A reader's letter to Eberhard van der Laan

Dear Mr Mayor, I am so grateful for what you did for me and my son Amsterdammer Somaye Dehban remembers Amsterdam's mayor Eberhard van der Laan and the impact he has had on her life and family. I am an Amsterdammer who was truly affected by the news of your illness like many others, even the ones who have met you for a brief moment. I am writing you this letter because I want you to know how grateful and appreciative I am for what you have done for me and my family - specifically my younger son. You probably don't remember shaking the little hand of my younger son (about 1.5 year old at the time) while he was in my arms. You, Mr Mayor, pronounced us both Dutch nationals in 2015. I couldn’t hold back my tears when you called up our names and when I testified on our behalf that we would be loyal citizens to the Netherlands: I cannot hold back my tears while writing you this letter either. You have had many of these ceremonies during your career as Amsterdam’s mayor so this handshake will have been like many others you have had. Yet our backstory...  More >


'You can’t bike on the roads in Italy'

Sofia and Elena are 11 years old, of British and Italian extraction, and have lived in the Netherlands for three years. Sofia is partial to the Dutch way of adding whipped cream to everything, while Elena thinks Dutch children are much more independent. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Sofia - We ended up here because of my mum’s job. She teaches Year 5 at the [British] school. Before that we were living in Italy. Elena - In Italy we also went to a British school and my mum taught there as well. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? Sofia - I would describe myself as European because I’m half British and half Italian and I’m living in Holland. Elena - I’m going to copy my sister’s answer. How long do you plan to stay and why? Elena - We’ve been here for four years and we think we might stay for another three years. We’re going to decide as a family if we’re going to stay here or if we’re going to move back to Italy. Do...  More >


New cabinet should be 50% female

The new Dutch ministerial line-up should aim for 50% women   The coalition talks are nearing completion after a record-breaking period of negotiation. It is also about time the Netherlands had a cabinet made up of an equal number of men and women, says Marije Cornelissen, the director of UN Women Netherlands. Two years ago Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau presented his new government to the press. Asked by a journalist why half of his cabinet was made up of women Trudeau paused a few seconds and said: ‘Because it’s 2015’. A few months later Emmanuel Macron achieved gender parity when he appointed 11 women to the posts of minister or junior minister. We hope Mark Rutte will follow suit. UN Women has issued a petition as a way of calling on the negotiators to make sure Mark Rutte will be posing for the traditional photograph on the steps of Paleis Huis Ten Bosch flanked by as many women as men. Why? Because it’s 2017. Languishing In 1917 parliament granted Dutch women the right to stand for election. You would...  More >


Podcast: The Deplorable Grenade Edition

In this week's podcast we ask why the defence minister quit in the government's final days, why Anne Frank is the subject of a cold case inquiry and why Amsterdam is taking drastic measures to stop the rampant spread of tourist shops. There's also a rare sporting victory to celebrate and the latest in the long-running ABBA penalties saga. In our discussion we explain why iodine tablets are being distributed to thousands of households with children. Top story Defence minister Jeanine Hennis quits over report into fatal grenade accident News Amsterdam mayor Van der Laan dies Bad weather causes traffic and flight chaos Senate rejects bill to extend qualifying period for new Dutch citizens Cold case team aims to crack mystery of who betrayed Anne Frank (click here to visit the cold case review site) Dutch troops leave Sint-Maarten Successful skin cancer treatment no longer being made Amsterdam imposes ban to curb spread of tourist shops Sport Max...  More >


Child servants at the Dutch court

Child slaves, renamed Cupido and Sideron, ended up in the Dutch court as boys and spent the rest of their lives serving the royal family. Gordon Darroch visited a fascinating new exhibition about their lives in The Hague. You can see them in a painting from 1781 by Hendrik Pothoven, titled 'the Buitenhof during The Hague circus': two tiny, finely drawn figures that stand out among the entourage of Stadhouder Willem V for their striking outfits and prominent turbans, but above all for being the only black faces in the crowd. These were the servants, Cupido and Sideron, who arrived at the stadhouder's court as children in the 1760s and whose fates were bound up with the turmoil that engulfed the House of Oranje-Nassau following the French Revolution. Their story is the basis of a fascinating exhibition at The Hague's Historical Museum that trains the spotlight on a point where the elegant traditions of courtly life cross with the murkier aspects of colonial history. Cupido and...  More >


