Category Archives: Daily life

Day Of Hearts… I Love You!

HartjesdagOriginally Hartjesdag (Day of Hearts) was a festival celebrated on the third Monday in August in the areas of Haarlem and Bloemendaal and in various parts of Amsterdam, particularly around the Haarlemmerplein, in the Jordaan, and on Zeedijk. On Hartjesdag fires were kindled and children collected money. Later it developed itself into a type of cross-dressing carnival, where men dressed as women, and women dressed as men. A typical scene was captured in the oil painting entitled Hartjesdag, by the artist Johan Braakensiek in 1926.

During the German occupation in 1942 the Hartjesdag became prohibited, and after the war it eventually became obsolete. In 1997 a local committee on Zeedijk, Amsterdam, decided to see if they could revive the tradition. Each year since then, the festival has flourished into a two-day event on the 3rd weekend in August.

Where the name Hartjesdag comes from is not clear. Probably it has arisen in the Middle Ages. It is suspected that the name is a bastardisation of ‘hertjesdag‘ (Deer Day). This was a festival where in the forests around Haarlem deer (herten) hunting could be done by the ordinary people, which was normally reserved for nobility. The deer were then taken to Amsterdam and roasted in the streets.

On Sunday evening it’s now ‘Night of Romance’, when at the bars and restaurants, but also in small theaters in the surrounding streets, live music is played and songs are sung. On Monday they start with a brunch for the people of the neighborhood, and the ones who feel part of the neighborhood (like me, and I live 4.5km on the other side of town). After brunch the ‘Hearts’ (people who normally don’t cross-dress) and ‘Queens’ (the ones who do!) can register to win a prize at the end of the day.

I was greeted by a creature looking as ‘Divine’ who knew me by name, and I didn’t know who he was. I do know now, and when he dares to do it, with consent of his wife, I can do it too… next year!

Here are some photos who were posted on Facebook, I thanked the photographers already. They are in random order, and will change place every time you open this page. Click on one and it will open in a new page, there you can scroll through them.


Yesterday’s Pride Walk also broke a new record, while the front of the walk passed halfway over Rokin, near Dam square (the destination), the last people of the walk just left the beginning at Vondelpark, a stretch of 2 km (1.24 miles). Traffic and public transport was blocked for nearly an hour and a half.

You may think that’s not that far or long, but those of you that have visit the centre of Amsterdam, and have seen the traffic through the narrow streets, cyclists included, know how a great havoc this can become.

The flags you see are from the 79 nations in the world where you can’t show whom you love, or live the life you want to live. In 12 of them you are killed for being gay.

I was somewhere half a kilometer behind this group, just turning up at  Munt square, driving my mobility scooter and Pink Noord banner, a local group of LGBT’s who meet for drinks. (BTW this photo was taken while we were still waiting in Vondelpark.
Next to me is Els also in a scooter, she’s a huge supporter for human rights, who lives on the opposite side of town in the Southeast.

American friend Bob Newmark who lives in Amsterdam posted 444 photos of the Pride Walk on Facebook. You can find me and his photos here.

The Party Has Started…

DSC00695-1EuroPride 2016 in Amsterdam has just started.  My first thing today was attending the opening of the photo expo of Café ‘t Mandje (the Basket) @ St Olaf’s chapel on Zeedijk. This bar is Gay friendly since 1927, when it was still a crime to be Gay. I’m a customer of the bar but also a friend of the one who made the concept for the show.

Hi, I'm Amy Huiswijn and I present to you De Roze Poort (The Pink Gate)
Hi, I’m Amy Huiswijn and I present to you De Roze Poort (The Pink Gate)

Again I met many people I know, and told them about our new project, which includes the concept-maker, and we’ve had several people who want to contribute to our project. Especially after they heard what happened. First a residential care home would pick-up the bill, but they wanted total control, but never showed up when we invited them. Now we’re doing the same thing but on a private basis, and several care homes want to join in the concept.

Later today I’ll join the Pride Walk, not walking but driving in the mobility-scooter. Just as a few years back carrying the Pink Noord banner, a local group who meets each other every two months for a drink, and make plans for other activities we could do together.


