Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons learnt: 6 months in...

How did this come around already - March only feels like yesterday, yet we're already more then 6 months into our life in Holland! Lessons learnt since my last post:

The good
- SPECULOOS... How did it take a food lover like me 6 months to discover this jar of awesome-ness??? I wouldn't even know how to describe it... It's... well... I'm at a loss for words. I've given up on eating Skippy peanut butter out of the jar and taken to Speculoos and a spoon instead. Or, Speculoos on toast, on sandwiches, on stroopwafels, on almond rounds, with chocolate and Mitch even melted some in his Nespresso shot - that didn't go down so well though... The next goal is to bake with it!

- The Dutch don't just wear wooden clogs for tourists (ie at Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans). Dad and I were walking in the forest one day while he was visiting when we stumbled across a little old Dutch man wearing battered old wooden clogs out on a stroll... It's not a myth after all!!!

- Not only do I have my H&M and Zara homing beacons finely tuned, I can also sense a Carrefour a mile off. Just ask my sisters, trust me... :-P

- Stroopwafels are awesome, frites met mayonnaise are super tasty, drop is... interesting but nothing quite beats a care package of sweety treats from home. I'm still working my way through a 1.2kg tin of Milo, a 900ml bottle of Masterfoods BBQ sauce (cos proper BBQ sauce just doesn't exist here, it's foul), a packet of Jatz, a packet of Ritz (cos decent crackers are also hard to come by) and a value pack of Minties. The Tim Tams are long gone, bar a few lone double coated biscuits left in the cupboard for a rainy day and I'm rationing the rest of the supplies til December when our next Aussie visitors arrive - sorry guys, you better be accounting for Milo space in your bags for me!!!!

- We have squirrels (well, a squirrel) living in our carpark and there really are deer in the wild here, the road signs aren't lying. I've seen 4 now - 2 in some random forest near Apeldoorn & 2 in a national park. I get so super excited - bunnies, deer and squirrel are SO much more exciting then kangaroos, koalas and possums. Is this weird???

- The Dutch may not be big on general recycling (it certainly isn't as easy as recycling in Australia, that's for sure) but they do have a good system for beer & wine bottles! At our local supermarket we take our bottles back in (certain ones only, bought from that supermarket naturally), stick the crates through an automatic scanner and voila - we get  money back (in the form of credit vouchers to use at that supermarket). I don't know exactly how much per bottle, but after a week of 9 people in the house we got 8 euros back on beer bottles, so I figured that's pretty decent really considering beer is so darn cheap to start with!

The bad
- Electricity is timed here. If we use it between 11pm & 6am, we get a 50% discount. Unlike our neighbours (at least now I know why I hear washing machines rattling away at 1am), I can't say I particularly feel like drying the sheets or putting the dishwasher on in the wee hours of the morning. Not keeping my eyes open with toothpicks in an attempt to stay awake and get this discount is VERY un-Dutch of me I'm afraid!

- Since having my niece & nephews here, I've discovered Hannah Montana. This is not a good thing. Not at all. I may possibly have a slight addiction.... And unfortunately, it's on when Mitch is home - I think he is still reeling in shock from me not letting him change the Disney channel. Luckily, there haven't been any Hannah Montana marathons on yet (unlike MTV - marathon central) otherwise I might just sit down on the couch with a cup of Milo, a jar of Speculoos and never move again...

- Ok, I have to say it - Dutch weather SUCKS! Big time. But, when it's nice, it's so absolutely gorgeous that it makes up for the sour days. But when it's overcast, it's miserable. And it tends to be overcast a lot. And when it's overcast, it also tends to rain... I always used to say to Mitch how I could never live in the UK because it rains all the time. I'm slowly realising that the weather here doesn't really differ all that much to our neighbours across the channel... Someone was telling me the other day that the experts are predicting either a winter of lots of snow or a winter of lots of rain (resulting from the unusually hot summer we just had). I'm praying for SNOW!!!!!

- Train platforms can be confusing when you're in a rush. One end is A and the other B, so you often have 2 trains on the one platform. Sounds simple enough, but when you're in a rush, it can result in ending up on the wrong side of the country. Luckily, it's not a very big country and train ticket checkers are absolutely lovely and write down all the connections you need to make to get where you were meant to go!

- Rijbewijs application: lets just say, the saga of me trying to get my Dutch drivers licence is ongoing. It's also very painful, frustrating and has even resulted in requests for urine samples to test my bad eyesight. But that's another story in itself...

- I've discovered that it's possible to suffer from empty nest syndrome even when you don't have kids. Once we were home from Greece and our summer of visitors was over, I wandered around the house for at least a week wondering where everyone was. I had such a fantastic time with everyone here and now I keep finding myself expecting to hear excited cries of CHICKIES every time I see farmyard animals... It was a strange, strange feeling being home alone after being so busy!

- Attempts to shift the 6+kg of stroopwafels and souvlaki gained over the past 6 months have resulted in days of wii fit induced agony... Ouch, ouch, ouch is all I can say.

The hmmmmm moments
- Don't go for a jog during the Nijmegen vierdaagse. You'll be mistaken for a poor unfit participant and embarrassingly cheered on by friendly spectactors. Amusing yes, but also kind of humiliating - unless you enjoy people watching you sweat, huff and puff while you attempt to get fit.

- Not only do I apparently not sound Australian, I've also been mistaken for being Dutch -- while speaking English. I have no idea why though, I still can't master that G sound... My age apparently also baffles people as I've been asked how many more years I have left at school while only a month earlier been told that I look 'too old' to be a uni student (which I'm not, I was just nearly mistaken for one while waiting for Mitch to finish up at a conference). Strange....

- For a few moments one morning, I thought that Gympie's (town I grew up in) reputation had made it all the way to Holland... I was at the IND (immigration department) picking up my residency card when the worker burst out in sudden loud fits of laughter when looking at my passport, crying out hahaha GYMPIE, hahaha you were born in GYMPIE!!!! While I frantically tried to think of a way to defend my home town in Dutch, she calmed down a little and explained that 'Gympie' is a type of sports shoe over here. She obviously found the fact that I was born in a shoe very amusing!

- Vending machines for (supposed) hot food are really popular here, despite the fact that they are usually located right beside a cafe where you could grab a meatball or - mmm croquette. I simply fail to understand the desire for this 'food in the wall'. Ick.

- 'Australian Ice Cream' is really popular here and in Belgium. There are stores everywhere and I've been asked by a few people - so WOW, you must have lots of the Australian ice cream stores in Australia! Ummmmm. no, sorry everyone. No green, kangaroo branded 'Australian' ice cream stores in Australia (that I know of anyway!) - but I have to say, they do make delicious waffles, even though I feel slightly weird eating them off napkins covered in kangaroos!!!!!


  1. Love this post Lu!! ::)) love Martine

  2. Great Post!!
    You can find Milo in the Toko's - the asians must love it also! I know here in Rotterdam we have it in most of them. Its almost the same but less chunky balls - more on the lines of a finer powder - same taste though.
    There is a British shop in Amsterdam that sell a few Aussie products - or check out in Leiden - they also deliver....
    Justine - an aussie in Rotterdam

  3. Thanks Justine! I'll have to check it out - it's nice to know that somewhere does stock Aussie stuff and I won't have to ration my Milo so carefully anymore! :P


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