My French telephone didn’t work very well in Holland. I know that several people tried to call me, but I could not connect with them. And reaching people on that phone was also very difficult. Besides I did not have all the names and addresses of my friends with me, for most of my stuff was packed three weeks ago and s now stored with the removal company. Fortunately I got a Dutch prepaid telephone from my dear daughter Femke and that really ‘saved my life’ in Holland.
In my rented house there was no Internet and no TV. And I know that I could have gone to an internet cafe, but that is not my style. I like to work by myself in a quiet room. And now I can tell you that it is quite an experience to live for several weeks without internet and without TV. Give it a try!
Today on May 4th I finally got my internet and TV. After looking at about 1.000 emails and answering some of them them, my first job was to make this newsletter in order to let you know what happened during the past months and where and how I am.
01 Signing the final contract.jpg
02 Tired and afully loaded.jpg
03 My rented home.jpg
Saying goodbye to Les Labadous and to France
It was hard to say goodbye. And you only realize how hard it is when it is almost time to leave. What to do? Well, enjoying the orchids in my gite. Looking at the green heart in the River of Colors, having a lavish breakfast in the beautiful decorated square house with the old and new owners.
Going to places where I have never been before, travelling on small, icy roads. And of course visiting my favorite restaurant called Le Relais du Pays du Sault in Espezel.
Paying a last vistit to Rennes-le-Chateau where a lot of work has been done. On the museum and its shop and also in the Garden, Le Jardin de Marie.
Visiting Joke and Franklin in their lovely house in Quillan. And admiring all the beautiful products in their shop ‘Renaissance’ and the wonderful lay-out.
04 My Orchids.jpg
05 The Green heart.jpg
06 Easter breakfast.jpg
07 Small, icy roads.jpg
08 My favorite restaurant.jpg
09 My favorite chef.jpg
10 Tour Magdala.jpg
11 The church of R-L-C.jpg
13 Joke and Franklin.jpg
It was also difficult for my friend Door to say goodbye to Les Labadous and to France. We had been visiting many places in the past few years, always looking for Mary Magdalene and Black Madonna’s. But there was one place where she had never been, a special place, a place with a powerful Black Madonna. Rocamadour.
On the road to Rocamadour we stopped at Cahors and visited the impressive bridge over the River Lot. Then, driving on, over lovely, small country roads we suddenly came up on a hill and there it was, Rocamadour, clinging to the rocks and overlooking a huge valley. What a great sight. We walked down on the Path of the Cross and I held one for a while.
The next day we went east, passing first the village of Le Bourg where we found this beautiful statue of Mary Magdalene. Next we came to the land of the menhirs. What to think of this huge stone, called ‘La Pierre Martine’ near the village of Livernon. And this huge standing stone, a little further east.
In Figeac we went to the cathedral. In a side chapel we found some of the most beautiful pictures, statues and panels I have ever seen. Look at this lovely Notre Dame with child and this magnificent tableau of all the people mourning for the deadJesus.
Further east, on the pilgrimroad to Santiago de Compostella stands a small chapel near the village of Guirande. It is dedicated to Mary Magdalene and has a few beautifu paintings and statues of her. And an even stranger a painted ceiling. Our final visit was to the mountain village of Conques, with its solid, powerful church.
Door said her final goodbyes to La Pique, the place where we had first ‘met.’ Sweet memories. Our dog Ruah came all the way with us. He loves to walk in the area with people he knows. He has even guided people to the Cave of Mary Magdalene.
And as an early birthday present Door bought this beautiful ancient Budha for me.
16 The Black Madonna.jpg
17 Carrying the cross.jpg
18 Le Bourg.jpg
19 La Pierre Martine.jpg
20 Single standing stone.jpg
21 ND de Figeac.jpg
22 Mourning Jesus.jpg
23 MM in Guirande.jpg
24 A little statue.jpg
25 Curious wall paintings.jpg
27 La Pique.jpg
28 Door and Ruah.jpg
My last guided tours
Even as early as March there were people who came to Les Labadous and wanting to be guided by me. Just some short trips in and around Rennes-le-Chateau. And on my trip further away, to Foix, to the monastry of Carol in Baulou, Anneke and Franklin came along. And I also I promised the new owners to take them to the most interesting places in the Rennes-le-Chateau area.
I am sure that you know all these places, but never mind, enjoy the pictures! And who knows maybe I will be doing guided tours later on this year or next year, originating from presentations inHolland or going to France on special requests.
We first went to the Cave of Mary Magdalene with next to it the Birthing Cave and the Jesus Cave. And a little further, next to the caves, we stood on top of those mighty rocks called ‘Les Bals’. Then past Les Capitelles near Coustaussa, where a dog was protecting his sheep and passing the Pech Cardou to Rennes-les-Bains with the Fontaine des Amours and the Trembling Rocks. Another magical place. With, as some say, a ‘Doorway to other dimensions,’ located at the foot of the rock formation. Then further east to the Gorges de Galamus with its ancient hermitage and the church built in the rock.
