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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Missing Ingredients

I’ve been a quiet blogger recently, but haven’t heard many complaints so I’m hoping it is because you’ve all been busy too.

Here we are, starting our second year as expats. We’ve long past the honeymoon phase, the irritation and confusion phase lingered a while, now it’s time to embrace the assimilation phase of our life in the Nederlands.

My Hairy Bikers Diet Book
I’ve started cooking, okay, not actually part of the assimilation process, but it does go some way towards helping to make our time here feel more stable. It helps that the cooking is all from the Hairy Bikers Diet Cook Book and the meals taste delicious. Even better with the help of the two Northern hairy lads I’ve lost about 10lbs (Yea). I’m still cooking with a now battered camping stove and a slow cooker, so it’s been a challenge. But that may be about to change!
My kitchen

To improve my chances of assimilation I’ve upgraded my bike (with the generous birthday money from my lovely mum). British bikes here just don’t cut the mustard. Flat tires, unstable frames and vibrating baskets contributed to me spending more time on the floor with bicycle wheels spinning in the air, than my middle aged dignity felt comfortable with. I’ve now a solid Dutch machine that screams - 


Apparently the Dutch can tell you’re British just by looking your clothes, those and the white knuckled hands clenching the handle bars. I’m not complaining, it means cars and other bikes give me a wide berth which is a good thing for all of us.

The MOVE machine

Before I chose my Dutch MOVE machine, I had a trial with a traditional Dutch bike from De Klien Fietsen in Breda an amazing bike shop that I’ll tell you about another time. Anyway this bike was tough, so tough that I think it might have been meant for a female lumber jack. But I thought I could handle it. The steel frame and back pedal breaking system would be a piece of cake to me, after all I used to ride my bike as a child, once learnt never forgotten and all that.

Apparently you do forget.

So, Mr Sunshine and I have been talking. We love our apartment, but we don’t love the noise of the regular parties from the Café below – remember the Zombie party? After much deliberation we’ve decided to buy a small house. It’s scary stuff!

So I’m cooking, I’ve a Dutch bike, we’re buying a house, what’s left?

I know what’s left to complete the assimilation process, I’m just avoiding it. I need to learn Dutch. It’s no good hiding anymore, this year must become the year I learn to speak the language.

It’s my academic New Years resolution.

One last thing. Just in case you think all this assimilation is a step too far and I’m forgetting about the amazing country that supported me for almost half a century, the country that holds my beautiful family and long suffering friends. I haven't forgot - this week one of the ingredients in a Hairy Bikers recipe was cornflour - and wandering up and down the aisles of a Dutch supermarket was a slightly bow legged, slim-ish British woman, wearing bad clothes, wiping away tears with white knuckles.

Sometime all it takes is one missing ingredient.

with thanks to Mark Allison


  1. When I first moved to the Netherlands I too had to learn to bike again. Seriously I thought you couldn't forget, but I was quite dangerous for a while. I progressed to even biking to and from work, but then I bought a scooter (bromfiets), then I became a stay-at-home mom, and now I can't remember the last time I biked. I guess I'll eventually have to learn all over again, again, ha-ha! :) Danica Martin

  2. Cornflower? Look for 'maizena' at the 'baking stuff' isle.


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