How to kill a duckling in Amsterdam

How many people in uniform does it take to rescue a dead duck? How many people in uniform does it take to kill a duckling? In the case of the duckling born on top of a five-floor block in Amsterdam west, the answer is 13 – which was certainly unlucky for the bird itself. It all began when a neighbour alerted the animal ambulance people to the presence of a female mallard and one tiny duckling, which were stuck on the parapet, 20 metres up above a street in the 19th century zone. The duck had obviously given birth to her hatchlings somewhere on the roof but had now found herself on a narrow edge with no access to food or water for her brood. The animal ambulance people went up to the top floor flats armed with nets in an effort to catch the hapless family…. who of course did not want to be caught. Cage There was much too-ing and froo-ing and waving of arms and eventually the duckling  was caught – a tiny little thing which peeped plaintively as it was put into a cage and set on a table in the street. Mother duck was by this...  More >

11 Dutch regional food specialties

Arnhem girls to Zeeland chatterboxes: here’s 11 Dutch regional food specialties There are lots of places in the Netherlands that have their own culinary speciality. And so as not to allow any misunderstanding as to their provenance, they tacked the name to the product. Here’s 11 local delicacies from all over the country in no particular order of preference. And before you mention it, no, we have not included cheese. There are simply too many of them. Amsterdamse uien Succulent yellow pickled onions, Amsterdamse uien are so named because they were a popular snack sold by Jewish street vendors in the working class areas of Amsterdam.The onions are pickled in vinegar and herbs and saffron or curcumin are added in, which gives them their distinctive colour. Bossche bollen They are the devil’s food, of course, or what else would you call a big puff pastry ball filled with whipped cream covered in chocolate. They were thought up in Den Bosch by a baker called Lambermont in the 18th century and are still going strong, selling in their thousands at Jan de...  More >

Dutch weed: the sustainable protein of the future (seaweed, that is)

Dutch weed: the sustainable protein of the future (seaweed, that is) The Netherlands is low on the list when it comes to protein self-sufficiency. Joshua Parfitt visits the seaweed enthusiasts who foresee a greener, healthier, and more locally-grown future. When you eat a chicken, you are not just eating a chicken: you’re eating whatever the chicken ate. No one really cares for this when crispy wings are coated in paprika, honey, and salt or roasted with grandma’s secret stuffing, but Martinus van Krimpen, a senior researcher in animal nutrition at Wageningen University, thinks about these things. 'Soybean meal is our largest protein source; half of all the protein [in poultry and pig feed] is from soy,' he says, pointing to the offending figure: the Netherlands produces just 5% of its soy. 'We are very dependent on areas outside Europe for our protein, which is a risk. Most [soybean meal] comes from Brazil and Argentina,' he says. 'We need to increase EU protein production.' Van Krimpen suggests that, globally, by 2050 we will need...  More >

Training women to ask for more pay

Gender pay gap: Meet the Dutch lawyer who is training women to ask for more   Though the gender pay gap in the Netherlands is closing, progress is being made at a snail's pace and the country lags behind much of Europe. Expert negotiator Wies Bratby is helping international women take the issue into the own hands and getting great results, as she tells Deborah Nicholls-Lee. Wies Bratby does not mince her words. The negotiation coach and gender pay gap crusader is unimpressed with my question about positive discrimination at work. ‘It’s again us waiting for men to grant us a favour,’ she says witheringly. ‘I’m done waiting for others. Forget that. What I want is for women to pull that sh** for themselves.’ Bratby (36) has a lot to be angry about. Of 144 countries analysed by the World Economic Forum in 2017, the Netherlands was ranked a mere 32nd for gender pay equality despite coming first for educational attainment. For gender equality in wages for undertaking similar work, it plummets to a pitiful 50th position. CBS figures from...  More >

Metro lost and found: a virtual museum

700,000 items dug up during new metro works feature in virtual museum Some 700,000 objects, some old and some not so old, have gone on show on Below the Surface,  a virtual museum dedicated to the archaeological objects found during the building work on the Noord-Zuidlijn, Amsterdam’s recently opened new metro route. Connecting the north to the south of the city, the 9.7 kilometre route took 15 years to complete and was first a gleam in the eye of developers and engineers as long as 100 years ago. As the protracted digging continued, archaeologists were given the opportunity to go down into the bowels of the earth to find out about the development of the city along the route where once the Amstel river flowed. They objects they encountered along the way range from Neolithic and early Bronze age (2700-1800 BC) funerary gifts and tools and fibulae dropped by careless Romans to modern day objects such as flippos (remember them?), mobile phones and lost bicycle keys. Some 9,500 of the objects are on show in glass cases at Rokin metro station,...  More >

