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TICKids: Sinterklaas

Article by Betty Wangsawidjaja

Sinterklaas kapoentje, gooi wat in mijn schoentje, breng wat in mijn laarsje, dank je Sinterklaasje!

If you’re living long enough in the Netherlands and have kids (like us) then you probably know this song by heart now. Our daughter sings this song EVERY DAY since early November until 5th December then she changes tune to Jingle Bells ☺

Sinterklaas is a very Dutch character loved by children and adults alike. His annual arrival by boat followed by a parade on his horse Amerigo, and the traditional festivities that come with it are a real treat. Once he’s in town, children lay out their shoes before bedtime, along with carrot for the horse, hoping that there will be gift left there by morning. The good kids are usually rewarded with chocolate letters, pepernoten and marzipan while the naughty ones anxiously wait to see if they’ve been given coal, again!

Our daughter follows this tradition and her school usually has Sinterklaas coming to greet the children but with so many of them in school nobody gets special attention. So we were very happy when TIC decided to have a personalised Sinterklaas party on 3rd December with each child given one-on-one moment with him.

It was fun to see the children being amazed by how much Sinterklaas know about them, their hobbies, their achievements, and of course their naughty moments. It was pure joy to see their happy faces when they opened their presents together. The adults have a good time too. We were busy checking out cards filled with Christmas traditions around the world while keeping ourselves warm with wine and hot chocolate. Needless to say this is an event worth repeating by TIC!

TICKids: Halloween

article by Emerald Clump-Busser

Who says Halloween has to be scary, when it can also be fun and merry!

Like many of TIC’s fun events, Halloween was one of them this year. On the 1st of November TIC arranged a kids event at the Heyhoef Reeshof. Every year the Heyhoef organises a Halloween lantern parade night with music and some fun activities including tricks and treats for the kids.

The TIC kids arrived at the Heyhoef dressed in cute and cool outfits. We had a pirate, a policeman, a knight, a fairy princess and three witches. The kids then got their first treat, a goody bag from TIC with different kinds of candy, or snoepjes, as they call it in Dutch. The weather was just nice for the time of the year and we were all ready to join the lantern parade except some of the kids didn’t have their lanterns yet. Thanks to one of our TIC members who knew where to find them, everyone soon had a lantern. As everyone was free to go their own way and enjoy the evening, some of our members went off to join the parade while the rest of us decided to just watch the parade walk by.

The Heyhoef shopping center was turned into a street theater. There were small tents where you could get a temporary tattoo or a face painting, hair makeover offer (frizzy hair), photographs taken, discounted stuffs from the stores at the Heyhoef and free cotton candy. There was also some whimsical, steampunk-inspired puppet carts. The music was no halloween music but country western and a few Beatles songs. But nevertheless it was a festive and lively atmosphere.

The lights, the decorations, the costumes, all the fun and laughter and the kids enjoying themselves is all you need to make a great TICKids event. Therefore stay tuned for the next TICKids event coming up next month, 3rd of December: the Sinterklaas event!

Trip to Valkenburg

article by Leni Hurley

What a lovely day we had. Anne, Patricia and Michael, Rick and George I, Roelof and George II, Emerald, Thijs and their little princess Julia boarded the bus-taxi in Tilburg. Just outside Eindhoven, Jan and Bob, Joanne and Anita and Jim and I joined in.

We talked, and ah, I missed so much of the good talk in and out the bus. But I’m sure this applies to all of us. Talking, we arrived in Valkenburg, the Tinsel Town (my interpretation) of The Netherlands.  I’m sure all of us can agree that it was interesting to experience such a town, very pretty, with a wide river flowing right through it, and day visitors thronging the streets of the town center, which was lined with café after café after café.

The weather was very kind and most people sipped their drinks and ate their luxuries outside on the terraces.

Having emerged from the bus our party split in two. Michael, Emerald, Thijs, little Julia, Jim and I followed Patricia into the heart of the town in search of coffee, hot chocolate and food.  The others headed for the Velvet Cave. As we wended our way through the narrow streets, Julia was delighted to walk from one amazing Santa to another, all dolls (happily). This certainly was an ideal town for little children, of which we saw but a few, it must be said. In fact, apart from Jim and myself, our party was 20 years at least below the average age on that day.

