My house is almost ready, that is to say my computer room is fine, my kitchen is wonderfull, my bedroom is okay, my favorite paintings are on the wall and the grocery store is still intact. But I have over 50 boxes to unpack, and I don’t know where to put the stuff, my books, my DVD’s, my CD’s, my paintings and all the rest of it.
My bookshelves on my first attic are full and the second attic is filled with stuff from the grocery store. Some friends have been buying a few articles from me. I gave some away. Some of my stuff has gone to Joke, Femke, Gjalt and Ewout, but it is not enough. So help me out please, come and visit me and take some of it with you!
As you know I have been living out of the boot of my car for a long time, some 5 months. In holiday camps, in a rented house and in several B & B’s. Looking every day at the progress being made by the professionals who were renovating my house in Exmorra and making into a place where I could live. They did a great job.
A lot of time was spent on re-immigrating back to Holland. Bank accounts, insurance policies, health insurance, register with the community, importing my car, a new driving licence and various other things. And, not to forget, all the things related to buying a house and renovating it. Saying how I want this done and that, paying for the bills, helping the men from time to time and keeping up spirits. But enough has been said on that sad story in my previous newsletter.
A good part of the time was spent in exploring Friesland. What a wonderful region. It has many interesting places. And a great variety. Wonderful ancient cities with beautiful townhalls, especially the eleven cities famous for the “Elfstedentocht.” A skating tour of over 200 kilometres, passing 11 of the most beautiful cities. But also the harbours along the “IJsselmeer” (a huge sweet water lake) and the “Waddenzee” (a shallow salt water sea full of life). The green meadows, the cows, the swans and geese grazing the land. The churches and bell towers, the windmills, the museums. The sacred places. The nature reserve areas, full of wildlife, swamps, peat moors and forests.
And let’s not forget the people. They are so polite and so nice. Some are still a bit conservative but that’s good. And there are many artists. The people are, generally speaking, not as spoiled and blasé as in the Randstad (the area around Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht). They are narural. They love their country, their sports such as sailing (skûtjessilen, with those large, flat bottom sailing boats), kaatsen, something in between tennis and cricket, fierljeppen (pole vauling over water) and skating of course.
The air is still clean here, as Door remarks whenever she comes from Amsterdam to visit me. There are wonderful restaurants, especially fish restaurants and they have great markets and jumble sales, sometimes even covering four football, sorry four soccer fields, as in the village of Bakkeveen.
Well, what more can I say/? I only hope that I will be able to stay here a little longer, without being chased away by the civil servants of my community, called Sudwest-Fryslân. So sad, so very sad.
But I feel that they will be the next victims of the powerfull, popular movements that are now taking place all over the Western World now. After the politicians who did not listen to the people, but were mainly serving their own interests, now the civil servants will be next. For far too many civil servants like to hide behind their desks and their rules and regulations and seem to take more pleasure in telling you what you cannot do, than in helping you do what you would like to do. There are of course many good exceptions.
May the Spirit World help us.
The beauty of Friesland
In one of my previous newsletters I showed you some of the most interesting places in Friesland. Well my friends, let’s continue this presentation and show you some more. Starting with churches. One church, called the museum church in Workum, is an old catholic church, with beautiful paintings and even some images of Mary Magdalene. Which are very, very rare in Friesland. Even though they have a statue of the Holy Lucia in Pingjum, looking much like a Black Madonna. Then there is a huge church, called the St. Vitus church in Blauwhuis, certainly worth a visist.
And special buildings like the town halls in Franeker and Bolsward, or gates/bridges like the Sneekerpoort in Sneek and the white bridge in Franeker. And musea like the Korendragers huisje and the Eise Eisinga museums in Franeker, the museum village in Allingawier and, my favorite, the Jopie Huisman museum in Workum, here with one of his famous paintings.
And then there are some curious buildings, like the ruin of the old Broere church in Bolsward and the huge shed where they are building luxury yachts, called ‘the Cathedral’ in Makkum. Or the large Bonifatius complex, just outside Dokkum, with a statue of Bonifatius protecting his head from with a bible.
And how about restaurants, you might ask. Excellent. The Thai/Indonesian restaurant Tandjong Priok in Arum, located in an huge farmhouse. The many excellent fish restaurants in Harlingen and Workum and Hindelopen. Or the pizzeria in Pingjum. And what tot think of this famous ‘whiskey restaurant’ also in a large farmhouse in Stavoren.
Land, skies and sacred places
Enough of all those buildings. Let’s have a look at the wonderful skies and the beautiful nature. Look at these totally different skies. What a wonder of nature. Look at the grazing swans. And the tall trees in Gaasterland where Door and I love to walk. Admire the peat moors near Oosterwolde and Eernewoude. See the Waddenzee at low tide near Holwerd or the big lake in the southwest, called the Fluessen. See the amazing tall ships in Harlingen and the nice, wooden botter, a classical fishing vessel. Or the classical rowing boats and the praam, the flatboat, used to carry a variety of goods, even shit. There is a yearly shit race from Harlingen to Amsterdam! And most of our Dutch readers will no doubt have heard of the “Kameleon” that famous boat that won so many prizes. Many boys books have been written about it. Here it is, located in Ter Horne.
