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Here in Holland Why the Dutch are Different
April 06, 2018 Andy Clark
This time in the podcast Ben Coates the author of Why The Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands. Ben talks about the chance encounter that brought him to the Netherlands and the weird and wonderful experiences he went through get to know his new home. If you like Here in Holland why not become a patron? For a small monthly contribution you’ll be supporting the show and with more patrons then I'll have the chance to make more shows and try new stuff. Become a patron today Links: Here in Holland email: Subscribe in iTunes or Android app of choice. Now on Spotify
This time in the podcast Ben Coates the author of Why The Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands. Ben talks about the chance encounter that brought him to the Netherlands and the weird and wonderful experiences he went through get to know his new home. If you like Here in Holland why not become a patron? For a small monthly contribution you’ll be supporting the show and with more patrons then I'll have the chance to make more shows and try new stuff. Become a patron today Links: Here in Holland email: Subscribe in iTunes or Android app of choice. Now on Spotify

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:03Hey podcast listeners, Andy Clark here. Before we start the show, just a word from our sponsors. Oh, hang on, wait a minute. There. Antone sponsors. That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I've joined a new US platform. It's called Patrion and the tooth by independent producers like me to try and generate some income I love making here in Holland, but as you'd appreciate it does take time and effort and they'd like to be able to expand and do more. Uh, but I do need to try and generate some kind of income from the podcast if possible. So I'm offering you deal listeners the chance to become my benefactors, my patrons. You can become a here in Holland, patron and you can do that from as little as a euro per month actually states a US platform. So everything's in dollars, but you get the drift. And if you could stretch to 2:50 a month, then I'll chuck in some extras as well for that too.

Speaker 1:0:57And there are more options as well. There's a link in the show notes and on my website here in Holland, So if you can spend a bit of cash and you're enjoying the show, then why not become a patron? The first person to sign up as a patron. We'll get a shoutout and I'll keep doing that for every 10th person who signs up. Let's see how quickly we can get to the first hundred. It would be awesome. Alright, that's the end of the message from the sponsor Hay and that could be you and now on with the show, moving to a new country comes with a bit of disorientation, new language, new ways of doing stuff. It can all seem a bit confusing to say the least, and this is certainly true if the Netherlands early experiences challenge preconceptions and can be a little disconcerting for Britt. Ben Coats a particular day early on in his life with the Dutch, threw up one after another of these weird episodes. First as he was crossing the road in Rotterdam

Speaker 2:2:05and then suddenly there's police ran, appeared and came screeching to a halt and the policeman jumped out and started shouting at me and ducks and realized I didn't understand and switched to English. And there was this whole sort of comedic moments of us not understanding each other.

Speaker 1:2:17Turns out Ben was simply crossing the road in the wrong place, and the policeman, for some reason decided to make a big deal of it. Hardly a major incident, but typical of an awkward exchange which ends up playing on your mind. And the same day, just as Ben was about to go into his house,

Speaker 2:2:35my next door neighbor was standing on her doorstep waiting to tell me off that I had been putting the band in the wrong place and that I haven't sorted the rubbish properly in the streets. And even inside the house it didn't stop. Then there was a note from another neighbor saying, uh, that I haven't done a good job of cleaning the windows and perhaps what I'd like to try this firm to keep my windows clean and my house better in future. It's safe to say that Ben's early experiences

Speaker 1:3:00were not exactly what he'd expected. Just why are the Dutch so different? He began to think, and it was a thought that was to send him on a journey of discovery. And in the end, it resulted in a book. Yes, podcast listeners. In this episode, I'm joined by British author Ben Coats and he describes what he found when he went toe to toe with the Dutch.

Speaker 2:3:24My Name's Ben Coats. I'm the author of a book called why there's such a difference. A journey into the head and heart are the Netherlands, uh, as you may be able to hear. I'm British by birth, but I moved to live in the Netherlands about seven or eight years ago. I'm actually ended up here without much planning or four sites you could say I was on holiday in the Caribbean and I met a young Dutch woman and we had a nice chat and I managed to get her email address, but nothing much more than that. And then about six months later I was on a plane that was diverse. It's Amsterdam during bad weather. And I found myself trapped in Amsterdam with a foot of snow on the ground and know where to go and all the hotels full. So I sent this lady an email and said, hi, do you remember me from months ago? Perhaps you'd like to have coffee or a dinner or something, and I ended up never getting the next flights and seven or eight years later I'm still here and we're now happily married together and living in the Netherlands.