Over lunch, we talked some more. Well, a lot more. After luncheon (sorry but I love this word!), our ways separated once again. Jim and I went to visit the Gemeente (Municipal) Cave; the others went to see the castle. What can one say of the caves? They are man-made, dug out in the pursuit of the marlstone below the surface. The several caves in the town are in fact different corridors of the one underground labyrinth. It was interesting to see so many people in these caves; all being led from the entrance to the exit by means of a procession of stalls all selling basically the same Christmas trinkets.  Later, we heard that little Julia was delighted when she first entered the Velvet Cave. Apparently, she stopped walking, opened her eyes and her arms wide and said Wow! I imagine she might also have said: ‘This is the BEST day of my life!’ It’s what my grandkiddies say on similar occasions.

Back out in the open air, Jim and I wandered around the town, away from the Christmas markets. Following the river, we arrived back at Santa’s Village, an open-air version of the below ground caves and their market stalls. It took us a while to find a relatively quiet café but we did find one and there we rested our weary bones over a weekend newspaper. Then, not to be outdone by the others, we ventured into the Velvet Cave. We had the tickets so it was not more than polite to use them. We were told that the route was 900 meters and, if we walked steadily, we could do it in 15 minutes. Not so, of course. The first obstruction, 2 Santa Clauses at once, made us turn around and hurry out as fast as our exhausted bodies could carry us. We emerged just in time to join the rest of the party at the place where the bus was to pick us up again.

The return journey was even more pleasant than the way up. I leaned across poor Jim to chat with Anne about books and the book club. I also told her about my first house-pet sit in Ireland (In case you are interested in having people mind your home and/or pets while you are away, check it out on http://www.trustedhousesitters.com). Next, we chatted with Rick and George I, who turned out to be more correctly George IV in his family!

All in all, I get the impression that everyone enjoyed the outing. What made it so much more enjoyable for me was to spend some relaxing time with Jim. At home, we are busy doing our own things and here was a day of leisure in the company of some great folks, even if our destination was Tinsel Town!

Paradox borrel

Article by Patricia Gonzalez

Confession time. I’ve lived in Tilburg for two years now, practically in the neighborhood of Paradox, and I profess to be a lover of all things jazz. Yet I had never been there until the night of TIC’s borrel. It wasn’t because I had never heard of the place. Paradox is a popular jazz venue among Tilburg residents and the non-profit foundation has been around for almost 30 years. Still, I had never gone. Maybe it had something to do with being a stranger in a strange land; with needing the reassurance of a large crowd before jumping into a situation I wasn’t altogether familiar with. People often think that if you have up and moved to a foreign country, you must be a brave, adventurous soul. I guess we all are, to a certain extent. But sometimes the strangest things hold us back. Knowing there would be familiar friendly faces, some of whom were also there for the first time, and realizing that the music came with my favorite pricetag (free!) – it was all the nudge I needed for a night out.

TIC’s presence was definitely felt at Paradox that night. At the bar, we placed our orders, chatting up the bartender and inadvertently teaching him what a soda was (the drinking, not the baking, cleaning kind). From the back of the lounge where we were cozily ensconced, you could clearly hear the chatter of people getting acquainted or getting caught up (You just have to admire the stamina it takes to get off a plane in the morning and still be in the mood for an after-dinner borrel the same evening). And in between conversations, the piano, bass, drums and lead guitar played on.

We didn’t stay until the end of the jazz session. It was only Tuesday and a full workday awaited the next morning. But now that we’ve been to Paradox, it’s easy enough to return. I know I will.

Welcome event review

by Thijs Busser

Like last year we opened the club year with a joint activity organized by Holland Expat Center South, P&D Care, the city of Tilburg, and TIC. We picked the perfect day, the weather was just right for a 20 kilometer long bike ride.

The start and finish of the ride was De Havenmeester at the Piushaven in Tilburg. It turned out to be a nice café/restaurant where we were greeted with coffee/tea and brownie. There were about 50 people that showed up, a nice size crowd for this type of event.

The tour

We left the venue a little later than planned and split up in four groups, some people came on their own cycles and for everyone else the organization made sure that bikes were present at the start. And so we left Tilburg on our bikes with a route description which would turn out to be harder to decypher than expected.

For those groups that managed to follow the route properly there where three scheduled stops along the route. The first stop was deep inside the woods nearby Oisterwijk where a friendly lady from Natuur bosbeheer was waiting for us. She explained about the lakes, how old they were and their function.

From there we went on the city center of Oisterwijk where we could stop at a restaurant for a drink and a traditional Brabants ‘worstenbrood’ (sausage roll).I know in my group there were many people that were just a couple of days in the Netherlands and for them this was a nice introduction to a typical Dutch delicacy.

After we were rested we took our bikes and rode on to the third and final stop of the tour, the mill of Oisterwijk. Here we got to go up on the mill and enjoy the view and listen to how they used to run the mill. At the base of the mill there was a nice field where we could enjoy a nice beer from the gift shop. By this time the four groups has pretty much merged into one big group and we enjoyed the sun and each other’s company.