'I had the feeling I would move here'

‘When I was ten, I already had the feeling I would move here’ Novelist Ellen Keith’s Dutch ancestry drew her irresistibly to the Netherlands, where she settled in 2015. Today, the 29-year-old Canadian can be found whizzing across the capital, ringing her bicycle bell at tourists and dreaming of a perfectly-baked cookie. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My mother’s side of the family is Dutch. My grandparents were both born and raised in the Netherlands and they emigrated in the 50s. I still have some extended family in the east of the Netherlands and so there’s always been a family connection. The first time I was here I was ten and already then I had the feeling that I was going to move here one day. Then I started going back on my own, doing European backpacking trips when I was just out of high school. During my undergrad period, I did an exchange in Tilburg and from then on it was really, ‘OK, I’m going to finish this degree and then I’m going to move here as quickly as I can’. How do you describe yourself - an...  More >

Blogwatching: Zombie Town

Blogwatching: Zombie Town Rebekah was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met her Cornish husband in Catalonia. They now live in the Netherlands, in Dutch suburbia, with their two differently wired, small kids. She spends her days parenting, writing and being amazed at all the Dutchness around her. She writes at Write Now Rebekah. Zombie town, Dutch suburbia. When we first arrived in Dutch suburbia, I was overwhelmed by intense culture shock. I had a toddler, a tiny baby and no one to talk to all day. I pined for my mama-circle back home and as I walked the quiet leafy streets with the kids in tow, I never saw a soul. My footsteps echoed off the well-kept Dutch homes. My toddler played alone in deserted playgrounds. I breastfed on every public bench around the lake and saw no one aside from a random jogger or cyclist. Were they running for fun or escaping? It wasn’t clear. It was downright creepy. Where the hell were all the people? I wondered if there had been a zombie apocalypse and...  More > destinations: Overloon destinations: go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside Looking for good weather, green woods and excellent beer? Head to the Dutch countryside for a summer break. Esther O’Toole takes you south to the small towns of Overloon and Venray, on the Brabant/N. Limburg border. There is plenty of history down this neck of the woods. The St Peter ad Vincula church in Venray has a large collection of medieval wood sculpture and the area in and around Venray and Overloon saw heavy fighting during WW2, as it lies right next to the river Maas, by the German border. Now an area rich in natural tourist attractions it is popular with the Dutch for holidaying at home Things to do Overloon If you’re after outdoor activities, whether mountain biking, hiking, swimming or fishing then this is a great area for all of the above. Explore the Overloonse Duinen by bike or on foot, or head to t’Schaartven, a pretty, well-maintained swimming lake with amenities; there you can also climb up the ‘uitkijktoren’ for panoramic views. Museum Park,...  More >

Holiday reading: our favourite features

Holiday reading: if you missed them earlier, here are some favourite features Wether you're heading back home to visit family, off to the Mediterranean beaches or just enjoying another part of the Netherlands, holidays are the perfect time to catch up on your reading. Here's a round-up of our favourite features so far this year. It's been impossible to avoid the fact that Dutch gangster Willem Holleeder has been on trial in Amsterdam for most of the year accused of ordering various gangland murders. Gordon Darroch went along for a day and wrote a piece explaining why this is currently the hottest ticket in town. Another hot topic so far this year has been the rise of English at Dutch universities. Are the Dutch now native speakers of English, and is Dutch-English a distinctive thing? Deborah Nicholls-Lee went to meet linguistics expert Alison Edwards to get some answers. Housing and the shortage of affordable homes was the big topic of the March local elections, but solutions are being found. For example, could a custom-made tiny house be your new home? If...  More >

Salary shaming does not curb exec pay

If salary shaming doesn’t work what will curb executive pay? If salary shaming does not limit excessive executive pay, a link with workers’ pay will, write social psychologist Naomi Ellemers (Universiteit Utrecht) and organisational sociologist Rafael Wittek ­(Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) Executive pay levels at large companies frequently prove controversial. ING, Van Lanschot and Unilever have all come in for criticism recently for what is perceived to be the excessive remuneration of their CEOs. Perspectives on the subject vary. Politicians, concerned with public accountability, rely on the embarrassing effect of transparency. If top executives are shown to have much bigger pay packets than the workers, surely they will think again? Supervisory board members refer to the size and complexity of executive tasks. After years of modest pay increases it is high time salaries reflected CEOs’ time and trouble, they say. Economists in their turn point to the market: how are Dutch companies going to hold on to their top executives if...  More >

