Monday, September 24, 2007

Back at Oude Schuttingskanaal, Fred's birthplace

Not born on the grass, Fred was born in the house behind the trees on the right (where the car is parked). It used to be a shop and was used in the TV series Bartje in 1972 for filming, but had to close down a few years later after everyone started going to the supermarkets. The original house/shop was broken down and then rebuilt by Fred's brother, Jannes (at the back of the photo), after which he and his wife Grietje, shared the house with Fred's parents until they died in 1998/2000. The house was sold in about 2002 to some dog lovers who have now moved on. It was Fred's father's 93rd birthday yesterday and a beautiful day it was too. Sunny and warm, for the first day of autumn. It is good to see how relaxed Fred is when he goes back up north, even though he would never want to return to live there.

In what are now the fields opposite, there used to be poor people's houses and on this side of the road a school for 80 children, but they have all been destroyed and the land put to the plough. The people here, including Fred's parents were peat diggers and over the whole area the peat has been dug up by hand and transported. Some of the peat was left behind, which explains why the soil s dark and rich. Potatoes have been the main crop but now more and more maize and sugar beet is gronw for the bio-fuel industry, continuing the tradition of exploiting and exporting energy from the area.

First they came to take the peat, then the came to extract the natural gas fields underneath the soil, almost all of which is sent to the West of Holland where much of it is burned keeping the glasshouses warm to grow tomatoes, flowers and peppers. The removal of the gas from underground is also to blame for the frequent light earthquakes they experience here.

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