This past Whitsun weekend a delegation of around sixty regulars and staff of ‘In de Wildeman’ went to Beeston near Nottingham, to celebrate the thirty year anniversary again. ‘In de Wildeman’ has long been “twinned” with Neil Kelso’s pub, now The Victoria Hotel: he turned sixty that weekend and it turned out to be a touching, legendary weekend.
Yes, I love ‘In de Wildeman’, call it my #Kluphuis and am of the personal opinion that this Beer Tasting room is the normative bar of the Netherlands. Apart from the other regulars it is a phenomenal pub which oozes, especially when it comes to craft beer, an atmosphere that is of refreshing equality. An equality where otherwise the average English pub is known for: class society or not, workman and lawyer brotherly stand at the bar with a pint and a discussion. When one leaves the room it is again ‘You’ instead of ‘you’ immediately. So it has always been. So it will always be. The equality of In de Wildeman is mostly found when it comes to beer: lager or RIS, they have it, and you order what you find tasty. You’re not ‘more’ to measure if you prefer extreme beers.
The Victoria Hotel is not a hotel: a former waiting room and lounge along the railway to The North it is, and now a rather fantastic pub with a bewildering range of drinks in all areas. Of course you can eat here as well and the menu goes beyond our ‘eet café’ level amply, both for choice as well as for value for money. Without any problems the kitchen staff catered to about eighty diners who were all, after a grandiose excursion to Chatsworth House (where the Seventeenth Duke of Devonshire resides) and the microbrewery Peak Ales Derbyshire, ordering a la carte. I was impressed with this and strongly recommend you to pay The Vic a long visit.
But why was this weekend so legendary? Not only from the Netherlands patrons and (former!) Staff of In de Wildeman traveled to Beeston, there were also Englishmen from all corners of the country. The fraternity and warmth was almost palpable, as was the solidarity – they were almost the incarnate feather in the cap of Henk Eggens and Els van der Linden, who once started In de Wildeman. Of course, the team of Kluphuis, for years now under the leadership of Simon Fokkema, plays a decisive hand in it too. And although we will have to make do with many of these bunglers (especially the recent recruitments are of a depressing level), I would not want to live without them. In de Wildeman has been Pub of the Year for me for years, so to speak. The Vic illustrated this with a wonderful party, a beautiful cake and great live music. Henk and Els received it with a proper tear. My God, I love those people.
In his closing speech Nick Kelso, the ‘twin’ of The Vic, used approximately the same words. But he hit the nail hard on the head with the dry observation that “politicians should do whatever they want, even if a Brexit comes they will not stop our connectedness. Indeed, weekends like these show why Brexit is the stupidest idea ever: we belong together “Sic transit gloria mundi … And so we go back to the Netherlands, strengthened by a unifying experience. Also at In de Wildeman worker and lawyer stand rubbing each other, often in the person of the Butcher and Lawyer. And although I’m done with that butcher and his filthy dog, I’m afraid I might fly him to the neck when I meet him at the bar again.