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

Archive for November, 2015

Burns’ Night 2015

Categories: Burns Night
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By Dee Bodle



Britsoc are having their annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns at the British School of Amsterdam on Saturday 30th January 2016. Burns was born on the 25th January 1759, which would make him 257 years old.

A Burns supper traditionally ranges from formal gatherings of scholars to uproaring informal rave ups of drunkards and louts. Well I would say the Britsoc Burns night falls in the middle of this range, and adheres to some sort of time honoured form. This includes the eating of the traditional Scottish meal and taking in the spirit of the Bard.

The Britsoc Burns Supper is littered with individual talents within our mists who have their own special flavour of captivating storytelling, singing and poetry. The celebration over time has developed its own unique group character, which distinguishes the Britsoc celebration from every other. The gathering has plenty of haggis, neeps and tatties to go around, and some have their favourite Scotch tipple to keep them warm.

I’ve found that most people, although they may be unaware of it, love to come to a Burns Supper. However, they feel a little intimidated at the idea of doing some Scottish dancing. This  was the case with my Dutch partner. Most people end up being appreciative guests, have a great time and can’t wait for the next one. The sound of the Scottish pipes is unforgettable, and very seldom heard in the Netherlands.  I’m one of those people who absolutely love to hear them.

Everyone should feel comfortable taking part, but they may need a little help and encouragement so you may need to gently motivate them in the right direction towards the dance floor. The good vibes, good food and the good company that this event celebrates would I’m sure be to a level that Burns himself would appreciate. Robert Burns died in July 1796 at the age of 37.   I’m sure we all know that since the publication of Auld Lang Syne, it has gone all around the world countless times and it is surely the greatest song of parting known to man.

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Britsoc Meetup Page

Categories: Britsoc Meetup
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By Nick Nugent

Britsoc is known for its big 3 B’s: Bonfire, Ball and Burns.

We have in the past also been able to organise smaller events, but the hassle of organising them and not knowing who is coming has meant some of our smaller events have gone by the wayside in recent years.

A number of specialist expat websites like Meetin, a Small World and Internations have proved very successful in the last few years because when an event is advertised you can see which of your friends have already decided to go to something.

As a society we are here to deliver cultural, sporting and social activities with a British flavour which allow our members to meet and interact.  So as a society we needed to look at ways we can to this more efficiently.  In order to create interesting events that are well attended we have decided as a society to start a “MeetUp” page.

MeetUp is a web and mobile application that allows you, at very short notice, to create any sort of social event —be it a dining event or a tour.  This will be the medium that all of our smaller events will be advertised in the future.  All our big events will be advertised through our regular channels like the Zine, Website and Facebook.  Meetup will be used for smaller monthly/weekly events.  It will also allow companies or individuals who want to offer our members a special deal for an event a way to communicate with our members.

At the time of writing, we have already organised events like Comedy night, Pub Quiz, Curry Club, Pub night, a history tour of Amsterdam, and a business networking event.

Coming up we have a traditional Roast Dinner at a new British run restaurant, a great deal of 25% off tickets from the Badhuis theatre on their Sean O Casey play and Pensions seminar.

Click flag  for details:


Britsoc MeetUp Page


If you are a British business, or want to offer our members a good deal, then you are a welcome to send me a proposal for an event. Or if you have an event that you think our members would be interested in, then you are welcome to contact me  with your idea.


Nick’s Email



Britsoc MeetUp Site

We are also looking for new volunteers to help us run our big and small events.  In January, I hope to organise an event especially for new volunteers to bring their ideas and energy to create some interesting new events for the future.

Currently we are approaching 200 members on MeetUp, and as the numbers increase the events will get more frequent and interesting.


Happy Kidz Amsterdam

Categories: Private Nanny
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The nanny agency caters to expats with demanding jobs and hectic schedules

Bibi and childMy name is Bibi de Vetter and I am the owner of Happy Kidz Amsterdam. The nanny agency aims to support expats families living and working in The Netherlands for long-term or short-term assignments.
Happy Kidz Amsterdam provides assistance to parents with demanding careers.

We will work closely with you to meet the needs of your children and ensure that your home runs smoothly.
I am a fully qualified childminder and I have been working as a nanny for the last few years.
The most rewarding part of being a nanny is to build a loving and lasting relationship with my charges and the parents.

