Podcast: The Blok's Book of Bigots Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Blok’s Book of Bigots Edition – Week 36 The podcast returns after the summer hiatus with news of a foreign minister fighting to stay in his job, two children fighting to stay in the country and students fighting for space on overcrowded university campuses. We also bring you up to speed on the terrorist stabbing at Amsterdam station and ING bank's unprecedented fine for money laundering, plus how Wesley Sneijder's last match as a Dutch international gave a whole new meaning to playing at home. In our discussion we look back at the best stories and ophefs of the long hot summer. Top story Minister under pressure to stop two children being deported to Armenia News Terrorist who stabbed tourists in Amsterdam expected to die, says lawyer ING settles money laundering case for €775 million Foreign minister Stef Blok survives debate sparked by multiculturalism comments Teachers call for public sector workers to strike for better pay Dutch translation of Hitler's Mein Kampf goes on sale Sport Wesley...  More >


Enough of out-of-court settlements

Enough of out-of-court settlements, put bankers in the dock Banks that settle scandals out of court continue in their wicked ways. Instead, they should be hauled before a judge so justice is seen to be done, says economist Mathijs Bouman. But Mr Hamers, how do you explain the fact that your own computer system was programmed deliberately to limit alarm signals over possible money laundering practices to three times a day? The public prosecutor gazes at the ING boss Ralph Hamers for a long time before adding: ‘And how could it be that your bank – in spite of repeated warnings by supervisors – simply refused to set aside extra money to comply with the legal obligation to prevent money laundering? Answer me that, Mr Hamers, if you can.’ Coming soon to a court near you? No, unfortunately. ING ‘forgot’ to properly monitor account holders’ money laundering practices but will not be held accountable in court. The public prosecution office decided to settle for an amount totalling €775m. It’s the toughest settlement ever and...  More >


Seven Dutch national parks to visit

From heather fields to eagles – seven Dutch national parks to visit The first national parks in the Netherlands were established in the 1930s and they now cover over 130,000 hectares nationwide. Esther O'Toole takes you on a tour through seven of the Netherlands' natural treasure troves. If you have been led to believe that the natural landscapes of the Netherlands are flat, grey, largely rainy and agricultural then you have been mistaken. There are hills, dunes, forests and a beautiful coastline to explore; where you may encounter, wildlife as diverse as wild boar, beavers, seals, birds of prey and even… flamingos Most National Parks in Holland are now looked after by the Dutch forestry commission (Staatsbosbeheer) and their regional partners. As well as preserving the integrity of each area's unique character and maintaining a healthy environment for indigenous species, they also operate a great outreach programme, such as guided night-time walks with the forester. You can even stay on or very close to many of the 20 parks across the country....  More >


Blogwatching: Cycling through Limburg

Blogwatching: Cycling through Limburg history (and a message to the countess) Welcome to Waking Up on the Roof, where Kim Stokes share stories, thoughts and photos from her bicontinental life, her travels throughout Europe and Canada, and her road-trips in Electric-Blue, her trusty VW van. About two years ago I invested in a bike with battery power. Very un-Dutch, I know, but we live in a very un-Dutch part of the Netherlands. A hilly part. And since I bought that bike (and Arthur followed suit), we’ve been spending an increasing amount of time discovering our surroundings on two wheels. The Dutch make sightseeing by bike super easy. All over the Netherlands, maps and markers called Fietsknooppunten, (translated, bicycle junctions), route cyclists through the most scenic landscapes that an area can offer, but beware! It’s easy to be lured far afield by the beauty. Just yesterday afternoon Arthur looked up from his scores and called in my direction. Hey! Is it time for a glass of chilled chardonnay at Kasteel Schaloen? Twist my arm. Castle Schaloen...  More >


12 great things to do in September

From flowers to ballet and Islamic art: 12 great things to do in September The new cultural season starts in the Netherlands in September, and here is a round-up of some of the great things to see and do. Smell the flowers Zundert, in the province of Noord-Brabant is getting ready to stage ‘the biggest flower parade in the world’. The 20 small communities which make up the town give their all to produce the best float in a fiercely fought competition. The result is a parade of some pretty weird and wonderful – and enormous-  flowery creations which are well worth seeing. September 2 and 3. Website Meet Turkish writers The Balie in Amsterdam is organising an English-language evening with Turkish writers whose work does not meet with the approval of the powers that be in their country and who are forced to live and write abroad. Writers Çiler İlhan and Burhan Sönmez explain how living in exile has influenced their writing and how they feel about the present climate in Turkey. Translator Hanneke van der Heijden shares what it is like to translate...  More >


