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ZINE #612 Mar 2014

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chair/ “chairman” Page 7 events/ “britsoc stand-up music/ “benefit concert” P music/ “classically modern” events/ “social friday” Page 14 a’dam//“city elections” Page sports/ “sochi 2014” Page 20 health/ “yoga” Page 22 sports/ “a’dam rugby” Page britain/ “scotland y?n” Page 3 books/ “good reads” Page 34 food/ “nick and karen” Page 40

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Colophon >

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ISSUE #612

EDITOR IN CHIEF Alison Smith | EDITORIAL BOARD Ian Cherington | John Richardson | Benjamin Arthur |



ADVERTISING SALES Zetterij Jan van den Berg |


PUBLISHED BY John Richardson |





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chairman’s blog/ Mar 2014

Dear Members, It’s always nice to be part of something successful, so it has been a good time to live in this country during the winter Olympics. The celebrations were quite lowkey considering the achievements – the old Olympic flame at the Stadion was lit whenever a gold medal was won, which was a nice touch. I am sure that if team GB had performed so well, the party would have been as big as if we had won the World Cup, which, of course is not due to happen until July! This sets us up very nicely to start on our sports theme for the next few months. There are many BritSoc sporting activities to enjoy - check the website for Squash, Tennis, Sailing, Golf, Badminton, Soft Tennis, etc., and join in. As an introduction to the sports on offer, this month’s edition includes a spotlight on Rugby and Yoga. We will feature other sports in the next issues and welcome any input from you. Keeping fit and joining a social group at the same time sounds like a winning combination. Being Chairman of this society has some perks; like being invited to meet some very interesting people. Last week I was invited to a meeting with the International Marketing Manager of Marks & Spencer, together with our exChairman, Stephen Huyton, and in the offices of our President, John CameronWebb. I was on my best behaviour! We had a fascinating discussion about the presence of M&S here, their experiences in the petrol station sandwich business, and their vision on increasing the British “footprint” in this country in the immediate future. I focussed on some threads between our society and M&S and am very hopeful that we can set up a partnership with them soon. They are positive about some sort of sponsorship deal and, in exchange for some promotion, I aim to secure some advantages for our members while shopping for sausages, crumpets, Scotch eggs or socks in their store. This also sounds like a winning combination, so watch out for the exclusive deals for members soon. It’s been too long since we had a brainstorm session and chatted about where we are as a society or club. I shall be extending an invitation to our committee members to attend an informal get-together soon. Any members who are interested in bringing us new ideas, activities or any useful input, please send me an email and I will include you in the invitations. Or, alternatively, just drop us a line with your ideas or comments and I promise we will discuss them. All the best,

Ian Cherington Chairman

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Britsoc Stand-Up Night

Free to come along free to take part, free to have fun

Vibes CafĂŠ-Cocktailbar

Brits Talk Funny Jan Pieter Heijestraat 137 Amsterdam

Premieres Thursday 27th March 8:30 pm Page 8

Enjoy an evening of Amateur Stand-Up Comedy, Joke Telling, Comedy Monologues or anything even slightly funny or just not too depressing. Laugh to our budding Stand-Up Comedians and even try stand-up yourself. Anyone can have a 5-7 minute spot, though please let me know in advance, so I can plan the evening. Those who are spontaneously funny can tell a joke or story on the night - so “BYOJ”, or choose a free gag at random from “The Hat of Fun” as you enter the bar. Or just come along to hoot, guffaw, roar, shriek, and peal with laughter - the more noise you make, the funnier we are. This is the first annual Britsoc Comedy Event – good jokes are always worth retelling. Paul Huxley - Page 9

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Three opera singers

On Sunday 16th March 2014, at 15.15 Ensemble VI

Ian and I are performing together with friends in the Begijnhof English Reformed church, Amsterdam. The concert is entitled Classically Modern, as we begin with the more classical-traditional and then move to more modern genres in the second half. The performers include opera singers from the Dutch National opera, pianists, and Ensemble VI ; a piano and wind sextet. We guarantee a thoroughly entertaining and varied programme and would of course love to see you there

The tickets will be available in advance or on the door Euro 15 –/ Euro 10 - ( Pas 65+ and children 7-16) . For more detailed information see

See you there Ian and Carole Spencer Page 13

Social Friday Fr

| @The Tara 21

Friday 14th March, 2014

Back to 2nd Friday of the month

No attendance list or Britsoc membership required—so just show up! Sean Jansen

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rom 1:00



Venue: Rokin 85-89, 1012KL Amsterdam Trams: 4,9,14,16,24 and 25 tramstop Rokin. Contact: Tracey Taylor Email:

This venue is a well known bar amongst the expats.

This Irish bar has an interesting variation of rooms mixing from a trendy modern bar to the classic leather armchair corners and fireplaces. We will meet in the far end of the pub where the rear/ back bar area is exiting to the Nes backstreet entrance. Look out for us near the bar wearing a bright pink scarf. Social Fridays is a great opportunity to meet new people or catch up with friends - all welcome.

No attendance list, so just show up!

