Europe 02.07.2016

Saturday the 2nd

What is there to tell about three hours on the autobahn speeding towards Zwolle? The weather made its second more successful attempt at summer as the sun broke through the white clouds for the first time in some days although the rain radar still read a high chance of showers. We passed pastures dotted with cows and crops which were lush and flourishing from the wet climate of the previous month. This is the image conjured at the mention of The Netherlands (if the tourists’ misperception of Amsterdam as standard is not enabled, of course). The agricultural fields which the highway intersects has a naturalised irrigation system that divides it into a mosaic of smaller pastures. It is exemplary of humanised nature, wherein the environment has been manipulated to reap optimal human benefit. It is a subtle indication of mankind in a landscape dotted with farmhouses and a queue of windmills at the roadside.

This is our second annual visit to t’Boshuis, one of a collection of party halls belonging to De Zandstuve in Zwolle. Last year we occupied this exact same holiday house on the date of my grandmother’s 85th birthday. This year, we delayed our visit to ensure all four brothers and their families could attend the reunion to celebrate Oma Rita’s birthday as well as the 60th of her oldest son. Like last year, we were the first to arrive after Oma and her partner (86 and has a boyfriend), Jaap. A year’s separation summarised in the matter of a few hours is the short-and-sweet style preferred by this side of the family. The venue provided dinner, over which abstract topics concerning work, politics, culture, football and all other things were discussed. One such conversation lingered on the topic of mistaken translation – the particular phrase being “splitting hairs”. This, initially used in context to convey that the subject was far too focused on insignificant or trivial detail, was then expressly translated into the dutch phrase of the same meaning, “mierenneuken”. I understood this conjunctive word to mean “ant” (mieren) and nuclear attacking or “nuking” (neuken). My literacy level was soon realised when I voiced my mistranslation: whilst I had understood the first section of the colloquialism, the second section translated to something less appropriate coughfuckingcough. Before my realisation of my mistake, I googled the latter for clarification but was unsuspectingly directed to a porn site which lead me to identify the minutiae in this figurative phrase.

It was great to learn the business of my relatives and see their friendly faces once again. There seemed not enough time to reacquaint ourselves with our company but thankfully we still had the morning to enjoy the company once more.

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