'My favourite cheese is from Engwierum'

‘I actually have a favourite cheese farmer that has a farm up near Engwierum’ In the mid 1980s, Patrick Wiebe visited the Netherlands as a college student during a semester abroad. The former Californian now lives in the centre of Amsterdam with his longtime girlfriend and currently works as a citizen lobbyist and blogger. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My father was invited to be a visiting professor at Cambridge in 1985. I was still in school but decided to take a semester off and I came over here with him. I was able to use the UK as a base. I visited the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and some eastern European cities that were still behind the Iron Curtain at the time. Back then, the Netherlands was very open and friendly towards young people, especially in Amsterdam. The Dutch were also socially progressive and their attitudes towards drugs was relaxed. So, basically, I came here as a stoned backpacking tourist on a Eurail pass and decided this was where it was at. I went back to the US, finished my degrees in computer science...  More >

The Mallon Crew: human stories of WWII

A memorial in Friesland tells the human story of a WWII bomber crew Two graves in Bergen op Zoom, a memorial at Soarremoarre and a handful of photographs are among the reminders of the pilots who risked their lives and dropped food parcels over the Netherlands during the Second World War. By Gordon Darroch As a boy Vic Jay wanted to know all about the Lancaster bombers his father flew during the Second World War, but like many veterans, Bob Jay was reluctant to talk about it. 'He was a quite scientific sort of person, and he would tell me about what flak was and how an aeroplane could fly, how something as big as that could actually get off the ground and what he had to do during the flight,' Vic recalls. 'But he didn't talk a lot about the actual bombing. He had very mixed feelings about bombing after the war.' Vic's curiosity waned as he got older, and when Bob Jay died of stomach cancer in 1974, at the age of 55, he left behind a slate of unanswered questions. Vic knew his father had been a flight engineer in a New Zealand squadron and...  More >

Podcast: Everybody Speaks English Edition

DutchNews podcast – But Everybody Speaks English Edition – Week 3 In this week's podcast we survey the debris from a winter storm that cost €90 million and the obstacles on the path to learning Dutch. Plus how the Belgians came to the rescue when the Russians came calling, why an Amsterdam court became the latest Brexit battleground and the fake news item that's been exposed after 370 years. You can also hear how Molly's favourite football manager fared as he tried to revive Sparta's fortunes. Top story Damage bill for winter storm estimated at €90m Here's an interactive map where you can track gritter lorries in the Netherlands ... and the Scottish version News Brits go to court in Amsterdam to protect EU citizenship rights US ambassador admits comments about no-go zones were 'exaggerated' Dutch taxpayers picking up bill for Groningen earthquake damage Belgian jets usher Russian bombers out of Dutch airspace 'Spanish blood' theory of short, dark Dutchmen revealed to be myth Sport Dick Advocaat kicks off...  More >

How to deal with Dutch inheritance issues

Death in the Netherlands – how to deal with inheritance issues The death of a relative is never an easy thing to deal with, but can be even more complicated and distressing when you live in a foreign country. What does Dutch law say about succession and inheritance? Say you are French, have an American partner and have lived in the Netherlands for the past three years. If one of you dies, what does that mean for the other’s inheritance? A relatively new European regulation has clarified the issue of succession when it comes to internationals. The EU regulation states that the law on inheritance in the country where the deceased had his or her last ‘habitual residence’ should govern that person’s estate, regardless of where the estate is located. This means that if the deceased person usually live in the Netherlands, their estate will be subject to Dutch law, even if they are, for example, American or French. However, the EU regulation also allows people to decide that the law of their own country should apply – a decision which...  More >

English has a unique character in NL

English is no longer a foreign language in NL, but it has a unique character here Are the Dutch now native speakers of English, and is Dutch-English a distinctive thing? Deborah Nicholls-Lee meets linguistics expert Alison Edwards to find some answers. English is no longer a foreign language in the Netherlands, asserts Leiden University’s Alison Edwards, who has published widely on the subject. ‘If you can assume that you can walk down the street and that the hairdresser will be able to speak to you in English, and the bus driver, and the taxi driver, then functionally it’s a second language not a foreign language.’ This view is perhaps unsurprising. The Dutch speak, it is claimed, the best English in the world. They often prefer speaking English when foreigners try to practise their Dutch, and the higher education sector here is rapidly being anglicised, with more than half of all university courses now taught in English. Distinctive Despite all the accolades, Dutch-English is distinct - in grammar, idiom, and accent - from the language used by native...  More >

