A Life in a Year – 8th August, South Holland District Council and Tulips

In 2000, after ten years working in the private sector in the waste management industry  I volunteered for redundancy and started to look for alternative employment.  I was fortunate to get a job back in local government and on 8th August I started work at South Holland District Council.

When I was a boy I used to like to do jig-saw puzzles (this was a year or two before Nintedo and Gameboy you will understand) and I can remember having a set of two that were about flowers.  The first was the Battle of the Flowers in Jersey and the second was the Spalding Tulip Parade.  As I put those puzzles together on the dining room table I could not have possibly foreseen that nearly thirty-five years later I would move to Spalding to work at South Holland District Council and have the pleasure of helping to prepare and deliver that Parade and neither could I have imagined either that nearly forty years later (give or take a year or two) that I would have the very great privilege to welcome delegates from across the World to the World Tulip Summit in Spalding.  And believe me this was a real privilege because you don’t get that many World Summit meetings in Spalding

Actually there are quite a lot of World Summits across the globe each year and as I looked around to see what other sort of enthusiasts were meeting up at the same time in 2008 I was interested in these examples:

  •  Mountain Bikers World Summit – Berlin (that wouldn’t work very well in South Holland on account of the land being so flat)
  • Adventure Travel World Summit – Brazil & Norway
  • Knowledge Society World Summit – Athens

 But my favourite just has to be the World Toilet Organisation Summit in Macau .  I can’t help thinking that I bet the delegates get to listen to a load of crap.

My research informs me that there are three South Holland’s across the world.  The first and the original is not surprisingly in the Netherlands.  The second is a village in Chicago in the USA, which like Lincolnshire’s South Holland has its origins with Dutch farmers and settlers.

During the Second-World-War the Dutch Royal Family took shelter in Canada and after the war the Netherlands sent gifts of tulips that helped promote the famous annual Ottawa tulip festival.

The name Tulip was first applied to the plant by a man called Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was a Dutch ambassador in Turkey in the sixteenth century and was also a great floral enthusiast.  One day he was talking to a sultan and he noticed that he was wearing an attractive flower in his headwear.  When I say talking what I mean is that they were communicating with each other in the way that people do when they can’t speak each others language with lots of funny faces and wild gesticulations.  Busbecq was curious about the flower and pointed to it and enquired its name.  In Turkey the name of the flower was a Lale but the Sultan tought he meant what is the name of his hat so he told him it was a Tulipan or turban and Busbeqc, who completely misunderstood, acquired some bulbs and sent them back to Europe with the information that they were called Tulipa.

All parts of tulips are edible and the bulb can be substituted for onions (although they are a little more expensive and less flavourful). The Dutch ate tulip bulbs in hard times of WW2 even though the petals have little taste but can be used to garnish a dish, chop a few petals and throw them in a salad, sugar them to decorate a cake or use the entire flower for a fruit bowl, pinching out the pistil and stamen in the middle.

My plan was to work at South Holland for just a few months until I could find something different, but I liked it so much and they kept on promoting me so in the end I worked there for over ten years when once again I volunteered for redundancy and left the place and all of its happy memories on 30th April 2011.

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