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A cook’s birthday card (Or: Illusions of beer)

Here’s a photo of the birthday card that Marco received from his dad and his dad’s wife:

Homemade birthday card and 'beer' for a cook

First off, check out the birthday card on the right. As you see it folds open to display an oven, complete with utensils and condiments on each side. And pizza!

On the left we have a glass of beer. Or do we? It’s actually made of hair gel (the yellow bubbly stuff) and a layer of styrofoam for the ‘foam’. The only mistake we made was taking to long to take it apart, since the black plastic ladder decided to react to the hair gel and melt a bit… Opps! But still, really cool. And it’s not the first birthday card they made for us. Or check out this other birthday card and this Christmas card.

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Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: | 2 Comments

A summer’s day (Or: Scheveningen is crowded)

One of the Dutch news sites NU.nl was featuring a video of the crowded beaches at Scheveningen, taken from a helicopter.

Today’s actually the last day for a while of weather that can be labeled “very good” for a while, with temperatures around 94F here in The Hague. We should also be getting a bit of rain tonight, hopefully, although it will do nothing for the drought conditions the country is experiencing.

On a brighter note, Marco and I visited Five Guys for a second time for some burgers and fries. This time I took a picture of the bulletin board where guests can leave reactions:

Five Guys bulletin board in The Hague, Aug 2018

There are of course a lot of wishes that Five Guys would come to someone’s country. And the ‘best milkshake in town’ paper makes me realized I’ve never had a milkshake at this fast food place. Maybe I should change that at some point…

Categories: Food, Scheveningen, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Little V (Or: Time to be a bit fishy)

Last week was Marco’s birthday. He decided to celebrate it at Little V, a Vietnamese restaurant in The Hague. I have blogged about them once or twice… or more.

This time I decided to try something new: sea bass. It came with a delicious ginger fish sauce on the side.

Little V sea bass

I’ve had fish before, but only since I moved to the Netherlands (as I don’t think fish sticks count!). It’s been a slow process: first salmon, then pangasius, then tilapia and tuna fish. I’ve also had a small bit of eel once, but that was more of a reluctant choice. It wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I could eat often. Maybe that will change some day.

On the other hand, I was pretty happy to see that I had a personal discount this week at the local grocery store (Albert Heijn) for pangasius filet. It definitely helps to bring a bit more variety into dinner.

But a Little V blog post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of some of the drinks we had:

Little V drinks - flavor of the moment, buddha smile

On the left is my ‘Flavor of the moment’ drink. For the life of me I can’t remember what the flavor was, but it was good. On the right is Roger’s ‘Buddha smile’. That drink is made of rum, lemon grass, ginger and lemon leaf. He definitely liked it.

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Heat wave (Or: This isn’t the Netherlands, right?)

So… the Netherlands finally figured out how to do a good summer. Although it might be doing it a bit too well, actually. We haven’t had any rain in about a month and a half (with some crazy exceptions like Twente getting more than a month’s worth of rain yesterday – yikes!) and it has been warm for the Netherlands. Admittedly nothing the US hasn’t seen, but still. I need to apologize to Marco as I always complain about how summer lasts less than a week in this country.

Today it was about 95F here in The Hague, with 96-97F predicted tomorrow. And that’s not even close to the highest temperature recorded in the Netherlands today. Another city called Almelo registered 38.9C or 102.02F at the height of today. Almelo is on the east side of the Netherlands, not too far from Germany.

And how do Marco and I stay cool in a country that doesn’t have much air conditioning in homes? Well, besides water and fans…

Mr Freeze freezer pops or ijslollies

Freezer pops!

The first is freezer pops, or ijslollies in Dutch. A blast from the past and great for the nostalgic feelings.

Iced cappuccinos.jpg

Iced cappuccinos

And the other way is iced cappuccinos. Lekker!

Random links:

melted asphalt in Groningen, in the north (some cities have been salting the roads to prevent this issue)

fires in the dunes

a satellite image comparing July 2017 with July 2018

some bridges in Amsterdam (and other cities) close for the foreseeable future due to the heat

One more day of heat, and then some relief (high of 78F) and perhaps a bit of rain Saturday morning. Maybe. No end in sight to the drought, though.

Categories: Daily Dutch living | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hmm (Or: How do I spell 1,000 posts?)

I can’t believe it, but this blog has hit 1,000 posts! And what better way to celebrate that than with some pictures of a recent (unrelated) gift I received?

Snelspelwijzer from Onze Taal, with postcard

Snelspelwijzer, from Onze Taal (Quick spelling guide). And one very colorful postcard!

The gift came from my old language coach (from SamenSpraak) who I still see on a regular basis. If you’re wanting help with your Dutch, I can’t recommend SamenSpraak enough. Here in The Hague there is a monthly meet up, the first Wednesday of every month. It meets in the central library’s café. You can also get paired with a volunteer language coach and meet up as often as you both wish. Once a week, every 2 weeks, and similar. If you’re in Den Haag I recommend first dropping by the café to see what the group is all about, but you don’t have to do so. Back in 2014 I went to three café meet ups before I signed up to be paired with a coach, but that’s just me.

