A couple of weeks ago I popped over to the low land of dykes, bikes, canals, tall thin blonds and tall thin buildings. I’ve been to old Amsterdam many, many times before. Back in the day, Amsterdam was a blesséd escape from finger-wagging, buttoned-up Britain, and a place where I could feel totally free. I won’t regale you with ripe tales of how I expressed that freedom – this is a family show, after all. Needless to say, it rarely involved a cultural troll round the marvellous galleries of the Rijks Museum.

Here’s an ancient image of me in the naughty Nineties on one of my gayfests.


I’m standing on the Homomonument, a memorial to those persecuted for their sexuality. Opened in 1987, the monument takes the form of a large pink triangle jutting out into the Keizersgracht canal. It’s a potent symbol: the pink triangle was the badge of shame gay men were forced to wear in the Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. And we all know what happened in those places.

This time I was there on business. I was attending the 2016 Families in Global Transition Conference (#FIGT16NL), a gig that brought together people from far flung corners, all concerned with issues affecting global families. The current refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East added an extra layer of complexity to this year’s august jamboree.

Why me? You may well ask. I’m neither an expat, nor a family in transition (not anymore anyway). In fact, I was there as part of my work with Summertime Publishing and Springtime Books, specialists in expat titles. And I was asked to lead a social media workshop for writers. It was a bit of a hit, I’m told. I even got to sell signed copies of my books in the FIGT bookshop – and was more than chuffed when they flew off the shelves and soon sold out. Clearly some people like a dash of camp with their esoteric.

Here’s me flapping my hands about in the social media workshop.

FIGT Workshop

And me on the right grinning inanely in the bookshop.

FIGT Bookshop

After a hectic few days navigating through the talkers, walkers, cars, trams and manic cyclists on a mission coming at me from every which way, I landed back at Norwich Airport at ten to nine in the evening. I was home with a large glass of Pinot in hand twenty minutes later. Now that’s the way to travel.

If you’d like to know more about Families in Global Transition and their valuable work, check out their website. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures I took of the pretty city.

The conference pictures are courtesy of FIGT.

17 thoughts on “It’s All Double Dutch to Me

  1. Sound like a great trip … and the bonus of selling books! Add to that you got to see Amsterdam in a whole new way, and it sounds pretty darned good. Would love to see Amsterrdam one day.


  2. Enjoyed your special adventure, Jack. Wanted to send you a special Easter/springtime bonnet but couldn’t find your email address – soooo, have a great spring! Oh! loved your picture on the triangle – bet you haven’t changed much since then – grrrrr, hot, hot,hot! (Guess you didn’t make it to boys town near the train station.)


  3. Very cool, Jack! And I’m seriously jealous of anyone who can make a (relatively) quick trip to Amsterdam. It’s a long trip just to get to a Canadian airport. 🙂


      1. Wow. If I recall, the flight from Ontario to Alberta (roughly across Canada, minus a couple of provinces) is three or four hours, and the drive is several days. The drive to Florida in the States is also a couple of days. It would be cool to be able to travel so quickly to so many different countries.


      2. I remember thinking how vast the US was when I went travelling. This is why Europe gets those group tours where they say ‘It’s Monday, it must be London, it’s Tuesday it must be Paris, it’s Wednesday, it must be Rome’, etc. Western Europe is really easy to get around though further east is a bit more challenging. I once went to Russia from London by train on a school trip. It took four days to get to Moscow!


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