The Low Countries are Holland, and they are also Belgium. These are small countries that are not Germany, not France, but some kind of curious combination of the two. Their flags are not triumphs of originality, instead just the French flag and the German flag, on their sides. As the name suggests, the Low Countries are low and are essentially at war with the sea, which threatens to flood them out of existence. But for the time being, they are still there and trying to stay positive. Climatically, they are not blessed. They are often grey and rainy, a look not aided by the general featureless topography. As a result, they have traditionally turned to making lace, chocolates, growing tulips and eating pancakes to take their mind off all the greyness. But these days, they also surf to stay stoked.
Yannick de J. All photos: Alex Laurel
Holland gets more surf than Belge, they say. Basically, you want it to blow an absolute houlie from the north in the North Sea, and waves will appear in the Low Countries. The breaks are basically beaches with jetties, and some serious sand pumping construction sites also turn on a wee baz from time to time. If you still don’t believe us, have a peep at Yannick de Jager’s Stories from Here to There.
“There’s only two things in this world I can’t stand,” Austin Powers’ dad (Michael Caine) famously uttered in Gold Member, “People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch!” In real life, the Dutch are great. They are renowned for being tight fisted, but then, in these austere times, is that such a bad thing? Probably not. Womenfolk are often tall, and strong. Do not immediately think of prostitutes and fat chronic blunts when you think of the Netherlands. That is so 1990’s. These days, stag do’s go to Eastern Europe, or Vegas, so I hear. Coffee shops and whoreys are all but gone, and the place wants a less seedy brand of tourist. As for Belgians, all I know is that SE’s French Ed Archi used to say he was a Belge when he lived in Australia as a mineral water salesman and the French were nuking the South Pacific (bad for sales). And it certainly never did him any harm.
Yannick de Jager, Lars Musschoot and Sam Lamiroy are the Low Countries’ most awesome shred cats to date, although Sam Lam emigrated to England.
Nosh: Pancakes, Space cake, chips, beer
Litre unleaded 95: €1.68
Their hero: Hercule Poirot (Belgium) Peter of Haarlem (Holland)
Useful expression: “Neuken in de keuken” (sex in the kitchen)
Fact: Belgians quaff 300 pints of beer per person/year… respect.