UEN Intern

Did you know that…

…The Netherlands ranks sixth in the global ageing index?

 The Global AgeWatch Index has ranked the NL sixth out of 96 countries as one of the best to grow old in. 

The aim of the Index is both to capture the multidimensional nature of the quality of life and well-being of older people and to provide a means by which to measure performance and promote improvements.
 If you are interested to read here you can find the article of IamExpat http://www.iamexpat.nl/read-and-discuss/expat-page/news/netherlands-ranks-sixth-in-global-ageing-index
And here is the link to the Global AgeWatch Index.


Important Dates for the second half of 2015

 We have made plans for the next UEN events until December. Please already keep the dates free in your agenda. Some dates still need to be confirmed, so please watch out for your invitation.
  • Bike Tours, October  24th and 27th

  • Drinks at the Axe Bar October 28th

  • Coffee morning with speaker November 10th

  • Cooking event at the Creative Kitchen November 16th

  • Museum visit on Saturday 21st November

  • Christmas coffee morning, 9th December

Committee News

Unfortunately Alina Maatjes-Siletskaya has decided to step down. Alina has been on the committee for one year. Thank you very much for your time and all the support you have given to the UEN. Wishing you all the best for the future!


The UEN COMMITTEE team  consists of:
Sonja Kaal (German) – treasurer kaaltjes3@gmail.com
Susan Zijderveld (New Zealander) susan.zijderveld@mac.com
Anamaria Suciu (Romanian) analiesuciu@yahoo.com
Maria Vasileiou (Greek) mvasileiou25@gmail.com
Pallavi Lall (Indian) pallavilall@yahoo.co.in
If you are interested to find out more about the work of the committee please contact me any time on monika.voster@unilever.com or one of the committee members.


A big welcome to all newcomers that have arrived over the summer months! From the last quarterly newsletter in June till today we had almost 100 new subscribers to our website, so our Unilever Expatriate Network is constantly growing. At the moment of writing this newsletter we count 836 members.


Mara 2

We like to congratulate Sonja and Erwin Kaal on the birth of their baby daughter Mara Charlotte. She was born on 3rd of September.
In the name of all UEN member I wish you all the best for your daughter and to Floris and Jelte for their little sister and lots of love and happiness with your family!
If you are expecting a baby and you like to let your fellow members know when your baby is born please send me a picture and name and date and I will put it into the next newsletter.


 In this column we like to share information! Any kind of information…. so please feel free to contribute any kind of tips you can think of!

Bike & Bite Tours in Rotterdam


Bike & Bite takes hungry bikers from all over the world on delicious biking trips. We believe that the best way to experience a city, its culture and its people is through a language that we all know: food! Join us for a ride that will give you a taste of Rotterdam’s cultural and culinary highlights and will leave you wanting more…
Besides offering tours for short and long stay tourists, we also offer a tour that specifically caters to expats in the Netherlands. As an expat, you will want to discover more about a city than a tourist would. You will have plenty of time to see the main highlights during your working period here, so we delve into some of Rotterdam’s lesser known but no less exciting places. For example, did you know that the Mayflower departed from a tiny harbour in the west of Rotterdam all those years ago? Or that Rotterdam has its very own ‘city farm’ with a lovely restaurant next door? Or where to get the best cheese and the best fish? Which terraces have the best views? These and many more discoveries will lie on your path if you join us! Visit our website for more details, and have a look at our Facebook and TripAdvisor pages to see the reviews and keep up to date with what we are doing.’
Personal note: I have taken this tour together with UEN committee member Anamaria Suciu and we both thought it was absolutely fantastic. We have indeed discovered parts of Rotterdam where neither of us had been before and the bites were also really good 🙂

bike and bite2

bike and bite5

English Speaking Expat Handyman

Do you need someone to put up your pictures and paintings or to fix your lights and hang up your lamps then you might want to contact:
Rob Burkin, Rob’s Property Maintenance
Watermolen 6
2661 LA Bergschenhoek
Mobile 06 21 33 54 59
Rob is British and has just moved to The Netherlands and would like to continue his Handyman Service in Rotterdam/The Hague area.

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A children’s play area in Rotterdam


Ontdekhoek which literally means “Discovery Corner” in Dutch, is a little play area in the centre of Rotterdam. It is a great place to rouse the innate curiosity in children and initiate them into discovering the ‘Science’ of things.  This is a favourite place to hold a birthday party as well.
There are many activities for children from 4 to 14 years. Even 4 year olds can enjoy making their own potato chips.
Manufacturing your own soap from scratch is a wondrous experience, right from pounding the salts, moulding the shape, choosing your preferred perfume to go in it and the final flourish of packing it, in its own carton.
Cementing a brick wall will bring out the builder in you and there is even more with roads and bridges to be built.
For the ones who prefer the wet and wild adventures, there are dams to be built, cows to be milked and much more. Even the sewing machine evinces keen interest.
With so many more activities still to be explored, the time spent at the Ontdekhoek just slips away.
It is a great way to play and learn for the kids and for the grown-ups it is a very exciting way to re-discover science through the eyes of a child.
Address: Crooswijkseweg 36, 3034 HL Rotterdam, Tel 010-414 31 03
Opening hours Rotterdam:
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
Tuesday and Thursday by appointment only (you need to call beforehand)
 Tickets are 11 Euro per child and 9 Euro per adult
There is also an Ontdeckhoek in Amsterdam, Zwolle and Den Bosch.