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The aim of the IBCC is to provide students with an excellent foundation to support their further studies and specialized training, as well as ensuring their success in the workforce. The IBCC combines IB Diploma Programme courses with an approved career-related study and a unique IBCC core that includes approaches to learning, community and service, language development and a reflective project. The BSN is the only school in Holland to receive approved candidate status for the delivery of this new programme from the IBO. On THURSDAY 13TH MARCH, the BSN will be holding an Information Evening for parents who are currently assessing options in relation to their child’s Post-16 education. Following an initial presentation, there will be an opportunity for parents and students to ask further questions and discuss their particular situation with key teaching staff and the Sixth Form team.



OR APPLICATION IS REQUIRED, but if you would like to attend

please register via the on-line form. Page 17

Elections of the

19th of March 2014.

Your rights as

In the Netherlands, the City Ccouncil (Gemeenteraad, GR) is the elected assembly of the municipality. Its main role is laying down the guidelines for the policy of the council of mayor and aldermen and exercising control over its execution by the council of mayor and aldermen. The City Council are elected every four years by the general population. In many municipalities all major political parties contest in the election in addition to local parties. In most major, urban, municipalities all major parties are represented in the city council, while in smaller, rural, municipalities only the largest parties and a local party have seats in the city council.

All citizens and foreigners who live in the Netherlands for at least four years in a municipality have the right to vote and almost all citizens can be elected. The Council meets every second Wednesday at 13:00 and, if necessary, again at 19:30 the same day. These meetings are open to the public and are held in the Council Chamber at City Hall. The meetings begin with a ‘question-time’ session, during which Councillors can ask questions about matters of current interest.

In the Netherlands, elections for the municipal councils take place every four years.

It only has books in Dutch, right? I was so wrong

the entrance stairs, and through the throng of nervous student smokers,

Despite passing the Amsterdam

I held my breath and politely nudged

Public Library numerous times on my power walks, I always thought it was a Dutch library built for the local residents and students.


would go in and rent books, I said to myself, when my Dutch had improved. Parachuting into Venus without an oxygen mask It was my bladder rather than my brain that opened my eyes. I was speed walking past the door when I had the overwhelming urge to visit

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to the little boy’s room. Walking up

my way through their acrid haze (now I know what it must be like to parachute into Venus without an oxygen mask), and in through the revolving door. Dr Who’s library I felt like I was entering Dr Who’s TARDIS, his sentient time-travelling space ship. But instead of the comparatively cramped conditions of his blue police box, I had entered a vast universe of white light.

local government

City Council and District Coucil

an expat to vote EU citizens are entitled to vote in municipal elections under the same conditions as Dutch nationals. As you reside in Amsterdam, you’re allowed to vote for both the City Council (Gemeenteraad) and your District Council (Bestuurscommissie). Local Government sends everyone who is allowed to vote a voting card at their home address. You have to bring this and a valid ID to the polling station on March 19th and you will have the opportunity to vote. If you think you are allowed to vote and haven’t received a voting card at your home address, please contact your local council.

Make sure you count: get out your vote on March 19th Amsterdam has numerous expats living in Amsterdam, for a short period or permanently. Research shows that up to 100.000 ‘Amsterdammers’ are expats. The international community is an integral part of the city of Amsterdam. However, not many expats know that they have the right to vote for local elections. All British residents who are registered, for instance, have the right to vote. Voting is a right. Voting is a basic right and one of the ways to influence local policy. As expats are also concerned with education,

Contacting the Council There are various ways in which Amsterdam’s citizens can get in touch with the City Council. For example, one can: • •

healthcare, safety and housing it is important that they realise that their vote counts. Can I vote? All EU citizens are allowed to vote in the local elections, both for the city council and the district council (“stadsdeel”) they live in. For non-EU citizens there are two categories: if they have lived at least five years in Amsterdam, they are allowed to vote for both the city and the district council. When they have lived here for more than three years, they can only vote for their district council. On the website expats can find out with a few clicks whether they are eligible to vote for the municipal elections on the 19th of March.

Write a letter to the council (known as a ‘council address’). Express an opinion at committee meetings. Approach councillors and/or the political parties or write a letter.

More information:

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Bored oF the rings So why didn’t he look happy? Maybe because of the invoice he got at the end.

Bored of the Rings by Ian Cherington


o another extremely expensive, impressive and contentious sporting event comes to a close.

The power to keep millions glued to their TV sets for 2 weeks does not cease to amaze. OK, so chucking yourself down the luge run at 100 m.p.h. (!!) on a dinner tray, with your chin 2 inches off the ice is incredibly stupid, but really quite amazing to watch and probably quite fun to do. Hope I never try it.

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Skiing cross country and then stopping for a lie down and shooting standing targets really doesn’t look too hard. Maybe you have to be there. And really….sliding blocks of granite along the ice just behind two frantic brooms….who comes up with this stuff? Compared to who can run fastest, jump highest, or throw pointy things

furthest, it’s really no contest, surely? This year’s extravaganza was made unusually interesting because it was in Russia. And just to make it a challenge, the Ruskies held it at their Costa Brava… so no snow, then. The political background was always going to be in the foreground; this was a chance for the world to get a glimpse of how Russia was modernising/westernising under Putin. Never before has the host country’s leader been so involved. It was as if they were Putin’s games, not Russia’s. So why didn’t he look happy? Maybe because of the invoice he got at

And was the engineer responsible for the fourth ring on his way to the salt mines?


A staggering

€35 billion the end……a staggering € 35 billion.

Or do the hungry Russian people pay that?

name; 33 of the top 50 skier’s first name ends in “A”. That’s how you win!

