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

Archive for October, 2016

Chairmans Corner

Categories: Britsoc Chairman, Giltz & Glamour Ball
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Hi Everyone,

The nights growing shorter signals in the start of the busiest period for the British Society.

The Bonfire Night is already sold out within 10 days of tickets going on sale.  If you don’t have a ticket please do not turn up as we have a strict limit imposed by our license from the local council.

If you do have a ticket the Firework Display promises to be the best ever!

Our other big event – the Charity Christmas Ball is already 60% sold out after only a couple of weeks of ticket sales.  Again please don’t be dissappointed and join us for the best party to start the holiday season.  The regular and vegetarian menu has just been announced and sounds absolutely delicious.  Tickets are available here.

Buy your tickets here!

Our Tennis Club is looking for a few more recruits.  They have sessions on Sunday early evening and Tuesday evening.  If you would like to join their roster then you can find the details on our events page:

Britsoc Events Calendar

The 3rd edition of our business networking event in conjunction with Anglo Info and a number of other Business and Social Clubs will happen at Boom Chicago on the 29th November.  Tickets will go on sale shortly.  If you are an enterpreneur or want to meet with expat business owners then this will be the event for you.

Theresa May has now announced the date for triggering article 50 and I know some of you maybe concerned about your status in the Netherlands.  We will be looking to organise an immigration seminar soon.

I hope to announce shortly also some more discounted tickets for various shows.  As usual these will be advertised via our meetup page.

Open Meetup

I am looking forward to see you at one of our events soon!

Nick Nugent

On the 10th December this year the most glamorous and glittering event of the Netherlands Christmas social calendar will be once again held in the St Olaf Chapel in The NH Barbizon Hotel opposite Central station.

This year’s theme will be Glitz and Glam. Chris Naylor, Head Chef at Restaurant Vermeer in the NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, will be sprinkling his Michelin star magic over the three course menu he has developed for the charity ball.

At the welcome reception you will be able to get a glimpse of the terrific prizesfor the Charity raffle and Silent auction. The fabulous meal will be accompanied by wine and an evening of entertainment to dance the night away. A late night breakfast will also be served to those who are still going strong after midnight.

Over 60% of tickets are already sold.  Don’t be dissapointment and book now.

Click Here for Tickets

The Menu has just been announced:

British Society Ball Christmas dinner menu


Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom


Tuna tartar with black miso dressing and lemon granola


Duck breast with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce


Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

British Society Christmas dinner Vegetarian menu


Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom


BBQ beetroot with black miso dressing and lemon granola


Salt crusted celeriac with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce


Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

Ball Charity

Our Charity this year is Voedselbank (Food Bank) which helps out 1,500 families in Amsterdam.  Some details are available here:

Click here for Charity Details


We are hoping to find generous sponsors this year who can provide a prize for our raffle or silent auction which we can turn into cash for our chosen charity which this year is the Food Bank in Amsterdam. They provide basic nutrition for around 1,500 families in Amsterdam who cannot afford to feed their families.

It also provides you or your business with a great opportunity to advertise to the British and Expat community in and around Amsterdam. The offer of a generous prize means we will splash you all over our website and facebook feeds plus you will be featured in a special spread in our monthly Zine magazine.  This means you reach around 3,000 Britons and Expats.

We are asking for your help to make this excellent event a fantastic success.  All offers of help from any organisation through sponsorship and other ideas for the ball’s Charity Raffle or Silent Auction are very welcome…please email us … or

Many thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the  Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.

Christmas Ball Charity – Voedselbank Amsterdam

Categories: Britsoc Events, Charity and Giving, Christmas Ball, Giltz & Glamour Ball
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The Voedselbank Amsterdam is the chosen Charity for the Christmas Ball this year.  Below we give some information on their great work.  What other reasons do you need to buy a ticket for the Christmas Ball?

Buy your Charity Ball tickets here.

Voedselbank Amsterdam’s goal is to give direct food aid to people in poverty. We fight poverty, reduce food surplus and lessen the environmental burden. Stichting Voedselbank Amsterdam functions as the link between food surplus on the one hand and poverty on the other.

What does De Voedselbank do and for whom?


  • Acquire and distribute food for people with little money
  • Reduce food surplus

For whom?