The Leiden Lunch Trip – Walking Tour

By Tom Goodwin

 Leiden 1 

A few weeks ago, following a very successful visit to Delft, the UEN proposed a tour of Leiden with lunch. This involved being guided round some of the more fascinating corners of Holland’s most famous University town. As the Delft trip had been such a memorable day, many people clamoured to join this next one.
    Most people wisely met outside Leiden Central train station at 11:30am, as they were coming from Rotterdam. A few of the more energetic (or perhaps foolhardy?) couldn’t resist the lure of biking there…
    So, at 9:45am a motley crew of Unilever wives and husbands gathered at Den Haag Centraal Station. There was Anamaria, Manuela, Mara, Xavi and myself.
 “Who knows the way?” was the surprising first question that greeted us on arrival.
This didn’t bode well. Despite over twenty years of living in the Netherlands between us, it soon transpired that none of us had ever cycled the 25km to Leiden.
 What could possibly go wrong?
 “You lead us.” They proposed.
 I looked around to see to whom they were talking. There was no-one behind me.
Do they mean me, I thought?
Now pretty much anything could go wrong.
 As we set off, it became clear that nearly half of our group had never spent more than ten minutes on a bike in their lives. Very un-Dutch!
This was getting better all the time.
 Enjoyable bike-travel in the Netherlands is heavily dependent on the weather. Wind? No problem. Rain? Not really a problem. Wind and Rain? Getting a bit more problematic…
 Suffice it to say, that we were blessed with clement weather. The sun shone, the wind blew somewhere else, and the rain was nowhere to be seen. Anamaria took all the credit for the weather and was so pleased with her forecasting ability that she confidently promised us a sunny evening for the UEN beach party. The less said about that, the better!
 I grew up in Holland as my father worked for the other great Anglo-Dutch multinational, yet almost the entirety of the first half of our trip was on bike paths that had not existed 25 years ago when I last lived here. Nonetheless, we easily made it to Voorschoten on wonderful paths through the fields. Being the end of May, the flowers were in full bloom, and the scents wafted over the meadows filling the air with a hundred different perfumes. This was biking at its best.
 After a brief photo-stop, where we upset numerous natives by taking up both bike-lanes as we posed amongst the polders, we continued on.
 Soon we were approaching the outskirts of Leiden. This was just as well, as some in the group were beginning to get saddle sore. By now we were being overtaken by peloton after peloton of ‘serious’ riders zooming on their way. Holland never seems big enough, the speed they’re going!
 It was therefore with a sense of relief that we met up with the (infinitely more sensible and less sweaty) train passengers. There were about twenty souls, all ready for an in depth tour of Leiden. Visibly happier to have now discarded their bikes, our little group joined and tried really hard to look like we always walked slightly strangely.

Leiden 7

Our guide Sebastien Leroy (another Unilever partner) was from France, and despite starting the tour by informing us that he’d never guided in Leiden before, did a great job. As I was the owner of a Tour Guiding company in Rome this was a big no-no, but fortunately he made up for it by giving us a superb tour.  The highlight for many people was the Almshouses. These were a revelation. From the outside nothing gave away that behind ordinary wooden doors (admittedly under ornate carved cornices) lay these wonderful jewels, enchanting courtyards, mostly dating from the sixteen or seventeen hundreds. Open to the public between 9 and 5, these were mainly inhabited by students these days, so we kept as silent as we were able thereby not waking any sleeping souls – despite it being lunchtime.
We also visited the site of Rembrandt’s birthplace.  This Grand Master of Dutch painting was the son of windmill owners (what else?), but sadly the original house where he had lived was no more.
 After a few more almshouse visits, and a look at one of the two remaining impressive city gates, it was time for lunch. We boarded a barge and had a very pleasant meal on the water. What could be more fitting?
The company was as exquisite as the food, and all too soon, we had to begin to make our way back to the station. We waved goodbye to our fellow train passengers, agreeing that we should repeat the experience the next time we could count on the weather – over to you Anamaria?
 Sadly I had to race off to pick my kids up from school, but I was reliably informed that the bicycle journey back to The Hague was a more relaxed affair that the way there, with many stops, some driven by the scenery, others by necessity.
  All in all it was a fine day out, and one that I would definitely recommend to anyone with a bike. Thank you UEN for organizing such a fun day out – and a big thank you to my fellow bikers…
Tour de France 2016 anyone?