And after all that preparation, during a slightly déjà vu (London) opening ceremony, only 4 of the rings morphed from snowflakes to rings. I thought at the time that the engineer responsible was probably already on his way to the salt mines. Surprising then that the closing ceremony featured a human ring, which also failed to open!! This was Russian humour – fantastic. But I wonder what they would have had us laugh at if all had gone to plan?

IOC chief Thomas Bach said that they were “great games” and the world appears to agree.

Maybe we would have heard more of the Latvian Ice Hockey player who was found guilty of doping offences on his way to losing in the quarter finals. Or the Ukranian skier, who also doped herself up on the way to a uniquely forgettable 35th place. If you are going to cheat, consider changing your

The Dutch certainly enjoyed them. The excellent 5th place was celebrated far too much for serious sportsmen/women, in the now infamous Holland Heineken House. This included the US team appearing on stage with Dutch world champion DJ’s and a presentation in which the Dutch Skating Pursuit team received pieces of the ice lane they had won on. How long would a piece of ice last at a Dutch party on the Costa Brava? Probably longer than Putin’s icy smile. Brrrrr!

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An Introduction to



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An Introduction to

via Natasha at Joyful Yoga Amsterdam

Natasha Georgina Martin is the teacher and founder of Joyful Yoga Amsterdam. Joyful Yoga teaches with a small boutique approach, welcoming a small number of students in per class, believing that your yoga experience should be filled with attention, support, safety and connection. With daily classes in the styles of: Vinyasa Flow, Yin Relax, Balance and Pregnancy Yoga, there are plenty of styles to experience. Joyful Yoga also runs regular workshops, detox programs and health-related events.


o some ‘Yoga’ conjures up images of spiritual junkies and über flexible ladies in Lycra; it evokes the smell of incense and symbolises the latest workout trend. To others, yoga is a release, a journey, an inner exploration, an escape, a relaxant, a good stretch, a moving meditation and a way of achieving balance. It can turn out to be a deeply unique experience for almost every student and so many of them will tell you that they showed up for a workout and left

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with so much more...this is the beauty of yoga. Yoga is an ancient physical and spiritual discipline and a branch of philosophy that originated in India, reportedly more than 5,000 years ago. The Iyengar school of yoga defines it as the ‘joining or integrating of all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul - to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life’. Yoga integrates breathing techniques with physical practices ranging from still, meditative poses to strengthbuilding postures and active, dynamic movement. This combination of

ancient techniques and knowledge has been shown to deliver a wide range of benefits, including: improved sleep patterns, increased flexibility and strength, a desirable posture and a healthy spine. Studies have also shown improvements in the body’s organ function, most notably in assisting with the metabolism and removal of toxins. However, beware, your yoga practice may become a moving meditation, an opportunity to turn off that chattering mind and help you to experience clarity, calm and everyone’s favourite, the ‘present moment’.

Yoga asks us to be stable yet at ease, Committed yet non-attached, fully engaged yet at peace.

health One of the greatest surprises that many experience upon practicing yoga, is the blissful ‘mind-stillness’ and the nowness that naturally occurs during practice. Yoga encourages awareness of breath and movement, it asks students to be ‘conscious’ of how their body feels, as they move and breathe, it also asks students to use the yoga pose to get into their body, not the other way around. This self-awareness brings us closer to ourselves and therefore closer to others, as we begin to extend this awareness to our family, friends, colleagues and communities. Many leading corporations and successful entrepreneurs are integrating yoga into their lives and their businesses. You would not be surprised to hear that the benefits of a regular yoga practice have been shown to elevate mental cognition, decrease stress levels, improve overall health levels (resulting in heightened bodily immunity) and increase the mood, energy and productivity levels of it’s participants. Richard Branson claims to practice yoga every morning before heading to the office and Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn CEO), Russell Simmons (co-founder of Def Jam Records) and Oprah Winfrey claim that yoga makes them better entrepreneurs. The message - discover a yoga practice that unlocks your potential on the mat, at home and in the office.

Plan to give Yoga a(nother) try? •

It’s good to know that classes traditionally last anywhere between 75-90 minutes (this includes the relaxation at the end, which you won’t regret experiencing).

Mats, props, blankets and refreshments are usually provided.

Wear unrestrictive (but not baggy) clothing that allows you to move and don’t forget to remove socks.

Let your teacher know that it’s your first time and do mention any medical and/or health-related problems.

Give yoga several chances and try several classes and teachers. Find a style and teacher that works for you - you won’t look back.

When attending yoga, remember to bring an open mind.

‘Men’ - yoga is for you too! To find out for yourself, join us at ‘Joyful Yoga’ for a complimentary trial class.

Members of BritSoc are invited to join a complimentary yoga class at Joyful Yoga. Please visit the website for the class schedule and to reserve your mat. Alternatively, email Natasha directly:

Follow Joyful Yoga on Facebook at “Joyful Yoga Amsterdam” Email:

Joyful Yoga, Fokke Simonszstraat 45, 1017 TE Amsterdam Page 25

AAC Amsterdam Rugby Club When the British Society of Amsterdam was established in 1920, it was founded by its members for its members to connect English speakers with the aim of promoting social and sporting occasions. With this in mind we will run a series of articles looking at different sports in the Netherlands and how you can participate if you’re interested. Some of the sports will have some recognisably British roots while some may be activities that you may not have considered before.

