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

Archive for July, 2016

Don’t swap your passports yet, Amsterdam mayor tells British

Categories: Brexit
Comments Off on Don’t swap your passports yet, Amsterdam mayor tells British

British nationals in the Netherlands should not rush to swap their passports for Dutch ones despite the Brexit vote, Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan has told a meeting of city expats.

‘As Dutch people, not just as Amsterdam, we will do all we can to make sure there is as little change as possible,’ Van der Laan said. Applying for a Dutch passport is ‘not necessary at this point’, the mayor said, pointing out that everyone can apply for a permanent residency permit after spending five years in the country.’

Around 200 British nationals attended a special meeting called by the mayor on Monday afternoon to address their concerns about Britain’s pending withdrawal from the EU. Some 15,000 of the estimated 50,000 British nationals in the Netherlands live in the Dutch capital.

Van der Laan also said the city will not actively lobby to attract London companies to set up in Amsterdam. ‘We are responsible people and we will not try to take advantage of a friend in need,’ the mayor said.

However, if companies decide to leave Britain, Amsterdam will do its best to get them to move to the Dutch capital, Van der Laan said.

The expat centre in Amsterdam has set up a special Brexit information point to answer questions and provide information about residency and nationality rights for British nationals.


Click below for British Embassy Information

Help for British nationals overseas – guidance
Advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe, following the result of the EU referendum.



After Brexit what next?

Categories: Brexit
Comments Off on After Brexit what next?


By Benjamin Arthur

So they’ve actually gone and done it. BREXIT, a British exit from the European Union, – once seemingly unthinkable – has actually been voted in favour of.With a majority of 52% versus 48% the British people decided that national suicide was preferable to having the bendiness of their bananas regulated by pesky foreigners sitting in weird sounding foreign places like Brussels and Strasbourg. It has been a difficult few weeks for those of us Brits living and working and loving here on the continent of Europe. The overwhelming majority of us who were entitled to vote, voted Remain.

my ballot paperSome of us – myself included – took our civic duty so seriously that we actually flew over to England in person to vote. There are a significant number of us who, on account of our long years spent abroad, were shamefully disenfranchised and cast onto the sidelines left frustrated by the entire process. Notwithstanding the whys and wherefores of this depressing referendum happening in the first place, it is now time for those of us who hold a British passport to start thinking about what next? What next for those of us living in Amsterdam and the Netherlands? What next for Britain and its people? What next for the British state? What next for the economy on which we all depend for our livelihoods? What next for the EU? What next for globalisation? What next for our psyches?

These are all questions about which millions of words have been and will continue to be written over the years to come as this process plays itself out. It is painfully clear that Brexit – if indeed it really does happen – will become one of the defining “meta” issues of the next 10-20 years.We’ll be talking about this for years to come. Had the vote gone the other way I suspect we wouldn’t have been. Sure, we’d have still had to cope with anti-EU headbangers like Farage, Cash, Hannan & Redwood for whom a day spent not banging on about Europe is a day wasted.We’d still have to deal with our disgraceful press who have been deriding the EU and all its works for a quarter century and more – ever since the sainted Margaret Thatcher turned against it. But the economy would have taken a turn for the better, jitters around the world would have been stayed and the positive psychological impact would have been felt throughout Britain and its continent.A sunnier, more optimistic outlook would have prevailed and human flourishing would have advanced a few more inches.As it is, the forces of nationalism, of nativism, of anti-immigration have prevailed.The Leave campaign – led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – was one of the most deceitful political operations any of us can remember.There was the lie about £350m being spent to Brussels each WEEK.A lie and a proven lie.There was the lie about that non-existent money being spent on the NHS. It was rowed back within not days but hours of the Brexiteers victory.There was the lie about Turkey joining the European Union imminently which was going to flood Britain with Turks looking for a better life.Another proven lie.There were lies about budgets, about laws, about defence policy, about sovereignty … but above all there were lies about immigrants. It is absolutely clear that the Brexit campaign, having lost the argument about the economy, (in two words, we’re stuffed,) pivoted with absolute shamelessness to talking about immigration and proceeded to sway the vote accordingly in their favour. Scaremongering on an industrial scale has been led by the press for years (see Express front page montage) but Britons have now allowed the worst angels of our nature to be exposed for all the world to see.We seem to have become a pinched, ungenerous people… or maybe we always were?


What next for those of us living in Amsterdam and the Netherlands?

