The bison are back - in the Dutch dunes

The bison are back: rewilding the Dutch dunes brings back a mega beast Hunted to near-extinction by the 1920s, European Bison clung to survival in a handful of zoos. Thanks to continent-wide conservation programmes, Europe’s largest megafauna now roams wild in one of its most densely populated regions: the Randstad. Joshua James Parfitt has been bison spotting. I stand gazing out over the dune slacks, as the sun sets orange behind apartment blocks in the distance. Within earshot, a motorbike noisily chases fame or fun at the Zandvoort race track. Distant cars zoom by in their monotonous growl; it seems that nowhere in the Netherlands is safe from the sights and sounds of civilisation. But, behind me, a blond-haired child steps cautiously between tufts of grass as if stalking something. I turn to the child and open my mouth to ask... 'Shhh!' the retort comes rapidly. He hides behind a clump of marram grass. 'The bison are here!' he proclaims, wide-eyed. The boy had good reason to be afraid. As Europe’s largest land mammal, a full-grown bull...  More >


Podcast: The Bad Red Bat Bulb Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Bad Red Bat Bulb Edition – Week 8 In this week's podcast we bring you the latest news on the campaign to prosecute tobacco firms for damaging public health, the row over whether Parliament should deny the people a referendum on its plan to scrap referendums, and the Dutch gold rush at the Winter Olympics. We also find out why a Bible belt town took a dim view of its new bat-friendly street lighting and asked if new Dutch fathers will have the energy to cheer plans to extend paternity leave. In our discussion we look at the vast range of candidates, and how you can vote for them, in next month's municipal elections. Top story Prosecution service decides not to bring case against Big Tobacco firms Report: The cost of smoking (NvTG, Dutch) News Coalition blocks referendum on scrapping referendum law Dutch Parliament votes to recognise Armenian genocide Paternity leave to be extended slightly Locals see red over bat-friendly street lights Sport Kjeld Nuis snatches second Olympic speed skating...  More >


'The Dutch have made peace with water'

‘The Dutch manage to make peace with water so it is not such a huge threat’ Polish business consultant Daria Kanters moved to the Netherlands from Warsaw for love. Though the country now feels a lot like home, she still marvels at the Dutch ability to manage water, their future-oriented outlook, and the variety of hapjes they can make. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was love, it was my [Dutch] husband, and it was a romantic adventure. We met skiing in France and then we met a couple of times in Amsterdam and in Warsaw. Then we decided to give our relationship a serious try. We were flying to each other almost every weekend. We met in 2009 and in 2011 we decided to start living together and I moved to the Netherlands. So, love is one reason, if you look up close. But I think - if you look from a distance - I can now say that many of us expats that come here are just adventurous. In our association [Polish Professional Women in the Netherlands], all the women have one great feature: they are courageous. There is this energy, wanting to start new...  More >


The wonderful world of multiple jobs

Do-it-yourself: the wonderful world of having multiple jobs Journalist may be her main profession, but bank clerk, travel agent, postman and bin woman could easily be included on her cv, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe Not so long ago, the national statistics office CBS announced that the official Dutch unemployment rate had dipped under 5% - one of the lowest rates in Europe. The economic recovery is racing along, gross domestic product is forecast to hit 3.3% this year and the declining jobless total is one of the side effects. At the same time, however, there are still 1.3 million people who would like a job or who would like to work longer hours but are not officially classed as unemployed. There is, the CBS says, a lot of ‘unused potential’ in the Dutch jobs market. Still more CBS figures – they’ve got a lot of people writing about jobs over there – show that the Dutch work fewer hours than everyone else in Europe. Three quarters of women and a quarter of men work part-time. Dutch women who have a job, work...  More >


Podcast: The So Many Organs Edition

DutchNews podcast – The So Many Organs Edition – Week 7 This week's podcast brings you up to speed with the gold rush for Dutch skaters at the Winter Olympics, the minister who lost his job over a lie and the eagle that went awol after being harassed by seagulls. We also reflect on the life of the Netherlands' longest serving prime minister, Ruud Lubbers, and the consequences of the new organ donation law. In our discussion we look at the growing campaign to sue the tobacco industry for damaging public health and new measures to restrict smoking. Top story Halbe Zijlstra resigns as foreign affairs minister for lying about meeting Putin News 'Opt-out' organ donation law passes Senate after protracted debate Former prime minister Ruud Lubbers dies aged 78 Eagle quits wildlife park after dust-up with seagulls Sport Clean sweep for Dutch women in Olympic 3000 metres speed skating Sven Kramer wins third Olympic 5000 metre title Dutch skating coach tried to fix race for French team at 2014 Olympics Discussion:...  More >