It’s very fulfilling when the children are excited to see me and to engage in fun activities. In my free time I enjoy reading, cooking, travelling, shopping and working out.

I am looking forward to meeting your family!

Contact details:

Tel: 0615248395

Happy Kidz Amsterdam
The nanny agency caters to expats with demanding jobs and hectic schedules





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Britsoc Photo Lesson #14

Categories: Photography
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Long exposures create wonderful effects


By Benjamin Authur, Photographer

BritPhotShot of the Month

This classic view of the corner of Brouwergracht & Prinsengracht was taken on the morning the clocks changed. So I had an extra hour of daylight without people around and, bonus of bonuses, it was a stunning morning.

This photo was shot using two graduated filters and with a 30 second exposure. The longer exposure really helps add dynamic movement to the scene from both the clouds and the canal. Learning how to do this is one of the greatest joys one can have as a photographer. Tis not complicated but it does take practice. If you are interested in coming out with me for a lesson on how to do this I’d be delighted to show you how its done.

Technical details: Nikon D810. AF‐S Nikkor 17‐35 (2.8) @ f/20, ISO 31 @ 30s

Benjamin Arthur
The British Photographer in Amsterdam

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

Britsoc Photography Sponsor | Nov 2015

Categories: Britsoc Sponsor/Advertiser, Photography
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Benjamin Arthur

The British Photographer in Amsterdam



About Benjamin Arthur
I’m a leading independent freelance photographer, working with corporate & individual clients in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, UK and elsewhere. Capturing the spirit of you or your event is my first priority.

Passion, creativity and professionalism
The areas I focus on can be seen in my galleries and I love each individual commission with the challenges they bring and the fun we have together. Passion, creativity and professionalism are the three things above all that I bring to my work. I love it all … from the dreaming and planning through to the execution & delivery. My approach throughout is 1000% focused on you – placing you and your needs at the centre of everything.

Reportage photographer
Successful outcomes are the result of strong relationships. In terms of style, I describe myself as a reportage photographer. I like to work as far as possible with natural light and that applies as much to my portraiture work as it does weddings, events and parties.

I try to blend in rather than stand out
I quietly observe what’s going on around me. Then, when I need to step up for a large group photo, I’m lucky to have a strong voice that can marshal everyone into shot.

Well travelled
Based in the stunning city of Amsterdam, I also regularly work in Prague and will happily travel across continental Europe and the world on assignment. I’m blessed to be married to Leigh Ann who helps me in a thousand ways and is a true partner. When not behind my lens, you’ll find my nose in a book or a saucepan or, too rarely, tramping around England’s stunning landscapes.

I look forward to working with you
So, whatever your photographic needs please do contact me using the details below. I look forward to hearing what we can do together!

Contact Photographer Benjamin Arthur
I try to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours and, during the working week, am available for one on one appointments.

Trifle | Cooking Coach | Dec 2015

Categories: Cooking Coach
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By Karen Vivers


It’s a far cry from the Bird’s trifle we always had in our house at Christmas and New Year.   You remember – custard from a packet, cream from a packet, fruit from a tin.  And probably, if I’m honest, if I could get that old ‘trifle in a packet’ I’d make it, but I’ve never come across the product in the Netherlands, so needs must and I taught myself to make trifle (almost) from scratch.

Preparation Time:  50 minutes plus time for the jelly to set.

Cooking Time: none

Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings

Layer 1 : The Cake and Jelly Base

400gr / 14 oz. strawberries chopped roughly

3 or 4 x tbsp Marsala wine

2 x tsp icing sugar

500ml / 1 pt.  (roughly) of strawberry jelly

300gr / 10.5 oz. of a shop bought Swiss roll style cake cut into 1.5cm / 0.6 in. slices


Layer 2: Crème Patissiere 

6 x large egg yolks

120gr / 4 oz. caster sugar

60gr / 1.7 oz. plain flour

500ml /  1 pt. of whole milk

4 or 5 drops of  vanilla extract

A  little icing sugar


Layer 3: Cream and Decorations

300ml / 10 fl. oz. double cream for whipping

Optional – 1 x tbsp Marsala wine to mix into the cream

You can decorate as you wish, but some of my favourite decorations are chopped strawberries, pomegranate seeds or other berries.



