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A stall fit for a queen

April 30th, 2010

Filed under: LIFESTYLE


A royal stall minder

On Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag), that is 30 April every year, the country goes orange crazy. It’s the birthday of the former Queen Juliana, and has been a national holiday for 30 years today. Traditionally, the current Queen (Beatrix) and her family will visit a province where local games will be played and the people of the area get to shake hands with the royal family and the monarchy gets to be among their subjects. (Last year, a terrible tragedy took place during the Queen’s Day celebrations in Appeldorn where a crazed so-called subject drove his car into the crowd and killed 6 people and eventually died himself.)
Another tradition is the Vrij Markt, or Free Market, which means any man, woman or child can set up a market stall and sell a load of crap. Sometimes nice stuff gets sold. I have spent the last 4 years marvelling at the amount of useless bibs and bobs that people sell; I’ve heard urban legends of €500 margins in a single day. Well, my takings were considerably more humble, even if my goods were much better quality than some of my fellow stall holders. The company was great because we did have prime position, right in the middle of town and out of the wind and rain.
And my did it rain and blow! But it was fun, and our kind neighbours from the Landschap bookshop lent us some plastic wrap to cover my racks of clothes while the Spring-storm passed over. And when the sun came out after lunch, Frank (the landlord of this diamond real estate) opened his apartment doors and set up a little cocktail table with drinks and snacks, and played 1960s lounge music for our stall visitors.
I was thrilled with my €70 reward for 7 hours’ work. Not only did I offload about a 1/3 of the clothes I was going to give to the second hand shop, I got to practice my haggling and Dutch skills (both very handy in this country) and hang out with my fellow (also Dutch) stall holders. We band of pedlars have plans afoot next year for an organic terrace regaled with chairs/tables/parasols, with a German slager band with original (Dutch) lyrics to be written by Frank. Should be hilarious. Pencil it in your diaries: corner Keizersgracht and Kleineberg, Eindhoven on 30 April 2011. I’ll be there with even more wares to peddle, that’s for sure.

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