Local Makers brings your product to life

From 3D selfies to replica engagement rings, Local Makers can bring your product to life If you can’t find the product you need, you might like to create it yourself. We visited Local Makers, the product design team who are serving a growing market for self-made solutions. Amsterdam product development company Local Makers have had some odd commissions. These include a home enema kit, a hand-painted 3D-printed model of a clitoris for a science programme, and the VU University Medical Center once got in touch regarding a special holder for an anal probe. All of these items were duly discussed, designed and brought to life. Whatever product people want to create, the answer is almost always ‘yes’. Many of Local Makers’ products are made of plastic or metal, but they also work with apps and other digital products. The team can insert circuit boards and motors or add robotic features. They offer 3D FDM printing, where the plastic is melted in fine layers at between 200 and 300 degrees, and SLA printing where liquids are set by UV light. With all these tools,...  More >


11 reasons why you need a Dutch boyfriend

It's Valentine's Day, something a few years ago no self-respecting Dutch man or woman would think worthy of mention. Alas, this Anglo-American celebration of Cupid has become latest foreign fad to get the commercially-minded Dutch going. Not everyone has fallen for the marketing hype, however. A survey by ING economists in 2016 found just one in five Dutch people planned to give their loved one a Valentine's Day gift and the average amount they spend is €16. We admire their thriftiness. Here's 11 more reasons why Dutch partners need to be celebrated. 1. A Dutch boyfriend will give you flowers - even if you don't live in the same country. One member of the DutchNews.nl crew was the envy of all her flatmates in London while in a long-distance relationship with a Dutchman. Every week, a beautiful bouquet of flowers would be delivered to her door. 2. A Dutch boyfriend will treat you as an equal and won't patronise you by paying for everything. So don't forget your purse when...  More >


'Diversity makes us stronger': D66

The arrival of the PVV and FvD in the cities is alarming, say D66 local leaders The PVV and Forum voor Democratie are making a bid for local power and that is a worrying development, say Reinier van Dantzig and Klaas Verschuure, who are leading the local election campaigns in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Terms like ‘head rag tax’, ‘arranging’ for ‘fewer, fewer, fewer Moroccans’ and ‘homeopathic dilution’ have so far largely come from the mouths of national politicians. But it was local Amsterdam FvD leader Annabel Nanninga who came up with the term ‘bobbing negroes’ for boat refugees. PVV or FvD politicians often eat their words. They come out with some ugly abusive term, then they retract it - it simply came out wrong, they say. The statement, they argue, is much more nuanced than the hostile media and established parties want people to believe. We are not buying it. The ugly face of hatred, exclusion and division is never more clearly seen than during those carefully managed media moments. The people the populist parties are reaching out...  More >


Podcast: The F**k the King Edition

Dutch News Podcast – The F**k the King Edition – Week 6 This week's podcast brings you the latest on the Brexit court case in Amsterdam, the race row engulfing the Forum voor Democratie and the party leader whose career capsized in the Maldives. The Dutch government replaces the leaders of its smallest Caribbean territory and Ronald Koeman replaces Dick Advocaat as manager of the national football team. Plus we look ahead to the Winter Olympics and ask if Dutch skaters will dominate the ice rink again in Pyeongchang. Top story British expats win case to have EU citizenship status decided in Luxembourg British applications for Dutch nationality surge following Brexit vote News Baudet challenged over race remarks and party democracy   Dutch government imposes direct rule on 'corrupt, lawless' Sint Eustatius Jobs section withdrawn from Dutch integration test Compulsory microchips could be introduced for cats Sport Ronald Koeman signs on as manager of Oranje Discussion: Winter Olympics Dutch take...  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: Texel

DutchNews.nl destinations: getting windblown in winter on Texel In the winter, a wander along a blustery Texel beach is a popular way to blow the cobwebs away - lekker uitwaaien, as the Dutch would say. Robin Pascoe visited the biggest of the Wadden Sea islands. Just a few minutes by ferry from the navy town of Den Helder, Texel's regular population of over 13,000 is constantly inflated by a steady stream of holidaymakers all year round, mainly from the Netherlands and Germany. Texel is a something for everyone kind of place. The dune landscape is a haven for bird life and around one third of the island is a designated nature reserve. In the summer, tourists flock to its enormous sandy beaches, and the popular west coast villages of De Koog and De Cocksdorp, where most of the holiday villages and hotels are located. Despite Texel's popularity, it is easy to escape the crowds - but you will need to book the more popular restaurants in the evening. The local tourist office, which is extremely helpful, has a very comprehensive website in English. Things...  More >


