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Tag Archives: Living in Holland

E.R. Weight Limits (Life in Holland)

Chair with weight limit sticker in Dutch emergency room.

Chair with weight limit sticker in Dutch emergency room.

My husband and I divide and conquer when it comes to routine E.R. visits. Yes, we have four boys so the words “routine” and “emergency room” go together. For our last appointment (yes, you make an appointment for the E.R. in The Netherlands – more here on that), I took broken-finger boy and hubby stayed home with the other 3 children.

The Dutch do things differently. The whole family comes to the emergency room with. Families of four, six, an apparent dinner party of people young and old came traipsing into the E.R. waiting area and greeted those already seated.

Behind curtain number one though, where the nurse cleans my son’s wound and prepares the finger splint, there is only one chair for the injured person’s driver, and that chair has a weight limit clearly displayed on a large sticker.

Don’t take that seat if you weigh over 220 lbs (i.e. 100 kg).

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher, mother of 4 sons, president of a nonprofit, and American expat living in Holland. She readily sat in the pictured chair and is contemplating losing some weight anyway. Her first book series, Begotten Bloods (BB), is paranormal romance/suspense.

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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in Living in Holland, Travel

 

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Unexpected Rings (Holland Expat)

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.33.35 AMWith the diamond capital of the world not far away in Antwerp, our wedding anniversary around the corner, and LOTR always on our minds, you might expect this post to be about jewelry. Not so. Unfortunately.

The unexpected rings in the Netherlands are at the front door and they are numerous. Does the closed gate at the top of the driveway give pause? Nope. How about two big dogs running toward said gate barking their heads off? Nope. I think the only way to bypass this part of the expat experience is to do away with the front door.

In our first few months here it was often helpful folks at the door. For instance, the team that cleaned the windows for the previous tenant dropped by with their card. The neighbors came with a bouquet of flowers to welcome us and have us over for coffee. The police rang to inquire about a break-in on our street, had we heard or seen anything around 11pm the night before.

In the US we might have the occasional unexpected knock from missionaries–haven’t seen them in Holland yet, though I’ll be sure to invite them to my church as usual. So who’s at the door? (Anyone else humming a song now?) Usually charitable solicitation folks for animal rescues, refugees, Doctors without Borders, etc. You name it, they’ve been by my house. Their visits are not only legal but encouraged. Ones with locked piggy banks want a bit of change. No biggie. Ones with paperwork want to sign you up for a monthly gift via direct bank transfer. (Highly discouraged by our boss.) Ones carrying nothing, well…they might have just hit your car.

At Dutch culture class I asked our local instructor if I was expected to answer the door or if I could hidey-hole away and ignore the ringing summons. “Oh no, you should answer.” She said, “Why not? It would be rude not to.”

Huh. Funny how the ringers didn’t think it might be rude to interrupt what I was doing. Oh–there’s the door bell again. Gutter drainage cleaners will be blocking my driveway for the next few hours. Too bad that won’t keep the ringers away.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher, mother of 4 sons, president of a nonprofit, and American expat living in Holland. She’s got nothing going on that someone should worry about interrupting. Her first book series, Begotten Bloods (BB), is paranormal romance/suspense.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – My 2nd Bike Wreck, My Son’s and Others

Photo credit to NL Cycling blog. Click photo to visit.

Photo credit to NL Cycling blog. Click photo to visit.

My second bike wreck in Holland could have been much worse. In the bike lane I rang my bell, steered left to pass a couple of teens, and one of them veered into me distracted by something the friend pointed out. His backpack shifted into my hand, tore a nail, and forced my front wheel into the road. Had a car been coming at that moment…well I hate to think about it.

The way my heart pounded after that was nothing compared to getting the call from one of our sons that his brother had been in a wreck. On the phone the news was that two men were hollering at my son in Dutch, the police were arriving on the scene, my son was up but bleeding, and bicycle damage was sustained. Needless to say, I got there as quickly as my peddling feet would carry me.