The Cake and Jelly Base

  1. To start, the base.  Place the strawberries in a bowl with the icing sugar and 2 x tbsp of the Marsala wine, mix through and  set aside to macerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place your Swiss roll slices evenly and tightly into the bottom of your trifle serving bowl, drizzle over the other 1 or 2 tbsps of Marsala wine.
  3. Make the strawberry jelly as per the instructions on the packet.
  4. Cover the cake with the chopped strawberries, spreading them as evenly as you can.  Pour the jelly over carefully, not too quickly, allowing it to get down into all the nooks and crannies and soak into your cake.
  5. Place the base in the fridge to allow the jelly to set.  Normally this takes about 4 hours.  I very often make the base the day before I plan to serve the trifle.

The Crème Patissiere

  1. I tend to make crème patissiere rather than custard as it gives a thicker, stiffer finish.  Custard tends to stay a bit runny and the trifle collapses after the first spoonful is served.  To start the crème patissiere take an electric whisk and beat the egg yolks in a bowl with about a third of the sugar until the mix becomes pale yellow.
  2. Add the flour and whisk until everything is incorporated evenly, no lumps, and it has thickened a little.
  3. Heat the milk in a pan (not a non-stick pan) with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla.  Just as it comes to the boil, remove your pan from the heat and pour about two thirds of the hot milk into your bowl containing the egg and sugar mix.  Stir quickly with a metal hand whisk for a minute then add the rest of the milk and continue stirring quite firmly until everything is smooth and evenly incorporated.
  4. Put the pan back on a medium heat and pour your crème patissiere into the pan.  Stir continuously with your metal whisk.  As it thickens you may have to stir quite vigorously.  Let it bubble gently for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.
  5. Sprinkle over a very thin layer of icing sugar and allow your crème patissiere to cool.  You can do this on a cool work surface or the quickest way is to pour it into a wide chilled dish before sprinkling over your icing sugar and then place in the fridge.  The layer of icing sugar prevents the formation of a ‘skin’.  Alternatively you can place cling film on top of it.
  6. Once completely cool it will be quite thick. Spread it over your set jelly base.  Be a bit gentle as you do not want to break the top of your jelly.

Cream Topping and Decorations

  1. Whip your cream with the icing sugar until it becomes stiff and holds its shape.  You can fold through the Marsala at this stage should you wish to use it.
  2. Spread the cream over the crème patissiere layer.  I like to do this very roughly, not smooth, lots of peaks and bumps makes it look attractive.
  3. Sprinkle over your berries and decorations.

Tips and Variations

  • You can of course make your own jelly using gelatin sheets, and add fresh flavours.
  • I like to keep it simple by using shop bought Swiss Roll, but of course you can make your own cake.  Simple ones work best, Madeira cake is a good option or the Dutch style ‘Oma’ cake.
  • Once you have practiced this a few times you can play around with the fruit flavours to keep it seasonal.
  • Strawberries can be a bit expensive in the winter time, so why not go retro and use a can of tinned fruit?
  • If  the crème patissiere is cooled, but not as thick as you would like it, put it on your jelly base and then return it to the fridge for a couple of hours to set it stiffer.
  • You can normally get the jelly in British shops and the best place to get double cream is M&S.  The Dutch style single cream works too, but it won’t stay stiff and can give a watery result.  Alternatively, you can use some mascarpone cream cheese with a little icing sugar and Marsala.


Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.


Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

Mobile : 06 1424 0009


Dyslexia Parent Support Group

Categories: Parent Support
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Do you have a child who is, or may be, dyslexic?

Come and join our group.
 We will be discussing and sharing ideas on
 how to help a dyslexic child with their
 reading, spelling and homework,
 as well as all the other issues that affect their lives.

dyslex_logo-webThis group was established in 2003 with the principal aim of putting parents of dyslexic children in touch with one another. We meet monthly during term time either for an informal coffee morning or a chance to listen to a guest speaker. The meetings provide an ideal opportunity to exchange information, share ideas, and share your anxieties and successes with each other.

During the year we invite several guest speakers along, all of whom have a professional interest in dyslexia. (e.g. Educational Psychologist, Dyslexia Specialist, Speech Therapist)

The second aim was to be a central source of information about which resources are available for dyslexic children locally, such as tutors and where you can get your child assessed. As such, I am always happy to hear from qualified professionals who can offer support and services for dyslexic children.

