Ugly Amsterdam #11




The most wonderful time of the year

I love Christmas. Yes, I’m one of them. One of those people who gets a little excited feeling around mid-OctoIMG_2067ber, just as the air feels like it’s hardening and evening darkness encroaches upon the afternoons more and more. Whilst most are still mourning the lost of summer and have not had the heart to put away their flip-flops, I am already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to seeing fairy lights and eating mince pies.

If you do not share my feelings (i.e. you have a more rational perspective on the Christmas festivities) then you will no doubt feel the urge to hit people like me if we have the nerve to utter the “C” word before Decemeber 1st. Callum doesn’t share my love of the anticipation of Christmas so I have to keep my glee under wraps, as it were.


Now we have almost completed our first week of December, I need hide it no more. The lights are up, presents have already been bought (some of them wrapped) and I’m playing Fairytale of New York on an almost daily basis. I have already made, written and posted all of my cards – but I didn’t take pictures, which was stupid because I was very pleased with them this year. However, for the past couple of years I have never been able to feel fully in the Christmas spirit because in Holland Christmas is still second-best; Sinterklaas is the big celebration over here and so gets the most attention from shops (and therefore shoppers).

As a result, my advent calendar is less typical than those we have in England (although not as much as Callum’s), I’ve had to hand make a ‘Happy Xmas’ banner and still haven’t eaten a single mince pie. (My options are to pay more than €5 for six M&S ones or make them. It’s practically a violation of my human rights.) Think this is likely to dampen my Christmas anticipation? Not at all. I just know that it won’t really feel like Christmas time until I reach jolly ol’ England toward the end of December…

PS. If you’re still feeling more Scrooge than Santa, have a listen to my newest favourite Christmas song by Aussie comedian Tim Minchin. It’s lovely:

I suck at being an adult

*Sigh* Being an adult is hard. You need to make decisions, get work done and generally not rely on other people if you want anything to happen. Kids do not know how good they have it.

This evening I had every intention of being a proper, fully functioning adult and made a plan of my evening activities in my head:

  1. Food shopping
  2. Clear up kitchen
  3. Lesson planning
  4. Make dinner
  5. Eat said dinner with one glass of wine
  6. Indulge in dessert only if hungry

15 minutes after I got home this evening, the wine was open, I had only done a third of the dishes and I was spooning chocolate pudding in my face.

Ahh, well, screw it. I’m an ADULT I can do whatever I want, that’s the point of being a grown up, isn’t it??

If you like the pictures, please click on them; they should take you to Hyperbole and a half, which is a very amusing blog and articulates these issues better than I can.

Oh dear, my wine glass appears to be empty…

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wish I was dead.”

Jack Monroe

Stephanie walked out in front of a lorry on the M6.
Charles took his own life.
Donna wishes she was dead.
The Tories fall asleep in the Opposition Day debate, laugh, jeer, and accuse campaigners of ‘shouting’ too loudly about it.
Here’s a few reasons why I hate, oppose and challenge the bedroom tax. Those that quibble about what it’s called are completely missing the point. Here’s a few to start you off:

For this full story, see Four families every hour being made homeless BEFORE bedroom tax: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, 27 March 2013.

For this full story, see Pensioner killed himself over fears he could not afford his home: 3rd November 2013.

For this full story, read: The bedroom tax discriminates against disabled children: 6th November 2013

Labour peer warns bedroom tax will cost more money than it saves: 1st November 2013.

Bedroom tax suicide victim Stephanie Bottrill’s…

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Eating vs. Heating

One of the things which makes me ashamed of the country I’m from.


I am rather angry today. I will explain why.

First, google the question “Where does the UK rank on list of richest countries?”. According to GDP, the United Kingdom ranks as 21st in the world.

Next, google “How many children live in poverty in the UK?” Depending on your source, you will encounter figures from 3 – 4 million.

Lastly, explain to me how the hell this is possible. HOW can we have so much money and have so many people living in poverty? Why is this still socially accepted? Why are we blind to such massive social injustices?!

A large part of the problem still lies in how the government and parts of the media portray those in poverty and how they stigmatised. But I have noticed a slight problem with the pictures that are painted.

We are told that there are millions upon millions…

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Getting my bake on

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on here (Callum has been pretty much solely responsible for quite a while now) and I’ve been feeling rather guilty with my lack of participation, so here is a post with my latest baking efforts for you to enjoy.

I’ve been doing a lot more recently, as I have found that my colleagues are work are appreciative of my flour-based efforts so I always have an outlet to distribute the goods. (Prevents Callum and I from eating everything and becoming obese).

This week I decided to make biscuits, based on this BBC recipe. The only change I made was to use a vanilla pod instead of extract (ooh, fancy) and had to leave them in my oven a little longer but they taste really good. Mmmm… butter.


Cooled down and waiting to be iced

The icing isn’t perfect on them, but I had over 30 to do and not a lot of time in which to decorate them. Hopefully they’ll be enjoyed at work tomorrow.

Café Gollem


Café Gollem was the first to bring good beer back to Amsterdam. And is still the best.


Around since 1974, Gollem is a beer institution famous in Amsterdam and the world. Originally, the proprietor hired a car, drove to Belgium and filled up. These beers sold quickly.


Gollem probably looked old when it was new. The bar has an ambience breaks down social barriers and patrons chat freely. Maybe also because it is tiny.


Venue: 9/10

The only criticism is the size, but that’s also part of the atmosphere. So really I’m just complaining that it’s hard to get a seat, which is kinda like complaining because it is too good.

Beer: 10/10

It’s hard to imagine a better beer list. There are 14 taps to choose from (7 regulars, 7 guest) and ~250 bottles covering local breweries here in Amsterdam, craft brewers around the Netherlands and all the big and small players from Belgium.