Monthly Archives: August 2011

PIEPERPAD – getting back to those spuds

Our little ride, providing a guard of honour for Mr van Woerkom. Photo credit: @Greenpeace/Deiman.

Mevrouw T and I had a busy day yesterday. Trips on five different trains, a 50km bike ride, a chat to the CEO of Dutch transport association ANWB and a quick master class in potato-growing. Continue reading


Filed under Cycling, Holland

ROSWINKEL, DRENTHE – harvest home

Belgian draught-horses always pull a crowd.

The little Dutch village Roswinkel, population just a few hundred, comes to life once a year.

It’s an unremarkable spot in the northern Netherlands province of Drenthe.

Roswinkel has no great museums, castles or stately homes. Yet it’s managed to hang around for over 750 years, making it about the same age as Amsterdam. And each year it stages an ‘Oogstdag’ harvest festival. Continue reading


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MAX EUWE – Amsterdam’s remarkable chess champion

Max Euwe - sculpture by Jose Finhaut, 2004.

Only once has an amateur ever become world chess champion. Dutch maths teacher Max Euwe held the title from 1935-37.

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, you’ve almost certainly passed the little square called the Max Euwe Plein, between the busy Leidseplein and the Rijksmuseum. Continue reading

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PALEIS HET LOO – the Dutch Versailles

There was nothing those Dutch kings liked better than getting up in the morning and trimming a hedge.

The Dutch may be on average the tallest people on the planet, but most other things in the Netherlands are built in miniature.

Palace the Loo doesn’t have the same acreage as Versailles, where the Sun King had more room to spread himself, but it’s rather grand in its modest way. Continue reading

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TEYLERS MUSEUM, HAARLEM – gadgets and games

The way museums used to be - polished wood, glass cases and a creaky floor.

They just don’t make museums like they used to, unfortunately. The Teylers Museum, the oldest in the Netherlands, began as a private collection, donated to the state by Mr Teyler in the eighteenth century and added to in the intervening years.

Teyler and subsequent curators put together anything which took their fancy, so the museum houses an extraordinary mish-mash of treasures. Continue reading


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ALTERNATIVE AMSTERDAM – my hip take on the town

Where the cool set go for the best appeltaart in Amsterdam.

I was recently commissioned to write a short ‘alternative’ guide to the town where I’ve spent a substantial proportion of the past decade.

It wasn’t easy choosing what to include, but I did my best to be hip and ever so slightly hippie.

Here are the attractions that made the cut… Continue reading


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CAFE AMERICAIN – Amsterdam art deco

The Netherlands' oldest grand cafe - Cafe Americain, Amsterdam, built 1902.

When I first came to Amsterdam as a poor backpacker, an occasional coffee in the Cafe Americain was one of the few luxuries I could allow myself.

It helped that it was right by the outdoor terraces of the Leidseplein, where I could sometimes earn enough to pay for my coffee by busking with my yellow violin. Continue reading


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