Seven Weeks to Go!

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So now there are only seven short weeks to go until we move to Christchurch, New Zealand. I can’t believe that we could be biking down these hills in just seven weeks’ time! Our beautiful visas have now arrived and have quickly become our most prized possessions.

We’re saving our money like mad and are also selling off every spare stick of furniture to help pay for the move. Weekends in The Hague tend not to be cheap so last weekend we spent our spare time cooking, baking and jogging rather than going out for coffees every ten minutes. Our most successful dish were these healthy flapjacks from the good food website. Very tasty, low in sugar and we will definitely make them again.

After enjoying the Easter holidays, this week has been ‘back to work week’ so everything seems manic again. We now have a New Zealand bank account set up which is positive and we’ve also applied for a house in a town called Rolleston which is located on the outskirts of Christchurch. Things feel like they’re moving forwards well at the moment.

Next week the first of our visitors arrive – my wonderful mum!

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She and her husband, Steve, will be joining us next Friday for a goodbye weekend in The Hague. I’m obviously looking forwards to this but it will also be hard to say goodbye. At the moment my mum lives just across the border in France and I know that it’s going to feel weird to be so far from family. At least we can all have lots of nice catch-up holidays though.

The great thing about our arrival date is that it will be winter. Most people seem to think this is a massive negative but after living in one of the world’s flattest countries for years, we’re more than ready to dust off the snowboards and get back on the slopes! Mt Hutt Ski Resort is less than a two hour drive away so we will definitely be exploring that at the weekends.

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Until then, I have training for an upcoming beach run to keep me busy. My bestie, Gill, and I are running it in a few weeks’ time as our official last run together before I leave. We recently completed our first half marathon which was a proud moment and this final run will be our first endurance run on sand so a new type of challenge!

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Eight Weeks to Go!

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It’s amazing to think that Adam and I could be on this beautiful pier in Christchurch in just eight weeks’ time. I’m currently waiting at home for our visas to be delivered as they’re arriving via DHL at any moment now! The job list continues to grow, the final family visits are booked in and the excitement and tension keeps building.

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It’s easy to focus on the kitchen wall list of eleventy-billion jobs that still need finishing but it’s also good to celebrate the jobs already completed. So far we have…

  • Handed our notice in
  • Booked the cats onto flights (they’re delighted)
  • Booked the cats’ quarantine
  • Paid the migration agent
  • Got medical checks (all clear – phew)
  • Got police checks  (all clear – double phew)
  • Filed visa applications (the waiting is painful but they will arrive any second now)
  • Contacted estate agents in New Zealand
  • Started to sell furniture that won’t be shipped
  • Organised freight
  • Found flights

Our family have also very kindly agreed to visit us before the big move so we have three weekends of back-to-back visits coming up which will be lovely. One last chance to explore The Hague and surrounding area with family before we leave!

This week’s jobs include arranging the sale of the car, informing our landlords, booking our flights and getting our Dutch pension paperwork in order. There’s so much to think about but breaking the job list down into weeks has really helped make it more manageable.

Farewell Den Haag!

Living in The Hague (Den Haag) has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and we will definitely miss it when we leave. Here’s my list of the top ten things I have loved about life in this city.

1. The incredible amount of quality cafés and restaurants available. From cheap and cheerful to Michelin starred dining, there’s something for everyone. In the summer it is very easy to lose entire Saturdays just wandering from café to café sipping cappuccinos and munching snacks!

There are far too many excellent cafés and restaurants to name here so I’ll just mention our two favourites. Brasserie ‘t Ogenblik in the city centre is our go to café for weekend lunches. The staff are wonderful, the food is tasty and the price is good. My other favourite is The Cat Cafe on Piet Heinstraat because who wouldn’t want a load of cats wandering round as you eat?

2. The amount of outdoor spaces, parks and woodlands. Considering we’re living in a city, it’s incredibly easy to ‘get away from it all’ and go for a walk around the many parks and woodlands. If you’re an animal lover you can admire the deer grazing on the Malieveld park near the train station or visit one of the many petting zoos which are dotted around the city. My favourite outdoor space is the Japanese garden which is found within Clingendael Park and is open a handful of weeks each year.

3. The good range of sporting activities and venues. We particularly enjoy climbing and running and have been able to access both very easily. There are quite a few climbing walls in The Hague and we took out membership with De Kilmmuur which gave us access to a few locations around The Netherlands, plus the ice climbing wall which is fun. There are also lots of local races taking place throughout the year, the biggest local one being The CPC (City-Pier-City) which we’ve taken part in a few times now. These happen to be our interests but there’s also biking, skating, sailing, surfing, football and hockey clubs readily available too.

4. The wide range of art galleries and museums. I wasn’t really a fan of museums before I came to The Netherlands but they have definitely won me over and if you purchase a museum card you can access hundreds of museums and galleries for €45 per year. Since being here, we’ve enjoyed Mondrian, Banksy, Escher, Dali and Picasso amongst others.