Places where every day is Dierendag

Today it is ‘animal day’ – but in some places, every day is Dierendag On the the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the world celebrates World Animal Day - Dierendag. Around the country, on October 4th, business will host special events, children bring their pets to school and more. But, as Molly Quell reports, in some places, every day is animal day. The Dutch have nearly as many pets as bikes, almost two for every man, woman and child. According to Dibevo, the Dutch organisation for animal-related companies, there are 33.4 million pets living in 7.6 million Dutch households. Fish are by far the most popular pet - with 18 million, there are actually more fish in aquariums than people. Birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, reptiles and rodents make up the rest of the list . It isn’t just families trying to teach tweens lessons in responsibility by walking the dog or feeding the fish. Business owners also like to have friendly face hanging around their establishment. 'Who doesn’t love a little puppy?' asks Frontaal Brewery owner...  More >


What does Brexit mean for expat finances?

Brexit is set to have more of an impact on expats than many people realise. Residency rules might be changing, but the financial fall-out is already being felt. International workers need to act now to make sure their finances are properly protected in a post-Brexit world. There is much uncertainty surrounding the eventual outcome of Brexit but whatever happens, investments in Britain - whether savings, pensions or property - will all be affected by the changes set to come into effect by 2019. 'Brexit is not going to land on your head out of nowhere. Everyone is watching,' says Paul Brown, director of expat financial management company Blacktower. 'Now is the time to act. You have got to hedge your bets.' So what should expats be doing to reduce potential risk exposure and to take advantage of opportunities which may no longer be available once the outcome of Brexit has been determined? Expats, says Brown, should start planning and considering their options now rather than...  More >


Blog watching: cycling with a disability

Hilary Staples was born in the UK but moved to the Netherlands with her tricycle when she was young. She writes about cycling in the Netherlands along with her husband on Holland Cycling. Here's their entry about making the most of bikes when you have a disability. Do you have a disability or other health problems? Cycling might still be possible with the right type of bike. Thanks to innovative technology, more bikes are coming on the market for cyclists who can't ride a regular bike. What options are there and where in Holland can you rent them? Types of bike Do you have a disability or other health problems? This does not necessarily mean you can't enjoy going out for a cycle ride. With the right type of bike that suits your needs, more might be possible than you think. Thanks to innovative technology more suitable bikes are coming on the market - heavy, clumsy invalid bikes are luckily a thing of the past! Here are some options that are available in Holland. Standard...  More >


12 great things to do in October

October is the time for Halloween pumpkins, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and the school half-term holidays. Hanneke Sanou has some suggestions of things to do. Get to know Couperus – surtitled in English For the third consecutive season, Ivo van Hove presents an adaptation of a novel by Louis Couperus (1863 – 1923). The Small Souls (De Boeken der Kleine Zielen), the story of a once prosperous The Hague family in decline, will premiere on October 8 in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. For tickets and other performance dates go to the website. Look up at Haring at the Stedelijk The Stedelijk Museum of modern art, also in the capital, welcomes back Keith Haring's 12 by 20 metre sun screen. Sprayed onto cloth some thirty years ago by the artist in a day long performance in situ, Haring's cartoony creatures needed restoring. Haring's 'velum' will be back shielding the museum's former entrance staircase from October 12. Website Raise an eyebrow with 007 On October 13...  More >


Podcast: The Cannibal Car Park Edition

The podcast team report on a scrap for the finance minister's job, a narrow escape when a car park couldn't stand the heat and a penalty shoot-out that's being decided in the courtroom. We also find out why the defence minister is coming under pressure over a military accident in Mali, and why prosecutors are investigating a doctor in a euthanasia case. In our discussion we examine the benefits and challenges of the Dutch health insurance system. Top story Coalition parties scrap for finance minister's job Defence minister under fire over critical report on Mali mission News Doctor reported to prosecution service over euthanasia case September confirmed as wettest for 16 years Amsterdam gets tough on illegal street cafes Eindhoven Airport's car park brought down by design flaw 'Substantial' gas field found in Waddenzee Efteling music used to drive teenagers away from Amsterdam central station Sport Feyenoord struggling to stay in Champions...  More >