The Dutch are dedicated to WWII liberators

‘I’m incredibly touched by the Dutch dedication to the memories of the WWII liberators’ Sherry Keneson-Hall works for the US foreign service and has lived in 38 cities to date. During her stint in the Netherlands so far, she has done the Vierdaagse in Nijmegen, swum in the sea on New Year's Day and developed a passion for Limburgse vlaai with cherries. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I joined the Foreign Service right after graduate school in 2002, six months after 9/11. I went through formation classes, learned French, and began my first two year post in Guinea that December. Then I moved to Brussels where I served almost two and a half years and then on to Sofia in Bulgaria for three years and Prague for another three years. Now I’m on my fifth overseas tour here in the Netherlands. I’d been to the Netherlands before while I was living in Belgium to visit Delft, the Keukenhof and Amsterdam. I also came over as part of the delegation when former POTUS Barack Obama was here during the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit and it was a lot of fun. We do have some...  More >


Blogwatching: Amsterdam ramen restaurants

Blogwatching: 9 ramen restaurants in Amsterdam – rated Vicky Hampton is British by birth and Dutch by choice, a writer, cook and avid foodie who has lived and worked in Amsterdam since 2006. Vicky launched her blog Amsterdam Foodie in 2007 and it is now an indispensible guide to the city's eateries and beyond. Before we get into all the noodly details, let me start with a caveat: I’ve never been to Japan. I’ve never even eaten ramen outside of Amsterdam. I’m comparing these places on a level playing field – but I’ve never played on another field, as it were. So I’m no expert – I’m simply speaking as I find, according to my own subjective tastes. With that in mind, and without further ado, I bring you my Ramen Amsterdam Roundup: what you should eat at nine ramen restaurants, and how I rate them against each other. Tokyo Ramen Takeichi A relative newcomer on the Vijzelstraat, Takeichi gets packed with locals and tourists every lunchtime. The occasion I visited, I got the Nouko spicy chicken ramen with egg. The flavour...  More >


Podcast: The Sacred Cows Edition

DutchNews Podcast – The Sacred Cows Edition – Week 5 In this week's podcast we ask who was responsible for the cyber attacks that mysteriously hit Dutch banks a week after details emerged of the security services' role in a counterespionage operation against Russia. Plans to cut gas production in Groningen and compensate earthquake-hit householders got back on track, the senate debated changes to the law on organ donation and there was a happy ending for Hermien the fugitive cow. In our discussion we look at why the debate about the Dutch colonial legacy has flared up again. Top story Cyber attacks cause misery for Dutch banking system to a halt News Watchdog advises drastic cuts in Groningen gas production Archaeologists discover remains of 6000-year-old baby Senators ask for more time to debate organ donation bill Escaped cow given permanent reprieve in Friesland Sport Transfer window closes with no major purchases Assen challenges Zandvoort for Dutch Grand Prix Discussion: colonialism, slavery and...  More >


The Dutch and the Winter Olympics

Eight things you need to know about Dutch at the Winter Olympics At the last winter Olympics, the Dutch squad won 23 of the 36 long track speed skating medals, leading to a lot of muttering about the Oranje dominance. No-one expects the medal haul to be as impressive at this year's event but here are 10 facts you need to know about the Dutch at this year's Winter Olympics. When are the Winter Olympics? The 23rd Winter Olympics will be held from 9 to 25 February 2018 in PyeongChang (which we will all learn to pronounce and spell correctly as the days pass), Gangwon Province, in the Republic of Korea. To show that sports does indeed unite people, the athletes from the two Koreas will be marching under a single ‘unification flag’. Where can we watch? There is a time difference of eight hours with PyeongChang, so any morning event there will have diehard sports fans here watching in their pajamas or fully dressed because they have not bothered to go to bed.  Here is the full programme. NOS will be broadcasting live for 10 hours a day,...  More >


How does the 30% ruling work?

The 30% ruling: what is it, who can claim it and how does it work? You may have heard a lot about the 30% ruling, or you may even be claiming it already. Here's a definitive guide to this very Dutch expat benefit, by Tax Consultants International. The Netherlands has a beneficial regime for employees who are recruited or hired from abroad. The extraterritorial expenses you, as expat, can incur because you live outside of your home country, may under circumstances be reimbursed free of tax. Key for tax-free reimbursement is that your employer is able to substantiate these expenses. Examples of extraterritorial expenses are housing allowance, cost of living allowance, personal income tax return assistance, house hunting/acquaintance trips. This is not a limited list! 30%-ruling An alternative for tax beneficial reimbursement of costs, is to apply for the 30%-ruling. In a nutshell, this ruling means that instead of reimbursing the actual extraterritorial expenses, 30% of the gross taxable salary can be reimbursed free of tax. If the 30%-ruling...  More >