In the short term at least nothing will change.We are entitled to remain in our adopted (or temporary) homeland for as long as we possess EU passports. Post-Brexit we will most likely be stripped of our status as EU citizens and become citizens of just the UK (or whatever entity replaces it once Scotland has sugared off).We are then reliant on one of two things. First, we can hope that the ‘Vienna convention on the law of treaties’ protects our status as individuals due to so-called “acquired rights”.This was the argument that Brexiteers – including family members of mine who voted to leave – used to assuage those of us who were going nuts before June 23rd. However, it is unclear whether this is even true or yet another deception Brexiteers were trafficking in; ‘as pointed out by Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, a professor of law at Queen Mary, University of London, [it is unclear] whether these current free movement rights will be legally recognized as “acquired,” and therefore protected. Citing the UN’s Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the leave campaign had argued that EU nationals’ existing rights would be protected in the event of a Brexit. For Douglas-Scott, this is a shaky argument:“the reference to ‘the parties’ in Article 70 is a reference to the parties to the treaty—i.e. States.Article 70 does not directly address individual rights,” she notes.’ So far, so murky.

N IRISH BORDERSecond, we could apply for Dutch citizenship – or citizenship of another country like Ireland which wants to remain a member of the EU and to which we may have some familial ties which entitle us to do so.The process of applying for Dutch citizenship is well established and it is all covered here quite comprehensively.

For now, the message seems to be, keep calm and carry on.We are going to be relying on our rights – property, legal etc – being protected by sensible politicians in the future.We rely on them to speak up for those of us who have chosen to make a home on the continent and also, one would hope, those EU citizens who chose to set up shop in Britain. Given that the levels of EU migration was THE issue that swung the vote in favour of Brexit, one wouldn’t necessarily be wise in assuming that politicians won’t cave in to pressure from the press and public into making swingeing cuts to EU migration numbers. Should they choose to do that then it is not unreasonable to expect retaliation from individual states’ governments.This could get ugly.

What next for Britain and its people

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

Inequality Britain is now heading for a reckoning (see below). The campaign itself was a kind of reckoning.The most interesting aspect of it was how it exposed all kinds of non-traditional dividing lines on top of the classic British one of class. Divisions between countries; Scotland & Northern Ireland vs England & Wales. Divisions between the prosperous cities – London, Oxford, Edinburgh – and the declining post-industrial ones – Burnley, Hartlepool, Blackpool. Divisions between city and country. Divisions between young and old. Divisions between rich and poor, university educated and the “poorly educated” to coin a Trumpian phrase.As one newspaper headline put it “if you had no money, you voted out”.This vote exposed how many millions of people have next to nothing in 21st century Britain.They literally have so little stake in the system that they see no problem at all with blowing it up and hoping to start again with something better.The tragedy of this entire campaign is that in order to make the case for leaving the EU the folks with nothing relied on men like Boris Johnson (Eton & Oxford), Michael Gove (Robert Gordons & Oxford), Nigel Farage (Dulwich College followed by the City) & Daniel Hannan (Marlborough & Oxford). Believe me when I say this; there is not a single union-friendly, socialist bone in any of those bodies. None of those people give two hoots about the people who they have exploited to win this vote. Not a single one of those men will be adversely affected by the economic headwinds to come. None of them is going to lose their home or income of any kind when a Japanese or American company chooses NOT to invest in Lancashire or Teesside but go instead to Limburg or Bohemia because those places are actually in the single largest market in the world. Most of these chancers and charlatans stand to gain immensely. I don’t believe that any of them have ever in their lives advocated taxing the rich some more so as to re-distribute that income to people who are less well off or pay for better public services. I don’t believe that any of them see any opportunity in Brexit other than to make us a low-tax fantasy island like Singapore on a giant scale and with better hills.And what, precisely do any of these arch-Thatcherites see as the problem here? The answer is nothing.They see no problem at all with having exploited the grievances of people who have been left with nothing as a result of Mrs Thatcher’s evisceration of Britain’s once proud industrial landscape.Their prescription is more of the same failed Thatcherite trickle down economic policy. Expect the reckoning for these folks to be deservedly grave.

Apart from the personalities involved in the Great Referendum Deception the country has now to reckon with its place in the world.We need to go back to square one in a sense.The winds of change have blown all the way from the African continent onto our doorstep. It is up to British leaders to shape the post-Brexit landscape.Who are we really as a people? What kind of country do we want to become? What should our economy look like? Are we happy with the levels of inequality that have been allowed to grow and fester? Can we even govern ourselves anymore? Do we need a new written Constitution? What role will the monarchy play once the Queen is dead?

The House of lords? What about the Union? Doesn’t England need a new governing settlement too? Are we heading towards a more federal system of nation states? In an age of rapidly accelerating global problems are we to be leaders in trying to fix those or are we going to retreat back into ourselves? Is the pro-growth economic model still workable? How many people should Britain be able to house in its land and how many houses do we need to build in order to accommodate those people? Where should we build them and at what density?

How about our infrastructure such as HS2 and Heathrow’s 3rd runway? The role of debt & fiat money in our economy? What should be the role of the City? What about all the tax havens we currently nurture and protect? Will we continue to be effective partners in NATO and on the UNSC? Will we even be rich enough to continue to contribute our fair share to solving global problems? The list of questions is literally endless.They should all be being asked and in actuality very few of them will be.

