donderdag, augustus 03, 2017

Summer 1977

A short story of a romance . . .


The Hague, Welberg, Amsterdam and Penzance: route first holiday Jan & Mieke 

Jan and I met in The Hague in 1977. I saw him at a party of the Librarian School. I was surprised to meet someone of my age. I studied at this school after I had worked as a teacher in primary education for several years. That's why I was 5 years older than the other students. Jan was a computer engineer at Datasaab (later Ericsson Information Systems). He visited the party as a guest and I thought he was very nice and very funny. After this meeting we started dating.

After I had finished the Librarian School in June 1977, I had to move to Amsterdam. I started to study Education Science at the University of Amsterdam. I did not have a drivers licence. Jan had one and I asked him if he could drive a hired van for me.
He had a better idea. In the weekend we had permission to use the van of his company Datasaab.  His colleague Rinus, the truck driver of the company, would drive.
I am still grateful to Rinus, because he had accepted a tough job. He thought it would be a piece of cake to move a student from one small room to another. He did not know that, during my life as a teacher, I had bought a lot of furniture and other stuff such as a washing machine, a dryer and a fridge. I did not have enough space for these items in my small student room in The Hague. In Amsterdam however, I would have a larger room. The furniture and other things were at my father’s place in Welberg, about 80 kilometres south of The Hague and some furniture was stored in Tilburg, another 80 kilometres further.
So the men drove me to the south first and later to the north to Amsterdam to collect and deliver all my belongings. It took 2 days to manage the job.
In Amsterdam it was a perilous undertaking to manoeuvre the van in the narrow canal streets, where my new house was situated. But we kept smiling and ended the operation successful. It was during this trip that I realised that I had fallen in love with Jan.
 My fathers house in Welberg

 The house were I moved to in Amsterdam (With the white and brown door)

 Narrow canal street

Jan had to move too. He had to leave his apartment, because his landlady had discovered that I had stayed overnight in his room and it was not allowed to have female friends for the night. So he rented my former room.
After the moves Jan lived in The Hague and I lived in Amsterdam and we had a lot of dates. 
I thought he saw me just as a friend and because I felt love for him I decided to quit when it was still possible. I believed the broken heart would be bearable then.  
On the 28th of July I took the train to The Hague and I wanted to tell him that we should end now. Unfortunately, he was not at home and I wrote a letter. When I had finished the letter, he came home. I told him the reason of my visit. Jan did not agree with me and said we should not break up, he liked to stay together. He loved me too!
And on this 28th of July we became a couple and we still are. We have kept my unused return train ticket as a souvenir.

We planned a vacation together for august 1977, to see if it would work out between us, when we had to stay together in a little tent for two weeks.
Jan bought a Ford Taunus 12 m TS from Rinus, so we could go by our own car. The picture below is a picture of a similar car, a real battleship!

There was even a cassette recorder in the car and we were able to listen to Rod Stewart and all kinds of seventies music.


First we had to go to my father to pick up my tent and other camping necessities. I was a little bit nervous. In the past, my father was never friendly to my male friends. The first time we were at my fathers, with the move, I had not proper introduced Jan. But now I had to tell him that we were a couple and I hoped that my father at least would be polite to him. I was amazed. He was so friendly to Jan. And he has always been. He said he regarded Jan as his 4th child. (I have two brothers). 

After this pleasant meeting we could leave for our holiday, but we did not have actual plans for our destination.
We started our trip in Belgium and stayed one night in a hotel near Brussels. We had to plan our final destination and decided to go to South England. We both had good experiences with the UK. 
I had been in South England before with my friend Adrienne for a cycling holiday.  She had a nice bike with 5 gears but I did not. We had a wonderful time and 3 weeks of sun. It was the famous summer of the heat wave of 1976.
Before I met Jan he was a radio-officer on tug boats and he was stationed in Penzance several times. He told me that Penzance was beautiful and that there were palm trees everywhere. It appeared me very tropical and sunny, so we took the ferry from Zeebrugge to Dover.
The first night in England we forgot the time difference with the continent and discovered that the evening was one hour longer than we expected.

We had a nice drive in our Ford Taunus and when we finally arrived in Penzance, it started raining. I saw the palm trees dripping in the rain.
We decided to stay in a B & B. The bed in the B&B was very creaky and we had a lot of fun about it.
The next day the sun appeared again and we continued with two weeks of nice weather. 

 Palm trees in Penzance (picture from the internet )

B&B (Google street view)
In Penzance we stayed on a camping site with a dancing, which we frequently visited.  I learned about the specific habits of British girls in the disco. They made a pile of all their handbags and danced around that pile. We did not do that in the Netherlands and it was a peculiar sight.

In the two weeks of our stay we made several trips to places of outstanding beauty. However, I believe that we were more interested in each other than in the Devon landscape. Nevertheless Jan made some nice pictures (slides). Unfortunately, those were a little overexposed. But after some photo shopping, they still give an impression of our wonderful holiday.

Enjoying the landscape

To the Scilly Islands

White cliffs of  Dover

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