Friesland also has its sacred places. Just think of the well known “Pieter Pad” that can go all the way to Santiago the Compostella. And there are standing stones everywhere. See this beautiful cementary in Oldeholtpade, where my grandparents are buried. And a memorial stone for the powerful Frisian fighter “Greate Pier”, near Skart. And what to think of these trees, standing in a circle at a three-forked road between Workum and Hindelopen. And indeed, the Orbs are back as well!
Friends and family, excursions
Being back in Holland gave me the opportunity to meet old friends again. And to see my family more often. And when things got a bit too ‘hot’ with respect to my house in Exmorra, I mean too busy, or too dusty, or too stressy, I occasionaly had to break away. To clear my mind, to clear my lungs who were getting full of dust and to get rid of my stress.
Let me tell you about the people I met and show you some of the highlights of my visits and excursions.
Several people came to visit me. Looking in wonder at he old Grutters museum. Like Yuness, a friend of Joke, who is collecting special drums. She was in the seventh heaven here. Or that lovely couple who fell so much in love with the grutters museum that they are making a miniature version of it. Then Jan and Tiny came. What a surprise. Jan was an old collegue, a managing director just like me, of one of the Health Insurance companies now belonging to the VGZ group. Bert Breij came, my dear old friend. A real communication guru, one of the best, who is now working on his Ph D. Andre Vieleers came with his lovely partner Jose. He was one of my collegues at Fokker Aircraft company. And we did some sailing on the high seas together. Uta, my friend from Germany came. She loves Friesland. Maurits Prins, another writer, also came to visit and we had a wonderful conversation. He wrote the book “Het Bedrog van Rome,” ( The Deceit of Rome).
I paid several visits to dear friends, like Pieter Aarts and Maarten Oversier. And Ron Hendriks and his partner Herma. And of course to my son Ewout who was working in Marum, which is also in Friesland. Door and I paid a visit to Martin Sijbesma, a gifted painter from Kubaard, who will one day make a portrait of Door. And of course I made some business calls to my publisher, Uitgeverij Aspekt in Soesterberg and to my accountant, Wilfred de Groot from BDO in Haarlem.
And there were some interesting celebrations. E.J. who is Joke’s elder brother who lives in Norway came to Noordwijk with most of his family. A true reunion. And Jan Boerboom, the husband of my sister Marian, celebrated his 90st birthday at his huse in Bennekom. Joke celebrated her 70ties birthday with family and close friends. That was very, very special. A lunch at the two star restaurant Lindeboom in Nuenen. Great. Look at the pictures of Joke and of myself with our youngest grandson called Storm.
Door and I made several trips in Friesland and to other places. We love it, we are adventurous people. Here is a trip to Urk.
I made one special trip to France, together with Maarten Oversier. For a real “Man’s Weekend in the Vosges. Superb.
But there are still a few things that I miss. The salt water, stemming from my almost 20 years in the Royal Netherlands Navy. And Mary Magdalene, stemming from my almost 20 years in the South of France. So I went on a fishing boat, cruising on the Waddenzee, fishing for shrimps. So good to tast that salt water again. And I went on a special trip with my fellow naval officers, in the Marsdiep, near Den Helder, with two lifeboats. Organized by ‘our’ retired admiral Cees van Duyvendijk. Very special.
And finally I looked for Mary Magdalene in Gent, Belgium. A place that I had visited several times when I was CEO of MZB, a Health Insurance company in Bergen op Zoom. And I found her. Look at the pictures.
Dear friends, I don’t know what the future will bring. I hope I can stay here in Exmorra. The people are here very nice. The village is bursting with wonderful activities and my house is a beauty now. I only hope that the city council and I can come to a fair and acceptable solution for me renovating the house without asking permission. I didn’t know that I needed permission, and I apologized several times, but it doesn’t seem to work. I don’t know what is expected of me, I will have to wait, fearing every day for the damage that the winterstorms can do to my house. With one barely protected roof. I wrote several letters, I have officially asked for permission, I have delivered several kinds of documents and drawings and now we will have to see. I also asked for coulance, especially since I have kept the Grutters museum intact and have promised to keep it open. And also because I did a lot of renovating on this ancient monument. That is worth something I hope. But civil servants are civil servants and rules are rules.
I can only say that I will not let it ruin my health. If we don’t come to a fair agreement, I will close the place down, sell everything inside the museum, put the house up for sale and leave. To France, Spain, Peru? Who knows. I want to live in peace now, I want to write and to travel and to meet people.
But I hope that I can stay here in Friesland, so that I can show you the ‘green, green grass of home.’
Did you know that one of my books is translated in Danish? The book about Jamie and Mary Magdalene. I don’t know if it is selling well, but I certainly hope so. And my cooking book for lonely people, mostly men, or for men who want to spent some time on their own, in their own house and in their own kitchen, discovering the pleasure in cooking, touching nature and really creating things, I wrote the book “Uit in eigen huis”. Going out in your own house. If you are interested, really interested, or if you know a publisher who is interested, then please let me know. For then I will translate the book in English/American.
Jaap W. Rameijer
8759 LE Exmorra
tel: +31 515 85 65 64
mobile: +31 06 26 28 77 99