More immediately, will Theresa May become the leader we need in these uncertain times? We can only hope so but note with trepidation that leadership all around has been notable mainly through its absence.The number one job is going to be trying to somehow stitch the country back together again and erase this insidious division that has come into being between “remainer” and “leaver” … the “roundheads” & “cavaliers” of 21st century Britain.

The reckoning for Britain will be tough and likely to get tougher. Expect plenty of nationalistic distractions – sporting, cultural, event driven – to keep those questions from being asked.

What next for the British state?


Many of us – like your correspondent – who are both passionately in favour of European Union are ALSO passionately in favour of the Union between England and Scotland as well as the Union of the 4 constituent countries of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.We went through a bruising independence referendum in 2014 and ultimately won.We thought the question was settled for a generation. How wrong we were. Not only does it look like a pyrrhic victory in retrospect (does anyone believe we’d have voted for even more chaos to leave the EU had Scotland said YES to independence?) but it looks as if this particular can of worms has been definitively re-opened.

Nicola Sturgeon wasted no time in reaching for the can opener on June 24th and Scottish independence would appear to be firmly back on the agenda. Having voted more firmly in favour of remaining in the EU (62% of Scots voted to remain), than any other UK region, what right does the rest of the country have to pull Scotland out of the EU against their will? Certainly without further inflaming nationalist passions? It seems the Union is now to be in very grave danger indeed.

The EU referendum has added a further layer of complexity in the form of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic to its south. Right now people can pass freely from one to the other as if in a little mini-Schengen zone on the island of Ireland.That is in spite of the fact that neither the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom are members of the Schengen free travel area.

Should Britain introduce stricter border controls between itself and the rest of the EU it would seem inevitable that we wouldn’t allow Northern Ireland to become a kind of open backdoor into the country for EU citizens.A major part of the Good Friday agreement was the freedom to travel between North & South Ireland without restriction; a major building block in the lifting of suspicions after decades of fear, police patrols, border tensions and terrorism during the Troubles. This part of our Union remains a worry even after all these years. Many will now be thinking; wouldn’t it just be better for the island to just get on with it and reunify?

I suspect that the British state will shrink in years to come – as with our economy – and thus all those claims about us being the “fifth biggest economy in the world” will ring ever more hollow. We’ll have a smaller country, smaller economy, fewer people and we’ll all be poorer and more suspicious of outsiders from wherever they may come.We’ll have to think of a new name for the country and most likely have to invent ourselves a new flag.

What next for the economy on which we all depend for our livelihoods?


Economic questions were ignored by a great many Brexiteers who felt that the (seemingly important yet utterly opaque) questions such as “who governs us?” “who’s in control?” and “are we sovereign over our own borders?” required privileging over pocketbook questions.And yet … and yet.The overwhelming likelihood will be that people are going to quickly lose their nerves about any recession that now comes into view. Many are now expressing “bregret” over their votes to leave on the basis that ‘they didn’t realise how bad it might get’.These people, frankly, should be forever disenfranchised in my not so humble opinion! The unfortunate fact is that the overwhelming majority of people who contribute to British capitalism, the City, business and all elements in the process of job-creation voted to Remain. It would be interesting to compare the total tax contributions into the Exchequer of Remainers vs Leavers (there I go again with that dastardly new division… see how hard this is!?)

For the optimistic Brexiteers a short, sharp recession followed by a glorious renaissance in British manufacturing and business is their own project Fantasy.The Daily Telegraph and similarly amoral newspapers are busy peddling this fiction. It is not clear what they base this notion on. Do they not realise that they and their ideology have stripped British ownership of many – if not most – of our greatest companies away? Even the Daily Mail’s Alex Brummer has dubbed this the “great British sell off”. As he wrote as late as 2012 (and its only got worse since) “this [sell off] has had a direct effect on jobs in the UK.Weighed down with often massive debts, new owners were far less likely to invest in the future of the firm and were instead more likely to close down factories and plants, throwing thousands of Britons out of work”.Would Mr Cadbury like some Polish made Dairy Milk with that cup of bitterness from Mr Mondelez? The simple fact is that many multinationals – from inside AND outside the EU – have bought up British companies and brands because of the profits to be made in Britain and the prospects for expansion into the rest of the single market.When those profits become less valuable – because it takes more pounds of profit to convert into one euro or one dollar of profit – and the single market is no longer as accessible as before, what will be the reaction? Increase prices to shore up profits (inflation alert!), re-locate manufacturing and jobs to within the EU’s single market, sell off brands to even more rapacious players (welcome to England Mr Romney!) or just sweat the assets without investing further in them and slowly watch them decline.And I would remind you that we’re talking here about the success stories.Traditional British industries – shipbuilding, mining, steelmaking – are all gone anyway but our new industrial strength lies in areas such as aerospace, automotive, heavy machine engineering or pharmaceuticals and these ALL rely on that crucial single market access to continue to thrive.The EU won’t allow access without free movement of people. So we are at an impasse. It is, in truth, a buggers muddle.

