In-depth interview with Amsterdam Shallow Man

There are bloggers who think everything is great and lovely and there are others who have it as their life mission to cause chaos and mayhem at every opportunity.

Amsterdam Shallow Man falls into the second category.

This time in the Here in Holland podcast an in-depth interview with the man who describes himself as the most sarcastic blogger in the Netherlands.

Cultural minefield ahead? Then Shallow Mine runs straight on through stamping as hard as he can on the way.

“I first started as I saw all of these lovely and quaint blogs with people saying how great it was to be in the Netherlands – ‘oh look at me on my bakfiets, oh look at me with a stroopwafel’ – no-one was talking about the elephant in the room like why do so many Dutch people dress like they slept on a park bench.”

The man behind the Amsterdam Shallow Man blog is Brit Simon Woolcot – he started blogging a couple of years ago and quickly found a following for his style of comedy.

And he now has a substantial audience for his blog and on social media.

Dating is one of the Shallow Man’s favourite topics and he has guides to help expats through the dating maze.

He also has tips on fashion and learning the language – Shallow Man style of course.

And when it comes to sensitive topics the sarcastic blogger is not afraid from tackling even the most explosive issues.

“I was one of the first international bloggers to criticise the Zwarte Piet tradition – this was way before the whole UN thing and the broader international critique.”

“The hate mail I received was huge there was so much of it – so I now make sure it is an annual tradition for me to keep writing about it.”

Asked if there are any subjects that are off limits Shallow Man is adamant that everything is fair game.

“I think this is why I have built up such a large and loyal following,” he says.

“ People know I tell it like I see it – I have always been a sarcastic person and was making all these funny comments to friends before I even started the blog. It’s just who I am.”

The Here in Holland podcast has interviews and stories each week for and from internationals living in the Netherlands each week. Share your story:
Whats App +31 (0) 6 12 42 83 87  Facebook.

Here in Holland podcast on You Tube

Here in Holland podcast on You Tube

As an experiment – this edition of the Here in Holland podcast is also available via You Tube.

It is the interview with the satirical blogger Invader Stu.

Does having the podcast on You Tube work for you? Let me know.

The podcast is available via all the usual channels so you can get it on your phone.

Subscribe to Here in Holland to get all the podcasts so far and each new one when it goes live.

Here is the intro to the article which goes with the invader Stu podcast.

What do yHere in Holland podcast producer Andy Clarkou do if you are an accident-prone expat trying to get to grips with life in the Netherlands?

Start a satirical blog and use comedy as therapy.

This is the tactic employed by Stuart Billinghurst aka Invader Stu. The man who’s invading Holland one blog at a time… read more

Here in Holland is on SoundCloud too.

You can find the podcast on SoundCloud too – easy to listen to, embed and share with friends.

This is the Small Victories story podcast on SoundCloud.


You can also find Here in Holland on Stitcher – click the logo to go see the podcast there.

You can rate and review Here in Holland in your app of choice.

This video shows how to rate and review in iTunes. Podcasts rely on getting attention online so please take the time to click on the rating stars and write a few words if you get the chance.

Share your story

Here in Holland is the podcast in English about life in the Netherlands. It is for people living gin the Netherlands, for people thinking about coming here and for anyone who wants to know what makes the Dutch tick.

Story to tell then contact – or use the WhatsApp storyline +31 (0) 6 12 42 83 87

There’s a Facebook page and HiH is on Twitter too @HereHolland.

Get in touch and let me know what you think of the podcast and tell me your story.

The joy of lonely – breaking the taboo

The joy of lonely – breaking the taboo.
Ever been lonely? It would be an odd person who says ‘no.’ 

But have you ever thought about being lonely as a good thing?

Psychologist Vassia Sarantopoulou runs the Anti-Loneliness Project:

“Periods where we feel lonely are good for self-exploration, for expanding yourself, for getting to know yourself. So, it is not actually a bad thing being lonely.”

The joy of lonely – breaking the taboo
Everyone goes through loneliness at some stage in their life and yet it is a big taboo.

