I didn’t know whether if I should continue to write my newsletters after re-emigrating to the Netherlands. But several of my friends asked me to do so, so I will. And besides many strange things have happened to me, as always. Things that I love to share with you, dear friends.
I think that I left Les Labadous and Rennes-le-Chateau and even the south of France rather too quickly. Understandably, for when your house is sold you no longer ‘belong’ to that place. Now I was living in an almost empty shell, for all my stuff had been packed by the mover and was stocked in the Netherlands. So I left two days after signing the final contract on March 29th with just my personal things. Enough for living out of the boot of my car.
And I was also in a hurry to find a house, a new house, my new house in Friesland.
My temporary house, Pingjum
The first two weeks I stayed at the well-known holiday park Bloemketerp in Franeker. Where I alsways stayed when I was in Holland. Then I was lucky to be able to stay in a rented house in Pingjum, near the Afsluitdijk. A good place, but an empty place, for the house was for sale. So I had to buy some more stuff to be able to live in that place. At least for a couple of months. A table, some chairs, a bed, clothes, a TV set, a washing machine, two bikes, some kitchen equiment and more.
It is a nice house with a lot of space, a wonderful view and friendly neighbours.
Pingjum itself is built on a terp, a kind of hill. It has a wonderful church and a famous pizzeria! And believe it or not but close by, in Arum, is an Indonesian/Thai restaurant, called Tandjong Priok. With two of my favorite cuisines!
01 My house in Pingjum.jpg
02 Two bikes.jpg
03 The view.jpg
05 Indonesian food.jpg
My new house, Exmorra
As you know from my previous newsletter I finally, after researching over 75 houses, bought the house that came back to me, time and time again. The house that was first pointed out to me by Joke and later by Door. The old ‘Gruttersmuseum’ in the Dorpsstraat 52, 8759 LE in Exmorra.
So that will be my new address.
This lovely, ancient house, a national monument, was built somewhere around 1723. It consists of three houses. A grocery shop, an old primary school and a small living house.
When I first entered the house I was so taken by it that I said to the real estate agent that we should leave the grocery shop as it is. And that, if I bought the place, I would be willing to open it if requested or on special occasions. That apparently was a ‘prized’ remark for the village was, and still is, very fond of ‘their’ museum. And the foundation that was selling the place was happy that the old museum now would survive.
The school museum was to be relocated to the next village, a wonderful ‘museum village,’ called Allingawier.
That was great for I really needed that space. The living quarters of the little house were far too small. Even for one person. But this required getting a special permit.
I signed the contract on April 29th with two conditions. That I would get a permit from the town council to live in the old school and that the costs of renovating the three houses would not rise above a certain amount. Getting the permit would however take some time. I now hope that the official transfer of ownership can be signed on June 27th.
When Joke and Franklin came to Holland they of course visited ‘my’ new house. They loved the place and Joke became almost estatic when she saw all the stuff that was stored in the two ceiling rooms. She could fill another shop with it.
Later, a big surprise, all my children and grandchildren came to see me on my birthday, May 14th. First in my house in Pingjum and later the whole family went to Exmorra. And they also approved of my new home.
06 Joke and I in front of the house.jpg
07 Part of the grocery store.jpg
08 Some of the stuff on the ceiling.jpg
09 The old school teacher in the old school.jpg
10 Franklin looking at documents.jpg
11 The entrance.jpg
12 The chimney.jpg
13 Femke, Gjalt and Ewout.jpg
14 Madelon, Lola and Storm.jpg
On May 12th our friend Paul Labohm gave a presentation of his new book called “Dokter Vibes.” It was a special presentaion about a special person and i was held in a special place. The Orangerie of the palace Soestdijk, the palace where Queen Juliana and Prins Bernard lived. The orangerie is located in the beautiful gardens of the palace. Joke and Franklin were also present as well as were some friends from France. It was a magnificent presentation for a large audience. Followed by Paul signing many of his books.
In Holland, while waiting for my permit to come through, I visited several places that were really dear for me. Like Utrecht, the place where I was born, the place with its magnificent Domtoren. And Franeker, looking at the house behind the famous ‘Korendragershuisje’ where I lived for a couple of years. And the wonderful nature reserve park between Friesland and Drenthe. Beautiful places and sweet, sweet memories.
15 Palace gardens.jpg
16 Joke and Franklin.jpg
17 The book presentation.jpg
18 Paul signing his books.jpg
21 Wonderful nature.jpg
Adieu la France
I left too soon. I know. I never said properly goodbye to France. There was always that longing in my heart for Les labadous and Rennes-le-Chateau and the south of France. Longing that would not go away.