Hidden Gems

Amsterdam is a city full of hidden gems, some in plain sight (but overlooked) and others in places you don’t expect them. For IDAHOT (International Day against Homo-, Bisexual- and Trans phobia) we did a show at CMA on Paradijsplein. In the former meter-building of the Eastern Gas Works. Inside it looks like a bar / theater from the turn of the century, red velvet, ostrich feathers and ‘brocante’ which translates best to flea-market art. When I told the rest of the crew what the surrounding looked like, I said “its old trash but its got atmosphere.”
If you’re looking for me, I’m not in the picture! These people are the ones that are important, my job is doing the design and styling of the flyers / posters and taking care of the mon€y that goes in and out. That was May 17.

Last night I went out to dinner with friends, our first stop was the Proeflokaal (Dutch for tasting tavern) of Wynand Fockink. Many Amsterdammers have never been there or know of its existence, and I like to keep it that way. It’s one of the gems of the city.

-slurping-tulip-glasYou will find the Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal and liquor store in the Pijlsteeg, an alley behind the National Monument on the Dam square in Amsterdam. In around 1679 Wynand Fockink started a liqueur distillery. Soon a Proeflokaal was added, where customers could taste and buy the products. To this day, this practice has continued; here liqueurs and genevers are still being made using the same 17th century traditional craft methods. Wynand Fockink produces more than 70 Dutch liqueurs and genevers which can be tasted in an authentic 17th century environment in the old time honoured way of bowing to the drink and slurping the first sip from a traditional tulip glass.

Knowing what we would have for dinner, cod, we had us poured a ‘Mykonos’, a shot of Angostura bitter, a shot of Singelburger bitter (with a hint of ginger in it) and to finish the drink off a shot of lemon liqueur. Then we made a bow to the drink and slurped the first sip. Why waste good stuff because the glasses are filled to the brim.

Afterwards we went to Casablanca, to stay in the theme of southern places. Casablanca is a small theater restaurant on Zeedijk, which I’ve passed many times but never went in. Until now.

The decor is circus, all around, posters, clothing, props and Corgy toys of circus cars and trucks from the fifties. We had a wonderful meal, a vegetable stracciatella soup*, cod and a sweet dish to finish it all of. If you’re wondering what stracciatella soup is, (I did too, thinking of ice-cream) it a very tasty aromatic vegetable broth with loads of fresh herbs, but minus the beaten egg. Try the Food network for a recipe.

After dinner we had a nightcap at ‘t Mandje, Amsterdam oldest Gay bar (since 1927) when sodomy was still a crime.

BOWI5739-3Okay, here’s a photo of me during IDAHOT, together with the Brothers Grimm. Dresscode was black and gold…


JugglingBallsI haven’t written for a long time a personal note. So here I am!

Health-wise I’m doing okay, my blood sugars are reasonable well, my heart works when it’s needed (most of the time), only my brains work overtime. The last is fully my own fault, one of my specialist told me a while ago I should say more ‘NO’ to projects. And lately I’ve said too much ‘YES’.

In the mean time I do content for four websites, the last one is just in the air since last Sunday, it’s in Dutch and meant for Gay 50+ people. Together with my ‘partner in crime’ I am also busy to get a show on stage, fear not, I’m not going to sing or do an act, we have artists who can do a much better job.

EuroPride 2016 will be in July/August in Amsterdam, and I’m asked to do editorial work for the gay events which will happen in 16 retirement homes across the city. So I said YES. It brings me in contact with other groups, and maybe we can help each other.

So when this afternoon someone asked me if I could join their new project, I said no, I’m sorry I can’t do that” and explained why. I will be a sparring partner when I’m on location, but I’m not prepared to offer more free (spare) time then I already do.  On the one hand I felt sorry for them, on the other I have to take care of myself too.

Maybe you ask yourself “What about the juggling balls?” At the moment they are all in the air, I haven’t dropped them yet. The weather is nice outside so I take the electric mobility-scooter for a spin and enjoy the sunshine. I try not to think about the corrections I need to make on a flyer and the press release for the show. That will have to wait till tomorrow afternoon when I come back from the Rijksmuseum…

One Week, Three Palaces…

QPQHSZ44Within a hectic week I still found, or should I say made time, to visit three palaces. Monday started at the hospital, an echo of my heart was made. It’s still ticking and not much has changed since my last one in 2012. On Tuesday I went with friend Ger to the Palace off Art, aka Rijksmuseum in my hometown. At last we could find time in our agenda’s to visit the Asia > Amsterdam exhibit aka Luxury in the Golden Age. We were both amazed we took 3 hours to see the 170 art pieces in the 8 halls, including several stops to rest. Most museums let mobility scooters in, not the Rijks. That’s why I only visit one era at a time.

