In the last few months I have been looking for a house. The Dutch property market is something of a dog show and things just seem to go before you even know it.
Since June I have viewed at least 10 properties, and a few viewings were cancelled because it was sold before I could even see the place. I cancelled a few more viewings because it clashed with work commitments or a stroll in the neighbourhood kind of put me off. I don’t even want to count the hours and money spent travelling to these properties. And yet, the search continues.
I have made offers on a few, all above the asking price, and to date all have been unsuccessful.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my apartment in Amsterdam, but it is expensive and I would love to have a garden, especially when summer rolls around again.
The search continues, and hopefully one day soon I can celebrate being a home owner once more.
A friend stopped by for a cup of tea and a chat. We kept a respectable distance from each other to remain within the covid guidelines etc. But it was so good to share a pot of tea and talk to a person.
I am lucky that I’m my short time in the Netherlands I’ve made some pretty cool friends. From all over the world, and all walks of life, I encountered people who are not shy to be honest about who they are. They feel free to share their triumphs and challenges, and they care about mine.
I had the best intentions of catching up with work over the weekend, but as I switched on my laptop, there was just no way I could get connected to the server. I can’t remember when I’ve ever been disappointed that I couldn’t work in my free time.
Being forced to take a break has its advantages however. I could work on my sewing project without a feeling of guilt and basically just chill out and do what needs to be done, aka, rest.
Remember that rest is an important part of a good life and so.
If we stay on the topic of Dutch food for a moment, we have to talk about stamppot. Its basically mash with attitude.
Arriving in a strange country, especially on your own, means that you’re more likely to get to know the convenience foods in the supermarket, and perhaps in time you will figure out how to make your own staples with local ingredients. Out and about, in times behore Corona at least, you might find menu’s and even signs in the supermarket saying “typical Dutch” and you might encounter a kaasbroodje (similar to a king pie cheese and ham pie, but only with the cheese) or bitterballen : the hottest thing after the tomato inside a wimpy toasted cheese and tomato. You might even try a bowl of erwtensoep, a favorite pea soup with pieces is sausage, perfect for warming up on a cold wet day.
However, it is likely that unless you are invited to a family meal, you might completely miss out on stamppot. It isn’t fancy, and it doesn’t look interesting, but it is honest to goodness hearty food that keeps you warm and full.
It consists of mashed potatoes and veggies, as far as I can tell, and then it is served with a bit of meat and a topping of sorts.
Example: in the week we had mashed potatoes with andives, topped with crispy bacon bits and a giant meatball on the side.
Today we were invited to dinner with a friend who made a stamppot of sweet potato and butternut, topped with fried onion and with roast chicken on the side.
I am still trying to figure out if the combinations are fixed or whether it is acceptable to mix and match. I’m still discovering. Perhaps you can tell me in the comments?
I believe that in the past I may have mentioned the plethora of Dutch holiday treats. In between chocolate letters, kruidnoten, pepernoten and everything else, I am surprised that the average Dutch person on the street is lean as they are.
Today I discovered a wonder hitherto unknown to myself, and I’m still deciding if it is a good thing, due to its divine flavour, or a reincarnation of evil, due to the possibility of eating it all.
Ladies and gentlemen, non binary and X-men, I introduce to you gevulde Spekulaas.
Now, spekulaas is traditionally a spicy cookie that has just the right amount of spice, sugar and butter to make you inhale the entire packet.
Gevulde spekulaas is basically 2 giant cookies with a filling of some form of almond paste, that is at the same time exquisite and subtle.
Somehow it’s not sickly sweet or have any overpowering flavour, despite the fact that it consists of a bunch of really flavourful ingredients.
I guess a picture would be useful, but I didn’t think of that until it was too late. Better luck next time I guess.
Today marks a year since I started my new job and life in the Netherlands. What a year its been!
New job, new country, new friends, (and thankfully a few old friends) and that was even before Corona was a thing.
For the last 7 months I have been working from home like the majority of the world and surviving this pandemic.
It’s also a year since I’ve seen my brothers and their families, and 9 months since I saw my mom and dad, and I miss them dearly. Even more so because I have no idea when I’ll be able to visit them. I hope its soon.
There was another press conference, and the Netherlands are going into a partial lockdown.
Bars and restaurants are closed again and a whole host of rules now apply again. The rate of infections is one of the highest in Europe and basically, well, its not good. I guess it’s time to stock up on cake flour and toilet paper again.
It’s been a tough 209 days, and the end is not yet in sight.
Rainy Amsterdam on a Sunday, is a pretty familiar sight, especially this time of year.
On our way to breakfast, we walked past the Rijksmuseum and admired the gardens for a bit, before enjoying a hearty Irish breakfast at O’Donnels pub. Afterwards we had another cup of coffee , and when the rain lifted a bit we went for a walk towards the Hortus Botanicus.
The garden has many wonders, including a giant water lily and the oldest potted plant recorded. It also has a very large section of South African plants. Even though it is considered exotic here, there are many plants that are part of my parents’ garden and it was food for my homesick soul. I should have taken more pics, and I thought that I had, but honestly I was too busy enjoying it in the moment.