Wednesday April 1st 2015. Hassbergen 30 km.

Everyone complains about the weather. Are you sure you don ‘t take a day off with this storm? Trees uprooted, tiles from the rooftops, everywhere branches on the road.  The wind pushes me ahead and Tosca acts like a draft dog. Runs pretty good. After 3.5h.  of walking I finally found a little restaurant along the road, that was open. After passing all kinds of placards and signs to romantic “homebars” and after having followed in vain into directions to official imbissen (little restaurant, see some examples in pictures), I don’t want to be cheated any more and I just walk on, ignoring all the restaurant signs. Now I’m behind a good, large cup of coffee. Time to answer the nice, enouraging text message from F and M in Mechelen, time to send some SMS messages  to loved ones, before they have forgotten me, making a few notes for my blog,  giving Tosca some rest and taking much time, in order not to arrive too early. If my walking shape with backpack stays the way it is, I can walk more, and also can afford longer breaks. So take it easy Haike (little Harry). Though the problem of finding shelter for the next day remains of course. Often, when passing a settlement, I see “Zimmer frei”. But those places usually are not on the Internet, so often I book something more expensive ahead with the help of my i-pad, that could have been cheaper. But I want to book on beforehand, don’t want to loose time looking for a place to sleep. If I were much younger, and preferably of the opposite sex, it probably would be much easier to find something. When I book something, I  sometimes explain on the phone that I’m not a tramp. Holy, holy!
Years ago a vagabond  slept in winter behind the front door of my office. The door to the front hall was always open, so in case of emergency patients could call me with the wall phone in the front hall of my office. Cell phones didn’t exist yet. Everty morning the man was awakened by my former assistant with coffee. I wouldn’t mind that either! But when the guy also began to use the portal as toilet, my patience ran out. But he refused to leave. Every morning he was there again. Vigilantism should not exist in the Nl., but is the only thing that works. The police did not want to interfere either. I thought of unwanted cats and threw a couple of times  a bucket of cold water on him in the winter mornings. With much cursing and growling he eventually stopped coming. Well, whoever does not hear must feel. In today’s education, this principle no longer is accepted, but I do not completely agree with that soft modern approach.

Here, the radio is blaring carnival music, reminds me of the après ski, with “Joanna, geboren um Liebe zu geben”. My skigroup that winter, a few years ago, got slightly tipsy of the beers. I did not participate of course. be wise. I refrained to tea,  Jägerthe to tell you the truth. Daytime Jägermeistertje, to descend faster. Here I find the memories of that winter on the roadside: a photo of a bottle Jäger Tea, with Tosca. So boss, so dog. Nice associations. That’s nice about walking. I can let my mind wander. Country music from the radio. Sometimes when I walk gazing at the horizon, my mind at point zero, I sometimes get cute associations and sometimes I think, why don’t I quit.
noon I took a long break, because the walking goes fast. Picture of a stork on its nest, in a village. Promising inscriptions lure me miles in advance to home- and / or larger eat- or drink opportunities. Everything anywhere is closed in the afternoon, even the herring museum and the storks museum. One cafeteria was going to open later, but the door was open. Kann ich eine Tasse Kaffe kriegen, bitte, (can I please get a coffee) I shouted to the back. Kindly, but firmly, no. Rule is a rule.
It struck me that in the hotel yesterday and anyway averywhere I see a lot of “musts” and prohibitions. Is that in the Netherlands similar? I have to think about that. In France I saw a 1000 signs “cache privée”, hunting prohibited. And in Spain on the walls all over was written prohibido fichar carteles: no posters. Grafitti is allowed everywhere apparently. I have the impression in the South there were less rules. Maybe there were as many rules, but just not being followed.
For dog lovers, which is half of the population because the other half are dog haters: dogs may not piss, may not poop, may no get inside, forbidden to bark, may not run free and preferably  do not come close. In short, they may not be a dog. Only such a non-dog is tolerated. So, Tosca was all wet. Cold? Even on a leash during the lashing hail, she is still trying to jump in a pool of water. She found at the roadside the body of a car hit, rotten deer. Mmm, lucky her. Later, a bag of thrown away fries with two hamburgers. If she got bored, she took a stick to drag along. Harrie animal torturer? The fur of my protégé (which is not a part of myself, mind you)   is shiny  and she looks healthy like eternal life. Today she has walked only 35 to 40 km. And we are amazed at the Dutch wolf, which can cover such distances. A little dog can do that too, even when running on asphalt all day with his pads. All that fuzzing with those fat brats, wearing dog booties, lying on blankets and eating indulgent food, lying on the sofa or in bed. Apparently many people experience such a shortage of love that pets are being kept like living toys.

Arriving in Hassbergen  my Unterkunft (shelter), Gasthof Märtens, Hauptstr. 71, proved closed on Wednesdays. What now? I rang. No reaction. Does sh.. keep happening? Let’s try to call. A man, presumably even older than I am: OK. It turns out to be fine. Tosca  may sleep in the stable, good on straw, with the company of a 37- year-old horse . Did not know a horse could be that old. But perhaps the old man started making mistakes. Because when I inquired about wifi he looked like he heard thunder in far away Cologne. And that’s pretty far away. The address I had in mind for tomorrow did not answer my phone call. That sucks, because tomorrow I have to back 30 km., in a whatever weathers.
You see, I ‘m filling up the evening because I write a lot. An SMS from Mechelen  noticed that my blog has been more cheerful, lately. It’ll be even more enthusiastic, because …
enough is enough. Stop all this nonsense. Finito, schluss, this is the end, c’est ca, basta. At Easter I’m home and I stay home. All this darn searching for places to sleep each night. Either movy director Rudy should be able to gather 10,000 E  to finance the film of this trip, or Mama Alice must have reached 10,000 E. Otherwise: end of the exercise at Easter. Trip end. Voilà! Nice and cozy up to the fireplace, home – sweet home – Chicago (Chicago, because that is the song). Purring cats, a woman who puts my slippers ready, makes coffee and turns on the TV for the daily portion of misery. Hope that “my” Sonja does not read this! I thought all those lonely Spanish and French landladies  would treat an elderly, poor pilgrim like me the same way, but no, you know. I had to experience that one’s own fire place is worth gold. Ergo, I stop the entire exercise.
Now I’m halfway through the journey. About 3700 km. finished. Still not that bad, huh?

Veel gebodsbepalingen Much seems to be forbidden in Germany

Is nu overal alles dicht?Everything seems to be closed

Herinnering aan wintersport

Doet denken aan onze herder in EperheideMakes me think of our local shepherd Ger in Eperheide

Lunchpauze in een eetcafé Tosca rests on the floor in a lunchroom

Tosca amuseert zichTosca enjoying herself

Cafeetje, gesloten!Cafetaria closed

VakwerkkerkLog timbered church

Ooievaarsnest, vlak bij ooievaarsmuseumstorks nest, close to storks museum

"Ooievaarsnest" geslotenstorks’ nest closed


Ook geslotenclosed too

VakwerkTraditional construction


Geboden, verboden Musts, prohibitions



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