Music. Amsterdam is a fantastic city. Even Don McGlashen would agree. Sitting astride the great musical trade route between London and Berlin, many musicians stop in Amsterdam to play not so much for money but to take in the airs if you know what I mean. For us fortunate sons living here this means bands that play to packed venues in London, travel to a city a tenth the size equalling cheap and easier to see world-class music here. Allah be praised! I am going to see Cake next year and have discovered Katzenjammer!

Autumn. Twas fascinating to me to see the stately rows of trees lining the canals, all of a sudden brown and then steadily and surely flake off into the canals. On my early morning cycle to work, I would see flotillas of leaves lying still on the surface of the canals with the progressively-thinning, spindly tree skeletons looking more and more bereft of their coats. It really was a matter of two weeks. Winter is coming ever closer but the city is now coming into a different kind of beauty. The cold, clear autumn days are refreshing and the populace is converting into thicker winter coats and woolly hats. Scarves, mittens and hats a must!

Terrace. As a densely populated city, space is at a premium. The highest form of living is a rooftop terrace. From there you can survey your neighbours, glancing into their windows, see the herons gliding, the marijuana crops of keen, green-fingered potheads, the fat old man playing chess with his boyfriend, the pretty blonde Dutch girl tanning, the regular chimes of the Westerkerk’s carillon and the distant, discordant notes of an argument carried out and reflecting, twisting its way amongst the houses to my window. Ahhhh, inner-city living.

Cycles. When building street cred in Holland, the more clanking, rattling and squeaking you can crank out of your bicycle the better. Batavus makes classic ‘Oma’ and ‘Opa’ bikes, grandma and grandpa bike designs which have been the same for over 100 years. My bike has started to develop its own personality, clacking away merrily on the cobblestones, silent on concrete and carrying extra passengers with barely a creak of protest. Her name is kiwi and she conveys me in splendid style from engagement to engagement.

Today, he said, more than ever before, men had to learn to live without things. Things filled men with fear: the more things they had, the more they had to fear. Things had a way of riveting themselves onto the soul and then telling the soul what to do.

– Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines (1987).