Friday 18 October 2019

Save the postie, write a love letter

How to keep the postman safe in the era of e-mail? Put pen to paper and write a love letter, advises economist Mathijs Bouman. This is what I fished out of my No-bestickered post box this morning: a letter from a solar panel seller, a folder from a web shop in office supplies and a blue envelope from the tax office. The first two immediately end up in the paper recycling bin while I swear to myself never to buy... More >

Hockney to Hair Peace - here's 14 great things to do in March

The John and Yoko peace protest in Amsterdam, English-language theatre, amazing art and the missing link in photographic history – these are just some of the events in our March list of great things to do. See nature through their eyes David Hockney’s elegiacal homage to nature  begins on the first of this month at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. ‘Nature is never boring,’ Hockney says, ‘and Van Gogh knew that’. Hockney-Van Gogh – The Joy of Nature explores... More >

Where to celebrate Carnaval this weekend

This weekend Carnaval breaks loose in the southern part of the Netherlands. Here’s what you need to know about this most Dutch of events. In Brazil they have the famous Rio Carnival; in Greece, Italy and other parts of the southern Mediterranean religious parades take place through towns large and small. In the Netherlands, predominantly in North Brabant and Limburg, we have Carnaval – without either the sparkly costumes or the religious overtones. Carnaval derives from the latin, carne vale,... More >

Rutte rules the VVD or is it D66?

Prime minister Mark Rutte is currently big on Europe and the climate.  Yet his party used to hate wind turbines because it was subsidies that kept them turning, says commentator Syp Wynia. The VVD was the party that wanted less Europe, not more, the party which, under Frits Bolkestein, became, for the very first time, the biggest in the land. But that was the 1990s and Bolkestein’s VVD has had its day. In 13 years as party leader, Mark Rutte... More >

Good grades for Amsterdammer of the year

Studiezalen (Study Rooms) is a non-profit organisation helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds get a foot back on the education ladder. Deborah Nicholls-Lee meets founder, and newly-elected Amsterdammer of the Year, Abdelhamid Idrissi to find out more. ‘Better grades is something that’s easy to achieve,’ says Abdelhamid Idrissi (29) from Slotermeer, who was voted Amsterdammer of the Year in January, amassing around a third of all the votes cast. ‘Everybody can do that,’ he explains. ‘But if someone is not happy,... More >

Podcast: The Jihadi Daycare Edition

  The sound of doors slamming shut echoes through this week’s podcast as the Netherlands says it will turn away returning IS fighters, Venezuela closes its border with Curacao and a Dutch journalist has a full-on crockery-smashing row with a Fox News host. We also find out how the cabinet got its fingers burned over energy bills and discuss whether compelling children from immigrant families to attend pre-school will really help them integrate better. News Coalition parties projected to lose... More >

Nine key facts for filing your taxes

February is the month that most of us get a blue envelope from the tax office, telling us it is almost time to file our annual tax return. Here are nine key issues that you need to take into account. 1. It is all down to boxes The Dutch tax system distinguishes three types of income for tax purposes. Each type of income is referred to as box 1, 2 or 3 and has its own tax rate. Box 1... More >

Who will guard your child when you’re gone

Historically, if you wanted to designate a guardian for your child in case something should happen to you, it had to be done by will. Today, a new option is available which makes this process cheaper and easier: appointing a guardian via the parental authority register. As a parent in the Netherlands, you want to know that if something happens to you, your child will have someone to protect their best interests. However, until recently the only way that a... More >

'I am not a great believer in maps'

Originally from Pakistan, Basir Mahmood is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker whose works have appeared in galleries and museums all around the world. A few years ago, he was awarded a research fellowship in Amsterdam, and he continues to live in the city. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I have been travelling around for the last eight years now, from one artist residency to another. This is how I also ended up at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende... More >