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sports feature/


ugby in the Netherlands has not always had the greatest success at generating new waves of enthusiasts and sporting greats. In most Dutch clubs you will see a relatively apparent age gap, reflecting eras when there was funding, promotion and heightened interest and eras without. Today, with attention to Dutch national successes on the world stage and the inclusion of the sport into the Olympic games, the ladies sevens team is causing quite a stir. They are opening up doorways to wider audiences (women’s rugby in the Netherlands is growing significantly, AAC ladies could in fact field two teams should they choose). by Andy Symmonds Page 27

sports feature/


hilst it’s not exactly a traditional sport in the Netherlands, Dutch rugby is slowly distancing itself from its sometimes misperceived, stereotypical and negative image (mainly the misguided association with violence). More and more it is being viewed as a sport requiring peak physical conditioning, agility and prowess. What is currently lacking is higher base levels of skills that come from playing rugby from school age, but there is an ongoing injection of skills, junior rugby and fresh knowledge coming from players and coaching from outside the Netherlands.

AAC Rugby really represents a club for all the family. There is a range of junior teams covering all ages, a ladies team and of course the more traditional male teams. When we were there the first XV comfortably beat Rush (Schagen) with a final score of 38-8 in an entertaining and spirited match. As earlier in the day the 2nd XV had comfortably beaten USRS (Utrecht) at home 65-0 and the ladies had beaten URC (Utrecht) 19-5 away. It was a good day for AAC Rugby. The atmosphere post game was warm, with both sides mingling and swapping stories. It was the familiar, old-fashioned blend of players relaxing after a hard afternoon on the pitch with each other and their families and friends, and would have been just as warm had the results not been so positive across the sides. Rugby enthusiasts, serious or amateur, are welcome to join AAC at training or in the clubhouse. One of the biggest challenges that AAC face is the regular departure of expatriates that have played for two or three years then get moved somewhere else. AAC also recognise that they need to positively engage with the expatriate community, and remain keen to encourage new members to visit and join the club. If you are interested in coming down to the club as a player to relight old passions or develop new skills and meet new people then you will be made to feel most welcome. If you are not a player (or retired) but you would like to participate in another capacity (as a coach or staff member) then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. AAC are looking to expand their training, HR, PR and external communications operations. Enthusiasts who feel passionately about rugby, and rugby promotion and who are willing to share their vision and expertise, get on down to AAC!

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If you want to contact the club before visiting the ground, please use the email address shown below. Games are usually played on a Sunday and training is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You will also see the links to the club webpage and their Facebook page: If you are interested in the 2014 Amsterdam Sevens tournament (May 16-18) then there is a wealth of information about the venue, tickets etc. available at the link below:

By Andy Symmonds Page 29



The Great Scottish Independence debate – exclusively in ZINE

With the referendum on Scottish independence coming up on September 18th, should Brits start getting concerned that Great Britain as we know it will soon come to an end? With the polls narrowing in favour of a Yes to Independence vote, and the “Better Together” campaign apparently short of ideas, should we start countenancing the possibility that our country might feel a very different place by 2015? Here at ZINE we thought we’d weigh in on the debate with a series of articles designed to inform and (possibly) infuriate. Over the next 6 months we’ll run a series of pieces about some of the key issues surrounding the Scottish independence question; economic, political, cultural and psychological. But we kick off the series with two opinions from either side of the debate. One in favour of the Union and one in favour of Independence. These set the scene and lay out some of the crucial issues that concern us all. If you’d like to contribute to any future articles and you’d like to share your thoughts please email

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Y?N > Series commissioned by Benjamin Arthur

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Why I would vote NO! by John Donnelly

What could be more democratic than a referendum? Everyone is obsessive about reiterating that it is a democratic exercise. But is it? According to the rules, all UK, Commonwealth and European Union citizens resident in Scotland, together with all overseas serving military and diplomatic personnel registered to vote in Scotland, and over the age of 16, can cast their vote. Does that franchise encompass all the interested parties? Does the decision not affect everyone in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? The state wherein they live will also be changed. Are native-born Scots living abroad not affected? They have family in Scotland who will be affected, and many have plans to return there later in life. Thus, the franchise is less than democratic. The definition of democracy is that all parties should be fully informed of all the implications and be free to cast their vote without any undue outside influence. The implications are so diverse and complex, that it is impossible to answer with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ the simple question, ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’ I tried to list the elements that need consideration and came to 83. How many more elements will be considered by the professional politicians, justices and administrators? Can this complexity be considered conducive to a truly democratic process? Will the voters be casting their votes without any undue influence? When one considers the spurious and on occasion, downright misleading, comments, views and opinions in the various media, not to mention the recent threats about non-membership of Sterling after independence, made by the UK Government, how free are the voters from outside influence? Does misleading, emotional propaganda and political threats not rank alongside

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physical, terrorist violence, negating the concept of democracy? My view is that the referendum is a flawed exercise which is doomed to provide a flawed decision. Like most political collisions, Scots independence is founded upon egos and the play for power. The most powerful ‘for’ arguments bandied about, are emotional, targeting Scots national pride. In its place, national pride is a wonderful, beautiful and admirable thing. It is not however, a sound basis for long-term political and economic stability. In this twenty-first century, we should be building bridges and alliances, not tearing them down. We should be looking outwards to our neighbours and stretching out the hand of friendship and co-operation. In this world of growing globalisation, we must go with the trend; that of strength through partnership. The very first Common market was the United Kingdom. It is not without its flaws, but it has withstood the test of time. Scotland will always be Scotland, whatever the political fripperies wherein she is embedded. They cannae take away our bens, burns, lochs, firths and glens, never mind our good Scots common sense. John Donnelly, (70) a Scot who followed his heart to the Netherlands in 1974. Next year will be married for 40 years; 2 sons, 7 grandchildren. He lives in the centre of Delft. Last gainful employment, European Logistics Manager, Cymer Corp, San Diego Cal., (now a division of ASML). Interests; golf and writing.