This week in the Here in Holland podcast a fascinating interview with the psychologist Vassia Sarantopoulou who is the founder of the Anti-Loneliness Project.

Embrace lonely and break the taboo

“There is this taboo around the word loneliness everyone has the feeling that they shouldn’t be lonely that it’s not a good thing.

The joy of lonely - breaking the tabooActually it is a good thing – it is okay to feel lonely sometimes. Everyone goes through this at some stage in their lives.

The thing is that we don’t dare to admit it and that makes it hard. Especially in the social media age when everyone seems to be having a blast of a time and posting wonderful pictures of themselves the whole time.”

Sarantopoulou says people need to recognize loneliness for what it is and use is as a chance for self-reflection and examination.

“When you go through a period of loneliness it is a period where you have to draw some red lines and mark your boundaries. It can be a very rewarding period.”

“I see loneliness as an umbrella and under that there are a lot of issues or challenges – if you find the root causes you can solve other issues at the same time.”

The joy of loneliness – breaking the taboo

The psychologist says expat spouses are sometimes susceptible to loneliness. Moving without having a job and in a supporting role of a spouse can lead to a suppression of emotions.The joy of lonely - breaking the taboo

Without network and family things can become tricky and this group of internationals can become isolated.

The advice here is to get out and establish a network, try volunteering or take a hobby and make
sure you find something that interests you and build some friends around that.

Anti-Loneliness Project on Facebook.

Anti-Loneliness Project on Twitter.

Self-knowledge is key

“Loneliness is that you have a feeling of being disconnected with others even though you are among a lot of people,” says the psychologist.

“It’s quite deep inside us – the sign of loneliness is that you are in desperate need of yourself. So, you need first to be a friend of yourself and then a friend of others.

This means that when you are with yourself you don’t feel that something is missing.”

Sarantopoulou adds that by embracing loneliness people can embark on a journey of deep self-knowledge and find out what really drives them. This discovery will help in relationships and create a virtuous circle of happiness.

Her golden tip :

“Be present, enjoy the day that is here and now and don’t confuse past experiences with future goals and stresses. Just be present – just live what you have today and be grateful for that.”

The Here in Holland podcast has interviews and stories each week for and from internationals living in the Netherlands each week. Share your story:
Whats App +31 (0) 6 12 42 83 87  Facebook.


Small Victories podcast – triumphs of expat life in the Netherlands

A victory is so much sweeter if you’ve overcome an obstacle to achieve it.

In this edition of the Here in Holland podcast expats tell stories of small victories and how overcoming these hurdles makes life in the Netherlands feel so much better.

Funny and touching stories of everyday life from getting to grips with the language to wrestling with Dutch bureaucracy.

Small Victories  podcast –  triumphs of expat life in the Netherlands.

Ineke came to the Netherlands from the Seychelles.

Funnily enough adjusting tSmall Victories podcast – triumphs of expat life in the Netherlandso the change in weather was not her main concern.

When she arrived she felt alone and was struggling to meet people.

“For the first four months I was alone with my two boys – at first it was really hard as we didn’t have any friends or family here. I’d left my whole family and network.”

By reaching out via social media Ineke overcame this initial phase of isolation.

“There are a lot of people out there and they have been through what you have been through too. It was an amazing response and now I am really proud to call the Netherlands home.”

Learning to speak Dutch is another obstacle for internationals.

For some it can really be tough to make the first steps.

Stan Levenson remembers finding it excruciating.

“When I got to the Hague I was kind of intimidated and I just couldn’t bring myself to speak.”

Stan was married to a Dutch woman and relied on her to do the talking. But in the end he couldn’t take it any more and took the plunge.

“It just made me feel so much better after that,” he says.

Angela Eldering from Australia faced a problem lots of expats do when it comes to speaking Dutch.

“Yeah well Dutch people will very often want to speak to you in English especially in the beginning.

“You have to be very persistent and keep on going and say that you want to speak Dutch. And if you don’t understand a word then ask. I found this worked for me.”