There was only one way to get over it, and that was to go back to France, back to Les Labadous. Besides I had some books to deliver to La Porte de Rennes and several friends to meet.
The trip to Rennes-le-Chateau, or rather Quillan, for I was staying at the house of Joke and Franklin, was quite eventful. Near Caen my car suddenly lost power. On a saturday. Late afternoon. Luckily I was able to find a garage that was still open and willing to help. After much searching they found that I had a big hole in one of the tubes going to my turbo. They fixed it, temporarily, for only 25,- euro and augmented by a large piece of good Dutch cheese and some beers.
The next day I visited Mont Saint Michel. This was for a special reason. Not only to buy some good Calvados, or rather Eau de Vie de Cidre, 70%, but also because I was planning a visit to their ‘Twin Mountain’ Sint Michaels Mount in England near Penzance somewhere in June.
Les Labadous was still Les labadous but is was no longer ‘my’ Les Labadous. Even though the new housekeepers, Aafke and her husband Johan, were doing a good job. But my place was no longer my place. And that was good for it really enabled me to say goodbye to Les labadous, with pride in my heart to have lived there for such a long time and now without regret of leaving the place.
I went to see some friends like Marie-France Lebailly who is living near a ruin that might have been a very ancient Jewish Synagoge. I went to see my dear old friend Elizabeth, who had just returned from the USA. We went to a concert of David Bailey, given in one of the rooms of Chateau Hautpoul. A very special occasion. He will give his pianoconcerts every wednesday evening! And I walked around Rennes-le-Chateau and stayed for a while at the fountain with the four lions. In my view the most sacred place of Rennes-le-Chateau.
In Joke’s wonderful shop La Renaissance, I bought a beautiful potrtet of Mary Magdalene. Then, after a couple of days, they said goodbye to me and waved me off.
The way back to Holland was, if possible, even more eventful. Near Macon someone standing on a bridge threw a stone at my window. It caused a big crack. So I had to go to Macon, where a new window was ordered and I had to stay the night over. So I visited the cathedral, saw another beautiful portret of Mary Magadalene, kneeling at the feet of Jesus and finally got my new window. But I had to wait a couple of hours for the glue to dry.
Driving back to Holland was also not quite uneventful. In Belgium I saw a strange sun and later in Maastricht I experienced one of the worst thunderstorms and tropical rainfalls I have ever encountered. My goodness was I glad to be home again!
22 Caen garage.jpg
23 Mont St Michel.jpg
24 My Calvados place.jpg
25 Les labadous.jpg
26 Joke and Aafke.jpg
27 My place.jpg
28 Old 'Jewish' synagoge.jpg
30 David Bailey.jpg
31 Four lions.jpg
32 Mary Magdalene.jpg
35 Cathedral in Macon.jpg
36 M at the feet of Jesus.jpg
37 Repair shop.jpg
38 Strange sunlight.jpg
During my time in France I made one trip to Spain, Another sentimemtal journey. For this is where it all began. In 1995. Joke and I went on holiday to France, to Lourdes. Then we crossed the Pyrenees into Spain, and went to Pamplona. Where the many pilgrim roads to Santiago start. Next south along the Pyrenees to one of the highest mountains, the Monte Perdido. Here we stayed in parador. Then further east to Andorra. And from there into France, to Ax-les-Thermes, to Puivert, to Sougraigne and finally to Rennes-le-Chateau where it all began. During another holiday we made a tour circling all of Spain and Portugal. One of my favorite places was Burgos, the town of El Cid, who helped driving the Saracenes from Spain.
So I went to Burgos. And saw the beautiful cathedral with all its gold and glitter, so different from the churches in France. And some beautiful paintings of Mary Magdalene but also this strange picture, inside the cathedral, of a woman who is having a piece of her breast sliced off. And a lovely Madonna with child.
Look at this magic cathedral radiating in the light of the setting sun.
And then on the way back, there was the famous bull. Standing on a hill. Very impressive. And I must say, the roads in Spain are, generally speaking, very good and the food is excellent. Good quality and relatively cheap. Worth going there, my friends.
39 Burgos cathedral.jpg
40 All gold and glitter.jpg
41 Mary Magdalene 1.jpg
42 Mary Magdalene 2.jpg
43 Her breast cut off.jpg
44 Madoona with child.jpg
45 In the sunlight.jpg
46 The restaurant where we dined.jpg
47 The bull.jpg
48 The road.jpg
49 The food.jpg
Staar operatie, cataract operation succesfully carried out today. Only problem is: three weeks no bending over, no carrying of heavy objects and no working in dusty environments.
8759 LE Exmorra
tel. 00 31 6 26 28 77 99