Next we were going west to the famous Labyrinth of Nebias. Not really a labyrinth, but a maze. Another magical place. Still further west, past the ND du Val d’Amour in Belesta, the source of Fontestorbes and. with a slight detour to the Montsegur, to Tarascon-sur-Ariege and Foix. Another sacred area. With its famous ‘Cathar’ Caves, the caves of Niaux and the Lombrives, an underground river, the Grail Castle in Montreal-de-Sos , the stone of Sem and more much more.
But we were going through Foix to Baulou, visiting the difficult to find magical cave of Mary Magdalene and the even more difficult to find cave of Jesus, guarded by this dragon. And then, after a lovely lunch in Foix, back by way of the Rock Church of Vals to Mirepoix, Limoux and home.
And there was our good friend Maarten who was giving a workshop in Girona, staying with us for a while. And, having been a real top chef, he made a wonderful dinner for us.
30 Cave of Mary Magdalene.jpg
31 Les Bals.jpg
32 On top of it!.jpg
33 Les Capitelles.jpg
34 Hermitage in Galamus.jpg
35 Les Roches Tremblantes.jpg
36 The doorway to other dimensions.jpg
37 The 'labyrinth'.jpg
38 Resting in the maze of Nebias.jpg
40 The Dragon.jpg
41 Franklin at the entrance.jpg
42 An anguished Jesus.jpg
43 Lunch in Foix.jpg
44 Rock church of Vals.jpg
45 Joke and Maarten.jpg
46 Wonderful dinner.jpg
Orbs and UFO’s
I couldn’t leave you without showing you the last pictures I took of some curious Orb and some cloud covered UFO’s in that magical area. Pictures of strange cloud formations over the Pech Bugarach and the Chateau Templiers.
And I am also showing you the last batch of boxes going into the truck of the moving company. Altogether over 34 cubic metres of boxes and furniture was stacked in that truck, including over 250 boxes filled with books, DVD’s, records and magazines. I only hope I will be able to house them in my new house.
And finally here is a last look of the man leaving the place he loves some much, leaving Joke, Franklin, Axel and Ruah, who he also loves and leaving the country and the people he loves. Going to a new country, a new house and a new life.
47 The Bugarach.jpg
48 Chateau Templiers.jpg
49 A strange Orb on my head.jpg
50 A beautiful Orb with Door.jpg
51 The last boxes.jpg
52 Leaving my old home.jpg
Looking for houses, visiting friends and family
On March 31st I left Les Labadous. With an empty heart and my car full of my personal belongings. And a map filled with the addresses of houses in Friesland, promising looking houses that were for sale. Houses posted on several internet sites. Houses that looked very nice and were within my budget.
First I went to Bloemketerp, a Holiday Park or Recreation Center in Franeker where I had stayed before. From there I made various trips, looking at all the houses I had found and many more and talking to makelaars, people selling houses. I visited altogether over a hundred houses. But what a shame, what a disappointment. They looked so nice on the internet, but in reality things were different, very different. It made me really sad.
Then I had to leave, because of previous reservations, so I packed all my belongings in my car and went to a rented house.
Pibemalaan 10, 8749GS in Pingjum, see Pic 03. Located between Bolsward and the Afsluitdijk. An empty house and a house that was for sale. So no security. But still, because I might be living here for quite some time, I needed all the things a man normally needs in an empty house. A bit more than my personal belongings. A bed, some chairs and tables, cupboards coffee machines, books and more, much more, all down to a new washing machine. Most of it was bought in shops like the Kringloop, where people left their things for free and where prices are very low. And the washing machine I can always take with me.
I visited my family, my daughter Femke and my grandchild Simone. I visited Gjalt my eldest son in his new house in Utrecht and Ewout and Madelon with my grandchild Lola and my newborn grandson Storm, the first Rameijer. We also had a family reunion, organised by Friso the son of my sister Marian. It was in Utrecht, where I was born.
And of course Door paid me a few short visits, looking with me at possible houses and taking me out for a walk in Schoorl, in the woods, the dunes and to the sea. And driving from Friesland over the Afsluitdijk to Noord-Holland is a wonderful experience. With beatiuls sights, the Waddenzee, het Ijsselmeer, the impressive locks, the colordful tulip fields, the many canals, the lovely bridges, the various mills and this lonely swan.
53 Three Rameijer's.jpg
54 Family reeunion.jpg
55 Door with D Greate Pier.jpg
56 The woods.jpg
57 The Dunes.jpg
58 The sea.jpg
59 The tulip felds.jpg
60 The swan.jpg
I found my house!