Why I’ll be voting YES! by Calum Kerr

Scotland is one of Europe’s oldest nations, with its own distinctive history, culture and sense of identity. Yet within the UK, our ability to run our own affairs is highly limited. On September 18 this year, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change that. We are being asked to vote on whether we wish to become Europe’s newest independent country. I’m confident that the answer will be a resounding Yes. In a way, Scotland has been preparing for independence for the last 15 years, when it took control of most of its domestic affairs with the establishment of its own parliament in Edinburgh. Since then it has put in place groundbreaking legislation including introducing free higher education and prescriptions, freezing local taxes, protecting public services, putting more police on the streets and adopting some of the toughest climate change targets anywhere. These measures all reflect Scotland’s broadly left-of-centre political consensus, which is growing ever more distant from Westminster as the rest of the UK, under a Conservative-led coalition, shifts increasingly to the right. The problem with the current political settlement in Scotland is that it does not allow us to control our own finances, invest our enormous oil and gas revenues, provide the comprehensive childcare our families need or demand the removal of the UK’s nuclear submarine base on the Clyde. We have no say over taxes, benefits, welfare, immigration policy, defence or a host of other things. Nor of course do we have direct member state representation in the EU. A Yes vote would allow Scotland to recast itself as a modern, liberal European nation. There is no doubt we can afford to be independent: we are the eighth richest country in the world and even without oil and gas income, the output per head from our strong and diverse economy is equivalent to the UK average. We’ve also been used as a cash cow by Westminster:

for more than 30 years, we’ve paid more tax per head than the UK as a whole, and have a smaller deficit and more affordable public services. The Scottish Parliament has shown that decision making in Scotland works. It’s also been hugely popular. Independence will allow us to complete its powers and to create a society fully reflecting the wishes and aspirations of the Scottish people. For instance, Scots are markedly more enthusiastic about Europe than other parts of the UK, and independence will allow us to join the EU as its 29th member state. That will benefit our agricultural sector alone by more than €1 billion over the next five years. Similarly, while Westminster wants to close out immigrants, we need and welcome those who choose to make Scotland their home and to work here. This referendum is a choice between two futures. The Scottish Government, which backs independence, has laid out in a 670page document how it would govern after a Yes vote. So we have a highly detailed picture of what an independent Scotland would look like - fairer, more equal, more open, greener, more prosperous and more confident than it is now. We have had no such detail from the No campaign. It is giving no guarantees of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. But its post referendum landscape is already clear more austerity, slashed Scottish budgets, more child poverty and the UK’s promised 2017 EU referendum quite possibly taking Scotland out of the EU against its will. September 18 is the one chance we have to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. We must take it. In doing so, we will energise ourselves and play our own small part in building a better world. The only way is Yes. Calum – like Alex Salmond and Benjamin Arthur a graduate of the University of St Andrews - is married with 3 children. He lives in the Scottish Borders and works for a Global business communications systems company. Heavily involved in the local Yes campaign, he chairs “Yes Scottish Borders” and can be followed on twitter @ calumrkerr. Page 33

Book Blog March 2014 By Beth Johnson


or March, I have perused a number of lighter books as readers sometimes seem to need a boost during these dark winter months. But I will start off with an author recommendation. Siri Hustvedt, wife of Paul Auster and an authority on literature, art, psychology and the neurosciences represents what I love most about reading: books that offer us the opportunity to explore a variety of subjects in depth and good books which feed our curiosity about the world. Whatever Hustvedt writes sets me thinking. What I loved, a novel about New York intellectuals and artists and their personal tragedies, is really a many-layered look at the gap between what one critic called “ the shared story and the individual reading.” This is a theme with which the author has repeatedly wrestled in her other novels The Sorrows of an American and The Summer without Men. Her essays

are brilliant and I can particularly recommend her latest collection called Living, Thinking, Looking. If you are interested in delving into Siri’s musings, you will be most stimulated by the Youtube interview by Paul Auster of Hustvedt concerning the themes of her latest essays. It is a venture into the world of literature and the essence of human beings – accessible and stimulating, both interview and book! The film 12 Years a Slave is receiving much publicity and we have the original book by Solomon Northrup in stock. In the meantime, I dipped into The Invention of Wings, a powerful novel by Sue Monk Kidd, which portrays the plantation life of the Grimké family who lived in Charleston, North Carolina during the early 1800s. At the age of 11, the middle daughter Sarah is presented with her own slave as a gift and her refusal to own another human being eventually shakes the economy of the American Deep South. The storyline is fictional but is based upon the real Grimke sisters who between 1836 and 1838 launched a public crusade against slavery and for the emancipation of women - well before the Civil War. A great read. Don’t miss the epilogue which explains the historical background to the book. As I am off to South Africa for a special family vacation, I picked up Mda gives us a wry and raw look at the new South Africa, through the eyes of Toloki, a “professional mourner” who comforts the grieving families of the victims of the townships’ crimes. A gem of magic realism.