Raised voices lowered with mom on the scene to assure the racing bike owner that we do indeed have the Dutch personal liability insurance. My son was bleeding from scratches on his hand and had a fist-sized abrasion across his ribs. The bikes were what suffered the most. Whew!

What did the police say? They rebuked the race-cyclist for not carrying his national ID card, and then left us to fill out accident reports. While I’ve heard that in accidents involving cars and bikes, the car is always at fault, and I’ve also heard that any accident involving a child under 12 holds the adult responsible, the latter did not hold true. Bikes are required to be in the bike lane moving in the same direction as traffic, and because my son crossed early and was going the wrong way in the bike lane, he was at fault. All our children learned a lesson that day about bicycle safety and how insurance works.

I wish I could say that was the last accident I’ve seen. One day we woke to icy conditions and saw three bike accidents as we drove the 3 km to school. My younger kids couldn’t get over the white-haired woman whose head wound was bleeding down her face at the traffic circle. (Of the approximately 260 fatal bike accidents in the NL every year, 40% are cyclists aged 70-90.) But that’s not the worst.

If there are no bike lanes, cyclists are allowed to go the wrong way on one-way streets. Within a week of our son’s wreck, we heard that a friend of the boss was leaving the grocery, stepped out to cross the street after only checking for cars coming from the one-way, and was nailed by a bike speeding through the congested area from the opposite direction.

How badly can a bike hurt a pedestrian?

The gentleman’s ankle and his tibia were broken up so badly reconstructive surgery was required. Ever so grateful for broken nails and light abrasions.

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Kristin King is an author, mother of four, and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven.”

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – How Long Can a Bike Last?

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.04.43 AMWhen I wandered into the local bicycle store and could not find a bike for less than 500 euro, I pulled a pedestrian u-turn right back out the door. Most of the price tags were in the thousands. Perhaps this makes sense in a country where two wheels get you to your destination 5% faster (10% in cities), are easier to park, and the land is fairly flat. These statistics and more can be found on Netherlands By the Numbers which notes:

Every year we [Netherlanders] buy  around 1.3 million bikes, with total value of €1bn. The average price? A whopping great €954 last year.

I must have wandered into an upscale store. About a month ago, though, my favorite 2nd hand shop had a tall, light-weight, men’s bicycle out front. I could barely straddle the bar on my tip-toes, but with my older sons out growing me I thought it would be perfect for one of them.

Used Bike = 90 euro

The brand was one I’d seen around Holland, so I couldn’t help but look online to find that new ones cost between 579 euro and 3,000. The upside of our specimen is that it came with functional head light, tail light, built-in lock, rear storage rack, several speeds, and such.  And the bike was obviously fairly old even though it was excellently maintained.

How well maintained was it?

When our Dutch Bike Serviceman came to tune it up for us, he discovered our Gazelle bicycle is more than 40 years old. Wow!

Now, who wants to take bets on how long it will last with my adolescent son perched on top of it?

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven.”

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – Haven’t Seen That Before

Thanks to the Archipel and Williams website for the photo. Visit there for more info.

Thanks to the Archipel and Williams website for the photo. Visit there for more info.

In the Netherlands there are only certain days when it’s legal to display the national flag. Excessive patriotism is considered somewhat suspect, and given the history of war in Europe this is not a complete mystery. However, this week I saw a huge flag (not NL) hanging out a window and halfway down a house with a backpack hanging over it.

“Weird,” I thought.

Then I saw a Dutch flag on a pole with a backpack hanging on the end of the pole. Hmm…

Thanks to my local Facebook group, I now know what this means. High school students in the Netherlands must pass final exams to graduate, and each of those homes has someone who is graduating.

As more of these appear around Holland, I know I’ll look up now, smile, and think, “You go! Congratulations!”

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven.”

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – Salad Surprise

photo-6Display cases full of various salads (think tuna rather than caesar) greeted me in the Dutch grocery, were inspected and subsequently disregarded till I attended a Dutch Food Class. The instructor informed us that in the Netherlands a light evening meal with a couple friends often includes a selection of these mayo-based spreads.