Weird places to eat in Amsterdam

The 10 quirkiest locations to eat dinner in Amsterdam The Dutch have a long history of turning old buildings into something else. Think of the Kruisherenkerk (church) in Maastricht that is now a hotel. Or the old tram depot in Amsterdam that’s now the Foodhallen. So it’s no surprise that there are some weird and wonderful places to eat dinner in Amsterdam and its environs… Here are 10 of the quirkiest, for next time you feel like dinner with a difference: 1 Revolving office block: Moon When the old Shell building across the IJ River was transformed into the A’DAM Tower, restaurant Moon was one of the first new inhabitants to open. Any why? Because of the spectacular view diners are treated to from 360 degrees of revolving glass. Given that the restaurant is on the 19th floor, and the full rotation takes 90 minutes (just about long enough for a proper meal), it’s definitely a dining experience worth saving up for. And the food isn’t bad either: Chefs Jaimie van Heije and Tommy den Hartog have dreamt up a fine dining...  More >


‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’

‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’ The Netherlands is a pretty stable, well-integrated and prosperous country. So why do the white Dutch talk about the failed multi-cultural society? asks journalist and writer Hassnae Bouazza. The media and politicians have been banging on about it for over twenty years: the multicultural society has failed and we are living a multicultural nightmare. I have never understood the failed-multicultural-society mantra. You might as well say the sun has failed. The multicultural society is a fact and that’s it. Like any other society it has its share of friction, groups that get along or not. Put people together and this is what you get, regardless of background. We live in a pretty stable and very prosperous country and the only way you could cry failure is if society doesn’t live up to a preconceived ideal. If your idea of success is a society in which everybody thinks alike, loves the same things and laughs and cries at the same things it’s not society that has failed but...  More >


13 English-language theatre companies

13 English-language theatre companies in the Netherlands From open-air Shakespeare to comedy classics like ‘Allo ‘Allo!, the English-language theatre scene in the Netherlands now covers a myriad of genres. Here are our top picks from this rapidly-expanding realm. Amsterdam Toneelgroep Amsterdam Soon to be known as the International Theatre Amsterdam (ITA), following a merger with Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg, Toneelgroep Amsterdam is the city’s largest theatre group and is over 30 years old. Historically, performances have been in Dutch, with English surtitles on Thursdays to attract a broader audience, but the English-language offer is likely to improve as the new alliance seeks a more international following. They kick off the Amsterdam theatre season with an adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic Scenes from a Marriage, surtitled in English, which will later tour the country. International Theatre in English (iTIE) Run by Greek national Theodora Voutsa, the iTIE has – unsurprisingly – a taste for classical tragedy,...  More >


How to buy a house in The Hague

From the sea front to suburbs, here’s how to buy a house in The Hague As the cost of rental housing continues to rise, buying your own home has become a very real alternative for expats – and no-where more so than in The Hague. The How To Buy A House events were created to help expats find their home in the Netherlands. The Hague is a welcoming city with a wide variety of places to live, from the rolling dunes in Kijkduin to the canals and gracious mansions of the city centre. You can live in an 18th century town house or a modern home in one of the many suburbs, a high-rise flat near the main railway station or close to the sea in Scheveningen. The first thing you need to do is decide where you would like to live, says Bernadette Willems, of estate agency BW Housing. ‘If your children go to an international school, you will want to be near them,’ she points out. ‘Otherwise, the Statenkwartier, Belgisch Park, Benoordenhout, Archipel and Duinoord are currently among the most popular areas. Price, of course is key and The Hague has homes...  More >


'The Delta Works are a great construction'

‘I really would like to meet the members of the Delta Works design team’ Daniel Garbowski is a computer engineer for NetApp. Bank with ING or ABN AMRO? Use Ziggo, Vodaphone, or interact with the Dutch government? Chances are that Daniel’s looking after your data. He says he is one of the 5% of Poles that work for multinationals in the Netherlands, and he has a message for EU citizens everywhere. How did you end up in the Netherlands? In 2010 I moved here from the States. If you live and work in the United States, you need to renew your working visa every one or two years. In my case, [2010] was the end of my visa, so I could have requested to stay longer, but it takes a lot of time. You need to go through this whole process, with some ridiculous questions, and I knew that in Europe you don’t need it; you can just move from one country to another. It’s a never-ending story. And if you can just go back to Europe and forget about it? Relief. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I felt like an immigrant in...  More >


How to buy a house in Amsterdam

How to buy a house in Amsterdam and Amstelveen – don’t be afraid to take the plunge! The housing market in and around Amsterdam and Amstelveen can be pretty complex but more and more international workers see owning their own home as the best answer to ever rising rents. The How To Buy A House events were started to help expats buying their own home in a foreign country. It might seem daunting, but buying a home in the Netherlands it is perfectly possible – as long as you get proper advice. Currently in Amsterdam and Amstelveen, properties are selling quickly and prices have risen to record levels over the past year. Nevertheless, there are still great buys around and a tuned-in estate agent will help you make the most of your money. There are plenty of legal ins and outs to deal with as well, so you will need to get good legal advice from a specialist notary too. On Sunday, September 23, a special event is being held at the Posthoornkerk on the Haarlemerstraat in central Amsterdam. to help expats find their way around the housing maze. ‘The event will guide...  More >


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 >


DutchNews.nl destinations: Overloon

DutchNews.nl 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 >