No matter how good a time we were having we had to get back on the bike and ride back from Oisterwijk to Tilburg. This was the nicest leg of the tour, riding between the fields and the nice houses, it was a very nice area to show to all the new arrivals.

The after party

What was scheduled to be a three hour cycle tour turned into a four-and-half hour tour. Not that anyone minded, everyone had a great time and arrived back at the Havenmeester in high spirits. Here we were greeted by alderman Erik de Ridder who give a speech on the importance of expats for Tilburg.

After the speech there were drinks, snacks and an opportunity to talk to the other participants of the event. It was great fun and everyone had a good time, something that was evident by the fact that after seven the place was still filled with expats talking and having fun.

In conclusion

I think it is safe to say we had a very good opening of the club year. We lucked out with the weather and were fortunate enough to have a nice turn out. As a result we have quite a nice number of new members. To you I want to say: Welcome! And to all our members who were there, thanks for participating in the fun and I hope to see you at our other event this year!

Book discussion: Norwegian Wood

Article by Anne van Oorschot

image00On October 28th, 6 TIC members met to discuss the best-selling book by Haruki Murikami – Norwegian Wood. This book, written in 1987, propelled the author to literary stardom – much to his dismay! Fame was one thing, but the craziness of superstardom sent the author to the anonymity of Europe to live until 1995. Norwegian Wood is still the one Murikami book that “everyone” in Japan has read, and now we have read it as well!

Our views were varied, with some of us liking the book and the author’s style of writing, while others thought it too slow moving;”it didn’t pull me in”. All agreed that the book is very different from Murakami’s other books in that it was “normal”; no fantastical characters or occurances as in Kafka on the Shore which was the first book we read in our group.

The story follows Toru and Naoko, who are joined together by the tragic suicide of their best friend years before. While the serious Toru begins to adapt to campus life in the tumultuous 60’s, Naoko retreats further and further into herself. She is Toru’s first love and a clear contrast to the independent and sexually liberated Midimage01ori, whom he meets on campus and begins a friendship with.

The story is told by the grown Toru when hearing the Beatles song, Norwegian Wood sends him back in time to his student days. We were left wondering what he was doing in life and who he was with, if anyone? While the story seems autobiographical at times, the author denies this.  At any rate, we had an enjoyable and lively discussion around the fireplace, with tea and cream puffs 🙂

After reading the book, I was curious about the text of the Beatles song – had I ever heard it? While it didn’t sound familiar, I searched for it on YouTube and once the music began, I recognized it. The text is surprisingly fitting for the book:

Norwegian Wood – The Beatles

I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…

She showed me her room, isn’t  it good, Norwegian wood?


She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,

So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair.


I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine

We walked until two and then she said, “It’s time for bed”


She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.

I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath


And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown

So I lit a fire, isn’t it good, Norwegian wood.

3D printing workshop review

Review by George Oeser

If you read any magazines or websites that feature articles on new technology you have probably seen the term “3D Printing” a few times. If you attended the 3D Printing & Tinkering Workshop that TIC held on October 11 you have a much better understanding of how this new technology, and a few others, works and what it can do.

The workshop was a lot of fun and allowed us to learn more about the technology behind 3D printing and laser cutting. We learned about software that is used to create 3D models that can then be printed (several applications are online and can be accessed through a web browser at no cost). It was quite interesting to see one of these designs being printed, thin threads of melted plastic were laid down layer by layer and a lovely pendant grew in the printer right before our eyes.  We really enjoyed watching as two TIC members were scanned in 3D using an Xbox Kinect and a rotating stool. Their images would then show up in 3D on a computer screen which was quite fascinating but also slightly creepy as the tops of their heads weren’t scanned and this gave the effect of being able to see inside their minds! TIC members were also encouraged to create our own designs on paper with markers that were then scanned and turned into physical objects by a laser cutter.

Our hosts for the day at FabLab 013 were Peter and Vera who did a wonderful job of explaining all of this futuristic technology in a way that allowed us to understand it better as well as better appreciate its many practical applications. Like all TIC events this one was a lot of fun but it had the added benefits of also being informative and giving us a small glimpse what the future may have in store for us as technologies like 3D printing become more and more common.

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Is a coffee borrel a misnomer?

Dictionaries translate this very Dutch word as a drink or a round of drinks. So when you say you’re going to a borrel, it usually means that you’re attending an informal social gathering, often involving alcohol, with a few borrel hapjes (snacks) to accompany the wine or beer.

