Beamer HQ4 Power Kite 4sqm

Last summer I got hooked into flying power kites and naturally started with smaller 2 line kites from Peter Lynn. I wouldn`t be a guy if size wouldn`t matter and hence I had to get a larger kite. Lucky I was, a friend of mine had a Beamer HQ4 power kite to spare, apparently a really good allround kite. 

HQ4 Beamer
HQ4 Beamer 4sqm

Low wind

Incredibly, you can start flying this beast in very low wind. From 5 km/h you are good to go. It is a bit of work to get it in the air and keep it there but as long as you keep moving it will be fine. You will need a helping hand though in low wind as you may struggle to lift off especially if you landed upside down. In stronger winds it is much easier to lift off even with the leading edge down. Have a look at my nephew flying the Beamer IV in such low winds.

It can pull

Naturally, as the wind increases this kite develops some incredible pull. From 20 km/h onwards you should use it with caution as you will need quite some experience if you don`t want to take a dive head first. I can clearly see how much fun this kite would be with a landboard on the beach. 

What to watch out for

The kite comes with lines and bars but kite killers are often not included. You definitely need to get some fitting killers or you are bound to lose your kite. In stronger winds, you have to take off on the side of the wind window or you will go for an unwanted run. It is incredible what force this 4 square meter power kite can develop especially if you lift off in the centre. Check the length of the lines, my left brake line was slightly shorter than the right one which I had to correct as the kite was leaning more to the left. 

Sum up

If you feel you mastered a small two line kite, this is a great step up. So much fun to fly and nicely challenging. The 4 line set up takes a little while to get used to but you will master this relatively quickly. 

Link to the kit I have

Week 2 – code red weather

Time is passing fast and week two is already done. Very clearly, moving from London to Amsterdam is not for the weather. Take standard London weather and times the rate of change by two, add wind (lots of it) and you have the Amsterdam standard.

Code red warning

One morning, after successfully fighting the wind on my bicycle, I arrived in the office and felt quite wobbly. I never have blood pressure issues and was wondering what is up. Suddenly my colleague said, is it just me or is the building swaying in the wind? And indeed, it wasn`t my blood pressure the building was swaying markedly in the 100 kph plus winds. 

After a short moment of panic I thought, the building is standing for 20 years, we are fine. The weather turned so bad that the North Sea was pushed inland and all flood defences had to be closed, the first time in decades. 

You would now expect public life to come to a standstill, considering that as a Londoner you are used to public transport failing for leafs, snow, too much sun and all sorts of other reasons. But no, everybody just carried on. 

Last Thursday we had another massive storm which took roofs of buildings and unfortunately three people died due to the storm. This was one of the 10 worst storms since recording started in the Netherlands and lots of trees fell over and as a result on tracks. All public transport had to be cancelled and still, people just got on with it. 

The climate is changing, we are in for a ride

The move to the Netherlands made me think much more about our way of living as a family in regards to the environment. We will be going for an electric car, more public transport, less plastic and so on. The environment is a much more present topic here and rising sea levels will have a major impact on the country which to a large degree is below sea level. But just watching the weather from crazy snow to 13 degrees in January, to two of the worst storms within a week, back to snow, and high degrees from next week – something is clearly wrong. Can somebody please make sure the man in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is starting to understand? 

Other news

Well, schooling for the kids is sorted, I will write another blog post about this as we went full circle on our decision on that. Next week the main priority is to secure a family home as Kory and the boys will arrive in just over 60 days. 

Week 1: Talk to Strangers and see each other naked

Unbelievable, I just had my first full week living in the Netherlands, after 10 years in London. The most important measure for the week, nearly 70 km spent cycling commuting to and back from the office and actually enjoying it, not just trying to survive as in London.

It is okay to talk to strangers

The first thing you realise in the morning is that everybody says good morning. Whether that is somebody coming in the changing room in the gym or people coming into the lift. I just had mastered the skill of not looking at anybody in a totally packed (tube) train and suddenly strangers speak to me. Obviously, I can understand my English friends – what do you do if a stranger hasn`t been officially introduced to you?

eGym – get fit in the cloud

Speaking of the gym, that was a very unusual `welcome back to Europe` experience. All was fine until I entered the shower room. No cubicles!!! Just hoses coming out of the wall. I nearly forgot that Europeans are less worried about being seen naked. Obviously, as everything has an app in Amsterdam so have the gym machines. Everything is computer controlled even how much weight I have to push. eGym is 45 min of being chased around a circuit-training setup of 8 machines by a computer, naturally cloud-based. Perfect for the morning!

