Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

I run the blog http://www.lifeinthehague.com

Anyone want some shredded cheese? (Or: Cheese hack deliveries)

On Monday I wrote about a cheese hack that was disrupting deliveries of cheese to the Albert Heijn grocery stores. The hack was resolved and deliveries could resume again. Most of the cheeses had been replaced, although there are still some gaps here and there. But I had to laugh when I saw this pile of shredded cheese:

Note: this was actually the overflow area for the extra shredded cheese they had in stock. They put it in the “weekly sale area”. The normal place for shredded cheese was also overflowing with bags and bags… and bags. It looks like two or three deliveries worth.

In other news… did you hear about the world’s first fish doorbell in Utrecht? It has been pressed 32,000 times so far in the first two weeks (nltimes.nl in English). Utrecht had a problem. At this time of year there is less boat traffic in the canals so fish would frequently find themselves stuck at a locked gate without any way to get to the other side. To solve this, viewers can watch a special webcam at visdeurbel.nl to see if they see fish in view. If you do spot one, you press the red doorbell on the right. If enough people press the doorbell, a human will manually check and if needed open the gate. Note that when you first access the page you might need to refresh it see the webcam properly.

The camera also takes a screenshot and shares the photo with you. Since there are limited moments when you might see fish (the best time of day is in the early evening or evening), the website also has a page with the best photos taken by viewers. Note that the webcam is temporary as it is only needed during the fish migration season.

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Puffed up and nowhere to go (Or: Pigeons basking in the sun)

Today’s photo is from Marco, taken earlier this month. It shows a flock of pigeons enjoying a bit of sun in The Hague:

He said they didn’t really move. They just sat there, puffing out their chests and (presumably) enjoying a rare moment of sunshine. By the locks of it they were smart enough not to go into the street and smart enough to stay out of the bike path (marked in red).

Just sitting there. Doing nothing. Sounds nice, right?

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I’m two in corona years (Or: Birthday time)

I’m now officially two years old.

(in corona years, of course)

Today’s my birthday. At least this year and last year I have a good excuse for not knowing what I want, since official birthday parties are out and non-essential stores are closed. Let’s ignore online shopping for this excuse. I have definitely reached the age where I am okay with not knowing what I want. Especially since my birthday falls on a Tuesday and that is not an ideal time to take off work or having a big celebration. But I received some nice cards and a few small presents from friends and family which I enjoyed going through.

To give you an idea of how today went: last week I told Marco that I was excited to choose something a bit less healthy for my birthday meal (think something American like a deluxe hamburger and fries, nachos, chili cooked in a slow cooker, or similar). And then yesterday and today I promptly forgot about it. I was in meetings most of the afternoon so I suggested something easy (but still tasty): tomato soup and a tosti, a ham and cheese sandwich with a fancy name. Still tasty, but not extragent birthday material.

Marco was however on top of his game, surprising me a small apple crumble pie from Albert Heijn, my favorite:

It’s my favorite because you get a bit of powdered sugar on top but it’s not too thick or messy, so not too filling. And that’s whipped cream on the side, slightly deflated since I didn’t take a picture right away. (I had to make the required cup of coffee first. It’s required.)

Check out this homemade card from Marco’s dad and his wife (best described as “beautiful” and “clever”!):

This is a birthday card on steroids. And what’s best is you can open it up:

The card stays in that position since you can rest it against the white rose. I also like the 3D element with the butterfly wings. I’m always amazed by the creations I get from them.

Here’s hoping I don’t turn 3 in corona years!

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Time to hack some cheese (Or: Ransomware)

Earlier this morning I was walking through the Albert Heijn when I noticed a sign near the cheese section, apologizing for the less than spectacular stock. Indeed, there were a lot of gaps and not much cheese to speak of. I didn’t think much of it since cheese wasn’t on my grocery list today.

A few hours later I read an article on NOS in Dutch: ‘Kaas-hack’ opgelost, ging om gijzelsoftware. I found an article in English at dutchnews.nl: Supermarkets cheesed off after dairy supplier is hacked. The hack occurred in the night between 4 and 5 April, about a week ago. Since then the company has mostly been working with pen and paper to get all of the orders fulfilled. The supplier refused to say whether they paid to have the ransomware lifted (but my guess is yes).

In public transportation news: Amsterdam’s metro lines 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54 have been stopped since about 17:30 today due to a technical failure in one of their new systems (nos.nl in Dutch). The issue is in the new traffic control system that they only started using yesterday.

In corona news: Ministers ‘consider coronavirus vaccine rethink’ after AstraZeneca chaos from dutchnews.nl. There is a lot of controversy around AstraZeneca right now in the Netherlands (and Europe in general). First it was not allowed to be given to 65+, then there were rare cases of rare blood clots mostly see in women under the age of 60 across Europe, and now the vaccine can’t be given to anyone under 60 but can be given to anyone older than that. The same national health council who said “don’t give it to people under 60” last week is now considering advising the government that people under 60 should be allowed to choose whether they want AstraZeneca or not.

Oh, and just to show you how weird the weather has been lately: we had more snow and hail this morning. It started coming down right just as I ducked inside Albert Heijn, but unfortunately I was not met with blue skies and white clouds when I left 15 minutes later. Boo. Who expects weather like this in mid-April?

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Plans for het Spuiplein (Or: Lots of green)

The Hague has presented its tentative plan for how the Spuiplein will be transformed once all of the construction is complete in a few months. First, here is a reminder of how much area the construction is taking up in front of Amare, the building in the back:

It will be good once we can have all that space back. If you are less familiar with layout of The Hague, here is a look at where Spuiplein is in relation to city hall and the central library. The Hague has released an artist’s impression of how the area will look:

Translated it reads: “A plaza with green, water, sitting areas, benches and places for small events. This is how the Spuiplein will look occurring to the first proposal”. Between the green and the benches will be a long water basin (pictured above). There will also be open places to allow small events like street theatres, musical performances from university students, ballet or a movie in the open air.

