Sea defences in Zeeland


We drove (very fast) on a big freeway through Rotterdam and the industrial areas with endless refineries, fuel tanks, container ships, windmills and power stations. Traffic jams were holding up cars travelling in the opposite direction. We were going to Zeeland to see the sea defences (Oosterschelde). We have heard about the floods of 1953 in which the dikes broke because of a severe storm. Hundreds of people in villages in Zeeland drowned as these areas were inundated. The engineering works that were done subsequently took several decades and were finished in 1988. Barriers can now be lowered to completely block high tides that would otherwise cause flooding. OK, that’s the educational part.

We went to Neeltje Jans which is like a Defences Against the Sea theme park. We had a boat ride and watched an educational film about the engineering. I went to sleep during most of it but saw the bit where Queen Beatrix officially opened it. By the way, Kees met the queen about a year ago when she visited his office and this caused him to transform from a republican into a monarchist, much to Arne’s disgust.

Next we went to Middelburg, a beautiful town that was flattened by the Luftwaffe in 1940 and has subsequently been rebuilt. It has a magnificent church, a fine square and hundreds of bikes. Wieteke and I both bought a hat.

After some wandering around we had to speed home in time for the soccer match Holland v Uruguay. Holland won and Wieteke and I put on orange scarves and went hooning down to the centre of Driebergen on the bike, me side saddle on the back. There were about 20 people gathered outside the pub dressed in orange and a couple of vuvuzelas. We did a few hoots and cheers but lacked critical mass to get the place hopping so we went home again.

Hup Holland Hup! The orange flags and bunting stay up for a few more days!

Orange hopes remain high in Middleburg

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