Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

The Iconic Christmas Ball—Save The Date


The Iconic Christmas Ball—Save The Date

keep-calm-and-have-a-ball-9“It’s party time again”

The Iconic Britain Christmas Ball

Early bird Ticket Teaser

Dear Members and Friends,
We’re very happy to announce that we’ll be holding a Christmas Ball again this year.

Preparations are underway and we would like you all to be prepared as well.

The important details are:

Date: 12th December

Location: St. Olaf’s Chapel (Barbizon Palace Hotel, Amsterdam)
Theme: Iconic Britain
Dress code: Black tie.


So save the date and wait for tickets sales to start.

Early bookings get a better deal.

Prices are: 15 Sept – 30 Sept | € 100 p.p. 1 Oct – 15 | Nov € 110 p.p | After 15 Nov € 120 p.p.


If you reserve and pay for a full table of 10 at once, you’ll only be charged for 9 guests!

Buy a table of 10 and get one ticket free
Tickets, full details and conditions will be available at our BritSoc shop from September 15th. 

We already have interest in pre-sale orders.
Avoid disappointment – get in early – and watch out for our future announcements


CCA-banner-steunOur chosen charity this year is the VUmc CCA Cancer Research department. This is a world-leading unit in the south of Amsterdam. We have visited them recently and we believe they deserve our support.

We are hoping to find generous sponsors who will provide services or goods, which we can turn into cash for our charity.  We ask for your help to make this event a success. And to add that touch of Iconic British class to the evening.

All offers of help with organisation, sponsorship, and ideas for the ball are very welcome…please email the team by clicking on the names below.

Many thanks and looking forward to seeing you at the ball.


Women’s Expat Hockey Team now recruiting

Pinoke Expat Hockey Meisjes

Now Recruiting

Training: Wednesdays 19:30

Games: Sundays Sept – June

Contact: Coach Lou for info

Now Recruiting
Contact Lou for further information

Tel: +31 (0)625223254


Texel Island Discs | July/Aug 2015

By John Richardson,  John The Copywriter, Amsterdam

Marooned for eternity on Texel Island in the North of Holland, John Richardson from John The Copywriter, and editor of the Britsoc’s Fish and Chips for the Soul magazine chooses his favourite 12 discs to take with him.

Like most who are asked to spend the rest of eternity on Texel with only 12 songs for company I found the selection process a daunting challenge. Do I pick songs that mark special memorable moments? Or that reach inside to places I never knew existed? Songs that make no lyrical sense yet are rich with light and dark poetic shades? Songs that trigger, anger and confuse? Songs that sum up the moment, the year, the decade? My choices are pre John Lennon’s assassination. I didn’t listen to music after that. I removed it from my life to give room for other things. But recently I have started to listen to those old tunes again. Through older and wiser ears. Whiter Shade of Pale and Hotel California still make about as much sense to me as a U2 lyric. But the blues still has a clarity that reaches deep down and nourishes my mojo.

Woody Guthrie—Mean Talking Blues

I’m not sure if you can still buy this amazing song, but the wonderful lyrics are built from chainsaw parts that cut through the crap to reveal the devil’s soul on a bad day.  Talk about speaking your mind. Reminds me of my mother.

I’m the meanest man that ever had a brain,
All I scatter is aches and pains.
I’m carbolic acid, and a poison face,
And I stand flat-footed in favor of crime and disgrace.
If I ever done a good deed — I’m sorry of it.

I’m mean in the East, mean in the West,
Mean to the people that I like the best.
I go around a-causin’ lot of accidents,
And I push folks down, and I cause train wrecks.
I’m a big disaster — just goin’ somewhere’s to happen.
I’m an organized famine — studyin’ now I can be a little bit meaner.
I’m still a whole lot too good to suit myself — just mean…

Captain Beefheart—Safe as Milk

I first came across this bonkers band during my first day at art college. We sat in total darkness and tried to draw a naked model. Captain B was blaring out Safe as Milk and I was hooked.

John Lennon—Give Peace a Chance

It’s difficult to know how much Yoko influenced this masterpiece but given the backdrop from everything from Vietnam to the daily atrocities of ISIS this song looks like never loosing its relevancy and potency.

Paul McCartney—Yesterday

I was once in a restaurant in Soho London talking with a friend about how Paul McCartney had lost the plot with Wings and the cringing songs that came out of that partnership. We were very loud and my friend Terry kept saying that Paul McCartney was stood behind me. Which I took as a joke. Eventually I turned around and there he was. I went from cynic to one of those screaming  girls in those early black and white Beatles  gigs. Apparently, Yesterday arrived fully formed in Paul’s head.  Go figure.

