Saturday, June 16, 2012

The village

A lane near The Village -- typical Flanders
It's been a long time since I posted anything on my Graafjansdijk blog. This was the cyber diary where I used to write updates on the restoration of my little house in the south. Strangely, although I have continued to make progress and improve the cottage slowly but surely, I stopped blogging about it. Or maybe it's not so strange since I've not been blogging about an awful lot at all lately. In fact it's been a long time since I posted anything on this blog too, isn't it? Well, I sincerely hope that's all going to change soon. I am heartily sick of working 23/24 (slight exaggeration? OK, yes), but anyway, let's say any free time I've had has been taken up with marking papers, prepping lessons and doing assignments for my own studies. I haven't even written a word for my book for a month or that's really serious, isn't it?

So, I decided I needed to write something, even if it's just some nonsensical observations about our village. When I say village, I don't mean Rotterdam. I mean the 'dorp on the dyke' as I call it, and the place where the little house is situated. It's about two kilometres from the Belgian border in Zeeuws Vlaanderen and really is an 'echte dorp' as we used to say in South Africa.

Now, in many ways it is a typical village. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows about everyone. And what they don't know? Well, why spoil some good gossip with the truth? It's far less interesting. The truth, that is. The other typical thing about this village is that local affairs are run from the pub. In a way, you could liken it to a kind of 'godfather' situation. You know, the 'Family' that controls life. In a rather gentle and totally innocuous way of course.

Our 'Family' is headed by the publican, Jon. He isn't actually a local as he and his wife come from the other side of the country, but there is no doubt - life in the village revolves around their pub. If you want a 'job' done, then that's where you go. But let me re-assure you. This is much less menacing than it sounds, because a job down here means 'klussen' and that includes everything from building, decorating and gardening to cleaning, plumbing and wiring. What's even better is that Jon has a member of the family or a friend of the family for everything too. So if it's wiring you want, then it's Arno. If it's roofing you need, then it's Ernst. In fact, you do have a choice - of sorts: you can have Arno assisted by Ernst. Or Ernst assisted by Arno. Good, huh?

Then the local cleaning lady is his son's wife's sister's friend. Jon's, I mean. She 'does' for practically everyone and if you need her, then you just call Jon. He is facilitator, organiser and conduit, or whatever else you like to call him. You just have to remember that you won't get far in the Village without bumping into him or his Family.

We also have our share of local personalities. One I particularly enjoy is a neighbour who for sake of discretion I shall call Jack. Jack used to live in Terneuzen and have his holiday home in the village. Then he decided he loved his holiday home so much he wanted to move here, which he did. This might seem pretty rash until you consider that Terneuzen is only nine kilometres away...and yes, he really did have his house here as a holiday home.

Anyhow, Jack is totally in love with the village. He has never discarded his notion that this is where he came to get away, so every day to him is a holiday and he never fails to tell you so when he sees you. It really is quite uplifting in a way. The weather is always wonderful, the view is always fantastic, the village is always perfect. How much more positive could you want anyone to be? Whenever I feel in need of a bit of a boost, I just make sure of opening the front door when Jack is walking past. It's instant therapy, happiness guaranteed. Bless him.

Well, I could go on, but I realise I've probably exceeded all the recommended limits for a blog post already, so I'll shut up for now, but maybe I'll post some more observations about life in the dorp on the dyke another time. For the moment, the writing thirst has temporarily been quenched and I shall go off, contentedly of course, to my bed in my little house in the Village. Sleep tight and slaap lekker allemaal xx


  1. Ah yes, the "small town talk". It is a joke around here, just start something, a little something and it spreads like wildfire and by the time it reaches, say, the 10th person, it is a complete different story.
    What is the population of your Village? It sounds like a wonderful place, and the photo shows that.

    Enjoyed reading your post. Not writing in your book, well, then life is too busy ;).

  2. So glad you found that one hour left in the day to write this. I hope you will get work relief soon!


  3. It sounds very much like my "village".
    However, I only visit the pub during a special event. There is a certain vortex surrounding the place and one can get veritably sucked in!
    That all said, I most certainly can relate to the small-town feel.
    Maybe you are so settled into your wee home that you no longer feel the need to write about it.
    I enjoy reading from your points of view, Val! xx

  4. Knowing how great the village is it's fun to hear about more of its charecters.

  5. Grace, you are so right about the small talk. In Africa we used to call it the Bush telegraph! I don't actually know what the population is here. It's quite big as the village is spread along a five kilometre stretch of dyke, so it's very long and narrow - the second longest in the Netherlands, actually.

    Anne Marie, so glad you got home safely! And it sounds as if you had a great trip, if not a summery one! It was so good to see you, dear.

    Dale, Koos and I have never actually been to the pub for a drink! Strange, but true. I shall resurrect the blog, though. I have lots to show now. Arno and Ernst have been helping me with some paving lately :) xx

    Stu, there's more to come, so watch this space ;))

  6. "Bush Telegraph"....I like that.

  7. So glad to see that you are back working the blog Val and as for 23/24, I know what you mean for we are back home from the exhibition for 3 days R & R before returning for another stint.

  8. I too am catching up with writing, seems as if many of us have had other issues to deal with! We have a couple of pubs here, so I imagine gossip goes out a bit like a spider's web! ;-) In general there is only one where we are 'known' but that is due to us eating there on a Sunday and the owner being a huge fan of Big Country!

  9. This so describes the village I live in! However, I have to say that if anyone is ever ill or not seen for a while, it really doesn't take long before someone is checking on them and providing support and comfort. People really feel safe and part of a community, a rare thing these days. Good to have you back xxx

  10. Mel, I've seen your post about the exhibition and Mrs H's beautiful work. Chapeau!

    String, lovely to hear from you. The pubs in England are often the social centre of a village. That's definitely the case here as well, and although K and I are not visitors ourselves, they know more about us than we do :)

    Fran, that's the other side isn't it? People are very caring and that is what makes living in a small community special. Thanks for stopping by!


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