Go wet and wild; swimming in Dutch lakes

Children are back at school and the workplaces are almost back to normal. But a bout of late summer sun means shrieks of delight can still be found in lakes and rivers from Friesland to Limburg. The Dutch do love their water, as Simon Weedy discovers. The celebrations which followed Sharon van Rouwendaal and Ferry Weertman's gold medals in the 10K open water swim at the Rio Olympics were a joy to behold. But to a nation which needs little excuse to jump into a lake or river, their achievements – as superb as they were – should have come as little surprise. Weather-wise, you wouldn't honestly say that it's been the best summer ever. Frankly, it's been a bit of a wash-out. Or at least it had been until a couple of weeks ago. Right on cue, a decent spell of sunshine arrives and suddenly everyone is rushing to embrace this 'Indian Summer', topped off with a cooling dip. And despite an abundance of outdoor swimming pools, there is no shortage of places to indulge in 'wild swimming',...  More >

Death and the Dutch

The Dutch are a pragmatic lot when it comes to many things in life – and death is no exception either, says DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe The Netherlands’ approach to euthanasia always generates a massive postbag on DutchNews.nl – hardly surprising when you consider the emotion that death brings with it. But for the Dutch themselves, euthanasia is an extremely rational choice. This was brought home to me recently when a friend told me about a bizarre phone call he had just had with an elderly client. Anna was in her early 90s, blind and suffering from terminal cancer – and she had been expecting to die before Christmas. She didn’t. Every week my friend would ring her on a Friday and have a chat – they would discuss their respective health issues and talk about the weather. A couple of weeks ago my friend decided to ring on a different day. Anna picked up the phone. ‘Oh I am glad you rang,’ she said. ‘The doctor is coming this afternoon and by 6pm it will...  More >

Trix the T Rex makes her mark on Leiden

What’s over 66 million years old and roughly the length of a city bus? Why, it’s Trix the Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of the most recent expats to arrive on the shores of the Netherlands. Trix goes on show at the Naturalis natural history museum in Leiden on September 10 and Brandon Hartley has the low down. When a team of paleontologists and other scientists from Naturalis embarked on a journey to the United States in the summer of 2013, they weren’t sure what they would find. By the following September they had unearthed a remarkably well-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton during an excavation in the state of Montana. During its lifetime, the dinosaur would have stood 4 - 5 metres tall and weighed 5,000 kilogrammes. According to their analysis, the dinosaur was likely a female and would have died at about the age of 30 around 66 - 67 million years ago. Finding a nearly complete T Rex skeleton like this one is the paleontology equivalent of coming across a long lost Rembrandt...  More >

Corporate salaries must come down

Jeroen Dijsselbloem: Corporate bonuses must come down Executive pay at companies in which the government has a stake is being reined in, but private sector bonuses are on the up and this needs to change, writes finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem in Thursday's Volkskrant. The cabinet is currently finalising its policy on purchasing power. Although the economy is doing better, purchasing power is still falling behind. Senior executive salaries, on the other hand, have been firmly on the up. In 2015 senior executive salaries at Dutch companies rose by 4.25% according to the Volkskrant's annual analysis, a rise which the paper called ‘moderate’. It is telling that an increase of more than three times the average collectively-bargained pay rise of 1.4% should be labelled ‘moderate’. At the same time, the paper’s analysis showed that the policy of capping executive pay at companies in which the government has a stake is beginning to bear fruit. It is time the corporate world followed suit. Trends There are three trends...  More >

'My flat had a toilet in the kitchen'

Professional field hockey player Justin Reid-Ross moved to Amsterdam in 2010. The 29-year-old South African, who played for his country at the 2012 Summer Olympics, can certainly tackle a big burger and score a decent G&T. He also has a passion for Chocomel. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was playing club hockey in Australia when I came in contact with the coach of a Dutch club called Pinoké, based in Amsterdam. I’d always wanted to play hockey here, as it is widely considered the best club competition in the world. When the offer came in to move to Amsterdam I jumped at the opportunity. After four years at Pinoké, I moved to Amsterdam hockey club (AH&BC). At that point, my wife Ash had also moved over and found a job so we decided to stay. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? A few years ago I would have considered myself an international. I was traveling a lot for hockey and always...  More >