What you need to know about Dutch divorce

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances. Separating from a partner is a challenging emotional time and it also carries a number of financial, legal and practical implications. Those issues can be made more complicated if you or your partner (or both) are non-Dutch nationals. If you have more questions, you can visit our stand during the I Am Not A Tourist Fair on October 8th 2017, where we will be giving free fifteen minute legal consultations. Here are the top eight things that you should know. Regardless of which country you married in or what your nationality is, it is possible (in most cases, there are some exceptions) to divorce in the Netherlands. You do not need to provide a reason to get divorced in the Netherlands. All divorces are considered no-fault and can be requested for any reason. You must retain a lawyer to file for divorce. You and your ex-partner can share a lawyer or you may retain your own lawyers. You can also make use of a mediator during the...  More >


New in Amsterdam: emergency Dental365

Imagine falling off your bike and breaking a tooth before a crucial job interview or a great party that you've planned. Help is now at hand in the form of Dental365, the new walk-in emergency dentist in Amsterdam. Dental365 was established by a group of dentists and specialists who believe there is too little emergency assistance in dental treatment in The Netherlands. The concept of Dental365 is that quality, emergency care and availability are complementary to regular dental care. To get the most out of this concept, Dental365 works closely with dental care practices, hospitals and specialist in the regions The Hague and Amsterdam. When they are not able to provide aid, they can redirect their patients to Dental365 for example, outside working hours, at the weekend or when a dental practice is closed due to holidays. The first Dental 365 practice opened over a year ago with the emergency dental service in The Hague. This was followed by a second practice to deal with dental emergencies...  More >


'A bitterbal is like eating flaming lava'

Toronto native Matt McNeil decided to forgo a career as a broker in Canada to move to the Netherlands with his girlfriend. They’re now the parents of a baby boy and he’s the proprietor of Coffee Company Leiden, one of the few North American-style coffee bars in the city. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Like so many other people: love. I was studying at the University of Concordia in Montreal and my girlfriend was there doing a half-year exchange. We met at the beginning of her trip and we were pretty much inseparable for the remainder. This was followed by a long-distance relationship that went on for four years. By that point I was out of school and I was working as a business broker, which is sort of like being a real estate agent but for businesses. Something had to change. She was in the middle of her master’s degree so I came over here. I eventually started working at Coffee Company in Amsterdam and things went from there. How do you describe yourself – an expat,...  More >


Can a taalcafé really boost your Dutch?

Learning Dutch can be a tricky thing, so teachers are always coming up with new ways to help learners absorb the language. So what is a taalcafé and can it really help improve your Dutch? Deborah Nicholls-Lee tests it out. I have just had a French conversation with a Dutchman about Russian literature, discussed the shortage of student accommodation in Dutch with a Turk, and learnt - thanks to an English-speaking German PhD student - about Economics’ inability to provide concrete answers. I was nervous as hell beforehand, but the language café experience is proving fascinating. Tonight is party night where language learners are invited to come together in one big melting pot. It’s a polyglot’s paradise, but can it help me learn Dutch? According to Koen Gyzel, from Amsterdam Dutch language school Koentact, it can. He opened the school’s first language café to provide ‘a more free-style playground’ for students who had completed his courses to keep up with their...  More >


Six ways to get to know your neighbours

Neighbours needn’t be strangers. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on six neighbourhood initiatives that are connecting local residents in the Netherlands. How well do you know the people next door?  If you still haven’t borrowed a cup of sugar, enjoyed a pavement borrel, or shared a moan about dog mess/bin days/noise, Burendag - Saturday, September 23 - is a great opportunity to meet your street, discuss the issues of the day, and lend a helping hand. To mark this most gezellig of events, here are six other Dutch initiatives connecting local communities. De Buurtcamping What if there was just canvas between you and your neighbours rather than bricks and mortar? De Buurtcamping helps neighbourhoods organise camping weekends in local parks across the Netherlands. This year it is celebrating its 5th anniversary. For Annemiek Tigchelaar, the organisation’s communications officer, the most special thing about the event is the coming together of diverse groups: ‘Neighbours...  More >


