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

Britsoc Blog

English Language Premier League Commentary on Ziggo Sport

By Nick Nugent

If you like me have a Ziggo box and have the package which gives you Ziggo sport then you will know that they often show the Premier League matches which Sky is also showing.  I was recently in one of the Irish Bars watching my team Everton take on Liverpool and was surprised to see there was an option to switch to English Commentary.

If you did not know this was an option before below I will demonstrate a 2 step guide to watching the football with English commentary.

Step 1 – On the Ziggo Sport channel select “i” on your remote and you should get the following screen:

Step 2 – On the soundtrack you see it is set to Nederlands and is highlighted.  Using the left/right button you can toggle to “ina”

Once “ina” is selected you should start to hear the English Commentary.

I have had a couple of issues close to the end of games were it reverts to Nederlands again, but you can follow the same procedure.  If you have a flick during the Half Time you will have to do the same thing again.

I thought it would be useful to impart my new found knowledge to you all, Enjoy!


Lunch concert at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam

by Carol Moore

Imagine getting a weekly fix of culture through a wonderful mix of music and talented performances? And to top it off, this is for FREE. Yes, free is a word we don’t always associate with pleasant experiences, but this has got to be one of the (not so now!) best kept secrets of highbrow entertainment in Amsterdam.

Each Wednesday – always check online schedule for up to date info: (, Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, which has been in action since 1881, gives the city and its people a free half hour concert which can range from small intimate performances from between 1-3 people to a full classical orchestra of up to 50 people, which has included the Netherlands National Youth Orchestra amongst others. These take place in one of the following spaces: Kleine Zaal (small room), for me my favourite since it is adorned with sumptuous dark red velvet drapes, glistening chandeliers that cast a beautiful light onto the light beige marble walled interior and provides the listener a luxurious experience whilst watching the performance. And the second: Grote Zaal (big room), which is normally reserved for the large full orchestra type performances, complete with an impressive dark wooden floor to ceiling organ.


It’s a simple and straightforward procedure to obtain your free ticket for entry to the concerts. Since they always start promptly at 12.30pm, you must be there at 11.30am when the desk opens to dispense. This is however only for concerts in the small room, as when there are those in the big room it’s not necessary since its capacity is close to 2000 people (wow!) Once this step is complete, I find it a lovely little time filler to walk over to the adjoining restaurant/café to grab a nice cup of coffee. It’s always bustling with people, but on each occasion, I have been greeted and helped rather well by the staff, who are happy to accommodate you wherever possible.

Around 12.15pm it’s time to go to the concert. It’s easy to find your seat and once complete, I like to savour the buzz and surroundings. Everyone chatters excitedly with expectation of how the performers will sound and what they will play. The lights dim, drapes close and the performers are on stage to an encouraging round of rapturous applause. There are diverse types of instruments played but my favourite would have to be the grand piano, violin and harp together.

30 minutes absolutely flies by but at the end, you’re left with a warm, grateful feeling that you have just been privy to some of the most talented, quite often still very young, performers in the Netherlands, and again – for free!

Highly recommendable and a pleasure each time. Just don’t tell everyone about it ?

Gouda Cheese – the yellow motor?

By Sue Godsave

The Dutch are big cheese eaters – eating cheese on bread for breakfast and lunch, cheese cubes as a snack with a drink at the end of the afternoon, and grated cheese over the macaroni for dinner – all adding up to an average of around 20 kg per person per year.

The Dutch cheese eaten the most, both in the Netherlands and abroad, is Gouda cheese, or ’Goudse kaas’, so-named because cheese produced in Holland had to be traded in the city of Gouda.  Gouda-type cheese has been made and traded since the middle ages, and is reputedly one of the oldest cheeses still being made today. Traditional cheese markets are also still being held, but these days mainly as a colourful tourist attraction, acted out on different mornings of the week in Gouda and several other Dutch towns during the summer months.