  • People who can spend a maximum of 180 EUROS pm.
  • Amsterdam: 1700 families, 4236 persons
  • State Noord Holland: 5000 families


  • 8 regional distrubutioncenters
  • 162 foodbanks in The Netherlands
  • 14 distributionpoints in Amsterdam

How does de Voedselbank acquire food?


  • Manufacturers: supermarkets, wholesalers, farmers,

We work with the special index of NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority)

  • Voedselbrigade Amsterdam
  • Co-operation Instock, Soupalicious and Manna Foundation

School and company actions

  • Young people and employees collect staple ingredients such as pasta, rice and dried pulses


  • Supermarket actions
  • Bring food to distrubtion points

What can you do to help?

Become a volunteer!


See for vacancies our website

If you want to help “one-time” see our website (activiteiten kalender) or

The costs of one food package for a family is 3, 50 euro. We need the money for buses, gasoline, insurance, rent, our cold store etc.


With your help we hope to raise some money to help these families have a great Christmas this year.

An Interview with Mike Waters

Categories: Business, CADS, Expat interview, Interview
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I would like to thank Mike Waters for his fabulous interview this month, Mike has been the Chairman of the Commercial Anglo Dutch Society (CADS) since June 2011. CADS is a professional Amsterdam business and networking club whose main purpose is to promote Anglo-Dutch relationships through a series of cultural, business and social events.

CADS-Logo-GOLD2“The CADS monthly lunch provides a cultivated digression from the politics of the office; a sunny terrace in the crude storm of the everyday.” John Richardson

CADS are a community of individuals united together by a common bond of nearness between our two nations; those who recognise each other as associates, friends, and acquaintances. CADS lunches are on the 3rd Friday of each month and on Friday 21st October the British Ambassador addressed CADS at the Apollo Hotel in Amsterdam, on the continued discussion over Brexit and the process by which the UK will leave the European Union after 45 years of membership.

Questions to Mike ….

Where did you grow up and what is your most vivid childhood memory?

I grew up in Cheshire, in the village of Gawsworth. Not sure which memory is most vivid – singing in the choir at St. Michael’s; learning how to type at my father’s office in Stanley Chambers mike-1968with ballet dancers practicing in the hall next door; exciting trips to the seaside to visit grandparents in Deganwy, and playing on the beach. The sight and sound of the huge express steam trains at Macclesfield station, and the little ones that plied the line to Holyhead. Being responsible for keeping the big coke range alight at home – riddling out the ash and filling the coke hod and the stove before and after school. Visiting grandparents in Oldham, and being up at the crack of dawn to run out and meet the milkman with his horse and cart, so that I could ride down Clarksfield Road with him.


How did you land in the Netherlands?

As a young science graduate I worked in Durham and then London for a company called Mullard Ltd, which made electronic components. We were taken over by Philips, and after a couple of years, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a major investment plan in Taiwan as the commercial manager of a fast-9408-gs-taipeigrowing business in computer components.

So we moved from Weston Favell in Northampton to a village called Tamsui, just north of Taipei, and my young daughters went to the British School in Peitou and later the American school in Tien Mu, whilst Carol my wife became the head of the reception unit at the British School. After a number of years in Taiwan, I was asked by Cor Boonstra to come to Amsterdam to help set up the new Philips HQ here.

MY view was that it was crazy to run the business from Amsterdam, since most of the factories and customers were in Asia. Cor told me that it was because the distance from Taipei to Amsterdam was shorter than the distance from Eindhoven to Amsterdam. In cultural terms he was correct, so we came. When he retired in 2001, I decided to leave Philips and set up my own shop. Since the girls were at school here, and Carol had a job teaching at the British school, I set up in business here, and somehow we have just stayed!

Full steam ahead or all change? What do you want to see happen over this next year ?

We are starting to think about retirement at some point in the future, and where to go. But that is some time away. Carol is still teaching, and I’m running a small UK start-up at the moment, so much too busy to do anything about it. In the short term I want to make a success of this fledgling company, get some clarity on where we go next, fill the CADS membership list with a few more younger business women and men, and continue to explore the delights of South Holland whilst we are here.

What is your idea of perfect happiness ?

Lots of ideas for things in the future. Exploring new places with Carol, revisiting old friends in Asia, Africa and the USA, being together with my family, and scoring a hole in one on the golf course, to name just a few!

For the past, I guess most of them involve Carol, like when she said yes to my proposal of marriage, and being together on holidays.


If you could choose anywhere to live in the world, where would it be ?

