Duinrell Review

Being married to a TN’er (typical nederlander) means I’m constantly on the lookout for a bargain. And there’s no better bargain than a holiday one! So when I heard through the powers of facebook that BreakFree Holidays were offering cheap breaks in my adopted homeland I knew exactly where I wanted to book. Duinrell.

 

What is Duinrell?

Duinrell is a holiday park, theme park and water park all rolled into one. We visited here in the October half term, staying for 4 nights. We had booked through BreakFree Holidays for the bargain price of £230. Looking on the official website for the same dates (albeit staying in chalets as opposed to a caravan) we wouldn’t have seen change from £600!

Bearing in mind how little we had paid my expectations of our holiday were considerably low. I’d never visited the theme park before though my husband had visited both the park and water park about 25 years previously and remembered it being ‘ok’.

But I needn’t have worried. Our trip more than surpassed my expectations and we ended up having a truly wonderful holiday.

Location

The whole complex is located on the edge of the dutch village Wassenaar. It is situated in Western holland so very handy if travelling by boat to the Hook of Holland or flying in to Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

Being on the west side means you have access to some great beaches such as Scheveningen, Katwijk, Noordwijk and Wassenaar Beach.

It is also only a 15minute drive to The Hague, where the dutch parliament buildings are housed. Leiden, a beautifully historic town, is only 20 minutes drive. And perhaps our favourite of all day trips was Madurodam. Located in The Hague, this is more than just a miniature village. It’s a fully immersive tour through dutch history and a celebration of all that is great about The Netherlands.

Facilities

The holiday park is located on the outskirts of the amusement park, though it’s handy to know that when the theme park closes you are still able to walk through the park to access facilities on the other side, without having to take a massive detour.

The theme park itself is great fun for all ages. We especially enjoyed the Dragon Fly roller coaster, which my youngest was just tall enough for at 100cm. Being a huge DisneyWorld fan I set my expectations quite high when it comes to theme parks and whereas Duinrell is no where in that league, it does have some pretty decent attractions, and no I wasn’t brave enough to go on ‘Mad Mill’!

There are a number of food places available, such as snack bar that does takeaway pizza, La Place restaurant, buffet restaurant and also a well stocked supermarket. We personally found the food to be quite expensive and not the best quality.

The on site shop was very well stocked (except for one morning when they ran out of pain au chocolates) but we found it to be also overpriced. So we took the great advice of many before us and ventured into Wassenaar village and shopped at the local Jumbo.

The arcade is good fun and not badly priced at 1 euro per game. We never got to go bowling or hire bikes, but both are available at Duinrell.

Don’t forget to take a passport size photo of yourself which you need for access into the holiday park and water park. It doesn’t actually need to be a proper passport photo, I just trimmed up some photos I had lying around of us all into roughly the same size as a passport photo!

Image result for duinrell map

Accommodation

As we had booked through BreakFree Holidays we were allocated a Eurocamp 3 bed 1 bath Esprit. Having read that these were somewhat older models, I was apprehensive. And yes the caravan was starting to show its age but it was spacious for our family of 5 and it had a huge deck which I can see in warmer weather being a fantastic addition.

What I loved most about the accommodation was how much room we had outside! Now we could have been just lucky but looking around, no one is crammed in. Every caravan or lodge/chalet had plenty of outside space. You are allowed to drive cars on the site but are expected to park them at the ample group parking spaces located all over the park.

Our caravan was opposite one of the entrances to the park, which meant we could roll out of bed at 9:50 and be on our favourite DragonFly at opening.

It seems that the cheaper the accommodation, the closer to the theme park you are. This absolutely did not bother us as we were happy to be able to nip back to use the toilet or grab something to eat, and we never had any problems with noise. However I can imagine that is not the same for all caravans, and those located nearer to the plaza may have some noise at nighttimes.

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Food

This is perhaps the only slight disappointment we encountered on our trip. The food offerings, whilst ample, were not the best quality and over priced.

We ate at the La Place restaurant, which is a self service type eatery, and also ordered food from the snack bar. Both experiences were a let down. Many tourists coming from the UK do so using only public transport, so leaving the site to do a big food shop or eat out is not possible. In my opinion Duinrell need to up their game when it comes to food offering. I don’t mind paying a slight premium but then I expect good quality. However there’s nothing to stop you hiring bikes and cycling off site in search of decent food!

We ventured out twice into Wassenaar for dinner and ate at two very nice Italian restaurants. My advice would be to utilise transport and eat out of Duinrell!

 

The Tiki Bad

Worthy of it’s own paragraph, the Tiki Bad is quite possibly the best water park in the Netherlands. With 16 different water slides, a dedicated kids and baby area, as well as a wave pool, this pool caters to everyone.

Be aware that there are height restrictions for many of the slides, and also for the use of armbands. My 6 year old son, who has his Swim Diploma, had to wear armbands due to being under 120cm. You can imagine his older brother’s delight when this happened!

The swimming pool opens at 10am and as we had booked through a third party (Eurocamp/BreakFree) we had to pay. We opted for 3 hours pool use for 6.50euros per person. If you book your holiday direct  through Duinrell you are entitled to two hours free pool time (during certain hours) per day.

My advice would be to get there early! We were in the pool at 10:05 and my oldest son and husband had done most of the rides without queueing, in the first 30 minutes. Leaving at lunchtime we could see just how busy the pool had become and were glad we got here early to enjoy the relative peace.

Overall Experience

Despite the disappointment with food we really enjoyed our stay here. There is literally something for everyone. We were very lucky with the weather which meant we usually spent our mornings in the theme park and the afternoon’s exploring the surrounding cities and attractions. And despite it being a school holiday the park didn’t feel too busy due the clever lay out of all the attractions.