Gouda cheese changes as it matures to give a range of textures and flavours, but in general it can be characterised as relatively sweet. During production, the curds are washed with warm water after the milk has separated into curds and whey. This causes some of the milk sugar, lactose, to be washed away, and reduces the formation of lactic acid in the cheese, so Gouda cheese tastes less sour than cheddar, for example.  The washed curds are shaped in moulds, and the resulting ‘wheel-shaped’ cheeses are soaked in brine for several days before they are allowed to mature. This process extracts some of the water from the cheese, aids ‘skin’ formation and acts as a preservative, as well as giving extra flavour.  Nowadays, Gouda cheese is made in the traditional Dutch way all around the world, in countries including the USA, China, New Zealand and South Africa. However, only cheese made in the Netherlands can be labelled ‘Gouda Holland’, and for a cheese to be called ‘Noord-Hollandse Goudse’ all stages of the production process have to be carried out in the province of North Holland.

There are six categories of Gouda cheese depending on the length of the maturation period:

‘jonge kaas’, matured for only 4 weeks, and a soft, very mild and creamy ‘young’ cheese;

‘jong belegen’, matured for 8-10 weeks, and still fairly soft, but with a stronger flavour;

‘belegen’, matured for 16-18  weeks, a ‘mature’ cheese with a firmer texture;

‘extra belegen’, matured for 7-8 months;

‘oude kaas’, ‘old cheese’, matured for 10-12 months, and a tasty, hard cheese that may contain crystals, principally of calcium lactate;

‘overjarige’, ‘over-aged’, matured for at least 12 months.

The majority of Dutch cheese is factory-made these days, but some Gouda-type cheese is still made on farms. Unlike the factory-made cheese, this ‘boerenkaas’ is made from unpasteurised fresh milk. Different batches of farmers’ cheese may vary, depending on the farm and the conditions at the time, but farmers’ cheese generally has extra flavour.  Seeds or spices are also sometimes added to factory-made and farmers’ Gouda cheese – Gouda with cumin seeds is particularly good, and you can also find it with cloves or mustard seeds.

You need about ten litres of milk to make a kilogram of Gouda cheese and the finished product is high in protein, fat, and calcium, as well as being an important source of vitamins B12 and K. It is about 40% water, and contains almost no carbohydrate. The fat in Gouda cheese contributes significantly to its flavour and good melting qualities. Normally, between 48 and 52% of the dry weight of factory-made Gouda is fat, and it is labelled ‘48+’ to show this. The dry weight percentage is used because it doesn’t change during maturation, while the water content decreases. In a young 48+ cheese, about 29% of the total weight is fat.

Around two thirds of the fat in Gouda cheese is saturated, and concerns about eating too much saturated fat have led to the development of lower fat cheeses, labelled e.g. 20+ or 30+, the plus again indicating the fat content in the dry weight. There is also graskaas, made from the milk of cows which have eaten the new spring grass in the meadows. This cheese may contain a higher proportion of unsaturated fats, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may even help to protect against heart disease.

Every Dutch supermarket has a big selection of Gouda cheese but for something special you should try a specialist market stall or shop, where you may be able to taste the cheese before you buy. In Amsterdam, there are helpful staff and samples of many different Dutch cheeses in the combined Cheese Museum and shop on the Prinsengracht, where the photo at the top was taken. There are even shops where you can buy Gouda cheese that is coloured blue, green and red (though I prefer it yellow).

In the Netherlands, milk has been described as the ‘white motor’, and more than 12 billion kilograms are produced here each year. More than half of this is turned into cheese, both for home consumption and export. Dutch Gouda cheese comes in a range of consistencies and flavours, and if you’re new to the Netherlands, you might be surprised at how good it can be.

Beths Book Blog 2017

Beth’s Blog

Fredrik Backman, My grandmother sends her regards and apologises

In his debut, Fredrik Backman charmed his readers with a cantankerous character with a heart of gold.  The characters in My Grandmother sends her regards and apologises are similarly crusty on the surface.  Seven year old Elsa is brilliant and a loner without friends other than her eccentric – in fact, crazy – grandmother.  But the two of them escape into the Land of Almost Awake or the Kingdom of Miasmas where Granny’s gift for storytelling builds the fortress Elsa needs to face the world.  This is a many-layered novel of compassion and social consciousness which will delight and warm the reader.