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?

Co-written by Jimmy Perry and Derek Taverner and sung by World War Two comic Bud Flanagan  (it was the former Crazy Gang member’s last recording; he died later the same year).

Who Do You Think You’re Kidding, Mr Hitler?” was the signature tune of Dad’s Army, a BBC TV comedy series based on the Home Guard. Dad’s Army ran for eighty episodes between 1968 and 1977; there were also a number of radio episodes, a film, and various spin offs including the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society.

While I’ve always hated the class wars in Britain ( I was born in a council house) it does give rise to classic Blighty comedy. I love the understated audaciousness of the song, which perfectly mirrors the ‘give it a go mood’ of people who would never have met and teamed up in normal life. A bit like expat life really.

The WatersonsLal & Mike Waterson - Fine Horseman

I first heard the Watersons at the Bluebell Folk Club in Hull. Only close family members can sing with this kind of uniquely beautiful harmony. I remember Mike Waterson being very friendly and encouraging me to get in to the folk scene.

Lal, Norma, and Mike Waterson were orphans and brought up by their grandmother who was of part gypsy descent. Lal Waterson (15 February 1943 – 4 September 1998) was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire and died suddenly in Robin Hood’s Bay, of cancer diagnosed only ten days before.

Lal Waterson’s voice was stark, captivating, incredible. As you listen it makes you feel every emotion you’ve ever felt. Timeless beauty.

The Who - My Generation

I’ve always had an irrational hatred for the Who. But I’ve always loved this song. It was one of their first hits. It has the lyric ‘Hope I die before I get old’, which succinctly captured the mood of my generation and encouraged me to live a life as full as I could until I reached 30. I was convinced I would die then. But I didn’t. Actually I almost did, but that’s another story.

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love

What a voice Robert plant had. Waaaaayeeeer down insiiiiiiiiiiiiiide. He certainly reached me.

Bob Dylan—Like a Rolling Stone - No Direction Home

Locked in my bedroom listening to Bob gave me a love for the creative use of words that is still with me today. I saw an interview with Bob recently and even he says he could never write songs like that now.  Bob took lyric writing to the highest level. He is a genius who can’t sing. Yet there must be a billion people who bought a guitar because of Bob. Proud to say I was one of them.

Elvis Costello—Alison

I once recorded with Nick Lowe over a long weekend and he told me that he didn’t think much of Costello until he heard this love song. Then he was all in and produced most of his earlier albums, many of which are considered classics. Part punk, part balladeer, a little bit country, a bit of pop, a lot of rock n roll, but never out of fashion, Declan MacManus aka Elvis Costello has been writing, recording, performing and touring for five decades!

Petula Clark —Downtown

I had the great honour of meeting  Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, the writers of this 60’s hit. I’ve included because it was the first single my sisters bought for or new pink Dansette record player. I can still smell its turntable whenever anybody mentions this classic hit.
I fall in love to easily— Chet Baker
Every woman I meet I fall in love with her. Women are amazing. And I love all of them. You would think I would learn from this song. Nope.

I fall in love too easily
I fall in love too fast
I fall in love too terribly hard
For love to ever last
My heart should be well-schooled
‘Cause I been fooled in the past

Chet Baker—I fall in love to easily

Every woman I meet I fall in love with her. Women are amazing. And I love all of them. You would think I would learn from this song. Nope.

I fall in love too easily

I fall in love too fast

I fall in love too terribly hard

For love to ever last

My heart should be well-schooled

‘Cause I been fooled in the past


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Rent a boat and discover Amsterdam

Ten Britsoc Bloggers Rent a Boat

This Thursday, July 16, a group of us from the Britsoc Zine blogging team have been invited to test ‘Rent A Boat Amsterdam‘ by the family run  Canal Motorboats Amsterdam.

logoCMBoats-layers-1Run by father and son Ron and Finn van Hemert, Canal Motorboats is Amsterdam’s oldest boat rental and a great way to experience our beautiful canals.

20% Boat Hire Discount
Ron has kindly offered a 20% discount for boat hire during weekdays to all Britsoc members and Zine subscribers

We will be back soon with pics and a small blog about how we got on.

Meanwhile here some background to this family run boat rental company.

Canal Motorboats: rent a boat easy and simple

Canal Motorboats has an extensive tradition when it comes to the rent a boat business. As a family company, we are the oldest boat rental company in Amsterdam. From our central location, which is in walking distance of the Central Station, you can access the famous Amsterdam canals within a couple of minutes.

A navigation license is not required to take our boats out on the town!

After our clear and expert instructions, you will hit the water feeling like a seasoned captain. Our staff is always helpful and nice, as it is our ambition to offer you the best possible Amsterdam boat experience.