5. The beach. Scheveningen beach is the largest and most popular beach in The Hague but there are many miles of coastline (and beach bars) to explore. We particularly like Wassenaar beach which is only a 10km bike ride away and tends to be a bit quieter in the busy summer months. The beaches here in The Netherlands are sandy, spacious, clean and safe and always go down well with family visitors!

 6. It’s so pretty in winter! We’ve found the winters here to be mild and fairly short – but have also met other ex-pats who find them long and terrible! The Hague is exceptionally pretty in the snow and as soon as it gets cold enough the Dutch dust off their skates and jump onto the canals and lakes – not something I’ve tried whilst here!

7. There’s always something happening here. Being the seat of Dutch parliament and home to the royal family and the International Court of Justice means that it’s a pretty busy spot so there’s always something taking place. The local government have an English website which lists most of the upcoming events in The Hague and it’s always changing. We’ve enjoyed a number of free festivals and sporting events since being here and would definitely recommend checking the website regularly.

8. The city skyline is really cool. You can take a trip to the penthouse sky bar near HS station and walk out on the deck there to take in the view. It always looks great but I really like it at night.

  9. It’s so easy to get to everywhere else. From The Hague you can easily access Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Kinderdijk (famous windmills) and many other places. This makes it really easy to see music, dance and comedy shows whenever they visit or to have the odd day trip out. We are lucky enough to own a car here but in all honesty we often travel via train or tram because it’s quicker and easier.

10. Easy access to and from the UK. The Hague is less than an hour’s flight from the UK which makes it really easy to get back and forth. Our family love it and have often visited us here.

The Hague is a brilliant city and we feel very lucky to have lived here. We will no doubt be back in the future!

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Day Trip to Delft

With less than nine weeks until we leave The Netherlands, we decided to make a few last day trips and started with a visit to Delft.

The city of Delft is just a short tram ride away from The Hague and is famous for being the birthplace of Vermeer and for the beautiful Delft blue pottery.

It has everything you would expect from a Dutch city; windmills, canals, art galleries, churches, cheese shops, gorgeous architecture and cafes in abundance.

We spent our morning wandering through the quaint canal streets and eventually stopped in the main market square known as the Markt for a spot of lunch.

At one end of the Markt is Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church) which you can take a look around for a small price.

We paid €4 each to climb the 376 stairs to the top of the tower and would definitely recommend it. Inside you can take a peak at the bells and clock mechanisms.

Outside the views are stunning!

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There are three different outdoor balconies to explore on the way up and the view just keeps getting better!

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We ended our trip with a visit to an ice cream shop and will likely visit again with family before we leave. A definite thumbs up for Delft!

Rotterdam Marathon 2018

It’s a beautiful day here in Rotterdam. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and the music thumps away in the background as we clap the runners past.

This will be Adam’s last run in The Netherlands before we leave and as I type he is currently just over 20km of the way round.

I’m supporting from the sidelines for this one as it’s a business sponsored run for him but I’m loving the atmosphere.

I’m also loving the amount of free food and drink one can access on a business run ticket!

It will take him a little while to get back yet and seeing as he’s left me in charge of his wallet, I think I’ll hit the excellent Rotterdam high street now and while away a little time…

Priorities

It’s important to get your priorities in order when you’re moving to the other side of the world. For me, that’s my cats, Bella and Esme.

Transporting animals is costly and complicated but they’re family and there’s no way we can leave them behind.

Adam’s priority has always been his bikes. He persuaded me to go biking with him not long after we first got together and I must admit, it was pretty good fun. I’ll never be as obsessed with bikes as Adam but we’ve had some pretty good biking holidays so far.

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Adam always has some sort of bike project on the go and his most recent has been convincing me that I now need a new bike.

His argument is that since we’re moving to Christchurch, I will “need” a bike to access all the amazing trails they have there. I agreed that it would be good to have one but insisted that this was not a priority and would have to wait until we arrived in New Zealand. Adam was delighted to have a potential new project to plan and after looking at endless photographs I chose the Bardino frame from Nordest as my future bike.

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I now receive daily photographs of potential parts that can be added and Adam is in the heavenly world of bike building planning.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when a package arrived yesterday…

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My insistence on waiting until we arrived in New Zealand had somehow been interpreted as, “Please buy this for me immediately Adam.”

His point of view is that he’s ‘saved’ loads on import duty as shipping was free within Europe. I tried to be cross and to point out the many expensive removal costs we have yet to come but at the end of the day, who doesn’t want their lovely man building them a brand new bike?

 

As I say, it’s important to have your priorities straight when planning a big move.

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Nine Weeks to Go!

Making the decision to settle down on the other side of the world, far from friends and family, seems as good a time as any to begin writing a blog.

After six years of moving around, the desire to ‘settle’ finally took hold of us both and where to settle became the main topic of discussion. New Zealand had always been our dream destination but we never really thought it possible and the amount of paperwork and money required seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

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A shortage in teachers meant that we might have a chance though so at the end of 2017 we took the plunge, hired a migration agent and started applying for jobs.

The process has definitely been stressful, expensive and complicated but our visa applications are now in and if all goes well we will be moving to Christchurch, New Zealand in nine weeks’ time – and that makes it all worthwhile!

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