We didn’t realise that there was such a place as Friesland until we were sitting in a radio station foyer getting a crash course in Frisian, about 10 minutes before we were scheduled to be on air. Actually, we spent a whole week in Friesland back in 2012 surrounded by people speaking Frisian (and Sneekers**) while we remained in complete oblivion. So culturally sensitive, we are. The radio interview went well and we hoped that listeners enjoyed Camilla’s chirpy “Goo yuh midjuh!” enough to convince them to head to Stania State – an ultra plush stately home where we were to perform that night.
The property was like something out of a Jane Austen novel, but we rolled up in our smelly tour vans looking like street kids from Oliver Twist. After a quick scrub up we came out sufficiently presentable to blend in with our plush surroundings and sat down to an amazing meal.
The venue was sold out and the sea of grey heads nodded along to every beat, laughed at every joke and were politely supportive of Camilla’s attempt at the most difficult sentence in the Frisian language that a man had taught her in the set break.
The Frisian flag. The red things are not love hearts, but water lily leaves, I’m told.
We stumbled back to our B&B hosted by a lovely couple with the unlikely but cheerfully percussive names of Klaas Klasses and Klaske Klasses (spelling guessed).
Food, glorious food!! A beautiful breakfast spread put on by Mr and Mrs K.
The next day we had nothing on, so while the rest of us were listlessly wandering around Sneek*, Lear and Rosalie went off to a town an hour away to get the fridge in their camper van replaced. Lear and Rosalie spent the entire day hanging around while the tradies tinkered away. Apparantly, the old gas fridge was lacking an exhaust and the tradie told the happy campers that he was surprised they hadn’t died of carbon monoxide poisoning already. He also added as a little side note that the total cost of the work done would be €2,000. It wasn’t their best moment. By 7pm we were all together again in Sneek drowning our sorrows with pizza and Lambrusco. Lear summed it all up in a nutshell when he said, with great composure and wisdom, “We have highs, and we have lows”.
It is entirely possible that the only thing that kept enough oxygen in the atmosphere to sustain our dear friends was the little flowering plant above the bed of their camper van.
In total, they spent 15 hours waiting at the fridge mechanics and totalled 6 hours of driving to and fro over three days. Thankfully the final cost came short of €2,000 – but not by much. On the plus side, ice cold milk has never tasted so good.
*We were told by our booking agent Dave, a British ex-pat and Sneek local to pronounce it like “snake”, but we eventually worked out that that only works with a thick Newcastle (“Geordie”) accent like his, and in our native tongue, it’s best to think of it as “Cairns” backwards.
**Sneekers – the local dialect of Sneek, which is a blend of Frisian and Dutch.
On the final day of the fridge saga, the rest of us were sound checking for a gig that night in a community centre in Oppenhousen. It was a do-you-own-sound type of affair and the PA provided seemed pretty good except for one or two dicky leads, or so it seemed. After three hours of frustration, the count was up to 10 dead leads and 2 dead “fold back” speakers. It only takes 12 leads to run a PA!! Thankfully we were able to borrow enough extra leads to get the show up and running.
The show was to be broadcasted live on the internet and family members back home had set their alarm clocks for 6am for some early morning entertainment. It was fun to give a shout out to Lenny, Della, Lali and Mitzi and we felt just like we were on Good Morning Australia with Kerri-Anne Kennelly.
The next morning we awoke far too early to the sound of our bleeping alarms. 10am check out was not designed for musicians. We went to settle the bill for our brief hotel stay, and the man informed us that on top of the nightly rate, we would be charged €20 as “tourist tax”. Searching his face for a grin or a mischievous glint in the eye proved fruitless, it slowly sank in that this was not, in fact, a joke.
Our next gig was back over the other side of The Netherlands (a breezy 2 hour drive) and while on the road I whipped out GarageBand on my fancy telephone, plugged it into the car stereo and we wrote a hit song together. It’s very catchy, but not really in our style, so we are thinking about selling it to The Black Eyed Peas.
Lear in character as Stampycat Longnose on the drive to Zevenaar.
The gig was not too far from Aalten, so we were to stay with our new friends the Ruesinks again. It was great to hang out with them all in a relaxed setting when they were free of the responsibilities of running the fair.
Arriving at De Lantaern Musik Kafé a little late, we screeched to halt, jumped out, and whipped open the trailer ready for the fastest setup ever only to find that a bottle of apple juice had come open and spilled all through the trailer. It was pretty devastating seeing all our merch and camping gear soaked with juice at the bottom of a tightly packed trailer, but one of the good things about being a blogger, is that every disaster has a silver lining – the bigger the problem, the better the story. So while the other guys were cleaning the trailer with heavy hearts (let’s be honest – only Camilla did any actual cleaning), my mind was buzzing with potential cheesy headlines like PCJFB IN STICKY SITUATION. Quality journalism.
The gig was another success. Then back across the country to play in Sneek town square for a council funded gig – there’s our tourist tax coming right back at us!
That afternoon we went back to Dave and Greet’s place to watch The Netherlands play Mexico in a nail biting World Cup match that saw the Dutch come out on top at the very last minute. Dave and Greet have been extremely helpful in so many ways, and Matilda got along so well with Greet that we had to keep an eye on them in case Matilda wanted to be adopted out to her new Dutch friend.
We were invited on a boat ride by a man named Siedy – who was a fan of the band and is now a friend (next he’ll be playing bass for us!). Siedy took us on his beautiful sloop to see Friesland the proper way – by water, through the canals around Sneek city and then out to an island for a picnic. It was so relaxing and fun and no one got seasick when he let me skipper.
Camilla doing an impromptu display of cowgirl yoga ballet while we docked on a small island.