BATA Newsletter june 2024

Download pdf foramat here

Hallo weer, Hello again!

It is some time since we circulated a newsletter to BATA members and friends, but as we begin to make plans for our 80th Anniversary next year in 2025, it seemed a good time to be back in touch to highlight some recent and current activities, and others soon to take place.  

Our Purpose

The Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association is formally constituted under the Mayoralty of Bath and the city’s Charter Trustees. Our aims as a voluntary organisation are to:

  • promote, foster and maintain social and working relations, mutual understanding and respect between the peoples of Bath and Alkmaar
  • encourage and assist…people from all age groups and walks of life in Bath and Alkmaar to communicate, exchange ideas and enhance their mutual experiences
  • expand relations in sport, culture, enterprise, the arts and any other areas of endeavour to secure firm foundations…that strengthen citizenship and friendship between the residents of Bath and Alkmaar.

As the limitations of the pandemic fade into history, we want to rejuvenate exchanges and visits across our two cities. Feel free to make some suggestions or get involved yourself: contact details at the end.

Activities Review

Bath Internship for Dutch Student

We were happy to help arrange a week-long internship for Dutch Year 13 student, Lucius Hartoog, who spent a week in Bath working with Heritage volunteers team in the Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery.

Lucius said his English improved in leaps and bounds during his short stay, and we hope we will be able to arrange similar internships in the future.

On his final evening BATA chair Chris Davies and committee member Hetty de Rooij treated Lucius to something he had never experienced, but specifically requested: a meal in Nando’s!

‘Occupied City’ – and an occupied Sunday afternoon!

Almost 100 people formed the audience for a special BATA-sponsored screening of the documentary film, “Occupied City”, a moving contemplation on the impact and effects of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, filmed mostly during lock-down by British director, Steve McQueen.  The four-hour plus length is quite a challenge, but it is clear from feedback we have received that the impact will last much longer: an engrossing experience.

Sustainability and Environment links

One topic which brings people together is the natural environment and the challenge of sustainable living.  We are exploring ways to build on this interest as a platform for new links between our cities.
One person we are liaising with is Erik ten Winkel, from ‘Hortus Alkmaar’.  This is a former commercial nursery, used to produce ingredients for a German homeopathic medicine company.  When the factory closed, local staff saved the garden.  Erik was brought in a few years ago to professionalise the operation, and one of his innovations has been creating some delicious herbal beers (see photo). We are hoping we can link community groups in Bath with Eric and others who are interested in horticulture and natural environment. 

If you are involved in a gardening or horticulture group and might like to exchange ideas and best practice with a similar group in Alkmaar, please let us know.

Council Twinning Link Helps Win EU funding for BANES

We are pleased to have helped BANES Council win some (modest) funding to support some of its policy work, in this case efforts to develop sustainable travel models for Bath.  BATA committee member, Liz Mills, who has considerable experience working with the EU, spotted an opportunity for the BANES transport team to collaborate with its equivalent in Alkmaar on a EU-funded project. The EU’s ‘Driving Urban Transitions’ programme has several projects within it, and officials from BANES alongside Alkmaar and the Portuguese town and municipality of Oeiras are being funded to work on topics around the “15-minute” city concept. An initial scoping meeting has been held by officials, and further work is expected soon.

This is the first time we know of where BATA has helped broker a working link between not just community groups, but our two municipal authorities.

European Local Partnerships

The reality of the UK leaving the EU has thrown a new light on the many links communities have through twinning.  A new group has come together to build on this: the European Local Partnerships and Twinning Group.  The group met in Bath last year and again earlier this month in Leeds, a city with a very strong twinning culture.  Sharing information and contacts has already proven useful, with some lobbying taking place to highlight practical things which could be done to support twinning links.  BATA committee members are keeping involved in the group, and we hope to see the value of international city-links being given more attention in policy-making both in EU institutions and the UK in the future.

