For some time now they have been busy renovating the station in the center of Almere. Everything should be finished by next spring. Where at first you could walk through pedestrian tunnels over wooden floorboards to the platforms, these were later demolished to make way for fences and other barriers. They are still very busy rebuilding. You can’t see how far the process is, but you can hear they’re busy, and sometimes you can smell it. When a grinder is going through steel or metal. The penetrating smell that is released takes me back to my childhood in my parents’ birth place Sneek.
In my memory I spent every vacation in Sneek as a child. When I came home from school on Friday afternoons before the vacation, we immediately took the bus to the Afsluitdijk and then traveled through the Frisian countryside to my grandmother. My grandmother lived in a small house in the Ubbo Emmiusstraat and in the back of my grandmother’s house was a large machine factory and there was always that sharp penetrating smell of burned metal. Occasionally you could find small pieces of metal, similar to steel shavings. The kind of things you pick up as a little boy to look at and then throw away carelessly.
Grandma not only lived near the Hubert Machine Factory, but also near the Wilhelmina Park. This city park was located on the other side of the Franeker canal. The park was laid out in 1898. It was designed at the time in the English style by garden architect Gerrit Vlaskamp. What I do remember is that there was an island that could be reached by a small bridge and there was also a specially designed bench for the ‘elderly’ in the style of the early last century. Just like the large aviary, where exotic birds and squirrel monkeys lived. Peacocks walked stately across the many fields. They were beautiful to see, but horrible to hear.
I understand that the park is still in its original condition. Of course, bridges and the like have been replaced with safe ones, but the park is still as it was designed in the late nineteenth century. The park takes you back in time about a hundred years. It seems to me a nice place to relax and on a sunny day it must be wonderful to sit there. I have to travel to Friesland soon, because it’s not wrong reminiscing. Or better, to create new memories.