How to catch a mouse without killing it

mouse trap, amsterdam 26-05-14

In Amsterdam, as far as pests go, everything starts with the letter M – mosquitoes and mice. It’s overrun with rodents and it’s virtually impossible to get rid of them completely. All you can do is give them as little chance as possible to eat anything in your home, which means storing everything edible in large Tupperware boxes in cupboards. At first I managed to keep the resident vermin at bay with poison but recently they’ve just ignored it and have become so emboldened as to come out during the day time. More decisive action was called for and here is how you catch a mouse without killing it.

1 Get a tall container, like an empty peddle bin and take the lid off.

2 Take two cardboard toilet roll tubes and join them together.

3 Place some peanut butter, biscuits (whatever else a mouse might like to eat) on the inside edge of one end of the tube.

4 Rest the tube on a high flat surface, jutting it out ever the edge.

5 Place the container underneath the tube.

6 Wait for the mouse to take the bait.

The trap brings together two things mice love, crawling through small tunnels and food. It finally worked at 5.30 in the morning when a succession of metallic clangs woke me up. A mouse had squeezed through the tube, lured by the peanut butter and biscuit, and fallen in to the bin. It kept trying to get out but could only jump about 30cm high.

Wearily I put some clothes on and took the bin over the Singel canal to Spuistraat where there was a large pile of rubbish awaiting collection. Not wanting the mouse to go hungry I let it go free. Obviously this isn’t a solution to the problem, merely displacing it, but in Amsterdam sometimes you have to learn how to live side by side with your enemies.

mouse trap, amsterdam 26-05-14

mouse trap, amsterdam 26-05-14

mouse trap, amsterdam 26-05-14

mouse trap, amsterdam 26-05-14

Posted in Amsterdam, Mice, Mouse trap, Vermin | Leave a comment

The great storm of Amsterdam


The great storm of Amsterdam on Monday (28th October) was force 12 in strength. Tragically two people were killed in what was described as the worst since 1976. The very high winds only lasted a few hours but slates rattled, trees toppled in to canals and even the roof blew off Squash City. With the sun shinning today the clean up begins.





Posted in Amsterdam, Canal, Inclement weather | Leave a comment

Graffiti – a love hate relationship


I have a love hate relationship with graffiti. Sometimes I think it just makes the environment look a mess, especially when somebody’s just sprayed their tag everywhere. On the other hand I’m fascinated by the creativity involved and often find myself photographing examples. On a recent road trip to Andalucía in Spain I came across some amazing work in Granada. It’s one of the oldest cities on the Iberic peninsula with a mixture of modern and old architecture entwined in a warren of winding cobbled streets – it’s long been considered a graffiti mecca. There was a surfeit of breezeblock walls being put to ingenious use by local graffiti artist, El Niño de las Pinturas. His fame is such that he’s even been described as the ‘Spanish Banksy.’

In Amsterdam how ever the graffiti can be more… esoteric.





Posted in Amsterdam, Graffiti, Spain | Leave a comment

What is OT301?

OT301 Amsterdam 05-09-13

Several people have asked me ‘what is OT301?’ and in particular the Ventilatiekamer?!
Well… OT301 used to be Amsterdam’s Film Academy at Overtoom 301. After it closed down the building was squatted and was used as a space for designers, artists, performers and writers. It’s now a creative non-profit organisation and has developed in to a premier venue for new and alternative theatre, performance, music and art. The Ventilatiekamer was the former Film Academy’s ventilation room. It’s a lovely space with windows on two sides and a café area at one end. And that’s where you will find Yoga Soup Kitchen on Saturday 28th September, 10.00 – 13.00.

Book now:

OT301 Amsterdam 05-09-13

Posted in Amsterdam, Yoga, Yoga Soup Kitchen | 2 Comments

It was 365 days ago today

Sunken bicycle Amsterdam 12-01-13

After one year here are a few reflections on living in Amsterdam.

Things I like about Amsterdam

The people are so friendly. If you stand with an A-Z map looking like a lost tourist for longer than a minute somebody will stop to help you out. Directions have never been my strong point but even I now know the answer to the number one request “Where is Anne Frank house?”.

Amsterdam has been rated the world’s top city for cycling. Everything revolves around the bicycle with a proliferation of cycle lanes and facilities. The city has been described as “relaxed, enjoyable and as mainstream as you can get. This is the one place on the planet where fear-mongering about cycling is non-existent and it shows.”

The air is really clean. You and your bike don’t get covered in a layer of heavily leaded dirt wherever you go.

Spelt bread
Proper wheat free bread that tastes like… bread! Instead of having a heavy, doughy, cake like consistency.

Things I’m still coming to terms with in Amsterdam

The rain
Amsterdam’s average annual rainfall – 915 mil

Manchester’s average annual rainfall – 806 mil

London’s average annual rainfall – 601 mil

Say no more

The mosquitos
These are a real problem with mosquito nets being a prerequisite. At the beginning of December, with snow on the ground, I still got bitten. Somebody did say that it was probably a flee bite (which is another story).

Things I miss about London

Of course!

The lack of hills makes it much easier cycling in Amsterdam. But it would be nice to get a view over the city without having to climb up a tall building.

Museums and galleries
They really are world class.

That London ‘buzz’
I miss the ‘buzz’ that London has or though I know it’s the thing that can send you mad in the end.

What I dream of
I frequently dream of being in a small Yorkshire village on a Sunday afternoon trying to buy the newspapers, but they’re all sold out. I often dream about buying the Sunday newspapers.

Posted in Amsterdam, Canal, Cycling, London, The passing of time | Leave a comment

The triumph of good over evil

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Holi Festival is a tradition celebrated yearly in India to mark the transition of Winter to Spring and the triumph of good over evil. People dance and throw coloured powder, Gulal, at each other. On this one day social divisions and boundaries are ignored. Amsterdam’s very first Holi Festival of Colours was held in Amsterdam Arena, the Ajax football team’s stadium, on Saturday 22nd June. Even though it was the day after the Summer solstice the torrential rain lashing down on the roof made it feel like we were still in the depths of Winter. Despite this everybody joined in with the spirit of the event – dancing, throwing large quantities of Gulal and even skipping.

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Holi Festival of Colours, Amsterdam 22-06-13

Posted in Amsterdam, India, Party, Yoga | Leave a comment

Full steam ahead for our next Yoga Soup Kitchen


Preparations are going full steam ahead for our next Yoga Soup Kitchen. We’ve had some rather lovely leaflets printed which can be found nestling in a flyer rack near you right now. We’ve still to decide what recipe to go for, something summery? Email your ideas in. The event is on Saturday 6th July, 10.00-13.00. Book now:

Yoga Soup Kitchen – Full of good things for your mind, body and soul.

Posted in Amsterdam, Yoga, Yoga Soup Kitchen | Leave a comment