the men and the women’s competitions. There are 15 different countries taking part – 12 teams in each competition – and the Dutch women are hot favourites to take the title. Just so you won’t sound stupid if you should end up discussing the finer points of Maartje Paumen’s techniques with someone who knows all about it, here are some key facts about hockey in the Netherlands. 1. Hockey was introduced to the Netherlands way back in 1891 and soon afterwards the first clubs opened in Amsterdam, The Hague and Haarlem. 2. Today there are 320 hockey clubs in the Netherlands and the sport is played by nearly 240,000 people. The big clubs, like Rotterdam, have over 3,000 members and there are over 100 youth teams. 3. Hockey clubs are mostly named after the place where they are based, but some have more imaginative names. Take the Strawberries from Driehuis, the Kikkers (frogs) from Nieuw-Vennep or even the Kraaien (crows) of Wijdewormer. 4. Hockey is the second most popular team sport in the Netherlands after football but the hockey teams are much more successful. 5. There are three standard competitions in the Netherlands: juniors, seniors (18 to 34) and veterans (35+). But you can also play company hockey, wheelchair hockey, beach hockey, disabled hockey, street hockey, indoor hockey, school hockey, keep fit hockey and something they call Funkey…. The Dutch are so hockey-mad that during the World Cup there is even a special competition for 70+ players. 6. The Dutch women have won the World Cup six out of 12 times and silver four times. Their big rivals are the women of Argentina and Australia. Oranje women are currently top of the world rankings. 7. The Dutch men have won the world title three out of 12 times and silver twice. Their biggest rivals are Australia and Germany. The Oranje men are currently ranked three in the world. 8. This year, the national Dutch men’ champions are Oranje Zwart (orange black), the women’s national champions are Den Bosch – as usual. Den Bosch have won the women’s title in 14 of the past 20 years. Bloemendaal and Amsterdam tend to dominate the men’s game. 9. Midfielder Maartje Paumen (who of course plays for Den Bosch) won the title of world’s best player in 2011 and 2012. But then, Argentina’s Luciana Aymar has won the title eight times since 2001. 10. The Dutch men are in group A with Germany, New Zealand, Korea, South Africa and Argentina. The Dutch women face Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Belgium in their group. The top two teams in the groups progress to the knock-out rounds. You can watch the Dutch matches live on Nos television. And for those who think (field) hockey is slow and boring: the very top players can flick the ball at speeds of over 110 kph and hit it to travel at over 130kph. Ow! The Netherlands by Numbers blog publishes lists of all things Dutch.  More >



What to do with the kids over Easter?

What to do with the kids over Easter?

With the Easter holidays and other school breaks coming up, Esther O'Toole has some suggestions to keep your offspring amused.     With the Easter and May holidays ahead, how can you make sure the kids are exhausted enough to fall into bed and leave you alone with a bottle of red wine and left-over chocolate? If you are in Amsterdam, why not start off over the long Easter weekend with Nemo’s High Tea on April 20 and 21? Food science Especially for Easter there’s a set-price menu with a wide array of cakes and treats to nibble while you learn the science behind turning your tea into…ice cream! If the wonderful weather holds, you may decide to eat your high tea on their fantastic roof top terrace; eat some more while the children pretend to be kings and queens on the giant chess board. Then, of course, you have the rest of the day to explore the permanent exhibition (for those taking tea, there is a 50% reduction on the entry price of €15). Top tip: take extra clothes in case the littlest throw all their cake up again on the centrifugal force machine. Find out more: www.e-nemo.nl Get arty If you’re not feeling scienc-y how about getting arty? There’s new awesomeness to explore down at the Rijksmuseum for ages 6+. Since it’s reopened the museum has expanded its family activities, including learning how to etch like Rembrandt, discovering life in the Golden Age and a family tour. Find out more: www.rijksmuseum.nl Over at the Van Gogh take a trip back in time with Vincent’s suitcase. Available in Dutch or English; it’s full of interesting activities for kids to dive into that turns the visit into a treasure hunt (again from age 6). They also offer very affordable art courses for youngsters throughout the year. Find out more: www.vangoghmuseum.nl Regular arts and crafts workshops can also be found in the studio of the children’s department at the Central library near Central station. For bi-lingual kids these are often coupled with book readings in the library’s Annie MG Schmidt theatre. Find out more: www.oba.nl Get messy If you fancy getting out of town and getting messy then check out Oerrr from Dutch natural heritage (Natuurmonumenten). It’s full of great family ideas on where to get muddy country-wide. Plus sign up for the newsletter and get free wildlife activity cards throughout the year. Learn how to survive in the wild from April 13 with the ‘Wild Outdoors Day’ at Overijssel, Utrecht, Gelderland and other locations up and down the country. The thing that most caught my eye amongst the night time walks, castle exploration and deer watching activities had to be seal spotting off Zeeland – an exciting and mucky day is guaranteed for all! Find out more: www.natuurmonumenten.nl/kinderen/oerrr (Dutch only) Southern fun For those further south here’s a tried and tested favourite in our household. Eleven minutes out of central Eindhoven brings you to Nuenen and its massive children’s wildlife park - Dierenrijk. Large enclosures and a wide selection of well-cared for animals - both obvious biggies (tigers, bears, lions and seals) and surprise winners. My kids both adored the…Garra Rufa Fish. That’s right - the ones you get at foot spas. You can wash your hands and put your fingers in so they can be nibbled at. Endlessly exciting for the under tens. Two major benefits here: if it’s raining there is a gigantic indoor jungle-themed play-zone with seating for parents with tired feet, and great Puro coffee for any parents with tired heads. Find out more: www.dierenrijk.nl The Hague And last but not least: if you have children of three and up then maybe they need to know that in The Hague there is a rabbit on the run from the police. On Sunday May 4 the hunt is on for the meddlesome bunny in Maas Theater en Dans’ WANTED: RABBIT. This highly successful show is on its fourth run promising lots of slapstick and suspense for young and old. Find out more: www.mastd.nl Amusement parks Now is the time when Dutch amusement parks come to life again after the winter months. Website Netherlands by Numbers has a list of 10 of the country's best theme parks, from the much-praised Efteling to Walibi and the more gentle fun of Plopsaland.  More >