Talking Dutch

We love holidaying in Holland or The Netherlands (Nederlands) if you wish, and there are certain things that really stand out for me. The culture of the bike, the flatness, cafe life, small towns and villages interlinked by long straight roads, and much more beside. Of course I recognize the difference between a two week holiday compared to living somewhere year to year. I would notice the graffiti a lot more – and it’s everywhere – the taxes and cost of living, having to pay the bills. Is unemployment high, does medical care cost, are the schools any good, foreign policy, homeland policy, the far right, the far left. The realities of living somewhere is all too often dependent on your own personal time in life.
So what am I going to write about?
On our last trip we rode our bikes to the nearest town from our campsite. Twenty minutes on the flat and on a purpose built, probably been there for years, cycle path. The road is separate from the cycle path which is only on one side and so you have powered vehicles operating both ways in their dedicated lane and then human powered vehicles (apart from the odd scooter) working both directions in their dedicated lane. Safe and relaxing. It was one of those nice long straight roads and so you can just pedal at the speed you wish, not having to chop and change gears, get out of the saddle, head down type riding you have to do in the UK. Also the Dutch bike is a “sit up and beg” style so very comfortable and everyone rides that style. I would guess some people pass them down through the generations as they never change.
So we rode and we talked! And this is the thing that has stuck with me. In today’s 100 mile an hour world, this was like setting the world on slow mo. We could ride two or three abreast and we could talk. We weren’t hunched over our handlebars, we weren’t continually having to go up gradients and down again. We just rode, in a straight line, sitting in an upright position and next to each other. We couldn’t use our smart phones and get immersed in those. We didn’t have to worry about lorries, vans or any vehicle getting too close to the cycle path we have in the UK – the painted line separating traffic types – I don’t know about you but I don’t think painted lines have ever been successful at holding back anything!

And it got me to thinking – dangerous I know, but hey sometimes it makes sense in my head – are Dutch people better at talking and having conversations within their families, parent to parent, parent to child, sibling to sibling. Do they understanding each other better, is there less angst and friction as they are able to really unpick some of the family stuff that besets us all? Do they have better relationships long term with their children? Do the kids “get” the parents? Does “technology” and the modern way we are all connected all the time not affect (this is a matter of opinion and is my view rather than any scientific research) the Dutch family in the way I think it affects my family.
Or in my mind is Holland still in the 1930s and actually now they drive everywhere and sit in silence listening to the music or their kids arguing in the back of the car. Do I think all the low land countries live in black and white, on cobbled streets and a simple life bereft of the modern ills?
I’d love if anyone who reads this and knows of the Holland way of life or someone has family and friends there and they could shed some light on my (based in my head) theory. Is it just in those areas away from the bigger towns and cities, do families interact better? Or is it generally all over? Can my “Escape to the Country” become “Escape to another Country”?


You can also catch me on Twitter: @1966colinblog

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