December 25, 2020

Christmas time at 24oranges HQ

Filed under: General,Music by Orangemaster @ 1:50 pm

What a year! Who doesn’t need a break? We really do.

As far as postings go, we had a tough time keeping up in general this year, but a lot stuff has been sorted to be able to post more regularly. We’ve upgraded a lot of things in the background.

It’s Christmas day now, and the plan is to eat easy-to-make yet but nice Christmas food and watch a few Christmas classics.

Like every year, co-blogger Branko will come up with a list of his favourite stories of 2020, which should be online at some point.

If you need very different Christmas music, there’s always our friends at Christmas a Go Go!

Happy Holidays from 24oranges HQ! Stay safe and stay sane!

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December 25, 2015

24oranges HQ closes shop for a day

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 1:23 pm


The 24oranges tree is the same every year, but decorated slightly differently. I found it years ago abandoned on Queen’s Day (now King’s Day) in a big blue IKEA tote bag and it does the job just fine. This year it has candy canes I bought in the UK (not a Dutch thing) and some baubles made by friends.

Today’s menu is wild mushroom stew Bourgignon, which means red wine is involved, and home made almond shortbread cookies. Oh, and the fantastic French cheese that someone brought from France and left me to eat upon returning to France for the holidays, you know who you are.

Branko will again have a Top 10 list of this year’s favourite stories before the end of the year. Thanks for the comments, the likes and following us on Twitter. We’ll try and be more present on instagram (if only we could toggle between accounts!) in 2016 and we’ll keep uploading great Dutch pics on Flickr.

Happy Holidays, and for anyone who is working, have a good day and take care!

UPDATE: we took a few days.

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August 25, 2013

Dutch house owners spend their holiday bonuses on mortgage payments

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:11 pm

ABN Amro’s mortgage portfolio has decreased by 0.3 billion euro because house owners have been making extra payments using their holiday bonuses, the troubled bank writes in its interim financial report for 2013 (PDF, page 41).

Z24 discovered this titbit and adds that according to TNS Nipo (a polling company) 1 in 5 home owners would like to make extra mortgage payments. Dutch banks generally penalize extra payments above a threshold of 10% to 15% of the loan.

Dutch employees have a right to a holiday bonus of 8% of their annual salary. Employers usually pay this bonus in May before the summer holidays start.

House prices in the Netherlands have been declining for a couple of years now, resulting in a negative balance: home owners, especially young ones, owe the bank more money than their home is worth. Z24 says that home owners use their holiday bonuses to help pay off their mortgages partially because the interest on savings accounts is at a very low point. These extra payments are not enough, the financial news site says, to counter the declining house prices.

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December 25, 2011

De Sjonnies sing M’n Fiets is Gejat

Filed under: Bicycles,General,Music by Branko Collin @ 1:03 pm

Feliz Navidad, that sounds almost but not quite like M’n Fiets is Gejat (2007, My Bike was Stolen).

My bike was stolen (3x)
That sucks
My bike was stolen (3x)
That sucks

I don’t want to walk home
I have no money to buy a new one
By now my bike is at the bottom of the canal (gracht)

De Sjonnies (The Johnnies, named after Amsterdam singer Johnny Jordaan) were a Nijmegen based band from the 1990s and 2000s who had a smallish hit in 1995 with Dans Je de Hele Nacht met Mij? (Will You Dance All Night With Me?). As I was a student in Nijmegen in those days, I heard that song rather a lot.

Let me conclude by wishing you a mijn fiets is gejat from the bottom of my gracht.

Video: Youtube/Thijs de Nijs. Link: David Hembrow.

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June 14, 2010

Tourists stay away from Greece

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:20 am

The number of Dutch tourists planning to spend their summer holiday in Greece is down 10% from last year. Competing countries like Spain and Turkey are up from last year, travel agent Steven van Nieuwenhuizen of D-Reizen told De Pers.

Competitor Jonas de Groot of Sunweb has noticed the same trend. “The people who are still picking their destination at this time of the year aren’t too choosy about where they go. They will gladly pick another Mediterranean beach.” According to De Groot, the booking rate for Greece stayed the same throughout the news of the impending bankruptcy of the country, but it was the news of the massive unrest and strikes that has cooled the Dutch tourist’s enthusiasm for Greece.