The group is a friendly, internationally represented group of parents, with the majority of their children being educated in English. You are also very welcome to attend if you are still unsure if your child might be dyslexic.

Everyone is welcome to contact me either for information or to join the group and attend meetings. You can also join an email list so you are kept informed of any meeting/talk that is taking place. There is no charge although occasionally there is a fee to pay for a guest speaker.




Nomad Parents Website
Email Debra Lambert
For further information contact Debra Lambert with this email link


Gemma White | Independent Forever Business Owner

Categories: Beauty and health
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Gemma has kindly decided to sponsor the Great British Ball, so in return we have agreed to tell her story here:

John Richardson, Zine Editor in chief 


GemmaMy name is Gemma White, I come from Scotland and around two and a half years ago my family and I moved to the Netherlands to start a new short term adventure.  In June 2015 we were to pack our bags and return home but we found that we had grown very fond of Holland and so we bought a house and decided to stay.   With this decision around two months ago I started my own part time business as an Independent Forever Business Owner.

I initially started out my business as a way to integrate and meet new people as sometimes as an expat it is not always easy to do so.  However, as time has gone on I have realized the benefits that come with having your own business and the opportunities that Forever provides and so I begin to expand my business to make a better and brighter future for me and my family.  Let me now tell you more about Forever and their wonderful products

It was over thirty years ago when Founder, Rex Maughan, turned his dream into a reality. His vision was to make aloe vera accessible to as many people as possible, and to help anyone who wants a better future for themselves and their loved ones. He says, “My aim is to help people lead a healthier life and to make them feel better.” A balanced lifestyle combined with the purity of Forever’s aloe vera products will provide optimum health and vitality for that ultimate sense of wellbeing.

With a commitment to quality and purity, Forever starts with 100% inner leaf gel, adding a fine balance of high quality ingredients to produce outstanding, effective products. The Forever product range is a testament to nature’s capacity to help us look and feel our best.

Benefit from the most potent formulas and high quality ingredients available in Forever’s Life Balance range.  As an example Forever Aloe Vera Gel is a pure stabilised aloe vera gel which is as close to the natural plant juice as possible, containing over 200 different compounds. This rich source of nutrients provides the perfect supplement to a balanced diet. Drink to promote a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing.  We have slightly different variations of the gel that target different ailments.


Fitness and weight management are key aspects of modern-day life, as people become increasingly conscious about the importance of healthy living.

Energy, stamina and performance are important to every fitness enthusiast, and Forever understands this. As such, we provide a range of products which caters to individual needs to ensure they work with your body to promote good health. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is simple with Forever’s two-step weight management programme. The Forever F.I.T programme combines a nine-day cleansing plan (the Clean 9) followed by a long-term weight management plan (Forever F.I.T.1 and F.I.T.2). A fitter and healthier you, made easy with Forever.

Clean 9

Look better and feel great in just nine days with this expertly-devised cleansing plan. Designed to kick-start the F.I.T. programme, cleanse your body and adjust your mindset, C9 provides the perfect starting point for transforming your diet and fitness habits. Based around Forever’s bestselling Aloe Vera Gel drink, this nutritionally-balanced programme will allow you to see real results in just nine days.  I have recently completed  the C9 and feel great for it.  I have increased energy levels, better skin and hair and as an added bonus I lost 9lbs and 8 inches.


Purity for skin and body – Forever’s luxury beauty and wellness range contains only the finest natural ingredients to leave your skin looking and feeling radiant. Using the purest form of aloe vera, these products enhance natural beauty to leave you looking and feeling your best.

Gently complementing the skin on both face and body, Forever’s range of beauty and wellness products work in harmony to create a natural and glowing complexion. Try Forever’s products from the beauty and wellness range for the ultimate body, hair and skincare experience.  Below are a few of my personal favourites.

Aloe-Jojoba Shampoo – Get beautifully shiny and easy-to-manage hair with this aloe vera and jojoba oil-infused shampoo. The gentle pH-balanced formula is suitable for all hair types and can be used to help replenish your hair’s natural moisture.

Aloe-Jojoba Conditioning Rinse – Contains jojoba and vitamin B to help nourish, protect and strengthen the hair. This pH-balanced conditioner gives hair a silky, salon-look finish. Enriched with nourishing oils and vitamins, it provides a great result when used in conjunction with the Aloe-Jojoba Shampoo.

