As the final clip of my parachute snapped shut, I felt immediately safe.

Logically, I knew that we wouldn’t be going high enough for a parachute to have time to take effect. But perhaps if I had the presence of mind — while plummeting to the ground — to try and land on my back, it could serve as a cushion?

Yes, that was much more reassuring. I was wearing a cushion.

To be honest, as soon as the opportunity to “go for a glide” in the Wairarapa was put on the table, there was very little anyone could say…


Objectively, I know that I have a lot to bring to an employer’s table.

Maybe not a full roast chicken, but definitely a solid dish of vegetables with a side of secret-recipe gravy. When we first moved to Amsterdam, my lovingly prepared kai apparently looked like a vegan lasagna. Some would take a fork-full but wouldn’t commit to a whole slice, and others assumed they’d hate it because ‘lasagna should have meat and cheese’. …


To someone who has grown up in a climate that rarely stays above 20°C, the phrase ‘heat wave’ sounds pretty enticing. It evokes images of lounging around in the sun, drinking iced tea and feigning disappointment that it is too hot to work.

So when I read that Amsterdam’s July temperatures were going to break records, the competitive demon in me did a little fist pump. Take that, 1944! The winning high was immediately followed by despair as I recalled that more extreme weather events are another symptom of climate change.

Summer heat waves go hand in hand with the…


The glorious European Summer was a siren call for friends and family to come and visit our new digs in Amsterdam. They all assured me that I was the main attraction yet the repeated exclamations about how wonderful it was to have a ‘local host’ raised some doubts. After all, it is just a hop, skip and a brightly coloured umbrella from ‘local host’ to ‘free tour guide’.

I forgave them this possible slight because being labelled a ‘local’ is bizarrely flattering. It makes one feel as if they’ve achieved some kind of elevated, exclusive status.

For days I revelled…


Two weeks before my 30th birthday, I plucked a grey hair from my head.

I stared in the mirror and recalled a time when my hair was in its Golden Age both literally and figuratively. Would I have appreciated it more had I known that it was at its best?

As with my hair, so with the Netherlands.

The Dutch ‘Golden Age’ lasted throughout the 17th century when merchants ran the cities, excellent hats prevailed, and the economy prospered.

To be clear, I did not come up with this golden label. It is a widely referenced era that is currently…


One of the first things I sorted out when we moved to Amsterdam was a gym. This was before my visa, before my resident number, before a place to live, even before getting a job.

The prioritization was largely fueled by guilt. We had just eaten our way through several European countries and not run further than the length of a train station.

I was also wary of the impending unemployment and its probable impact on my mental health. Nothing tempers low-self esteem like a poorly aligned pigeon pose.

My quest for an exercise outlet started with a free trial…


“Ah yes, going to smoke the ganja at the coffee shops ay?”
“Ooh, are you going to see a sex show?”
“That’s random. Why not London?”

These are the top three responses I received when I announced we were moving to Amsterdam.

I understand the perception. Sex and drugs are very much on display in the central city.

Honestly though, it took one week for all that green and red to fade into the background and the true colour of living here to emerge (ooh, poetic).

In real life, the cool kids of Amsterdam are working in culture-diverse companies (not…

Lauren Webster

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