Since I went back to work last year, I’ve worked a 4-day week, which is very untypical of me, but pretty normal for working mamas in the Netherlands and after years of working long and unsociable hours in carework and the hospitality industry, it’s cool to be able to have a day off during the week to chill with my daughter. Although, now she is somewhere between crawling/walking/spontaneously-throwing-self-around-room, it is not the chillfest it once was.
Today was freezing cold, literally. Amsterdam saw its first layer of snow today and just when we thought it was safe to go out wearing only 2 layers…the dead of winter arrived, so I’ve stayed in with Lola and thought I’d do a round up of last week, which proved to be pretty busy.
Last Monday my friend Lauren joined us for an afternoon of tea-drinking and a walk by the lake, before she finished packing for her return to the UK, boohooo! I shall miss our all-afternoon convos, but I look forward to long-distance catch-ups over a brew via Skype. Heel success liefie!
Last week also saw the birthday of one of my BFFs Leon (AKA Uncle Knobhead). We had a few drinks around town on Wednesday and spent some time talking to Aziz and Roy in Indie Outlet. I also got to ask Aziz about his appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s new show The Layover: Amsterdam. Very cool! If you’re into skating, the clothes that go with it, punk music and literature, you should know about this place already – if you’ve not been there yet, you should pay it a visit as soon as possible.
After that, I took Leon out for dinner to the New King, a Chinese restaurant on the Zeedijk that he took me to a lot when I first moved to Amsterdam 6 years ago. Back then, the walls were covered in business cards, the remaining wallpaper peeling away and there was a distinct “bustling caff” feel about the place. These days, the décor is a bit more “swish” and the place is more popular than ever. Two things that haven’t changed though – efficient service and the delicious salt and pepper squid, which I order almost every time I’m there. We happily scoffed on prawns in batter, squid and char sui pork while catching up.
After dinner we went to Casablanca for drinks, but as we’d gone out straight after work we were too early for the dodgy karaoke, and made do with a 25-piece jazz band instead. I want to say it was really cool, but as they took up most of the bar and the singer’s lips were one inch from mine, it was a bit awkward. It was really good fun though, running around the city and talking over beers in random bars like the old days.
On Saturday, Lolapop was staying with her oma, so me and hubby could go out for dinner. I had a hankering for Ethiopian food, so we went to Ibssa in Oost, another no-frills café with great food. We ordered the Injera Speciaal, which is the traditional flatbread/pancakes with 4 meat dishes (including lamb, veal and beef – some spicy, some not) with side orders (fresh cheese, mashed lentils, vegetables, salad) and it was a lovely feast, washed down with a couple of banana beers (not traditional, in fact, brewed in Belgium).
Yesterday, Amsterdam Mamas held their first fundraising event at Jacaranda Tree Montessori. The event was a market, which was organized by volunteers and featured 18 stalls of 2nd-hand children’s clothes, toys, books and handy accessories. I shared a stall with my friend Anna, a really talented illustrator who brought along some gorgeous samples of her designer onesies, birth announcements and postcards.
I didn’t make much money from my stall, it seemed people wanted clothes for older children, but I got to hang out with Anna, meet some other mamas from the community and ate some lovely brownies and cupcakes (thanks to the English Cake Lady and the Amsterdam Mamas volunteers).
The event raised over EUR 1000 for the Amsterdam Mamas business, which will go towards maintenance of the website and future events, as well as a rainy day fund for those in our community needing extra support.
The Amsterdam Mamas has a Facebook group, which currently has 823 members (and growing rapidly). Emmy Coffey McCarthy, the Stichting Director, and her volunteers are doing an amazing job of creating a supportive and informative community for English-speaking families in Amsterdam and the surroundings.