12 great things to do in August

From butterflies to body art: 12 great things to do in August Hello? Anyone there? If you're not sunning yourself on a beach in Crete, here's what you can do in the Netherlands this month. On your bike Get to know Amsterdam by taking a guided bike tour around Amsterdam Oost, the Bijlmer and other bits of Amsterdam that you thought would not be that interesting but are. Pay Attention Please is the somewhat admonishing title of the tours. Throughout August. Website Listen to the human voice What better way to forget the 30% ruling and Brexit for a while than to listen to an opera about other people's troubles in the sedate surroundings of the garden of the Museum van Loon in Amsterdam. La Voix Humaine, based on a play by Jean Cocteau, is about love and heartbreak. And it's only a shorty with drinks afterwards! Dutch language only. August 9 - 14. Website Grab a gracht It will be difficult NOT to catch a tune during this year's Grachtenfestival as it will be taking place in 94 locations around Amsterdam. Some even take place underneath...  More >

'I was shocked by how beautiful NL is'

‘What shocked me the most about the Netherlands was how beautiful it is’ Why would someone with a successful career in a casting agency in New York City up sticks and move to Zaandam? In Elyse O’Shaughnessey's case, she did it for love. Now artistic director of Orange Theater Company, Elyse is on a mission to promote world-class English-language theatre in the heart of Amsterdam. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here as an au pair about five years ago. I was working with this woman – she worked for Tommy Hilfiger – and one day she was like, 'Oh, I’m moving to Amsterdam; do you wanna come with me?' At the time I was quite young, so I said, 'Okay. Let’s go!' It was an adventure. I’d never been to Amsterdam, and I was here with an added comfort factor. I was only supposed to come for three months, but at the end of it I was still just starting to get acclimatised. I stayed for a full year and met my current [Dutch] partner in the last three months of my visa. I went back to New York, and we did long-distance for about two years....  More >

Column: Stef Blok backtracks but the damage has been done

Column: Stef Blok backtracks but the damage has been done What will be the ramifications of foreign minister Stef Blok's comments on the multicultural society, asks Arend Jan Boekestijn, a former VVD MP and lecturer in international relations at Utrecht University A safe pair of hands, that is the image Stef Blok projected in the wake of the ludicrous and ego-inspired dacha affair which scuppered his predecessor Halbe Zijlstra’s career at the foreign office. A smaller ego was required and when Edith Schippers refused, Blok, after being wooed for some time, agreed to step into the breach. Devoid of any foreign office experience but capable of blending in at various ministries, he seemed a safe choice. Tricky Diplomacy can be a tricky business. In the absence of a world government nation states are sometimes hard put to defend their interests. In a world dominated by contradictions it takes tact and reason to get results. Blok’s controversial comments came when he attended a private meeting for people home from a stint of working...  More >

Five great places to eat vegan food

Five great vegan lunchrooms and restaurants in the Netherlands Even the most committed meat eater cannot fail to have noticed the surge in veganism in the Netherlands. Marieke Mills has been checking out some of the best Dutch vegan restaurants and lunchrooms. Vegan restaurants are not just limited to Amsterdam anymore. You’ll be a happy vegan foodie if you live there, but Rotterdam and Utrecht have a number of vegan options as well. Beer and vegan food: Oproer Brouwerij (Utrecht) Vegan food and beer go hand in hand in Oproer Brouwerij. This restaurant and brewery is the go-to place for a plant-based dinner and a pint. Oproer Brouwerij is a merger between two breweries - Rooie Dop and Ruig - and the current restaurant was founded in 2016. Oproer Brouwerij’s vegan journey was one they stepped into by accident. The owners found a great spot for a pub, but were told the space was meant to be food-oriented. They decided to establish a restaurant. Oproer Brouwerij searched for great cooks and found two female chefs, who had experience in...  More >

Police in the polder: the search for truth

Police in the polder: detective fiction and the irresistible quest for the truth The Netherlands' best known tv detective, Baantjer, was based on the adventures of a real life policeman, Appie Baantjer who was based in the Warmoesstraat on the edge of Amsterdam's red light district. British crime writer Daniel Pembrey has now used the real-life 1983 Heineken kidnapping case to understand his police detective character. What makes a fictional detective compelling? Not likeable, necessarily, but rather the kind of character you want to follow for case after case – despite his or her flaws? As a fan of detective fiction from a young age, I have often pondered this question, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer lies in the character willfully fighting for identifiable causes – justice, of course, of the purer variety (as opposed to the kind arbitrated by police superiors), but also the fight to protect ‘his or hers’ – a wife or a husband, a neighbourhood, an old friend perhaps. And as I began to investigate the motivations and formative experiences...  More >