Small victories – triumphs of expat life in the Netherlands.

Small Victories podcast – triumphs of expat life in the NetherlandsRob Christian came up against Dutch bureaucracy. His story was a victory for common sense.

When he first applied for his Burger Service Number – BSN – he was told that he was someone else.

“I was like, what? Wait a minute, I’m me. There was confusion because  a guy with the same name and date of birth already had a burger service number. A guy from Poland.”

A nightmare scenario loomed. But luckily everyone remained calm.

“They launched an inquiry and within two weeks it was done. I have to carry an extra letter with me but I couldn’t have asked for a better treatment. They were great about it all.”

“If this had happened in Germany [Rob lived there] you be sure that they would have made you feel like a criminal.”

Opening a company in the Netherlands

Small Victories podcast – triumphs of expat life in the NetherlandsVassia from Greece was worried about Dutch bureaucracy. She wanted to open a company and knew that in Greece this could be a real nightmare.

She was prepared for the same here.

“I had every document I could think of – but hardly needed any of them. It was done in ten minutes. I was like ‘are you sure, it’s done?’ They told me that was it. It was so easy.”

A small victory over preconceptions for her.

The podcast has all these stories and more. Be sure to subscribe to get all the podcasts to date and every new edition as it goes live.

Here in Holland is the podcast in English about life in the Netherlands. How to subscribe.


Dutch News in English Every Day

Want to keep in touch with the Dutch and get Dutch news in English every day? Then is a great option.

Ten to fifteen articles daily on all the main news items of interest to internationals living in the

There are features, blogs and jobs and housing sections.

Molly Quell is a contributing editor at Dutch News:

“It’s the largest English news service in the Netherlands – we’re basically an online newspaper/magazine. A bit like but in English”

Listen to the Here in Holland podcast interview with Molly.


So, what are the most popular items on Dutch News?

“Well, all the news related to being an international here is very popular – so if there are ever any rule changes around immigration then there is a lot of interest.”

“People also like stories about the Dutch royal family and the weather. And on social media people like to have a good moan about the NS [Dutch trains].”

The website attracts 250,000 unique visitors each month and has a Facebook community of more than 30,000 likes.

And Dutch News just started a podcast.

“We’ve been producing a weekly podcast with news and discussion and people are really liking it. People can check it out on SoundCloud but also in iTunes and a growing number of podcast apps.”

There’s a daily newsletter too so if you prefer to get your Dutch News in English this wayMolly Quell - Dutch News in English every day it’s super easy.

Molly Quell says the best thing about working at Dutch News is the sense of community.

“There’s a great team of international people working together and it’s really nice to be involved as a journalist in a media organisation.

Having the opportunity to be really involved in society and be able to reach out to people who have ended up here for whatever reason and who maybe do not speak Dutch is really great.”

This article is based on the Here in Holland Interview Media#4 Dutch News podcast. The podcast is part of a mini-series on English language media in the Netherlands.


Starting a business in the Netherlands

It’s easy to start a business in the Netherlands even if you don’t speak Dutch.

starting a business in the NetherlandsBut three out of five business disappear within the first few years of launch.

Entrepreneur Sinead Hewson says this is because not everyone is cut out to be their own boss.

“There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s true that the path of having your own company is not one that suits everyone,” says the businesswoman.

“For me I’m the sort of person who hates to think ‘what if?’ So I would always say if you have an idea then why not go for it? At the same time you have to realise
there’s a lot of hard work involved.”

Sinead Hewson is owner of TpEBO – a consultancy and facilitation company.

She offers leaders and leadership teams support through consultancy, coaching and facilitation to help organisations better achieve their goals.

For the rules and regulations on starting a business in the Netherlands check out the Dutch Chamber of Commerce – Kamer van Koophandel.

This booklet has the full info.

 Tips for growing the business

 “Keep it simple – I would say keep it simple, stick to the essence of what you do and do not over promise.”

