Back in the 1990s, though, when I was working on my PhD, I was in the Netherlands every year, including twice with my mother, and the van der Geests had met her.
It was a pity that those visits weren't recorded with digital photos or videos, so this time around I made sure to take many more photos of my stay in the village: in the van der Geests' home, in a windmill, in several farms, in a camp site, and a video of my son and Sjaak diving into a river and my son screaming from the cold.
One photograph from that visit was of my mother-not her in person, but a digital shot of an old photograph that I had brought for the van der Geests. I had left the living room for a few minutes and came back, surprised, to find they had put up her photograph beside two small vases of flowers, and placed next to that of one of their grandchildren, who had lived 16 days.
Recently, in the Netherlands, I brought my son to visit Sjaak van der Geest, who had been my adviser for my doctoral research.
Nevertheless Geests Irish parent Fyffes yesterday said business in the first few months was up on the previous year and it was optimistic about 1998.
"Supplies of bananas to Geest were down and there was actually a shortage of fruit out of the Windward islands which held back Geests UK business a little," Mr McCann said.
Fresh produce supplier Fyffes has had a good start to the year despite uncertainty affecting its banana subsidiary Geest.
Geest, which recently opened the UKs largest banana-ripening warehouse in Coventry, is at the centre of a row over preferential European import tariffs for fruit from the Caribbean.