All my friends smile about my 70km cycled this week as apparently all is flat and easy. Definitely, there is no Greenwich hill to climb but 80km/h winds!

Moving date is set

So, back to London for the weekend. Kory and the kids have now a moving date! We will all be in Amsterdam from the end of March! After ticking off BSN (burgerservicenummer), mastering the local health insurance system and getting a bank account, I have to sort out schooling next week!

The BSN or burgerservicenummer

Quite an interesting experience moving from a country where people don`t even have their name on the door, and are quite worried about their personal data such as in the UK, to a country with central administration.

Without a BSN number (burgerservicenummer) or citizen service number you are nothing in the Netherlands. It is not only for the Dutch tax system as you may assume.

You won`t get a mobile phone contract, bank account nor can you get healthcare, apply for benefits and so on. The BSN number identifies you and is used for all sorts of services including tax, banking, healthcare, schooling and so on. It is basically a personal records database run by your Dutch municipality. Your BSN is a unique number which you should keep confidential. A social security number would be the equivalent in other countries. 

Important, your employer can`t payroll you without your BSN! To get a BSN is the single most important thing to do when you arrive. 

How do you get your BSN (burgerservicenummer) 

You will get one either at the local municipality office, you will have to make an appointment, or if you move to Amsterdam, you can use the services of IN Amsterdam. The latter I would advise as they will guide you through the process and you leave the meeting with your BSN.
If you are a European Citizen you just need to bring your passport, birth certificate, tenancy agreement or a form signed by your landlord. In the beginning, it is also possible to temporarily use your employer`s address, for which you also need a form. Once you are registered with your municipality they will write to you to confirm that you have been added to their register.

Got your BSN – all systems are on go

Once you obtain your BSN life gets quite easy. You can just walk into a bank open a bank account, get a mobile phone contract and so on. By the way, if you use IN Amsterdam, just next door you find ABN Amro`s international branch where staff speak English, German, Spanish and so on.

Be careful with accommodation

Be careful when you sort out your accommodation. Make sure to check with the landlord that you can register at their address. Often they don`t tell you that this is not possible. Stay away if that is the case as you have to be able to register where you live. It is a legal obligation to always register your current address and the Dutch authorities are not shy to hand out fines. 

So now everybody knows where I live and authorities can check my BSN and address. It is like being back in old Germany. Have to get used to this again…

Gay Dads – Adopting children as a same sex couple

Kory and I are very proud gay dads of two lovely boys. This is a video talking through our experience of adopting children as a same sex couple in the UK. As you can imagine, this was and is a life-changing experience to build our rainbow family. 

Without taking too much of the video, it is quite amazing how straightforward it is to adopt as a homosexual couple in the UK. Back home in Germany there is still no easy way and lots of prejudice. The support from the social workers was excellent and the route from two gay men becoming dads felt very natural. 

We went through an adoption agency

We decided to adopt through an adoption agency, Barnados. They are very experienced with same sex couples and actually one of the first charities supporting gay adoption in the country. Their help and advice has been enormous. Equally, we can`t thank enough our kids former social worker and their foster carers for their amazing work and support.

Without the help of the people above and our friends, family and my employer this would not have been possible. 

Do you want to speak about same sex parenting and adoption?

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in the topic of being a gay parent. We are more than happy to help where we can. 

The Dutch Bicycle

Having moved to the Netherlands I had to get a bicycle. I was cycling to work for many years in London on my fast 21 gear road bike. Now I own, well actually rent, a beautiful Dutch bike from swapfiets.nl.

No wonder people look so fit. This bicycle is made of nothing else but good old steal. Nearly as heavy as I am there is no way going fast. 

So I get on the standard speed, link into the constant stream of cyclists and cruise along. A very new, very relaxing experience.