Three Weeks to Go!

Time is flying by so quickly and, unbelievably, there are only three short weeks left until we move to Christchurch, New Zealand!

This week we have been exploring the various running clubs on offer out there (as you can tell, we have our priorities right) and received a very welcoming message from Port Hills Athletics Club. They won the winter club of the year last year and also organise the epic Crater Rim Ultra run which Adam is keen to complete.

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I’m not so keen on the idea of this ultra run but definitely want to go and give the club a try. It will be amazing to run in such spectacular scenery.

The cats finally received their import permit this week which is a huge relief and we’ve also finalised the date for our belongings to be packed up and shipped off. We won’t get them for about three months so will be living ‘light’ for a while.

We’ve sold yet more excess furniture and our apartment is now looking very sparse. This weekend we have to create an inventory of every item we are shipping and we’re also going to do a test run of the clothes packing to see how many suitcases we need – fingers crossed we can do it in three because then we won’t need to buy any more cases or pay for extra luggage allowance!

This weekend, The Hague Pro Freestyle event is on so we’ll also make sure we take a break to go and watch the pros on their BMXs – bike heaven for Adam!

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At the moment we still don’t have a house to rent so that will be the main focus for next week. Busy, busy but it’s getting really exciting now!

Four Weeks to Go!

Friday marked the four week milestone for our upcoming move to Christchurch, New Zealand. In four weeks’ time we should be arriving just in time for the start of winter.

We saw the last of our visitors this week. Adam’s mum and her husband came for a visit which coincided with Dutch Mother’s Day as an added bonus.

We had a rather cultured day in The Hague, visiting umpteen cafes and taking a tour around the Mauritshuis art museum where we got to see the famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ painting by Vermeer.

We squeezed a day trip to Rotterdam in and enjoyed riding on the water taxis, visiting the amazing markthal (where we ate far too much Greek food) and took a tour around the famous cube houses.

Saturday was the hottest day of their visit so we enjoyed a long walk through forest, dunes and beach before treating ourselves to beers at a local food truck festival in the evening.

We said our goodbyes earlier today and have now gone back to our job list and started to panic a little. There’s so much to do and so little time now – it’s certainly going to be a busy few weeks!

Five Weeks to Go!

Unbelievably, there are now only five weeks left until we move to Christchurch, New Zealand. This blog post is rather delayed as it was actually ‘five weeks to go’ last Friday but we’ve been so busy that I’ve not had chance to write.

The last week has been a mixture of moving jobs and family visits so has been extremely busy but very enjoyable. All service companies have now been called and end of contract agreements have been organised and planned for. The import permit application for the cats has been sent off and they were very brave during their first round of parasite treatments yesterday. The majority of household items are now sold so all in all it’s been fairly productive on the job front.

We had wonderful weather this weekend which made for a very enjoyable family visit from Adam’s dad, brother and partners. We enjoyed wandering around the streets of The Hague together, ate far too many delicious meals and the girls even managed to squeeze a pedicure in whilst the boys went to the Louwman Museum to admire the cars.

The Hague has always been a super place for family catch-ups and it certainly didn’t disappoint this weekend!

20180506_221152On Sunday, temperatures hit 26 degrees which was great for the family who were chilling out on the beach. For me and Gill though, it was race time!

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We signed up to the Aramco Beach Run after the high of completing our first half marathon and thought it would be a simple 10km ‘fun run’ as advertised, but it turned out to be the hardest run we’d ever done.  Blazing heat, soft sand, hilly dunes, no breeze and way too few water stops made this very challenging and I don’t think either of us will sign up for another beach run in a hurry!

We made it to the end though and were extremely proud to cross the line together and to add another medal to our collections. I’m going to miss my running buddy in New Zealand and as hard as it was, am very pleased that we managed to squeeze in a final run together.

c1f4d0c7-ade3-45af-b3ad-b85ec786ea11Our final visitors, Adam’s mum and her husband, arrive tomorrow so we’re looking forwards to seeing them. It’s a bank holiday here and the weather is looking pretty good so there will be plenty more day trips and opportunities to over-eat no doubt!

Six Weeks to Go!

There are now only six weeks until we leave to start our new lives in Christchurch, New Zealand! I can’t believe how fast the time seems to be going but am really looking forwards to getting there and exploring.

This week started on a sad note with the news of Avicci’s death. I enjoyed the Swedish musician’s songs and was gutted to hear of his death. His music has been on shuffle all week.

The end of the week was great though as my mum and stepdad arrived. They drove all the way up from their house in France and arrived Friday afternoon – just in time to enjoy the King’s Day festivities!

After wandering around, drinking far too much coffee, taking the obligatory photos outside the palace and enjoying the music we called it a night and agreed to meet for more of the same the next day!

The Hague is such a good city to enjoy with family and after a hearty breakfast and many coffees at Bagels and Beans we decided to explore the Humanity House Museum which highlights the plight of refugees by giving visitors a taste of what it must be like to flee one’s homeland. It’s a fairly solemn experience but is very thought-provoking and definitely worth a visit.

After the museum we had more coffee breaks and mum and Steve were introduced to the wonderful Dutch snack – bitterballen! A sort of battered, stew mix which is deep-fried and served with a side of mustard, bitterballen are a must if you visit The Netherlands!

For our evening meal, we visited a local Italian restaurant, Vesuvio. Huge portions of pizza and pasta were eaten, followed by drinks at mum and Steve’s hotel. I was ridiculously spoiled by them (as per usual) and it was a lovely end to a lovely day!

We managed to squeeze in one last breakfast (and many coffees!) this morning before saying goodbye. It was so wonderful to see them and although it will be a few years before we meet again, I’m super grateful to have such supportive parents who encourage us to keep travelling and exploring.

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Love you lots mum!

xxx

Next week, the job list continues; I’m halfway through phoning the various utility companies and informing them of our departure and we just have the water and flood defence companies to call next week. After that we need to arrange the first round of parasite treatments for the kitties and then their import permits need to be applied for. Our furniture is selling pretty well so far and we’ll be advertising a few more items this week too – every penny definitely helps!

We only have 4 days to go until Adam’s dad, brother, and their partners, Helen and Jen arrive so we’re very excited about seeing them. Next weekend it will also be my first beach run event and I’m very aware that I’ve only trained on sand three times so far – oops!

Gill and I did manage to join the training group last week and ended up taking part in the promotional videos and photos which was good fun. Really need to drag myself out of bed early and get running this week though!

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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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