People of Holland!
Upon this day I, Stuart, would like to officially announce my successful invasion of Holland and the installation of myself as your new leader and ruler.
Do not be afraid. Although this new development might sound quite alarming at first please remain calm and give it a moment to sink in.
The invasion was successfully completed yesterday when I put up some flyers announcing myself as Holland’s new ruler and no one objected.
I promise to be a just and fair ruler, a nurturing and caring leader, the kind you can invite around for tea with your ‘oma’. I promise to keep the changes to your daily life minimal. All I ask is that you refer to me as ‘King Stuart’ if we ever pass each other in the street. I also ask that you be nice to each other and don’t play your music too loudly when travelling on the public transport.
I know that I might not be a true Dutchman. I know that I might not have been born and raised amongst the windmills and tulips. I know that I might only have the Dutch language skills of a five year old but I am a true and proud ginger, a fact which makes me as orange as anyone else from this, soon to be great, country. I also eat stampot once and found it ‘lekker’.
I will be ruling the country from my apartment in Rotterdam where all important decisions about the countries future will be made over a cup of hot coco (with a biscuit). However, I cannot work on Saturday’s because it’s my turn to tidy the apartment and do the shopping so you’ll have to look after yourselves on that day.
If there is anything that you would like to see changed as I lead Holland to a bright and bold new future please send me your ideas and I’ll see what I can do about them. Unless of course it is a complaint about me as your new leader. Then I’ll most likely ignore it.
– King Stuart
Over the years I’ve written a lot about the Dutch and their funny little habits and traditions but I’ve never really written about my equally weird fellow Englishman. This seems somehow unfair since (as I will admit myself) we all know the English can be fairly strange and peculiar themselves (even if we are more prim and proper and know the correct layout for cutlery at a tea party). To rectify this injustice I have decided to turn the focus onto my fellow tea drinkers and expose just what it is that makes us tick.
Whenever you are discussing the habits of the English it is important to know that the English really like to apologise. It does not matter what it is for, if there is something that requires an apology the English are more than happy to provide it. Even when it seems like something might need apologising for in the future we will pre-emptively apologise to minimise any inconvenience. This is because the English hate inconvenience. In fact, if an official 1 to 10 scale of things English people like and dislike was ever created (1 being the least liked and 10 being the most liked) inconvenience would be at number 1 and apologizing would be at number 10.
Even in rare situations when an Englishman cannot find anything to apologise about they will apologise anyway… just in case. And then they will most likely apologise again for the inconvenience of having apologised when they are told there was nothing to apologise about in the first place. It is a vicious circle.
When in the comfort of his fellow countrymen the Englishman’s second favourite thing to do is complain. Again, it does not matter what it is about. It could be something trivial like a slow waiter at a restaurant or something important like the tea not being the correct temperature, the English are simply happy to have something to complain about.
However, the English cannot be ‘seen’ to be complaining because doing so would lead to another need to apologise for being an inconvenience. This is why the Englishman can only complain in the comfort and safety of those who share his opinions and views and will not actually challenge or asked him to make a more valid argument beyond; “Because it’s simply not cricket.”
The kind of complaining the Englishman likes to do the most is comparing things to how they used to be better. This is most noticeably noticed in conversations that start with the phrase, “Well in my day…” followed about some statement about the youth of today, their habits or choice in music (or as it is more commonly known in such conversations; ‘noise’).
This usually leads to a kind of one-up-mans-ship about the way things used to be better with the oldest in the group always winning because as all English people know the older things are the better they were (including the time when we were all having bombs dropped on us). Such conversations usually end with apologies to the oldest member of the conversation for the inconvenience of having to prove he was right and listening to people who were wrong.
The arrival of Sinterklaas can be a very confusing time for expats in Holland. It’s a tradition that raises a lot of questions for those who are unfamiliar with it. Who is Sinterklaas and why does he give out presents on December 5th? Why does Sinterklaas live in Spain? Who are his helpers the Zwarte Pieten?
However, over the years I have come to realize that there are certain questions that it is simply best not to ask when old Sinterklaas comes to town. The Dutch don’t always respond well to such questions and sometimes they simply pity your stupidity.
“Do you think the pope knows his hat is missing?”
“If I pledge allegiance to Sinterklaas do I still get gifts from Santa?”
“How many hours do you think Sinterklaas spends grooming his beard every morning? He’s very metro for an old man.”
“Who do you think would win in a fight? Sinterklaas or Santa?”
“Do you think it’s like this all year around in Spain?”
“Do you think Sinterklaas works on pakjesavond so he can have Christmas off? Or do you think Santa works on Christmas so he can have pakjesavond off?… or both?”
“Do you think the Pieten get confused whenever anyone calls out their name? Do they all answer?”
“If I’m on Santa’s naughty list am I automatically on Sinterklaas’ naughty list as well? Because if so I’m in trouble.”
“Do you think Sinterklaas realizes that owning a steam boat is not very good for his carbon footprint?”
“Can you OD on pepernoten? Because I might need an ambulance.”
And the number one question that you must never ever ask a Dutch person:
Looking for more? Find a full list of all humorous sinterklaas guides and posts right here:
“Why is Santa riding a horse?”
All About Sinterklaas
I am a speculoos addict. I have been hopelessly hooked on its sweet delicious taste ever since I tried my first sample. Since that day I have tried all different kinds of speculoos products; sandwich spreads, ice-creams, biscuits, hagelslag. The list goes on and on. Neither rehab or any amount of interventions have done anything to reduce my insanely uncontrollable cravings.
So when I learnt about the existence of a new speculoos product I knew I had to have it. There was only one problem. It was only available in Belgium. What could I do? The answer was simple. I was going to Belgium to get some chocolate speculoos.
Luckily two of my friends were also very interested in the idea of a daytrip to Belgium (one of them suggested it). This was good because I knew a group travelling together would arouse much less suspicion than a man travelling alone.
Getting into Belgium was the easy part. We boarded a train and entered the country un-noticed. Once there we took photos, made comments about the architecture, visited bars and did all the other things ‘innocent’ tourists usually do while all the time I could think of nothing else but chocolate speculoos.
Just when I thought I could not control my addiction any longer and was about to ask a local drug dealer if they sold speculoos we found it. The stuff was being sold in shops every where… in broad daylight. I could not believe my luck I bought as much of the stuff as I could (two bars).
It was only on the return journey that I started to worry. I suddenly realized I was smuggling chocolate speculoos across the border from Belgium to Holland. What if we were stopped? What if we were searched? Two bars is a lot for one person. Could I be arrested with intent to distribute? What if there were sniffer dogs?
I was suddenly snapped out of my internal panic by a ticket inspector asking to see our tickets. I almost gave him a full confession in a blind panic.
As it turns out (despite its highly addictive nature) chocolate speculoos is not illegal and I was allowed to keep my supplies and return home.
It was all gone within two days. Anyone want to go to Belgium?
(Special thanks to Heather from Cloggie Central for bringing Chocolate Speculoos to my attention)