So what next for the EU, for globalisation and for our psyches? I will come on to these questions in part two of this piece at a later date. By then I hope some of the fog will have started to clear in the great British Brexit funhouse. Until then, enjoy the ride and whenever you bump into him, just say sorry to our Great British Ambassador to the Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams; a man who tried valiantly, yet in vain, to save us from ourselves.

An unforgettable experience

Categories: Art and Culture, Museums
Comments Off on An unforgettable experience


The Kroller Muller Museum is situated in the middle of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, about an hour’s drive from Amsterdam. It is a unique experience with a combination of art, nature and architecture and a place where things of beauty come together to guarantee a truly unforgettable visit.


The experience is a paradise for seasoned art lovers and newcomers and nowhere else in the world is the enjoyment of art so intense, due to the phenomenal collection of art and it’s beautiful location surrounded by nature. There are more than 400,000 visitors a year and it is one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands.


The Kroller Muller Museum is a second home to works by Vincent Van Gogh and home to top works by modern masters including Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan. The museum boasts almost 90 paintings and more than 180 drawings. Other temporary exhibitions also ensure that the museum keeps pace with the latest developments to ensure it retains public interest.


webimage-A1E9A8C5-9317-40A0-9B03F7774DC3ADBAOne of the largest private collections of the 20th century is the life work of Helene Kroller Muller as between 1907 and 1922 with her husband Anton Kroller they bought almost 11,500 works of art. It was Helene’s dream to have her own ‘museum house’ a place where she could share her passion of modern art with other art lovers and she fulfilled her dream in 1938.

The Museum is situated in the Hoge Veluwe Park which has 5,500 hectares of forest, heaths and grasslands which is the natural habitat for deer, mouflon and wild boar. While visiting the park you can roam freely by foot or with the free white bicycles that are available. On a visit, you will find one of the finest treasure troves to be found in the Netherlands and it will not disappoint you as it has everything it takes to give its visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.


What to do this Summer?

Categories: Family and Children, Fun
Comments Off on What to do this Summer?

By Alison Smith

The six week school holiday is great for kids but can be challenging for parents who, by the fourth week, have run out of responses to “I’m Bored”.  BritSoc to the rescue.  We’ve put together a list of the best three amusement parks in NL, so get your comfy shoes on, take a motion sickness pill and treat the kids to a day of dizzying rides, junk food and long queues.  Ah, but it’s worth it!


Efteling – Charm and thrills.

EftelingThe good thing about the Efteling Park is that there is something for all ages so if you are trying to entertain a spread of age groups, this is a good day out for all concerned.

For the little ones there is the famous Sprookjesbos (Fairy Forest) plus lots of easy rides such as old fashioned carousels, train rides, a monorail, old-timer cars to “steer” around a track and a pretty show called Droomvlucht (Dreamflight) which has won an award, probably for being the prettiest show.

For the whole family to enjoy they offer a boat lake, a Haunted House, 3D films, and a variation on the Disney Teacups where, instead of cups, you sit in a large casserole pot and are stirred around fairly gently.  As if that wasn’t enough, you can get a good soaking and wander around for the rest of the day in wet clothes after a go on The Piraña raft ride.  Marvellous!

Older kids will enjoy the stomach-churning roller coasters such as the award winning Baron 1898, or the Vliegende Hollander (Flying Dutchman) or the Python, or they may prefer to lose their lunch on the Halve Maan pirate ship or on a bobsleigh ride called, simply, Bob.  For those who like to feel disoriented and dizzy, there’s also a cursed house called Villa Volta whose floors and ceilings move about as you walk round.  Oodles of fun.

The Efteling won the award for the best Food and Drink. They certainly have more variety than the average amusement park and go beyond the usual greasy chips and fricandel type snacks.  There is a pancake house, a restaurant called Het Wapen van Raveleijn, which serves lunch and dinner, and plenty of sandwich, panini, snack options.  Of course if you prefer croquette and fries, that’s also on offer.

Diamond Theme Park Awards 2016 for Best Amusement Park in NL, Best roller coaster for Baron 1898, Best attraction for Droomvlucht (Dreamflight)  Most Child Friendly, Best Food and Drink concessions.

Cheapest price € 34.50  Children under 3 yrs – free entrance.

Europalaan 1, Kaatsheuvel.


Walibi Holland – High speed thrills.

46104_fullimage_walibi girls jumping in front of the entrance_560x350

Slightly less charming than the Efteling, Walibi theme park is big on rides and less on theme.  This is heaven for older kids who like thrill rides and roller coasters.  Just to name a selection; Speed of Sound sends you on a musical loop-the-loop, six times! Goliath boasts the highest and fastest roller coaster in the Benelux, and Xpress Platform 13 launches you to 90km/h in 2.8 seconds.  Meanwhile newly opened Lost Gravity tips you upside down so often, you no longer know if you’re up or down.  I have vertigo just writing this.

