It’s not usual for the Harbour Master to say, ‘I’m not allowed to take a mooring fee from you tomorrow,’ but this is what happened in Genemuiden on Saturday.

Why? Well we discovered that Genemuiden is withing the Dutch ‘Bible Belt’ and thus there are strict rules about what can and cannot happen on the Sabbath. The strangest thing is the ‘Sunday Bridge’ a footbridge, which is rolled into position and gives church-goers a short cut across the harbour. We saw several black-clad people using it.
The whole town had a very ‘Sunday’ air. Nowhere was open,not even Lidl. We walked around a large park and then along streets where all the houses were shuttered, emanating the smells of Sunday Dinner. The strangest thing was that none of the unnervingly smartly dressed families we saw could raise a smile.

I said last year that Genemuiden had a Scottish Island feel to it and this Sabbath observance resonated with the customs on the Isle of Lewis. Another similarity is the ferry, connecting Genemuiden to Zwartesluice, where the secondary school, some shops and business are located.

There often seems to be one lad on a motor scooter (called Bromfiets here!) waiting for the ferry. The whole embarkation area is a memorial to the ferry sinking in a storm on 8 March 1922, with the loss of eleven  lives and only three survivors. Must have been a huge blow to such a tight-knit community. The plaque says, ‘Pray for us.

Another feature of this place is swallows. I’ve come to accept that coincidences follow me around: I’m reading Hoaratio Clare’s ‘A Single Swallow’ at the moment, He describes following swallows’ migration from South Africa to South Wales. Reading the book has made me not want to visit Africa, I wouldn’t last two minutes, but I am amazed at the resilience of these tiny birds, making such a journey, They obviously know things I don’t. I wonder what sights this little chap has seen.

Genemuiden is notable for other things, especially it’s carpet manufacturing industry. Here is the original raw material – coir. There’s a museum where you can watch carpets being woven by traditional machines ( see post in 2917), buy souvenirs, which solved a Christmas present dilemma for one member of the family and have an explanatory tour, as we did, conducted by Herman, a volunteer, totally in Dutch, with enthusiasm and hand signals!

Despite not taking a mooring fee, the Harbour |Master insisted we had ‘stroom’, i.e plug into the electricity – for free. We didn’t think we needed it as the batteries were fully charged, but he was so insistent. We were glad of it later, when heavy rain found a gap in the woodwork and soaked the end of my mattress. An unusual use for a hairdryer.

So the moral of this is: ‘Never refuse free stroom’. Also remember you’re never more than six feet from a rat: there was one swimming in the harbour basin. Shudder!

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