I found my house. Not at the first time in January, not at the second or third time in April, but at fourth time. I had been looking at the place few times, Joke had shown it to me, I went there with Door and finally I went inside with a ‘broker’ Apparently the house kept calling out to me. And although many of the other houses I looked at were nice, they did not ‘speak’ to me. I simply fell in love with this house.
The house that I have my eyes on is a museum. In fact it houses two museums, a grocery museum and a school museum. With all the wonderful characteristics of an old Frisian house.
And it is not one house, in fact it consists of three seperate houses. One for the grocery museum, one for the school museum and one, the smallest one, for living. The three houses are owned by a foundation.
We had some interesting discussions and negotiations. With the makelaar and the manager of the Foundation. I said that I was very interested and willing to pay the asking price and that I would be happy to keep the grocerey museum, the oldest house, fully intact and that I would be willing to open it for interested visitors and on special days. People were happy to hear that and the people in the village, called Exmorra, would also be happy to ‘keep’ their’ museum as it was.
The school museum would be moved to the next village called Allingawier, where several wonderful museums and a beautiful church were concentrated in one location. The foundation just could not keep up with the costs of different museums in different places.
The little house is far too smal for me. And there is nothing inside. Just a small washbin and a toilet in a wooden shed. I need much more room to live in. So I would very much like to have the destination of the school museum changed into living quarters.
We finally agreed and I signed the contract on April 29th with the conditions that the sale depended on getting official permission to change to destination of the school museum to living quarters and that the costs of the necessary renovations, which I had written down, would not exceed a certain amount of money.
That is the situation now. And it may and will take some time before the destination of the school museum is officially changed. And it will take some more time before the necessary renovations have been carried out. It could be several months. So it is back to confidence and patience.
61 The front of the house.jpg
62 Inside the grocery museum.jpg
63 Another look inside.jpg
64 Three houses.jpg
65 The manager of the Foundation.jpg
67 Part of the allingawier museum.jpg
68 Making 'Drabbel' koeken.jpg
It is not so easy to go back. Not mentally and emotionally, and also bureaucratically. But now that I found my house I had to officially register in the netherlands with their various organizations.
First of all the community, called Sud-West Friesland. Then the heath insurance company, a docter, a dentist. The banks, ABNAMRO and the ING bank for my accounts and insurances. The pension fund ABP and the old age allowance organisation SVB. My accountant BDO, the Internet company Ziggo, and many more. Later on my car will have to be imported in the Netherlands and I will have to get a new, Dutch driving license.
But it is much easier than ‘walking the bureaucratic line’ in France. In fact, five weeks after selling Les Labadous we still have to receive half of the money from the sale that is owed to us. The banks and other organisations are being very, very difficult.
Getting to know Friesland
With not much else to do but reading, resting and travelling, I started to rediscover Friesland. I had been sailing there every year with my father on his sailing yacht ‘Verder’ from as far back as 1952. I had been a sailing instructor in Grouw for a couple of years. My family comes from Friesland and I have lived a few years in Franeker. So i now the country. The people are very nice here, the land is open and the air is fresh. And the houses are relatively cheap. And if you go by car from Amsterdam to Friesland, crossing the Afsluitdijk, it will take you less than 90 minutes.
I travelled all over Friesland. From the north-east in Moddergat and Lauwersoog to the South-west in Stavoren and Gaasterland. And everything in between. Let me show you some of the pictures I took of this beautiful land. Enjoy and come to visit me when my new house is ready!
70 De Waddenzee.jpg
71 Locks at Lauwerszee.jpg
72 My favorite lunch.jpg
73 A typical farm.jpg
74 The mill, the clouds.jpg
75 The mill at Sloten.jpg
76 The townhall at Bolsward.jpg
77 A typical church.jpg
79 The 'white' fleet.jpg
80 The 'brown' fleet.jpg
81 The lady of Stavoren.jpg
83 Nature reserve at the Ijsselmeer.jpg
84 Drents-Fries nature reserve.jpg
85 De Fluessen.jpg
86 A house at the water.jpg
87 Books in Bolsward.jpg
88 Indonesian restaurant in Arum.jpg
My present, rented house: Pibemalaan 10, 8749 GS, Pingjum
My future addres: Dorpsstraat 52, 8759 LE, Exmorra
My French phone: 00 33 7 85 38 92 15
My Dutch phone: 00 31 6 26 28 77 99
Oh Jaap, I will treasure our friendship and many rendevouz"s in France as comrades in searching for the Holy Grail. But....it's not over. We haven't found it YET!! More adventures and joy to come. Thank you for your hospitality and our endless fun and discussions. I will return to France next Spring with a tour and who knows, perhaps we will over-lap. One never knows what mysteries guide us!! Take care my friend, and do look me up in the states. love and respect, Jan