HEMA and BLOKKER in DOKKUM
Sounds like code? Dokkum is where we are at present. Our ‘Rough Guide to The Netherlands’ advised, ‘give it a couple of hours and move on.’ We disagree. Dokkum is probably the most ‘Dutch’ town we’ve been to. There are windmills – still working, grinding flour; ramparts, dykes and the bridge keeper collects the bridge fee in a clog on the end of a fishing line. That Rough Guide is going into the Restafval this evening.
They have a different way of collecting restafval (rubbish) in The NL. On many streets, there are metal bins which propel your rubbish bag to an underground storage area. What happens next is anyone’s guess. There are the usual bottle banks on the street, although not as many as I’d like, especially in the harbours. I really don’t understand this, as The NL generally recycles or incinerates a lot of its waste, because that’s the sort of forward- looking people they are and also because they don’t have the space for landfill. Boat-dwellers are gong to produce rubbish, certainly glass because of those the beers you ‘have’ to drink after surviving the trials of the waterways, but also lots of packaging and tins because on a boat, you don’t cook from scratch as much as at home. But often, our glass, tins and paper have all gone into the one bag, destined for landfill. Boats like ours, which don’t have a fridge, generate more waste food than I would tolerate at home. Again, that goes into landfill and will attract rodents while it’s waiting to be collected.
The city of Edinburgh has an interesting solution for the disposal of waste food and compostable materials. They have large, metal, sealed bins on residential streets where the buildings have high occupancy. I’ve never seen that anywhere else and I guess that suggesting that solution would generate cries of ‘It will attract rats! There’ll be spilled food on the street, looking unsightly and smelling! ‘ But this doesn’t seem to be a problem in Edinburgh. So give it a try, some other places.
Another reason we’re generating rubbish is Hema and Blokker. They are shops and excellent ones too. If you merged all the good points of Wilkos, Woolworths, Lakeland, John Lewis and M&S, you’d end up with something approaching Hema and Blokker. They are separate businesses, usually side-by-side on the shopping street and they sell just about everything you could possibly want; from underwear to crockery and also some foods and confectionary. They co-exist peacefully, despite duplicating each other’s stock and it’s a pleasure to shop in either. Co-operation, rather than competition, seems to be a theme of The NL and maybe it’s one worth imitating.