Monday, 28 April 2014

Home sweet home...

My return journey finally reached it's destination this past week.
That is, I visited the town in which I was born.
Really, that in the end, is ultimately what this trip was revisit the village where I was born, spent the first decade of my life and made my very first friends in life.

I'm going to be lazy and copy and paste some comments I've made on fb during the past if you are on fb, this will look familiar. If not, it will be news to you, but I will modify and add lots more info as I go...

Day 1:  (fb) I woke up early today (Tuesday 23/4)  after another full day of visiting a family friend in Bruekelen. Got home at 11.30ish and still had to pack my case. Feeling I need a rest day but ain't gonna happen, as today I am finally off to Wolvega, the town where I was born and spent the first 9 years of my life. I will be staying with family friends whom I haven't seen since we left! More new experiences and LOTS and LOTS of talking I'm sure. My Dutch is improving to the point where I hope I don't come home with an accent!! HAHA. (fb)

I caught the bus to Centraal Station right across from Mieke's place (so easy!) with my trusty pink case in tow. Caught the train withoout any fuss and enjoyed the 2 hour journey to Wolvega, seeing the different towns along the way, as well as the now familiar farm houses with fields filled with cows, sheep and of course tulips. Just a side note:  train travel is not cheap here. A 2 hour journey is EU 22.10 (32.89AUD$) compared to $11.30AUD! and that's not even pensioner rate...
Walking down the platform at Wolvega, I recognized Jaap and it was so good to see him. Jumping into his vintage Volvo, we drove to his home where I met his wife Florence who had a cuppa ready for us. After some chatting, Jaap and I hopped in his car again and drove around the outskirts of the town to the River Linde, where my Dad and his friends swam in the summer months. Then popped into Henk Pesman's shop where we had a coffee and a chat and then onto a small quaint town called Giethoorn, where the streets are water and sometimes called the Venice of the North. We enjoyed a cool drink on the terrace of an old hotel and reminisced in the warm sunshine.
I've had such gorgeous weather here in Holland. The temperatures have been unseasonally warm and even hot, so I've been very blessed.

Ducks at Nieuwe Aanleg

Day 2:  After a great night's rest in my own room, in the roof of the house, Florence dropped me off at a park called 'Nieuwe Aanleg'(new creation{of a park} - it's no longer new of course as it was established about 180 years ago. More info here ) where we walked and played as kids. I took my time walking through the park and took lots of photos.
Nieuwe Aanleg (looking south)
Onto the adjoining Cemetary, where my paternal forebears are buried. It took some time to locate some of the graves, but I immediately recognized the beautiful angel statue, which stands in the centre of the old section. I always loved that angel as a child.
The Angel which my Dad loved so much
I wandered down to the town centre, past the old Town Hall, where my Opa officiated at the civil ceremonies every couple who marries must attend, past where my Opa's house used to be and down to where I went to school. That building also no longer exists and has been replaced by a rather ugly, low slung grey brick building. A pity I think...but everything must 'progress'.
My old home is now a whitewashed Chemist Shop - in the doorway where our front lounge once was.
Finally I walked up the main street to the house where we were all born. Now the red bricks are rendered a grey/white colour, the bottom of the building gutted to make room for a chemist shop. The huge 1st floor of the building, where our bedrooms were located is now completely sealed and no longer used. I bought a couple of cheap watches there just for fun.  
Florence and I trying on King's day hats at my old house.
 I spent the whole day walking and exploring til it started to rain around 5.30pm. Really enjoyed the day.

Back at Jaap's, Florence had a great dinner already prepared and at 8pm Jaap drove me to my second cousin Henk Pesman's home, where I met there 4 children and his wife Esther. A really great night and got home around 11.30pm. Sat up with a wine with Florence and Jaap til about 2am! fun, fun. :-)
With cousins Henk and Klaas

Day 3:   (fb) Third day in my 'home'town and staying with my childhood buddy Jaap and Florence Sleyt. Have visited most of my childhood spots walking around the village, bought something in the store which is located in the house in which I was born. Weird that. Visited my second cousin Henk and his wife Estherlast night here in Wolvega. Lovely family with four young kids who loved the little koalas etc I had brought with me for them from Australia. Today I'm visiting Tante Tinie, a 90 year old cousin of my mum's and I'm also visiting our old church where I will be treated to a pipe organ recital... played just for me. (fb)
The wonderful pipe organ in the church I attended in my childhood.
With my tante Tinie in her home (90 yrs old)
We used to sit on the cross seats under the windows.