Alkmaar Café: King’s Day Dutch Pub Quiz

Our monthly Alkmaar café in May, the closest to Dutch national day, featured a specially prepared informal “pub quiz” on a Dutch theme.  Here’s one of the questions for you to have a go at (answer at the end of the newsletter), which stumped a surprising number of people:

Q: What colour usually is the wax surrounding cheese from Edam?

Sharing the Story of Elias Prins

Aletta Stevens[/caption]Author and translator (and BATA committee member), Aletta Stevens is continuing to give presentations on her wonderful book about the history behind our city link: “The Remarkable Journey of Mr Prins”.

In recent months, Aletta has given a talk at Trowbridge Library as well as to the Bath Womens’ Institute, and Bath Methodists.   Aletta’s next presentation will be on November 7th to U3A (the University of the 3rd Age) in Bath.

Upcoming Events H2 2024

  • Scouts Trip: the 31st Bath (St Barnabas) Scout Troop are making their first ever trip to Alkmaar in early August. We are so pleased to see a group of young people from Bath visiting Alkmaar once again, and glad that we could in a modest way help to fund their trip.
  • Gong-sounding: we will be holding our annual sounding of the Alkmaar Gong at the end of August. Date to be confirmed, but all BATA members are welcome to join us – watch out for more information via our website and emails.
  • Alkmaar Cafes: after the sad demise of our long-term venue, the Rising Sun pub, we thought we had found an excellent alternative – the White Hart in Widcombe, only for it to close as new owners redevelop it. We are now meeting in the Huntsman pub in the centre of the city, on the first Wednesday of each month, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.  Drop by to say hello and keep in touch with our developing plans for 2025.  Our next gatherings will be on July 3rd and August 7th.  ALL are most welcome, and we are planning more special events to add to the fun.
  • Christmas Market: we expect to be organizing a stall at the Christmas Market again this year. If you have any ideas for Dutch products we should include on the stall, or would like to help us promote it, do let us know.

Alkmaar Visits: Are you a member of a group visiting Alkmaar this year or next?  Please get in touch – we’d love to know, and we might be able to help, including with a small financial grant.

‘Alkmaar 80’

2025 will mark a number of important anniversaries linked to 1945, not least the first formal connections between Bath and Alkmaar.

We are beginning to pull together plans to celebrate our  UK-Netherlands link and will be in touch over the next few months to keep BATA members and friends in touch with developing plans. We welcomethoughts, ideas, comments and above all involvement.  Contact us via our website, via the Mayor’s office on , or via our Chairman, Chris Davies, on

Take your Group to Alkmaar!

We are keen to encourage more visits back and forth between our twin cities.  Alkmaar is an easy place to reach and spend time in for English speakers. It is a beautiful location, with history and culture, good food, stunning beaches a mere cycle ride away, and within 40 minutes by train of Amsterdam.

Above all, it is a place where people are pleased to meet residents of Bath. BATA’s counterparts who look after twinning in Alkmaar, the AUC, like us have a strong network across their community, and are happy to help you make suitable connections, and arrange a visit programme. If you want to find out more, with no obligation, contact us.

And finally…can you help us track down Gemini the Twinning owl?

Many readers will remember the statues of Bath Pigs and perhaps also the Bath Lions that have been used to raise funds and celebrate different aspects of the City.

A few years ago – was it 2018? – the animals featured were Owls. Bath’s Twinning Associations banded together to support one which was decorated with beautiful drawings of our twin cities.

The owl was given the name “Gemini”, appropriately, and after the public display was, we think, auctioned off.  But where is Gemini now – does anyone know?

Gemini is not small: perhaps a metre tall, so hard to miss.  It would be nice to reconnect with Gemini, especially for our 80th Anniversary celebrations.

If you have information about Gemini’s current whereabouts, contact us: anonymity ensured, if requested!

Answer to the Dutch Pub Quiz question: Edam cheese has a red wax wrapping around it.

Contact BATA:


Email: or

Also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Published by the Bath Alkmaar Twinning Association, June 2024.  Images the property of BATA: not to be used without permission