Somewhere it must be Christmas (Or: Decorations at TK Maxx)

TK Maxx is a European apparels and home fashion store. And if you are American and wondering if this is the same company as TJ Maxx, why yes, yes it is.

This company thinks it is Christmas already:

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind at all. I just find it a bit funny. And by the way, all of the things you see on the racks in the picture above are Christmas soap dispensers. Including the dog with the red sweater on the second highest shelf.

Maybe we skip straight ahead to Christmas in this country because Halloween isn’t that big here and Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Although the Netherlands does have the Sinterklaas holiday (English Wikipedia) on 5 December, so who knows.

I have to admit these are cute: little wooden sleighs with a few packages and a mini Christmas tree. However, the packages must have been little mini bricks as the decoration was way heavier than I expected when I picked it up.

Anyone else spotting Christmas decorations popping up in stores?

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Every day a new dog awaits (Or: Sand art in the city centre)

If you visit The Hague’s city centre in the afternoons, there is a good chance you will see some doggy-related sand art:

Of course, the person was still in the middle of sculpting so the dog looks more like he lost a lot of weight very, very quickly. Here is a close up:

See also: Bijna dagelijks ligt deze hond van zand op de Grote Marktstraat, maar waarom? (This dog of sand is lying on the Grote Markstraat almost every day. Why?) from indebuurt.nl in Dutch. Apparently this dog sand art is frequently seen in other Dutch cities and even London. Of course the sculptors hope you will drop a few coins into their bag as you walk past, and it seems like dogs are an easy thing to sculpt. If you stick around long enough you will also see puppies being formed. Or just click the news article above to see some sand puppies.

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Up, up and away (Or: The Art of DC comics exhibition in Groningen)

While in Groningen Marco and I also visited the Art of DC comics exhibition (official website in English) at Forum Groningen. The forum is a multipurpose building which includes exhibition space, a cinema, a library, a café and more. It’s not a good place if you’re afraid of heights, though. It has about 7-8 floors and lots of escalators. And of course the escalators aren’t on top of each other, so when you’re on floor 5 going to floor 6, there’s 5 floors of nothingness directly below you. Hmph. You can get an idea of what I mean by checking this link (alamy.com, it’s an image bank site).

Here are some pictures of the costumes. You can see the difference in suits as the years pass – at first quite basic, and then more intricate suits as the years go by (actually, this image doesn’t even show the first superman suit they had on display).

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Oasis in the city centre (Or: Prinsentuin in Groningen)

Marco and I celebrated our wedding anniversary (19 September) a bit early this year by taking a trip to the north of The Netherlands to visit a city called Groningen. It was a pretty far journey by Dutch standards (2 hours and 40 minutes by train) although by American standards it could be considered a daily commute…?

One of the highlights of the visit was the Prinsentuin in the northern part of the city centre.

This garden was created in 1626 and includes a rose garden, herb garden and “berceaus” (a sort of tree tunnel where trees line both sides and are allowed to grow into each other, creating a tunnel).

Those tunnels are very handy when it begins to rain unexpectedly! If you were hiding in the tunnel you could (mostly) stay dry. This part of the garden gave me Secret Garden vibes (English Wikipedia).

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Rijswijk (Or: The evolution of In de Bogaard)

In de Bogaard is a shopping area in Rijswijk, not far from The Hague. Although I keep forgetting that the name changed from In de Bogaard to Bogaard stadscentrum (Bogaard city centre) last year. See also the Dutch Wikipedia page. It will always be In de Bogaard for me, much like Disneyland Paris is always Euro Disney to me, even though the name changed years before. Actually before I moved to the Netherlands, but Marco and I always used Euro Disney so the name stuck in my mind.

On that note, all the best to my parents who will be visiting Mickey in Florida in the near future. Have fun!

But I digress. The shopping centre in Rijswijk was in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Does anyone remember the green fountain water back in 2012? I do, and I have photographic proof. Yuck. These days that area has lovely landscaping and parks for kids to play in (see below). There’s a dedicated bike path cutting through the plaza, too. Not that I bike, but it always good to know where not to walk so I don’t get run over. That is important in this country.

The shopping area is behind and to the left; this photo looks away from it. But the new fountain isn’t green. The running water helps of course.