Going by the strict definition then, what TIC did on a Saturday morning in October wasn’t a borrel. There was no wine, no spirits in sight, not even an Irish coffee. Judging by the amount of food on our table – almost outnumbering rather than merely complementing the drinks – it looked more brunch than borrel.

But if you think about it, it’s not really the drinks that make a borrel. Instead, it’s gezelligheid – that cozy, inviting feeling that tells you that you’re welcome, in good company, among friends. And that was certainly how it seemed to those of us who had gotten out of bed and pedaled, walked or driven to Buut Vrij. Over coffee and breakfast, we talked about what we had done in the weeks since we had last seen each other – the last book club evening, the more recent 3D workshop or the cycling tour that begun the club year – and we shared news about exciting new developments in our lives: a just-celebrated birthday, temporarily moving house, getting one step closer to completing a dissertation, planning an upcoming vacation. In the end, no one questioned whether our borreltje was in fact, a borrel. Not even the Dutch among us.

3D printing and tinkering workshop

BannerOn October the 11th TIC is organising a 3D printing and tinkering workshop. In a 3 ½ hour session, adults and kids will learn how to work 3D printers, laser cutters and engravers, and to build simple electronic devices (possibly even your own basic robot!). At the end of the day, anything you build becomes your souvenir (photos of some of the things people have created at previous workshops are attached).

For little inventors — children aged 4 to 12 — there will be a special kids program on site.

Saturday, October 11 from 13.00 till 16.30
FabLab 013 (Stadhuisplein 354, 5038 TH Tilburg)
Members: €35 per adult, €15 per child. Non-members: €40 per adult, €20 per child. The cost covers the training and a coffee / tea break. You get to bring home anything you make.
We have spots available for 12 adults and 6 children. The deadline for registration is Friday, October 3. To register, simply email til.int.club@gmail.com

Note:You don’t have to be tech savvy to join the workshop, just interested in learning how things work, curious about arts & crafts and enthralled by gizmos that whirr and spin. If you’re imaginative or creative, that’s just a bonus!

Book Discussion – September 9, 2014

NaamloosAfter a lovely summer break, our first book discussion of the new club year was held at my (Anne’s) home on a Tuesday. We discussed the newest book by bestselling author Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan author of The Kite Runner which we had read in the Club’s first year.

This book was written very differently than Hosseini’s previous books, as the story was told from the vantage point of different characters, and in different times, spanning from 1952 – 2010. We wondered if the author was experimenting with a new style? At any rate, while most found this new approach a surprise from this author, once you got used to it, it was interesting to have different perspectives on the tragic event that befalls siblings Pari and Abdullah at the beginning of the story, as well as other situations the characters found themselves in.

The book raised many questions about the wavering line between right and wrong and the nature of the sacrifices made by different characters for a variety of reasons. Sometimes good intentions had a good effect – but not always! – and selfish motivations could have a positive effect. The writing was beautiful and Hosseini can really create vivid images through his descriptive writing. The epigraph of the book, a line from a 13th century Rumi poem, was a fitting thought: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

TICNic 2013 review

Imagine, if you will, a nice warm summer day. A blue sky, a few small white clouds and a lush green park. You sit on the grass, enjoying the good weather as you suddenly smell beef being grilled. You can already taste the burger on a nice bun slathered with BBQ-sauce. Idyllic, isn’t it? Do you want to know where to find this magical place? It was at the UvT grounds on a perfect day last June.

To our regular participants this is known as TICNic and we visit this magical place once a year. As always we had a couple of great grill masters and everyone who attended brought something great to eat for everyone else.

No TICNic is complete without some activities planned by our event coordinator. This year we did some koekhappen, a scavenger hunt, orange hockey and for the kids there was a nice surprise they could take home.

In between the activities and the BBQ-ing we also found time to play badminton and soccer. That certainly helped to burn off some of the calories we consumed.

All in all we had a fantastic day. To all who attended: we hope to see you again this club year. To those who stayed home or couldn’t make it last year: come by this year and share in the fun!

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Borrel report: Winebar

March 28th – TIC borrel in new Tilburg location…Wijnbar Corton – Heuvelstraat 139.

wb1Anne hosted this Friday afternoon Borrel and it turned out to be a rather intimate gathering, with only 3 other members present. No problem with that, however, since the new-to-Tilburg venue we had chosen was quite compact, so our group was a nice size. It also gave my husband and I a chance to have a really good conversation with members Rick Tillman and George Oeser – who LOVE living in Tilburg! – not to mention the delicious wine and antipasti snacks we enjoyed! Since the owner of the Wine bar is a “vinoloog” that part of our borrel was in good hands. What a relaxing start of the weekend!

wb2While to location is small, they have a nice roomie terrace area, so I tucked away the location and plan to return when there is “terrace weather”.

