We are on our way home from Leerdam, a journey that takes about an hour.
After a quick short-cut through the countryside and a ferry ride over the river, we find ourselves on the outskirts of Gouda. Naturally best known for it’s cheese, Gouda is a small Dutch city with a lot of history and only some of it to do with cheese.
The kids choose this moment to start wishing for breakfast and since we will be forced to get onto a motorway shortly for the last stretch home, and not looking forward to the prospect of any motorway service-stop for food, we decide to look for something in Gouda.
By chance just as we enter we spy a small park area with a tiny little building on one side of it…. it’s a lovely little place by the lock and there’s a sign that indicates it sells food. But it’s still early, will they be open yet? Himself and the kids go and investigate and come back smiling positively so we go in for brunch.
The “IJsselhuis Schipperswachtlokaal” (IJssel house, Captain’s Waiting-Room) was built in 1912 by the temperance movement with the express purpose of giving the captains of little ships an alternative place to sit and wait their turn for the lock to open.
Apparently until it was built, the only indoor places available to wait inside had been the local public houses and since the waiting times were often measured in hours, captains often developed alcohol problems.
The Captains of the many little freight barges and ships that plied the river IJssel also met every Friday evening at the Schipperswachtlokaal to exchange information over a (non-alcoholic) drink .
There is a famous Dutch expression that goes: ” Het nuttige (handel) werd hier met het aangename (drankje) verenigd“. Which translates as “The combination of useful things (trade) with nice things”.
I suppose the closest expression in English would be “to mix business with pleasure” and this was the aim here, so that Captains could enjoy talking about useful work things in a relaxed and alcohol free environment.
It’s a tad ironic therefore that these days you can order a a wine with your lunch if you wish…
The IJsselhuis, Schipperswachtlokaal is a minuscule slip of a building, roughly ” T ” shaped and beautifully restored inside to show off the character of the building, the wooden wall panels full of little cupboards and for the buildings size, and amazing number of windows letting in tons of glorious sunlight.
Let’s take a look around…