Blog Watching: The word expat

Blog Watching: The word ‘expat’ has become muddled in its meaning Molly Quell is an American journalist living in the Netherlands. She blogs at Neamhspleachas about anything that strikes her fancy and you can also follow her on Twitter at @mollyquell. Note: Molly is DutchNews.nl's social media editor. 'How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ?' It’s one of the questions on the Dutch News’ 10 Questions interview. It’s also a question I occasionally get asked. Expat, short for expatriate, has a long and sometimes problematic history. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (out of) and patria (native country) according to Wikipedia. So literally someone out of their native country. But English has a lot of other words that cover that concept as well. Immigrant. Migrant. Exile. Resident. Emigrant. People have been moving abroad since before national borders were a thing. In more recent history, people have been forced to leave their homeland due to war, famine, persecution or natural disaster....  More >

Podcast: The Men Can't Apologise Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Men Can’t Apologise Properly Edition – Week 2 The podcast team looks back at a week of shocks that began with another earthquake in Groningen, saw the PVV whip up a social media storm in Utrecht and ended with a baptism of fire for new US ambassador Peter Hoekstra. How did Camiel Eurlings' apology backfire, why was nobody in the least perturbed when the rivers overflowed, and did Hoekstra backtrack on his denial that something he claimed never to have said was fake news? Plus we discuss the local council scheme to reward teenagers who managed not to cause mayhem and destruction on New Year's Eve. Top story Gas production expected to be scaled back after latest Groningen earthquake News Baptism of fire for new US ambassador Pete Hoekstra PVV councillor sparks angry backlash for 'burning mosque' comments No cause for alarm despite widespread flooding as rivers overflow Louis the lobster's unexpected freedom proves short-lived (NOS, Dutch) Sport Family of Ajax player Appie Nouri shocked by heart defect...  More >

'The Dutch make the most of the sun'

‘The Dutch make the most of the sun at every opportunity’ Online marketing expert Veronica Guguian is a Romanian national who moved to Amsterdam nearly eight years ago in search of adventure. She is a big fan of the Dutch diary culture, would like to meet Anouk and says stamppot reminds her of home. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My story is quite boring really. I fit in the classic pattern: I followed my partner here. He came to the Netherlands to work in IT and we thought 'let's have an adventure', so I came with him. Back in Romania I was involved in e-commerce and I had an e-commerce platform and a concept store selling French designer clothes. I used to organise fashion shows to promote them and had a lot of fun. Once in the Netherlands, I decided to get a job with a company to learn about Dutch work culture. This is how I started working at Expatica as a marketing consultant and account manager. I’ve since started up my own online marketing company Spin Ideas.  How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant,...  More >

Don't fear the robots, they make us rich

Don’t fear the robots or the foreigners, they will make us richer Robots and foreigners have been taking over Dutch jobs for 50 years - but more people than ever are working, says economist Mathijs Bouman. And the bottom line is, we are all getting richer because of it. In 1969 Jan Wolkers wrote Turkish Delight, the Beatles recorded Abbey Road and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Piet de Jong was our prime minister, ruling a country with a flourishing manufacturing industry. Of a working population of around 5.3 million, 1.3 million people worked in manufacturing or industry (including energy and water) - around 25% of the total Now, almost half a century later, in the year of De Wereld volgens Gijp and Marco Borsato and exactly zero men on the moon, industry has stopped generating jobs. The working population has grown to nine million of whom only 9% works in industry. In absolute terms this means that of the 1.3 million industrial jobs in 1969 only 800,000 are left. Meanwhile industrial production has doubled. GDP Labour intensive...  More >

Visit some of NL's stranger museums

Forget big art – here are some of the Netherlands’ stranger museums Have you already checked out the latest exhibit at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam and explored every corner of the Rijksmuseum? If so, then you might want to visit one of the Netherlands’ smaller and much more unusual museums. Here’s Brandon Hartley’s look at some of the oddest ones scattered across the country. Pianola Museum - Amsterdam Over a century ago when phonographs were still in their infancy, pianolas were all the rage...among those that could afford them. These player pianos were quite the status symbol and some of them cost as much as the average school teacher’s annual salary. Nowadays, it’s hard to even give them away and many have wound up in dumping grounds. Fortunately, the proprietors of this museum, which can be found in a house along the Westerstraat, have spent the past several decades trying to rescue and restore as many of them as possible. Visitors can watch several pianolas pound out the greatest hits of the early 20th century and view thousands of...  More >

