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What would you do for bacon and beans?

by on January 4, 2010
 

That’s how the Dutch describe this event people like me, who come only to watch the proceedings….and not take part! We do it voor Spek en Bonen – for bacon and beans!

Yep, that’s me :-).

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Would you take a dip in ocean waters….at 0 degrees centigrade?

IMG_8870Would you? Well if yes, next year please head out to Scheveningen beach in The Hague, will ya?

IMG_8912As for me, I know I wouldn’t…..not yet anyway…However 25,000 people thought it was a great way to usher in the New Year and enjoy a cup of hot soup!

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The New Years dive (Nieuwjaarsduik) is a yearly event, held at exactly 12 noon on New Year’s day.

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The dive began in 1965 at the initiative of Jan van Scheijndel, who was an English Channel swimmer. In that year, seven people took part in the plunge. Over the course of time the New Year’s Dive has grown into a massive event and is sponsored by the Unox sausage factory. In 2007 the event had to be cancelled for the first time in 39 years due to bad weather conditions.

Anyone interested in participating…(or join in by watching from the beach itself – like me) buys a ticket (this year’s ticket cost 2 euros, of which 1 euro goes to charity) and is allowed entry to the beach, receives a bag which contains a trendy orange hat, orange mittens and a tin of Ertwensoep (pea soup)!

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Those who don’t buy a ticket watch from the promenade, good viewing too!

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#1 – The Dutch are crazy about their soup, Pea soup especially. If it is fresh, it is called Ertwensoep;

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if it is day-old, it is called Snert!

IMG_8585 IMG_8509IMG_8516IMG_8497IMG_8496 IMG_8441IMG_8873Either way, this is a winter specialty and almost a meal in itself. The thick blend of carrots, celeriac, potatoes, peas and smoked sausage can only pass the success test if a spoon can stand upright in it! It almost begs a new name for how can you call something soup that cannot be poured or drunk? The only way to avail yourself of its goodness is to ‘eat’ it up with a spoon!

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#2 No colour like Orange

On the beach, revellers, long before the ticking of the noon clock, partied to the sounds of music in a stage.

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For us who waited to get in line to join the masses, we could see hundreds of ‘orange heads’ bobbing up and down. Now, from what I know of ‘westerners’, colours are seasonal, so being clad in orange in the thick of winter is remarkable, perhaps not for the Dutch!

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Last year, I dragged my sister (who was visiting from Boston) and the kids and went off to watch the ‘show’. This year, I went sans kids (not wanting to put them through the freeze and the wind), accompanying my friend (and her Dad) who were taking the dive. She also bought my ticket 🙂 and I’ve considered taking part next year :-). Purely consideration…nothing else, yet!

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I was along purely for the photoshoot. Somehow the idea of bearing all to a crowd of strangers, while comforting didn’t quite hold sufficient appeal for me. Sorry!

IMG_8413#3 Various stages of preparedness

It was interesting to see how people react to the cold. While some were scantily clad and in bathrobes;

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others waited until the very last minute to strip off and dive. Its at this point I must say the Dutch are not alone in this craze. While we queued up to go in I hear all manner of asian languages, German, French and more. I saw badges even from as far away as Australia….though that’s not conclusive but…I’m sure there were Aussies amongst the crowd!

IMG_8321As soon as the clock heads close to noon, everyone counts down and there is a massive rush, destination: water! Bikinis, full dress, parents, children, grandmas and grandpas….no one is exempt…all at your own risk!

IMG_8449This is also the opportunity for fancy dress. Angels and Demons,…maybe even Cops and Robbers :-).

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In literally seconds, people have dived in and out. Some rush off to towel themselves off, out on the sand;

IMG_8437And others dash into the ‘great tent’, with enough room for thousands to warm and dress up!  (See I’m not the only one there for the photo-taking :-))!

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Even more pose….have their photos taken, preserve the historic moment!

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The whole time, Emergency services are circling and on high alert.

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And the ‘Soup Brigade’ is on stand-by, preparing to dish out loads of warm comfort to travellers…on return!

IMG_8384Of course, the nice and quiet scene above is only temporary…..just a few minutes later, the queues have begun, but have no fear, there’s always enough to go round!

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I depart amidst singing and dancing….another tick box!

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And that’s almost it…..

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As I left, I thought I was going mad….a woman who appeared to have taken part in the dunk was getting on her bike…..unbelievable. I had to stop her to clarify….and what comfort I drew from her words wasd reflected in the huge smile I shared, ‘Oh, just like me’ were the words I spoke!

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Maybe next year I’ll be bold enough to think like this?

IMG_8484On a great note,

1) I made my macarons today……all batches had FEET, amongst other things, hmmmm lips sealed till the week of January the 10th for Macattack3!

2) My camera/computer issues are resolved. Apparently, when I have over a couple of thousand photos on my memory card, there is a breakdown in communication between PC and camera. So, I spent all morning deleting loads of photos to bring it down below the threshold and now it works!!!!

Thanks for ALL your support. X O X O X O

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