Sunday, March 15, 2009
Rambles in Zeeland
Yesterday was cold, blustery and almost unrelievedly grey. More of a day for staying inside tucked up with a good book than for exploring. Even so, we did. Explore that is. We decided to go and investigate Middelburg, the provincial capital of Zeeland and a neighbouring village Arnemuiden (pronounced Arnemouden). The motivation was an application I have made to the university in Middelburg to do some freelancing there. So far, they have nothing available but are 'keeping your (my) CV on file". In my business, that is encouraging as there rarely is work immediately, but when courses come up and they don't have enough teachers to cater to all the students, they call on their pools of freelance trainers. Hopefully, one of those will be me.
I say hopefully, because Middelburg is lovely. A gem of an old Dutch town with grace and character. Even better, it has a thriving harbour network, so were I to find enough work to move, then the Vereeniging might well find a place there. Of course it is a lot closer to the little house too, and that is always a bonus. I don't think I'd want to make the drive every day, so to have my barge there would be an added bonus, but hey, I'm just dreaming now.
The visit to Arnemuiden was less inspiring. It is a typical Dutch village, but of the rather severely Protestant variety as is suggested immediately on arrival by a welcome board, saying 'Welkom in Arnemuiden namens de kerken" (on behalf of the churches!). Maybe I should add here that in some places in the Netherlands, there is quite a noticeable religious influence in the way people live their lives, and when I say Protestant, that implies the very strict and somewhat austere Calvinism that was prevalent in the country in the 17th and 18th centuries. This style of religious observance is still part of the fabric of many Dutch villages and towns, as opposed to the Catholic areas, which are known for their more relaxed and vivid lifestyle.
The best part about Arnemuiden was the old shipyard where they appear to restore historic boats (always interesting for us). The most amusing part about it, though, was that it seemed to be incredibly difficult to get out of the village...the line "you can check out any time you like...but you can never leave".....came strongly to mind, and bordered almost on hysterical when coupled with "namens de kerken"!