Back to the Beginning; 10 Years of Blogging

anniversary10My very first blog post included a photograph from this shop, 10 years ago.

In the intervening 10 years the shop has got scruffier. I heard from a taxi driver born in the neighbourhood that it used to be owned by the current occupant’s father who had a great interest in glasses. He ran the shop, and a more lucrative business renting glasses to various photo shoots, films and tv productions. After he died his son inherited, but although he runs the business he seems to have little interest in it.

I’ve published more than 600 posts and my top viewed post is about the day I was surprised to find a Russian submarine in Amsterdam harbour. Most people find my blog via search engines, and the best referring site is I Am Expat. For 2015 most visitors have been from the Netherlands, followed by USA, UK, Germany and Canada.

To all of you dank je wel, thank you, thank you, danke schön, and thank you.



Ferry Commuters – Amsterdam

Need to practise, but I like the idea of showing the fast ferry turn around at Amsterdam central station.

The Light Fantastic; Amsterdam Light Festival

Looking for something spectacular to do on a cold dark night? Take a canal trip through the Amsterdam Light Festival, the creations are amazing, some expressing social commentary and some just for fun. It’s a bit of an obstacle course for the boats as well which adds to it. Here’s a highlight video produced for the festival.

I went last week with some colleagues. We managed to pick the worst night to do it, there had been a day of high wind and some of the exhibits had become a little unplugged. However it was still great fun. My photos from the night are below – taken from a rain soaked moving boat so not the best.

My favourites were the ghost ship, which is constructed from lights projecting on panels of water and changes as you move around it, and Tulip Mania, which has submerged tulips that rise up when people on the shore pump bicycle pumps. A special mention for the interactivity of the 178 Bottles 1 Message exhibit, which picks up the nationality of nearby visitors and projects their national flag (it’s based on the “nationality” of their phone).

Amsterdam light festival is on until 18 January, and you can view the exhibits by boat (for about 20 euro) or for free by walking through the city.

I liked it so much I am planning to go again!

Drug Warning

A serious post; 3 tourists have died and more than a dozen have been hospitalised following taking cocaine that is actually “white heroin”. The city council as put these warnings up around the centre of the city, deliberately in English to target tourists who will not have seen items on the Dutch news. It’s a very Dutch approach to an issue – focusing on the welfare of the individuals rather than the criminality.

I had an early morning start this week and saw one of the billboards of lights; this one is at the top of Singel, but I’ve seen others on Leidseplein and near Weteringschans.

Test of Friendship

I was wandering along Haarlemmerdijk (the dodgy end) behind two old tramps when one of them spotted a half-smoked joint lying on the ground.

Tramp 1

Aaaw, look, look here

Tramp 2

Thanks, don’t wanna lose that. (picks it up)

Tramp 1

Just looking out for you, bro.

I repeat I repeat I repeat I repeat I repe…


I noticed this when I parked my bike on Herengracht on Sunday, it says “ik herhaal” which means “I repeat”, and it runs from at least Huidenstraat almost up to Hartenstraat. I have no idea of the reason or purpose. It’s in chalk so it will only last until the next rain, in fact in some places it’s become faint already where the text has been scuffed away.

A small library

1507littlelibraryI spotted a small library offering books or children’s toys on a wander near Sarpharti Park. The sign asks for a small donation to be put through the letterbox – or you can exchange a book.

It’s such a generous idea, I immediately wanted to donate the pile of books I’ve finished reading – I usually release books I no longer want into the wild via Bookcrossing.

There are “Little Free Libraries” all over the world, and although this is not registered as part of that scheme it’s a similar idea. There are five official Little Free Libraries listed in the Netherlands; Zutphen, Nijmegen, Delfgauw, and two in the Hague.