Gearing up for our first winter in Amsterdam

Our central heating is being turned up every few weeks (my handiwork), I have thermal vests and socks, I’m taking vitamin D, and this morning we bought special lightbulbs for our work desks to give us some sunny benefits, without the sun.

I was always nervous about my first winter here, more for the dark mornings and late afternoons than the cold, and I’m doing my best to remain upbeat. I’ve written before that one can find some positives about winter, and working from home makes things much easier – I don’t have to ride to a station in the dark, and wearing Uniqlo leisurewear/pyjamas all day is perfectly acceptable.

In “normal years” back in the southern hemisphere, I would likely have been going to year-end events, wrapping presents, getting ready for our long holiday with family in the Eastern Cape, and running fit. None of that is on the go this year, and it’s a big adjustment for me this time of year. I’m still holding out for a little trip to London or Paris if we’re allowed and if it’s safe to do so, but I’m fully prepped and content to be drinking gluhwein and eating oliebollen in Amsterdam.

The kids will be on holiday for two weeks, and I’m working for most of the time through, but hopefully there’ll be a new PS5 in da house and loads of crafts to keep them content respectively.

I am really enjoying my work, and it’s the happiest I’ve ever been at an agency. Andrew started a new job recently at a bank in The Hague, but will be working remotely still, and going in around once a week. I’m happy he’s working and integrating locally.

Rebecca is going to school smoothly, and she seems really content. She had a mini playdate last week at a friend’s house (I was there too), and then on Saturday her bestie came over and they played so sweetly together. Her friend speaks a little English, and I communicated with her in Hebrew, which seemed to have worked. The kids seem unfazed about the cold and the darkness to date, so it’s just me in the home who needs to call the wa’ambulance.

On the settling-in front, here’s what’s been happening:

  • I went to exchange my SA driver’s licence for a Dutch one. I don’t need to redo it,  and there was some paperwork to apply for one, and an appointment with a doctor to assess I was fit to drive. They took my SA licence as I’m not allowed to have both here, and hopefully I’ll get the new one soon.
  • The kids have been registered for a child grant, and we’ll get payouts for each of them every quarter. This is just to help with living expenses, and you get it regardless of income and what school they’re at. The government also covers a portion of aftercare, but this does depend on if both parents are working, and income.
  • Medicine prescriptions work differently here. Doctors have to type out a document (no handwritten scripts with illegible writing), and send a PDF directly to your chemist (it seems you need to choose one in your ‘hood). Then the chemist processes the script and then contacts you when it’s ready. I’ve fetched a script for my asthma meds, and it took about two minutes – I got to the counter, gave them my name and birthdate, and they gave me my sprays. I may or may not have bought some Soap & Glory shower cream too – it is Boots after all!

Last weekend we went with SA friends (hi Jackie!) to Haarlem. I love the town, and it was a gorgeous day. Here are some pics:


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  • Jackie

    27 November 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Loved Haarlem!

    • Tanya
      to Jackie

      6 December 2020 at 8:43 pm

      We must go back when there's a market :)

  • Lynette

    27 November 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Go, Tanya Go! Wonderful to hear of your positive attitude to everything. So happy that everything seems to be working out in all ways. In […] Read MoreGo, Tanya Go! Wonderful to hear of your positive attitude to everything. So happy that everything seems to be working out in all ways. In Israel you also get child allowances, and the medical aid seems to work the same. Lots of Love, Lynette Read Less

    • Tanya
      to Lynette

      6 December 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks so much for the message, and for reading!

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