A hidden gem and a surprise at the same time: that is the fisherman’s cottage of Majutte. The ideal place for you to immerse yourself in the Blankenberge visserscultuur of yesteryear.
A stone’s throw from the dike in Blankenberge is the House of Majutte. Hidden in a maze of little streets between the towering apartment buildings you can find the oldest fisherman’s cottage on the Belgian coast. Used to be a house of sailors and their families, now a cosy pub with local specialities on the menu and an array of museum-worthy stuff to the wall.
The picturesque façade lets all guess what you can expect: the fairy-tale house takes you immediately centuries back in time. Peter Gadeyne and Lena Beernaert bought the house last year and blew it after 20 years of vacancy, re-live in. “We wanted to own both to do something differently in our lives,” says Peter, who has more than 30 years in education. “This seemed to us, Blankenbergenaars in heart and soul, an ideal shift.’
Far from an old cabinet
Through a small wooden door, you come through the hall, relax in the café. The small bar and several tables eyes cozy and inviting. Peter and Lena find that small-scale important, and the size of the cottage, do not let otherwise. Down they get 12 people, upstairs there are about 30 places. “We are very strict in how many people we let in,” says Peter. ‘Full is full. We must take into account the strength of the house. Too many people over, it would sometimes error can happen.’
Peter is a real do-it-yourselfer. He recycles like furniture to give them a second life. So hanging the menu card outside on the terrace against the wall, each dish is written on a rung of an old bootladdertje. ‘From an old cabinet still stood, I myself have a lift. Via a simple lifting system, I can easily orders, from bottom to top.”
The kitchen is a beautiful cohesion between the old and the new. The decrepit tweepansvuurtje that in stroke is remained, do not use them for cooking, but it creates now only a picture of how people in the past had to cook. ‘The fishermen who lived here, often had a kroostrijk family’, it sounds. “Can you imagine that here for 14 man cooking?’ Difficult. A new kitchen install proved for the operators than not an unnecessary luxury.
Through a narrow staircase, you arrive on the upper floor, and jumps immediately, a strange wooden statue in the eye: the villain Roesschaert. ‘The fishermen were very superstitious people,” explains Peter. “The legend tells that here in Blankenberge a teaser himself that accident brought. As he could fishing let it fail or the boats to capsize.’ To have all that adversity to get around, gave the fishermen themselves a nickname. Hence the name of the house: the family Debruyne was the last vissersgezin that here lived, and they called themselves the Majuttes.
Everything you encounter has something to do with the Blankenberge fishing. Of small gadgets, such as knitting needles for fishing nets – that customers bring to stables to books that are next to the bar are to read. Peter and Lena themselves have no connection with it. Or at least not directly. But at the cottage, hanging something on the wall for them to connect with it. Under the ridge of the roof shows off a large painting that the Belle Epoque of the grand display. “My great-grandfather, Jules Gadeyne, this has 1900 painted’, it sounds. In the painting, next to the casinos and the villas are also a small betaalloket to see. “It sounds impossible now, but in the past people had to pay to get the beach on to may,” says Peter. ‘Those who wanted to swim, had a ticket to buy.’ Something that we today hardly can imagine. ‘All the city in one fell swoop, financially very good advocate’, he laughs.
The terrace at the rear of the cottage is now surrounded by walls, but in the past you looked from there, right on the sea. And to have that feeling back and to recall a life-size picture of the dunes against the wall. ‘This gives our customers an idea of how two hundred years ago it was to be up here,” says Peter. Also the toilets are only a later addition to the terrace. ‘The Blankenbergenaars were formerly also called the dunezeikers called’, he laughs. “A toilet, they had not needed, everyone did their need just in the dunes.’
Even though many a resident of the seaside resort of the cottage do not know, it still has a few decades ago in the viewer stood in the novel Unmasked by Pieter Aspe. In that story there in the pekelput, where the fish were kept, a dead body is found. Today, that pit is no longer in use, but visitors can still, of course, plastic – skeleton. Also the snelzeiker (a pair of pants with a hole that fishermen’s wives and farmers ‘ wives used to get just during their work, to be able to urinate), and the lollepot (a small heater where women used to their legs with it warmed) create a great deal of interest among the visitors.
Also the local specialities on the menu Majutte all the glory. So they offer next to fish soup also slufferkoeken, a dish similar to French toast. “I’ve made the recipe found in an old book that each newlywed couple from Blankenberge used to house got,” says Peter. “In there are all kinds of use and receptjes, typical for this region.’ Also the green herbal drink that they serve is pretty good in the taste. The name of that liquor, Stientje Chervil, depends to a myth. ‘Stientje Bogaert lived here in the city, and was seen as a witch, what it sounds like. “People were sincerely afraid of her, so would she, for example, children have made ill just by them touching it.’ A combination of all the delicacies they present love to their customers on a plateau that is the name Majutte Trutte bears. And, of course, dominated for all thirsty beer lovers the beer Kokketeute on the menu.
Although there are in the vicinity of the Breydelstraat, a few centuries ago, 66 fisherman’s cottages were, there are now only two remained. The house of Majutte and one on the other side of the street. All the others were in the course of the years, demolished to make way for new buildings. ‘There was, however, just as speculation about a possible reduction of our cottage,” says Peter. “They wanted the stone for stone break off and return to build in Bokrijk, but that is fortunately not continued.’
In Majutte don’t you just have something to eat or drink. A visit to the cottage – it’s also a museum you can call it – is a whole experience. Behind it all lies a story. On 18 march were Peter and Lena during a solemn celebration in the casino, the cultural prize of Blankenberge. And that is now on display on the upper floor of the cottage. ‘We think it’s a great honor that the participating organisations are just our thought for the price,” says Peter proudly. If you’re lucky Majutte to find it, never let it be more from his heart!, a spell outside on the terrace to read and is not lying. Who the cottage has visited, promising herself to be back soon.
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