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"!

17 comments:

  1. You must so enjoy being there...love the blog with the descriptions of the towns and the pics!

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  2. Hi Val,
    I too love reading about your travels. You are so lucky to be able to explore like that.
    I've made it across the continent safely, but the sun is apparently coming on a later flight. :)

    xx
    AM

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  3. ah, a bit like Hotel California! like the reference Val.

    xo

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  4. Thanks String, I do, and I am always fascinated too by the contradictions the Netherlands presents compared to its 'international' image. I've added a bit about the Protestantism in my blog as it occurred to me that some readers might feel I was being critical, but it's really just an observation on the nature of the Dutch way of doing things.

    Anne Marie, shame..I hope the sun has caught up with you now dear!

    Grace, glad you picked up on the reference, although I suppose it's taking a bit of a risk when you see what I've connected it to. As I said to String, i intended no criticism, just an observation on Dutch ways.

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  5. Val, just popping in to say Hi!
    ...and, yes, the snow is keeping me VERY busy.
    Had a great chat on FB with Koos while he was at the house in Zeeland.
    I will keep in touch.

    xx

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  6. Hi Val,
    thanks for visiting our blog, nice to hear form you.
    I see you like Local Hero, one of our favorites, wonderfull movie, atmosphere almost like a fairy tale.
    I saw your picture of the chair on the ice, I 'm surprised that there was ice in the Old Harbour. We thought it never happened.
    We would like to visit Gouda during summerhollidays you can moor three weeks for free in the museum harbour.
    Can you give me your mail adres, mine is: carlayvonne@gmail.com
    love for the both of you,
    Carla (and Aad of course)

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  7. Hi Dale, good to see you aren't totally snowed under. Thanks for popping by dear!

    Carla, thanks so much! I'll email you so that you have my address. That's great to know we can moor three weeks for free. Maybe we'll do just that! Would be great to be somewhere different for a while!

    For some reason blogger isn't allowing me to sign in so I'm having to be anonymous on my own blog..lol ;-)
    Will try again later, Val

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  8. Anonymous Val and alias Antoinette/Anne-Marie!

    xx

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  9. Nice description and pics!
    I know that Protestant way of life for sure :)
    It was the same here out in the archipelago where the time stood still when I was a kid.
    Or at least until I launched my own pirate radio... :)

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  10. Hi Vally! It's been a while since I've stopped by your blog...I need to stop forgetting to come here. I wanted to say that despite how little I know about the subject of watery lifestyle, being a native city-dweller, your writing makes it officially interesting! I feel very tranquil viewing your photos and reading your descriptions of the Dutch towns.

    I had forgotten to look back for your response on my comment ages ago, but I wanted to thank you for the welcoming note, I want to comment here more often.

    Hope you are doing well!

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  11. Even in the grey it looks amazing and you always have the most amazing photos Val!!

    Just popping by to say hello now that I am feeling a little better! Thanks for all the blog love! You are so sweet to always think of me!

    xo Molly

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  12. Hi Val

    Just popping in. It's been quiet on the blogging front.
    I'm going to be very busy until the middle of April.

    xx

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  13. Oh my, I've neglected this space for the last week or so. Work and other commitments have rather muscled their way in on my blogging time. All the same, thanks so much to Hans, Grace, Lemon, Molly and Dale for the kind comments. I really appreciate them so much and am touched by the friendship they show.

    I will be back soon, and with greater frequency. Tomorrow I am off to the UK for a few days, but next week, life will hopefully start take take on a little more normality. We've been having a fairly hectic time with frustrations and difficulties involved in the house my Mo is trying to buy and with which I am doing my best to help. Since the financial and credit crisis hit, the institutions that supply mortgages have become unbelievably strict and keep inventing rules and changing the goal posts, so we've been under quite a bit of stress in the last weeks.It will be resolved soon one way or another, and either they will own a house, or give up and wait until things have settled down some.

    In any event, I need my blog to retain some sanity, so as I said, next week I'll be back with more tales to tell. Thanks again to all and lots of love, VallyP xxx

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  14. Safe travels, Val. I can totally sympathise with the house buying frustrations you're feeling, even though at least the banking system here is relatively stable and we're not having those kinds of problems (just others!)

    I'm hoping to have good news in a few days. Must wait...

    xx
    AM

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  15. I hope it was smooth sailing across the North Sea!

    xx

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