Made of special, precious materials and adorned with intriguing exotic patterns no one had ever seen before, the Asian treasures caused a sensation in Amsterdam. With their colour and richness, they aroused the curiosity and stimulated the imagination of the Dutch bourgeoisie. Very fine white porcelain with blue designs from China, boxes displaying excellent lacquer work and ivory from Japan, gem-studded jewellery from India and Indonesia, silk fabrics from Japan, remarkably shaped shells, black ebony, filigree from India… the Dutch gasped at the beauty of it all and enthusiastically incorporated these treasures into their hitherto more modest interiors. It was also remarkable that not only the super rich could afford to buy these items, but also a large part of the growing middle class. All that precious luxury was shipped to Amsterdam – at that time ‘the world’s harbour’ – by the ‘world’s first multinational’, the Dutch East India Company.

The exhibition: Asia > Amsterdam will be on view in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, US from February 27 till June 4, 2016.

Wednesday was a Coffee Morning for the elderly Gays in my part of town. The Old Age Pensioners home (OAP) provides the coffee (freshly made, not instant!) I bring cookies, cream and talk with the visitors. There are a few regulars but also new faces who complete our group. Afterwards I visited my Dad, he wasn’t feeling that well, maybe he had the flu or something else. Just before I arrived he had a visit from a nurse who checks in on him on a weekly base, first she came to look out for my Mom, but since she’s passed away last year, he’s the next in line. He didn’t need anything, but seeing one of his kids is still something to make his day.

collectie_GuldenVliesThursday came, and an appointment was made to visit the Royal Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn. Yes, I do know one of the curators but didn’t want to bother her. We, friends Nicky, Adrie, Mario and me, saw the expo on Emperor Wilhelm II, the last emperor of Germany. But also Royal Showpieces II, another display I know the curator off. The whole palace is turned into a Christmas spirit, trees decorated as they would be in the period of the room but also decked tables, with porcelain plates, silver and/or gold cutlery, crystal glasses, sweets, exotic fruits…  We had lunch in the Royal Ballroom, three of us had croquettes and Nicky, who likes something different, had guinea fowl pâté.

Afterwards we also visited the Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden (Chancellery of the Dutch honors). It has one of the biggest collections of Orders in the world. Adrie is a military woman, she liked the military awards of course the best. We could see an original Order of the Garter but also the Order of the Golden Fleece. But also orders as far away as Nepal, Australia or mid-Africa.

Friday was a day of rest, most of the day. Something I really needed after the long walks the day before. But I was expected to turn up at the OAP home for the volunteers day, which I did. We were welcomed with Glühwein and delicious snacks, after a thank you message from the director of nursing, we all had a choice of a box of chocolats, a Volunteers Agenda and a giftcard with code. Online we could pick out the gift we really wanted to have instead of something you don’t need. Or you could give the amount to a good cause of your choice. I’m not telling you what I did.

Saturday was a day off, so I slept in and didn’t do that much except a visit to Dad to see if he needed something. He was enjoying some play on TV, which was a bit strange to me because he’s a Master in Channel hopping. During the festive days, which are coming up, we all program or VCR’s to the shows we want to see, at Dad’s home we only see snippets.

SetRatioSize500500-Juliana-vierkantSunday came faster than I thought. Friend Mario obtained tickets to a musical play at the Palace of dramatic Arts, aka Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg. The title was “Juliana, moeder van het volk” (Juliana, mother of the people). A look back at the life of the late Queen Juliana, who wanted to be normal, one among the people she ruled. On Saturday evening was the world premiere with former Queen Beatrix in the audience, on Sunday was the last performance.

It was a nice play, great songs, and performers you wouldn’t expect on stage in a normal play. A former news broadcaster was one of the storytellers, same as a royalty reporter, but also the former mayor of Amsterdam.

Afterwards Mario and I had a warm beverage in the main hall of the theater and we would meet again in a bar on Zeedijk for a final drink. He took a tram to the bar, I drove my mobility scooter and after two drinks we both went home.

The coming days ‘My Home is My Castle’ after I cleaned up, and before the domestic help turns up at my doorstep. Wednesday is again fully booked, domestic help,  a dentist and specialist appointment, shopping for Xmas etcetera. On Thursday I will read two poems during the Christmas celebration at OAP home… and on Friday…