A Scotsman in Utrecht

Today we welcome our first Scotsman, who is also half Irish! It’s really interesting to see his views on life in Utrecht.

Jamie is from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. He moved over to the Netherlands with his Dutch girlfriend about 6 months ago after they met while studying for a master’s degree in Edinburgh. He is able to work remotely and so the transition to living in the Netherlands’ was an easy one. His girlfriend is from Amsterdam but working in Culembourg and so Utrecht is perfect for her. Jamie was lured by promises of great beer, cheese and bread – and it’s lived up to it so far!

Where is your favourite place in Utrecht?

I really love the old centre, mainly pedestrianised, and reminiscent of early 20th century Paris, particularly café Orloff where a beer outside even in winter is extremely enjoyable.

Does Utrecht inspire you?

I would say that the Dutch way of living is somewhat inspiring. A very much everything in moderation approach, be that food, drink, work or play. It seems healthy and quite removed from Scotland where access to good, affordable food and drink can be a rarity. For example, the Saturday market is a great way to buy fruit and veg  without a sterile supermarket setting which I think for a lot of people is becoming something they want to get away from.

What would be a perfect day in Utrecht for you?

Ah it’s all food orientated for me: breakfast in our house with coffee bought from the guy at the market alongside some pastries from the bakery here in Ondiep. Then a cycle into town to do some shopping for lunch or dinner the next day as the best evening I’ve had here so far was a dinner at Le Jardin I’d head there instead of cooking and finish the day off with a nightcap in one of the beautiful wee bars along the vecht.

What is the main difference between the Scots and the Dutch?

Again, moderation! The Dutch don’t seem to go in for excesses often or at all and in some cases it’s clearly a very sensible approach yet in others, well, let’s just say a little excess never did anyone any harm

Do you miss anything about Scotland?

I miss the vernacular, the apposite expressions that capture a moment that either here wouldn’t be understood or the subtlety would require an over-translation rendering the point moot!

Do you think there is a Dutch way of life?

The Dutch seem to be rather good at self-reflection and long-term planning. They are admirable qualities and I think will serve people very well in the future. I’m not sure about a ‘Dutch’ way of life, I find people too distinct to be able to qualify them by acute national traits.

Do you think you fit in to the Dutch way of life?

In terms of the appreciation for the effort that goes into good food, good architecture: taking time to complete something to ensure it is perfect, then yes very much so.

Do you know many Scottish expats in Utrecht or do you make friends with the Dutch?

I know a few immigrants, I can’t stand the word expat,  to the Netherlands but they’re all Irish! Being half Irish myself that’s not too surprising but I’ve also found the Dutch very easy to talk to.

Do you think the Dutch could learn anything from the Scots?

I’m sure we could show you how to throw a party.

Will you be staying in the Netherlands?

I will for the meantime. Post-Brexit I’m not sure but as I can claim an Irish passport and maintain freedom of movement within the EU I’m positive about the situation.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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