Affordable boat rental

When adding this to our sharp prices, you have the formula for success for an unforgettable time on the water. Canal Motorboats is open year round from 10:00 am ‘til sunset/10:00 pm.

Our boats are 5,50 m long and 1,80 m wide and can fit up to 7 persons.

Your safety is always guaranteed

Our boats have a built-in system that prevents them from sinking under all circumstances.

Canal Motorboats
Zandhoek 10 A
1013 KT Amsterdam
Phone: + 31 (0) 20 422 70 07




Britsoc Photo Lesson #12

Get the pose and the setting right and the rest will follow


By Benjamin Authur, Photographer


BritPhotShot of the Month

Last month we talked about how important it is to let children just be themselves. The same applies to babies of course but then again in the context of a big Christening day – when Mum & Dad are really in charge – there’s not much latitude to express yourself!

Getting nice pictures is where a professional photographer can really then make the difference. You may think your iPhone will do. It won’t.

In the case of this recent Christening I photographed, it was all about the pose and the setting. A beautiful dress. A baby still unable to walk. Spread out the dress and sit it on the grass.

It was a broiling hot day and so the last thing I wanted was heavily contrasted sunshine all over this babe – which is where she had first been placed.

Many people mistakenly still think that sunny days are great for photos. They are not.

So I moved this beautiful babe into the shade, spread out her dress and let the magic happen.

I chose a shallow depth of field to really make her “pop” out of her setting.

Technical details: Nikon D700. AF‐S Nikkor 50mm (1.4) @ f/2, ISO 320 @ 1/800s


Benjamin Arthur
The British Photographer in Amsterdam

Benjamin Arthur's email
Email Benjamin here with your questions, requests and ideas

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Home is where the art is


By Benjamin Arthur


One of the greatest joys of moving into our new home has been rediscovering old possessions long neglected in storage. Furniture, silver, china but it didn’t include too many works of art. So we’ve found even greater pleasure in starting the process of building a small collection of art works which we like to look at. That’s the only criterion; and budget of course. Most paintings we’ve found in markets or in the Kringloopwinkels.JAN_2338

This piece however, a still life with Grapes & Apples is a copy of an original piece by a Dutch artist. It is not just any old copy though. It was painted by my Godmother as a wedding present for Leigh Ann & I. Having completed the work she then flew all the way to Amsterdam to present it to us. It truly was a labour of love.

The detailing on it is exquisite. JAN_2341The brilliance of the colour is not captured by the photographs.

This is an artwork that we will treasure for the rest of our days and truly makes our house a home.

Thanks Aunt Jane!


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Nick goes mental

Nick’s Nosh July/Aug 2015


NickBy Nick Nugent

Festival report

Het Hoofdgerecht **

11-14 June

Het Stenen Hoofd


If you are going to call your festival “the main course” it needs to damn well deliver on this.  I was very glad we went on Sunday, the free day, as I would have not liked to pay 10 euros to get in to this thing.  I think it was more about the music and entertainment than the food.  The Sunday we chose to go was cool, but just about t-shirt weather.  After a very quick walk around all the stalls we made our food choices quite quickly.


1010516_646843865343428_1385289156_nOut of the 4 of us one chose the Indonesian from Warung Wanto (  which looked like a bit of everything from the Indo kitchen including a chicken satay.  Two of us had the pulled pork sandwich which was pretty good, but the very spicy sauce meant the pork flavour was lost somewhat.  The final member of the party had a spicy chicken wrap which looked also ok.

We had obviously arrived far too early as we were being serenaded by the ladies in their traditional Dutch costumes singing to a bunch of kids about what happens in the Bakkerij.

Maybe the evening entertainment is what this festival is all about but for me these were the same old trucks you get at all these types of things and in fact most of this is available at the neighbour food market and other such regular markets.  For me this was more petit dejeuner rather than Hoofdgerecht.  I would stick with other festivals next year or try in the evening.


