HERMANO SEGUNDO GOES DUTCH:VAGUE IN THE HAGUE
It’s been a busy couple of days with lots of meetings with stressed out driving in between as I tried to work out street names that seem to use every letter of the alphabet and one way systems that seem to go every which way but the way I wanted to.
However, on the whole, worthwhile and fun and Holland ( or at least the bit I am in ) is very beautiful indeed.
Day two saw me finish my meetings in Utrecht and head up to the prosperous town of Baaren to visit one of our biggest publishing partners. After an excellent meeting, I finally found my way to my hotel. One of the more odd experiences of my life.
The Kasteel Hooghe is a huge mansion with nearly a hundred rooms and as many staff. As far as I could tell, I was the only guest. All a bit odd as I rattled around in the cavernous building and took a stroll in the 40 acres of land before supper. With not a soul in sight apart from the odd member of staff who popped up now and again with a cheery greeting. I kept on thinking back to old Hammer horror films and half expected to wake up during the night to find I was strapped to a table while lots of unfeasibly tall Dutchmen were standing around me chanting diabolic incantations with pillow cases on their heads.
Given that there was me and lord knows how many staff, dinner was pretty shameful. A typically over fancy hotel dish of stuffed plaice was practically raw and I left most of it. However, by then, I was too tired to care and slunk off to bed. Double locking the door, of course.
Suffice to say, I am still here and no bits of me, that shouldn’t be, have been, er, explored.
Day three was more of the same. Two enjoyable meetings in the morning and then the longer drive West to Den Haag. After a few panic strewn phone calls and an unfortunate request to the female receptionist to “guide me in” I found myself in the basic but charming hotel I had selected at random on the internet. True to form, it turned out to be 30 minutes walk from the centre and I faced more eye rolling at the thought that I may want to go on foot rather than borrow a bicycle.
Still, I had been in the car for most of the last few days so a stroll was definitely in order before supper.
A lovely town as, I guess I should expect the centre of European justice should be. Parades of elegant shops and large open spaces.
A quick couple of gassy beers later, I was ready for something to eat and happened upon Da Hardans which looked cheery and warm. It was cold by now and I had forgotten my hat ( which for those of you who know me, presents, shall we say certain ear issues ) so I dipped inside and an entirely delightful waitress showed me to a table without one use of the word “also”
She also helped translate the menu which, apart from the odd word, was just, well, Dutch to me. Pretty hearty stuff and while I chose they brought me out a freebie of courgette soup which took the edge of the cold.
A terribly well made seafood consommé was a good choice to begin. Made with lobster and crayfish shells, she told me. The sort of thing that only restaurants have time and effort to make.
To follow, a decent chunk of limousine beef which was cooked rare as asked for and came with an unnecessary throw back to the 1980’s by way of an overly strong peppercorn sauce. Quite nice though.
As it was the last day, I treated myself to pud and was presented with a well made molten chocolate something or other. Not too shabby at all.
With a glass of non descript red and white the bill came to about EU40 ( about £25 ) which represents pretty good value.
I took the opportunity to look in some of the shops on my stroll back to the hotel. One of which was a very posh designer sex shop which had in the window an enormous plastic phallus with a sign underneath saying “LARGE ASS STUFFER: THE PERFECT GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS”
As I said before.
Gotsta love the Dutch.