A representative from JNA Group attended the ITS General Meeting Conference in the Netherlands this year. The common objective of preserving world heritage through thatching is shared between many different countries. Johan Oosthuizen found the experience thrilling, delving into the traditional thatching history and gathering valuable information to bring back and share with you. Below, you can read about his experience during this trip.
SUNDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2023
I excitedly embarked on my journey to attend the 7th ITS General Meeting Conference in the Netherlands.
MONDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2023
Nikki, a representative from Vakfederatie Rietdakkers (VFR), received me at Schiphol Airport, and together we went on an 80-kilometer drive to Veluwe Hotel de Beyaard, nestled between the charming towns of Harderwijk and Nunspeet. Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the hotel’s cafeteria, where we were treated to a performance by Dutch traditional dancers. Following a delicious Dutch meal and a full day of travel, it was time to go to bed. The next day brought a whole lot of exciting adventures to be ready for!
TUESDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER 2023
The bus departed, early morning, for a visit to the Zaans Museum, where the majestic windmills stand tall. We even had the privilege of exploring the interior of the Verfmeulen de Kat windmill. Following this, we stopped at the Henri Willig cheese shop, where we indulged in a cheese-tasting walkabout while gaining insights into the art of cheese-making. Our next adventure led us to the Wooden Shoe Workshop, where we witnessed the craft of creating the iconic ‘wooden clogs,’ locally known as ‘klompen.’
After lunch, we continued our journey to the Lovers Canal Cruises, the top-rated canal cruise experience in Amsterdam. Our boat navigated through the picturesque canals, taking us to Brouwerij’tij, where we had the chance to drink a local beer.
WEDNESDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2023
In the morning we visited one of the nearby homes where thatching was in progress, often referred to as ‘thatcher at work.’ We had the unique opportunity to observe the thatching process up close and even climbed onto the roof for a first-hand view. The skilled contractor responsible for this job was T. Reezight from Rietdekkersbedrijf.
Next, we proceeded to the Mariahoeve museum and explored the premises and workshop of Van Dijk Thatching. After lunch, we went for a stroll through the neighbourhood’s charming streets, allowing us to admire the diverse styles of thatched roofs in the area.
We were also introduced to a specialised fire truck with a unique trailer designed for tackling thatched roof fires. In the event of a fire on a thatched roof, this trailer is deployed to the scene, equipped with all the necessary tools and equipment to effectively combat the blaze and reach the top of the thatched roof.
THURSDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER 2023
We were off to Blaricummermeent! A neighbourhood with numerous thatched roofs. Next we went to Giethoorn, where rethatching of homes was in full swing. Exploring by foot in the various neighbourhoods was a great option, because you could take your own time viewing all the unique homes and their thatched roofs.
We saw a spacious storage unit, spanning approximately 19 meters in width at Lok Rietdekkers Bedrijf’s premises, owned by Bert Lok. We had the privilege of observing their machinery, and the process of reed cleaning, cutting, and storage.
FRIDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2023
The bus departed early morning for the Nederlands Openlucht Museum, allowing everyone the freedom to explore at their own pace until we reconvened for lunch at Farmers Lunch Castle farm de Vlasschuur. Upon returning to the hotel, an Olympic Games-style event awaited us. Each country was divided into teams, attempting to throw bundles of reed as far as possible. It’s worth noting that Team England emerged as the victors, with bundles measuring approximately 550mm in diameter, making the challenge quite difficult! The evening concluded with a BBQ dinner and live music to keep us entertained, providing a wonderful way to wrap up a week filled with activities and knowledge.
SATURDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2023
We travelled to Amsterdam by bus, and since my flight was scheduled for the following day, I opted to make the most of the opportunity. I spent the entire day exploring the city on foot, visiting its renowned landmarks, taking train rides, and even caught a Rugby World Cup game at a South African pub. Sunday morning arrived, marking time to return home.
Thank you, JNA Group for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime.
JNA Roofing Management
South Cape Branch