We're into a second very snowy and cold winter (last year's was the worst since 1981). Why is this noteworthy? The Elfstedentocht. An 11-town, 200km skating odyssey held in Northern Holland, touring the province of Friesland.
This can only occur, however, when all the canals are frozen to a thickness of 15cm. The last Elfstedentochts ("eleven cities tour") occurred in 1997, 1986 and 1985. It's hugely popular in the Netherlands, with people and media speculating with each passing sub-zero day that it may happen - so much so that you get the sense that all 16 million people here are collectively cheering on the cold weather. This is clearly perverse.
More images and impressions from a wintry Amsterdam...
This somewhat obscene-looking fellow, peeking like a careless uncle in a bathrobe, is Dutch comfort food. It is one of a variety of "stamppots", essentially a vegetable and a meat mashed into potatoes.
Getting closer to freezing over! Yay! (No.)