Link for information about the SamenSpraak café

Form to request being paired with a language coach/volunteer

Snelspelwijzer from Onze Taal

A look inside the book

The section above is Klinkerbotsing in samenstellingen or ‘Vowel collision in compound words’. The chapter is about hyphen usage. The rule here is basically that if a compound word, and the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins with a vowel, you need to join the two words with a hyphen. Example: foto-expositie (photo exhibition).

I predict Marco will hear some rather geeky grammar things in the near future.

But until then… onward to the next 1,000 posts!

Categories: Friends&Family, Learning Dutch | Tags: | Leave a comment

Cleanup in the city centre (Or: The end of the Volvo Ocean Race)

A photo from a few days ago. A large city truck stopped to grab one of the billboards advertising for the Volvo Ocean Race which ended in June:

Removing billboards for the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague

This year the race ended in The Hague, so the city made it part of Scheveningen’s Feest aan Zee (Seaside Celebrations). This annual programme marks the 200th anniversary of Scheveningen’s founding.

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

Shopping Night 2018 (Or: Doors open until midnight)

This past Friday was ShoppingNight in The Hague. That’s when all of the shops in the city centre stay open until midnight. About half offer either discounts or treats to get you into the store. I had previously posted about this event back in 2013.

This year Marco and I partook in a free ice cream cone (Marco) and a slush puppy (me) over at Media Markt. Outside of that we visited a few stores, notably C&A and Hudson Bay, to see what they had offer.

There was also entertainment:

Dancers at Shopping Night 2018 in The Hague

Three girls preparing just off site before heading out into the main city centre to perform

It’s strange to be shopping so late – but it’s also a lot of fun. If you don’t mind crowds, of course…

Categories: Shopping, The Hague | Leave a comment

Veteranendag (Or: Veteran’s day in the Netherlands)

Today was the 14th Veteran’s day in the Netherlands, held in The Hague. (official website in Dutch). It is comprised of a parade and events at the Malieveld, a large field just outside of The Hague’s Central Station. During the parade there was also a flyover performed by the Royal Dutch Air Force, featuring both modern and historic aircraft.

Veterans Day 2018 in The Hague - soldiers

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After four years (Or: Pearl Jam back in the Netherlands)

This week shall officially be dubbed as ‘Pearl Jam week’ as they had three shows in the Netherlands. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ziggo dome and Saturday at Pinkpop, a huge outdoors festival. The last time they visited was four years ago, which I was a bit shocked by.

Pearl Jam in the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, June 12 2018

The first night four of us went: Marco, myself, Roger and my mother-in-law. We had fan club tickets, specifically standing tickets, which meant we could go in a half hour before everyone else. It does have the downside that you need to pick up your tickets the day of at the box office as you are required to show an ID, though.

We arrived around 2:30. Let’s just say the line for getting the tickets was over an hour and the line for merchandise was about an hour and a half… So we did some divide and conquer: Roger and Marco got the tickets, while my mother-in-law and I got the merchandise – posters. There are unique posters for each Pearl Jam concert (Marco and Roger got them all).

Tuesday’s poster | Wednesday’s poster | Saturday’s poster

Marco also picked up a new ‘Safe travels‘ keychain, to replace the one he got about ten years ago.

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Categories: Friends&Family, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 4 Comments

Buying an OV-chipkaart (Or: Your ticket to freedom)

The OV-chipkaart (OV=openbaar vervoer=public transportation, chipkaart=chip card) is used throughout the Netherlands as a means for paying for a public transportation journey, be it train, tram, bus…

The card is used to check in and check out by holding the card against a reader as the traveler enters and exits the vehicle. Useful, but it can cause delays at some of the more crowded stops. When I travelled to Dublin I was intrigued by having the check-in and check-out machines at each of the stops rather than inside of the vehicle – it saves some boarding time that way, although the costs are higher for having machines at every stop.

The OV-chipkaarts expire after 5 years. Ironically, all of this household’s OV chipkaarts (5 in total) expired within a few months of each other. But this gave me the opportunity to visit the HTM-service desk at The Hague Centraal, which I hadn’t yet had an excuse to do.  And of course I dragged Marco along to experience the fun.

HTM brochure for traveling with an OV chipkaart

Information booklet for traveling with an OV-chipkaart, with information in Dutch, English and German. Handy for the tourists!

It was around 16:30 on a workday, and already fairly busy inside the service area. The area is serviced both by HTM as well as by NS, the national train company. We didn’t have to wait too long to get helped. Each card costs €7.50, before adding any funds on it. Luckily the HTM worker mentioned that the option to use the card to travel by train (NS) needed to be added manually, otherwise we would have been in for a surprise!

In this case we asked for anonymous cards (the blue variety) which can be used by anyone. There’s a few minor differences between those and personalized cards (yellow variety) – the main difference being that personalized cards can be automatically re-filled when they hit a minimum amount, for instance. But generally anonymous cards work fine.

Marco and I also both got information booklets on traveling with an OV-chipkaart, as you can see above. Not strictly required, but always fun to read (for me!).

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