Whitby-Peterborough-Rotterdam-Bruxelles-Sydney.

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The stay in London’s Shepherd’s Bush was during the time Holland won a World soccer cup or European soccer cup. Sport is not my forte, apart from a short stint of basket- ball playing, I generally have always ran away if a ball of any shape threatens to roll towards me. Of course at my age now, balls have given up all hope and never roll towards me anymore.

My Australian friend was really English and he suggested I could spend some time with his mum. His dad had died a few years earlier. Her name was Maureen and was living in Yorkshire’s Whitby and had worked as a Magistrate dealing with difficult English youth. The English seem to specialise in rearing difficult children. Already then, whenever a soccer match was being played on the Euro continent, the police forces were marshalled in by the thousands and lists of banned English fans were already in the making.

After a farewell to Lord and daily English bread pudding we took a train and after introduction to my friend’s mum settled in at a spare room at Maureen’s charming cottage at Whitby. She was a very chatty and jovial person and she drove me many times to places of interest. It included the beautiful East coast up and down from Whitby and of course we had ‘real smoked’ kippers for breakfast while viewing Whitby Abbey during lunch.

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

A few years before Maureen’s husband had died he had left her to live with a French women. According to Maureen they met while enjoying a week’s  stay in a Yorkshire -Dale bed and breakfast high up one of those breathtakingly beautiful hill tops that the area was so famous for. I had already heard this sad story of her husband’s philandering way with a ‘French woman’ from her son. He was less accommodating and reckons his dad had the happiest few years of his all too soon end of  life. ‘My mother nagged him to death’ was the rather merciless opinion about his mother. Even so, I was given the opposite story from Maureen.

During their stay in that B&B the father met this French lady who was asking for directions. Maureen told me that soon after many bottles of French wine were bought by her husband who, according to Maureen was much more of a beer drinker. I heard that a much clearer sign of husbands’ infidelities are the mysterious appearances of brand new underpants. No new underpants in Whitby though! She did not think much about it till out of the blue, he just left her to live in France with the French woman, leaving the French wine in her cellar next to her car.

She was still totally overwrought with this as we sat around for the few evenings I was there, she asked me if I minded drinking the French wine that her ex-husband had bought at the beginning of the ‘affaire’. “I can’t stand the sight of those French wine bottles” she added ever so sadly. It was amazing that her husband had so abruptly left his wife and mother of children on a whim, just like that! As we kept up the French wine drinking, she kept repeating her surprise and anger interspersed with much love and devotion for her husband still lingering after the passing years and his early death, in the words flooding out with tears of unrelenting bitterness and so much regret;  a conjuring act between much love lost and hatred fanned. Are they really that close?

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

After a few days with Maureen, listening to woes of a lost marriage while drinking her ex-husband’s, ( deceased and buried) French wine I ended up cooking her a nice tuna pasta before saying goodbye, and caught a train to York. After wandering and some sight-seeing I suffered terrifying pangs of being on my own, decided to return to Holland and Helvi and caught a train to Peterborough, booked a bus-ferry-train to Rotterdam-Nijverdal and stayed there with my mum as well. So that’s two mums within a bit more than a week.

The whole trip away from Helvi all took place with just a bit over three to four weeks. Before going home to Helvi and family, I travelled by train to Brussels of which the reason why, I have forgotten. It was a wonderful visit and as someone pointed out afterwards, the world’s best restaurants are found there. My money was short so I  used to walk around the streets of cafes and restaurants and just tried the fare for free, offered by the waiters standing outside the restaurants for passers- by to try out. I tried not to overdo this in case they started to recognize me (the third time around) as some kind of free- loader if not a vagabond. I especially liked the way some expert cook  had done the mussels on toast.

Brussels restaurants

Brussels restaurants

From there back to Sydney and my Helvi. On return she reckoned the state of my underwear was ‘scandalous!’

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29 Responses to “Whitby-Peterborough-Rotterdam-Bruxelles-Sydney.”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    The accounts of your travels never cease to amaze me. These are wonderful stories. The scorned woman who alternately cried and bemoaned her wayward husband had a few loose marbles in her upper story From your impressions it sounds as if she enjoyed being the martyr of the disastrous marriage. There are many folks like that- men and woman who act as if they are without fault. Poor souls.

    Like

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    We all have faults but I just felt sorry for her. She lost a husband, yet she still loved him and showed it by being so angry and hurt.
    Many years they spent together and then…he left her.
    He was dead when she still cried for him.
    I am not prepared to say she had lost her marbles because love is so complicated I am not surprised by the vagaries of it all .
    However, I know love but am no expert on having loved, left and go on with other partners and then leave love, leave and love again … and so on.

    Like

  3. Julia Lund Says:

    Loving these accounts of yours – their nostalgia is poignant and your commentary funny in a dry, almost throw-away sense.