Ellis Gourmet Burger ***

Prinsengracht 422
1016 JC Amsterdam

Tel: +31 020 261 26 69

I had seen quite a few of my Facebook friends post that they had been here a few times for a Burger and I do count them as some of my more discerning friends so I wanted to try this for myself and see what all the fuss was about.

banner-bruggeEllis is just off Leidsestraat on junction of Prinsengracht/Leidsegracht actually within spitting distance of all the tourists.  They have managed to find a place with a large terrace on the opposite side of the street. There must be room for 80 plus people on this terrace, doubling the size of the restaurant.  The day we chose to eat there was a Saturday afternoon around 3pm and so it was busy, but we still managed to sit down immediately all be it perched on the end of another table with an antipodean couple.

hero-image-bollywoodSo this is all about the burgers.  Will it match the current best in town? Our orders for drinks were taken swiftly and they arrived soon afterwards. Our food order was taken at the same time as the drinks arrived.  Not bad for Amsterdam!  We ordered classical burgers one with cheese and the other with bacon, keeping it simple so we can make the comparison with other places. I really wanted to try the lamb burger, however.  The sacrifices I have to make for you lot hey!  The fries were a separate side order along with come corn on the cob.

slider-catering1Our food arrived in under 10 minutes and looked very appetising.  The Burgers themselves were a regular size and not the towering monstrosities you sometimes get in these places pretending to be upmarket burger places.  At least you knew it would fit in your mouth.  Another pet hate of mine is this fashion for Brioche buns which I find too sweet and dry.  Ellis had stuck with a regular bun hurrah!  The topping was a bit of iceberg lettuce which formed a barrier between the burger and the base, some gherkin and a tomato plus a spicy burger relish.  This was going to be pretty good I thought. Fries were the chipped skinned variety which adds an earthiness to the potato, but can also mean they don’t crisp up that well and can be too strong a flavour.

ellis-beeld-website-lambThe Burger itself was cooked around medium which was good but the waterfall of fat and liquid you get from the first bite is unappealing to me. I have a bit of an issue that there is no resting of the meat at all in these places.  I had the same problem at another place twice as bad called Morgan and Mees where my wooden board had a puddle filling it to the edge.  All this wetness causes the bun to go completely soggy and fall apart.  The bottom barrier of iceberg helped in this case and me holding the thing vertically for the time I ate it also helped, but the bun was a bit of a sorry mess at the end.  It is not enjoyable to hold it for 5 minutes while you are eating as I would like to put it down and have chip, conversation or sip of a drink for example.  If there is no room on your plate, however because of the puddle of liquid what do you do?  It tasted ok however and if you are in this area it is a good burger apart from the problems above.  The chips are a little too earthy and not quite crisp enough, but the corn was great served with a wedge of butter!  The Butcher still reigns supreme for me.

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Beth in her bamboo garden

An interview with Beth Johnson

30,000 books hanging in the air

A peek inside Beth Johnson’s Boekhandel van Rossum: Her newly expanded bookstore and bamboo garden on the Beethovenstraat in Amsterdam.

By John Richardson


I recently —finally—caught up with Beth Johnson in her redesigned bookshop. A wonderful and unexpected aspect of the bookshop is its new bamboo garden, which is where I spoke with Beth.  She started by telling me that this is where she hopes to hold small outdoor book events in the warmer months. 

IMG_023430,000 books hanging in the air
Beth’s bookshop has recently been extended thanks to the purchase of the shop next door. Working with a London based design company, the new bookshop successfully bridges the gap between 1920s Art Deco and the 21st Century. The very modern floor-to-ceiling design houses over 30,000 books—yet feels airy and full of light.


IMG_0204From businessmen to children
Beth Johnson thinks we all learn in a different way, and each one of us has a different approach to reading. Because of this insight, she helps everyone from businessmen, who have forgotten how to read literature, to enriching the imagination of children of all ages. Beth’s eclectic and curious bookshop certainly feels personal and tailored towards this approach.


Dutch and English books
Beth encourages and challenges her various readers, and I found her wide range of children’s books, both in Dutch and English, to be extremely stimulating.  Teenagers are also very well catered for, and she does not shy away from the darker side of the teen experience.


Keyhole time travel
Central to the bookshop’s redesign is the keyhole shaped entrance to a room that seems to transform you into a time traveller. It’s as if you are being drawn into a secret Tardis from Dr Who, where you can go anywhere you want. This space module and its books provide a moment of quietude and stillness that allows your mind to wander through the ages and experience distant and forgotten lands.  You find yourself enchanted by disappearing and rediscovered fauna and flora—and its architectural and culinary wonders.
Beth cares deeply about people
Beth likes to have contact face-to-face and get to understand what her customers really need. Consequently, she is very big on feedback. It helps her shape her tailored approach to each customer. Which is why we are encouraging each reader of  Beth’s Books blog to reach out to her. If only to thank her for her wonderful recommendations. And to perhaps suggest themes and books that you may find of interest. It will make it that much easier for her to get the measure of her readers. Plus their likes and dislikes. And to make this blog event more useful and usable, fun and challenging, rewarding and stimulating.

Beth Johnson is the owner of Boekhandel Van Rossum (Beethovenstraat 32 in Amsterdam). Beth writes about and sells a wide range of Dutch and English books for children, young adults and mature readers.

