Author Archives: Niki

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Anyone up for cookies? (Or: Spotted at Albert Heijn)

While shopping at Albert Heijn I noticed they had gingerbread men baking mixes:

The box is in the upper right. Of course I’m not sure if it is actually gingerbread, since the box calls them “Winter holiday cookies”, translated.

And even though you can’t really see it in my photo above, if you go to AH’s website you will see that the box says (in the bottom left): “Good for Halloween, Sinterklaas and Christmas!”

I’m trying to imagine making gingerbread men for Halloween, but I can’t.

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

Highland cattle in Westduinpark (Or: Those are some big horns)

One of the weird things about The Hague that I read once in a while: there is actually a herd of Scottish highland cattle (English Wikipedia) hanging out in the dunes, in Westduinpark. In the summer they can be found in another part of The Hague: De Uithof. They can be viewed from a distance; visitors are asked to stay about 75 feet away and to talk to them so the animals know they are in the area. You can see some photos over at De Schotse Hooglanders zijn weer terug in de Haagse duinen.

Another animal article, though not as positive: Covid-19 mink variants discovered in humans in seven countries from The Netherlands was one of the first countries to report Covid-19 infections in mink, although it was infections from humans to mink. The mink fur farms in The Netherlands were due to be closed by 2024. After the corona crisis started, that date was moved ahead to next spring. There was talk of closing all farms by next month although that probably won’t happen.

I consider this way too ambitious, but the Dutch health ministry announced that they want to expand Covid-19 testing to 10 million tests every month (our entire population is under 18 million). The article is in English from Their goal is to allow everyone who wants it to get tested once a month, symptoms or no symptoms.

And finally an interesting story from in English: Swedish sailor identified 25 years after body was found. It was a 25 year cold case, solved when Dutch authorities realized that the sailor had a few Swedish items in his possession. They contacted the Swedish media who placed information about the case in about 50 newspapers. A relative of the missing sailor saw the ad when she was up late reading the paper due to insomnia.

Categories: News | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Farmers invade The Hague again (Or: More army blockades)

Living in The Hague has some interesting side effects. One of them is that most of the protests happen in your city. But when farmers come to The Hague to protest, they bring their tractors. Which as you can imagine causes traffic chaos. (I guess that is one of the benefits of most people working from home these days, then.) They were protesting the government’s new plans regarding farming pollution, among other topics.

Omroep West has a great article (in Dutch) with many photos: Boeren voeren weer actie in Den Haag. Or you can check out this article in English from Radical farmers drive into The Hague to protest at government regulations.

Things are going a bit better in The Netherlands, in terms of the coronavirus: New coronavirus cases at lowest point in 44 days from The Dutch government is holding a press conference at the moment to discuss the current situation, although reports have already said that it is too early to think about what the plans are for Christmas. At best we would get a loosening of restrictions for a few days around the holidays (article in Dutch at

And finally, here is an interesting article (unfortunately in Dutch) about the newest use of drones – The Hague is going to use drones to inspect the sewer system! Gemeente Den Haag gaat drones inzetten om riolering te inspecteren from There are over 1,700 kilometers (just over 1,000 miles) of sewers in the city. The city is fairly ambitious – their plan is to combine work on the sewers below with any needed work on the ground above, to save costs.

And here you thought you wouldn’t read about sewers today. You thought wrong.

Categories: Holidays, News | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Start of another week (Or: Bring the weekend back, please!)

It’s Monday again. It was quite a crazy work day for both Marco and I. On the plus side, the workday flew past for both of us – blink and it was 17:00 (or really 17:25… opps).

Here is some random news for you:

Fotoserie: Stille aankomst van Sinterklaas in Den Haag from Photo series: The silent arrival of Sinterklaas in The Hague. The man next to him is the current mayor of The Hague. There are four pages; click the orange arrow before or after the photos to go to the next page. The photos on page 2 (where he is in De Passage, a covered shopping area) are my favorite.

Georgian man infected with coronavirus arrested at Schiphol from Note for my American readers: That’s Georgia the country (not far from Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan), not Georgia the US state. I will admit it took me a bit of time to get used to that when I first moved here. As the article states: a man from Georgia was discovered at Schiphol Airport with a letter in his pocket informing him he tested positive for coronavirus. Needless to say, he was immediately arrested by the Marechaussee (the Dutch military police, who oversee the airport) for bringing others into danger.

Belgian racing pigeon fetches record price of $1.9 million from The pigeon was purchased by a Chinese buyer. She was probably bought for breeding purposes – apparently she has very good lineage – and won’t be used for racing again. Another article (from, in Dutch) stated this was because she would try to fly home to Belgium from China. Now that’s a trip…

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Temporary fixes (Or: Amendment to coronavirus regulations sign)

At the moment the Netherlands is under an additional layer of coronavirus restrictions, with additional community areas closed like libraries, theaters, cinemas, zoos, theme parks, etc. These additional restrictions will automatically expire on Wednesday (article in English from because there has been some improvement in hospitalizations.

Another restriction that is about to expire group sizes outside are currently limited to three (instead of the usual four). The Hague found an interesting way of getting this temporary amendment across:

That’s right. A nice big X of black tape where it says you can only be outside in a group of four. It works, I guess…

In other, Sinterklaas news: as you may or may not know, the subject of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete; link to English Wikipedia) is quite controversial because traditionally the character was portrayed by a white person, in blackface, with black curly hair, red lips and huge golden earrings. You can see the issue there…

But in recent years the trend (at least nationally) has been to have Black Petes with chimney soot on their faces, no curly hair, etc. The national children’s news program Sinterklaasjournaal already adapted this a few years back. The changes have sadly been much slower on a local level (if you remember from an earlier blog post this week, there’s a national Sinterklaas but also a local Sinterklaas for each city).

