From binge-watching Dutch reality TV to finding a hobby, Sophie Boisvert has a few ideas for coping with the soggy Dutch weather.
It’s been a year and a half since I (rather scathingly) shared my thoughts on the weather in Holland over at DutchReview. Back then, I must admit that I hardly had myself convinced about the benefits of Dutch weather – I was still working on it. But today, on this rainy, windy, chilly day in August, as I sit bundled up in my fleecy blanket and cling to my mug of coffee for warmth, I can honestly say that I’m getting used to it. Am I in love with it? No. Do I want to be? Yes! And we might as well fall in love with it, too – all that grumbling isn’t adding any years to our lives.
For a big chunk of my time as an expat in the Netherlands, one mystery eluded me: Why did the Dutch seem to be so oblivious to the absolute fest that is their year-round climate? How could they be so emotionally resilient in the face of days upon days of soupy white-grey skies? How was it that they could go through life without owning a single pair of rubber boots or a rain coat? And how on earth do the Dutch maintain such healthy, robust complexions generation after generation? Surely it isn’t the cheese or I’d have started to notice the effects by now.
I came up with a theory that throughout evolutionary history, human beings living in this geographical area have developed a sort of highly useful trait which I called ‘weather-specific amnesia’. Unfortunately for those of us who didn’t grow up in the Netherlands, this trait seems to take years to develop. I have, however, noticed another common theme when speaking to Dutch friends about the weather: unrelenting optimism.
A year and a half later, have I come any closer to achieving that mythical level of Dutchness? I’m not sure. What I do know is that my rain boots are now safely stowed away in my storage unit and – crazier still – I no longer decide whether or not to purchase clothing based on its impermeability. I’m working on falling in love with the weather in the Netherlands, and here are four reasons why you should join me in my quest.
1. It’s the perfect reason to get hobbyin’
I am constantly impressed by the incredible array of fun indoor activities my Dutch friends seem to get up to. At the top of my list is learning to paint with a YouTube art class, such as this one. Thanks to stores like Blokker, Xenos and Hema, you’re only about EUR 20 away from channeling your inner Dutch master. Look no further than the fine tumultuous Dutch skies for inspiration – but do me a favour and stop at the first itch to cut off your own ear.
Even if you aren’t naturally crafty, the vast array of voordeelshops in the Netherlands offer a seemingly endless variety of DIY materials for prices so low you may just convince yourself that you must have 100m of glittery ribbon or a 24-pack of mason jars.
2. Dutch weather heightens the imagination
A while back, as we were walking down the Lange Voorhout in The Hague, my (very Dutch) boyfriend and I got into our umpteenth discussion about the weather here. It was one of those misty, lightly-raining-on-you-from-no-discernible-direction sorts of afternoons, where you are essentially wading your way through one giant, soggy cloud of spittle.
While I lamented the lack of sunshine, the dampness, and the incessant frizziness of my hair, my boyfriend (ever the Dutchman) proclaimed this to be his favourite kind of Dutch weather because it ‘gives everything a mystical feel’ – like stepping into a Harry Potter novel, if you will.
3. It’s always appropriate to binge-watch TV series
Adam Zoekt Eva, anyone? No one could possibly judge you for watching it when it’s pouring outside and you’ve already been so wholesome with the whole painting/crafting/fruit preserves thing (see point 1). Plus think of how much your Dutch might improve!
4. You may officially prepare for year-round hibernation
Could there be a better excuse to carb-load at every meal than a forecast full of grey skies and a 90 percent chance of rain? There’s no better time to compare every major grocery store’s stroopwafel offerings – both the roomboter and caramel varieties – or do as the Dutch and invest in the most beautiful of all kitchen appliances: the deep fryer. Patat oorlog, kroket, kaassoufflé, loempia – there’s a whole culinary genre out there just begging to be fried. But if you’re looking to maximise your total caloric intake, skip the energy expenditure of cooking and head out to one of the country’s many magnificent all-you-can-eat concept restaurants.
And if all else fails, you can always sacrifice your basic human rights and cram yourself onto the next budget flight heading south.
Now tell me: how do you fight off the rainy-day blues? How much rain apparel do you own? Have you fallen in love with the weather in Holland?