Olympic swimming champion Femke Heemskerk

Roelofarendsveen
Remarkable people ,

Experience your own story in Kaag en Braassem, just like Femke Heemskerk. Besides being a gold medal winner at the Beijing Olympics and world champion, she is also just from Roelofarendsveen, a small village in Kaag en Braassem. She tells her story ...

Roelofarends..?

'Where are you from?'
I always have to chuckle at that question…
'Roelofarendsveen', I say quickly.
'Where is that?', is the next question.
Many Dutch people don’t know our small village in the municipality of Kaag en Braassem. A few people know it from Big Brother Bart or because of the traffic reports on the radio. But we are and have much more than that! Since 2009 we have been the municipality with the most windmills, even more than Kinderdijk! I find that quite a lot for such a small town, as windmills are one of the greatest features of our country.

Warm bath

I travel all over the world. When I return to Roelofarendsveen, it always feels like slipping into a warm bath (the words of a true water baby). Obviously, I go to see my father in Café Jan Punt, where I lived upstairs for 18 years. The regulars are still the regulars. Now they say, "So Mrs Punt, you’ve dropped back in on Veen?".

Punt

Perhaps not everyone knows why many call it Café Jan Punt instead of Café Heemskerk. My grandfather resembled footballer Jan de Punt and because his name was also Jan, it just became Jan Punt. My father's name is Jan as well and when he took over the cafe he took over the name Jan Punt. As a joke, I was sometimes called Miss Punt. If you say it just right, it sounds like the Dutch word for rascal…

Small and cosy

My regular routine always includes a little walk around the Noordplein square. I love to see that virtually nothing has changed there. The same people, just a little older, a little greyer or with children.

The only thing that has changed is my own perception. Whereas before it was a big deal to go into the centre, now I find it so small and cosy. Also, what always strikes me is that the landscape is always so lovely and green. And not to forget the polders, although I must admit that I often cursed them when going to school on my bike ... You literally catch every gust of wind.

Party

We have the image of being farmers, but we do know how about organisation and doing business. Above all: we know how to celebrate! I was born on the 21st of September and the fair, which is always around that time, adds an extra dimension to my birthday. My personal best memory of the community is the homage that I received after the Beijing Olympics. At that time it was all quite overwhelming, but the reception was tremendous. I look back at all the photos with pleasure.


Photographs