Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

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

A new video from Keukenhof (Or: Beautiful tulips–online)

Unfortunately Keukenhof (English Wikipedia), one of the largest flower gardens in the world, won’t be able to open this year either. They have decided to post two short films a week instead so that people can see the work they put into getting the park ready.

Keukenhof ready to receive visitors – in the meantime, its flowers go online from dutchnews.nl

Dutch facility gets go-ahead to produce more AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines from nltimes.nl. The facility, based in nearby Leiden, is finally able to start officially producing AstraZeneca vaccines. This after the company took their time in submitting an official request for approval to the European Medical Agency. The dutchnews.nl website has more on the controversy surrounding the Dutch factory.

And finally, Utrecht researchers testing bracelet for identifying Covid symptoms from nltimes.nl (based on monitoring temperature, respiration, skin moisture and more).

Happy Friday, everyone!

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The Dutch parliament’s bad day (Or: Bad week?)

Let’s see… last week was the 2021 Dutch elections. After that, talks started to form the government. Since there are so many parties in the Netherlands, you usually need more than one (or two or three) to get a majority in the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).

The two largest parties, VVD and D66, appointed one person each to speak with the remaining parties to see which party would be the best fit with the largest two parties. Fun fact: the word for this person is verkenner, which literally translates to “scout”. So good so far.

On Sunday the Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer tested positive for corona (dutchnews.nl). At the time the cabinet was not required to go into quarantine because there was enough distance between the members. However they were strongly advised to get tested after 5 days.

This morning one of the scouts, the D66 home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, tested positive for corona just before she was supposed to have a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and Sigrid Kaag (D66) regarding the progress they had made on the initial cabinet formation talks. However, right before the meeting she heard that she had tested positive for corona so she immediately left to go into quarantine.

However, in her haste to leave she accidentally showed her notes to the reporters outside:

Among other things, the notes talk about a minister who was critical of the outgoing cabinet, suggesting he should seek another position. It also talks the parties on the left acting independently of each other versus trying to band together. Within hours both of the verkenners resigned their roles and new verkenners were appointed (dutchnews.nl).

Questions also started to pop up about why the cabinet was still meeting in person and not holding more meetings digitally due to the positive test result over the weekend. Technically the cabinet is exempt from any advice to work from home, but now cabinet meetings will move online for the time being to reduce the risk of getting infected (nltimes.nl).

Throw in a bomb threat at the Binnenhof (Dutch parliament) just after 17:00 today and there you go – one very long week (or at least day) for the Dutch government.

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Fridays for future (Or: Demonstration in The Hague’s city centre)

Marco took a photo of the “Fridays for Future” demonstration last Friday in The Hague’s city centre. Fridays for Future is an international climate movement (English Wikipedia).

The demonstration took place in the Hofplaats, right next to the Constitution bench I have blogged about a few times.

The Hofplaats is really close to both the Tweede Kamer and the Binnenhof. Off in the left corner of the photo is the “secret” entrance to the Binnenhof which I blogged about earlier this year.

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A new use for the PostNL location (Or: Amazing Oriental)

The last independent PostNL (national postal service) location closed in October, here in The Hague. Nowadays PostNL locations are kiosks within larger stores, usually managed by that store’s employees. After a while Amazing Oriental moved in. Amazing Oriental is a national Asian grocery store with a handful of locations in The Hague and surrounding area. They have a lot of great stuff – we’re usually there at least once a week. Marco is like a kid in a candy store in that shop…

Yesterday we visited the old PostNL location, across from the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”). While I was waiting for Marco to finish his shopping inside I snapped this photo:

As usual, lots of bikes. Also an orange post drop off box on the left. Even if PostNL doesn’t have a location here anymore, it is still a drop off point for mail. Although even those are disappearing or getting consolidated these days.

Fun fact: there used to be a 48 meter lang painting by Escher (Metamorphosis III) hanging in the PostNL location from 1969 until 2018, when it was moved to Schiphol airport. See also Escher in Het Paleis, the official Escher museum (website in English). The page also includes a film about moving the artwork to the airport.

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Random news for a Monday (Or: Brexit and cars stuck on train trucks)

From last week: Demand for gardeners shoots up as coronavirus turns gardens into refuges, dutchnews.nl. Makes sense, since most of us are spending all of our time at home these days. Apparently gardeners are already fully booked for April and May. Of course you first need space for a garden…

Brexit deficit: Dutch shops in a pickle over British favourites, also at dutchnews.nl. I have seen this first hand, with empty fridges at Kelly’s Expat Shopping, over on Zoutmanstraat in The Hague. Their fresh meat and cheese options have definitely been hit hard since Brexit went into force at the beginning of the year.

But I did snag some liquid French Vanilla coffee-mate for Marco. That stuff is like gold – it’s only in stock once or twice a year, so you have to be fast.

Apparently a minor was waiting in the car and somehow it went into reverse, crashing through a gate and ending up directly on the train tracks. Opps?