Speaker 1:4:19Yeah. That's quite some story. And now you've written a book. Why the Dutch are different? A journey into the hidden heart of the Netherlands. Can you give me the kind of snapshot summary And then we'll obviously we'll talk about more about what's in the book a further up in the podcast, but give me the kind of 32nd summary of the book.

Speaker 2:4:36Sure. Well, like a lot of people, I think before I moved to the Netherlands, I knew little bits around the country, but mainly just the sort of cliched stuff, so the the clogs and the ice skating and the bicycles and the tulips and the windmills, but not much more than that. And I quite quickly realized that when it came to quite important things about the culture or the history or the politics of the Netherlands, I was a little bit clueless properly to be honest. Like quite a lots of people who live outside the country or the already visit briefly and when I tried to start to learn more, I found that a lot of the books that are already out there are either incredibly thick historical books where you can read two and a half thousand pages about what type of paints rembrandt used or it's a bit too much.

Speaker 2:5:23Yes or there. There are some that are a bit more lighthearted but then are perhaps almost too lighthearted for my tastes, a little bit. Know the Dutch cheese, hilarious with their cookies, but you don't actually learn that much about the country, so I decided to try and fill that gap a little bit. Spent a year or so traveling around the Netherlands, talking to people, visiting all sorts of places. Doing some fairly sort of serious investigative, investigative reporting, but also a lot of fun stuff. Going to carnivals and having a bit too much to drink and that sort of thing. And then wrote this book.

Speaker 1:5:57So tell me something about the Netherlands that kind of knocks you for six when you first arrived. Something that really threw you with a bit of a rude awakening.

Speaker 2:6:05Well, I think the obvious sort of rude awakening, which a lot of people probably have is that Dutch people can be, dare I say a bit rude and the famous Dutch directness. Yes, believe it or not. And I remember one day not long after I arrived, I went to have a haircut in the morning and then I went to the office to do some work and I walked in the door and one of my colleagues, a nice young lady who's a good friend of mine, the first thing she said was, oh, you've been to the hairdresser. It looks better before you and I don't like it very much or something like that. And I was rather taken aback and I thought, you know, what am I done to offend this room? She'd been so horrible to me, but then I quickly realized you didn't really mean it that way. It's just the famous Dutch directness. So I think that's something probably that strikes a lot of visitors or people that know Dutch people is there is just this culture of straight talking, telling it like it is to a Brit in particular. I think that can seem a bit, shall we say undiplomatic sometimes.

Speaker 1:7:03What sort of preconceptions did you have before you came here and how were they a burst as well?

Speaker 2:7:08Well, I think like a lot of people, probably one of the main con preconceptions I had was that the Netherlands was this incredibly tolerant, liberal, environmentally friendly sort of place where everyone cycles everywhere and recycling of votes for green parties and that kind of thing. And I quickly realized that I think like a lot of cliches that certainly has a bit of truth to it and a lot of the Dutch are quite liberal and tolerant and laid back, but inevitably it's also a bit more complicated that than that. And it is in lots of ways quite a conservative country and you certainly have plenty of right wing politicians and some fairly intense debates about immigration and those kinds of things. The environmental record is impressive in some ways if you look at the recycling bins outside your house for example, but in other ways you go to the big ports and harbors and Rotterdam where there's all these huge smoking chimneys and oil refineries and oil tankers coming and going and you see that in the Netherlands, environmental record isn't actually as great as it sometimes seems and so I think that whole cliche around liberalism and tolerance and being generally a bit left wing is in some ways true, but also lots of ways very exaggerated.