Beth Johnson is the owner of Boekhandel Van Rossum (Beethovenstraat 32 in Amsterdam) which sells a wide range of Dutch and English books. Page 34

Isabel Allende


Isabel Allende has once again changed her writing style, giving us in Ripper a virtual thriller whose multiplicity of characters let us visualize the San Francisco Bay area’s colourful population. Amanda Martin, the daughter of the deputy police chief, manages an on-line game based on the crimes of the Victorian murderer. But as a serial killer suddenly seems to be at work in San Francisco, the amateur detectives switch their focus and get drawn into more than they have bargained for. Allende writes with deceptive accessibility but leaves us with a many-layered story.

Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London The new ghost-busters trend is moving into the Young Adult age group. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch comes highly recommended by Master students of history at the University of Amsterdam. This is a detective with dead people as witnesses, gods and goddesses of the River Thames, and an ancient mystery that threatens to set modern London on fire. There are already two sequels: Moon over Soho and Whispers Underground. Great fun – and if you don’t know London you will be introduced to parts of it you might never know you’d like to visit. Page 35

40 years of graphic experience All graphic and printing services Professional assistance with all your printing demands Or teliusstraat 362hs, 1056 PV AMSTERDAM Tel: 020 6275025 / 06 27305428 E-mail: Member of The British Society of Amsterdam

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ISA campus, main entrance









Setting the stage. At ISA, we believe that great facilities can set the stage for great learning. ISA is housed in a space specially designed for international education. And inspiration. Our facilities include a four-floor library/media center, a 400-seat theatre, science labs and specialist studios for music, art, and drama. More than 400 computers are joined in a school-wide, online network. Students work with laptops and iPads in the classroom. Two state-of-the-art gyms, discovery oriented playgrounds and adjacent playing fields are large, well equipped and secure. ISA’s campus is not a luxury. It’s where ideas are born.

Exciting and developing young minds Sportlaan 45 - 1185 TB Amstelveen - The Netherlands - Tel. +31 20 347 1111 -

Taste Life!

Kingsalmarkt, the world-famous foodstore! We are known for our wide range of products from countries all over the world. ‘Taste life’ is what we call that. Visit us for your favourite American cornflakes, brownies and soups, British jams and honey, Mexican tortillas, Spanish tapas and ham, Italian coffee and pasta and French cheese. Of course you can pick up the rest of your groceries too.

Rembrandtweg 621, 1181 GV Amstelveen-noord, tel. 020 643 37 51 Easily reached by car (free parking) and public transport (5 or 51 tram to Kronenburg) Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9 am – 6 pm Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm

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On March 20th the Keukenhof garden will open its doors and a wonder of the modern world will amaze once again. I’ve found that having this place on our doorstep is one of the joys of living in the Netherlands. Of course the garden is a photography paradise and of the more than 800.000 people who go to enjoy the millions of planted bulbs a solid majority will be carrying some sort of camera. This picture taken in 2013 at the Keukenhof has many of the important elements of a fine flower shot; natural back lighting, selective focus, a shallow depth of field and an explosion of rich, gorgeous colour. If you are a keen photographer – or know of anyone who is – why not join with me on one of my Keukenhof flower photography photowalks, which I will start running in 2014? They involve a full day in the garden receiving photography instruction on elements of composition, light, focus, colour plus some macro work if you have a macro lens.


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The cost is just €95 and includes your entrance ticket to the garden for the full day, transportation from Schiphol plaza on the Keukenhof Express to and from the garden, lunch and a snack. I will need a minimum of 3 participants for each day. There will be a maximum of 6 per group per day. The workshops – subject to demand – will take place on April 21st, April 30th, May 6th and May 8th. Weather contingencies apply. For more information send an email to or just call me on 0683 943 552. Technical details: Nikon D700. Micro Nikkor lens AF-S 105mm 1:2.8G. ISO 100, f/8 @1/250s. Benjamin Arthur – the British Photographer in Amsterdam. More information:

Britsoc Photo Lesson #2 Shooting flora / Mar 2014 Page 39

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Britsoc food correspondent Nick Nugent Reporting from the four corners of the Amsterdam kitchen De Utrechtsedwarstafel Page 41

De Utrechtsedwarstafel


always ask new people who I meet in Amsterdam for their food recommendations as I have grown tired of looking at review websites giving me “wonderful evening” or “Great food and atmosphere” so when I hear the same name twice my brain takes some notice. Utrechtsedwarstafel was one such place for which I had not one or two recommendations, but many. It is set in a back street off the Utrechtsestraat in a street which has a great view of the Carré theatre. We arrived a little late for our reservation but they were ok with it and we got seated in the back portion of the restaurant. I was facing the wall while my partner had a good view of what was going on in the main dining area. We had a very friendly and warm welcome by Hans, the sommelier, and we were introduced to the possible dining options. You can have 3, 4 or 5 courses with level 1 matched wines or the better level 2 matched wines. I asked Hans if there was a level 3 as well and he said if you contact him about 48 hours in advance he can arrange it. So to make sure you get the full picture, of course I had to take the 5 courses plus level 2 wines. This is not the whole story however. After being given the choice and served some pink fizz with a duck rillettes we were then ignored for around 25 minutes. There really is not much to choose from so we had made our choice within the first minute of being told the possible options and, in fact, I had already made this decision anyway having looked in advance at their website. Hans was very busy beavering away with his other guests and we had a waitress occasionally pass by. After finishing our fizz and sitting there for 5 minutes with empty