Our family indulges in similar fare by making sandwiches that are popular in the US: tuna (homemade), pimento cheese (store bought), chicken (half-n-half), and crab (on the restaurant buffet). After living in Belgium I added curry chicken salad to my repertoire and always associate the dish with Great Britain although I cannot remember why.

In the Netherlands the salads are served with crackers or on slim slices of baguettes, so I’m told. At our house we’ve begun sampling the almost endless options on saltine crackers, and in Dutch fashion we call that (with a piece of fruit) a meal. The top contenders for favorites so far are “Kip Sate” and “Kip Curry.” Kip is chicken, an easily identifiable ingredient that is always welcome in our home.

Kip Sate (brown), Kip Curry (yellow) and Crab (white) salads.

Kip Sate (brown), Kip Curry (yellow) and Crab (white) salads.

When choosing between brands of these meal salads remember that the store brand will have more mayo and less meat which is not always a bad thing if uniformity of spread is of concern or you are trying to feed multiple ravenous youts (as Cousin Vinny calls youths).

Options to consider:
Farmer, Selleries, Surinamse, komkommer, kip kerrie, kip pittage, kip sate, gerookte kip, kip zoete ui, kip pesto, kip melon, beenham, marscarpone, vlees salad, ham prei, oude kaas, haring, haring rode beiten, krab, krab perzik, garnalen in knoflook, river kreekjes, zalm, gerookte zalm, tonjin, makreel, kruiden, kruiden tuinje, Itallinnainse, taziki, vitello, tonnato, krab wakame, kaas, kaas mostard, scheirrelei, scheirrelei bacon, scheirrelei kerrie, scheirrelei bieslook, scheirrelei Suriname, asperge scheirrelei

 

Lekker.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland where she is working on her third novel.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2015 in Food, Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – Surreal Moment

Hoping for a deal on blue willow bowls...

Hoping for a deal on blue willow bowls…

Dishes get broken. This is a fact of life. Our family eats lots of cereals and soups. We use a LOT of bowls. When another of the everyday dishes we registered for when we got married broke this week, my husband said, “Go ahead and get some new ones.”

Hmm. The last time I bought blue willow bowls they were $5 each. The same make is $16 online now. Yikes! Occasionally though, the odd item will turn up at antique or 2nd hand stores. So I thought a quick trip to my local Antique and Vintage shop was in order.

Strange day.

Sun on the windshield when I headed out turned to slanting wind. Rain would follow–maybe hail like the day before.

In the shop there were no bowls in my pattern or anything with blue. But there were 3 bowls the right size with a different bird on each. The shop keeper set them on the counter for me.

“How much are they?”

He inspected the bottom where it said dishwasher safe. “You take them,” he got out paper to wrap them up.

“How much are they?” slower this time. Language and translation is sometimes an issue.

“You like?”

...surreal deal on these bird bowls. "Tjilp tjilp" is what birds say in Dutch. Cheep cheep!

…surreal deal on these bird bowls. “Tjilp tjilp” is what birds say in Dutch. Cheep cheep!

“Well yeah, I prefer blue, but the birds are nice,” I said.

“You take them.”

Hmm. I could wait this out. The prices here are reasonable all around, so I waited for the paper wrapping and bagging to be done when I was sure he would tell me how much I owed. Hands down this beats the “would you like large fried with that” suggestive sell I learned back in the day.

Finally he passed me the bag. Said nothing.

I looked around. “Thank you??” I asked in Dutch.

“You’re welcome,” he turned to other matters.

Huh. I left the shop with my–not purchases–free gifts? I was still trying to work out what happened. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything there before, certainly no large purchases. Huh.

The wind knocked my hair about with a light spray of water. My mind cannot seem to get past this experience. “What happened?” it asks.

“I think the antique shop just gave me free bowls because they were ‘too new’ for them. Has to be some reason, right?”

Surreal Holland.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, and expat living in Holland.

 

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