Ah, there’s the rub. We have recently thought about North Cyprus, Lisbon, Dorset, London, and Manchester; but there is no pressure to go anywhere.

Perhaps the correct answer is The Netherlands, since we seem unable to leave!

Do you have any heroes in real life?

All my real life heroes have had feet of clay.

In politics, I think Tony Blair was an exceptional politician, and really pioneered the deployment of measured targets from government to the civil service, so when the government said we need more houses, there came a plan of how many, where, and by when, and that was executed and measured, with rewards for success and sanctions for failure. With Cameron, all that disappeared overnight, so when Cameron said he would build 200,000 more houses during his term as PM, or protect the NHS, or make a success of Europe, no one believed him. But Blair’s reputation was destroyed by his decision to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and the mess that resulted from it, compounded by his inability to accept he had failed.

In business, my hero is John Harvey Jones, who led and exploded ICI from a moribund and dying company into a series of high performing drug and chemical businesses that are still growing and being successful now, almost 25 years after he set the direction. However, when he retired and became a small business guru, his analysis of Morgan Cars was completely incorrect, and rightly rejected by the owners.

Having lived here for more than 15 years, I now regard people like Sir Chris Greenwood, our judge at the ICJ, and his colleagues at other international institutions, as the nearest thing I have to heroes, as it is the peacemakers who I respect the most of all.

What has been your greatest extravagance to date ?

We live in a house that is much too big for us – especially now the children have left home. But we enjoy it very much even though it is hard work at times. We also both drive nice cars, and go out for expensive meals.

Those are my personal extravagances, and consume funds that could perhaps be better employed elsewhere. That guilt is compensated by paying the associated large amounts of tax, and I feel that the Dutch government uses those funds fairly and efficiently.

Apart from that, I suppose our children have been our greatest extravagance; but I am very proud of them and don’t begrudge a penny of the money we spent raising and educating them.

What is your most treasured possession ?

What are the things you carry from your house when it’s burning? Carol, if you can call your partner a possession! After that, probably old photographs, and the hard drives with all our pictures on them. The rest of our possessions are just stuff, and replaceable. We have much too much of it, and I dread the prospect of downsizing because it will mean spending weeks jettisoning it.

What quality do you most like in a woman?

Hahaha, that’s a sexist question! Probably her love for me… I would really dislike being in love with someone who can’t or won’t love me back. Then all the other things; empathy, courage, strength, intellectual and emotional intelligence, fortitude, faith, and of course the looks and figure that turn me on as well.

What quality do you most like in a man ?

All the above, with the possible exception of the looks and figure!

Although I’ve never felt the need for a physical relationship with a man, I find our modern English language restrictive. The Greeks had 4 different words for love, only one of which was used for physical love.

What do you most value in your friends?

All the above! But mostly friendship is the feeling of warm familial love that we have the power to give to people we choose, as well as those we are related to by blood. A friend is someone who can tell you that you have been stupid as well as clever, or hurt them, or not been in touch for ages, but they still love you just the same. And you feel the same way about them.

Which living person do you most admire?

Carol of course, and both my daughters! Followed by a bevy of people who struggle to effect positive change, or bring peace to conflict zones, food to the hungry and comfort to the sick and dying.

What if anything would you like to be remembered for ?

Being a good husband and father, and a friend to those I have met along the way. I suppose we all want to have made a positive impact in our lives, so playing a part in the elimination of poverty, war, illness and hunger would be good as well! I can hardly claim to have done much in that direction so far, so perhaps that defines where I should be going next!

Is there anything that we should have asked you ?

Perhaps you could have asked about some of the spiritual questions that I struggle with. I have always been curious about why I exist, and what happens when I die? Who is this guy Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago, and how and why did he die for me? Over 300 people testified and wrote that he went on to rise again and continue his teaching after his crucifixion. What was the physical nature of this risen being – was he a zombie or ghost of some kind, buried alive and recovered, albeit with a few holes in him, or still able to be both perfectly human and perfectly divine? What is my part in that story, if any, and how can I prove to myself and others that God exists, and why..? Why do bad things happen to good people? How will I explain myself if called to account for my life?

I’ve spent time exploring these personal questions, and my favourite writer on the subject is C. S. Lewis, a prolific writer and teacher who is precise and logical in his thinking. No woolly-minded liberal approach there!

We hope you enjoy our Britsoc events so do you have a favourite one and why ?