No Olympics for Amsterdam please

Please don’t bring the Olympics to Amsterdam The Olympics are tainted and leave countries in debt, so please don't bring them to Amsterdam, writes cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk. As the Dutch were bagging golds in Rio, the attention of the media became increasingly focused on the sporting performances themselves. The number of stories about the dubious context in which they were taking place dwindled with every medal. It was only to be expected: sports is politics but as soon as ‘our’ golden boys and girls mount the podium politics is swept under the carpet so as not to spoil the party. Did you have any doubts when you were watching the Games? Did you think everything was clean and above board? What is the value of a performance where tenths of seconds can mean the difference between a gold medal and oblivion when we know that the doping virus is ravaging every sport there is? The Volkskrant published a cartoon by Jos Collignon in 1993 which said it all: the 100m race for men was won by 1. Ephedrine, 2.Gonadotoprin...  More >

The Nieuwe Kerk welcomes Marilyn Monroe

On June 1 actress Marilyn Monroe would have turned 90. That, and the lucky discovery of a substantial collection of Marilyn-related objects practically on the Dutch doorstep, has prompted the Nieuwe Kerk to mount an exhibition ‘reflecting on the life of a female icon’. By Hanneke Sanou The exhibition is almost completely made up of items bought by German collector Ted Stampfer, who also collects Rock Hudson memorabilia. At his Mannheim treasure trove, Stampfer has over 700 items relating to the star - including such startling ones as a few strands of Marilyn’s hair in a curler and a half-empty pot of face cream. He describes himself nevertheless as someone who likes to ‘keep at a safe distance from Marilyn fanatics’. Stampfer’s chance came when many of Marilyn’s personal and professional possessions  were auctioned off in the nineties after having been boxed up for forty years. No doubt Stampfer will be found in the auction room again in November this year. That...  More >

NL under Wilders is a dismal prospect

We might have hoped we could wait until the third week of September, when Parliament reconvenes, for the grim business of the Dutch election campaign to begin. But Geert Wilders is not a man to run to anybody else’s timetable, writes Gordon Darroch. On Thursday evening Wilders presented, through the mediums of Facebook and Twitter, a draft version of his manifesto for next March. If the opening gambit is any guide, it promises to be an ugly contest, tinged with the kind of desperate dog-whistling not seen since the Netherlands eradicated rabies. Asked to put his manifesto pledges in context, Wilders retorted: “The context is 1400 years of jihad.” On the face of it this seems an odd pretext for cutting vehicle duty by 50%, but Geert, like God, tends to move in mysterious ways. The main themes of Wilders’s campaign are the well-worn hobby-horses of immigration, immigration and immigration, as well as a pledge to leave the EU. Wilders reaffirmed his core belief in the...  More >

Older workers may need a makeover

Older workers need to make themselves more attractive to employers Olders workers must make themselves more attractive to employers by keeping skills up to date or accepting lower wages, writes Errol Keyner. Old is out. Horror stories of older workers trying and failing to find jobs abound. Recently official receivers revealed companies that have gone broke are getting rid of their (expensive) older workers only to make a fresh start with a cheaper younger workforce. At 40 things are already starting to get difficult. At 50 you might still succeed although chances are you won’t. At 60 you are definitely on the scrap heap. And the pension age has gone up. No wonder you’re cynical. The fortunate oldies still holding down paid jobs are counting their blessings and will not step down voluntarily in order to look for pastures new. Employers are often held responsible for this state of affairs. They should invest more in training, for example. Or they should simply employ more older people. And the government – who else – would have to enforce...  More >

10 key periods in Dutch history

Being the well organised folk that they are, the Dutch have drawn up a list of 50 key events and periods which shaped the country and made the Netherlands what it is today. This mighty list is known as the Canon of Dutch history and forms the basis of history teaching at primary schools. We can't possibly remember them all, so here's the 10 we think might just be the most significant. 1 The early farmers The first people to abandon the hunter-gatherer existence in the Netherlands are known as the Trechtervolk, named after the funnel-shaped pottery they left behind, most of it in tiny pieces. These early farmers settled in what is now the province of Drenthe around 3400 BC. There they built a more enduring legacy: the hunebedden, which are among the oldest historical monuments in Europe. Like stone age monuments everywhere, they required much hauling and stacking of colossal (hune means giant) stones, in this case conveniently left by a passing glacier. Little is known about...  More >

