I am writing this blog post much later. Today was the day we moved into our new house in The Hague. However it took us a month to get the internet connected! This was actually a huge stress, not only did it interrupt this daily therapeutic process of blogging, but I really felt quite isolated. I ended up finding the local library and hanging out there sometimes, but despite the fact I do work in social media and freely admit my internet addiction, it truly is a connection to the world that I really missed. I did organise a phone with some (limited) data but would have really benefited from being about to sort out our new life in The Hague much more easily if I’d had a much quicker connection to the internet. Where we were renting, our only choices were between Ziggo and KPN. Both had told us it would take several weeks to connect in a new place. Still to this day, I don’t understand why this is the case.
Anyway, on to other things. Today was also the day that Bas started his new job. He accepted a position in Hoofddorp, which was about a half hour drive each way – or longer in peak hour. We had decided not to settle in that area though as really liked Ypenburg, with its convenient position right on the border between Delft and The Hague (technically The Hague, but used to actually be part of the Delft municipality and we have a 015 Delft phone number). Something else we liked about this region was the high percentage of “Internationals” and also young families.
While Bas was at work, his brother came to help put some of the flooring down, and I took the girls for a walk to the centre of Ypenburg (less than 1km away). In between the houses in our new place there are car-free zones which are great for the kids to ride their bikes.
When Bas got home we did another trip to IKEA for some last minute essentials like a blanket as tonight was our first sleep in the new house!
As appreciative as I am to my schoonouders (Bas’ parents) for having us stay for almost a month, I am looking forward to getting our little family into our own place and we move tomorrow! I can’t drive here at all yet either and am missing my independence. Though an Australian driver’s licence is valid for 6 months after arrival (after which you then need to sit the exam for a Dutch one), the car Bas bought is a manual, which I can’t drive anyway. I’m also not familiar with all the road signs etc here and a bit nervous about bikes and trams so I’ll book some lessons after we settle in the new house.
One thing I think we’ll miss is having our meals cooked for us – here’s Isabella enjoying some very Dutch food. The girls also love the painting on the wall at Oma and Opa’s which they have had for many years and is based on this area where they live. They have also been doing very well with their Dutch language – they speak English to me and each other but Nederlands with everyone else. Oma and Bas’ sister were/are teachers so this has also been helpful. Below is a photo of a very old fashioned Dutch teaching tool! My Dutch is ok, I’ve been used to hearing Bas talk it to the girls in Australia and his parents came to visit every year. Again, once I settle in, I’ll look into lessons.
Big day – got the keys to our new house! We left the girls in North Holland with Oma and left around 11am. We first dropped by TU Delft to see if any of Bas’ old colleagues were around, but they were all on lunch break or on summer holidays. Then we went to check out flooring at Leen Bakker and Quantum and decided on some vinyl wood-look flooring. At 3pm we had the appointment with the real estate agent (makelaar) in Ypenburg to sign the agreement, then at 4pm did the walk through and handover of keys. Turns out the previous owners not only took all the flooring (which they had to) but also the skirting boards (which they were supposed to leave) so these need to be replaced. At 4pm, Bas’ father and our brother in law arrived with the full trailer and we started moving in! It’s a three level house which is fairly typical in this area…and seems the laundry is usually in the attic so it’s a challenge to get the washing machine and dryer up the stairs but thankfully we had help! Finally dinner at IKEA where we bought mattresses. Back to Bas’ parents place to sleep…we’ll move in on Wednesday (1 August). On the way back up north, saw some beautiful cloud formations. Is it my imagination or do the clouds sit a lot lower here than in Australia?
Today we started packing up the trailer for the move to the new house. We pick up the key tomorrow so getting everything ready to take down. It’s about an hour and a quarter drive each way and we’ve been back and forth a lot lately…we will probably start sleeping at the new house next week. ‘Bas’ sister did a “call out” to her friends to see if anyone had things they didn’t want, and we’ve ended up with some beds (which the girls washed down), and some outdoor furniture and a TV for free. The rest we are buying at “kringloopwinkels” (2nd hand stores). We would like to buy a house in the near future so don’t want to spend the time and money now choosing everything new as it may not be suitable in the future. We are still waiting on our shipment from Australia, which will arrive in a few weeks, but we didn’t send any furniture.
Lovely sunny day again so spent the rest of the afternoon in the sunshine writing my diary and reading some books I bought with me from talented people I know in Australia!
Today we took a day out from the stress of settling, and had a fun day at the theme park in Enkhuizen called “Sprookjeswonderland“. This is a magical place I’d highly recommend for anyone with young children. It’s actually amazing value too, with an entry price of only 9 euros per person, which is a fraction of the price of other big theme parks like Efteling. Particularly for little ones, we found this much more suitable, with minimal crowds even in this peak summer season, and plenty to keep us busy for the whole day. Food prices were also reasonable. We’ll most certainly be back! We even found some Aussies there…firstly a wallaby, and then a surprise visit from another Dutch Australian friend of mine – she knew we were going that day so came to visit with her little girl.
The overwhelming task of shopping today for EVERYTHING for the new house. Here, when you rent a house, it doesn’t even have flooring or light fittings. As we’re not sure how long we will stay there, we don’t want to spend a lot, but also would like it to be decent! So it was doing the rounds today at Dutch hardware stores like Gamma and Karwei. It turns out that there is a huge IKEA just up the road from our new house, but Bas calls that “Hell on Earth” so we didn’t make it there today!
Light fittings: we went for just very basic ones. Thankfully Bas knows how to install them as I’d have no idea.
Deciding between “klick laminaat” or a wood-looking vinyl for the floors. Either way, it’s going to cost us between 500-1000 euros to put flooring into a house where we may only live for a year. Then, we have to take it all out when we leave! And it’s highly likely that the previous tennant actually just threw out the previous flooring. A crazy, wasteful, expensive system.
Some interesting artwork for the walls? Bargain at only 3.95 euros. Dutch or Asian attempt at English do you think? Perhaps Dutch, going with the “mijn wil is wet” attitude.
Back in North Holland again, the girls were helping out with choosing flowers for the garden.
Finally, we watched the sun set on another Dutch day.