Walibi also offers plenty of opportunity to get soaking wet. The Rio Grande raft ride and the Crazy River Log flume will guarantee you wet trousers for the rest of the day….unless the sun shines of course.

Smaller kids and scaredy-cat adults are not left out at Walibi with tamer rides available such as Spinning Sombreros, Dodgems and Go-Karts and the really small kids have plenty to keep them happy with train rides and mini roller coasters.

The food available is the usual offering of hamburgers, kebabs, fries, wraps, sandwiches and ice cream, with one place specialising in pizza and pastas.  My advice? Big rides first, kebab later.

Cheapest is to book online. € 29,50.

Spijkweg 30, Biddinghuizen.


Duinrell & Tikibad – 2 for the price of 1

87cefacabf01f45f00013039a3ac7946This is in the top three simply because you get the best of two worlds.  Duinrell has all the trappings of a theme park with roller coasters and wild rides and, for a few euros more, you can buy entrance to the Tikibad waterpark, with slides and watery fun

For thrill seekers there is the Falcon rollercoaster, the Dragonfly, which is a bit tamer, but scores as the longest roller coaster in NL, the Mad Mill, where you can be spun senseless while being swung backwards and forwards, all at the same time and, if your inner ear mechanism can still handle it, try their new attraction ‘Wildwings’, which is a good ride for budding pilots.   There are more attractions for the younger kids and the park has a real old fashioned family feel.

Food-wise Duinrell have partnered up with La Place, which has a good reputation for decent food and healthier options.  Of course the usual deep-fried nonsense is also available as well as a buffet restuarant, but it’s good to see something different on offer.

With the option of access to the waterpark, this park gives the best value for money and is a good option for a two day stay.  Hotels are available on-site. Just don’t forget your cozzie.

Best value is a combi ticket Themepark and unlimited use of Tikibad € 28,50

Theme park only € 22,50.  Theme park and 3 hours use of Tikibad € 27,50

Duinrell 1, Wassenaar.



Summer Jokes

Categories: Fun, Humour and Comedy
Comments Off on Summer Jokes

By Alison Smith


Duck Joke

A duck walks into a pub and orders a pint of beer and a ham sandwich.

The barman looks at him and says, “Hang on! You’re a duck.”

“I see your eyes are working,” replies the duck.

“And you can talk!” exclaims the barman.

“I see your ears are working, too,” says the duck. “Now if you don’t mind, can I have my beer and my sandwich please?”

“Certainly, sorry about that,” says the barman as he pulls the duck’s pint. “It’s just we don’t get many ducks in this pub. What are you doing round this way?”


“I’m working on the building site across the road,” explains the duck. “I’m a plasterer.”

The flabbergasted barman cannot believe the duck and wants to learn more, but takes the hint when the duck pulls out a newspaper from his bag and proceeds to read it.

So, the duck reads his paper, drinks his beer, eats his sandwich, bids the barman good day and leaves.

The same thing happens for two weeks.

Then one day the circus comes to town.

The ringmaster comes into the pub for a pint and the barman says to him “You’re with the circus, aren’t you? Well, I know this duck that could be just brilliant in your circus. He talks, drinks beer, eats sandwiches, reads the newspaper and everything!”

“Sounds marvelous,” says the ringmaster, handing over his business card. “Get him to give me a call.”

So the next day when the duck comes into the pub the barman says, “Hey Mr. Duck, I reckon I can line you up with a top job, paying really good money.”

“I’m always looking for the next job,” says the duck. “Where is it?”

“At the circus,” says the barman.

“The circus?” repeats the duck.

“That’s right,” replies the barman.

“The circus?” the duck asks again. “That place with the big tent?”

“Yeah,” the barman replies.

“With all the animals who live in cages, and performers who live in caravans?” says the duck.

“Of course,” the barman replies.

“And the tent has canvas sides and a big canvas roof with a hole in the middle?” persists the duck.

“That’s right!” says the barman.
The duck shakes his head in amazement, and says:

“What the hell would they want with a plasterer??!”


Blonde Joke

A blonde lady motorist was about two hours from San Diego when she was flagged down by a man  whose truck had broken down.


The man walked up to the car and asked, “Are you going to San Diego?”


“Sure,” answered the blonde, “do you need a lift?”


“Not for me.  I’ll be spending the next three hours fixing my truck.  My problem is I’ve got two chimpanzees in the back that have to be taken to the San Diego Zoo.  They’re a bit stressed already so I don’t want to keep them on the road all day.Could you possibly take them to the zoo for me? I’ll give you $200 for your trouble”


“I’d be happy to,” said the blonde. So the two chimpanzees were ushered into the back seat of the blonde’s car  and carefully strapped into their seat belts, and off they went.
Five hours later, the truck driver was driving through the heart of  San Diego when suddenly he was horrified!  There was the blonde walking down the street, holding hands with the two  chimps, much to the amusement of a big crowd. With a screech of brakes he pulled off the road and ran over to the blonde.


