This month, I am taking a ten day leave and go for a house- and cat sit in the tiny Dutch ‘drake town’ Beesel. I am still a member of one of the biggest house- and petsitters websites; http://www.TrustedHousesitters.com. Once you build up some (good) references, the opportunities to housesit are endless! My temporary home borders the woods and fields and both sunrise or sunset can be enjoyed from one of the rooms. It is a light and colourful house, full of singing bowls, gongs, Indian tapestry and small bottles of aromatherapy. I feel ZEN in no-time! The cat Ziggy is quite a personality; nothing is safe on the counter nor on the coffee table, he needs to sit on your chest (not lap) at least for one hour in the evening and loves to brings a mouse in the house. He does not only play with it, but eats the whole mouse, including the tail, right in front of you!
The hiking path starts immediately out of the house and brings you within ten minutes to the river Maas, which meanders through the countryside of Limburg.
The tiny, sleepy village does not have any supermarkets, but there are plenty of restaurants, two backeries, a castle, chapels and the Beltkoren mill ‘De Grauwe Beer’. This mill, situated along the Maas, is still open for visitors on regular hours. Vibrant Maastricht and Roermond are a short car drive away, so no time to get bored!
A visit to Kessel, on the other side of the river, is on my priority list. I decide to go hiking to the ferry and pass Castle Nieuwenbroeck on the border of the village. Once closer to the water, the views over the flat Dutch landscape are endless.
For less than one euro, the ferry brings you to the other side, where Castle ‘De Keverberg’ towers over the banks of the river. This is one of the oldest fortresses from The Netherlands, though ruined various times, extended and rebuilt. It has an impressive history and nowadays people can tour the inside and learn about its past.
For many years, only the walls of this historic monument were remaining. The inhabitants of Kessel didn’t want to rebuild another castle. There are already 50 castles in the province of Limburg and more than 300 castles in The Netherlands! Also, the view from 30 meters above the Maas is one of a kind. To enjoy this view you need glass. For those reasons they decided to rebuild the castle into a modern version. In 2008 a project started with many volunteers of Kessel. It took seven years and more than 25.000 hours to erect a different version of the former castle. The old walls are still standing, but inside a totally new construction was made, to support the different levels. They used ecological methods and solar panels. The theme for the rebuilding became ‘Broken Glass From The Past’ and you will recognize this in the shape of the windows, the rooftop, the lay-out of the gardens and the decor.
While visiting ‘De Keverberg’, don’t forget to go down to the original cellars, admire the endless views from upstairs and watch the movie, about the history of the rebuilding of this modern creation!
A couple of hours later, I return along the mansions of Kessel to the ferry. The days are short and I still have to walk for another hour through the fields. Just before sunset I arrive home, where Ziggy is welcoming me on the counter top. Dinner time!