Speaker 1:8:21Okay. Can you give me an example of something that kind of directly challenged that for you that kind of made you think, okay, there's the anything goes Dutch society, which I may have had these ideas about isn't really the case in reality given can, can. Can you give me an example of something that kind of changed your mind on that? Well,

Speaker 2:8:39there's one funny, very small minor example. I think it's in the book somewhere. We're not long after I arrived, I was walking through roster down from my house and I went across the road and then suddenly this police ran, appeared and came screeching to a halt and the policeman jumped out and started shouting at me in and realized I didn't understand and switched to English and there was this whole sort of comedic moments of asthma understanding each other and I assumed they were looking for some serious, terrible criminal or something and it made some mistake, but it turned out I had just crossed the road in a place where I wasn't supposed to cross the road and not looked at the traffic lights correctly. And then in the Netherlands. Sorry. Yes, that was standard practice here. Yeah. And then immediately after that I walked back to my house and I got home and my next door neighbor was standing on her doorstep waiting to tell me off that I had been putting the been in the wrong place and that I hadn't sorted the rubbish properly in the street. And then I went inside and there was a note from another neighbor saying that I haven't done a good job of cleaning the windows and perhaps what I'd like to try this firm to keep my windows clean and warehouse better in future. So I quickly, that was probably an extreme series of events that doesn't have for every day that I quickly started to think, okay, maybe these people aren't quite as laid back and easy going as I initially thought.

Speaker 1:9:58And where were you living at the time?

Speaker 2:10:00This was in Rotterdam, so when I moved to the Netherlands, I lived in the Hague for a little while and then in Rotterdam for about five years. And then I've just quite recently moved out to live in the countryside.

Speaker 1:10:12Okay. And you talk a little bit, I think you mentioned in the book as well about sort of social conservatism and how that can be as big surprise in the beginning for, for internationals for ex pats in the Netherlands. Can you explain a little bit about that?

Speaker 2:10:25Yeah, that's another interesting one. As I said before, I think the cliche is that the Dutch are very laid back and easy going and let everyone do whatever they want and that's partly true, but it also strikes me as quite a conservative country in some ways. So for example, people are very careful with their money and they don't like running up debts and even quite wealthy people don't tend to see them driving a very flashy car or having a big expensive watch on even very rich people live in fairly small modest houses. Um, so it's quite financially conservative you could say in that way. And I also think people's outlook is sometimes a bit conservative in the, with a small c sense of the word. So Dutch people tend to have quite close knit social networks and they're quite close to their families. They go and see their grandma or their auntie every week.

Speaker 2:11:15If it's someone's birthday, they have to drop everything and go around and sit in a circle drinking, listen, little cups of coffee for hours to celebrate some distant relatives birthday. Uh, and everybody's hand in the. Exactly. Exactly. I'm sure many people know the, the, there's quite a lot of focus or sort of keeping your house neat and tidy and the hedges trimmed and the windows washed and so it, it's definitely, I mean it's not a police state or anything like that, but there's definitely under this veneer of easy going liberalism, there's quite a dense web of sort of social rules that I think in some ways can be quite conservative in terms of people that are expected to live in a reasonably conformist way and keep their affairs in order and keep things neat and tidy and support their family and be kind to the neighbors and all that kind of thing.

Speaker 1:12:06And how did that make you feel then when you first came here and you were confronted with that, you started to live with all of that? Uh, you know, how did you, how did you kind of deal with all that?

Speaker 2:12:17Well, I mean, the, the downside is that it can be slightly confusing at first to fit in. I realized suppose you get that. I've lived in a few other countries in EU in other places as well. Um, the, this web of strange rules and conventions can be a bit tricky to navigate, particularly if it goes against the cliche in the way that it does here, but in other ways I think it's quite a nice thing. And the fact that, for example, lots of Dutch people have quite a close social network and they often live in the same town or quite close to where they grew up in a still good friends with their friends from school and from university and quite close to their family. That means that sort of once you're in, you're in and it's quite easy to build quite a close network of friends or to be part of someone's family and to be invited to things. So that way it's a very welcoming, warm place as well.

