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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: misses

Vondel Park Virtuoso...

Leaving something behind in another country is always bittersweet.

The way to make missing easier is to consider the sides of it you are happy to be rid of.

One of the things I must admit I miss from Holland is ‘Koninginnedagor Queen’s day.
On this day all the Dutch are free to trade in the streets. It is a bank holiday for all and children are off school.
This usually results in the friendly spectacle of a young girl playing a violin while the punters walk by and throw her a coin. While on the other side of the street students have set up children’s puppetshow or silly races to entertain.

Need some roller skates?

For grown-ups there is an enormous amount of bric-a-brac scattered across all the stalls on the pavement, as everyone clears out the attic to sell anything and everything they want to get rid of.

This whole festival is generally amped up with loud music in the street, wheel barrows of chilled beer and fuming barbeques, selling food you eat but actually never really wanted to eat.

This my dear friends is the best and the worst of Holland, all in one clean swoop… in one single sunny and slightly sozzled day.

The best is to get your bike and tour the stalls as early in the morning as you can. (the night before is a real pub night, so getting up early can be challenging for some) With the chill in the air you can rummage through the freshly stocked piles and find real gems.
(After several years I learnt which shops would clear their storage on this day, and which would sell designer stuff for single figure prices…)

And the side I don’ miss: The reason most Amsterdammers leave the city the night before, does not need too much explanation…

The worst… well.

The attack on the Royal family last year. 8 people died that day.
[Please note: some of this footage is shocking]

Still unbelievable.

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Dear Men,

This post will be less interesting for you.
Unless you need some sort of help in your judgement…

One of the most amazing finds in the UK, that has actually improved my general quality of life was:

Believe me, they will really change your life.

For anyone who doesnt know R&P , please check them at 1:01 in:

(nice detail: the fighting fountains at 1:41 is actually in the garden of my earlier Park Post)

R&P actually isn’t really a shop, it is an institution.
How can an underwear shop, without much underwear on show be so successful that even Queen Lizzy II is a fan?

They do the best bra fittings in the world!
You pick a number and wait in line, after which the lead you into a separate booth (including a silk kimono). Here the expert staff can just tell your exact size by just looking at you. So no hands or tape measures, just real expertise.

Squeeze into this one baby...

They then ask you what it is you need (and how much you have to spend), which they will subsequently produce in your size from a large wall filled from top to bottom with deep drawers.

If only I would have known about this place since I was a teenager, it would have saved me many years of bad underwear.

It gets even better if you need ‘construction work’ for elaborate evening gowns…
Ranging from corsets for strapless numbers or hidden construction for semi transparent summer dresses etc. etc. (they give advice on everything, did you know red underwear is invisible under white clothes?)

Occasionally you will see a man sitting in the waiting cue. I always wonder what they are waiting for… For advice on a present for a loved one, or may be a little something for themselves?!

It is amazing to be in a place that is entirely demand/requirement/quality driven.

I guess I will have to come back for their support often.

Magic Knickers...

Additionally I will have to miss brilliant British words like ‘Knickers’...

Pants is just Pants…

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No spilling!

For Dutch people I think this post will be a bit of a cliche.

But after quite a while I really started to appreciate some real Dutch treats.

One things I started to miss most is not as much the chocolate sprinkles (Hagelslag in NL) themselves…
(Some Dutch friends have turned into steady suppliers, making sure I always had a stash of this chocolate delight)
…more important is the best way to eat them.

Dark Chocolate Sprinkles with real butter on Beschuit…

Extra Dark Sprinkles...

Nothing can beat that.

The problem is that Beschuit is tricky to transport, as it turns to crumbs instantly… A single beschuit is really a double toasted white muffin, that goes all crispy and completely dry in the process.
This makes it a beschuit a brilliant carrier for all kinds of food, but also a great challenge to eat. 🙂

'Beschuit met Muisjes' or Little Mice in EN...

In Holland there are also special anise seed sprinkles to celebrate babies.

In every Dutch office large trays of the stuff would go around to test everybody’s teeth. There are pink ones if it is a girl, and now also blue ones for a boy… Poor parents, they have to grind their teeth on the hard little sprinkles for weeks to feed all the guests that come and look at the new baby.

But secretly they actually taste pretty good…

Summer on a Beschuit...

Oh and a great variety for the summer: Beschuit met Aardbeien…

Wanna Bite?

Just slice some strawberries on a beschuit and sprinkle it with some sugar… yum.

For hardcore lovers, try Beschuit with peanutbutter and a slice of ‘Port Salut cheese’ All guuey and dry at the same time. )

Sorry I couldnt resist to add this old Verkade add. >>
It is quite naughty in an old fashioned way, which regretfully is slightly lost in translation…

Wanna Bite?

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Dutch rider...

One of the things I only started to appreciate after leaving Holland for four years was the fact I could get around everywhere with a bicycle.

I have never dared to cycle in London. My first impression of cyclists here is still fresh in my memory… Why are all the roadworkers cycling in this town? It really took me a while to understand that helmets, brigt coloured vests, tights and backpacks are the kit for the casual cyclist…

A Royal ride indeed...

Back in Amsterdam, I really didnt think much of this way of life… It was just the most normal thing to do in the Flatlands… But oh how I now long back to a nice ride on an old sturdy Gazelle bike. With its large weels, back pedal breaks, no gears and plenty of storage in the side bags, you will never have a more relaxed ride.

Hmm lets see if Cambridge is a bycicle friendly town.

And off course I haven’t even mentioned the weather…

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This has been an exciting week, I had a brilliant evening drinking a pint (several) with my old primary school friend! It was wonderful to catch up with someone who only knew me as a child… We were discussing that as we are getting older we find that our mothers turned out to have great knowledge… (we both know eachothers mothers well, as family and friends was what life in primary school sort revolved around)

One of these things is the importance of having a good relation with your butcher!

Ask any teenager or student and they will look at you as if you are daft woman. But to be honest it really is true that I will miss my good Butcher in Knightsbridge.

Mr. O’Shea‘s quality, service and general pride and banter is unsurpassable!
We discuss the best cuts of meat, the way to prepare and different recipes for sausages and he really goes out of his way to help. (sometimes allowing me to pay the next day if I come up short in cash)
Super market meats are double the price and never have the same bang for your buck. And to be honest, I prefer to eat something that was minced, sliced and loved by a professional.

So I fear I will miss the dear man, as his roasts have always been loved by the people I shared them with…
Hope I will find something similar in Boston or Cambridge, anyone?

Hmmm it will probably take another good few months or even years to build up another good relationship.

Thanks mum! You were right…

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Household Cavalry

After an early morning running in Hyde Park,  I think I will really miss seeing the cavalry excercise in the mornings…

It is always a majestic sight to see a large clump of horses trotting towards you. Rain or shine.

Makes me stand up straight and run faster indeed. 🙂

Brattle Street

At least it will be nice and green around Brattle Street and Bellevue Avenue…

Still I will miss the thundering hooves…


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London's fleet

The first and main thing I will really miss from London are… The cabbies.

Even if it took me a while to get to grips with their accent, I really will miss the chatty and knowledgable lads.

Trips would range from private historical tours and facts of London (did you know all of Nelson’s fleet is assembled on all of the lanterns between Buckingham palace and Trafalgar Square?) to occasional pesky requests for my phone number…

Nelson's fleet on the Mall

But still I really cant imagine living in a city without the occasional friendly chats and the feeling you know where you’re going…

Cheers, I will miss you and your London lads…


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