Our dear Dutch friends took us to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, known usually as Den Bosch which means ‘The Forest’, so I have just learned. The long form means The Duke’s Forest and there was an actual duke associated with it – Henry I of Brabant. Our friends live in North Brabant and Den Bosch is the regional capital. Probably its most famous resident, more famous globally than Henry I, was Hieronymus Bosch. Dem Bosch is known for many other things as well as Hieronymus, principally and most deliciously, bossche bollen which are like giant profiteroles – of course we had to sample some to see if they were as good as we remembered them from last time we visited.
We visited the cathedral of Sint-Jan which was magnificent and had wandered along, taking photos as we went. It seemed about time to have coffee; we had wandered into a very large square, possibly where markets were held, I’m not sure, but a large, empty paved area. There were shops and bars around and we decided on a place which appealed, sitting outside in the warm sunshine beneath large parasols.
We ordered our lunch and sat, chatting, and relaxing. This was a classy sort of a place, with elegant people taking lunch… and us, the country cousins! A very large orange lorry drew up and backed towards the terrace where we sat. Two large working gentlemen jumped out, no doubt to make a delivery or so we thought… so we two English visitors thought, our friends and the other patrons knew otherwise and there was much chuckling, and joking comments called to the two beefy gents who were opening the back of the lorry,
The pulled out… a large hose and proceeded between the tables and into the bar and we could see them march up the curving wooden stairs… they were coming to unblock a toilet!! Because the city is so ancient and most of it escaped both damage from the war and developers, access to utilities can be tricky. No-one seemed anything other than amused by it, and when the two burly blokes returned with their hose winding back onto the big reel in the lorry, there was more good-natured banter.
Job done, the two men climbed back into their shiny orange vehicle and drove off and we continued to eat our lunch.