Dutch Design flower bulb mosaic at Keukenhof: gardeners plant 7 million bulbs

On Thursday, 6 October, gardeners of Keukenhof planted the first bulbs for a spectacular flower mosaic of Dutch Design. Planting the mosaic emphasizes the autumn planting at Keukenhof. The coming months will see approximately seven million bulbs planted in the park.

The Keukenhof theme for 2017 is “Dutch Design”. Dutch design is incorporated in the flower bulb mosaic, one of the highlights of the theme year. In addition, the flower shows in the Oranje Nassau Pavilion are entirely in the style of Dutch Design. Two of the inspirational gardens are also dedicated to the theme.

Dutch Design is characterized by Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions. Famous artists and designers such as Mondriaan and Rietveld, have laid the foundations for Dutch design. Even today, Dutch designers are appreciated worldwide for their industry-leading designs in fashion, graphic design, architecture and furniture design. They are the source of inspiration for the theme of the next Keukenhof season.

The flower mosaic depicts a Mondriaan painting combined with designer chairs. The mosaic is planted in two layers, providing a longer flowering period in the spring. The mosaic covers an area of 250m2 and will be planted in two layers with 80.000 tulips, muscari and crocus.

Keukenhof 2017 opens from 23 March until 21 May.


2017 Keukenhof

2016 Avond4daagse De Bras

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 23.32.10So, another Dutch tradition for me to figure out – the Avond4Daagse.

This is the third year for our eldest and second for our youngest to take part.  Children seem to join in from 5 years old, but I did see some younger kids too, and a few parents with prams.  To my very basic understanding, it’s to promote outdoor, healthy exercise.  Over the course of 4 days (the 4 daagse part), in the evening (the avond part), lots of children, their parents and teachers do a 5km walk.   The kids pay 6 euros each and get a small treat each day (like an apple or an ice block) and I think a medal at the end. I think it has grown out of the concept of the Nijmegen 4Daagse, which takes part in mid July each year and started back in 1909.

There are walks that take place all over the country, co-ordinated on this website: http://www.avond4daagse.nl

I have to admit, I am a total cheat – I didn’t walk with my husband and kids yesterday at all (it was way too cold for this Queenslander, with a storm brewing) and today just did a short part of the loop.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll do the whole lot, and I know on the last evening, it’s usually very festive, often with parents or grandparents buying bunches of flowers for the kids to victoriously claim as they finish the last 5km of the 20km total!  My husband and the girls are taking it very seriously though and doing every step. ;)

The girls have a small card that gets stamped each evening:

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We live in an area called De Bras, which lies in a very pretty area between Delft & The Hague, here’s a quick look at this evening’s walk.  It started at 6pm and takes around an hour or so to do the circuit, which changes each evening.

I’m guessing a couple of hundred people took part, organised by the local schools, with each school carrying a banner/flag (you’ll see one in the video if you look closely).   From a distance, it kind of looks like a long line of busy (colourful) ants!

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My daughters are most excited by the fact that their friends and teachers take part.  My husband and I like that it’s a chance to catch up with other local parents.

Have any experiences or wisdom to share about the 4daagse?  Be great to hear it below in a comment…





Have you discovered DutchNews.nl?

One of my favourite websites to keep up to date with Dutch News in English is www.dutchnews.nl.

For 10 years now, Robin Pascoe and her team have provided a steady flow of interesting, professional, relevant news items and articles, covering politics, business, society, sport, education, health and tech & media.  They also cover some International and European news stories.


Screenshot of www.dutchnews.nl – click on the image to visit the current version and get access to plenty of free, relevant news stories about what’s happening in The Netherlands


One of my features I enjoy reading is their “10 questions” which I took part in last year:


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You can read plenty more here: http://www.dutchnews.nl/category/10-questions/

Highly recommend checking out DutchNews.nl! You can also sign up for a daily enewsletter.

If you’re a new visitor, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this way to keep up to date with what’s happening in the Netherlands – in English.

Even if you’ve visited before, there’s always something new to discover.




2016 ANZAC Day in The Hague Invitation

For Australians and New Zealanders in the Netherlands who would like to commemorate ANZAC Day, there is a ceremony being organised by the Australian and New Zealand Embassies.  Details are below, and *please RSVP by 18 April*

I’ve attended several times now and it’s always a moving ceremony.  You may like to read about the 2015 ANZAC Day Ceremony in The Hague and the 2013 ANZAC Day Ceremony in The Hague.


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8.00 AM SHARP, Monday 25 APRIL 2016



The Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors to the Netherlands H.E. Dr Brett Mason and H.E. Ms Janet Lowe invite members of the Australian and New Zealand communities in the Netherlands to commemorate ANZAC Day with them..

Ceremony attendees are invited to

9.15 AM breakfast and to view an exhibition of photographs taken by soldiers in Gallipoli in 1915 at the Australian Residence,

Tobias Asserlaan 6, 2517 KC, The Hague, following the service.

*For security reasons: NO BACKPACKS, please.*

A bus will depart Den Haag Centraal Station at 7.15 AM to transport attendees to the Cemetery and the Australian Residence, and return to Central Station at 10:30 AM (Limited places available for a €1 coin donation)

Please RSVP before 18 April.