Of course, the building (Amare) still needs to be delivered. Haags stadsbestuur dreigt met boete als bouwer Amare opleverdatum niet haalt from omroepwest.nl. In other words, The Hague is threatening to fine the builder of the Amare if they don’t deliver the building on time to the city (1 July 2021). …opps?

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Additional options (Or: Subway extension from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam)

Some good news for future travelers to Amsterdam from the Schiphol airport:

The funds comes from the National Growth Fund, a €20 billion fund for “boosting economic growth and maintaining prosperity” (dutchnews.nl from late last year). Public transportation, including transportation from the airport to the destination, have always been important factors for Marco and I when choosing what cities we wanted to visit. It is of course possible to also take the train to Amsterdam, but it is always good to have multiple choices when traveling anywhere.

And in other news: Oldest part of the Netherlands is 420 million years old and found in Zeeland from nltimes.nl. The previous rock found in the Netherlands was in South Limburg, in the southeast, and it was dated at 330 million years. Zeeland is found in the southwest of the country.

Family is not tourism: campaigners ask Dutch government to allow non-EU family visits from dutchnews.nl. At the moment the Netherlands does allow “sweetheart visas” for a romantic partner to enter the Netherlands, but there is no such visa for family members like parents, grandparents or children.

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Lazy Fridays (Or: Onward to the weekend)

Yay, we have reached the weekend! Did you know the Keukenhof, the largest garden in Europe, is now open on a limited basis? Keukenhof, cultural sites start welcoming visitors again from nltimes.nl. It is part of the government’s testing expansion (Netherlands to allow small crowds at football matches, theaters this month, also nltimes.nl). You can see the full list of participating institutions and dates at rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). The visitor needs to have a negative corona test that is not older than 40 hours. The tests are free but you need to go to certain locations to get tested and you must have the CoronaCheck app.

In other news: Rotterdam, The Hague announce bid to host Tour de France start from nltimes.nl. The bid would either be for 2024 or 2025. Rotterdam would host the opening stage, with an additional stage from Rotterdam to The Hague. The previous time the Netherlands hosted a few stages was back in 2015, when Utrecht was the host twice.

And Fietsers weg uit de Grote Marktstraat? Dat kan, maar gaat ten koste van parkeerplekken from omroepwest.nl. (Removing cyclists from the Grote Marktstraat? That is possible, but it will come at the cost of parking). The city has determined that it is possible to remove cyclists from the shopping area of the Grote Marktstraat, the large shopping street in The Hague’s city centre. This is because cyclists can use the parellel streets of Gedempte Gracht and Gedempte Burgwal, but 54 parking spots would need to be removed in the latter street to make sure cyclists have enough room.

Of course, the article then goes on to say that there is a possibility that cyclists can cycle tvia the Grote Markstraat before 11:30 daily, when the shops open. But that just means people won’t know the difference and will keep cycling through the area no matter the time of day. Although the city did successfully manage to ban scooters from using the Grote Markstraart so I guess anything is possible… we shall see!

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Thorbecke monument (Or: 2021 adds a face mask)

The Thorbecke monument on the Lange Voorhout has recently received a new addition:

Interesting that only one of them is wearing a face mask…

This monument is actually made up of two parts: the modern stainless steel part (pictured above) and a marble part (not pictured) where J.R. Thorbecke, a 19th century Dutch statesman is actually shown. The two parts are supposed to represent the 19th century Thorbecke’s influence on our times. See also this page from angloinfo.com for more information in English.

In other news – what does the main train provider (NS) do when storks (a protected species in the Netherlands) build their nest above the train tracks? Answer: not much once the eggs are laid. Ooievaarsnest op bovenleidingportaal vormt brandgevaar, maar mag niet weggehaald worden from omroepwest.nl in Dutch. The same thing happened in 2020 in a different part of the Netherlands (article from dutchnews.nl in English).

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FOAM Easter brunch (Or: A mix of savory and sweet)

This year’s Easter brunch by FOAM was delicious, not that we expect anything different by now. Both photos were taken by Marco, who has a better eye for food photos it seems.

Let’s see. Some of the savory items include: a scone with salted butter and chia jam, an avocado sandwich, a mini spinach quiche and a scrambled tofu sandwich. (Note: that seems to be the only way I like tofu. So tiny it tastes and looks like scrambled eggs. Although oddly I also only eat eggs every 2-3 years, so who knows.)

Some of the sweet items included a coffee hazelnut milkshake, a huge chocolate chip cookie, banana bread, and a fresh fruit salad. My favorite was the chocolate chip cookie (of course) but the banana bread was a close second.

See also the 2020 edition for FOAM’s Easter brunch. That was one of the first FOAM meals we had in corona – pre-FOAM@home on Fridays. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Hail with a bit of snow (Or: Crazy weather in The Hague)

Cold weather is definitely on the menu the last few days. Days after historic warmth, Europe braces for shocking blast of cold, snow from washingtonpost.com.

I wouldn’t call what we got “lots of snow” per se, more a mix of hail and slush. Heavy on the hail part.

It is sort of weird weather where it is dozens of tiny storms flashing across the country, so you might have 2 minutes of hail, then 45 minutes of nothing and grayish skies, 5 minutes of vibrant blue skies and then another 2 minutes of hail. I was woken up early this morning at 03:45 to extremely loud hail smashing against the window. Marco slept through it all, of course!

The cold arctic blast also means that when the clouds disappear, you get to see lovely blue skies. Briefly. For a moment. See also this tweet:

Kind of cool if you ask me.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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