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*** glasses, we managed to attract the waitress’s attention and we said we were ready to order at which she told us that Hans would be over shortly. We also asked for another glass of fizz at which point she looked a bit shocked but obliged a few minutes later. It took over 40 minutes to place our order for 5 courses plus level 2 matched wines. So at the moment Utretchsedwarstafel will own the worst service badge for 2014 until inevitably another restaurant outdoes them with some fantastic piece of terrible service. I will say the restaurant staff never noticed this delay and we never pointed it out. I will allow some possible excuse that we were a bit late (15 mins) so it may have stacked all the service up against each other. It does not excuse ignoring us for 40 odd minutes. OK rant over. So, as with other long tasting menus, I will give a short summary below with the accompanying wine: 1st Course was a Langoustine and Scallops with a Russian style salad and truffle shavings. As you can imagine this was a very rich dish with lots of distinctive flavours. It was enjoyable although I can really take or leave Russian salad. This was served with a Pieropan Soave 2011 which was sharp and accompanied the dish really nicely. 2nd Course was a fillet of Brill served on a bed of puy lentils and Jerusalem artichoke puree. The fish was cooked perfectly and the puree was delicious. The puy lentils always add an earthy note which sometimes I think fights with the delicate fish flavours but nevertheless it was a nice dish. The wine which was served with this was Fernand Laurent Pillot Noyers Brets Puligny-Montrachet U.V which was a really nice white Burgundy and which had enough earthiness to match up the flavours of the lentils and fish. 3rd Course (we were served this at 10pm our booking was 7:30pm and we arrived at 7:45pm) was duck cooked 3 ways in a very classical French style. We had a confit leg, a

fried portion of breast and a breadcrumbed cube of wing meat all accompanied by roasted vegetables. There were parts of this dish which were great and the breast was particularly well cooked. The confit leg was a bit dry and the cube of wing meat was unremarkable. The vegetables were well cooked and gave a good balance to the dish. Pinot Noir from France is a classic combination with confit and we were served a Pinot, but from Austria - Heinrich Pinot Noir 2008. This has some of the classic flavour of Pinot but with a smooth rounded flavour which can be achieved in the cooler climate of Austria. I was surprised and enjoyed this one a lot. 4th Course was a slab of Fois Gras which was served with a Domain de Baumard Quart de Chaume which is a sweet white from Loire made from Chenin Blanc. I had actually been to a vineyard very close by to this last year on my holiday and had a Domain de Milhoudy version which I have in my rack at home. It was trying to hit the classic combination which is normally Sauternes with Fois Gras. It worked pretty well. The dessert was a meringue with white chocolate mousse, orange compote and Rooibos sorbet. The meringue/white chocolate combination was very rich and luckily there was not too much of it. The oranges were too bitter for me. The ice cream, since I don’t particularly care for Rooibos tea, was not my thing. Overall I was not impressed with the dessert. Since we had a late start and the preliminaries were so slow, we were the last to leave the restaurant and, in fact, they were cleaning up by the time we actually got the bill and were able to leave. The restaurant itself is a very intimate place with good lighting if you are having a romantic evening. It has a clean bistro style with the wine dominating the dÊcor. I really wanted to like this place and the food. I have to say that some of the dishes were pretty good, but the combination of ignoring us, the price for this (we did not get change from 350 euros) and a few average dishes mean that I cannot give it a good rating. I think it is worth another visit to give them the benefit of the doubt. I will report back if it is better a second time. Contact:


Restaurant De Utrechtsedwarstafel Utrechtsedwarsstraat 107-109 1017 WD Amsterdam Phone +31 (0)20 6254189 Mobile +31 (0)6 20 44 75 59 Email Reservations in advance are recommended! Open: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 07:00 PM. But every day available for Private Dining. Page 43

Roast Vegetable Crumble with Cheese Sauce and Ham

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food glorious/ Karen Vivers

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food glorious/ K

aren Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen. The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes. Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat. As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate Food Blogger and works freelance as a Culinary Consultant, specialising in small and medium businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

Roast Vegetable Crumble with Cheese Sauce and Ham

Recipe inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I often get asked about it. And, I often think that I disappoint with my answers. Yeah, OK, sometimes I do have a crowd pleasing, glamorous answer. Sometimes I have conjured up the idea for a recipe whilst curled up, Nigella style, sipping hot tea and gazing out over a freezing Amstel river dreaming of my Italian summer holiday. Thinking of that warm evening breeze tumbling over rocks on the Amalfi coast, the ebb and flow of a lapping Mediterranean sea. My mind drifts back to that simple pasta. Just a few ingredients, simple and fresh, how do they do that? I must do it too. I have even been known to be inspired by a fantastic 7 course Michelin star meal. In awe of the technique, the ability to transform, to innovate, to create. These are the sources of inspiration that folks, some folks, want to hear about. In the main though, I notice that my inspiration comes from certain areas:-