For security and catering purposes, please provide your name and advise whether you will also attend the breakfast and whether you wish to reserve a seat on the bus:

rsvpthehague@dfat.gov.au tel: 070-310 8200



Spring “Cow Dance” at Hoeve Biesland in the Netherlands

We love the Hoeve Biesland, which is located about a 10 minute cycle from where we live on the border of Delft and The Hague.  We and have attended several events there including the 2013 Biesland Dagen and 2012 Biesland Dagen.  We also enjoy shopping at their Weilandwinkel.

Today, it was “party time” again, as it was the day that the cows are let into the field for the first time after being housed inside all winter.  This was pretty exciting for both the cows and the several hundred people who turned up to watch!  Not so much so for the poor pig who got chased away by the over-energetic cows.

I did a Facebook Live Broadcast which you can watch below.  You can also check out a post my fellow Dutch Australian, Kristen, wrote over at Kristen in Clogland: Happy Spring Cows and the Koeiendans

Here are some of my favourite photos.

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Coping with the Cold: How do Australians survive a Dutch winter?

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Hi, I am going to the Netherlands end of next month for 35 days. I am really worried that it will be very cold and that i won’t cope. Do you have any tips? Also if anyone from this community wants me to get them something or drop something off for them while i am over there, i would be most happy to help. I will be staying in Amsterdam and making some day trips. Thanks Andrea

I love receiving mail from the Dutch Australian Community.  Andrea lives in Australia (and has Dutch parents) and is coming to the Netherlands soon.  I’m an Australian trying to survive a Dutch winter right now! So here’s my top 5 tips for coping with the cold, written especially for a short-term traveller here.  For longer-term residents, I’d go more heavy duty – think electric blankets, energy lights and more – I’ll do a separate post.

1.  Layer, layer, layer

I first learnt this when I moved to the UK in my mid 20’s.  I really had trouble trying to adjust from the warm indoor temperatures, to going outside in the freezing cold, then back into the warmth again.  You need to layer clothes so that you can adjust easily to suit.  For example, start with a singlet, then a t-shirt (or long sleeved t-shirt), then a cardigan or light jacket, then a heavy winter jacket over that.

2.  Get a great jacket & boots

If you are only coming here short-term, a jacket may be an investment, but well worth it.  Or perhaps you could borrow one for the month.  I picked up a couple of awesome Esprit winter jackets at an outlet store at Brisbane Airport a few years ago for only about AUD$50 each – as not much use for them for those in Brisbane!  My good ones have feather/down and are water resistant.  If you plan on cycling in the cold/rain, you need waterproof.   You also need a good pair of boots.  I love mine from www.anwb.nl – this is actually the auto association (like RACQ or NRMA in Australia) but they have some great prices on high quality outdoor gear.  You can order online and have delivered next day if you have an address in NL or they have stores as well.   Keeping your chest and feet warm & dry in winter is a must.

3.  Drink lots

So, when you read that, which drink was your first thought?  Some may go straight for a warm pub and down beer, wine, whisky or even the Dutch Jenever to keep warm.  Personally, I rarely drink alcohol but do love a nice, warm mug of mulled wine.  Hot chocolate with a big pile of whipped cream on top is the BEST!  Unfortunately I recently discovered an allergy to milk and am really missing these, I’m going to have to learn how to make myself a soy or lactose-free version at home somehow.  You’ll find hot chocolates in every cafe and restaurant though….usually made with a pre-packaged stuff which you get used to.  If you really search for it, you may find a super-special hot chocolate, where you get a warm mug of milk and a big chunk of chocolate on a stick.  Combine the two and heaven.  You forget all about the cold.  The other thing you actually often forget to drink in the cold is water.  You may not need quite as much as on a hot summer’s day, but still need to make sure you drink water regularly as the indoor heating everywhere can really dry out your skin and give you headaches – but because you’re not hot, you may not feel thirsty.

4.  Learn how to use your heater

Where-ever you are staying, familiarise yourself immediately with the heating system! Most places have central heating, which will have a temperature control in one location.  For our house and many others I’ve seen, this is in the living room – but the one setting controls the whole house.  But if the living room reaches the set temperature, the heating won’t turn on upstairs!  I still find it all very confusing, but basically don’t wait until you wake up in the middle of the night cold to figure it out.  I have bought myself a little 10 euro fan heater to give me a burst of warm air anytime I need it.

5.  Download the buienradar app

Being cold isn’t great fun – but being WET and cold is almost unbearable.  I was stunned when I first moved here when I had a meeting with someone who, just as we were finishing up, glanced at their phone and said “I have 5 more minutes and then have to go so I can avoid the rain”.  They weren’t psychic, but did what many Dutchies do – Checked the website http://buienradar.nl or downloaded the app that can tell you with pretty high accuracy, exactly when it will rain in your region and for how long!

You may also like to read a post that a friend wrote that was published in the Wall Street Journal online:

How to Survive Winter in the Netherlands as an Expat

That’s my daughter in the nose-warmer my mum made for her!  Again, this post is focussed mostly on short-term solutions, as at the end of the month, you get to go back to Australia and defrost!  Here, it is generally what I consider “too cold” from about October to March.

So, Andrea, I hope that’s helpful!  I’m typing with cold fingers so will finish off here, but would love to hear how you go.  I hope you have a wonderfully warm trip.  And even may get to enjoy the cold!

Does anyone else have any tips to add?  Please write them in the comments!