“What are you doing here?” he demanded,  “I gave you $200 to take these chimpanzees to the zoo!”


“Yes, I know you did,” said the blonde.”But we had money left over so now we’re going to Sea World.”


Chairman Nick’s Summer Message

Categories: Britsoc Chairman
Comments Off on Chairman Nick’s Summer Message

I think everyone is feeling a little numb after the result of the EU referendum result.  Whatever your view, we are now in limbo until someone pulls the trigger on article 50, or the majority of politicians stand-up for what they believe in, to remain is better.  There will be a new PM by October, who may call a general election.  You can be assured that the British Society will have the latest news for you on what is required to stay in the Netherlands when it becomes necessary.


I would like to thank everyone that has responded to the multitude of Press requests we got during the last few weeks.  It has been an impressive response from you.


Some advance notices. 

We will hold our annual  AGM immediately after the summer, and so if you fancy letting us know what you think of what we are doing or would like to stand on the committee you will be most welcome.  There will be an announcement in August.


At a recent committee meeting we decided a couple of things that may interest you:

  1. We would like to make an introductory video of the society. We will begin by visiting as many of our Britsoc sports and social events as we can and shoot footage for the video.  We will also arrange to shoot a special Britsoc get together.  We would like this to be attended by as many as possible to show off the society to its best.
  2. We have agreed to train up to four people for EHBO (first aid) qualifications. We need first aid support at some events and it makes sense to spend some of the society’s money to have our own people trained.  If you would be interested to be trained at our expense let me know.  I believe in some companies you get a small increment in your salary for being an official first aider.

Our Meetup site has now reached over 500 people, and we continue to be offered some great deals on shows and events.  If you want to arrange, or are arranging something that could fit with our profile, then I would be happy to hear from you about what we can do together.


On slightly worse news our website has been suffering a series of sustained attacks.  The website has unfortunately been down for many days recently and I apologize to anyone who has been inconvenienced by this.  We are taking measures to shore up the defences.


Finally Christmas! Yes Christmas in July! Our ball committee has begun the preparations for the annual extravaganza, which is the British Society Charity ball.  If you are a company or entrepreneur who is looking to promote your business to the British/Expat community and would be prepared to offer something for our Charity Auction and Raffle please feel free to contact us.


I hope we get a bit of summer in the next couple of months.  If not, see you in September for the AGM and some other interesting events with the possible return of our Blind Date night!



Nick Nugent

Interview of the Month | Vicky Hampton

Categories: Food and drink, Interview, Journalism
Comments Off on Interview of the Month | Vicky Hampton

Vicky Hampton is a writer and runs food blog


Age: 36


Where do you live?

Westerpark, Amsterdam


What made you come to Amsterdam?

Originally I studied here.  I was at Edinburgh University studying English literature and I had the opportunity to spend my third year aboard under the Erasmus exchange programme.  It was a bit of a lucky dip as there were seven cities to choose from and I had not been to any of them before.  Helsinki sounded a bit cold; Zurich sounded a bit boring, and so on. It was a very unscientific process of elimination that I ended up in Amsterdam. I know it does not make a lot of sense to study English literature in the Netherlands, but the experience was fantastic and I fell in love with Amsterdam as soon as I got here.


How long have you been here?

I arrived in 2001 for my exchange year and then briefly moved back to the UK, returning permanently in 2006.


Can you speak Dutch?

I do speak Dutch. I can say everything I need to say from a functional perspective.  But as a British person, I think that sense of humour is so much a part of your personality, and it frustrates me that I can’t quite express that humour in Dutch.


Where are you from in the UK?

Pangbourne – it’s a little village between Reading and Oxford.


What do you do now?

I’m a writer, but my activities are much broader than that. I do freelance translation, social media and content marketing as well.


I think that most people know you from your Amsterdam Foodie Blog; how did that come about?

I have always been into food; my dad was an hotelier and restaurateur. I spent quite a bit of time in and out of his restaurants while I was growing up, and we also did “market research”, which was a euphemism for going out and having nice dinners. I’ve always loved cooking; I cooked at home in my parents’ house from a very young age.  I then cooked a bit professionally as a student, having catering jobs on the side of my studies. So I was always into food, but loved writing as well. It was a bit of toss up whether I would be a chef or a writer.  In the end, writing about food seemed to be the logical conclusion.


bVicky Hampton books croppedSo you have also written a cookbook; would you like to tell us about that?