Starting a business n the Netherlands “You have to be careful about social media. It is fantastic, but it takes a lot of effort in the beginning to build up a community of followers and get traction from that. And then you need to be aware of how much conversion you are getting.

My work is through recommendation. I use social media to highlight issues I am passionate about. I don’t use it to drive business as my model is different.”

Listen to the Here in Holland podcast with Sinead Hewson.


The Women’s Business Initiative International holds seminars on starting a company in the Netherlands (men are welcome too).

Pitfalls in starting a business in the Netherlands.

“It is really about getting yourself organised and pricing yourself well and being very clear about what you have to offer,” says Sinead Hewson.

“A lot of people, especially women, are reluctant to highlight the value and the quality of the service they are offering.  I would say  you are entitled to earn a living too. You need to think about the value of what you are offering and what people are prepared to pay. You are a professional business therefore you are allowed to charge professional prices.”

More resources on starting your own business from international community support group Access



Invading Holland – one blog at a time

What do yHere in Holland podcast producer Andy Clarkou do if you are an accident-prone expat trying to get to grips with life in the Netherlands?

Start a satirical blog and use comedy as therapy.

This is the tactic employed by Stuart Billinghurst aka Invader Stu. The man who’s invading Holland one blog at a time.

Listen to the podcast interview with Invader Stu at bottom of page – subscribe
via iTunes or Android to get all podcasts on your phone – how to guide.

A computer game designer with Guerilla Games in Amsterdam by day and by night a fearless blogger tackling the Netherlands one funny story at a time.Invading Holland - one blog at a time

“I sometimes ask myself: ‘is it such a good idea having a blog with invading in the title?’ You know, given Dutch history. But people get it and luckily they see I’m not really trying to invade. It would be tricky on my own,” says Stuart.

“I get a lot of response and people like it – Dutch people too. I think they have a similar sense of humour to us Brits and don’t mind having people poke fun at them.”

The blog has a Stuart Billinghurst aka Invader Sturange of stories from struggles on learning the Dutch language to a guide to check to see how cloggie you are.

This is from a blog called ‘Ten Awkward Situations for Expats Living in Holland’

Awkward situation number 5.

“Spending ten minutes searching amongst the bicycle racks for your bike, convincing yourself it has been stolen when you can’t find it, informing the police and then suddenly remembering you left it at home today.”

There’s a guide to Dutch circle parties – if you have been to one you’ll know that this is a vital tool.

Hilarious stories about mistaken for a pimp, living below sea level and a very strange Dutch teacher who scared away all his students apart from Invader Stu.

The blog is great reading f
or expats looking for a laugh and it is all illustrated by Invader Stu’s own cartoons which gives it a unique look and feel.

Highly recommended.

Here’s the podcast with Invader Stu.

Here in Holland is a new English language podcast all about life in the Netherlands. Each week producer Andy Clark shares an article and the podcast with the Hague Online. You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and all other podcast apps. Story to share – then contact Andy or



Dutch Directness explained – Here in Holland article

Rude? No, we’re just equal. Dutch Directness explained

Here in Holland Articles Here in Holland podcast article on Dutch Directness

Ever wonder why the Dutch are so direct? It’s because of the high value placed on equality in society here.

This is the explanation given by historian and leading etiquette expert Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen in the new English podcast Here in Holland.

So, don’t take it personally when you get advice you didn’t ask for. The weight of history is against you.

It’s all about being treated the same way according to van Ditzhuyzen. She says even the Dutch royal family is, and always was, subject to the rules of parliament.

No hierarchy
“The Dutch don’t do hierarchy,” says van Ditzhuyzen, who is also known as the Queen of Dutch Manners.

“Add to this our international history as merchants and you get a lot of people just being very clear and saying exactly what they mean,” she adds.

This directness certainly takes getting used to for expats.

Here in Holland articles – SoundCloud player 

Natascha is from South Africa – she got freaked by people telling her how she should look after her kids.

“My son doesn’t like wearing shoes – he just doesn’t. I would get Dutch women coming up to me and looking into the stroller and telling me he had no shoes on, as if I hadn’t noticed.”