Podcast: The Horses and Hoedjes Edition

The podcast team review the hats, horses and financial repercussions of Prinsjesdag, explain why a toilet protest had to be cancelled and try to pick their way through a consignment of 300 identical bikes in Tilburg and a disorderly penalty shoot-out in Amsterdam. Our discussion asks why Hema's decision to change the way it sells children's clothes sparked an outcry on social media. Sint-Maarten fundraising day collects €13.3m for disaster relief Top story Few giveaways in outgoing government's last budget Read an English translation of the king's speech from the throne here. News New government already more unpopular than its predecessor Protest against fine for women peeing in street cancelled Amsterdammers in show of respect as terminally ill mayor steps down 300 identical bikes add to parking chaos at Tilburg apartment block Sport Tom Dumoulin celebrates world time trial title win KNVB investigating irregular penalty shoot-out in cup tie...  More >


I am not a tourist: 15th edition

Sunday 8th October 2017 sees the 15th edition of Amsterdam’s renowned 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair. Come to the stunning Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam to explore what the Netherlands has to offer you! Every year we give you the chance to take part in engaging and useful workshops, mingle with thousands of fellow internationals and network with companies from across the country in what has become the largest expat focussed event in the Netherlands. And, what’s more, it’s free! Get your complimentary ticket right here! Whether you have just moved to Holland, are a long-term resident, or a digital nomad the 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair promises everything you need to know about living, working and enjoying your time here. This year’s fair will be the biggest yet; offering more than 3,000 expats the chance to talk with professionals from diverse industries and explore a wide variety of social clubs, volunteering and entrepreneurial opportunities. We...  More >


The Netherlands: a tale of two governments

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments The longer the process to form a new coalition takes place, the more the Netherlands is becoming a country run by two governments with a shared prime minister, writes Gordon Darroch During the 1950s the Netherlands was famous for having two foreign ministers. When asked to explain this curious situation, one of them, Joseph Luns, is said to have quipped: Als klein land heeft Nederland heel veel buitenland. ('As a small country, the Netherlands has a great deal of foreign parts'). That the Dutch have become more inward-looking in recent years is reflected in the fact that the country currently has two governments, both concerned mainly with domestic issues and conjoined by a shared prime minister, Mark Rutte. On the one flank there is Rutte-II, the partnership forged in adversity of the right-wing Liberals (VVD) and centre-left Labour party (PvdA). It drove through a package of reforms to lift the economy out of the mire of the banking crisis, but at the cost of the near-annihilation...  More >


Podcast: The Game Show Finger Edition

While storms ravaged the Dutch coast and Sint-Maarten continued to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the coalition talks remained stuck in the doldrums on the eve of Prinsjesdag – or 'Budget Day' as we're fond of calling it. This week's podcast gives you the lowdown on the history, horses and hats that make up the ceremonial opening of the Parliamentary year. We also tell you about a woman who lost €147 when she was caught short in Amsterdam and a man who lost €5 million when his nerves got the better of him on live TV, and explain why neither the prime minister nor the Dutch flower trade are as romantic as they might seem. In this podcast we said the record for the longest cabinet was held by the Den Uyl cabinet of 1977. We did, of course, mean the Van Agt cabinet of 1977, which took office after Joop den Uyl had tried unsuccessfully to form a government. Click here if you'd like to donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Irma appeal Nederland helpt Sint-Maarten Top...  More >


Our favourite summer photos

Summer in the Netherlands: our favourite readers’ photos We asked our readers to send us their favourite summer photos in the Netherlands. We got lots of great photos from far and wide but we had to narrow down our favourites to pick the winner, who gets two tickets to MUST. You can see all of the photos that were submitted on our Facebook page. A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:15am PDT A summer terrace - Stepan Khachatryan A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:46am PDT One happy couple - Jaileen Jasleen A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:36am PDT Local wildlife in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park - Karolina Kasperek A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:25am PDT The Pooping Man in Flevoland - Marko Markov A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:21am PDT What's a Dutch summer without rain? - Hanneke Sanou A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl)...  More >