Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Visit to Heather's Birthplace

We went to Heerlen to see where Joe's wife Heather was born. We took several pictures to spark the memories of her family. You can see that they were expecting us as they had balloons out at the train station. (Don't forget to click on the pictures for a closer look.)

Her first house at Adenauerstraat 29 in the suburb of Brunssum was a 40 minute city bus ride back and forth from suburb to suburb starting at the station. It was easy to find the house just a couple of blocks from the stop at Kennedylaan and Europalaan.

We saw a castle on the way.

Back in Heerlen we walked through the main square to find the forest park where Heather played as a child and fed the animals.

We didn't know for sure on which side of the forest they lived when they moved to Heerlen so we took pictures of buildings on the three sides near the playground.

You can tell that the natives were happy to see us as they dressed up in their native costumes. The mayor even came out to greet us.

The many bands were often playing the same song. We couldn't make out the words but everyone was having a great time.

I'm eating French fries with mayonnaise, curry wurst with piles of onions, and a waffle coated with white chocolate, yum,yum!

Mom was happy to find lots of horses and geese. She counted over 100 horses from the train just in one section of the trip.

I was perfectly happy to look at the old buildings and canals.

(These carnival pictures were in nearby Maastricht, the carnival capital of the Netherlands. Everything in Heerlen was locked up and the streets empty as everyone had gone to join in the parades and partying in Maastricht. Judging by the confetti on the main square of Heerlen, they must have done their celebrating on Sunday. The Monday we were in Maastricht was family parade day. It was like Halloween on steroids. I told mom she needed to smear her lipstick on my nose and on her lips so that us chilly Florida tourists would fit in, but she didn't. You can read more about Dutch carnival here or here.)

Signs for Kim

Now and then we post signs for Kim to use in her international communication class. These we got on our trip to find Heather's birthplace. It was raining so we had to take the pictures in a hurry. Of course, you'll need to click on the pictures to see the details.
The first one we think means "you are leaving a residential neighborhood."

The second was a fun Elvis sign that a house near Heather's first home had posted.

The third was on the street where Heather first lived. It has a car hitting a kid and says to watch out.

The fourth gives the rules for the Utrecht train station and shopping complex to make "Utrecht Safe". It is posted at the bus transfer complex behind a glass window so it was hard to photograph without a reflection. I hope you can see the tags with the fines. The banned activities are: bike riding, littering, profanity, peeing, alcohol, boisterous talking, smoking, and drugs.

Which would you prefer?

If you were an exchange professor to historic Europe, which kind of campus would you prefer? One where you walk along the canals past the flower shops and past the law school in an old building that once housed nobles to your building at Trans 10 (you identify which buildings are part of the university by the signs by the door).

Inside you glance out the window at the inner courtyard and walk down the welcoming hall to your office.

When it's time for class, you walk down the brick and cobblestone streets past the linguistics building to your building just across the canal at Drift 21 to meet your eager students.


Or you can ride a three-sectioned bus to the new campus on the wide open spaces of the Heidelberglaan stop with its futuristic buildings, each designed by a famous architect. (Kim, the black cube is the university library. Joe, the giant cube with a doorway that looks like an inverted V is an entrance to the medical school.)

Enter a building of your choice to climb stairs, walk long hallways connecting the buildings, find places to sit and rest, find your glassed in office and look out at basketball courts boosted into the air on pedestals like trophies and dorms that look like eight legged mechanical spiders from Star Wars.

If this is all too much for you, you can check into the psychiatric ward just down the hall in the university hospital.

Yes, both campuses are part of Utrecht University. Which would you choose?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In the steps of Francis and Hester Cooke

Do you remember visiting the home of our ancestors Francis and Hester Cooke in Plimoth Plantation on our family reunion tour and interacting with the actors playing their parts? Our ancestor John Thomson married one of their daughters. Before Francis and his son came over on the Mayflower, they lived in Leiden in the Netherlands. Here are some pictures of places they knew quite well since they lived there for almost seventeen years. In fact they had been living there for six years before joining the "separatists" or pilgrims when they came over from England in 1609. Before that they belonged to the French Walloon Protestant church.

Here is a guide to the pictures below.
1. The main canal with boats and a windmill.

2. A canal one over from where the Cookes lived. Their canal has been covered over to use as a wide street but what they saw walking into the town center was probably much like this. The church in the background is Pieterskerk, finished about 40 years before the Cookes lived nearby.

3. A street that we know the Cookes walked many times. Notice Pieterskerk in the background. A plaque on a wall says that William Brewster, a pilgrim leader, had a printshop here.

4. The church tower in the middle just above the bare trees marks the entry to the Walloon Church where Franchoys Couck and Hester le Mahieu may have married in 1603.

5. I'm entering the Pilgrim Museum. Pilgrims probably didn't live here but the house was there at the time they were in Leiden and is being restored to fit into the time period of when Francis Cook lived nearby. Notice the type of windows they had.

6. The main room of the museum. Note the cubbyhole like bed in the center. People then slept curled up or sitting up. See the bedwarmer hanging nearby?

7. Caroly is enjoying a typical setting for a meal of the time. The dishes are the same kind that have been found in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

8. This is a typical fire hearth from the time. Note the pile of peat on the right that they used for fuel. They used peat since it didn't set off sparks to catch nearby wood on fire, as could happen with wood fuel.