Dutch Wadden island, part of the municipality of Eemsmond (Gr.). Until 1580 Epibreren (meaning: 'at breeuwen' (MDu, 'to caulk') site where in earlier times cock-boats were caulked) was part of Aduard's monastery. After 1580 it became part of Groningen, which then sold it to the Stachouwer family, which treated it as a manor until French times. The original inhabitants made their living by beachcombing and digging up so-called 'wadworms'. A terrible virus decimated the island population in 1850. Up until 1858 it was then owned by J.E. Banck, who in 1892 sold the island to the German count Von Bernstorff bis Kluge. In 1897 Epibreren was repopulated by the descendants of the homeless people of the sunken city of Reimerswaal. After WWII, Epibreren was taken over by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and developed into primarily a safe haven for scores of poets and writers.

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Dutch (column) writer Simon Carmiggelt spent a wild weekend on the island with his then mistress Renate Rubinstein, in the summer of 1953. To keep this from his wife and to prevent the island from being flooded by tourists he invented the verb 'to epibrate' (epibreren) soon afterwards. In 1994, shortly after their creation in Paterswolde the then nameless band of poets traveled to the island and found shelter in Hotel Hell, based in a former Atlantic Wall bunker. Ever since the group has called itself: The Poets from Epibreren (De Dichters uit Epibreren).

The Poets in front of Epibreren

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Apart from poets, fishermen and a musician, there are also blue seals and quite a few birds in Epibreren. Especially interesting are the colony of wadden penguins, highly amusing creatures that akin to parrots can imitate sounds, and the renowned Epibreren owls, which can imitate statues. It was precisely this natural splendour that made German musician and ornithologist Jan Klug decide to settle on the island.

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Epibreren is located three kilometers northeast of Groningen's most friendly harbour Noordpolderzijl and is only traversable at low tide. To get to Noordpolderzijl one needs to travel to the city of Groningen, where one should take the train to Usquert and once there walk past the old windmill in the direction of Noordpolderzijl. Please be careful when crossing the N363 motorway, which is often used as a racetrack by Northern Groningen farmers, often in inebriated condition, on tractors and combines.

If you must travel by road, then it is probably safer to purchase or rent a motor vehicle in the city of Groningen, preferably an Opel (= Vauxhall, for our British readers) Vectra or Ford (Ford to everybody) Mondeo - either car will upon request be fitted with amphibian equipment. For your convenience, there's an Opel dealership adjacent to the Ikea and McDonald’s drive-thru at Europaweg. When you've bought a comfy sofabed and Big Mac meal and consumed either or both of these items, please head for the impressive Groningen ring road, follow the signs pointing to Bedum/Eemshaven, take the exit to these towns and follow the N46 in northeasterly direction. After a swift stone’s throw one finds oneself at the exit to Garsthuizen. Please leave the N46 here and drive northward past Eppenhuizen, Zandeweer and Doodstil (Du. for Dead Quiet, which it is) until close to Uithuizen one happens upon the ever busy N363, which is often used as a racetrack by Northern Groningen farmers, often in inebriated condition, on tractors and combines. The most logical route - taking the N363 in westerly direction till one finds the signpost to Noordpolderzijl at the old mill in Usquert - is therefore considered ill-advised. One had better, after carefully traversing the junction, cross the fields in north by west-westerly direction. Please take note of the ditches along the way that can only be overcome by accelerating before one hits the little dykes. When one has finally reached Noordpolderzijl, and one has perhaps had the pleasure of a nice hot mug of cocoa at café 't Zielhoes, one should drive up the sea dyke and then first cross the saltings and subsequently - depending on the tide - the mud flats or the water in a northeasterly direction. Please take note to activate the specially fitted amphibian equipment in your motor vehicle by pressing the button below the steering column. Epibreren is situated a mere two nautical miles from the coast. Driving across the sea amphibiously one should look out for Russian submarines or newly crashed Cessnas.

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Apart from the huge stretch of natural splendour, Epibreren also boasts plenty of entertainment for those - however infrequent - gloomy days. Since the summer of 2000 the cellar in Hotel Hell has a Museum of Unnatural Mystery, a rather well documented museum for all things at odds with Mother Nature. The library also houses Epibreren's archive - and when your humble translator finally becomes paraplegic he will no doubt translate that, too.

From the top of the high dune at the south end of the island one has a lovely view of the flour and husking mill 'Love' (De Liefde) in Uithuizen. This dune also boast an internet module, so the happy-go-lucky tourist can also enjoy the mill in fog or darkness, via milliner Bob Poppen's website.


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Epibreren - The annual Epibreren Swimsuit Competition (ESC) on Easter Monday always draws huge crowds to the island. In 2002 a record fifty-six ladies fought for the title of Miss Epibeach. After completing ten heats (among them: seal-squashing, birdy-bashing and a catwalk) the jury announced Jasmijn Parafernalia from the Frisian hamlet of Gearslach to be the winner.

Below a picture shoot of the competition by our correspondent Gabriël Kousbroek

Anja, Tanja and Rita Rozenvoet are preparing for the seal-squashing heat - they scored an amazing 523 points!
On, as well as off, the catwalk both Rozalie Tannenbaum and Daphne Heerckens were the hot-tipped favourites. Still, this time round they were no match for Machteld Hernia, which in the picture on your right is changing behind the fence.
In the discipline of seal-baiting, Jasmijn Parafernalia not only managed to bait the seals but also two busloads of trigger-happy Japanese people.
After the competition a well-deserved rest for the wicked. What a wonderful day it had been…
(Rottend Staal Online, 1-4-2002)

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© translation: Willem Groenewegen, 2004