Preparing myself for my hiking holiday in the North of England is proving more difficult than I thought. Our wet Wetlands weather, fickle as it normally is, has been challenging to say the least.
But last Sunday turned out dry, so I jumped into my hiking shoes and set off for a hike around my neighbourhood of Nieuw-Helvoet, before the floodgates would open once again.
This vibrant Viburnum greets me every day, on my daily walkie-with-my-doggie, and isn't it gorgeous?
It is a good example of the many Viburnums which are lovingly dotted around this neighbourhood. People in Nieuw-Helvoet are proud of their front gardens, on the whole (always exceptions).
I set off from home and turned left, taking the old through-road from Nieuw-Helvoet to the naval port of Hellevoetsluis. Nieuw-Helvoet is contrary to its name actually quite old, dating from 1367,and has a beautifully preserved traditional ring of houses (also called 'Ring') around the old church.
But archeologists have dug up remains of habitation from the Iron Age (800 BC), along with clear evidence that the land was flooded again and again, which made living around these parts a challenge to say the least!
Churches in my part of the country were more often than not built in two parts: the ship and the bell tower separately.
You can see from the shape of the tower that it has a square, no-nonsense shape, and that money was short. Hence bricked-in "windows" where, in more affluent places, a leaded glass window would be.Life on my island of Voorne was hard.
As you perhaps can spot,the year 1820 is on the plaque of this traditional house in the Ring. Which makes it one of the newer houses, paradoxically.
This one, the Raadhuis (town hall), dates from 1760.
Nieuw-Helvoet has long since been integrated into the larger town of Hellevoetsluis, but it has retained its tiny-town atmosphere. Nieuw-Helvoet was here first, and used the mooring place they called Hellevoetsluys as their harbour on the sea arm called Haringvliet, separating my island of Voorne from the next island of Goeree-Overflakkee. It was only when the Dutch government decided to make Hellevoetsluys their major naval port, that the number of its inhabitants exceeded that of Nieuw-Helvoet.
(If you are into names: Haring = herring, vliet = river, hence "the river where you can fish for herring". Helle = difficult, voet = foot, sluys = lock, hence "the place where there is a lock from the sea arm Haringvliet to the difficult navigable river Hellevoet")
I've told you before that the graveyard is on my route, and this time I decided to enter it so I can show you a traditional Wetlands burial ground. It is still in use, but only people from this neighbourhood can be buried here. It has one official Common Wealth War Grave, a bit forgotten now, and on the whole is rather quiet...Most of the old families, with their family graves, have been lost in history.
But look what I found...Mathilde Bernardine Washington, born July 11th 1888, Died May 1st 1989, wife to corn merchant and sometime mill keeper Hermen Maasdam. This tickled my curiosity!Was this an American bride, that for some reason had ended up in my wetlands? So what do you do then? Right, you consult Mr. Google.
And you find out that Mathilde was the daughter of Wilhelmus Wassinghton (note the spelling!), born December 1829 in the Northern province of Friesland, and his marriage issued "7 children born without life from 1860-1869" - so my, old Wilhelmus must have been chuffed to get a living Mathilde in the end!But what caused the spelling of her name on this gravestone? Was it a mistake? Google couldn't answer this question.
I'll end with the Viburnum I started with, simply because I adore the way this homeowner lovingly trims his box.
My hike was a short one, only 5.913 steps, but the weather was great for a change and I enjoyed it. Hope you did too!
Join me next time?