(fb)This afternoon I went to my old church and was treated to a 1 hour private pipe organ concert by my very talented second cousin Klaas Pesman. I sat where my family sat on Sunday mornings and cried.  Lots of was just wonderful.
I also visited my 90 year old second cousin, my mum's cousin Tinie. As sharp as a button still. (fb)

I think going to my old church and my private organ recital would have to be the highlight of my Wolvega journey. It brought up so many memories of Sunday mornings, sitting in church with my family or with my Tante Tjits. Dropping coins into the plate, or even more so, onto the floor and getting my Aunty's elbow into my side. Quiet was optimum in those days. 
Listening to my mother sing, accompanied by the organist and standing up above the congregation.
Listening to the 'dominee' preach and in the meantime examaning the windows and the detail on the organ and pulpit. Most of all though, the organ filling the high ceiling with majestic sound today was so special that it made me cry. Cry more than I thought I would. Thanks to Klaas Pesman (2nd cousin) for playing so beautifully.

A visit to my second cousin (cousin of my mum) Tante Tinie who is 90 and still sharp as a button. Lovely chat, reminiscing about when I was little, what funny things I did and said etc, cups of coffee and off  we went, home for a meal and quiet evening. (I think...can't remember) at home. Another very late nights (early morning) and to bed.

Day 4.
Off with Florence for the day to visit her cousin and another childhood friend of mine - Piet VanderHoef and his family. Dutch Tompoesen and coffee. I couldn't finish mine (sooo much cream!) so Piet did. haha. Lots of talking again and of course reminiscing about old times.
Wigher, Nannie, Lukas, Piet VanderHoef
  Off to the country side to check out the very old farm house that Florence and Jaap's daughter Marlee are doing up. They've been at it for 14 years and more to do. It's located in a gorgeous little town Ter Idzard, which is the highest point in Friesland at 2 metres above sea level! Funny that, I reckon. We didn't stay for coffee, so on we drove, back to Wolvega, for some more sight seeing, shopping and lunch of Dutch croquettes with mustard and mayo, washed down with a cool soda squash.

 Back home, I added a few bits and pieces to my suitcase, another cuppa and off to the train station to say
our goodbyes.
With Florence
With Jaap (Jake)
   (fb) On the train from Wolvega back to Amsterdam. What a wonderful 4 days I've had! Thanks to my hosts Florence and Jaap Sleijt who fed me, drove me everywhere and spoilt me... enough can not be said about your hospitality and kindness. To Klaas and Henk for the wonderful organ recital and for a great evening at Henk' s home. Many new memories made and many old memories refreshed. (fb)


(fb)A lazy day indoors today after a fantastic King's Birthday Celebration in Amsterdam City. Unfortuately I forgot my camera and my phone!! Luckily Mieke's friend lent us her iPhone but I don't have the photos as yet. Amsterdam is awash with orange, the national flag and thousands of people walking the streets.Hundreds of medium and small, flat bottomed boats loaded with 30-50 people standing up in them, gently motor up and down the many canals. Everyone is dressed either fully in orange (The royal family belong to The House of Orange) or with a touch at least of orange or red white and blue. There are stalls everywhere in front of the houses, with regular folks selling second hand gear from their homes - clothes, bricabrac, furniture, soft furnishings, kitchen and table ware etc. It's loads of fun. Also people are barbequing on the boats and in the streets, there are food stalls everywhere loaded with Dutch goodies, fries with mustard and mayo in a pointy bag, croquettes and ofcourse everyone is jolly with lots of beer and wine flowing. We walked around all day, interspersed with coffees, fries and finished off with a wine before catching the bus back home. Thoroughly enjoyed our day. (fb)
Photo: Even the flowers are orange for the occasion!
Even the flowers are orange!
Here I am with an 'old man (wearing a mask) ad his wife with a fancy orange hat. This shopping centre is near my sis' home and completely surrounded by stalls and also inside the centre.

Photo: Here I am with an 'old man (wearing a mask) ad his wife with a fancy orange hat. This shopping centre is near my sis' home and completely surrounded by stalls and also inside the centre.
With some stall holders.

Mieke and I enjoying the sunshine and a coffee.



  1. Thats just what you wanted to do & am so glad it has been such a special time with friends & family remembering your childhood village....walking where you once walked. Blessings
    Much love XB

    1. Hi Brenda! Yes it was very special. I'm planning a return visit before I leave.

  2. Hi T, I commented here when you put this up, but my comment isn't here? I wonder if it "took". I'll try signing in, although I'm signed into all google a/cs. Ah well fun fun. Love the pics, you're in your element. Enjoyed reading this x

  3. I have to publish each comment, as I've had ugly spam. x


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