How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I ended up here completely by chance. I came on holiday with my boyfriend during the sun-soaked summer of 2014 and never looked back. I’d just finished a contract so I had no ties to the UK. Having very little knowledge of the city before visiting, Amsterdam completely stole my heart. I still to this day feel Amsterdam has a unique spirit. I luckily get to walk via the canals to work every day. Each day, still, this chocolate-box town stuns me.
How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international?
When asked where I’m from, my response is always the same: ‘I live in the Netherlands’. I’m very proud to live here but I was born in Britain. I don’t think I’ve referred to myself as any of the above. Take from that what you will.
How long do you plan to stay?
Amsterdam will always hold a place in my heart. Moving to a new country has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It has taught me about myself and given me confidence that only comes from being out of your comfort zone. I’d love the opportunity to learn from another culture again. I want to plant some roots in Amsterdam and then see where the wind carries me. Hopefully somewhere warm!
Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Een klein beetje.
What’s your favourite Dutch food?
Oh, that’s tricky. Grabbing a cold beer with a kaasstengel and a few bitterballen has become a treasured winter delight. But my ultimate favourite would have to be hachee.
How Dutch have you become?
Despite not speaking Dutch, I’d say I’ve ticked most Dutch boxes. Herring though? No way, never! One Dutchism I’m happy to have acquired is their honesty. There is something hugely empowering in being true to yourself and, with no frill of emotion, being able to communicate that, especially as a Brit.
Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
Jan Sluijters, because during my first week in Amsterdam I visited the Stedelijk Museum where his work ‘The Ball Tabarin’ completely took my breath away. I’ve been back since just to visit that painting and I would love to pick his brains about the scene he captured so vividly in that painting.
Mata Hari, she had such an overwhelming amount of chapters to her life; from falling into wealth, becoming a circus horse rider in Paris, then became a pioneer for exotic dancing and most famously her time as a spy. She has an endless list of interesting turns, admittedly some are dark – but what a fascinating person to meet.
And thirdly, the original owner of Reguliersgracht 1. It was our first proper home in Amsterdam and will, for the rest of my life, be special to me. All 30 square metres of it.
What’s your top tourist tip?
Hire a boat for at least three hours, grab a picnic, and sail around the city. It’s the best way to take in the magic of this place. Not once in my three years have I gone on a boat and not been completely spellbound by the journey.
Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
It still baffles me that, at its lowest points, the Netherlands is six metres below sea level!
If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
Simple pleasures. I’d start with a stroll along the Bloemenmarkt. It can get crowded, but at around 8 am on a weekday, it’s a plant lover’s paradise. I’d then hop on a bike and cycle around the Vondelpark with my favourite playlist in my ears. Then I’d make my way to the canals and jump on a boat with my pals and giggle the evening away, perhaps finishing off at the Eye Museum, where it all began, for a glass of bubbles.
Lucy Borne was speaking to Brandon Hartley.
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