Monthly Archives: January 2018

Turbulent weather in the Low Lands

After the storm, a weatherproof Maria statue on one of the hills of Gulpen; the Netherlands

Every time I visit the Netherlands by plane I notice, after landing, the sun having disappeared behind the clouds, not to come out very soon, and neither for long periods. Well, this time it is winter, what can one expect but grey sky? What I did not expect was that within four days I experienced rain, hailstones, snow and a storm of around 140 kph! Luckily, I was in south Limburg where the storm was much less severe. Elsewhere, trees were uprooted, roofs were blown from houses and heavy lorries toppled on highways.

‘The Market’ of Sittard during a flash of sunlight

Sittard, in south Limburg, was my destination where I would stay from Monday until Friday to do some work on the house that John inherited from his mother. During that period the sky poured rain, threw hailstones, sprinkled snow, and finally shocked us: the Dutch, and the neighbours, with a furious storm not known in the country for decades. You would think that the weekend that followed people would be rewarded with an all embracing sun. Indeed sunlight came through on Sunday morning but only to disappear after a few hours, leaving the country behind cold and grey.

Two woolly cows busy with lunch; the landscape around Gulpen

On Saturday and Sunday I was happy to visit my oldest sister Petra and her husband Hans, in Heerlen, who had one year earlier visited me in Marseille. Good conversations and rich food. Hans is uniquely knowledgeable in the culture and landscape of south Limburg and had planned an enticing walk for Sunday afternoon, starting in Gulpen. The weather was not alluring, cold and overcast, but I easily recognised the landscape of Gulpen and environs from my childhood time when we would make such lovely walks with the whole family. 

Hans en Petra in the Gulpener farmland

That was a gratifying walk and rediscovery of Gulpen after those days of turbulent weather. In the middle of the week I had also met with my second sister Nathalie and her husband Paul at the Greek restaurant Dafne, on the market of Sittard. They were on the way back to Boskoop after visiting nearby Kerkrade, earlier in the day.  No time to see more of my family and a longtime-no-see childhood friend. Another time and another visit. The Dutch know, the sun will appear from behind those obscuring clouds, one day, and life will be easy again.

Myself and Petra in the winterscape of Gulpen (Photo by Hans Kohnen)