An allround experience with Sven and Ireen

An allround experience: watching Sven and Ireen skate in front of their home crowd There are some things you just can’t avoid to really understand the Dutch and speed skating is one of them. Robin Pascoe went to see Sven (Kramer) and Ireen (Wüst) in action at the world allround championships. Many years ago, when my children were small, we did the obligatory skating lessons at the Jaap Edenbaan ice rink in Amsterdam. This usually involved spending all day of the one-week autumn holiday at the rink, watching small boys and girls strap skates to their boots, don waterproofs and set off round the ice at breakneck speed. After a year of watching little Svens and Ireens, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and sign up for the adult class which took place at the same time. I bought a pair of ‘hoge noren’ speed skates and signed up for lessons. Eventually my years of Saturday mornings at the Silver Blades ice rink in Bradford attempting to learn how to do a half lutz were converted into something vaguely resembling the Dutch long glide – if you put...  More >


Podcast: The Uber Dull Blok Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Uber Dull Blok Edition – Week 10 In the week when the most boring man in politics returned to the cabinet, a plot by taxi drivers to storm Uber's offices with fireworks and molotov cocktails was foiled Dutch cyclists won a clutch of medals at the indoor track world championships, we dig deep to find some more riveting news – like the car abandoned in the middle of the sea and the homeless man who was fined for cooking heron's legs. We also have the second part of our discussion on referendums and the so-called 'dragnet' law that will give AIVD agents more powers to tap your internet traffic. TOP STORY Stef Blok, the grey man of Dutch politics, returns to cabinet NEWS Wilders and Baudet pull out of radio debate Police investigating alleged taxi drivers' plot to storm Uber HQ Afghan refugees tell court they are too westernised to be sent home Teenager apologises for parking car in Waddenzee Roasted heron joins museum of fascinating dead animals SPORT Dutch cyclists sweep the boards...  More >


Optimism and openness is priceless

Local elections 2018: Openness and optimism is priceless What happened to the Dutch sense of adventure? Where is the bold confidence that we used to have? And why are people so gloomy when really there is every reason to feel hopeful? GroenLinks' council candidate Arjen Kapteijns makes a plea for openness and optimism. It won’t come as a surprise to you that GroenLinks - the left-wing greens - has great ambitions regarding the environment and fighting climate change. And as you might expect, as a left-wing party we strive for more equality in our society. But there’s a third pillar supporting our ideology that you might be less familiar with and that is our progressive side. Now that the Netherlands is shifting towards the conservative right, our views on an open and forward thinking society might be of interest to you. For many, many decades our tiny country boasted a worldwide reputation for its tolerance and open-mindedness. Yet, while we are still known as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world and are still in...  More >


Do you need Dutch funeral insurance?

Dying is expensive: so do you need Dutch funeral insurance? The Dutch are a pragmatic people about many things, not least of all about death. For many of them, that means planning ahead - and taking out insurance to pay for the cost of their funeral. Not surprisingly, a funeral insurance (in Dutch: uitvaartverzekering) is one of the most common types of insurance policies in the Netherlands. About 60% of the Dutch population have taken out insurance to cover the costs of their funeral. According to Dutch family spending institute Nibud, the Dutch spend an average of €7,500 on a funeral. Nevertheless, a large part of the population does not know what the true cost of a funeral is and around half of the policies they take out do not fully cover the ceremony and funeral costs. So, how essential is funeral planning? And do we really need an insurance that covers those expenses? Planning a funeral To put it bluntly, when you die, your family will suddenly have to find the money to pay for the funeral. This will almost certainly add...  More >


'I can feel at home without the language'

‘I can feel at home here without knowing the language’ Shadi Mokhtar (29) moved to Amsterdam four years ago, after he got a job at Booking.com. The Egyptian native says he loves the simplicity and honesty he witnesses in Dutch culture, and he is surprised by the strong work-life balance here. How did you end up in the Netherlands? After working for several startups and small agencies in Egypt, I wanted to work for a bigger company. Many Egyptians move to the UAE or the Gulf countries to build their career, but I was looking for something different. In some of those countries, you get a different treatment based on where you come from. One of my father's friends lived in the Gulf area for thirty years, raised all his children there, but never got permanent residency or citizenship. After so many years he still couldn't call that place home. I was looking for a new home, not just an opportunity with an end date. So I applied for a few jobs in Europe, one of them at Booking.com in Amsterdam. They invited me for an interview, and...  More >


How easy is it to buy a house in NL?

