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Report 582: An Independent Driving Tour of Europe - 2001

By JaniceB from Ontario, Canada, Spring 2001

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Page 9 of 15: Aalton, Netherlands

May 23, 2001 10:27

Well, we're coming to the end of three days in the Gelderland, the home province of the Beurling clan in the Netherlands.

Immediately after we returned from Norway, we visited the Keukenhof Gardens to see the spectacular floral display. The Gardens are only open a few weeks a year, but are well worth the visit!

Today we visited the village of Blokzijl in the neighbouring province of Overijssel. This is the village Fredrik Hassels Beulink was born and raised in. He's the one who immigrated to Sweden about 1810. It's a charming village, originally on the edge of the dikes that kept the Zuider Zee out of the farmland. Today, much of that Zuider Zee has been drained and the port village of Blokzijl is now many kilometers from open water. However, it still has a small harbour in the centre of town and canal access to the sea. It is very beautiful with houses that date back to the 1600s. It's church is quite important historically because it was one of the first protestant churches built in Holland. We walked into it and admired the accoustics, chandeliers and graves in the floor. Unfortunately, most the grave inscriptions are worn away by restless feet during long sermons. There is a large clock above the church door (inside) that has only one hand to show the hour. However, Dad read that on the pulpit, which is one of those high jobs you access by a private staircase, has an hour-long egg timer to keep the pastor on track. It's about a foot tall and is quite visible to the congregation. Does Parkway need an egg-timer? Soft or hard boiled?

Yesterday was a great day! We finally found a laundry. The farmers we're staying with (great place) let us use theirs. While our shirts were sloshing, we sat around their table and chatted. Of course, we told them why we were visiting their area and they got out their phone book to see if they could find Christel Beulink's address (she's the girl who emailed me on the weekend). They found a list of about six Beulinks in the village of Zelham, not far away. Then Erik (the farmer) offered to phone and see if we had the right place. Christel answered the phone! [Can you believe that, Hans?] I spoke with her briefly on the phone and we arranged to meet at her house that afternoon.

We didn't have too much trouble finding her house -- another farm. Pigs and cows. She and her parents gave us a tour of their place. It was really fascinating. Not what city people like us are accustomed to seeing. It was really a great opportunity.

Christel and her parents seemed very excited about the contact. It was very unexpected to them because Christel still hadn't checked the email response I sent her, so she didn't have any idea that we were in the area, let alone on the continent. Such timing. I can't help but think the Lord's hand was in this.

We spent about 90 minutes with them. They showed us photos -- many of the people had suspiciously Beurling-like ears! They showed us their own family tree research; I wrote some of the information down and will check it with my other records when I get home. They have many Fredriks in their family names.

The Beulinks, who are brown-haired and brown-eyed, served us delicious coffee and biscuits and then -- a major highlight -- led us by car to the farmhouse where Crystal's Beulink grandfather was born, a few km away. [Pay attention, Hans!] The farmhouse was built about 1856 (we took photos and I don't quite remember the precise year), but -- this is important -- it had built into the front of the house for a keystone, another stone that had been inscribed: BOELINK 1473. This implies to us that the Beulink family has been in that area at least since the 15th century! Wow. This will give us some more genealogical leads. I think I'll try to look for that spelling of Boelink in early records. Without this clue, I might have passed over that name in the Dutch records.

Also, Mom and Dad's Grenada connection through their friend George, suggested that 'beul' is also the name of a tool used in linen production. The making of linen was a major activity in Overijssel a couple of centuries ago. Earlier today we visited a museum he recommended in the nearby village of Vriesenveen where we had a personal tour by one of the museum staff, and where we learned more about this. However, it would seem that the name Beulink/Boelink predates that industry.

I'm sure we'll learn more in the months and years to come.

Well, we'd better sign off for now. Tomorrow morning we cross into Germany and, if we time it right, we'll take a cruise down the Rhine River and Mom will shop for a cuckoo clock.

PS: Just asked Dad if there's anything else we should say and he said, "What about food?" We're eating breakfast just like real Europeans, seedy bread, smelly cheese and strong coffee. Lunch we try to eat out. Yesterday we had another Dutch pancake with stroganoff inside. Delicious, but Mom enjoyed it all night! Suppers are usually lighter, and more picnic-like with more bread and cheese and sliced meat and yoghurt and fruit.

We didn't tell you about the place we're staying. It's behind a farmhouse and is a remodeled bakery house. It used to be used to bake bread. It looks out onto the cow fields (Mom loves the eau de cow) and we watch birds and rabbits playing the fields. Really! This little cottage is a charming place with the main floor fully equipped for cooking, eating and relaxing (everything from videos to puzzles). There's a plant or fresh field flowers on every flat surface. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and at night we can hear things skittering across the roof. Actually, we love it. It's spotless and very, very comfortable.

That's all for now!

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