Dutch libraries are taking another step towards the future by banning all children’s books which depict a black-faced Black Pete, either removing them from their shelves or not buying them in the first place. Read more at the Will Dutch library ban on ‘Black Pete’ books spell end for ‘racist’ festive tradition?

Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate tulips (Or: A gift from HR)

Last week my company’s Human Resources department mailed us a surprise gift:

The note says: “The month of November has started with its beautiful autumnal colors but also rain and storm. HR has prepared an enclosed gift which already looks ahead to springtime. We hope you will enjoy this small token!” Cute.

I heard from some colleagues that their gift didn’t even survive an hour in their kid-infested house…

Categories: Working & Volunteering | Tags: | Leave a comment

Ca-SHEW! (Or: The sound of a nut sneezing?)

Marco and I spotted this amusing joke at FOAM‘s breakfast / lunch restaurant:

Cute, huh?

Unfortunately the number of coronavirus infections are increasing again; we’re back at around 6,100 after hitting a low of around 4,700 earlier this week (article at

In other news: Billion euros raised to extend Amsterdam subway to Schiphol Airport, also from I’ve always in favor of more public transportation options from the airport to your destination. Of course it will be years before that project is completed.

And a few days ago I reported on Sinterklaas’ plan to arrive at a non-existent village to prevent crowds of parents and kids from going there in these corona times. That’s the national Sinterklaas, but a lot of cities have their own local Sinterklaases as well. Check out this blog post that I wrote about the 2013 parade in The Hague.

Well, this year the story is that the boat of Sinterklaas had some favorable winds during its journey from Spain to The Hague’s harbor, so he unexpectedly arrived early. The mayor advised him to go into a short quarantine at an undisclosed location, which he did. Sinterklaas will receive a corona test on Saturday so that he can participate in Sunday’s parade (which children can watch on TV at home). Read more (in Dutch) at

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Aww, so cute (Or: Mini oliebollen!)

Marco found a bag of mini oliebollen by the local Albert Heijn today:

They are about half the size of normal oliebollen, and not yet sprinkled with the usual powdered sugar goodness (or in my case these days, cinnamon). We haven’t tasted them yet, so it is too early to tell if they were a good deal or not. Traditionally it is better to buy them on the street or make your own, so we will see.

Here’s a very random blast from the past from The Guardian’s archives:

Netherlands introduces car-free Sundays – archive, 1973. This initiative lasted three months and was due to the oil shortage during the Opec energy crisis. It is worth a look just to see the “four horsemen riding through the streets of Amsterdam”.

And here is a funny article (in Dutch) from Politie vindt 5.000 kilo vuurwerk in busje dat met pech langs de weg staat. Police find 5,000 kilos (11,000 lbs) of fireworks in a small bus that was stranded on the side of the road. Let’s see… tiny bus, 5,000 kilo inside. It had a flat tire. A passing road inspector spotted the bus and tried to help out, but it was too heavy to fix the tire. They called a tow truck, but the tow truck wasn’t able to help either. At that point they were pretty sure what was inside wasn’t legal; the police were able to confirm that once they arrived.

5,000 kilos of fireworks… sheesh.

Categories: Food | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Take out bags (Or: A drawing from Momiji Sushi)

Check out this cute take out bag drawing:

That’s from Momiji Sushi in The Hague. Nice drawing talent! (In case you don’t eat much sushi, I’ll say the guy is supposed to represent a piece of sushi wrapped in black nori or dried seaweed. You can see a smaller version in the speech bubble.)

Coronavirus infections rise back towards 5,500; Still down 29% from last week from It’s probably for the best that the number of infections didn’t drop yet again. Why, you ask? People were definitely starting to think we could start lifting restrictions and go back to normal (as it were), so it is good to have a reminder that we still have a very long road ahead of us.

The government has said they will likely let the “extra restrictions” of closing libraries, theaters, cinemas, zoos and theme parks automatically lapse next week, however. We will see.

Until then – enjoy your sushi! (Or, at least, “Support local!”)

Categories: Food | Tags: | Leave a comment

Sinterklaas to dock at Zwalk this year (Or: Wait. Where is that again?)

Here’s another thing that has changed this year due to the corona crisis: Sinterklaas will arrive in Zwalk this year. But good luck finding it, because Zwalk doesn’t exist on any maps.

That’s right – the organization behind Sinterklaas (a Dutch holiday celebrated on December 5) has cleverly chosen to have him arrive in a fictional town. That way you avoid any crowds and super spreader events. Usually 20,000-30,000 children and parents watch him arrive in a different city each year. Of course, everything was probably taped a month or two ago, but this way you prevent any and all traffic to the town.

This news was announced during the first episode of the Sinterklaasjournaal (literally “Sinterklaas news”) last night. That is a 10 minute program that will air daily until December 5. (Side note: there are so many toy commercials before and after this show – it is insane!).

The mayor of the fictional town asked children to send their drawings to Sinterklaasjournaal so that they could take part in the fun without being there physically.

The lady on the right is Dieuwertje Blok, the presentator of the show. The show is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – and she has been the presentator since the beginning.

Here is an article in English from Sinterklaas to dock at fictional location on Saturday, but tv cameras will be there

Categories: Holidays | Tags: | Leave a comment

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