The book was inspired by my experiences of working in an office.  I used to work just off Leidseplein – you’d think there would be dozens of lunch options around there, but in reality there were mostly only sit-down cafes. As you know with Dutch customer service being what it is, you wouldn’t get out of there within an hour – lunch becomes a whole event rather than just a 20-minute break from your desk. There were not the same range of sandwich shops, salad bars and jacket potato stalls that you would find in London.


We had a small kitchen at work, which was relatively well kitted-out for an office. I was taking ingredients into work and just making lunch there.  My colleagues were very curious and I started making lunches for them, including monthly team lunches.


On the suggestion of one my colleagues I decided to write all these things down – to encourage people to eat something different and healthy at lunchtime. Healthiness was not the primary objective, but in general I think cooking from scratch is healthier than buying processed food. But my primary goal was to get people out of the rut of Ham-Kaas Broodjes for lunch.  There is nothing wrong with them, but it’s worth mixing things up a bit now and again.


Vicky Hampton’s Working Lunch is available at


So the logical question after that is what is your opinion of the EU referendum result?

To be perfectly honest, I am quite gutted about it.  From a purely personal point of view, I identify myself as European.  I used to live in France and Italy for brief periods before I moved to the Netherlands.  My brother lives in Belgium with his wife and three kids.  My whole family has always had a very international outlook.


From a broader perspective, the huge impact that it will have on people’s jobs is quite heart-breaking. Hopefully, it will get better with time.  The media at the moment is very doom and gloom. There is nothing else to talk about – I think I’m addicted to reading news about it.  I’m so angry about the whole thing.


Are there any particular favourite restaurants at the moment?

On my website I have a revolving restaurant of the month: each month I choose a place I liked that I have been to quite recently.


Surely that can only be Moon?

Ha, ha.  I have recently reviewed Moon on my website.  It’s not cheap, but the view is amazing.


Pendergast is one restaurant I am excited about at the moment – it’s just south of Westerpark.  It is a Kansas City-style BBQ restaurant that has some of the best BBQ-ed meat I have tasted outside the US. It is an independent restaurant set up by a guy from that neck of the woods in the US.  They are smoking brisket, ribs, pork cheeks and all that good stuff. I’m quite into BBQ at the moment – I’d also give a mention to the guys at Bulelani pop-up who are currently in search of a permanent location. They do amazing ribs.


Are there any food trends which are appearing?

So you have on the one hand the meat eaters (as evidenced by the BBQ scene) but you also see a resurgence in vegetables taking centre stage.  In that vein, I like Choux  a lot.  They are cooking up some excellent modern Dutch cuisine using local vegetables.


Dutch food has not enjoyed a great reputation in the past.  However, there are some really creative chefs doing some great things with what is available locally at the moment.


Do you have any tips for people to find a good restaurant in Amsterdam?

Yes, of course! Simply go to my website and use the restaurant finder. You can search for restaurant recommendations by price, location and type of cuisine. You can also book a lot of restaurants directly from my site (look for the “book now” buttons!).


What do you most miss from the UK?

Not a lot, and even the less since the Brexit result. After 10 years, I am totally past the point of missing food items;  I never think about Marmite or marmalade or Yorkshire tea. I’m not very English in that respect.  I guess that one thing I sort of miss is the humorous banter.  You know if you pop into a pub or bar or café in London, you can often strike up that instant rapport with the person behind the bar.  I’m not sure if it’s my Dutch skills or just cultural differences, but I find it hard to have that same banter over here. But honestly, I miss very little. The Netherlands is my home now, and I may soon be trading in my British nationality for a Dutch passport!

BritPhotShot of the Month | Summer 2016

Categories: Photography
Comments Off on BritPhotShot of the Month | Summer 2016

Britsoc Photo Lesson #15 – People are great!


I make a living from photographing people. Children, business folk, CEOs, families

even royalty … each year they tend to come in sight of one of my lenses. When I

review the year I look back on all the amazing things it’s been a privilege to witness

and the one conclusion I can draw is this; people are GREAT!


That is never more apparent than during the festivities over Pride Weekend; this year

from August 5-7. There’s no doubt its the best pride in the world by far. The reasons

are simple; first, Amsterdam has a long, rich history of welcoming LGBT people.


Second, the normal LGBT scene here in the city is thriving and there’s no doubt that

this is one of Europe’s great centres for living an out and proud life as a member of

the LGBT community. Third, the weekend shows all that in glorious technicolour! I

was lucky enough to witness that from a great perch on a boat during last year’s

canal parade.


This is one of my favourite shots from that day. It tells me simply this;

no matter who the person or people are in front of your camera… come at them

with the attitude of “you are beautiful and I want to capture your energy and your

beauty” and you won’t go far wrong.


Technical details; Nikon D810 with mounted AF-S Nikkor 17-35 (2.8) f/4.5 @




Benjamin Arthur – the British Photographer in Amsterdam.

