Monday 13 June 2022

The Best Little Hat Shop in Utrecht


  Unusually, I had not planned our visit to Utrecht so I did not know what I might find.  I certainly did not expect to find a very fine hatter or, in Dutch, Hoedenzaak.  It was the establishment of Mr Jos van Dijck and Mr van Dijck knows the business of hatting.  Above his shop, at number 12 Bakkerstraat, was an elegant, metal, cutout sign showing the name of his business and three classic hats. His brightly lit window displayed a cascade of fine hats for both men and women.

Of course I did not need to buy a hat so we went in just for a look. Mr van Dijck was busy with a customer, a young man of fastidious fashion sense who was taking a long time to decide between two Panama hats.  One was a classic Panama and the other had a chequered pattern.  The latter was the sort of hat at which, had Bertie Wooster tried it on, Jeeves would have raised an eyebrow.  I thought better of stepping in to give advice even though I feel I know a bit about Panama hats. See my article: The Panama Hat Story

Still determined not to buy, I now had time to look around.  There were a lot of hats.  There was not much in the way of millinery.  The women's’ hats were classic and unfussy.  The Queen could find a hat here.  It was, thanks be, no place to buy a fascinator,  For both men and women there were Panamas, trilbies, fedoras, boaters and bowlers, caps and cloches, in all fabrics and colours.  However you walked into that shop, you could walk out in style. 

My eye fell upon a natty paperboy cap in woven sea grass. Its open weave would be cool in summer.  I tried it on — too small.  Noticing my interest, Mr van Dijck left the young man still with a hat in each hand to attend to me.  He agreed it was too small.

‘Too much hair,’ I said.

‘Too much brain,’ he said, recycling a joke as old and threadbare as a well-loved flat cap.

He was not sure if he had it in a bigger size.  He went downstairs to look but came back shaking his head.  He checked that the young man had not yet made a decision and sat down at his computer and tapped at the keys for about a minute, his face glum.

‘Sorry, I don’t have a bigger one in stock.  It seems I do not even have that one.’


I was travelling with the excellent PTG Tours


Sunday 5 June 2022

Riding a Renegade Tram in Rotterdam

Judy Garland’s Trolley Song has been an earworm since my tram ride round Rotterdam. 

Rotterdam’s Tram Museum is just by the Kootskade tram stop on the No. 4 or 8 lines. As I walked into this old tram shed, I smelled the warm aroma of lubricating oil.  It was good and I inhaled.  Enthusiastic volunteers run the Museum and care for its many trams.  There are plenty of trams of all ages to climb in and out of.  Two volunteers looked after our small group.  They disappeared for a few minutes and returned splendidly dressed in proper tram driver and conductor uniforms. 

We boarded a 90-year-old tramcar.  'Ding, ding, ding,' went the bell.  The tram clanged and, with a screech of steel wheel on steel rail, we sped out of the shed onto a side street.  In a hundred yards we stopped, with a bump of the brakes, at a junction with Rotterdam’s main tram system.  Having checked, the way was clear we accelerated onto the main track and headed towards the centre of Rotterdam.

Our driver had told us that he had had a year of training to qualify.  He and we now had the run of the city’s tramlines; he took us wherever he wanted.  All he had to do was to avoid disturbing the routine trams.  We stopped for a photo shoot but, suddenly, he hurried us back aboard, “There’s a No. 24 coming up behind us!”

Indeed there was. We sped away. 

On some of the outer reaches of the system, we did U-turns on loops at the end of lines, where our conductor had to get out and change points.

For about 90 minutes, we enjoyed a swaying, squealing, clanging tour of the fine city of Rotterdam. 'Zing,' went my heartstrings.




 The Trolley Museum has limited opening hours.  Vintage tram rides are by charter or a hop-on-off from May to October Thursday to Sunday only.

Rotterdam Tram Museum

Tram Line 10

I travelled with the excellent PTG Tours

Photo credits: Kevin Hogget

Trolley Song written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane