We have quit our jobs and sold our house. Here you can follow us on our travels.
Keeping up appearances
DHH owns the northern family house with a bunch of family. Every few years the clan gathers to celebrate each other and the grandparents who built the place back in 1930.
DHH’s maternal grandparents had five children, and when the seniors moved out four out of the five owned the house together for more than 30 years. Today only one of the four goes there on a regular basis, and most of the shareholders and stakeholders are found amongst Generation Three. One of them is DHH, who took over his mother’s part some 10 years ago.
When DHH grew up the island house was the epicentre of most of the family activity. The seven grandchildren mostly arrived in the late 50ties and early 1960ties, and one way or another five families were able to fit into the three extra bedrooms all at the same time. There was always space for the extra bed in the outhouse or in the barn, and there was always a tent or three put up in the yard. The Grandfather would moan and groan when he was disturbed during his afternoon nap and The Grandmother would shout at unruly kids who came in late for dinner, but still we like to think they were happy having company. For city kids it was heaven on earth wading the beach ambushing crabs, digging for snails or taking the rowing boat fishing. The sun never sets in summer, and school was a million miles away.
We have the same gatherings still, but not every summer. We had one in 2014, and now again in 2017. The grandchildren are a bit bigger, and not so far away from becoming grandparents themselves. Generation four has quite an age span, some of them have been regulars at these parties for a couple of decades while others are barely old enough to take up the habit of chasing crabs. Generation Three walk the floors and the fields feeling like elderly statesmen, hoping that some of the younger ones will love the place like we do and be willing to spend the time (not mentioning the money) it takes to keep it in good shape for another 30-40 years.
We are not quite top dogs though, because there are still a few from Generation Two in circulation. At this years party however, DHH’s father was the only one present. He came there as a future son-in-law in 1950, and he still goes there as often as he can.
As the cousins go, the group consists of The Tall Cousin (not very far from two metres) The Polite Cousin (one of the few people in the family who thinks before he talks) The Loud Cousin (a used car salesman, so there is nothing else to be expected) The Redhead Cousin (there used to be two girls in the group, but now she is the only one left) and The Baby Cousin (who is 44 by now, but he will always be the Baby for as long as any of the others are still alive).
The meetings have some rituals, many of them in the shape of taking pictures. There are some eternal motives that date back decades. There has to be some in front of the kitchen window, there has to be a group shot on the front door steps and most importantly, there has to be one taken with The Baby Cousin in a plastic bucket. Family traditions have to be kept up. Here, you can see some of them.
The staircase picture from the 1999 gathering, the year The Grandparents would have been one hundred years old.
The Baby Cousin first appeared in a bucket in 1977, age 4.
The Baby Cousin was so happy in the bucket that we could not get him out of it when the next picture was to be taken. Since then, he has stayed in there.
He was in there in 1999.
He was in there in 2014.
He was in there in 2017.
A new tradition is born. In 2017 we started to train a representative from Generation 4 to follow in his fathers bucket.
The Grandfather had a rowing boat that he acquired in the late 1940ties. It has been kept as a museum piece ever since, and it is in good enough shape to be used in a family rowing contest this year. This picture, showing some of the cousins in various tender ages, is from 1962.
DHH’s Father in action in the rowing contest, winning the age class of 90 plus with elegance.
A representative of Generation 4 trying to find out what is the back and what is the front of an ore.
The Tall Cousin and his son trying to find out how to manipulate the electronic time system so that they could both come out as overall winners.
The Tall Cousin later clamed that his time would have been much better if he had not had to row uphill.
The Loud Cousin being helped ashore after having gotten lost, rowing the wrong way past the nearby island. His brother is on the phone telling the coastguard search helicopters they would not be needed after all.
The poor old boat was left all by itself when the contest was over. However, it was still there the next day. It was then carried back to sleep in the barn for another five years till the next competition.
The Kitchen in 1991.
The Kitchen in 2017.
The Kitchen in 1999. Who can identify the only person present in all three shots? The first to send DHH an email on the subject gets a free beer.
In 2017, Generation 4 was given the responsibility of making dinner!
The Loud Cousins handing out prizes after the contest.
In 2017 there was not enough space and tents to put up everybody in the family house. The Redhead Cousin, who has her own holiday home close by, volunteered to let some of us stay at her place.
The Loud Cousin lives up to his name by occasionally playing the guitar and trying to sing. The audience, when given the chance, does it’s best to escape.
The Tall Cousin practising what he will do if he ever sees or hears that guitar again!
The Loud Cousin’s daughter trying to improve daddy’s hairstyle. It did not really help.
Ladies at midnight.
The Grandfather around 1970. His 50 years working land and sea was more work than play.
The Grandfather with The Tall and The Polite Cousin in 1962.
Generation Two gathered at the house to help work the land. This is a coffee break, 1964.
The Used Cars salesman, anno 1964, learning how to walk away from unhappy customers.
Most of the Cousins in 1969. The Blond Cousin had gone missing, and the Baby cousin was still not around.
On the kitchen stairs in 1970. The Tall Cousin and the Polite Cousin with various aunts.
The Loud Cousin and the Blond Cousin, 1969.
The camping ground, 1969. This is how we all got a place to sleep.