The kids still talk about Duinrell and can’t wait to go back and make more rude gestures in the Shadow House!

 

 

Giving birth in the Netherlands

What’s it really like to give birth in a foreign country, especially one which has the HIGHEST rate of home birth in Western Europe and you’re planning on requesting an elective c-section…

 

When we arrived in the Netherlands back in the summer of 2014 I was around 28 weeks pregnant with my third child. My husband had been signed to a football club in Emmen and we were given a ‘holiday home’ to temporarily live in whilst we searched for something more permanent for our soon to be family of 5.

emmen house

 

Why I chose to have a c-section

Due to the nature of my first two birth experiences (10lb + baby, back to back etc etc) I was advised by health providers in England to go for a csection if I ever decided to have a third. Having been scared shitless by stories regarding the dutch and their preference for unmedicated home births (25% of births in the Netherlands are at home, compared with just 2% in the UK) I prepared myself for battle with my hospital consultant but I needn’t have worried! I explained everything about my first two birthing experiences and my consultant was more than happy to schedule me in for a csection on my actual due date- Monday 3rd November.

Mondays child

How the dutch do it

I was monitored every couple of weeks, including growth scans and blood/urine tests. I also had a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) due to my first son being so huge, which luckily came back negative.

I was also visited by a kraamzorg a few weeks before I was due. A kraamzorg is something completely unique to the Netherlands and definitely something the UK could benefit from introducing. She is a cross between a maternity nurse, au pair, cleaner, cook and support system all rolled in to one.

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Our kraamzorg came armed with leaflets and advised us that she would be with us the day I left the hospital and would be with us a maximum of 10 days as I was having a csection (normally its around 5 days post birth).

 

Birth Day!

And then the day was finally here! We had luckily just purchased a house 6 days before (great timing!!) which meant that the last few days were action packed, as well as my oldest son starting primary school in our new neighbourhood at the same time.

walters first day school

We were expected at the hospital at 10am and by 1:30pm my baby girl was born. We didn’t know the sex and after two boys I really expected to see another little willy. I had asked for the doctors not to tell me what sex the baby was but to just hold him/her up so I could see for myself. And what a surprise it was. The section itself was totally calm and I was able to cuddle Sylvie straight away, and she was kept with me the whole time.

syvlie and me

The nurses who accompanied me down to theatre were amazing and did such a good job of keeping us all calm and also made sure my mother, who had flown over from the UK, was kept up to date as only my husband was allowed to accompany me into theatre.

Soon after the birth I was wheeled back to my private room and was able to tell my mum that the bundle I was holding in my arms was a little girl. A truly priceless moment.

I ended up staying in the hospital for 3 nights, with the nurses making me buzz them everytime I needed to do something for Sylvie so that I could recover as much as possible.

When we arrived home on the thursday we were joined by our kraamzorg, who’s duty it was to take over the household activities such as cooking, cleaning and getting the boys from school, as well as doing regular checks on me and the baby. However as I had both my mum and husband home I didn’t really feel like I needed an extra person in the house and I sent her away after only a few days. My personal experience with the kraamzorg differed wildly to that of my friends, some of whom cried when their kraamzorg left!

kim k crying

 

Comparing a dutch birth to one in the UK

Overall I was extremely impressed by the level of care offered by the dutch health care system. Everything seemed geared towards making sure that mum fully recovered so that she could take care of the baby. I know that I personally struggled with how quickly I was discharged from the hospital in England after I’d given birth to my first two children, with little to no advice on breast feeding and still suffering from the after affects of a traumatic delivery. I was lucky I had a very supportive husband and my mum looking after me once I was home but for many women I can imagine that isn’t always the case.

 

Dutch Traditions

A few days after Sylvie was born her older brother Walter got to carry out the first of many dutch traditions- bringing ‘beschuit met muisjes” to school to celebrate the birth of his sister. They are a sort of rusk with a sprinkling of either pink or blue aniseed balls and are traditional to eat after the birth of a child (I actually ate one of these in the hospital!) the idea being the aniseed stimulates milk production!

walter beschuit met muisjes

So there you have it, my first (and only!) experience of giving birth in the Netherlands, any questions please ask!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the heck is Dunglish?

So you’ve stumbled across my blog, perhaps you weren’t sure what people spoke in Holland (Hollandy? Netherlandish?). Or you have literally translated a dutch word into english and are wondering where the funny looks are coming from…

questions answers signage

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Well wonder no more, Dunglish is actually an amalgamation of the english language and the dutch, a smorgsabord (not a dutch word) if you like. It’s used for the mistakes that the dutch people make when translating things into english (which actually isn’t that often, seen as the Dutch have been voted for the 500th year in a row ‘best speaker of english other than english people themselves’-don’t believe me check here), or more commonly when literal translations go WRONG.

wrong

A Prime Example

It is said that when the dutch foreign minister Joseph Luns (a keen horse breeder) met JFK and was asked about his hobbies, he replied ‘I fok horses’

horse

JFK naturally replied ‘pardon?’ with which Luns exclaimed ‘Yes! Horses!!” Paarden being the dutch word for horses and fok meaning to breed.

Of course there are many more examples, what with the word order being totally backwards in dutch or forwards depending which way you look at it (the verb goes on the end of the sentence, I mean how bloody odd is that!).

 

It’s not just mistakes

Having lived here in NL for four years now I like to think that dunglish isn’t just about making mistakes with translations but actually the peppering of the dutch language with  english connotations and vice versa. How lovely that for many bilinguals living here we get to choose from the vocabulary of two languages instead of one. Though I wouldn’t  recommend telling a waiter in the UK that the meal you just enjoyed was like an angel peeing on your tongue.

It-tastes-as-if-there-an-angel