UEN Family Day at Plaswijckpark, 27 June

By Johanna and David Fayers

 Plaswijckpark 2

What an amazing day out!  We joined the Plaswijckpark excursion with our two little boys (Daniel, 6 years, and Alexander, 3 years) and stayed almost until closing time.  We were welcomed by Sonja and Maria and also met another Unilever family whom we knew from previous events.  It was great to catch up with them and share experiences from the last few months.
The highlight for Daniel was driving the go-carts (he still talks about it now even though we were there 3 months ago).  He went on a ‘little trip’ to the shops, got petrol (pretend, of course), went down a bumpy track and raced round the roundabouts.  It’s quite a big track for the older children, however, Alexander was still too small and had to stay on the baby track.
The swan pedalo was also good fun and once we were comfortable that our little one would stay in his seat and not attempt to jump in the water, it was very relaxing!
There is so much to do (including a boat trip, a water area, zip line, carrousel, indoor play areas, playgrounds, a train…) that I can’t do it justice here.  We can highly recommend Plaswijckpark and would like to thank the team for organizing this wonderful family event!

End of Summer BBQ at the Labtap 24 September 


The weather didn’t look promising at all. It was raining all day long and we were supposed to have our end of summer BBQ? Well, when the BBQ’s were brought and a party tent build up as cover for the chefs the rain subsided.
From quarter to six it stayed dry and in good UEN fashion a nice evening with deliciously grilled meat could start. I actually have to rephrase my sentence here…a nice evening with deliciously braai-ed meat could start. Yes, this year we had various UEN volunteers from South Africa who took over the preparing of the meat and fish. First they had to get used to the fact that they had to use a gas BBQ (which was actually the first time) but then they braai-ed away.
Thank you to Dane Barton and Ridhwaan Sabat and all the others to keep them company!
Inside, the UEN members started to arrive slowly and with them the ingredients for a truly international buffet. Almost everyone brought either a side dish from their home or a yummy baked cake, cookies etc. There was pasta salad Berliner Art, Guacamole, Turkish Kisir, Rice Salad, Tzatziki and so much more and the dessert table was not any less inspiring with chocolate cake, cheese cake, little coconut chocolate balls which were really delicious but at least 1000 calories each :p (see recipe below) and again so much more.
About 60 UEN members (coming from Vlaardingen, Weena and Nassaukade) and 13 children from more than 22 nationalities enjoyed a happy evening together chatting, eating, drinking, playing table football and making new friends. This was also a very good setting to say “Thank you” to UEN volunteers Michael Rauch and Jurek Swiatek for their wonderful work of providing the UEN with a new website, logo and newsletter format.
All in all another entertaining international BBQ evening was had at the Labtap in Vlaardingen!


Coconut Chocolate Pralines

prepared by Federica Tritschler


300 g. ricotta cheese (Galbani);
100 g. coconut flour;
100 g. of sugar (I use 80g, it’s up to you);


Sift the ricotta in a bowl and add the sugar.
Work well with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
Then, add the coconut flour and mix well.
When the mixture is ready (creamy enough to make the pralines), take a portions of the size of a walnut and form the pralines that pass in the cocoa.
After making all the pralines, place them in the refrigerator to rest for a few hours before serving.

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Name:  Azzurra Piattellaazzurra
 Age:   43
 Current job:   At present I’m a full time wife and mum with many cultural and social interests.
How long have you been in Holland/ a member of the UEN? I moved to the Netherlands with my family (coming from Italy) a bit more than one year ago and I became a UEN member five months later when I discovered this nice and interesting way of sharing ideas,  thoughtless moments but also notable information on world priorities (such as sustainability).
What do you like best about working and living in the Netherlands? Regarding my living in the Netherlands  I can say that I appreciate the join between  tradition and modernity, the international environment, the children’ happiness  when they are on their parents’ bikes, the running spring clouds in the blue sky and a lot of other daily aspects.
 Is there anything you absolutely do not like?  There is nothing I actually do not like, but I’m rather disappointed if the weather is rainy all weekend long.
 What do you miss from your home country?   Even though my life is really happy in the Netherlands, I miss a lot of people, situations and landscapes from my own country: my parents playing with my children, the chance of teaching and writing about italian art, the Ninfa Gardens in every season (I’m councilor in Roffredo Caetani Foundation), the familiar, native view of Circeo mirroring on the sea at the sunset.
 What’s the biggest difference between Holland and your own country?  When you feel at home, differences are a great opportunity to make your life a beautiful adventure. However,,,,sunshine….but  nevermind!

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