The surroundings of Gouda

And now for something completely different

We leave the hustle and bustle of the big city (populace: 67.500) behind us and go to the countryside.
Let's do it one step at a time.
First we go to Schoonhoven.
As Gouda is famous for its cheese, Schoonhoven is famous for its hemp.
Hemp was weighed and redistributed from the 'Hennepwaag' in the middle-ages

Are these the 'Doors of Perception?'

As Hemp went out of style they mended their ways and changed to silver. Schoonhoven a.k.a. Silvercity, best known for its jewelry and decorative silverware.

Did all of Schoonhoven turn its back to Hemp. No, one little pub kept the old trade going and weighing there is still business as usual.

Even Schoonhoven is too big for us now and we descend further into rurality. We'll go to Oudewater were weighing went on as well.
Here they used to weigh witches under the all-seeing eye (?) of Justitia in the little building on the right

And, either because of their great honesty or their great bribability never found a witch guilty. Witches all over Europe flocked to Oudewater to get weighed and many stayed.

This might explain the rather strange populace. The great Dutch writer Herman de Man said this about them:

There lives an army of weird types, perhaps even more than in our big cities. They are awkward, warped day-laborers, chappies like scarred willows, sailors on dry land, twisted bridge-anglers, handicapped, funny spendthrifts and boozers, grim cantankerous men, a rock-star who is of his rocker, a god-fearing anarchist, a half-baked self-made vicar, zealous blasphemers and an incredible bunch of Monday-men called 'Gin with a Lump', 'Head and Tail', 'Nol the Bear', 'Niggerbelly' and 'Johnny'.

A nice lot of course, but they can get on your nerves. If this is the case I advise the REAL country with its sheep, its horses, its cows and its sweet, little (and incredibly polluted) river 'De Vlist'.