Fifty shades of Holland

May, 2017

For 18 months I am living now in Holland (The Netherlands) and I experienced all the seasons in different parts of the country. I thought I never could get used again to the dark clouds, the rain and the amount of people living all together on a few m2, but guess what? I did! Mind you, Lochem is no Amsterdam or Rotterdam and traffic cues are a foreign language in this part of the country. Also, here the word neighbour means, that you help each other in times of need. We even have a “neighbour app” invented, after one of us had a severe accident. We use the app to inform each other regarding disasters, as well as suddenly organised parties, or when a rabbit is on the loose……..dsc07166

During the winter months, I get the opportunity to explore some other parts of the Netherlands. After 45 years or so, I return to the province of Friesland or Fryslan, as this province has its own language. Back to the tiny places, where time stood still. We used to go there by boat during the summer holidays, admiring the old “Zuiderzee towns”, strolling around during the day and sleeping on the boat in the picturesque harbours at night. This time, I visit over land in December and enjoy the stillness of the towns of Lemmer, Stavoren and Hindeloopen, without any tourists. Such a rich history you can find here and all the drama these pretty small towns experienced, when “IJsselmeer” was still “Zuiderzee”. So many lives of the fishermen got lost in the rough waters of the sea, years ago.


Stavoren is the oldest city of Friesland and got its city rights between 1060 and 1067. During the late Middle Ages, a sandbank formed a blockage for ships entering or leaving the harbour. That meant an end to the prosperous years.

Hindeloopen is famous for its Hindelooper art and costumes. Especially during the 17th and 18th century, the shipping trade thrived in this tiny town.


Both these towns are part of the so-called “Eleven City Tour”, an ice skating contest in Friesland, only possible after days of frost (which never happens anymore!).

Lemmer is surrounded by lakes and very popular among water sport and beach lovers. Once, it was a thriving fishing town, with a fleet of 146 ships. One of the most spectacular sites to visit is the ir.D.F.Woudagemaal, a steam-powered pumping station and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See also:


Not many foreign tourists will discover these places, hidden in the North-West corner of the Netherlands. Here you get the typical Dutch view; clouds in all kind of shapes, above a green flat land, with sails on the horizon.IMG-20170531-WA0003

I also experience Lochem and Zutphen during the seasons. The grey skies in winter make place for the fresh green of Spring. Plenty of gorgeous days in March, are inviting me out to prepare my garden for the Summer. I work hard on the in-and outside of my cute house and the progress is rewarding.


In between duties, I find time to enjoy playing tennis with some great people, go to the fitness and explore my new surroundings. No time for house-sits at the moment! Also, I have to try to find a job. This is a whole new experience, as for the last 20 years or so, my jobs consisted of moving around the world, establish new gardens, paint houses and volunteer. This time, I need to find a real paid job and although everybody is telling me that there are no jobs for people of my age, I am positive I will find something. Hello, I am full of energy, believing in myself and with tons of crazy experiences. In between all these activities, I also have to prepare for the arrival of my two children and one boyfriend in July.  I haven’t seen my daughter for more than 20 months and for a devoted mother like me, that is way too long! When people in the Netherlands complain that their children are living two hours away by car, I feel hurt, but try not to show it. Whenever my daughter mentions that she and her partner might go for a while working a bit North of “Down Under” (Australia), my heart starts pounding…..Maybe there is hope? As a good mother you don’t want to interfere in your children’s life. I myself went to Curacao at the age of 25 and stayed there for a couple of years, without seeing my aging father. So who am I to judge?

While reading a book, I stumbled upon this Quote from the poet Kahlil Gibran; a lesson for all of us………..

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love, but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies, but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you can not visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday.


3 thoughts on “Fifty shades of Holland

  1. Wonderful article. You quoted my favourite poet. Look for the book “The Prophet” if you want to read more. Each chapter is on a different aspect of life… children, love, loss, the mysteries of life. Keep the posts coming, I love reading about your new life.

  2. Renee,
    Altijd leuk en interessant je bespiegelingen over ons land(je) te volgen!
    Geeft inspiratie om weer eens het eigen land te bereizen.

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