The Dockworker

2016-05-18-12-29-28Amsterdam isn’t big on statues, most commemorate not the great and the good but the people. In this case the statue represents a dockworker. Amsterdam is harbour city and has a long maritime history, the building housing the Maritime Museum dates back to 1656 and was built for the Admiralty. But the dockworker’s history is more troubled and more recent.

He commemorates a general strike held in Amsterdam from the 25 – 27 February 1941, known as “The February Strike” and that date should give you a clue to what they were striking about. The location is another clue, he stands in the middle of the old “Jodenbuurt” or Jewish Quarter, the building in the background is the Portuguese Synagogue – still in use today. The general strike was to protest the Nazi actions against the city’s Jewish community. Two weeks earlier the Nazis, helped by Dutch police, had encircled this neighbourhood with walls of barbed wire and declared it off limits to non-Jews. The city rose up and fought this, culminating in the strike on 25 February which became more widespread throughout the day. It was the first direct action undertaken against the anti-Jewish measures of the Nazis in occupied Europe.

The Netherlands surrendered to the Germans in May 1940 and remained occupied until 1945. Just seven years later the statue of the Dockworker was unveiled by Queen Juliana to acknowledge the bravery of the city’s citizens. There is a commemoration on the anniversary of the strike every year.

Overheard in Amsterdam #449

I was sitting in my favourite cafe, which happens to provide a takeaway service of most of their meals. One of their regulars came in for a takeaway order while I was there for coffee.


I’m having some friends over, I need six pieces of the pesto chicken.


Do you want us to heat it for you?


It’s fine, I will do that at home and serve it on a pretty plate and they’ll think I made it.


OK, we also have the mushroom chicken pasta dish…


Nah, man! this is my signature dish.

Saturday Market – Cauliflower Soup

I’m not a big fan of cauliflower, I don’t think I’ve ever bought it at the market before, but a friend isn’t well and this was her request. So, for the first time in my life I’ve made cauliflower soup. It’s delicious!

I found a lovely head of cauliflower, and googled for a recipe.




  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato
  • oil
  • 3 cups of stock
  • salt, pepper, spices


Step 1

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add finely sliced onion, salt, pepper, and half a teaspoon of spice mix – I used Ras el Hanout today. I think Garam Marsala would also work, I wanted to give a touch of a warm flavour to the soup. Cook on a medium low heat to soften the onions.


Step 2

Dice the potato, add it to the onion mix. The final soup is blended so you don’t need to be too fussy about the size of the pieces.


Step 3

Chop cauliflower into florets, add to pan and mix well.


Step 4

Add enough stock to the pan to cover the vegetables, turn up the heat to boil the soup. Cook until all the vegetables are soft, this doesn’t take long, around 12 minutes.


Step 5

Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

cauliflowersoup-6Step 6

Serve warm, you can stir in some cream to make the soup richer but the potato already makes it creamy and delicious.

Tulip Watch

I planted tulips again this year, I replanted the pink ones from last year and added some new ones that should flower at a slightly different time, just for fun. They’ve popped up above the earth and are growing. Can’t wait for spring!

Overheard in Amsterdam

The world is watching America. In this case the old lady is in her eighties, which means she remembers the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Old Dutch Lady

I saw the news with the new president.

Dumb Foreigner

What did you think?

Old Dutch Lady

*Sigh* … we already fixed this once in my lifetime.


raepenhofjeThe Raepenhofje is on Palmgracht in the northern part of the Jordaan, and it’s old, built in 1648. At the time it was built Palmgracht would have been a canal, but the canal was filled in in 1895. At around the same time many of the old houses in this area were cleared so the street has little historic character. The Raepenhofje is an exception, it’s one of the oldest of Amsterdam’s hofjes that’s still in use.

It was built by Pieter Adriaanszoon Raep using money he inherited from his father. The family name is commemorated on the front of the building. The family’s coat of arms sits above the construction date, and the vegetable is a turnip playing on the family’s name; raep (or raap in modern spelling) means turnip in Dutch. Above the turnip are the founder’s initials.

The hofje was founded as a home for widows and orphans, all of whom were expected to be protestant. There were originally 12 rooms, with some communal areas for cooking and dining. Now there are 9 apartments and they’re still occupied by protestant women, the women are students when they move in but can stay after graduation – but they may not “samenwonen” (bring in their boyfriends permanently). It has always been managed by the family, although the management has descended through daughters so it’s no longer the Raep family.

It’s not open to the public but there are a few pictures in the city council archive.





Animals at the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is filled with animals at the moment! They’re on loan from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden and they’re accompanying an exhibition of works by Frans Post, sketches and paintings made during his time in Brazil. In many cases the exhibition displays a stuffed version of the animal next to the sketch. You can see the precision of Post’s work. Here’s the Capybara, positioned under an oil painting view that includes a capybara.

Capybara and Frans Post paintingThe exhibition is on until 7 January – so hurry up!

In the main entrance hall there are animals from other places to admire – including a pair of polar bears looking down on you.

polar bears