The Noord Brabant countryside

While we were recently visiting the Netherlands we set our home base in a quiet and soothing web of villages and farming fields in the Southern province of Noord-Brabant. During one of our rest days between trips I went for a walk, this time without a bike and I wanted to share some of the views and anecdotes.

A trailomg leading off from village road into a forest.
A trailomg leading off from village road into a forest.

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During the walk I saw people of all ages riding bikes: grumpy old women, smiling old women, road bikers, a young blonde women with a ponytail, a teenager riding his bike with his legs splayed as if they were sitting on a sofa. I was the only one on foot.

At one point as I was walking on the Belgian side, which was very close to where we were staying, and I noticed someone crouched on a harvested field. At first, I thought it was a farmer, but something was odd: he had a backpack and what looked like a metal detector. He also didn’t look like a farmer, wrong body frame and silhouette. Perhaps a freshly-minted farmer looking for a pipe1? I was looking at him indirectly, from the corner of my eyes because I didn’t know what to make of the situation, but I caught him also looking at me sneakily a couple of times. I greeted him with one hand, he shouted something that may have been a nonchalant “Hi” and started to raise his back. To wrap up this ceremony I approached him and we started talking, luckily for me, in English.

He told me he was looking for buried treasures. He first showed me his findings of the day: a coin-shaped pendant and 2 coins. Then he went to his black unmarked van to get his phone and show his most recent findings from the last few weeks: more coins, one from 1741, another from 1623, hair brushes, a mostly shapeless Celtic hairpin that he said should be more than 2,000 years old, a live rifle bullet from either WWI or WWII, a metal ball from a musket, rings, and a silver piece of jewelry that he brought to jeweler and confirmed that it had authentic diamonds worth 1,500€.

The conversation reached a natural stopping point and we said bye. We didn’t ask each other’s names, I won’t see him again, but for a few minutes, I felt connected to him through his passion for digging up treasures from the past.

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On the Belgian side, I had the impression that the houses looked different but I couldn’t really describe how, perhaps a darker tone, shorter? But I saw many houses on both sides that looked very well taken care of, both buildings and gardens.

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In one of the Belgian streets, I met a boy and two girls who were playing with a dog on a driveway. The girls were trying to prevent the dog from coming to greet me, while the boy was engrossed with something he had in his hands.

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Every time I’ve gone through the fields and forests in the area, it feels as if time becomes still. It’s a very peaceful area.


  1. I once had a farmer in Andorra come to my house to ask me if I had a metal detector because she had misplaced a pipe. I kid you not. ↩︎