    “The English seem to specialise in rearing difficult children …”😀

    I haven’t visited Whitby for decades – I must return. I gave my own particular memories of it.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Julia,
      I am curious about your experiences of Whitby. I liked it and it gave me some insight in the wonderful and exotic world of the English.
      I mean going out for ‘pudding’ and having ‘tea’ with staying in a Lord’s house and my friend making bread pudding.
      The taking of the tube in London with those glum faces going to work and yet the joviality of the Friday night at the Brick-Layers Arms in Leeds with long queues for ‘Fish and Chips’. The inscrutable game of cricket. And so much more.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sedwith Says:

    What a great read and so true about the undies! Whitby…..remember from my childhood… left from Sheffield to Geelong in 64 ha ha what a bold move. Parents regretted it am sure and my father (an old Brit navy salt wanted to live out his days in Portsmouth. Never did as mum said he’d dragged her all over the world and she wasn’t budging!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is amazing that Australian Government is now going to spend 4 million $s making a Tele- movie deterring refugees from trying to come here by boat while in the fifties and sixties they did the reverse.
      I still remember those Aus. Embassy movies of sunny skies with postman leaping over picket fences bringing glad tidings to generously smiling Australians hoping it would bring migrants from Europe including refugees.
      Now, Navy boats are scanning our coast towing back refugees.
      You have some great posts on your blog Sedwith.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sedwith Says:

        My folks just said…its not anything like they said it would be. I would much prefer to be here though despite the culture cringe, embarassing government and totally disgusting racist attitude to indiginous and asylum seekers. Total heaven on a wild empty beach does me just fine….missing that in bloody Darwin! Thanks Gerard…my name is Lesley. Took the Sedwith as in Said with…? Appreciate your posts and blog support. 😉

        Like

  5. rod Says:

    If you keeping writing these interesting reminiscences you’ll have enough for an autobiography.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Big M Says:

    Yes, Gerard, I’ve heard of this sudden penchant for new undies as a sign of imminent, or actual, infidelity before. If this is the case, then Mrs M is constantly reassured by my mottley collection of ‘smalls’.

    Some folk never seem to recover from it (infidelity, not clapped out undies), harping, or, commiserating at every opportunity. I enjoyed the story, and am glad you returned to Helvi, sans new underpants.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I also met a man whose wife had left him, boy was he a mess. I believe women survive bad relationships better than men. Is that true? I have no experience and would not want to.
      This man was an ex-chess master suffering from inoperable cancer. His wife had left him years before but he was still raking and fanning the ashes. I lived with him for a short while and rented a room.
      Another English friend of mine visited me during that time and when I was working in a bank in Amsterdam and played this ex-chess master… and won.
      He blamed his ex-wife for having lost the game! He died soon after, very unhappy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        I’d not heard of infidelity causing lapses in chess playing!

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        After my English friend had won the chess game and left, the Dutch chess master ( a distant uncle of mine)whose wife left him, replayed the game from beginning to end. He was so upset, red in the face, shouting what move he should have done. It was scary and I felt sorry.
        However, he was also dying of cancer and I used to make very hot chilli mince patties of which he believed the hot chilli might have magical medicinal qualities curing his cancer. He clung onto that while clutching his painful shoulder into which the fatal cancer had crept. He used to run a grocery store when still married.
        I soon after left my bank job to go to Italy and combined this with an escape from Dutch millitary service, joined my English friend in a chalet in Bolzano. I received a letter soon after that the uncle had passed away. It is somewhat sad that his last chess game was lost and that the hot chilli patties were of no use or magic.

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  7. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Helvi is a very pretty woman, Gerard. Hope you got your underwear fixed.🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Patti Kuche Says:

    Gosh Gerard, you have brought back memories of Whitby, Yorkshire and middle-aged + marriage woes and having to hear both sides but your new undies detail is a scoop!

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am now replacing and stocking up on new underwear, Patti.
      Much more sensible design and Kalvin Klein has finally cracked the male market with underpants that contain rather that flaunt and brutally allows things to escape.
      When it comes to female lingerie there are expert designers working overtime to cater for every whim and size. Not so for the mere male. I still shudder, thinking about those awful boxer shorts. All that has now changed.

      Like

  9. M-R Says:

    Slightly scatty, but comprehensible nonetheless. [grin]

    Like

  10. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Helvi is a lovely woman. You can tell her I said so.

    I once came across a hidden note written by a 7 year old grandson to a little classmate which was never delivered: “I wear green underpants.” Don’t know what prompted it.

    Like

  11. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Love the whitby cottages. The picture is Robin Hood’s Bay with the Crab and Lobster at the bottom. *I think* otherwise it is Staithrs. The other pic might be Runswick Bay. Years since I’ve been though. I’ll hunt out some Whitby pix for you at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you for the Robin Hood Bay reminder. I have some idea of the area but it was a long time ago. I think in 1988 or there about.

    Like

  13. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    The Brussels restaurants are indeed extra good. I fear your experiences in Whitby may have given you a distaste for the dear old UK.

    Like

  14. Lottie Nevin Says:

    The photo is definitely Robin Hood’s Bay. I love that part of England. It’s wild and wooly and full of charm.

    Like

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