You know how when you have a bit of a banter with your enemy, then they’re not your enemy any more? Like when people all cram into your house of their own doing, it ain’t so nice. But as soon as you find, for whatever reason, that it can be fun, then, hey, it’s a different kettle of fish, right?
Here on Walcheren, especially in Middelburg, you’ll often hear the joking question about what are the two strongest points of Vlissingen? Answer: Number One, the Boulevard. Number Two, the road heading up to Middelburg. The second one doesn’t count any more, though you’ll still hear it. The Vlissingen Boulevard still exercises a powerful pull on anyone who’s ever been there: the ships passing so close by, and the promenade and bathing beach.
For decades in Vlissingen someone has kept the discussion going about the in-your-face bunker we all know. Their passion in life was to keep a certain slogan legible for one and all. It was never meant to be hateful, but a playful piece of positivity, seeking to build a bridge. To the best of my knowledge, the Council of Vlissingen never lifted a finger to remove ‘Zimmer Frei’ [Room to Let, in German – Ed.]
Way back when, the main reason we welcomed foreign visitors in Zeeland was financial. But from that grew some really great friendships. The world was getting smaller then, and Zeeland more aware of the world – a remarkable phenomenon.
Most people were ‘simple country folk’. At least until 1970, they were rather introvert and couldn’t get a handle on these weird people from afar. What they call ‘snoeshaan’ in Dutch, or ‘a rummun’ over the sea in East Anglia.
Myself, I come from Serooskerke and four of my old village schoolmates are married with German beauties. They’ve lived and worked for years in hospitable Germany.
Bert van Leerdam
The bunker on the Boulevard in Vlissingen