Absolutely. My favourite is the BritSoc Christmas Ball. This is the glittering premier event of the Amsterdam social calendar, and I would hate to miss it. It sets the scene for the Christmas season, raises money for charity, and gives us all an excuse to dress up and have a great time. I love it!

Thank you Mike!

Britsoc Tennis Club seeks new Recruits

Categories: Fun, Sport and life, Sports
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The British Society tennis club meets twice per week and is looking for a few new recruits to bolster the ranks.  If you are a keen tennis player without out a regular partner why not join them on either Tuesday or Sunday.

Cartoon by andymcdougall (

Cartoon by andymcdougall (

Tuesday tennis 20-21.00 indoors at Amstelpark. Level intermediate.

Charge EUR 9 pp

Contact Geoff Dudley


Sunday tennis 17-18.00 indoors at Amstelpark. Various levels.  We also sometimes play soft tennis (Japanese tennis) and we have spare racquets.  There is usually an opportunity to play on more courts or to play for longer, so we are open to more than 4 players each time.

Charge EUR 6 pp.

Contact Sharron Reed


Once per year they hold a tennis tournament.

More details can be found on our events page:

Open Events Calendar

Beths Books

Categories: Beth's Books, Britsoc Magazine, Literature
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The announcement of the finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2016 is rapidly approaching. I have read two of the short list contenders – Hot Milk and Eileen. Hot Milk, written by Deborah Levy, is a complex tale of the push-pull of mother-daughter dependency. Situated in southern Spain where Sofia has brought her mother for treatment of an indefinable occasional paralysis, the book is a brilliant example of two unreliable narrators, each trapped in the fury of their bodies, and their angry relationship. Levy has won numerous awards for her works of fiction and her playwriting.

deborah-levy-hot-milkottessa-moshfegh-eileen Otessa Moshfegh, an American of Croatian and Iranian descent, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the Pen Hemingway Award. Her main character, Eileen Dunlop, is the product of a loveless marriage; she dreams of escaping the poor and dreary New England town where she has been raised by an alcoholic father. Her chance arises when she meets the self-confident and cheerful Rebecca at the local prison where both young women are working. But the crime Rebecca has plotted threatens a complicity which Eileen has not considered – but which suits her urge to leave her life behind her. This is a dark and clever novel by an original new author.



The Man Booker Prize will be announced on October 25th. All of the titles are available in Boekhandel van Rossum.

The Australian author, Graeme Simsion, who delighted readers with his hilarious yet compassionate books The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, bases his brand new novel on the songs which define our lives. The author recommends we download his playlist before we begin. This is a trip down memory lane. In The Best of Adam Sharp, Adam is a contented fifty-year old consultant who thrives on his musical expertise at the local Norwich pub-quiz and dreams of his three-month affair twenty years earlier with Angelina in Melbourne, Australia. But the What-ifs begin to dominate his life when Angelina suddenly contacts him. What to do with his life now? A surprising look at the ups and downs of existence from a terrific writer.

Jonathan Safran Foer, best known for his novels Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated, has now produced the great American Jewish novel in his epic, 500 page Here I Am. Despite criticism for its length, the book is a masterpiece of virtuoso writing. Foer crawls into the skin of his narrator as he observes his marriage crumbling, his sons not responding to the carefully planned upbringing of the perfect parents, his Israeli relatives reflecting a totally different Jewish lifestyle. This is some of the best characterization in I have seen from Foer. This is a hip, perceptive, shocking, frustrating mammoth of a book which will make you laugh and cry.

Don’t miss Ian McEwan’s new book which apparently is a take-off on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The main character is a foetus in the the womb of his mother who is determined to murder her husband and marry his brother, her lover. He is close to being an all-knowing narrator, something of a trick when he is still in utero. As unlikely as the scenario is, McEwan carries it off with his usual brilliance.

My absolute favourite of the season, however, is Amor Towles new book A Gentleman in Moscow.

Count Alexander Rostov, living in splendor in his hotel suite of the Hotel Metropol in Moscow, is informed some five years after the Russian Revolution of 1917 that he has become a non-person and will be required to move to the hotel attic. Ever the gentleman who takes everything in his stride, the Count resigns himself to permanent house arrest and then proceeds to make the most of it. This is a lovely, warm, funny, tragic story of how one survives one’s time while remaining ever the gentleman. A wonderful read.

