3 Kruipuitsedyke, South Beveland, The Netherlands.
Note: Austin Mini Van beside cottage.
|This Liset's and
my home in South Beveland, The
Netherlands, in the south of the country,
adjacent Belgium.. (before partial renovation). It is
about 400 years old. The nearest village was Oudelande.
"Kruipuitjedyke" means "crawling along the dike". There are three lines of defense in the Dutch diking system; the "Waking" dike (the highest, on the sea) the "Dreaming" dike and the "Sleeping" dike, the last line of defense. Our house was on a "Dreaming" dike.
Regional capital Goes. Photo by Frank Eikenhout
The house is a few minutes drive from the Scheldt Estuary which links the North Sea and Antwerp, Belgium. Canadian troops suffered heavy casualties in liberating the province of South Beveland in World War 11 in the "Battle of the Scheldt" ( a bridge now spans the Scheldt).
The original owners of the house, the Sundays, sheltered in the tiny basement of the house during the heavy fighting. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (from my home town) led the liberation of this part of the Netherlands and captured German officers were kept in the house. When we stripped the walls in one of its two rooms we found what looked like bullet holes embedded in the side of a sleeping cupboard.
Above is a picture of the front room of the two- room house.There are several things worth pointing out. On the left is one of two curtained sleeping cupboards. They were too short for today's average body length and we had them removed. The door frames were lower, so we had to be careful to bend over. 400 years ago, people were obviously shorter. We never changed the doors. heights.
I used the front room as an office. Note the Olivetti portable typewriter, the reel-to-reel editing machine to the left with spare reels and the cigarette pack on the table ( Liset and I were both smokers). A painting of Hampstead High Street is on the mantle piece as is a carving I bought in Leopold, The Congo, during that country's war of independence.
Woulter Eikenhout in original sleeping cupboard
Emma de Jong, young mother of four, lived on farm opposite our house with husband, Kees.
The newly-purchased coal stove was our main source of heat. We bought a used AGA ]
coal stove for the kitchen. Judging from sock the on mantle piece it must have been around Christmas time.
Liset and I found the house while searching the Netherlands to find a permanent home that I would use as a freelance base. We were living in a tiny room in Hunt Cottage ( since renamed Rose Cottage by owner Elizabeth Donaldson Coulouris ) on Hampstead Heath at the time. We first looked at houses in Maastricht in the far south of The Netherlands. I remember the bottom garden of one house we looked bordered on France or Belgium. The seemed to far from England so we drove north to the North Sea province
On reaching the small port of Goes we caught sight to a sign pointing to the village of Oudelande. Oudelande (old land in English) had a nice, earthy ring to it . A local real estate agent took us to a house nearby which had been partially ( very partially as it turned out) renovated and offered for rent.
There was no water, no electricity and no toilet. We used a galvanize tub for a bath. We learned after we bought it that half the house had been condemned the municipality and the owner had torn down the condemned
We made major changes to the house using our limited funds. We installed a septic tank, a toilet and shower. We tore out the sleeping cupboards in both of the two rooms. Two cupboards were turned into scullery with a sink and a backdoor. We bought and assembled a coal fired AGA stove for the kitchen. A new coal stove heated the other room.
Emma lived across the road with her farmer husband and six children.We seeded the back garden with grass, which had been a farmer's field ( and our temporary outdoor toilet) and laid down a parking area with gravel and flagstones. We also had a double dutch door built into the back of the cottage.
They were frequent visitors. Note the wooden shoes,
a common footwear for childrn and adults at the time.
The biggest expense was putting on a new tiled roof. The original, which might have been 300 years old at least, was infested with mice. Before changing the roof, and turning the upstairs into two bedrooms, we would set mouse traps upstairs every night and then sit downstairs and hear them go off, one after another. We'd collect the corpses in the morning.
he roof was also home to countless sparrows which I used to shoot from a backyard blind, something I'm kind of ashamned of when I see
the pictures now.
I well remember the exact time we rebuilt the roof; it was in the middle of the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and her neighbors. If I remember correctly, the workers cheered on the Israelis. I wonder if they would do it today, given the pro-Palestinian sentiment of many Dutch people?
We were careful to preserve as much of the character of the house as possible. We retained the typically low doorways and made sure the roof was re-tiled with the original tiles.
That's me in sunglasses relaxing in back garden with Frank Eikenhout family and neighbor's children.
Ray deBoer was a frequent visitor. We were freelancers in London and at one point were both on staff at the CBC's London office as the Public Affairs representative (I succeeded Ray in the job).
Ray de Boer in costume with Kees de Jongs's mother, Dutch Roman Catholic costume which was
her everyday dress.
Ray, Liset and I had rooms in Hunt Cottage ( now Rose Cottage) on Hampstead Heath in London. I also have a picture of Ken Black playing with the neighbour's dog. Ken was the number two CBC representative in London and a good friend. He later became the head of CBC Television News. He died years later in Toronto from pneumonia
Ray had a crush on on Lea Kloosterman who lived on a farm just outside Oudelande. But her age, l6, scared him away from getting serious. Lea is married, lives in Amsterdam and runs a school for children in her husband's home country, Ghana.
Ray deBoer, now deceased, with Willy from
across the road ("sleeping" dyke) behind.
Members of the Kloosterman family - mother and father, daughters Cory and Lea, and brother Hans - became our best friends in the community. The other Kloosterman children had moved away.
Mrs. Kloosterman wore the traditional Dutch costume as standard dress and Hans and father always wore clogs. The gold jewellery worn by Mrs. Kloosterman identified her as a Protestant. Oudelande was Protestant, Ovezande, another nearby village where we shopped, was Roman Catholic .
The following 8mm film is about a visit to Oudelande in 1969 by my sister-in-law Helen Reynolds and her daughter Allison. It was shot with a Brownie 11 camera which has a pinhole instead of lens and operates with a wind-up mechanism. I still have it. The first shots are on board a cross-Channel ferry which carryying us from Dover, England to (I assume) Ostende, Belgium, and then on to Oudelande. Things to note in the film; the blow-up tent that Liset and I used in our many trips in Europe and Africa (Morocco), the double-doors we had installed in the back of the house, a glimpse of our Volkswagen Beetle and the plastic strips curtain to keep bugs out of the house.
Me and niece Allison Reynolds. Click video to
see 8 mm film of her and her mother, Helen's visit.
It was taken with a windup Kodak Browne camera.
View video here
Peter Gordon Reynolds in parking lot.