Year 2021

Ernst & Sylvia: Annual Report 2021

For us, the year began with our registration in the municipality of Ooststellingwerf.

We had to affix the mezuzot without any guests because of Covid rules.

This was followed by several months of unpacking boxes and the many administrative tasks involved in an international move, like having all our vehicles examined for Dutch approval.

We bought a garden fence that we found on the web and adapted it. Now Motek can walk freely into the garden, without us having to worry about him going too far.

We also caught up on some backlogged medical care. The lockdown did not bother us much because we did not have time to go out anyway. However, we did make some trips to Oostmahorn to get some stuff from Hans' ship before she was sold.

Among other items was a ham transceiver, which Hans donated to Ernst. This stimulated Ernst to start studying for a full license as radio amateur. (Exam in May 2022.) On our way to Oostmahorn we also visited the manifestation in Morra where attention was asked for the fate of child refugees.

Purim was celebrated virtually. The first on line dressing up party we have ever experienced!!

We also celebrated Pesach en famille, because of Covid.

In 2020 we already had most of the ground floor painted, but the corridor and staircase followed in May this year.

As you cannot let a dog walk over wet stairs, we decided to leave the painter alone and take the camper van on the road ourselves. The planned weekend in Bodenheim could not take place because of Corona, so it became a tour of the Netherlands, a.o. in Lottum followed by a motorhome meeting in Vijfhuizen.
 Also in May Ernst passed the medical test to renew his HGV driving license. He now should wear correcting lenses whenever he drives a heavy vehicle.

In May we had drinks and meals on a terrace for the first time since long, in Wolvega, where Ernst went to an optician to buy the necessary glasses. He decided to have Enchroma lenses. These should compensate for his colour-blindness. It remains to be seen how well it works, but it does give him an interesting hippie look.

In the villages of Ooststellingwerf, fibre optic cable is once again being offered, and of course we signed up again. In the remainder of the year, the ducts have been laid and early next year the fibre-to-the-home should really be a fact.

At the end of June - with two Corona shots each - we drove  to Bodenheim. In the picture: the well-organised vaccination station of our regional health office.

In Bodenheim we attended the wedding of Wolfgang and Anja. José took care of Motek during our absence, thanks for that!

The summer holidays we also spent in Germany, with Peenemünde as our final destination. After a rainy start, the weather turned out fine!

On our way to the ferry across the river Elbe we even met one of the trucks of our fellow villager.

Our favourite ferry-restaurant in the river Oste, the Ostekieker (website in German).

One of the exhibits of the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum: the V2 rocket, which sowed death and destruction in London from September 1944 to March 1945. This technical masterpiece by Wernher von Braun killed between 9 and 10,000 people, in addition to 12,000 forced labourers who died during production.

In September we had another motorhome meeting in Bodenheim, preceded by a visit to the Caravansalon in Düsseldorf under strict Corona safety measures. There we bought a soft close lock (site in German) for the van as well as a lithium auxiliary battery (site in German), which we could collect after Bodenheim in Sprendlingen. That's how you get around!

On our way back, we picked up this picturesque hitchhiker - an apprentice carpenter in his Journeyman years. Just imagine, that this outfit has been around for hundreds of years!

Ernst wanted to fit his motorbike with a crash bar, and of course they were not available for this vintage Triumph Bonneville America. There is only one solution: have them designed and made by Metaalbewerking Heemskerk (site in Dutch) in Warmond.

To be able to take the bike behind the camper van, we bought a second-hand trailer. As a result, the big trailer which we used for moving house could be sold. We succeeded within 30 minutes and sold it to a couple who are moving to Germany.

Meanwhile, Ernst was suffering from dizziness. Was it because of phasing out medication, low blood pressure or epilepsy? All kinds of examinations followed, but without a clear answer.

He even once tripped over and landed on his forehead....

Until, in October, he felt so bad that, early on a Sunday morning, he was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Drachten. There the diagnosis was quickly made: "Sir, there is a loose wire. You will get a pacemaker the day after tomorrow, because we always do that on Tuesdays."

That turned out to be the ultimate solution to many problems! Again we were happy with the pleasant atmosphere in hospital Nij Smellinghe (site in Dutch)

End of November we first drove to Stadskanaal to have a look at Monument 21 (AKA Monument Drenth - link in Dutch) and then to Bourtange for the lighting of the chanukia by chief rabbi Jacobs.

Because the chanukia, as seen from the audience, was placed in mirror image, we went to stand on the other side. Result: we are on all the photos with our white dog and even made it to the photo page of the Dutch Jewish weekly and even to a regional television station.

The other nights we lit at home.

Two weeks later, our Motek fell ill: gastrointestinal infection. The antibiotics, prescribed by the vet, appeared to have unwanted side effects. After a week of not eating, we had a very weak dog. Therefore the vet was able to take a blood sample and his temperature - rectally, for the first time in Motek's life. New antibiotics and a special diet made him recover quickly. Of course, at 12 years old, he is an old gentleman and we will have to see how he gets on.

The year also was marked by phasing out activities in Germany. Ernst left the board of the Jewish Community in Oldenburg (site in German) and of the Society for Christan-Jewish Co-operation.  He only had to be back there for an annual gathering and the Oldenburg exhihibition within the framework of "1700 Years of Judaism in Germany", in the preparation of which he was involved.

The last German tax return was filed. In July we visited our former neighbours in Sage-Haast. It was good to see them again.

In the course of 2021, Sylvia also picked up a new hobby: cooking according to the (lower carb) recipes of Puur Figuur (site in Dutch). The results so far are wonderful: Ernst: -/- 10 kg (22 lbs) and Sylvia: -/- 5 kg (11 lbs)! And all meals taste delicious. The downside is that the preparation is quite laborious.

Have we settled in yet? Well, we are now members of two neighbourhood associations and the Haulerwijk historical society. And Sylvia became a member of a local walking group.

There is good contact with our neighbours, which was also apparent from all the help that was offered when Ernst was in hospital. We have just received our booster vaccination in Zuidhorn, from us a 30' drive through the countryside.

We hope very much that next year we will be able to spread our wings a bit more and explore the area. 
New Year’s eve we'll spend at a motorhome site, where there are no fireworks. Quiet for us and not frightening for Motek.

From our Dutch home in Friesland, we wish you all a happy and healthy 2022. Let's all keep our spirits up!