Obsession over food or an ingredient


Food Memory/Nostalgia



So, I may be joking about greed. Although, not too much. I do think about food a lot, an awful lot. I could eat all the time. I plan my meals obsessively. My mind gets stuck like an old record player (remember those) on an ingredient, how to use it, or an unfinished recipe. This obsessive behaviour, combined with my food nostalgia led to the development of this savoury crumble recipe. Through the autumn, I got a bit involved shall we say in fruit crumble. It started, quite innocently, when I made

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some apple crumble for friends who were coming round for Sunday lunch. Nothing wrong with that. Something happened though, I took my first mouthful of the hot oozing apple, just enough bite left in it, just enough ooze, I felt the crumble crunch. It tingled in my mouth and seasoned the apple with a little sweetness. Then the hit of the cold, sweet vanilla ice cream (it has to be ice-cream). I was sold. It started. Peach crumble, plum crumble, apple and plum crumble, apple and pear crumble, oh and don’t get me started on all those berries. My crumble cravings kept going through the winter, then it struck me. I had been allowing the ingredient ‘chicory’ to rattle around in my head, hoping that I would think of a few nice flavour combinations and then come up with a recipe. Rattling around along with chicory was a recipe my mum used to make. She wrapped leeks in ham, covering them (smothering actually) in cheese sauce and baking until the cheese sauce bubbled up and browned. These thoughts, somehow combined with my ingredients and gave me a eureka moment. Crumble can be savoury as well as sweet! The recipe was born.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes Ingredients for 6 to 8 servings For the Roast Vegetables 3 x tbsp olive oil 8 x heads of chicory, stalks removed and sliced in half, lengthways 4 x leeks, halved lengthways, and cut into 10cm / 4 in. lengths 4 x shallots, sliced 200gr / 7 oz. of sliced ham Salt and pepper For the Cheese Sauce 3 x large garlic cloves chopped finely 40gr / 1.4oz. plain flour 40gr / 1.4oz. unsalted butter 500ml / 1pt. skimmed milk (half fat) 250gr / 8.5 oz. strong cheese like mature cheddar or aged Gouda, grated Salt to taste (if needed) For the Crumble Topping 100gr / 3.5 oz. plain flour 100gr / 3.5 oz. whole meal flour 100gr / 3.5 oz. unsalted butter 100gr / 3.5 oz. parmesan, grated plus about an extra handful of grated parmesan to sprinkle over the top of the bake. 2 x tbsp fresh thyme leaves ½ tsp of salt

food glorious/ Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. 2. Place the chicory, leeks and shallots in a roasting tray. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, mix through and place in the oven for about 20 minutes (check after 15) or until the vegetables have browned and give little resistance to the tip of a sharp knife. 3. Whilst the vegetables are roasting you can prepare the cheese sauce and the crumble. To make the cheese sauce. •

Melt the butter on a medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Not a non-stick pan.

Add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute until it softens a little. Try not to let it brown as it will affect the colour of your dish and may become bitter in flavour.

Add the flour and mix it into the butter using a metal whisk. The flour will take up all the butter and turn into a blob, almost like dough.

Add about 1/3 of the milk and whisk vigorously. It will be a bit lumpy at first, but don’t worry, it will become smooth if you keep whisking.

Then add the next third of the milk and whisk through until it becomes smooth and then the last third. Leave it to cook on a low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring your smooth sauce with a wooden spoon.

Then add the grated cheese and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally.

Check for seasoning and add some salt if needed.

6. The bake should then return to the oven (200°C / 400°F) and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the topping has browned and become crispy.

Tips and Variations • •

• •

I like to serve this bake with a simple green salad and some vinaigrette. You can prepare the bake in advance and bake it in the oven when you wish to serve it. The baking time may take a little longer as it is being heated from cold. If you are making everything together and baking it straight away, it is easiest to keep the oven on. Try and use an oven proof dish that is quite shallow, otherwise the cooking time may differ, and you may find that you have a thick layer of crumble that gets a bit soggy underneath.


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4. And then to make the crumble. •

In a large bowl, mix the two types of flour and butter together by rubbing it through your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Then, with a metal spoon, stir through the parmesan, thyme and salt.

5. The last stage is to build the vegetable bake. Add a little salt and pepper to your vegetables and mix through, taste to check the seasoning is correct. Pour your vegetables from their roasting tray into an oven proof dish. Shred the ham and spread it over the vegetables. Pour the cheese sauce over, evenly. Then sprinkle over your crumble, also evenly, and then the parmesan over the top.

The Cooking Coach Love Food, Live Healthy Mobile : 06 1424 0009 Email: Page 47


corner Painting drab white catkin dust swirls onto sprigs of grass rivulets of lemons and limes coalesce orange lilies, pink, honeysuckle, red peonies Cotswold cottage garden pollinated by streaks of yellow and black hints of brown intrude dandelion clocks become willow-the-wisps infusing summer with a greyish hue chrysanthemums and asters bloom black speckles spread from senescing maple leaves morning chills visceral white Š Dave Thomas 2014

Dave Thomas & John Richardson Page 48


Dry Flood My heart sinks not a dry eye in the house my mind floods Atlantis Titanic Floodocalypse I fought the un-fightable against the tide of unbelievers in my wellies and won It lingers sneers at my sandbags then drifts back into the unfathomable snow on the way nice Š John Richardson 2014

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7 billion frogs sitting on one lillypad Page 50

March Zine 2014  

The monthly digital glossy magazine from the British Society of Amsterdam

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