Welcome event: cycling tour

Summer is fast disappearing but another club year is about to begin.  We’ll be kicking off the TIC year with a cycling tour on September 20. We start in Tilburg at 13:00, cycle to Oisterwijk Forest (nature reserve), go on to Kerkhovense Windmill, then return to Tilburg. At 17:00, after the tour, there will be a borrel at De Havenmeester so you can reconnect with TIC friends and meet other expats living in the area.

September 20 (Saturday), 13:00-19:00
Meeting place: De Havenmeester in Piushaven (Kempenaarplaats, 5017 DX Tilburg)
De Havenmeester, Tilburg  –  Oisterwijkse ven bij Diaconieven (tour)  –  snack stop at De Dorpsherberg, Oisterwijk  –  Kerkhovense Windmill, Oisterwijk (tour)   –  De Havenmeester, Tilburg (approximately 21.4 km)
The event is free but registration is required. Click here to sign up. The welcome event is organized by Holland Expat Center South.

Note: Bicycles will be provided free of charge. Arrangements can be made for child seats for young children and bikes for children old enough to cycle on their own. When you register, please say if you’ll need a child seat or child’s bike (include details of the child’s height to ensure that a proper bicycle is available).

** In case of bad weather, the city will provide a bus instead of bicycles.


Meet the board: Patrica Gonzalez

D7K_9237 - hi resI have spent almost a third of my life outside of the Philippines, the country where I was born. I grew up as an expat child in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the 80s then returned to Manila where I subsequently met and married Michael. Together, we have lived in Manila, Edinburgh, Newcastle and London. In 2012, Michael became a PhD researcher at Tilburg University and we added Tilburg to the list. What I have learned from all this is that anywhere in the world can be home. And the new friends you make, the community you become a part of – they often turn into a family of sorts.

At not-yet forty, I have been a teacher, a law student, a wannabe archaeologist and a cook in a restaurant kitchen. Despite all of these “adventures”, I keep returning to my main passions: anthropology and heritage – fields I have worked in and in which I hold Master’s degrees. Deep down, I think the world is a lot larger than we imagine and all the more fascinating for its diversity.

I am curious about Dutch culture and easily captivated by art and creativity. Consequently, during my time with the Board, you can expect events that delve into the customs and idiosyncracies of this country we all call home and the people that make it so. I see Tilburg, Brabant, in fact, the whole of the Netherlands as a place that’s just waiting to be explored. Let’s discover it together through TIC.

Visit to the SS Rotterdam

IMG_587513 June 2014

by Patricia Gonzalez

It’s amazing how far you can go on a ship that has been moored for the last ten years. On our two-hour tour, we were transported to the ‘50s and ‘60s – to days of steamship technology when transatlantic journeys were run on turbine engines and stabilizers, boilers and condensers; to glamorous evenings when women in full-skirt silhouettes and stiletto heels wended their way through mid-century modern furniture aboard La Grand Dame. And, it being the first joint outing between the Tilburg, Breda and Eindhoven clubs, we met people from different parts of the world for whom the Netherlands is the current port of call. Our group included expats from Mexico, America, Spain, Australia, Germany, Lebanon, the Philippines, even a Dutch couple originally from Tilburg who migrated as far afield as Thailand and are now back in the Randstad.

What was it about the 38,645-ton ship that so fascinated us that we signed up for the outing? Maybe the SS Rotterdam appealed to the adventurer in us. We all left the safe, comforting haven of home to make a new life in a country not our own. Perhaps the many transformations of this colossal ocean liner spoke to us. A ship that has spent 12 years as a trans-Atlantic vessel, more than 20 as a cruise ship (when long-distance commercial flights replaced sea travel), and 4 as a hotel, restaurant, museum and visitor attraction is the epitome of adaptability. We, who’ve packed up our lives, our families and careers and adjusted to initially unfamiliar cultures, know that transitions are an inevitable part of migration. They have to be welcomed, embraced. But then again, maybe what brought our group together that Saturday morning was just the allure of looking out over the water, gazing at the Rotterdam skyline, sitting down to lunch on a sunny poolside deck or snacking on high tea petit fours, with the added convenience of being transported from our city to the Rotterdam port and back again.

Some journeys take you great distances. Others, like this one, are only a city or two away. But both can make you question how far you’ve come and appreciate where you are now.


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