Aloe Hand & Face Soap – Rich and creamy moisturising liquid soap, perfect for the entire family. The mild and non-irritating formula creates a luxurious lather to cleanse the face, hands and body on a daily basis.  I use this in the shower, as a hand wash in all my bathrooms and also for the kids as it does not sting their eyes when washing their hair and makes lovely bubbles!

Forever Bright Toothgel – Created for the entire family – as well as your pets – this gentle, non-fluoride formula contains only the highest quality ingredients including aloe vera and bee propolis. Enjoy its natural mint flavour for a taste that will leave your mouth refreshed and your teeth clean. This toothgel is also suitable for vegetarians since it contains no animal by-products.  My husband loves this product and is always telling me how white his teeth are since he started using it.

Aloe Vera Gelly – Essentially identical to the aloe vera’s inner leaf, our 100% stabilised aloe vera gel lubricates sensitive tissue safely. This topical thick gel soothes sensitive skin and has a cooling effect.  I used this during the summer on my mosquito bites.  I have also used it most recently on my little girl’s head when she fell off the couch.

Aloe Moisturizing Lotion – A silky moisturising cream – containing nourishing aloe, jojoba oil, collagen and elastin – that leaves the skin feeling soft and supple. This lotion moisturises your face, hands and body whilst maintaining the skin’s natural pH balance. Its easy-to-absorb formula also makes a great base for makeup application. N.B. Suitable for people prone to dry skin conditions.

Aloe Propolis Crème – A rich, creamy blend of aloe vera, bee propolis and camomile to help maintain healthy, beautiful skin tone and texture, with moisturising and conditioning properties. The Aloe Propolis Creme makes an excellent everyday moisturiser and has a soothing effect on sensitive skin.  Contains lanolin.  I have extremely dry hands and really struggle to find a moisturizer that works but this cream really does the job.

Prouct-range-2I hope you have enjoyed reading about Forever and our products.  There are many more to choose from but not enough room to write about them all.  If you would like to know more please click on one of the icons below:




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Footprints in the snow

Categories: Books
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By Maggie Holman

The book is a Christmas story with a spooky moment at the end, for children aged 8-11. It tells the story of ten-year-old Jamie, a shy London boy who goes to stay with his grandfather in the Forest of Dean, where he discovers local people searching for an elusive panther and meets traveller children who talk to animals. Jamie thinks he knows the forest well, but he gets lost in the snow after he sets off alone.The question is, who will be able to find him?

When I first wrote the book, I asked a primary teacher colleague if she would read it and see if it worked for this age group. She loved the book, said the students would love it too and asked if she could read it to her class. The students stopped me around school to tell me how much they were enjoying the story, and they also sent me a collection of letters and pictures when their reading was finished. Because of this response at school, I decided to register as a small publisher and printed a first paperback run, all of which have sold.

Here are some examples of the reviews the book has received:

‘As I read aloud, every student was incredibly focussed and I swear you could hear a pin drop. This is an absolutely beautiful story and I feel lucky to have had the privilege to read it aloud to my class.’ (Lyndsay Gregory, primary school teacher)

‘I read the story and there are some really great elements; the characters are warm and engaging, the locations are great and the interaction between the travellers and non-travellers feels rounded and real.’ (David Collier, children’s television producer)

‘Being from the Forest of Dean myself, I really thought that you captured the magic of it. It was very uplifting, engaging and a pleasure to read.’ (Suzanne Phillips, the Winston’s Wish Charity)

And from children:

‘I loved your story so much. My favourite part of the story is when Caro talked to the stag. I just wish I could do that! It might even be one of my favourite books. It was just so exciting!’ (Lola)

‘Your story was really cool and fun to read. I thought the idea of the panther was awesome.’ (Elliot)

‘The more the teacher read, the more I couldn’t stop thinking of it.’ (Lucie)

‘Footprints in the Snow’ has a new ISBN and a professionally-designed cover from the Book Beaver design company. There is an organised launch of the book between now and Christmas, which includes a reading and Q&A in the AICS library, a Goodreads Giveaway starting on 17th November, a dedicated page on my website and promotion via my Facebook, Twitter and Amazon pages. Kindle version here.

The price of the book is 7.50.

The book is soon available at the new Scheltema store in Rokin and the van Rossum bookstore in Beethovenstraat.

Read the first chapter
Download and read the first chapter. It takes about half an hour