11 great things to do in February

From a fish-inspired teapot to a gazing ball: 11 great things to do in February Gaze into a ball King of kitch Jeff Koons is supplying this year’s Meesterwerk, a work of art so dear to the public or fragile it almost never travels. The Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam has gone for Gazing Ball Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints, one of a series of iconic works of art copied by Koons and fitted with a blue reflecting sphere in which to gaze and ‘become part of the art work’, as one critic had it. February 17 to April 8 at the Nieuwe Kerk. Website Meet the family What better after the recent festive get-togethers than a look at even more skewed family dynamics than your own? Inspired by Ibsen, Simon Stone's play takes place at the home of a celebrated architect where various family members meet up and well, you can guess the dysfunctional rest. Ibsen House is performed by Toneelgroep Amsterdam at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam with surtitles on Thursday 8 and February 15. Website Discover the historic side of Jan Steen Painter of shambolic households...  More >


Dutch not big on credit cards

Credit cards not yet popular among the Dutch, despite the advantages The popularity of credit cards in the Netherlands has always lagged behind when compared to many other Western countries. But new figures out last week show that there has been a bit of a catch-up - thanks to paid-for online entertainment such as Spotify. Last year the Dutch bought goods or services 160 million times with a credit card - that's a rise of over 10% on 2016. Nevertheless, credit card use still has some way to go to catch up with the rest of the world and the humble pin card - used 3.8 billion times to make a purchase in the Netherlands last year. There are lots of different cards available Netherlands so why are the Dutch so reluctant to use them? It may have something to do with the financial attitude of the Dutch people themselves: they are extremely debt adverse. It is not surprising that the word guilt and debt are the same word in Dutch - schuld. Bar bills For tourists and new arrivals to the Netherlands, the lack of acceptance of credit cards may cause problems,...  More >


Deep divisions over Dutch colonial past

How the Mauritshuis row put the spotlight on the Dutch colonial past Prime minister Mark Rutte this week had to backtrack on his criticism of the Mauritshuis museum for removing a bust of its founder, Johan Maurits, from its foyer. But as Gordon Darroch explains, the ensuing debate has exposed deep divisions about how the Netherlands should view its colonial past. The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague stirred up a hornet's nest this week with its decision to remove a plaster bust of its founder, Johan Maurits, from its foyer. Prime minister Mark Rutte called the move 'crazy' and warned against 'imposing the preconceptions of today's society on events in the distant past'. Rutte had to temper his criticism at the weekend when the museum's director, Emilie Gordenker, explained that the bust had been removed because it was no longer needed. Instead the museum has set up a gallery to explain Maurits's personal history, including an original statue and several portraits. 'Once we'd done that there was really no need to have a plaster replica in between...  More >


Why I helped bring the Dutch EU case

Dutch case over Britons’ EU rights could have profound consequences Next week, five British nationals living in the Netherlands will hear if their bid to keep European citizenship after Brexit will be referred to the European court. London barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, who is funding the legal action, says if they win, it will have profound consequences. The Conservative manifesto of 2015 promised to scrap the rules barring those who had lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting. Still, long-term British expats were denied the chance to vote in the EU referendum the following year. And their concerns about what Brexit would mean for their lives went unheard. Matt Elliott, Vote Leave’s chief executive, promised that 'the EU’s freedom of movement rights would be honoured for all those citizens who reside in other EEA [European Economic Area] nations prior to any treaty changes. But the joint report of the EU and UK on phase one of the withdrawal negotiations does not deliver on that promise. Dance teacher Take, for example, Susan,...  More >


Podcast: The Foreign Invaders Edition

DutchNews podcast – the Foreign Invaders Edition – Week 4 In this week's podcast: how the Dutch caught the Russians hacking the American election; why the Belgians swelled the numbers at a Dutch nationalist rally; how a German wolf roamed the Netherlands for two weeks but dined out in Belgium; what police did when a dinosaur showed up in Almelo; and why Limburg wants to be shot of its imported beavers. In our discussion we focus on the trials and tribulations of housebuying in the Netherlands. Top story Dutch security services exposed Russian hackers targeting US elections News Hundreds attend far-right rally and 'politically incorrect conference' Large corporations told to switch from Groningen gas by 2020 Eindhoven university suspends student fraternity over sexist posters Robin van Persie back at Feyenoord after 14 years Runaway cow outsmarts farmer, butcher and police [AD, Dutch] Wolf snacks on Belgian sheep after roaming Netherlands for two weeks Discussion: The Dutch housing market House sales in...  More >