Number of energy suppliers quadrupled

Number of energy suppliers in the Netherlands quadrupled since liberalisation The number of suppliers of electricity and gas has almost quadrupled since the liberalisation of the Dutch energy market in 2004, according to research by website Energievergelijk. Before deregulation there were only 12 suppliers for electricity, based in different parts of the country. Now, there are 47 which all want a piece of the cake. In total, 35 companies offer gas and electricity for consumers. The remaining 12 only offer energy contracts to businesses and multinationals. Energievergelijk has made a convenient infographic that shows all active energy providers in The Netherlands. Confusion Each provider offers different types of energy contracts and cashback deals. And with the immense increase in competition, consumers are finding it more difficult than ever to find the cheapest deal. Comparing energy prices and deals is definitely worthwhile, according to an analysis by the Dutch Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM). It recently pointed out that households can save...  More >

How the Dutch make their drinking water

The Dutch dunes are more than just sand: they’re a source of drinking water The drinking water in Amsterdam, the Hague and large parts of Noord and Zuid-Holland is cleaned and filtered in the sand dunes along the Dutch coast with the North Sea. Joshua Parfitt has been finding out how. It is early in the morning and I am trying to take the perfect picture of the sand dunes in Meijendel—a 2,000-hectare nature reserve just five kilometres from The Hague city centre. As I race down the sandy trail from a dune offering a disappointing vista, I glance up at my bicycle. Something’s wrong. There are figures silhouetted around it—horses. They curiously sniff out this odd-shaped arrival. Delighted, I hang back. Three horses become five, and then nine, and then three more come whinnying down the dune behind me. Unused to horses—terrified, even, after a frightful riding experience in childhood—I scarper up a nearby tree. A good twenty minutes of deadlock ensue, the horses toppling my bicycle and treading dangerously around my laptop bag. I send out a...  More >

Lessons for Nexiteers

Leave the European Union? Here are three lessons for Nexiteers     People in the Netherlands who support the idea of a Nexit need a few lessons in reality, writes macro-economist Mathijs Bouman. They really do exist, the Dutch politicians who look at the UK and think: now why can’t we do that. Political chaos, ministers stepping down in droves, parties split down the middle, companies preparing to leave, the economy on hold and a derailed social debate. Exactly what the Netherlands needs. ‘We want a NEXIT referendum, just like the UK,’ writes a new political party which has already collected some 13 seats in the polls. ‘It’s time to put an end to monetary union, close the borders and leave the EU.’ Another party (or should I say ‘movement’) which has been in parliament a little longer and has become the second most popular party in the country is even more succinct: ‘Make the Netherlands independent again. Leave the EU’. Lessons That, at least, is what they wrote in their one page election programme...  More >

The Dutch repatriates: is NL still home?

Ex expats from NL:  Dutch repatriates – how does it feel to be home? For Dutch repatriates, returning to the Netherlands after many years abroad is not always the homecoming they envisaged. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on the ups and downs of resettling. Arriving back in Amsterdam in 2013 after 15 years abroad was a huge shock to the system for Daniëlle Bos (45). ‘Ever since I’m back, I’m feeling like a legal alien,’ she explains. After six years in Portugal, a career on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and spells in South Africa and New Zealand, she decided to come back but, she says, ‘this whole settling thing has made me more miserable than ever.’ Over 150,000 Dutch nationals left the Netherlands last year, almost twice as many as in 2000. Two-thirds moved to Europe, but North America and Australia are also popular destinations. Between 5 and 6% of Dutch people currently live abroad. Most will return within seven years but coming home is not always easy. Loss Reverse culture shock is not talked about enough, says relocation...  More >

Podcast: The Groundhog Ophef Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Groundhog Ophef Edition – Week 28 With the summer break looming, we decided to pick out our favourite examples of 'ophef' - those tornados of outrage that blow up on social media only to be forgotten within 24 hours - from the year so far. It was also a week in which Mark Rutte got caught up in another Trump whirlwind at Nato, Frisian water engineers proved to be more useful than Elon Musk, the king faced a possible fine for flying drones in his back garden and a Dutchwoman reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the first time in 40 years. Top story Rutte pledges to raise Nato budget contribution as Trump raises stakes News Junior finance minister presses ahead with plans to restrict 30% tax rule Dutch water engineers on standby to rescue boys trapped in Thailand caves Anne Frank's family may have been denied US visa by bureaucratic failure Island of Schiermonnikoog tells visitors to leave their drones at home Sport Kiki Bertens' run at Wimbledon ends at quarter-final stage  More >