The Cooking Coach – Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

Categories: Cooking Coach, Food and drink
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The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy 

Mobile : 06 1424 0009


Karen Vivers is originally from Scotland and has lived in Amsterdam since 1997.  Following on from her award winning delicatessen, Karen now runs her business ‘The Cooking Coach’.

The Cooking Coach is all about sharing great food.  Karen does this by eating her way through Amsterdam with her Private Food Tour clients or writing about food in the city and further afield.  And, if she’s not eating out she’s cooking at home –  developing lots of tasty recipes to share on her blog or for her next cook book.

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

This is a bit of an pastaroastpumpkin2accidental vegetarian recipe.  What I mean by that is that I didn’t set out to make a vegetarian recipe, but it sort of just happened that way.  Staring into the fridge one day at a butternut squash that I had bought on impulse (ok, some women buy shoes on impulse, I buy squash – what of it?), I had to come up with a way to use it.  I had been obsessing over a curry with squash for a while, maybe combine it with some frozen spinach which I always have in the freezer anyway and perhaps some chickpeas.  But, I didn’t feel like a curry that day, and then it came to me, all of a sudden, it had to be pasta……

Preparation Time:25 minutes (includes roasting the squash)
Cooking Time:10 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
For the Butternut Squash
2 x medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (smallish, bite sized pieces– remember though, they will shrink a bit in the oven)
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp olive oil
½ a freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
For the Spinach Sauce
2 x tbsp olive oil
500gr / 1.1 lb. frozen spinach (not creamed spinach), defrosted
3 x shallots chopped finely
5 or 6 sage leaves chopped finely
2 or 3 large garlic cloves chopped finely
300gr / 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, quartered
300ml / 10 fl.oz. buttermilk
To Serve
75gr / 2.5 oz. toasted pine nuts
50gr / 1.5 oz. grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
Some extra virgin oil to drizzle over (optional)
Lumache Rigate pasta


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray big enough that you can spread it out. Drizzle over the oil, mix it through to cover all your squash, then drizzle over the honey, grate over the nutmeg, sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. The time will depend on how big you made your pieces of squash. The result you are looking for is that the squash has softened a little (not mushy though) and that it has taken on some colour.
  3. Whilst the squash is cooking you can get on with the pasta and the spinach sauce. Drop your pasta into boiling, salted water for as long as the packaging instructs.
  4. For the spinach sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the shallots, garlic and sage. Cook until they have browned then add the spinach. I like to keep any water that has come from the spinach, I don’t drain it, just add it all. Stir through and add the tomatoes, mix in. Once bubbling, add the buttermilk, mix it through, then add and some salt and pepper to taste. This part of the cooking only takes a few minutes, you don’t want to overcook the spinach otherwise it will lose its vibrant green colour.
  5. When the squash is ready, add about 2/3 of it to the spinach in the pan and stir through, keep the rest back to dress.
  6. To add the pasta, I don’t drain it, as I want to get a little (just a little) of the water in which it has cooked into my sauce. To do this I decant the pasta into the pan with the spinach and butternut by using a slotted spoon. Stir your pasta through, check for seasoning.
  7. To serve sprinkle over the remaining squash, pine nuts, cheese and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil if you wish.


Tips and Variations

You can make the squash in advance and heat it through the spinach sauce.

Expatica Fair at the Beurs van Berlage

Categories: Britsoc Events, Expat events, What's on
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The 14th edition of the “i am not a tourist” Expat Fair at the Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam was once again a great success. It serves the international community and advises people on living, working and studying in the Netherlands. It has become an annual institution, catering for newly arrived expats, long-standing residents, individuals and families alike.

expat-fair-2Those new to the Netherlands benefit from a comprehensive range of services, conveniently housed under one roof where they can gain information on topics such as housing, employment, insurance, banking, tax, entrepreneurship, education and social activity. The event also has an entertaining programme throughout the day of performances and workshops.

More experienced expats and long standing residents go to the events as they can enjoy food, entertainment, networking sessions, informative workshops and access to a wide range of groups and clubs. Whether you are new to the expat lifestyle or an old hand, the Expat Fair for Internationals 2016 in the Beurs van Berlage is not to be missed if you want the chance to network amongst this year’s largest gathering of industry professionals.

This year was a first with only women supporting Britsoc on our stand and I would like to say a big thank you to the ladies who joined me on the day, Ingrid, Gillian Barratt and Gillian Brooks.