Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 38

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Thursday June 26, 2008 (diary, travel)

Still sunny this morning. I receive an email from Jeroen : Shirley is very sick and in Hospital. I phone her immediately and she does not sound very good. She is under treatment but will it work ?
Later on the road I have a smooth run by car for most of the 220 km journey, until I hit a huge cue (despite the 8 lane freeway) on the road to Den Hague, just before the turnoff to Woerden. I manage to get off there and decide to follow the old road. Wonderful, the quiet country lane from Woerden to Bodegraven I recognise and memories flood back into my mind.
This is the very same road I with six of my student friends walked our "Pickwick Papers" (by Charles Dickens) inspired 5 day (150 km) trail from Leiden to Martinshof back in December 1961. We carried lots of brandy with us in a 2nd hand baby pram (we had bought for 5 guilders). On our arrival in Gorssel on New Years Eve we sold the pram to one of my farmer friends in Cafe Beuse, "with a profit !!" (as several friends remind me later today). The farmer used the pram as a chicken house for many years after.

Canal cruise with student friends in Leiden I have no trouble finding my hotel (the Bastion Hotel) in Leiden and in the afternoon take a taxi into town. As my friends and their wives gradually arrive at our meeting point, the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden) I still can recognise many of them by their faces, although I have not seen them for 30 years or so.
After enthusiastic welcomes and chats we set out on a canal cruise through the old town of Leiden. Absolutely amazing, it feels as if I have never been away at all. For 8 years all in our early 20s we virtually lived together, during that important period in our lives when we decide on our career path, find and marry our wives and have our first child. Today, all afternoon and evening, I have come back into the fold, and feel surrounded by deep mellow friendship. A cloud of love is engulfing us all. We have no secrets for each other, only open unrestrained trust, a truly wonderful feeling.

Later we have drinks and dinner in Het Prentencabinet in De Kloksteeg, only a couple of houses away from where I lived for a short while in 1957. That was Kloksteeg 31, run by a "hospita", Mevrouw Neuteboom, a former student prostitute (common in the early 1900s). When my friends rang the door bell to visit me, she would always rush to the door first, and ask "Who are you ?", then after hearing the reply "Oh, I used to know your father very well, many years ago!"
After dinner Jaap and Kitty van der Goes give me a lift back to the Hotel, where, still full adrenalin, I sit at the bar until midnight closing time, discussing life with a guy called Ruud Reijers, an unknown but friendly fellow traveler.

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Friday June 27, 2008 (diary, travel)

With Dick and Lyde Matthes, Almen There is again a blues sky in the morning as I leave for Gorssel. Traffic in the West is very heavy and chaotic, I get into a cue, caused by a car accident, but it dissolves quick. Once the highway turns East inland it quickly becomes quieter and a much more pleasant drive.
After about 2 hours I arrive in Gorssel and have no trouble finding the house of my Primary School friend Dick Matthes and his wife Lyde. Gorssel has much changed and the trees have grown enormously in the past 20 years, but it is still a beautiful and very peaceful environment. Dick and I talk all day about the past and in the evening they take me to dinner at De Hoofdige Boer in Almen. I used to eat there too quite often back in the 80s. The meals there were always great then as I remember, but perhaps not so much now (at least judging from this one outing). But the bitter ballen beforehand are excellent.

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Saturday & Sunday June 28 & 29, 2008 (diary, travel)

Testing the old billiart table with Aaldert The weather stays sunny and very pleasant and Dick and Lyde Matthes make me feel very welcome during my stay with them. From their residence I drive around visiting various old friends and sites from my childhood.
I find Aaldert Bakker and his wife Wilma at home and have lunch with them. Aaldert's mother died in child birth, and he was brought up by his aunt and uncle at Cafe Beuse. After their death and closure of the pub Aaldert installed the billiard table and many of the associate paraphernalia in a room in his house. So with much pleasure we have a game on the old table.
Later I drive to Zutphen for a walk around town. I find the house in the Beukerstraat I was born in, but it is no longer a jewelry shop but a store selling ladies dresses called "Witteveen". It is market day on the market square and I have a "Hollandse Nieuwe" (raw herring), then sit down on one of the many terraces and have my bitterballen fix with a beer.

Brothers van der Mei Sunday morning I visit the family van der Mei in Gorssel and have coffee with them. Gerrit, Henk, Ap and Jan are all there and old mother Aaltje, at 96, is still as bright as a button. After a quick trip to Deventer which I don't like that much anymore, I visit Aaldert's real father Bennie Bakker who, after 60 years in Amsterdam, now lives in a small sunny retirement unit in the center of Gorssel. He is 81 but still looks the same, as still is as quiet and thoughtful as ever. We played many billiard matches against each other over the years and quietly drink a Heineken beer together letting the fond memories drift through our minds.

Lyde has cooked a wonderful Indonesian dinner, after which we sit in their peaceful garden until the soccer final starts. Spain beats Germany 1-0, a very very worthy European champion.   It is not Germany's day today as this afternoon they are also beaten by Australia 4-1 in a Hockey tournament final in Rotterdam.

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Monday June 30, 2008 (diary, travel)

Still good weather. I decide to go to the Kröller Müller Museum on the Hoge Veluwe Park near Otterlo, but when I arrive it is closed (Mondays only), so I drive on to Harderwijk (fishing harbour on the former IJsselmeer) for some smoked eel. I buy a whole kg as present for my hosts Dick and Lyde Mathes.

Eric and Ellen Garvelink In the evening I visit Eric and Ellen Garvelink (my ex brother in law with his wife) im Bathmen. Ellen has cooked a wonderful Nasi Goreng, which we enjoy sitting outside in their gaden in the evening sun.

I am several days behind with my blog, but don't worry. I am very busy visiting friends and traveling through Holland. Will update later.

July 31, 2008
Much to record from the past month.
However I had to cut my Europe trip short to return to Adelaide over a week ago where Shirley, my good friend and former travel companion, is in hospital dying of incurable cancer.   I am therefore at her bedside for most part of each day to give her comfort and peace.

I will recommence my blog after this is all over and I have returned and settled down back at the mango farm in Darwin.

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