Just how easy is it to buy a house in the Netherlands? So, you’ve lived in the Netherlands long enough to know that you plan to stay. Now it is time to get out of that rental apartment and buy a place of your own and really become a local. But how much do you really know about the process? Take our quiz and find out. You’ve decided to take the plunge and become a home owner. It should be pretty simple, right? Here’s 12 key questions to help you find out everything you don’t know about how to buy a house. 1 You’ve got a great job which pays you €60,000 a year but you’ve only got a one-year contract and your partner is a freelancer. Can you still get a mortgage? 2 You want to buy a neat little apartment which is priced at €350,000 and you’ve got around €20,000 in savings. Can you borrow enough to buy the property, pay all the bills and put in a new bathroom? 3 You’ve been to look at a great place but you are not sure about the sloping floor in the bedroom. Does the selling agent have to tell you what the problem...  More >


Explore Leiden's canals without tourists

DutchNews.nl destinations: explore Leiden’s canals without the tourist hustle Once considered a broken down, blue-collar burg, Leiden has shed this reputation in recent years to become a sort of ‘mini Amsterdam’. Brandon Hartley shares a glimpse at one of the most often overlooked cities in the Randstad. At first glance, it might be easy to mistake the canals of Leiden for those in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district. They’re lined with picturesque houses, arched bridges, and the occasional house cat snoozing in the sun. While the city lacks the world famous museums and bustling nightlife of the real deal, it’s also a welcome refuge from the stag parties and tourist hordes that have laid claim to the nation’s capital. It’s also a city rich with history. Leiden is the birthplace of Rembrandt and was once home to the American Pilgrims before they hightailed it to the New World. In 1574, its brave citizens managed to withstand a months-long siege by the Spanish. They were later rewarded by King William of Orange with their very own college. Leiden University’s...  More >


Podcast: The Broken Referendum Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Broken Referendum Edition – Week 9   It may be just about the coldest start to March on record, but there's plenty of hot topics to digest on this week's podcast. We find out why Geert Wilders's efforts to thaw relations with Russia got a less than warm reception from the MH17 relatives, how a teenager won the right to brand himself a prince and what burning issues the Netherlands plans to tackle as chair of the UN security council. Plus the Winter Olympians return home in a blaze of glory and one of Johannes Vermeer's best-known paintings is back in the spotlight. And as D66 prepares to consign its referendum law to the flames, we discuss why successive attempts at direct democracy in the Netherlands have failed to catch fire. Top story: Weather Last day of February breaks cold weather record Man, 75, dies after falling through the ice while skating News Wilders infuriates MH17 relatives with friendship pin on trip to Russia Son of Prince Carlos wins court battle to use father's name and...  More >


5 Dutch ways to tackle the plastics crisis

From bubbles to boats: Five Dutch initiatives which are tackling the plastics crisis Empty drinks bottles, plastic packaging, microscopic plastic particles in the food chain: this once oh so useful invention is fast becoming an environmental catastrophe. Deborah Nicholls-Lee has been checking out some Dutch projects which are seeking solutions. The Great Bubble Barrier   Founded in Haarlem in 2015, The Great Bubble Barrier comprises an all-woman team of experienced sailors, who were tired of the plastic in the water spoiling their favourite sport. Based on a concept already used in the oil industry, in locks and in dredging, air is pumped through a perforated tube, creating bubbles which push the plastic to the surface and off to one side, where it can then be removed by a conveyor belt. Recent tests in the river IJssel showed that pieces as small as 3mm long can be trapped using this system. 'The Great Bubble Barrier can block plastics across the entire width and depth of the river and does not hinder ships and fish and it doesn’t require major infrastructural...  More >


13 great things to do in March

Irish dancing, DIY and meeting monsters: 13 great things to do in March The freezing temperatures may not make it feel like spring is on its way, but the Netherlands is gearing up for the start of the tulip season as the Keukenhof opens later this month. Here's a selection of great things to do in March. Look at the beautiful people The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is celebrating the return of Rembrandt's wedding portrait of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit after its restauration by tapping into the celebrity culture of centuries gone by. On show will be a collection of 35 full length portraits of such distinguished figures as femme fatale Luisa Casati and the rather dreamy playboy and gynaecologist (!) Dr Pozzi. High Society is on from March 8 to June 3. Website Look at the hoi polloi More Rembrandt at the Rembrandthuis, where a collection of etchings show the artist's powers of observation. Ordinary folk, children at play, beggars and tinkers are all depicted with the same attention to detail he lavished on the great and the good. From March 3. Website Say...  More >


NL will survive without 'the G4'

The Netherlands doesn’t need ‘the G4’ big cities to stay in business There is more to the Netherlands than four big cities with a few fields in between, says economist Mathijs Bouman. Amsterdam stands for Schiphol airport, HQs, and the creative sector. Rotterdam is synonymous with the port, trade, and hard graft. The Hague is the administrative capital and looks after international relations. Utrecht takes care of the business services. The Dutch economy is propelled by a four-cylinder motor: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Without a hint of irony they call themselves the ‘G4’– as if Merkel and Macron could walk in any minute and start negotiations. Last year the G4 went to the Binnenhof to ask for €35bn to finance a comprehensive investment plan aimed at improving the accessibility of the urban regions as well as increasing the number of houses there. The G4 have an office in Brussels so the European decision-making process can be tweaked to follow a course that would be advantageous to the four main Dutch cities. Now I would...  More >


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 >