Thursday 3 October 2013

My Dutch Neighbourhood

I live in the Dutch equivalent of England's Milton Keynes. In other words it's what is known as a new town, created to quell the expansion of The Hague in the 1970s. Of course, before that time there was a Zoetermeer, but that was small, quaint and old style. Zoetermeer today is an ever expanding concrete suburbia with its fair share of social issues. But that's not what this post is about - this post is part of another great series through Multicultural Kid Blogs called 'Your Neighbourhood around the World'.

So without further ado... welcome to my little part of Zoetermeer....

This is a typical looking family house in my neighbourhood, though to be honest there are many different types of housing style locally from unremarkable family terrace houses, square houses with wood panel exteriors, to split level apartments.
This is a nearby street. Many streets are tree lined (the subject of a current battle as the council wants to chop many trees down in the neighbourhood because they have gotten too big for the streets - many residents are opposed) and lined with parked cars.....

This is one of the many local primary schools. Dutch primary schools tend to have a very local catchment area and be numerous but small scale. Children may start at age 4 but are legally required to attend school from 5.
One of the local supermarkets. Many Dutch have a tendency to pop into their supermarket on a daily basis to grab fresh food, instead of doing a huge shop on a weekly basis. This means supermarkets are generally small and compact.
This is the local basketball court where children ride their bikes, sit and talk and sometimes actually play basketball with each other. In winter it is filled with water and becomes the local skate rink and a real neighbourhood gathering point.

 A local playground. Again, small scale and numerous is the theme when it comes to neighbourhood play areas.

This is just about the most popular way of travelling where I live. There are almost as many bikes as there are people in the Netherlands and bike riding begins young.

This is one of the local Dutch snack bars where UFOs are served (unidentified fried objects). There are often long queues! I guess this the Dutch answer to Britain's fish and chip shops.

This building used to house our local library but it was the victim of budget cuts so disappeared a year or so ago. It remains open as the neighbourhood/police post to flag issues or suggestions. 

One of numerous local hairdresser salons in the neighbourhood. There seems to be a Dutch obsession with hairdressers. We have four situated in two little shopping areas in the local neighbourhood. This one is specialised in kids' haircuts and has an array of cars and scooters for the kids to sit in or on. My youngest was there last week for his very first haircut.  

This last picture, whilst showing more typical family homes in my neighbourhood, also shows a street sign for a national drink driving awareness campaign. "BoB" is the designated driver, someone who should avoid alcohol even at those neighbourhood BBQs.
Show me your neighbourhood around the world


  1. Ahhhh having a nostalgic/home sick moment! Weird. Will show you a bit of mine here in the UK.

  2. Many thanks for taking part! Love that hair salon. I have been looking for something like this here for 2 years!

  3. Thank you so much for this virtual tour of your neighborhood! Love the school, and of course, the hair salon. I bet my son would love to go their to get his hair cut. :)

  4. I'm with Nicola on this - nostalgic and a bit 'huis ziek' (homesick). Your photos and descriptions really captured Nederland, Amanda. As my South African friend always says, 'If I'm reincarnated I'd want to come back as a Dutch child'. Thanks for a short visit to memory lane.

  5. LOVE that they turn the basketball court into an ice rink in winter. So cool!

  6. Love those great pictures! I like that beauty salon, tidy and clean.
    Thank you for the virtual tour!

  7. I loved this look at your neighborhood and I also think it's so cool that the basketball court turns into a skating rink!!

  8. You have captured your neighbourhood really well. My over-riding memory of Zoetermeer is that it was the first place that I ever ate an Almond Magnum!

  9. This is such a fun series. I really felt like I was there walking the streets as you pointed things out. I too thought it really neat that they turn the basketball court into an ice skating rink. Sad that you lost the library. :( Are there others in your area to use?

  10. Thanks for all the great comments!! The hair salon is a bit of a local highlight I guess - I'm not sure there is anything else like it nearby.

    Making an ice rink is also a great highlight of the winter season - the kids have so much fun and it's nice to see!

    Kali - Other local neighbourhoods in Zoetermeer still have their library and there is one in the town centre but we use it less than we used the local one because I don't walk by every day. On a positive note though local schools are taking initiatives and housing more expansive libraries of their own and are becoming reading centres to make up for the loss of the library - I'm curious how that will work out.

    Ersatz Expat - that's not the worst memory you could have of Zoetermeer is it? :-)

  11. Great post! And I too have to share my envy for that hair salon - I am yet to find something similar in Munich. But I have only just began looking for one, so there is still time.

  12. Thanks for giving us a peak into you r neighbourhood!

  13. Thanks for giving us a peak into your neighborhood. It really looks like a wonderful place to live.