Tuesday 02 June 2020

‘The Dutch park next to you, even when the car park is empty’

russell broadbentEnglishman Russell Broadbent, 51, moved to the Netherlands to look for work while competing on the professional golf circuit 23 years ago. Now settled in Haarlem, he runs a private gym and self-defence training business and thinks the Dutch have little spatial awareness.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I played golf on the Dutch professional golf circuit for 15 years. During this time I noticed that golf was growing in popularity, so I sent my cv to the golf club in Spaarnewoude. After a successful interview, they offered me a job teaching golf, which gave me time to continue playing on the circuit.

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc ?
International. I’m fully integrated in the Dutch culture and a fluent speaker, but still retain English roots. For me this means that I still love going back to Britain, read a daily newspaper, and enjoy a pint of Guinness in the Irish pub.

How long do you plan to stay ?
Indefinitely – as I have a gorgeous 5-year-old daughter here.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Yes, fluently. I learned Dutch watching the soaps and in the cafes.

What’s your favourite Dutch food?
Ha, ha. Dutch food? I eat a very specific healthy balanced diet for my work. So I guess if I can indulge, it would be apple pie.

What do you miss about back home ?
The countryside, village pubs, rugby, golf courses, Christmas and New Year celebrations, birthday parties, and all things synonymous with Britain.

How Dutch have you become?
I’m proud of my English roots, but I am also fully integrated into the Dutch culture. I hold down a job, run a business and speak the language fluently. I also vote. I haven’t taken Dutch nationality and never will, as I’m proud to be English born and bred.

What’s your top tourist tip?
In summer it would be Amsterdam canals, cafes, Waterlooplein, Anne Frank House, King’s Day, Gay Pride parade and the beautiful beaches.

In the winters, go watch the Dutch skate on the canals (like a Lowry painting) – or put on some skates and try it for yourself.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands.
The Dutch have very little spatial awareness. They stand too close to you when you pin money at Albert Heijn, and always insist on parking their car next to you even when the car park is empty. The Dutch hate waiting so everywhere you go that requires waiting means taking a numbered ticket.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
My priority would be to spend it with my daughter, on the beach.

You can find more information about Russell and his gym via the website.

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