Speaker 1:13:08A lot of ex pats though, say they find it difficult to settle in the Netherlands. I mean, if you look at surveys that quite often, the Dutch, uh, the Netherlands scores very highly on facilities and everything works and the trains and you can get from one side of the country to the other end in an hour and a half. Everything works really well, but people sometimes struggle on the social side, making Dutch friends or they find it difficult to really settle here. Uh, did you come across that at all?

Speaker 2:13:34I didn't too much. I think I, it probably helps that I moved here and sort of almost immediately had a Dutch partner and got married to a Dutch person and had all of the in laws and the social life that comes along with that, which probably helps. Obviously everyone's experience is different. I think in some ways the Netherlands can be too easy to live here. As a foreigner it's perhaps part of the problems. So you move to somewhere like Amsterdam or The Hague and you get a job with an international organization or with a big company where you can work in English and speak English. You can go to the clubs or the extra bottles of the ex parte pub quiz night. You can live in a city like Amsterdam or The Hague for years and years without ever having to speak a word of English at all. The

Speaker 1:14:22I would have Dutch, I think you mean.

Speaker 2:14:24Yeah. Well, sorry. Yes. That probably would help at all the people in the shops and the supermarkets and the train stations will all speak English immediately. Switch languages, maybe even speak English as the first option in a city like Amsterdam and so that makes it very nice and very easy to move here, but it also means that there's not this kind of automatic forcing you to integrate the way that perhaps I think if you move to Paris, say for example, and he didn't speak a single word of French, you would very quickly before to learn some French and fits in with that culture. Whereas if you move to the Hague with a one year contract to work for Unilever or something, then you could just very easily do that and have an it as a extended holiday in the Hague without ever being under that kind of pressure to integrate.

Speaker 1:15:16Yeah, I think that's a good point. I think that many internationals do. They kind of get here and have a great start and everything is easy like you say and then. But if they're here for a longer term, you know, people who I've talked to have been here for kind of, you know, five years or more, they start to have this kind of uneasy feeling a little bit, especially if they haven't learned to speak the language where the. It kind of all feels a bit superficial.

Speaker 2:15:38Yeah, I think that's probably quite common and it's probably inevitable in some ways and you probably get the same thing if you live in any country in the world, but I think maybe it's more common in the Netherlands. That is some other places. I'm not sure there's any easy solution to it. I think it's, it's my advice to anyone who feels stuck in that position. If I could dare to give some, would be. I think to learn the language makes an enormous difference. To get to be anything like fluent is very difficult but evil. If you can just order a drink and have a few words of the person at the checkout in the supermarket and slightly follow what's happening in the conversations around you on the train, that makes a huge difference to feeling like you fit in and the other thing I think, again, maybe it's obvious, but just try and sort of learn a bit about of the country and if you're living in one of the big cities, try and escape a little bit and have some days out where we can enjoy in other places in the country. Try learn a bit about the the history and the culture and the way things work here and not sort of always stay in that little bubble of imovie between the triangle of your house, your job, and your favorite bar and it's never really escaped from it.

Speaker 1:16:48You're listening to Ben Coats the author of why the Dutch are different, a journey into the hidden heart of the Netherlands. In a minute, we'll hear about what people think of this scrutiny from an outsider.

Speaker 2:17:00I mean it's potentially quite a sort of brave or foolish or a bit of a rude thing to do, someone else's country and they write a book

Speaker 1:17:08well from Ben in just a minute and a quick reminder to subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already and please recommend to family and friends. It's available at all good podcast apps and also now on June in and on spotify and did you know you can become a patron of the show to help here in Holland. Keep going and maybe expand into new things for the price of a cup of coffee and a stroke baffle per month. You can really help support the show. I'm calling this level stroke baffle patron level and there's even a big cheese level to intrigued. Check out the notes, the show notes in the podcast, and you can see the link there and find out how you can become a patron for as little as a euro month, although huge amounts are also acceptable. Of course, I'll give an audio shout out in the next podcast to the first person to sign up and we'll keep doing that for every 10th person. Let's see how quickly we can get to the first hundred. If you can support the podcast, this would be much appreciated. Okay. Back to the interview. Um, the title of your book is why the Dutch are different to journey into the hidden heart of the Netherlands. So it begs the obvious question. I'm different to what, uh, and, and, and why are they then different?

