Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend up north in Friesland

Last weekend was a nice, yet, quite a gloomy one (I cheated and re-touched the photo’s to give extra light). We visited two of Dutchman’s friends up north in the province of Friesland [in Lippenhuizen and Sneek respectively], bordering the North Sea and the north of Germany. The capital of the province is Leeuwarden. I haven’t been there yet but in the near future, why not!

The Netherlands has two official languages: Nederlands [Dutch] and Fries [pronounced as ‘Frees’]. The language Fries which is also how locals are called in Friesland, is as they say a mix between Dutch and English. Many Dutch people actually do not understand Fries [the language] but all Fries [the people] understand Dutch, since they study this in school. I hope you didn’t get confused there, he-he.

Heerlijk appel taart! [Delicious apple pie!]
We were welcomed in Lippenhuizen with a home-baked delicious apple pie, freshly made from apples picked in the backyard. It smelled so sinfully glorious and the crust looked so crunchy, just like those delectable warm oatmeal cookies. After savouring it and had my fill, I kind of made a promise to myself to start learning the art of Dutch pie baking.

Then we had a peek at their two lovely thoroughbreds, a cross between Dutch mares and English stallions [or the other way around]. . They have very shiny hairs on their bodies --- must be the horse shampoo I have heard that can make miracles on women’s hair? Silly me forgot their names.

They were a very friendly pair and they loved eating apples. Yeah, I helped fed them.
Dutchman’s friends are not really farmers. The couple are working professionals [consultant and lawyer] who both have a strong love and passion for horses and horse back riding. They bought the seven-hectare farm last year, with the main objective of breeding horses for equestrian sports, but recently, they found out from the municipality that local laws prohibits breeding more than 15 horses in the area.

Cows were not a problem though, you can breed a hundred and its fine - but not horses. Strange? Quite a dismay really, so instead of moving forward with the renovation and ranch project, they decided to put the whole lot on sale and look for another farm without any permit issues on horse breeding limitations.

Moi trying to act and look like a Dutch farm girl, ha-ha.

Afterwards, we went to Dutchman’s other friend, in Sneek, and had a nice banter of their good old teenage and 20 something years (I have to say his very very crazy years!).

Sneek is a small municipality with an impressive marina and a nice litte old Centrum. We circled the Centrum a little bit for the sake of curious me. Hey, I love city spotting.

During the entire drive, to and fro (about 400KM+ in all), there were not much to see --- except the highways, flat lands, flat farms, dikes, more highways, more flat lands and more dikes. By the way, there is a saying by foreign people in this country that the Dutch think as flat as their land... and yes, it is true.

Nevertheless, in Almere area, which is a part of the Flevoland province, you can see many modern windmills lining up horizontally in the dikes facing the IJsselmeer Lake.

The Nuon [an energy company] modern styled windmills are said to have given energy [or electricity with the use of these windmills] to more than 7,000 households in the area of Almere.

A little bit of history: It was only lately that the Flevoland province existed. The area that covers this expanse used to be a large cove that exits to the North Sea. The Dutch, known as pioneers in water and land reclamation technology, have reclaimed the mass of sea water into dry land. The reclamation project stretches about 32 kilometers. It also involves creating an afsluitdijk [closure dike] that protects mainland Holland from the North Sea.

It is quite amazing to drive through the highways (see photo of the windmills) with the thought that all these around you was previously water.

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