Why I am proud to call Holland Home

Dear Friend,

It's rather a surprising thing for a northern girl like me to be writing this post. I was always rather dismissive of people who returned home to the North East and went on and on about; London, New York, Australia etc Returning to Middlesbrough will always feel like coming home; family, friends, football and the hills (god I miss the hills).



12 years ago I moved to Holland.

I left Middlesbrough 12 years ago. I can't quite believe that I have been living in this tiny, busy, brilliant country for twelve whole years, this place has really become home and I am proud to call it that.

10 Reasons why I love living in Holland...

1) Community
There is a real community spirit. The Dutch are great at organising events and keeping up traditions. Every year our village will host special days where the community come together and during the summer every town hosts their party week. There is a real sense of belonging and pride in these events with everyone taking part.



2) National Pride

A great example of this is Kings day when the whole country turns orange. Music events, games, markets, street entertainment ensures that there is something for everyone. The rest of the year the Dutch need no excuse to hang out their flags; birthdays, party days, passing exams, births, they proudly display their colours.



3) Work/life balance

Most people work part time many men included, there is shared responsibility for child care, men taking papa days to take care of their children. Working hours are shorter or many people work flexi hours to have Monday or Friday free. People here work to live they don't live for work.

4) Bikes

Everyone bikes, everywhere. There is something liberating about the freedom of jumping on your bike to go to the shops, beach, work or school. It is reminiscent of childhood. The rush hour is quite a sight to behold as are the lines and lines of bikes at the stations.



5) Honesty

Dutch people are the most honest people you can meet. This can be a little startling for us reserved English lot but if you ask a question you will always get an honest answer. Dutch people will ask questions about finances, personal issues, health etc that English would not. But you always know where you stand. Problems are spoken about, brought out in the open, dealt with and forgotten about!

6) Food

When I first came to Holland I missed lots of English foods and I still need a fix of fish and chips and a corned beef pasty when I visit the UK. But I have grown to love Dutch food too; creamy cheeses, stroopwafels and bitterballs are firm favourites in our house. Don't expect a massive freezer section in the supermarket. The Dutch shop regularly and eat fresh foods. Perhaps one reason they don't have a problem with obesity?

7) Shops

Small individual boutiques with little treasures and one off pieces, handmade jewellery and art. Yes the big chains are here too but I love the Dutch style and fashion, offering classic pieces with a modern twist. Dutch people support their local businesses and because we eat fresh the baker and butcher are still thriving.



8) Beaches

The beach tents/cafes arrive around May and stay until September. We love this time of the year. Being able to cycle to the beach after work or school is such a joy! The North Sea may be cold but the beaches are beautiful. If the weather is good then you don't need to go abroad to holiday!



9) Canals and Canal Houses
It is my ambition to own a canal house one day. The Dutch canal cities are truly beautiful!

10) Happy Kids
Dutch children regularly come out on/near to the top of the list of happiest children in the world.


Come and visit but be warned you may decide to stay!

Point Shoot: Kite surfers at the beach

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.


In Katwijk there is a kite surfing school. I love watching the kite surfers at the beach. Some of them shoot up into the sky and it is almost like they are flying.  It must be an amazing feeling! The boys enjoyed running around and chasing Nova and of course paddling in the pools. Little man ended up coming home in his underpants 😉 








Life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in that impact zone, you need to get right back up because you never know what's over that next wave.

My Sunday Photo


Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.     

I'm a blogging success because...

Dear friends,

I’m a blogging success because…

When asking myself what is blogging success? I turned to google for help as I am sure many of you have done. My most recent searches include, other blogs, a clothes shop (sale time), a video about Mars and the kids school website, what’s yours? Anyway I digress. The wonderful Mirriam Webster was able to shed some light on what success actually is… I went for the simple definition.




Definition 1: Achieving wealth, respect or fame.

OK according to this definition I have not made it. My blog has not brought me untold wealth (although I am very grateful for the opportunities it has brought me). I am also not famous and don’t actually want to be but it might be nice to appear on, This morning and meet the silver fox that is Philip and the gorgeous Holly, like some of my blogging buddies.

Definition 2: The correct or desired result of an attempt.


I started blogging with no agenda, it wasn’t an attempt at anything. I hadn’t read blogs and had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I just needed to write … My brain was filled with questions and thoughts that needed a space to grow. Through blogging I found that space and started to breathe out again. Then something amazing happened - people started to comment. Other parents reached out to me. People told me that I’d helped them learn more about autism.

Raising awareness felt good, it felt like I was doing something, achieving something. Other autism parents reached out to me, other bloggers, friends, colleagues… people were reading my words. It felt amazing when I saw 1000 people had read my I hate Birthdays post. I was voted one of the most inspirational Autism Bloggers of 2015. I guess that meant I had achieved respect (see definition 1).

But the goal posts had moved and I started to reach for the full definition of that success. I wanted a measure. I started to look at those statistics, question why it had taken me so long to grow my following. I began comparing myself to others, checking my DA and Klout too regularly and caring too much about charts. I felt my blog was failing. I was failing… and it forced me to reassess what I wanted for my blog.

If I needed reminding of my success then all I had to do was turn to the comments of my fellow bloggers and readers.





I am a blogging success because...

I am giving people a glimpse into what life is really like for families affected by autism. I am a success because I am challenging the stereotypes and raising important issues in the hope that the life of my son and other people like him can be improved. I may not be the best writer, campaigner, speller, social media guru but my voice is out there. I am a success because blogging has enabled my voice to be heard.



This post first appeared on mummyinatutu  as part of Katie's I'm a blogging success series...

Point Shoot: Museum Volkenkunde

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.


We spent a fascinating Saturday afternoon at the museum Volkenkunde in Leiden at the Cool Japan exhibition. 


Pokémon, Hello Kitty, robots and samurai – all international icons of Japanese visual culture. Japan is known for its ancient traditions, and yet it is also hip and happening, with occasional extravagant visual excesses. A major exhibition entitled COOL JAPAN: Worldwide Fascination in Focus ... highlights the popularity of contemporary Japan, and places it in a historical context.
The boys didn't need any persuading to visit the museum with the promise of some Pokemon but it was actually so much more and we discovered Samurai, Buddhas, Swords, Dragon masks, Mangas and Hello Kitty. They even got to play computer games too!









Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once - Audrey Hepburn


Point Shoot was previously Friday Focus.

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