10 words to travel 1,500 years and miles across the Frisian shores

Are these white letters on the wall encrypted gibberish to you? With learning a handful of keywords, you’ll have deciphered them in no time. Even better, tens of thousands of town names will hold no longer any secrets for you. Each placename will reveal its unique story to you. You will make a great impressionContinue reading “10 words to travel 1,500 years and miles across the Frisian shores”

Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?

“If you don’t care about your own history, you may as well leave the classroom.” Words from the geography teacher at high school Simon Vestdijk in the port town of Harlingen in 1988. We, the two Frisian bastards, were about sixteen years old and in the fifth grade of the VWO (i.e. pre-university education). TheContinue reading “Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?”

Out of averting the inevitable a community was born

March 25, 2020 today. The COVID-19 pandemic is climbing towards its second peak. Uncertainty of how destructive the pandemic is going to be in the long run. How many family members and loved ones will it take? A phenomenon of chaos and destruction that confronts us with the limitations of an engineered world. Some peopleContinue reading “Out of averting the inevitable a community was born”

Shipwrecked people of the salt marshes

Tidal marshlands and Frisians, a dual entity. The Chauci and the Frisians (Frisii) had learned to adapt to this unprotective, hospitable salty environment. A vast area of treelees, tidal marshlands. No rocks, no wood, not much sweet water, and frequently flooded by the sea. But where these tribes nonetheless prospered at the time the civilizedContinue reading “Shipwrecked people of the salt marshes”

Groove is in the Hearth

The hearth was in pre- and early-medieval times the Holy of holies, the heart of the family. Where you would lay back and groove. Groove on the sound of the rain on the thatched roof. Or, the sound of the sea at your feet below. Sloshing against the grassy slopes of your house platform. AContinue reading “Groove is in the Hearth”

Ornament of the Gods found in a mound of clay

In the year 516, King Hygelac of the Geats, a tribe in the southeast of Sweden, raided Frisia. Back then, this part of the Netherlands was impenetrable land with big rivers, little streams, swamps, peat, bog and damping forests covered with moss. Hygelac’s expedition could have gone better, since he was killed during tand notContinue reading “Ornament of the Gods found in a mound of clay”

Have a Frisians Cocktail

With the coming seasonal festivities at the end of the year, it is appropriate to serve you a flavorful cocktail. It is a cocktail from the list ‘Myths of Nations’, namely the ‘Frisians Cocktail’. Its recipe is not as old as some people thought it was, or would like it to be, but it isContinue reading “Have a Frisians Cocktail”

Hero of Haarlem: a dragon in disguise?

It was a Yankee by the name Mary Mapes Dodge who wrote ‘Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. A story of life in Holland’. The book was published in New York in 1865. It is about poor, 15-year-old Hans and his sister Gretel. Gretel wins the Silver Skates. The price for winning an ice skatingContinue reading “Hero of Haarlem: a dragon in disguise?”

One of history’s enlightening hikes, that of Bernlef

This blog post is not about the Westfrisian writer Hendrik Jan Marsman (1937-2012) whose pen-name was Bernlef. Nor is this blog post about the student corporation Bernlef in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. This is all about the original: the bard and harp player Bernlef who lived in Frisia somewhere between 760 andContinue reading “One of history’s enlightening hikes, that of Bernlef”

Beacons of Nordfriesland

Nordfriesland, or North Frisia. The western coast and islands of the region Schleswig. Stretching from the Danish town Tønder in the north to the River Eider in the south. A broad strip of land by the sea with all islands in between. It is here where a specific celebration of bonfires takes place every year.Continue reading “Beacons of Nordfriesland”