This time one year ago I became a Nederlander. Exactly one year ago. So, you are wondering, just how much Dutchification has taken place during the last year? Do I, you ask, now feel more Dutch than I did a year ago? And what, you wonder, have I done to celebrate this momentous occasion?
Well in short, I am actually feeling remarkably foreign at the moment. We have now been living in the Achterhoek for a month and the Dutch accent here is not the same as that I was accustomed to in Zoetermeer. I stick out even more here with my ‘British/Hague accent’ when speaking Dutch (although I was mistaken for a German last week so maybe I am not as easily recognisable as a Brit as I was).
So the short answer is that I’m not really sure I am feeling more Dutch than I was twelve months ago!
Am I still delighted to have Dutch nationality? Absolutely. Brexit is an embarrassing shambles. What it will eventually mean for Brits like me living in the EU is about as clear today as it was a year ago. I do know the British government is not showing much interest in the rights of the likes of me.
I also know my love for Britain has not returned at any time during the past year.
And I also know that I have no more desire to return to Britain now than I did in the direct aftermath of the Brexit result.
I’m getting riled just uttering the words Brexit so let’s change the topic to a happier one…….
Celebrating. Being officially Dutch for one year is certainly worth at least a little happy dance. Or a party. Or a marking of some kind. So what have I done?
I have painted a rabbit hutch. And a garden bench.
I have caught an escaped kitten in the garden at least three times since 3pm.
I have once again cleaned dust from every kitchen work surface and mopped the kitchen floor after yet more work was carried out in there (will it ever end?).
I have hosted what seems like a constant stream of children coming in and out of the house (a few of them were even mine).
And notably I have come up with the idea to create a small Japanese style garden in our garden (an idea that came to me whilst painting the garden bench).
So today was an amazingly typical day in the life of a British expat who has turned Dutch.
But ask me again in a year if I feel more Dutch and I am confident that my answer will be yes. After twelve months living in a village in the Achterhoek I am positive I will be feeling more Dutch. I may even have picked up a little bit of the Achterhoeks dialect. Maybe.
And I am also sure I will still have no reservations about Turning Dutch because of Brexit.