More information @

Email is

Phone # is 06 83 94 35 52

The Whisky Hunter

Categories: Food and drink
Comments Off on The Whisky Hunter

Amongst the Spirits

In pursuit of wider knowledge, the Beer Hunter sent a very small (and committed) team to check out the whisky making process in Scotland. No challenge is too great! We journeyed to Speyside, the home to many Highland whiskies including Gelnfiddich, the world’s biggest selling single malt. The first stop was the restaurant for some local haggis that was a delicious way to start the tour. After a small wait for the (free!) tour to begin, we were off. This is what we learned.


Although often complex in flavour when finished, whisky starts out from some very simple ingredients – malted barley and soft clear water. The process starts when malted barley is ground into ‘grist’ that is then mixed with heated spring water and poured into giant ‘mash tuns’. The result is bubbles, clouds of steam and a pleasantly pungent aroma. We lingered as long as we could…


The result of the mashing is a sweet liquid called ‘wort’. Yeast is added to the wort as it is pumped into the traditional handmade wooden fermentation vessels, the ‘washbacks’. As the wort ferments the resulting carbon dioxide gas creates a massive, hot frothing head that foams up to the top of the washback. Once fermentation subsides it leaves a brown liquid known as the wash. The wash has 8-9% ABV, making it similar to a strong beer (the absence of hops discouraged the temptation to sample).


DSC_0133The heart of the distillation process lies in the still house. Here the wash is distilled in copper pot stills that exactly match the shape and size of the original stills. The wash in the stills is gradually heated until the alcohol turns to vapour. The vapour rises through the narrowing neck of the still and is guided downwards and through a water-cooled condenser. This condenses the vapour into an intermediate liquid, known as ‘low wines’. The low wines (about 21% alcohol) are heated in ‘spirit stills’, smaller versions of the wash still.


The vaporised alcohol is drawn off and condensed as previously, and then trickles down into the ‘spirit safe’, where the flow of spirit can be controlled. This liquid is now legally a bonded, taxable spirit, so it is kept under lock and key. The stillman runs the delicate operation of monitoring this distillation – any mistake can ruin the whisky’s flavour. Only the fine middle cut, or ‘heart’ of the distillation is retained for maturation. The stillman catches it at the flick of a tap and a new batch of Glenfiddich is born.


The raw spirit is reduced to around 63% alcohol with natural spring water from local springs and then filled into hand-built oak casks. Glenfiddich only use the very best casks made from the very best wood, such as once used sherry butts from Spain and bourbon barrels from America. These second-hand casks lead to the creation of a high quality spirit. Mellowed by previous use, the oak helps mature the Scotch whisky, allowing it to breathe, soften, assume subtle flavours and acquire a pale golden colour.


The full casks are stored on-site in the traditional warehouses and the spirit is left to mature. The atmospherically dark, damp interior of the warehouse and the temperature, humidity and climate of this environment provide optimum conditions for the whisky to develop its complex character. When you walk in through the small door you are encouraged to take a deep breath, and it’s a good one! Hyperventilation could be a lot of fun in this place.


DSC_0145The intoxicating atmosphere was explained to us – as a cask ages, alcohol compounds evaporate off the whisky through the porous oak back into the air. This is roughly 2% from each cask per year and the lost spirit is known as the Angels’ Share. We also got the chance to smell a sherry and a bourbon cask ready to be filled – the bourbon was the winner of the two. No smoking or photos are allowed in the warehouse due to the alcohol content in the air – Glenfiddich do not want the 120 million litres of whisky gently maturing to go up in a very exciting flash.


The tour ended with the joys and the hardship of whisky tasting. We were all offered the 12, 15 and 18 year old whisky to sample. All of the whiskies were very good and a joy to drink – the only hardship was having responsibility for the car keys and no other way to get to Grantown. A bottle of the 18 year old made a lovely souvenir.


Brexit information point opens in Amsterdam

Categories: Politics
Comments Off on Brexit information point opens in Amsterdam

The Dutch government has created a ‘Brexit Information Point’ to answer questions and provide updates for British expats and businesses in the Netherlands.

A ‘Brexit Information Point’ and telephone line were recently opened in Amsterdam for the nearly 15,000 British expats living and working in the Dutch region to provide information regarding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Following the recent 23 June referendum, the United Kingdom has voted to withdraw its membership from the European Union. The ‘Brexit’, as it’s popularly known, has raised numerous immigration concerns among British employees, freelancers and students in the Netherlands who are uncertain of their future rights to live and work in the country, De Telegraaf reported.

To address the situation, the municipality of Amsterdam, along with Expatcenter Amsterdam and amsterdam inbusiness, has especially created a Brexit Information Point  and hotline to actively inform British expats with future developments.

The counter is located at the Expatcenter Amsterdam while the information line can be reached by calling +31 (0)20 254 7999, according to Amsterdam’s municipal website. British citizens already residing in the Netherlands, individuals interested in relocating and businesses are encouraged to visit or inquire about policy changes.