Beth would also be delighted to receive feedback about her book recommendations.
Send Beth a Feedback Email
Beth would love to hear feedback from you.


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Cafe Scrapyard


By Carol Moore

What a gem of a cocktail bar to find in a residential area of Amsterdam!

Scrapyard, it appears, is everything others aren’t for a few reasons. I entered the new bar to bluesy mellow beats and a warm welcome by the owner who originally comes from Salford. I was then presented with an extensive cocktail menu by the award winning cocktail bar person who was more than happy to provide a recommendation.

There is an extensive gin list which seems to be de rigueur in Amsterdam at the moment, but after much deliberating I opted for a CMV – coffee, mint and vanilla daiquiri as a pick me up. This could honestly be my most favourite cocktail ever, as the fresh minty taste balanced against nice strong coffee with vanilla was just divine!

Whilst watching the art of cocktail making, I was also informed that they make cocktails that are good for you, as in environmentally friendly and organic products. If you wish you can also choose a wine or a beer supplied by the Two Chefs Brewery.

Cafe-Scrapyard_0114Carol-MooreAfter devouring my cocktail, I decided to have a peek around the place as there was a good range of modern and interesting art on display from local art producer RichArt Penture. There were quite a few real life portraits of famous people such as Martin Luther King and Mohammed Ali.


Scrapyard also has regular social events, such as Art Battle Contests where local artists with a mix of different styles (graffiti, tattoo, illustration) compete against each other with the help of the public to decide who wins.

They also host kitchen takeovers where there is a food truck and specialty theme of cuisine. I was informed the most recent one was South African.

Settling into the big comfy leather couch at the back I decided it was time to try another cocktail! Again, spoilt by the menu and amazing names, I plumped for a Basil Fawlty – more chosen out of the amusing name. It was a smooth blend of vodka, crème de cassis, triple sec, elderflower tonic and fresh basil and lip-smackingly good.

Cafe-Scrapyard_0118Carol-MooreScrapyard really is a cool little place in that it balances beautifully made and tasting cocktails, with a down to earth edginess crossed with unbeatably the friendliest bar staff I have ever encountered in a cocktail bar. Opening till late on Fridays and Saturdays, I can see this being a popular hangout.


Google +



awesome amsterdam


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Amsterdam 7’s Rugby


By Andy Symmonds

A Day at the Sevens

You may have noticed that the Amsterdam Sevens organisers offered a discount on tickets to members of the British Society for the tournament in May. It’s not clear if this was the trigger, but several members were spotted enjoying the occasion and the rugby. This review is based upon the final day of the event so it misses the core of the ladies contest and the qualifying for Rio excitement, but it does mean that the report can include some glorious weather.

IMG_4151To recap, the event is an annual competition featuring teams from around the world. The format is Sevens, which means rugby played on a full size pitch with only seven players in each side. This, as you can imagine, can mean a lot of running around and does require a high level of fitness to be able to compete effectively. The tournament is a fixture on the World Rugby Sevens calendar for ladies rugby, giving it equivalent status to the Middlesex, Dubai or Hong Kong Sevens events for male rugby. This year was also given extra significance as teams could qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

IMG_4148The ladies rugby provided some fascinating results. From the Olympic perspective, Canada and Australia both managed to qualify for Rio on the first day and team GB qualified on day two. New Zealand claimed the Women’s Seven Series for the third year in a row but took a record beating at the hands of the USA team (34-5 and arguably the shock of the tournament).

The men’s rugby demonstrated the usual blend of swift running, some great passing and off loading and some wonderful individual skills. The male contingent also provided the three streakers that decided to grace the women’s game between Canada and Ireland. Sadly the brave three gents that streaked were more amply padded than anyone previously seen on the pitch and the players looked suitably unimpressed.

IMG_4185British Society members were there every day of this years’ event, but we also added in some of the noise as Ian Cherington, our Chairman, was the official commentator for all three days.  Ian kept the crowd informed and motivated throughout the tournament and even encouraged the Mexican wave in quieter moments. Nick, our intrepid food taster and restaurant tester, was also seen enjoying the fun, although we have no comments on the catering  standards yet.

The British Society also had younger members attending the tournament, so we would like to wrap up the report of the 2015 Amsterdam Sevens with some comments from Luc Thomas, aged 12: “Time flew. It was a fun and friendly atmosphere. I want to go again next year. I liked the men’s games more than the women’s games. Best women’s game was the final between Fiji and China.” This was Luc’s introduction to live rugby and he came away very enthused by the Sevens. It is a cracking day out and we will alert you of the dates for the 2016 tournament when they become available.

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