And, not really Dutch related at all, but if you want to try your hand at choosing the next set of Monopoly community chests cards, Hasbro is running a contest to refresh the set: Monopoly cards get complete new makeover from nltimes.nl. You will see two community chest cards at a time. You pick the one you like more and then another set appears. Here is a direct link to the contest at monopolycommunitychest.com. Think of things like: “You rescue a puppy–and you feel rescued too! Get out of jail free card” versus “Your friends video chat you through a tough day. Get out of jail free card”. In honor of these strange corona times I went with the second option.

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Time for some healthiness (Or: Broccoli salad with spectacular cashew dressing)

Tonight’s meal was a broccoli salad with smoked almonds, grapes, dates, baby tomatoes and peanuts (to name a few ingredients). The star of the dish was hands down the smoked cashew dressing. Of course it came from FOAM in The Hague. It tasted quite healthy but so delicious at the same time.

It was interesting to have sweet elements like dates and green grapes in a dinner, but everything meshed well together.

I will admit I peeked ahead at the options for this coming Friday – the first option is a sushi bowl and the second option is Spanish stew. Definitely leaning towards the Spanish stew myself… However the sushi bowl sounds intriguing because it includes “watermelon tuna”, aka watermelon that is prepared with Japanese ingredients to make it look and taste like tuna. Here is a recipe for watermelon tuna from bhg.com, Better Homes & Gardens. Quite interesting!

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Origami display at the Nespresso store (Or: In the Passage)

Here are some beautiful blue origami swans for you:

This was at the Nespresso store in The Passage.

You can also see blue Nespresso cups in this close up:

Based on the pattern on the blue cups, I suspect that the flavor is Tokyo vivalto lungo, which has “delicate floral and fruity notes”. I’m not a big fan of Nespresso, though. I’d rather have a regular sized cup of coffee than an espresso.

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That’s a big bag of fries (Or: Value bag at Albert Heijn)

This evening Marco and I had a hamburger and fries for our Friday meal. Think of things like: burger, jalapeños, onions, lettuce, habanero tabasco sauce… (oh, and cheddar cheese for Marco). It was so good I forgot to take a photo!

While purchasing crinkle cut fries for this dinner–yum, yum, yum–I noticed a large bag of fries at the bottom of the freezer at Albert Heijn, a Dutch grocery store. It was so huge it didn’t even fit on the shelf anymore.

The bag on the right, krokante friet (crispy fries). It is apparently 2.5 kilos of fries. That’s 5.5 pounds. Yikes! It was a “value” bag that only cost €2.

On the other hand, if it had been 2.5 kilos of crinkle cut fries… yum yum yum?

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Voting in the 2021 Dutch elections (Or: City hall)

The 2021 Dutch elections (English Wikipedia) were held yesterday. Marco decided to cast his vote at The Hague’s city hall. Marco took a quick photo for me, aiming more at the ground to avoid getting anyone in the photo.

As you can see, everything was set up according to corona guidelines. Marco said later that it was set up rather well – there were volunteers controlling the lines, there was plenty of space between the voting booths and there was a separate entrance and exit. You entered by the library and then exited on the other side of city hall. (Check out a photo I took of city hall back in 2013, right after I moved to the Netherlands – there is a LOT of space.)

Above is random voting “paraphernalia” that Marco received, including a card with corona related questions and instructions about how to make your visit to the voting location as safe as possible, both for yourself and others. Also, special for this year only: most voters were allowed to keep the red pencil that they used to vote. Usually they are chained to the desk. However not all voters were allowed to keep the pencil. The choice was up to the city since they would have to finance the red pencils with their voting budget. Some cities decided it was more cost effective to clean them between each use instead.

Differences in cities also meant there were differences in pencils – some cities provided short, little pencils like above. Others provided longer red pencils with “Jouw stem telt!” or “Your vote counts!” printed on the side.

In COVID-19 election, Dutch voters ask: Can I keep the pencil? from reuters.com.

And of course the red pencils were already appearing on Markplaats (the Dutch eBay) early yesterday morning. Not that anyone should be surprised by that!

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Japanese ramen (Or: Photo from two years ago)

Check out this photo of Japanese ramen:

This photo is from March 2019 and it was taken in Tokyo. Not by me, though. Roger and Marco visited Japan for a week and a half. I stayed in the Netherlands because I wasn’t sure what my work situation would be like, and let’s face it – I wanted the boys to have some “guy time”.

I have heard the story many times by now. Marco and Roger were actually looking for a different restaurant which was highly rated by another friend, but they didn’t find it so they went to this one instead. When they entered they needed to use a machine to order their food, which meant they needed help on how to use the machine. It was their first day in Tokyo and all. It was kind of funny considering they were the only two customers at that time of night. Once the worker helped them figure out the machine they ordered and he took the ticket it spit out. Although learning how to use the machine probably proved to be valuable knowledge for other restaurants.

While ordering they were asked how many noodles they wanted. I believe the choices were 300 grams, 400 grams or 500 grams. They ordered 500 grams without realizing just how much that is, which you can see in the photo. But I am told it was worth it! The dish above is Tsukeman (English Wikipedia) or “dipping ramen”. You dip the noodles into the broth and then eat them. Marco tells me the broth was quite spicy and stronger in taste because it is meant for dipping. At the end you ask for water to add to the broth and then eat the leftover broth.

Here is hoping they can return to Japan next year!

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