Great things to do in September

From open air Shakespeare to designer chairs; from listed buildings to a good laugh - here's our pick of some of the best things to do this September. Dream in the open air Here’s your chance to see Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in the open air, played by British theatre company Illyria which prides itself on performing the play much as it would have been in the bard’s time, minus the roof. Five players share the roles between them and props are kept at a minimum. The quick changes guarantee the brisk pace appropriate for this comedy of errors. Bring a brolly because no matter what the weather – barring disastrous flooding or hurricane-force winds- the show will go on. September 1 and 2, 7.30pm. Raadhuis de Paauw, Wassenaar  September 3, 7.30pm. Landgoed Schovenhorst - Putten (Veluwe) Tickets can be bought here. Pick a listed building Open Monumentendag is here again. It’s 30 years since the event first took place in the Netherlands and it’s been...  More >

10 facts about Dutch beer

Beer brewing in the Netherlands dates back to the 9th century, though craft beer has recently experienced a considerable resurgence. Ever since Heineken won the gold medal for its pilsner at the World’s Fair in 1889, the Dutch have been known for that brewery and style, but there is much more to Dutch beer than that. Here are some facts. Beer was not more common than water It’s commonly said that beer was more popular than water in Medieval Europe and the reason often given is that the water was contaminated and beer, which had to be boiled during the brewing process, was cleaner. While this is a great story, it isn’t true. It is true that people living in Medieval Europe, including the Netherlands, did consume a considerable amount of beer. Beer was inexpensive (unlike wine, which was for the rich) and significantly lower in alcohol than what we consume today. It also had an advantage over water - it contained calories. For the average Medieval labourer, it was akin to cola. The...  More >

Bilingual People jobs for internationals

Thanks to its strong economy, the Netherlands is certainly becoming a European hub recruiting for bilingual and multilingual candidates in Europe. The high quality of life standards in most cities throughout the country, also makes the Netherlands one of the most attractive location for candidates with language skills looking for an international career. (source: toplanguagejobs.com) NEXT BILINGUAL PEOPLE FAIR: AMSTERDAM, 10th SEPTEMBER – NH GRAND KRASNAPOLSKY Register HERE (Please see below for a list of future events or visit www.bilingualpeople.com) At the Bilingual People fairs, companies based in-country are offering Bilingual / Multilingual job-seekers a chance to find their ideal job either for career progression or to kick start a new career. However, the Bilingual People fairs are not just about local opportunities but also about offering candidates (especially for German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and French speakers) a chance to look for global opportunities. An...  More >

'No circles at my own birthday party'

Photographer Vinita Salomé was born in Japan to Indian parents and has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She lives in Gouda with her husband and nine-year-old son, would like to meet the members of rock bank BLØF and says she has lost the nuances associated with Asian cultures. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met my Dutch husband at a friend’s wedding in Bombay. He was a friend of the groom. I fell in love and moved to the Netherlands where we ‘settled down’ in Gouda. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? I’d say I am an international or a world citizen. I speak five languages, enjoy travelling, and hosting family and friends at my home in the Netherlands. Compared to other Dutch cities, Gouda has less expat traffic and, by necessity, the expats who live here tend to be well integrated. I am a member of the group Living with a Dutchie, which started locally and now has 120 members coming from many nationalities. How...  More >

Yuri the Terrible

Yuri the Terrible and Maurits the Humourless Comedian Youp van 't Hek thinks Olympic hopefuls should be able to get away with a tipple or two. I can’t resist another look at that hilarious YouTube clip that showed the NOC*NSF  a completely sozzled Erica Terpstra in the studio with Edwin Evers. Vancouver 2010. Erica had just had a liquid lunch with the then still heir to the throne Prince Pils. I liked her for it and I liked her even better when she drunkenly explained what the great and the good are up to during the Olympics. Not a lot, it turned out, except entertaining each other. Cheers. Was Terpstra put on the next flight home? Perhaps, but my bet is she never managed to explain to the taxi driver where she was headed. But Yuri did have to go home, all because of a night on the tiles. Nine days before the final he had a couple of beers away from the stifling atmosphere of monomaniacal sport psychologists, fanatical fat percentage monitors and other weird folk. Perhaps he made a little noise when he came in. Perhaps...  More >