Speaker 2:18:24Well, it's a good question. I'll, I'll try those. Give away the whole theme of the book and give it away. Give it away. I suppose. I think it probably comes down to three key ways that the Dutch are different. The first and most obvious one would I guess be because they're different from the rest of the world, different from the society and culture and attitudes are very different from places like Britain or America or even Germany or Belgium. Secondly, perhaps a bit more interestingly, I think is how the Dutch a different from the cliches and from how the rest of the world views them. So we discussed that a little bit already. The, the cliche is the rest of the world has about this tolerant, hippie sort of woodstock writ, large land of cycling and recycling about, as we said, not completely true. I think that that's very interesting to me.

Speaker 2:19:17The ways in which those stereotypes and cliches are true, but also the ways in which the Dutch, uh, different from those cliches that the rest of the world has about them. And thirdly, finally, I think there's something interesting about how the Dutch are different from how they used to be. So historically the Netherlands did, I think live up live more to that. Basically say that stereotype of being liberal and tolerant. And he had, for example, in politics, Dutch politics, which for years very consensual and tolerant and based around respect and debates and centrist politicians doing deals in back rooms and in just in the last 10 or 15 years or so, you've seen that upset quite radically by people like pim for town here at builders and the whole political debate has gotten much more intense and that's caused a real challenges and problems around things like immigration and what the rules should be around regulating coffee shops and drug use and prostitution. And so that that's another way I think the Dutch are different. Is there different from how they themselves used to be not so long ago?

Speaker 1:20:24Is that something typically touch them, that they're always kind of, you know, kind of they always doing unexpected things, you know, the original cliches, I guess we're a bit unexpected, super liberal and then just as everybody expects the Dutch to continue being liberal, they kind of changed tack again and do something else, which is a bit kind of left field.

Speaker 2:20:43Yeah, that's an interesting point. I think the way Dutch politics works is very much based on coalition forming and consensus and negotiation and debates between lots and lots of small parties rather than just a couple of big ones who sort of battle it out in a big bloody tug of war. And what effect of that is that when you're having these coalition negotiations, there is a lot of room to introduce unusual policy ideas or to trial new policies on a small scale in a way that perhaps there isn't in other countries. And one result of that is you don't very often get enormous big political shifts in the Netherlands. So you don't get these people like, I don't know, Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan who come in and promising to smash out the system and do everything differently, um, because they have to negotiate and form a coalition and compromise on their views. But then the flip side of that is there's a lot of space there for if you have a, uh, an idea to trial that the government should, for example, start growing its own cannabis to sell to people that you need it for medical reasons. Then you can put that forward in the coalition negotiations and it will be perhaps accepted and trialed and if it works it'll be expanded and if it doesn't work it will be forgotten. I think that's quite different from how it works in a country like Britain for example.

Speaker 1:22:00Yeah, it's a lot more pragmatic. I guess that's also a cliche about the Dutch, but pragmatic, practical, try things out and be prepared and open to try maybe different solutions out and if they don't work then you just walk away from it.

Speaker 2:22:13Yeah, absolutely, and in many ways I think that's very admirable and one of the reasons why the Netherlands has been so successful for such a small country with relatively few natural resources to become so fantastically rich and well known. That's one of the big reasons for it, but I mean on the flip side you could say there's a disadvantage to that and that's one reason why perhaps the Netherlands has had challenges around things like immigration and asylum recently is because there's. There's too much emphasis on backroom dealing and always trying to find a moderate middle way and no one who ever sort of dares to stand up and say something different.

Speaker 1:22:50And what about the response to your book from Dutch people, the Dutch people think about being analyzed by this Brit, who uh, who is now here and traveling around and looking and then writing these things about. And what sort of responses have you had from Dutch people?

Speaker 2:23:04That's a good question. I was quite nervous when the book came out, I have to say because I'm very aware of it.