Sally Vickers, Cousins

Long a favourite author of mine, Sally Vickers has had a strong word of mouth following since her debut in 2002 with Miss Garnet’s Angel. A critic from the Washington Post commented that Vickers is a “novelist in the great English tradition of moral seriousness. Her characters suffer, they struggle to be true to both themselves and the promptings of the human heart.”

Her tenth novel, Cousins, is a family epos following three generations of a family of English gentry in the rapidly changing 20th century.  Three of the women attempt to reconstruct the impact on the family of a dramatic accident which befalls two of the young men, Nat and much later Will, who fall while free-climbing the spire of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. Tender, philosophical, complex and reflective, this is literature at its best.

Kieran Larwood, Podkin One Ear

A new saga for children in the tradition of Watership Down has been born! A traveling bard arrives in the grand hall of a rabbit’s burrow and recounts the legend of Podkin One-Ear, a fearsome warrior rabbit renowned for beating back the vicious iron-clad rabbit breed which has sought to take over the realms of other rabbit clans. This beautifully written and illustrated tale is already becoming a classic, with more promised from author Kieran Larwood.  Great storytelling!



Len Vlahos, Life in a Fishbowl

The new owner of one of my favourite bookstores, The Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado, is also the author of several young Adult novels.  His most recent work, titled Life in a Fishbowl, is a quirky satire about Jared Stone, a politician in Oregon and the father of two daughters, who discovers that he has six weeks to live.  Afflicted with a brain tumor (which becomes a major character in the book), Jared decides to sell the rights to his story to a television network.  The ensuing reality TV programme pokes fun at the obsession of watchers with the tragedies of other people.  As the cameras intrude on the lives of the Stone family, the members begin to fight back.

Restaurant Review – Borrl

By Carol Moore

Whilst living in The Netherlands for the past 10 years, I have had a reasonable stab at trying to learn Dutch. Not always very successfully, but, none the less, in a fashion that made life here much more enjoyable and interesting! I have lived in Amsterdam the entire time but am still not completely au fait with the East part, so when I chanced upon a new place there I decided to try it straightaway.

I was rather intrigued by the name of this restaurant –    , and set out to see if it really was a true representation of the “gezellig” atmosphere which one would expect to find whilst having a drink socially. It was a cold, dark and dreary Winter’s Wednesday evening and I was meeting up with my friend for our first catch up of the New Year. Upon entering we were greeted warmly by the owner who quickly showed us to a nice table (which we were free to choose) and given a detailed run through of how the evening menu works. There is a small but not insufficient and varied menu which suits equally the meat/fish/veggie diner and, in-keeping with the name of the place, the emphasis is on sharing dishes together to keep up with the non-pretentious, relaxed ambiance. We plumped for the Borrl kitchen platter which was a lovely combination of serrano ham, chorizo, aioli, tuna mayo dip, mackerel and beetroot puree. Alongside this we ordered some good old fashioned Dutch bread, all served on a lovely simple wooden platter. In the meantime we had also received the explanation that the wines which were on offer were specifically priced lower than some of other local establishments, so that the recipient could drink good quality wine but without the rip off, overpriced amount that so many places in Amsterdam charge these days. We opted for the Kiwi Cuvee which originated not from New Zealand as I had thought, but good old France! It was crisp and juicy and again, at a more wallet-favourable price, plus very tasty on the palette. Read more

Our Charity Ball sponsors

We have a tremendous haul of prizes for his years Charity Ball.  Our silent auction items include:

Weekend in an F-Type Jaguar

Champagne reception at Christie’s Auction house

A wine tasting from Chabrol Wines Overtoom

House Make Over Consultation from A Lifestyle 4 All

An a wonderful picture create by our very own John Richardson

Our fabulous raffle prizes consist of:

Meals at

NH – Barbizon’s – Vermeer, Okura’s – Serre, Pulitzer’s Jansz, Wyndham Apollo’s – Harbour Club Kitchen, Cantinetta Wine & Pasta, Dragons Delight and Greenwoods

Entertainment from:

Amsterdam Eating Tours, Amsterdam Magic Show, Boom Chicago & Mike’s Badhuis Theatre

Other great prizes from:

Anglo Info, Benjamin Arthur Photography, Blacktower Financial Management, Best Kept Secrets, ML gifts & Vettica, American Book Center (ABC)

Even our Charity Voedselbank chips in with a few prizes.