Hundreds of thousands of Dutch people spend their holidays in Greece each year.

(Photo by Jon Rawlinson, some rights reserved)

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April 30, 2009

Queen’s Day 2009

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:30 pm

Being a bit of pack rat, the Queen’s Day nation-wide flea market has always had a bit of a dangerous attraction for me. Oh no, not more stuff to hide away in the house! This year I decided to turn things around and get rid of some of my mathoms through the vrijmarkt.

I am back early, here to tell you that people don’t know quality if it’s right under their noses! In the space of four hours I sold all of two ping-pong balls, my high school Dutch grammar text books, a small comic book, a cigar case, a medical dictionary that Orangemaster gave me to sell, and another small comic book that the purchaser came back two minutes later to return because at her young age she did not speak German yet.

Conclusion: henceforth I will stick to buying. It’s what I am good at.

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December 5, 2008

How to celebrate Sinterklaas

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 3:07 pm

If you were uncertain on whether to put the carrot for the horse in the left or the right shoe, whether to start singing Zie ginds komt de stoomboot or Sinterklaasje Bonne Bonne Bonne first, or whether it is allowed to make veiled references to the thing you had with your best friend’s wife in the poem you wrote for his surprise, fear not, NEN to the rescue! Last year, the Dutch Standards Institute (NEN) published its standards for the celebration of Sinterklaas (PDF, mostly Dutch) so that now we know how all participants should behave during the celebration.

Oh, that poem thing? The rules are defined in a separate document, NTA 0712.

Link: Sargasso. Photo by Aloxe, some rights reserved.

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August 2, 2008

Cheese most popular “caravan food”

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 11:37 am

We’re in the middle of the six week school holiday period, so Dutch travel trailers have once again spread out across Europe. Not only do we have a reputation of traveling with trailers but also of bringing along our own food—what do you mean, we have to integrate too?

According to a study by insurance company Fortis though, bringing along your own food is in decline. “Only” a quarter of the Dutch still bring along foods (quote-unquote both by Z24 and me). Legend has it that we like to bring along our own spuds, but the study shows that the most popular caravan comestible is cheese, followed by chocolate sprinklings (hagelslag) and black liquorice (drop). Somewhat embarrassed I must admit the latter two make sense to me: hagelslag just goes well with French bread, and liquorice and iPods can help while away the long hours on the road.

Photo by Jon Sullivan, released into the public domain by its author.

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April 30, 2008

Queen’s Day 2008

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 7:08 pm

Queen’s Day 2008: if you weren’t dressed for the occasion, there were vendors more than willing to help you remedy that. After the nation-wide flea market we went dumpster diving, and as will happen we found some of our biggest treasures then.

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April 26, 2008

Country shuts down for the first half of May

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:00 am

Due to the unusually early first moon of spring, all the major Christian holidays are early this year, almost colliding with the traditional Dutch holidays. Starting next week: April 30, Queen’s Day—May 1, Ascension Day—May 5, Liberation Day—May 12, Pentacost. This year, the schools close down for the first two weeks of May, and families seem to take the opportunity to go on holidays. According to De Telegraaf (Dutch), 3.5 million Dutch people will go away for the next two weeks, up 1.5 million from last year. AD quotes (Dutch) Bas Hoogland, CEO of Landal Greenparks, as saying: “It’s as if the entire country closes down for the first two weeks of May. There is a huge sense of ‘holiday urgency.’ Many parents don’t feel like spending two weeks at home with the kids.”

The clash of holidays has also brought forward the Lintjesregen (rain of ribbons), the mass-awarding of royal decorations which takes place every year on Queen’s Day, the Dutch national holiday. Queen’s Day was traditionally held on the Queen’s birthday, but that tradition changed when Queen Beatrix ascended the throne in the 1980s. Beatrix’s birthday is in January, whereas her mother was born on the much warmer April 30, so it was decided that the latter day would be maintained.

Radio DJ Coen Swijnenberg life-long’s wish was to cross-dress as Queen Beatrix, and Veronica Magazine helped him make that wish come true this week (photo). Cross-dressing is not the norm for Queen’s Day, but people will don orange for the occasion.

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