Speaker 1:23:09Well you don't. You'd already been told off about not washing your windows and now you're going to written a whole book. So yeah,

Speaker 2:23:14exactly. And it's, I mean it's potentially quite a sort of brave or foolish or maybe rude thing to do to lose to someone else's country and they write a book that includes a lot of praise for the good things to come. She does, but also can be quite critical about some of the things you don't like our day that's kind of asking for trouble. So it was a bit nervous about, do I have to say the receptionist actually been extremely good from Dutch people. I've had dozens, probably hundreds of emails from Dutch people who've read the book and I think literally maybe three or four of them were and the other 95, 98 percent were very positive.

Speaker 1:23:51Go on. Then. I have to ask you about the negative.

Speaker 2:23:55Well, funny actually I assumed that the negative emails would be about things like, I don't know, immigration or drug use or these prostitution or euthanasia or really controversial political issues that people would weigh in on. But actually the big one that people seem to keep coming back to is about the environment of the Dutch landscapes. So, um, I mean I'm someone who. I lived in the city, I work in the city, but I really liked being out in the countryside and going cycling and mountain biking and running and that kind of thing. For me, that was one of the challenges we've been to the Netherlands was I think from an international perspective, it's basically one big suburb and less certainly some beautiful patches of countryside. And some nice big green areas of flat polar and so on, but it's very hard to find anywhere in the Netherlands where you're ever more than 500 meters from a power line or a train line or a shell petrol station or a tarmac road. And even if you go to these places that dark people think of as great wildernesses like the beast, partial, the whole Availa. It will be flat and filled with tarmac cycle lanes and footpaths through it all and all very neatly trimmed with a coffee shop where the car park and the rest of it.

Speaker 1:25:17Yeah, people didn't. Thank you.

Speaker 2:25:21I've had numerous emails. Dutch people say, what the hell are you talking about? You've clearly clearly never been to this park in the center of The Hague where they have 10 different sorts of trees. And let's just say that I think when people talk about wilderness or wild places or mountain biking or hiking those words in slightly different ways than say a or a German or French press avoid.

Speaker 1:25:45But the response was largely positive. Thought. You said that most people, uh, talked to the bulk and then they're there. They liked it.

Speaker 2:25:51Yeah, absolutely. And I think as with anything, there's probably not many people who read it and agree with literally every single word in the whole book, but even those who disagree with bits of it would think that there's a lot of truth in that. And um, I think for, for Dutch people it's interesting to see how their country looks through the eyes of an outsider. Someone who comes from a different background, a different perspective can sometimes point out things that are odd or unusual or don't quite make sense in a way that someone who's just up being used to the way we count.

Speaker 1:26:25Is there something about the Dutch that you still don't get his ass still something that you think, whether it's a social thing or where you think that that is something I will never really truly understand?

Speaker 2:26:36That's a good question. I think what are the key ones for me is this sense of sort of personal privacy, I suppose you could say. So it comes back to the direct list. I guess that's still, sometimes it takes me aback the fact that Dutch people are just so open and outspoken about everything. Um, for example, I went for a drink last week with a friend who, um, was, well I wouldn't go into details because I'm British, but they were having some medical issues and we sat in this bar having a beer and they just talked extremely loudly and extremely openly about their medical problems and the doctor said this and the nurse at this and they were going next week for this test for that. Although we're sort of looking nervously around wondering what the people on the next table won't be thinking about all this. And that type of thing still still catches me out. I think sometimes this complete openness of willingness to just accept everything is today's never can do what they want, say what they want.

Speaker 1:27:33And, and what are your plans now? Hey, do you have plans for any new books?

Speaker 2:27:37Yeah, I'm actually, I'm just finishing writing up a second one, which is a sort of semi sequel to the first book. So it's called the ride following Europe's greatest river from Amsterdam to the Alps and there's basically in the, in the first book, there's quite a bit about the Dutch landscape of the way that the Dutch relationship with water and the fact that there's flooding and water everywhere affected everything from the number of windmills to the way the political system is designed. And so building on that theme I set out from my house in the Netherlands to basically follow the waters and follow the river all the way through the Netherlands and continuing into Germany and France and Switzerland all the way up into the Alps. And so there's a lot of stuff, a lot more stuff in there about the, the Dutch, their history and culture and the way that the water has shaped up, but also similarly the Germans and the French and the Swiss and the Austrians and a bit of stuff in there about what the Dutch think of the Germans and the French think of the Dutch and all those kinds of international perspectives.