Olga Mecking from Poland had the cops called on her in a very strange, and at the time traumatic, experience.

Get your shoes on
“This women thought I was abusing my daughter – she called the police and we had to wait for 30 minutes for them to arrive. I didn’t want to leave as it would have looked as though I’d done something wrong when I hadn’t. It was a big mess.”

In the end the team from Olga’s daughter’s crèche arrived and told the police she wouldn’t hurt a fly and everyone went home.

Molly from the US was told straight out that she was big and, when cooking for her new Dutch boyfriend, Anne from Peru was told that her food sucked.

Most expats have tales to tell on the legendary Dutch directness and they are usually accompanied by rolling eyes and big groans.

But there are others who say, no – wait a minute, we love this. Their take is that the Dutch say what they mean and you know where you stand.


And Luke from the UK says he doesn’t mind it either: “I don’t have a problem with it – if you ask me the Dutch do moan a bit sometimes, but that just makes me feel at home as we Brits like a good moan too.”

These stories of Dutch Directness – and more – can all be heard in the new English language podcast about life in the Netherlands – Here in Holland.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or your Android app of choice.  – story to share, mail

What is a podcast?

Podcasts booming – wait a minute, what is a podcast? what-is-a-podcast-

Podcasting is hip and cool again but you’re thinking, wait, what the hell is podcasting?

Well you are not alone. New research from the US shows that at least half of Americans don’t have a clue, this despite the fact the other half is podcast crazy.

Definition of a podcast

Ask Google what podcasting is and you get this definition:

“a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

Sounds complicated? Well it isn’t – people often describe podcasts as ‘Netflix for audio,’ which is easier to get your head around than the definition above.

Podcasting is basically listening to audio shows via a mobile app (by far the most popular way), or on your tablet or laptop, whenever it suits you.

Podcast on your Smartphone


Step 1.  Download a podcast app on your phone – just like any other app. With iPhones there is already an app installed – this one.  ios9-podcasts-app-tile

Step 2. Use the search function to find stuff. Click the subscribe button and you are up and running – new episodes of anything you’re subscribed to will automatically appear.

Download the podcast you want to listen to when you have wifi. Then you can play back at your leisure when you are offline whether on your commute, out for a walk, cycling or whatever.

Video walk-through – iPhone  or iPad  or via Android what is a podcast? pod man

The great thing about podcasting is that it doesn’t stop you doing other things. Try watching a video whilst cycling to the station, not recommended,  but listening to a podcast is not a problem.

There is a huge range of content available. From investigative journalism and storytelling, professionally produced by dedicated teams, to a myriad of one person shows put together in bedrooms and cupboards (I am not kidding) around the world. And everything in-between.

There are tech podcasts, business podcasts, marketing podcasts, sports podcasts, comedy podcasts, church podcasts and even prison podcasts. Think of something you really love and no matter how obscure chances are someone is podcasting about it.

Listening Options

More ways to listen to podcasts- try Stitcher – a sort of Spotify for podcasts.

Apple users might like Overcast and there’s SoundCloud too which works across different platforms.

If you want to you can of course just listen whilst browsing via your tablet, laptop or desk top computer. But the real joy is the freedom to listen offline via a mobile device. So, again, download whilst connected to the internet and enjoy later whilst off the web.

Some best of 2016 podcast lists to get you going.

Apples best of new podcasts 2016

The Guardian’s 50 podcasts you need to hear.

And an overview of the best Dutch podcasts

“Learn, laugh, and stay informed. Discover hundreds of thousands of downloadable podcasts, from thought-provoking stories to hilarious interviews to sports and politics. Search categories, subscribe to your favorites to get free updates, and see what’s rising to the top of the charts,” the podcast app description in App Store.

A wonderful world awaits – join the fun.

Ira and Mary
Here’s a nice video with Ira Glass from This American Life (great radio programme and podcast) and his friend Mary explaining how podcasts work. It was made when they were launching the spin-off show Serial which went on to become a huge international success.