Making plans!

Making my hiking plans for the summer holidays, folks!

Hi there, all you hikers, ramblers, amblers and speed-walkers. Remember me? Taken in the Derbyshire Hills, 2016  (©R.Grashoff) I...

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Stellendam's Flags Day - One Big Happy Family!

Today saw the rebirth of a once-in-four-years-event, which is a tradition in my country. 
Fishing villages and towns (and we used to have numerous; now we only have a few left) hold a "Flag Day" - vlaggetjesdag - to celebrate the fact that they have reached yet another Summer alive (my interpretation) and the fact that the fish have been gracious enough to get caught in their nets all year long. And it's great for tourism.


©WibeKoopman Photography

© WibeKoopman Photography

What I mostly saw today though, was a trade with pride in their work, and very happy to give us, landlubbers, an insight in their daily business. This business is catching fish, and the vessel I was welcomed on, the GO-29, is a shrimper.
The young guy in the photos is Jeroen, looking a tad grim, but so would you if your day consisted of 24 hrs of shrimping for 3 to 5 days on end, with a rigorous grueling schedule of 1/2 hour on and 1 hour off.
Today I saw him looking happy, rested and glamorous, the perfect host for all those strangers who were welcomed aboard of the GO-29. You can look up the video on YouTube (called 'Stellendam Flag Day 2015'), or use this link:Leaving Stellendam Harbour

Those letters GO stand for Goeree, the Zuid-Hollands island with the home harbour of Stellendam. But this fishing family actually comes from Moerdijk, up river, where their grandfather did his shrimping on the river in the days when Moerdijk was an island. Now it is dry land, safe behind dykes. But the fishing is at an end there, and the few families that remained fishermen were forced to bring  their vessels to Stellendam. 
It is not all rosy, explained skipper IJsbrand's nephew to me. The fish they used to catch on the river, spiering (sprot in English) likes brackish water. But the salty sea water doesn't reach Moerdijk any longer due to the Deltawerken (which keep the Zuid-Hollandse isles and Zeeland safe from the sea surges), and the spiering has disappeared.

IJsbrand and his family were very hospitable, serving free cold drinks, beers and shrimp sandwiches. And let me tell you, those shrimp are the best and tastiest shrimp in Europe! They are tiny, but will have your tastebuds in rapture.

Now, obviously my videos are amateur. I have no pretensions. If you want to view the pro stuff, you will have to visit my son Wibe's website soon. He is uploading the photos of today as I write. I will put a link at the bottom of this post.

What I would like to end with, is a plea to remember Goeree. Whenever you are in the vicinity (and Rotterdam, very hip these days, is only 35 kilometers away), do come to visit our islands. First you pass the island of Putten, then (only across the canal) my home island of Voorne, and then you cross the Haringvliet dam to Goeree-Overflakkee, the last Zuid-Hollands island before you cross another dam to Zeeland. 
Our islands, my Wetlands, are the ultimate Dutch delta. Almost my entire country is a delta, but WE are the delta of all deltas.

Link 2: leaving Stellendam harbour ('Stellendam Flag Day - 2')Leaving Stellendam Harbour -2
Link 3: passing Hellevoetsluis harbour ('Stellendam Flag Day - 3')Passing Hellevoetsluis harbour
Link to Wibe's website: Wibe Koopman Photography

I'll leave you with one of Wibe's photos.


©WibeKoopman Photography - Norfolk Beach



Friday, 10 July 2015

Mrs K goes Nautical!

When you are a follower of this blog, or if you have taken the time to read the introduction post, you'll know that I teach English.
This is my 10th year in this demanding profession, and the third year running that I'm facing an entirely new job.
First I moved from a small private secondary school in my hometown to work at huge inner city school in the harbour of Rotterdam, specializing in harbour related curriculum. 



Then I moved from this school to a smaller sister school in Den Briel, specializing in process industry and maintenance. And now I am going to work at yet another branch of the same huge school (whilst staying with my process guys as well); a small highly specialized  school in Stellendam on Goeree-Overflakkee catering for would-be fishermen and sailors.

(I first wrote seamen. Then looked at the word, and thought: blimey, that's too close to semen for my liking. So I changed it)




Joke! This was street theatre in the Belgian Ardennes, and most amusing it was.

What isn't comical at all, is that I am supposed to be teaching nautical English. Which is...shall we say...a challenge?
Imagine me, a self-confessed tree person, having to master marcom. "Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is two-one-one-two-three-nine-six-eight-zero motor vessel RenĂ©e call sign Delta Alpha Mike Kilo, position six two degrees one one decimal eight minutes North, zero zero seven degrees four four minutes East - I am on fire after explosion - I require fire fighting assistance - smoke not toxic - over"

Yeah.



I must admit I toyed with the idea of running away to a quiet, far, tree filled warm place, where I would end my days in peace, with a nice cold drink in my hand and not have to worry about if I could get my English lesson about - say - a diesel engine across.

But I would miss my family too much. And, let's admit it, I quite like a challenge. 
I'll be keeping you posted about my progress, shall I?




Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Trust the Weather Gods to Send Us This...

After a week with tropical temperatures which had The Wetlands in thralls of bliss and sweat, everyone around our part of the country was anticipating the Tour de France with baited breath, glee and frantic party preparations.
Our sleepy naval port, usually the scene of dignified holiday makers whose worst transgression is having one beer too many on a Saturday, saw un-Wetlandish scenes of camper vans parked willy-nilly in the grass verges, all the better to be able to watch the racers.

We had a Tour de France party to go to. Very well organized. We got there in blazing sunshine and 26 degrees C. And then this happened:





Unbelievable, right?!
Our hostess decided she would do her hostess thing anyway, and it was a valiant effort.



But when the thunderstorm started to pelt us with rain and wind force 8, many people decided to find shelter. The temperature dipped to 16 degrees...Then 14 degrees...
We stood our ground. Our daughters shared a hoody and had fun anyway.



I secretly  reversed back to my original sentiment: I am not a Tour de France enthusiast, especially not when I get wet through to my skin and cold to boot. Call me a pussy, I don't care.
Later we heard that LeMoulin, Dutch Hope in Fearful Days, had tumbled off his bike and will skip the rest of the Tour. Aw! Stupid, stupid, stupid thunderstorm!