There are so many prizes this year that you will have a 1/3 chance to win something.

If you did not get a ticket for this year look at all those great prizes you are missing out on!!

If you are going to the ball make sure you bring plenty of 10’s for the raffle as we will run it differently this year.  Why not make yourself feel better this Christmas and give generously to help out those who will be less forunate.

Burns’ Night 2017

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 21st of January 2017. Burns was born on the 25th January 1759.

A Burns supper traditionally ranges from formal gatherings of scholars to uproaring informal rave ups of drunkards and louts. 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.

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.

Tickets are on sale now. Click here to order tickets.


Chairman’s Corner

Chairmans Corner

Bonfire Night went with a Bang this year and think most people agreed that the firework display was the most spectacular we have ever had. Mark your cards for the 5 th November next year. The event is always popular and we will try to increase numbers so that more people can join us.

The event gallery is HERE

Our Christmas Ball is progressing nicely with only a few tickets left. If you fancy joining us for the best party to start the festive season then buy your ticket before the are all gone here:

More details are announced on the entertainment and we will start to reveal some of the tremedous prizes that we have been able to get from Amsterdam Businesses very shortly.

At the remembrance service on the 12 th November I met the Mayor of Amsterdam (pictured with me above) for the first time and was able to thank him for the meeting he arranged following the EU referendum. He told me it was only a natural reaction to the result to reassure our British contingent in Amsterdam. I would like to thank again Eberhard van der Laan in print as well for his positive reaction to our situation.

Burns Night tickets will go on sale shortly. The British School has increased the size of its hall so we are having some discussions about increasing the capacity slightly for this event. It always sells out extremely quickly so be sure to get your tickets as soon as you can

We have some smaller events coming up many of which you can sign up for via our meetup page: Meetup/

Booming Business 29 th November

This is our Business Networking event in conjuction with a number of other business and social clubs in Amsterdam. If you are an entrepreneur looking to increase your network and gain new business associates and clients this could be the event for you.

This months edition has 3 restaurant reviews from yours truly and great review of the current Marylin Monroe exhibition.  We also have a new organisation ICAP asking for some help with a survey on international children and education.

Hope to see you at one of these events soon.

Nick Nugent

The Great British Charity Ball December 10th – Entertainment

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.

Last remaining tickets available here:

Click Here for Tickets

The entertainment for the night is also just announced:

This year we have The Bowkers to entertain us, a fantastic singing sensation over from the UK. Justine, Max and Lukas together with their father Jason love to perform many genres of music and they will transport you back to the golden era of swing with their classic vocals and harmonies, slick fashion and quick wit.

For those of you who love to let your hair down and dance the night away they will deliver Soul, Motown and pop classics all night long.


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.

International Community Advisory Panel – survey on International children & education


Building bridges for the international community

ICAP Amsterdam is an initiative put together by four long-standing members of the international community to act as an independent bridge between the international community itself and government and civic organisations.

In particular, we aim to establish an independent forum which represents and reflects the views of the international community on issues which have an impact on the city’s attractiveness as a place to live in and do business.

The city regularly scores very highly in international comparisons – facts which officials are keen to promote whenever possible. However, these glowing reports do not always reflect the reality on the ground. And Amsterdam lacks a broad framework for communicating with and receiving input/feedback from the international community and assessing its diverse needs and concerns. ICAP aims to change this.

The International Community Advisory Panel will focus on four main areas:

– Education

– Housing

– Healthcare

– Work and Inclusion


ICAP is an independent foundation, registered in Amsterdam.

ICAP’s ideals are supported by the Amsterdam Expatcenter and ICAP is already working with city officials in some areas.


Robin Pascoe: founder of news website

Emmy McCarthy: founder of information and support source Amsterdam Mamas

Lynn Kaplanian Buller: Co-owner of The American Book Centre

Deborah Valentine: Executive Director of volunteer network ACCESS

If you can help with this survey on International children and education
Your input will help the International Community Advisory Panel to find out more about how international parents in the Netherlands approach their children’s education and will, we hope, lead to improvements in the future.

This is the link

Open Survey