Podcast: The Arkmageddon Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Arkmageddon Alpacalypse Edition – Week 1 The DutchNews podcast returns after an extended Christmas break with a feast of news from the old year and the new. We catch up on the Dutch winter storm that was too fierce for Noah’s Ark, the former minister who crashed his bus while texting behind the wheel and the whirlwind of fake news that engulfed the new US ambassador. Plus what happened when Rotterdam police unveiled plans to undress suspects in the street and an alpaca went walkabout in Haarlem. Top story First storm of the year causes €10 million of damage Noah's Ark breaks free and goes on rampage in Bible Belt fishing village News Regional bus and train drivers go on strike in dispute over pay and toilet breaks Rotterdam police under fire for plan to confiscate designer clothes on the spot National archive releases wartime documents on 'enemy' German nationals Mystery alpaca found wandering streets of Haarlem Sport Netherlands to send 'compact team' of mainly speed skaters to Winter...  More >

Key 2018 tax changes you need to know

Key changes to Dutch taxes you need to know about in 2018 The new Dutch government is planning to make quite a few changes to the current tax system. While most of them won’t come into effect until 2019, it is time to start planning for their impact now. The centre-right Dutch coalition government sees giving people more cash to spend as key to ensuring future economic growth. Part of the strategy involves simplifying the income tax system and raising taxes from other sources. 1. Income tax The biggest shake-up in the tax proposals is cutting the number of tax bands to two in 2019 but there will be a slight change in the tax rates in 2018. At the moment, there are officially four income tax bands but the second and third band are the same. Currently taxpayers are charged 36.55% on earnings up to €20,000, 40.8% on earnings up to €67,000 and 52% above that. This year the mid tax band will go up marginally to 40.85% while the top band, for income over €68,500 will be 51.95%. The new system in 2019 will involve an income tax...  More >

Techie tools to get to grips with Dutch

Five techie tools for getting to grips with Dutch If learning Dutch was one of your New Year resolutions but you don't fancy going back to the classroom, help is at hand. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on the latest technological tools designed to help you get to grips with a new language. The handheld device 'No person should be misunderstood’ is the mantra of Travis the Translator, the portable interpreter who fits in the palm of your hand. This brand new product, founded in 2016 in Rotterdam, has crowdfunded over $1.4m via Indiegogo, and has just begun the shipping phase. Ideal for face-to-face conversations - and functioning online and offline – Travis’s Quad Core processor means that there’s just a two-second delay before it translates each utterance it hears. The device is a combination of software and purpose-built hardware, and makes use of artificial intelligence to improve the more you use it. The built-in speakers and noise-cancelling microphone mean that Travis can be placed on a table or chair between users,...  More >

11 great things to do in January

From sugar in art to hemp in chocolate: 11 great things to do in January Bag a bloom You know spring is on the way when the tulip season kicks off on a bitter January day. It’s National Tulip Day on January 20 and growers are creating a huge tulip garden on Amsterdam’s Dam square with some 200,000 tulips which you are welcome to pick, for free. The event begins at 1pm. Website Bring your specs Aptly enough you only have a very small window left to see ‘Xtra small. Miniature books in Museum Meermanno’, a large number of tiny books dating from the 17th century to the present. Making a miniature book was a way of showing off one's bookbinding and printing skills and it still is. Until January 7 at the august former baronial mansion in The Hague. Website  Meet a painter of tulips It is so heavily commercialised it is somethines hard to take the tulip seriously (see national tulip day). But painter Anton Koster (1859-1937) did and put the flower at the centre of his art. He was inspired by the tulip fields which lit up the drab Dutch country...  More >

The most read features of 2017

20 of the best: The most read features on DutchNews.nl in 2017 From Dutch food with EU protected status to the king's 50th birthday and reforming the red light district - this year DutchNews.nl has published over 150 features. Here's a round-up of the best longer reads of 2017. 1 Dutch TV show says Hello Mr Trump, this is the Netherlands 2 Dutch TV documentary claims Trump has ties to Russian mobsters 3 11 key facts about king Willem-Alexander as he turns 50 4 Who can vote for whom and how the Dutch electoral system works 5 The main Dutch political parties 6 From sex to smoothies – reforming the red light district 7 11 reasons to be cheerful about life in the Netherlands 8 Here are 43 things which show you have gone Dutch 9 It’s tax return time - seven ways to cut your tax bill (sponsored) 10 A Thanksgiving story – How the Netherlands played a role in the US holiday 11 The best of the Netherlands in the summer 12 Instead of ending the 30% ruling, expats should be encouraged 13 The richest men in the Netherlands,...  More >