11 key things to know about Dutch weddings

Planning to marry a Dutchie or attend the wedding of Dutch friends? Here's a few key facts and other things you ought to know first. 1 How many weddings? Around 64,300 couples tied the knot in the Netherlands in 2015 (of which 1,259 were same sex couples). In addition around 13,000 people agreed a registered partnership, which is legally like a wedding but without the ceremony and cake. 2 How old are the happy couple? The average age for a man to tie the knot is 37 while women are 34. By this time, they are statistically likely to have at least started having children. The charming, if biologically incorrect title for the second family of a man who has married before is tweede leg or second lay - referring to hens and eggs not two sexual encounters. 3 Church or registry office? In the Netherlands church weddings have to be preceded by a registry office wedding by law, otherwise you are not married at all. Unlike a registry office marriage, which is easily dissolved, a union...  More >

A G&T please, but hold the ice

One of the great pleasures of summer in the Netherlands is sitting in the evening sun on a cafe terrace watching the world go by with a nice G&T, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. Gin and tonics have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The Gordons in its dark green bottle was a permanent fixture in my parents' drinks cabinet and the tonic was Sssh you know who Schweppes, without exception. As a student, cider was my drink of choice - it was cheap and I hated it, so a pint would last all night - but when I started working for the BBC in London, a G&T in the BBC club or a nearby pub was the order of the day. In the Netherlands too, gin has been my favourite tipple for years - although the impossibility of finding a decent tonic anywhere did somewhat spoil the moment. That wretched Royal Club in every AH or Gall & Gall is just too sweet. So when the G&T craze first hit the Netherlands I was delighted. For a start, it gave me a veneer...  More >

10 men who helped make the Netherlands

They've given their names to schools, to squares and to streets - every Dutch town seems to have a Hugo de Grootstraat, for example - but who are the men behind the name plates? Here's a quick profile of 12 masters of war, learning and thought who helped shape the Netherlands into the country it is today. Willibrordus Willibrordus (658- 739), a Northumbrian priest, is the most famous missionary to come to the Netherlands. Called the ‘apostle of the Low Countries’, he had no success whatsoever converting the stubborn Friesians to Christianity. It wasn’t until the end of his life when he had settled in Utrecht that cohorts of missionaries sent into Frisian territory managed to convert some – but not all – Frisians. Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus (1466 – 1536) was a priest, philosopher, writer and humanist whose best-known work is In Praise of Folly (1509), a satire on the follies of mankind, the vanity and frippery of bishops and princes of the church included. The book...  More >

Gay Pride marketing: puns and profit

Gay Pride marketing: all puns and profit The Gay Pride festival is used by many companies to promote their products. But let's have some really gay-friendly policies on the workfloor, says Joep van Zijl, head of The News Makers. There’s funny puns like Power to Joohoo! (Vodafone) and AH to gay (Albert Heijn), and a tasty gaybar in a rainbow wrapping (Tony’s Chocolonely). And let’s not forget those amusing sausage and tompouce t-shirts from the Hema. It’s easy for companies to show a gay-friendly face. But actually having gay-friendly policies in place is much more important. My first reaction on seeing the Hema pride t-shirts (sausage heart sausage, tompouce heart tompouce) was: how nice, and what a fantastic idea! Here we have two intensely Dutch iconic Hema products used in a brilliant marketing campaign for EuroPride 2016, with the added bonus that the profits are going to the Gay-Straight Alliance, an organisation of students and teachers who want their school to be a safe place for everyone. Many companies...  More >

'Amsterdam is the best city I've lived in'

By day Nick Nugent is an account manager for ACD/Labs and by night he chairs the British Society of Amsterdam and hunts for decent curry. Nick has been in the Netherlands for 8.5 years and says he would never have had friends from so many different countries if he had stayed in Britain. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I have worked for a couple of Dutch companies, first Unilever and then Philips, which actually brought me here. By the time I was offered a job over here the part of Philips I was in had been sold to a UK based company but the headquarters was in Almelo. I spent the first 18 months of my life in the Netherlands in Almelo and eventually moved to Enschede. Almelo is a great place if you have kids but I was single at the time. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? I guess I am somewhere between an expat and international. I have been flying all over the world for my last job and have been to 44 countries. I am trying to...  More >