Weird stairways, stone tables and Gandalf

Leiden dates back all the way to the 9th century. Over the past 1,100 years, it’s steadily acquired its fair share of historical oddities and other curiosities that are unique or simply bizarre. Here’s a few that are often overlooked by visitors and locals alike. 1 A mysterious stairway Outside Leiden’s medieval Stadhuis, there’s a stairway that leads to a small platform. Together, they seem pretty pointless but they served an important purpose back in the day. The platform was... More >

Podcast: The Everyone's a Muppet Edition

A blockbuster edition of the podcast this week as the Dutch government sends in Stef Blok to wrestle with a muppet named Brexit and try to beat Venezuela’s aid blockade by going through Curacao. We also hear how Ajax took pride from a home defeat, Amsterdam’s mayor raised the stop sign to red light tourism and a Dutch entrepreneur’s flour bomb blew up in his face. In our discussion we review the court decision that could allow dozens of people... More >

The Dutch mock weddings which are sincere

At Wed and Walk, marriage isn’t for life, it’s for just one day. Deborah Nicholls-Lee finds out why romantics are flocking to Amsterdam to take part in a mock wedding. Toon and Tetty exchange rings under an arch festooned with roses and ribbons and crowned with two white doves. The birds, flowers and wedding are fake, but the sentiments are all real. Despite having presided over around 6000 mock weddings, Jona Rens (39), whose business Wed and Walk ‘marries’ people... More >

Indian designer bridges east and west

A fashion designer in India is reaching out to the international community in the Netherlands in a bid to break into Europe. Dutch women may not be renowned for their passion for high fashion, and their casual approach to both work and formal wear is one of the first things which new arrivals often notice. But Indian designer Amit Sachdeva hopes his cross-over designs will help change all that. Amit uses simple cuts and classic drapes for his designs, which,... More >

The best of the Rembrandt shows nationwide

The life and works of Rembrandt van Rijn are being celebrated across the country this year to mark the 350th anniversary of his death. Deborah Nicholls-Lee has a round-up of the main events. 2019 marks 350 years since Rembrandt van Rijn’s death and the Dutch tourist board has leapt at the chance to extol one of the country’s best-loved artists and wax lyrical about the Golden Age, when Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in Europe. Amsterdam The Rijksmuseum Rembrandt spent... More >

Employers who can't find staff need to up their pay rates

  Employers who can’t attract staff need to stop advertising and start paying, says economist Mathijs Bouman. I’m sorry employers of the Netherlands but you are still not getting the message. At every congress and event in the land you tell me how important it is to conquer new markets, embrace new technologies and, especially, how essential it is to put the customer first. Customer service, that’s what it’s all about for growing companies. But customers are not your problem... More >

Dutch destinations: Deventer

Best known for its annual Dickens festival during the winter holiday season, Deventer is a picturesque city located east of Apeldoorn with a rich literary history. Here you’ll find gorgeous architecture, great cafes, and a very old kettle with a blood-soaked past. Deventer’s history goes all the way back to the Dark Ages, and it’s one of the country’s oldest communities. Historians theorise that it was likely founded by the English missionary Lebuinus in the mid 8th century. He constructed... More >

Podcast: The Whistling Dixit Edition

  There’s an end of days feel to the podcast as we review a week in which schoolchildren took a collective day off to demand urgent action on global warming, just days after MPs agreed to talk about it for a bit longer. We also look at how Geert Wilders became Islam’s number one recruiting sergeant, why a no-deal Brexit could trigger medicine shortages in the Netherlands, a setback for British expats and Dutch shoemakers, and perhaps the most alarming... More >

The main changes on your January pay slip

With the first month of 2019 now over, you will have received your first pay packet of the year. Financial advisor José de Boer knows what you should be looking out for. Dutch pay slips are complicated affairs – a sheet of acronyms and percentages that take a great amount of knowledge and concentration to unravel. Research by payroll processing company Raet has shown that 35% of people think their pay slip is too complicated for them to be able... More >