Expat Impressions of The Hague Beach

Yesterday we went for a long walk on the beach at Scheveningen. It was windy. There were a lot of surfers on the beach. Their sails formed a multicolored spectacle on the grey-brown North Sea. It was something that we have witnessed for the first time. People in The Netherlands like outdoor sports. I can’t wait to return once more to the beach, so beautiful.

Text: expat from Malta, 2011. Image: Julie Makri

Walking along the sunny beach for the first time, we felt so privileged to live in a place where others come to spend their holidays. However, being from the Alps, it was a great surprise for us to discover that, some times, people would appear to use the snowy landscape the same way as we do in the mountains – for cross country skiing and snowboarding (text: expat from the United Kingdom, 1972).

Images: Natalie McIlroy

"All winter long, the beachfront was jammed with families. Each family had several children - all below the age of eight, and at least two dogs - or so it seemed. The children were encouraged to run, skip, scream and play at the water’s edge (which was reported to have sub-zero temperatures) (text: Expat from the United States, 2005, Living with the Dutch).

Every Friday and Saturday evening John’s Inn (a bar in Scheveningen popular with ex-pat teenagers) is invaded by students from the nearby American School. They arrive in droves and park their mopeds on the broad pavement in front of the bar. By mid-evening any passerby might conclude from all the bristling handlebars and gleaming chrome that the local chapter of the Hell’s Angels, junior section, had hit town. In fact the owners of all these ‘brommers’ (as they call them) are as mild a bunch as one could wish to meet.[...] For two evenings a week they occupy a good half of John‘s lnn, forcing the Dutch locals and other older guests (like myself) to retreat to the bar-stools... (text: Expat from the United Kingdom, 1972).

Image: courtesy of the Hague City Archives, ca. 1968

I arrived at the sea-front shortly after lunch to catch a breath of fresh air and see if there were any interesting gulls or waders around. There were none, but stretching out along the beach as far as the eye could see was a straggling procession of people, like Lowrie stick-men and women, trudging north-eastward away from town. At first I imagined there must be something going on a mile or two long by the dunes, but I was reluctant to ask. It would probably have been embarrassing if I had. I later found out that this was simply a standard Sunday afternoon exercise. After lunch mum, dad and the kids dress up nice and warm, whistle for the dog and set out on their constitutional. Some go by bike through the dunes, some make for the woods and parks, but a vast number file along the beach - a moving queue for a couple of miles.

Text: expat from United Kingdom, 1972. Image: Zoe Guerrini