Firstly, I’m aware that I have chosen alliteration over geographical truth in my title – I live in the Netherlands not Holland which is a small region in the country and not the official name for the country. And while my ‘hometown’ may not qualify as a new place I’ve travelled too, I’ve been feeling a lot of love for the Netherlands recently. So I thought I’d blog about the top five reasons why I’m glad that my family still live in the Netherlands and I can visit them in the Summer.
This is what I miss the most when I’m living in England and studying at University. The Dutch are crazy about their bikes, something my family and I quickly learnt when we moved to the Netherlands in 2002 and our neighbours expressed their astonishment that at age 8 and 7, my older sister and I did not know how to ride a bike. This was soon remedied as my neighbours had my sister out on their bike, somewhat roughly, somewhat kindly, insistently teaching her the way to do it. I learnt the following year and then in secondary school, no matter the weather, (and I really mean no matter the weather, come rain, snow or hail) we were out cycling the fifty-minute route to school. It gave us the kind of freedom we would never have had growing up in South-East London. We could get ourselves to and from ice-skating and swimming lessons, meet up with our friends in town and even cycle home safely and easily after a night out without having to disturb our parents.
Years on and one of the best things about coming home is still being able to get out and cycle in Waalre and Eindhoven.
- The People
Dutch people are very chill. And not because weed is legal, but because I believe it is part of their culture. They’re often described as being quite ‘blunt’, meaning that they’re very open and direct which can sometimes be perceived as a bad thing. Mostly it’s nice to be around people who say hi to you on the street, strike up a chat while you’re shopping. I remember trying on a coat in a shop and a lady coming up to me and abruptly helping me into the coat, sorting out the collar and declaring I had to buy it because it really suited me. When I got into a minor accident with my bike and a car, a couple cars were quick to stop, pull up on the side of the road and make sure I was okay. I’m aware that I’m generalising here, but based on my experiences, Dutch people are more often, incredibly nice and welcoming. Which brings me to my next point…
- Safety, NL is childhood heaven
The Netherlands regularly tops the list of the safest country to raise your children and I can easily see why. It was great growing up there. I had much more freedom to go out cycling and rollerblading in our neighbourhood without any parental supervision, something we would never have been able to do in London.
- The country
My family lives in Waalre which is a tiny, suburb like village, which means we get all the peace and qui
et that comes when you live in a small town, but we also reap the benefits of living twenty minutes away from Eindhoven, a much bigger town that has lots to do without having all of the intensity of a bigger city like London. In addition the small nature of NL means that Amsterdam is just over an hour train ride away, a city that is so picturesque it almost feels like no matter where or when you take a snap over a canal it always ends up looking like this the picture below; unfiltered, natural, city beauty.
- Dutch pancakes
I have a confession to make; I prefer Dutch ‘pannekoeken’ to french crepes and American pancakes. Crepes can be too thin and small. Give me a thick, pizza sized dutch pancake with apple, bacon and cinnamon and I’m happy. Proffertjes – tiny pancakes are delicious as well.
So there you have it, five reasons why I’m going to miss the Netherlands in October when I head back to England for my final year at University.
Do you miss your hometown when you’re away? What makes it special for you?