Speaker 1:28:41Okay. That's got potential for, uh, for all kinds of controversial response.

Speaker 2:28:47Yeah. I lied to make me a lot of friends or a lot of other Leesville that wait and see.

Speaker 1:28:52And when's that coming out

Speaker 2:28:53that? Well, we're finishing the editing at the moment. So it will be towards the end of the summer. I think probably September.

Speaker 1:28:58Just let me ask you a couple of questions to finish off with. Um, if, if, if ex pats are sort of struggling to come to terms with the, with the Netherlands, you know, because it, it is a bit of a kind of a mind twister. When you first arrive here, what, what, what would you say to them?

Speaker 2:29:14I would say if you haven't already, try and get out of the city or wherever it is you're living. Try to visit a few different places and see different sides of the diverse. So if you're living somewhere like Amsterdam or the hake for example, go to somewhere like Rotterdam, which is completely different. Modern industrial city. Go out into the countryside and see the folders and the farmers and the cheese forms. Go to the coasts, try and really explore the country a bit rather than just staying a little expat bubble.

Speaker 1:29:43Oh, and what's one of your favorite things to do in the Netherlands?

Speaker 2:29:46Well, it's maybe an original choice, but I, I'm always very drawn to the coast. I think the Dutch coast is one of the country's best kept secrets. Certainly before I moved here I had no idea that there was hundreds and hundreds of miles of these beautiful sandy beaches where you can walk and run and if it's warm enough to swim or surf a really world class beaches, I think. So that's still one of my favorites is just whatever the sun comes out on those two days a year when it does, is to head to the seat.

Speaker 1:30:17Okay. So, so when you look back then when you got that email after meeting the Dutch woman who went onto become your, your wife, you were traveling in beliefs and then. Yeah, through that, uh, that moment you ended up here, you have no regrets and no plans to leave the Netherlands, I guess

Speaker 2:30:32now certainly they regrets are very glad I didn't lose that scrap of paper with the email address on it and no plans to leave or just bought a new house out in the Dutch countryside, which I've never fixing up with my wife, so I guess I'm stuck here now for a while. At least

Speaker 1:30:49that's British author Ben Coats. He was stranded by a snowstorm in the Netherlands whilst passing through and never left. It was eight years ago, and since then he's been on a major journey of discovery in the country and has written the book. Why the Dutch a different, a journey into the hidden heart of the Netherlands. Thanks to Ben for joining me in the podcast and if you've liked this podcast, which I guess you have, if you're here, otherwise you probably wouldn't have listened to the end. Then check out all of the other here in Holland podcast too. There's all kinds of good stuff, lots of storytelling podcasts and informative interview podcasts. You can listen to a podcast app on your smart phone or via the website here in There's a guide there to explain podcasting if you still need some help. It's on soundcloud too, and it's also now available via spotify so there's no excuse to miss a second and please spread the word. Let your friends know the more people who subscribe and follow the podcast, the better and if you want to get in touch, then the site has contact details here in [inaudible] dot com or facebook. Just search here in Holland and you'll find me there and remember to be nice to your neighbors. Otherwise, they'll be asking questions about where you're putting the bins and just how clean your windows are.

Speaker 2:32:03Okay. Maybe these people quite crisis laid back and easy going as I initially thought,

Speaker 1:32:09and don't forget the opportunity to sponsor the podcast and become a patron. You can check out the link in the show notes for the price of a cup of coffee each month. You would be doing a huge favor to here in Holland and allow me to continue and make more episodes and maybe expand into new territories. So take a look at the link. It's a patrion. Um, maybe you've heard of it. It's an independent platform used by independent producers like me who are trying to earn some money and not staff whilst producing podcasts, videos and other sorts of things like that. Okay. Check it out in the show notes or on the website here in for me. Andy Clark. Thanks for listening and I'll catch you next time.

Speaker 3:34:02No.

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