Here is one of the shopping streets. I thought it was amusing to look up and see umbrellas as decoration, considering it hadn’t rained for most of the summer. We’ve gotten a decent amount of rain this past week, though.

There are lots of plans for this area in the future. For example some of the shopping areas will be demolished to make room for housing and “green” areas like parks for residents. You can read more at the official website (in Dutch).

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Rain, rain, rain! (With: A bit of thunder mixed in for good measure)

Except for a brief spell one afternoon, I don’t think it has rained in The Hague for at least a month and a half. Perhaps that figure isn’t 100% correct, but you get the idea. Over the weekend I was running errands and I was disturbed to realize the pavement stones were so sticky in some spots that my shoes were getting sucked in. Ew.

But finally, tonight, the pavement gets a good cleaning:

Bring on the rain! And thunder too. There is never enough thunder and lightning in this country.

This website is buienradar.nl. It isn’t always the most predictable of websites – or perhaps I shouldn’t put some much faith into it – but it is useful enough. More water for the plants and trees!

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Sleeping in the sun (Or: Cute little cat)

A few weeks ago Marco and I were walking to Kelly’s expat store. Along the way I spotted a cute cat who was sleeping in the sun:

He (or she) didn’t wake up, even when I stopped to take a picture. He is probably on the older side though, considering all of the white hairs on its face. But he was so cute! It was a very hot day that day, so he was probably just trying to cool off on the stone.

(And you know you are in the Netherlands, since if you don’t get a bike in the picture you will inevitably get a mobility scooter that the elderly use in the picture. Those things are dangerous in the hands of old people…!)

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The Streets of Chuck Deely (Or: The 2022 edition)

Chuck Deely was an American street musician who played in The Hague’s city centre for years. He was such a fixture that the mayor of The Hague gave him a ‘street license for life’ to play music in the city centre back in 2008. Unfortunately he passed away in early 2017 (previous blog post).

Tomorrow (Sunday afternoon) is The Streets of Chuck Deely festival (official website in Dutch) in The Hague’s city centre, from 13:00 to 17:00. Check out the band line up. There are 10 mini stages set up around the city centre. Most bands will perform twice.

Mini stature of Chuck Deely (near The Hague Central Station)
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Transportation (Or: Trains, trams and… shopping carts?)

It’s a random news day, I think.

The major train provider (NS) is in the middle of a strike. There are 5 days where workers will strike. Today was day 1, in the north of the country. Friday is this area’s turn (The Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam, etc.). There are three more regions set to strike next week, with national strikes possibly following in September. Hmmm.

Not to be outdone, there was also a news story about Scheveningen getting a new tram depot in a few years. This is needed because the newer Avenio trams (Dutch Wikipedia) are wider and don’t fit in the current depot.

And, as the final form of transportation:

Albert Heijn (a Dutch grocery store chain) has been using a coin deposit system to unlock carts since the mid ’80s. As you might expect, this was to prevent carts from going missing. But this system was suspended in the last few years due to corona and Albert Heijn noticed that even without the system the number of “missing” carts did not go increase. So they decided to scrape it entirely. Personally I am not really affected since I don’t have a car. No car = limited carrying capacity = shopping basket for me.

That was also the rule I lived by in the States, since I didn’t have a car there either. Did you know “never having to learn to drive” was in the “pro” column when we were debating if I move to the Netherlands or if Marco moves to the States, way back when? Yep, I hate driving that much.

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Chapeau! (Or: Hats exhibition in De Passage)

Look up in De Passage (The Passage) and you will see a few thousand hats floating above you.

The Hat Exhibition Chapeau! is being held in De Passage until mid-October (depassage.nl, article in English). As the story goes, a few years ago about 3,000 hats were found in a vacant space above the Ladies Paradise shop in De Passage. The shop itself closed around 1998-2000. The designer Pink Steenvoorden came up with the idea of hanging most of them from the ceiling for visitors to photograph.

You can view a picture of the interior of the shop at The Hague’s city archive.

If you will be around for Prinsjesdag, you can also take part in The Hague Hat Stroll 2022 on September 17. For more information see prinsjesfestival.nl (in Dutch). Everyone is asked to wear their prettiest hat. If you don’t have one, you can borrow one for the event from the supply of hats found in De Passage. The walk will go through The Hague’s Museumkwartier (the Museum Quarter [in English]).

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