How to celebrate New Year the Dutch way

How to celebrate New Year in the Netherlands – with recipes New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands is celebrated in a most untypical over-the-top way. Here's list of 10 things you must do to fit right in. 1. Buy fireworks – lots of them and enormous ones – if you have not smuggled them in from Belgium or Eastern Europe months ago. This year you can only buy fireworks on December 28, 29 and 30 - and for some reason, garages seem to be popular licenced stockists. Start setting off your fireworks well before 6pm on December 31, which is when you are officially allowed to do so. Frighten dogs. 2. Listen to the final 50 or so entries in Radio 2’s Top2000 which, for some bizarre reason, is listened to by millions of people every year and won every year (almost) by Queen’s Bohemiam Rhapsody. And 2018 is no exception. 3. Watch whichever comedian is giving this year’s televised Oudejaarsconference – a long and winding monologue wrapping up the year. This year it is Youp van 't Hek on NOS tv. 4. Buy a New Year lottery ticket...  More >

Should you change health insurer?

To change or not to change health insurance company? Five key questions There are just a couple of days to go before you have to decide whether or not to change health insurance company. Here's the answers to some of the questions which expats most frequently ask about Dutch health insurance and the healthcare system. Changing healthcare insurance company does not have to be a complicated business. But there are some things you do need to think about before you do. When do I need to pay the deductible excess? The deductible excess (eigen risico) is part of the out-of-pocket medical expenses. Put simply, you have to pay the first €385 of your treatment - with a few exceptions. So, if you need to have a broken arm taken care of on January 2, you will have to pay €385 of the bill yourself. Once you have paid this amount, your health insurance company will reimburse any further medical expenses. Some healthcare costs are exempted from the excess, such as: Consultations with a family doctor Maternity care Healthcare for children below...  More >

Science and faith not mutually exclusive

Christianity has fostered much in the way of scientific progress Science and faith are not on the opposite side of the fence and Christians are responsible for many scientific breakthroughs, says Rob Mutsaerts, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese of 's Hertogenbosch. Richard Dawkins, advocate of scientific and rational thought, is calling on everyone, and  people of faith in particular, to think for themselves. People who believe in God do not think for themselves, he claims, and are cowardly and lazy to boot. Perhaps this is a good time to remind him that Thomas of Aquino promoted Aristotle, that devout priest Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model and that Gregor Mendel, a monk, studied heredity and as such can be considered a precursor of Darwin. Newton, Kepler, Descartes and Pascal, devout Christians all, were the founders of modern science. And what to make of 19th century physicists Faraday, Maxwell and the man who proposed the big bang theory, a priest called Lemaître? And what about religious...  More >

Home for the Christmas holidays?

Going home for the Christmas holidays is about more than nostalgia The winter holiday season in the Netherlands is magical, with all the trees and houses lit up by twinkling lights. But for DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe, the Christmas period is also about an intangible nostalgia for ‘home’, wherever that is. When I first came to the Netherlands in the early 1980s, Christmas was something that just happened between Sinterklaas and New Year. You had a tree and a family dinner and that was about it. More and more, however, the ghastliness of the British and American traditions is sneaking in. I have been shocked at how much mawkish Christmas nostalgia is being packed into the Dutch television schedules - the same Christmas family films, the same fake snow and the same jolly family get-togethers around a table groaning with Lidl and Plus festive meals. And then I remember how excited I was when we took a double decker bus into London to look at the Christmas lights when I was six and we had just moved to Britain from Singapore and my cynicism...  More >

'The beaches on Terschelling are amazing'

‘The beaches on Terschelling are amazing – you can take fantastic photos’ Veteran journalist Andy Clark has worked for BBC Radio, Radio Television Hong Kong, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The Middlesbrough native, who would like to interview Geert Wilders and loves the Dutch islands, currently lives in Leiden. He now hosts a popular podcast titled Here in Holland. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was working in Hong Kong where I met my wife, Julie, who is also British. We got together and lived there for a while. Then we decided to come back to Europe. My wife grew up here, although she’s British, in the town of Oegstgeest. She was an expat kid for many years and said, ‘well, home for me is the Netherlands’. I said, ‘OK, let’s give it a whirl’. That was in 1998 and I’ve been here ever since. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? International, I guess. I don’t really like these labels very much, to be honest with you, but I would pick ‘international’ out of that list. I’m British...  More >