13th May – 19th May
Not much sleep last night, not sure if it was due to traffic noise or the fact that we knew we had to get up early to get to the Harwich port. Either way, we arrived just before 7 and were boarded at 8.30. A quick check by customs this time and at 9.45 we were underway, albeit 45 minutes late. The boat is well decked out with a restaurant, casino and a couple of bars. The staff are very helpful and a few times we were offered assistance even though we didn’t ask for it. We spent the day sitting in the lounge on a slightly rough sea reading, trying to get a decent wifi connection, which didn’t happen and generally taking it easy. The customs check in Hoek van Holland was fast and efficient and we were soon on our way, 10kms up the road to Poeldijk where we will stay tonight.
After breakfast and a good night sleep, we headed off to Ikea just outside of Delft, our park for the day. We passed many canals and lots of glasshouses along the way, we even saw a few windmills. Once parked we had a nice walk along the canals and through a very pretty park before reaching the main area. Today is market day so there were lots of stalls selling all types of bric a brac, as well as Delft pottery. In the main square is the Old Church which towers over the square where cheese shops abound as well as more delft pottery shops. The bells of the old church continually chime most of the morning, playing a variety of tunes which can be heard from quite a distance. We had a great time walking around the streets marvelling at the picture book buildings and canals that seemed to be in every street. We even had to stop at a crossing on the road so it could be raised to allow a boat to pass. We had our lunch in the square before continuing our walk through the markets while enjoying a stroopwafel, a thin round waffle with a spreading of butterscotch in the middle. Back to Tilly and we returned to the aire we stayed at last night as we left the water cap there when we filled this morning, so we will stay there again tonight.
Our destination today was Leiden, roughly 15kms away on what are fantastic roads to drive on. They are smooth, well signposted and the Dutch are courteous drivers. We passed more canals and windmills before finding our carpark for the day next to a large canal about 1km from town. Being Sunday all of the shops in town were closed but there were still a lot of people out and about. We passed a Japanese market in the street selling bonsai, Japanese art, food, macrame etc. and poked our heads into a couple of churches. We wandered through the shopping precinct to find an iPad repair shop. We did find one and will go back tomorrow hoping for a quick repair. We had lunch on a bridge over one of the canals before checking out a vintage car display in the street nearby. On our way back, we stopped in at a working windmill where the power generated was being used to cut timber. We climbed up to the top to see the gears driving the saws with the whole building shaking with each turn of the huge blades. Everything was made out of timber, even the gears. It was very impressive.
Back into Leiden this morning only to find that the shops don’t open until 12! We had another walk around the canals and down the mall before heading back to Tilly as it was still too early for the shops. We later found out it was a public holiday and only some shops were trading. Lunch at home and back into town to learn that while the iPad can be repaired, it wasn’t going to be the quick or cheap job we had hoped for. They advised us that they will try very hard to have the repair completed by 6 tonight and will let us know if there are any problems. They have also offered to deliver it to us at our address next to the canal! So now we wait. I’m delighted to say that Hitech in Leiden did everything they promised and our iPad was delivered all fixed to us before 6. Hitech do phones, tablets and laptop repairs and we would highly recommend them if you are in the area and need something fixed.
17th May – Happy birthday me 🎂🎂🎂🎂🍷🍷🍷🍷
Age is just a state of mind, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter (Mark Twain). I said exactly the same thing to my sister at the beginning of the month. After breakfast we headed off to Gouda, about 35 kms away, past more windmills, fields of green and lots of canals. The aire is very near the town so after speaking to my two sisters we headed in down the mall into the square. What a beautiful town square, spires everywhere where the main feature was the Stadthaus (the town hall). The building had bright red shutters on the windows and has bells ringing and a small puppet show two minutes past the hour and half hour, very cute. We visited one of the cheese shops and sampled a variety of Gouda, I even had a taste of lavender cheese, purple in colour (der!) and a hint of lavender in the first bite, surprisingly nice. Not too many people would have done that on their birthday. We wandered the streets before finding our lunch spot on the square. We had a very enjoyable meal before speaking to our eldest son and his fiancé who rang for my birthday. We walked some more of the streets and canals before heading home on what was a lovely day.
We had a quiet day today. We had a walk around the perimeter of the old town along the canal to the historical boat harbour where there were quite a number of old sailing vessels. Back through town and home again. We were going to move on, however after speaking to our British neighbours for over an hour about Norway, we have decided to stay put and do a bit more planning before heading off again.
Our travels today took us past more canals, windmills and surprisingly many thatched roof houses on what will be our last day in the Netherlands. We stopped at Oudewater for a walk around the pretty town which has a witch’s weighing station that in the 1600’s saw many women falsely accused. Unfortunately it wasn’t open so Dave was unable to prove or disprove whether I am one! No snickering please! Originally the plan was to stop at Appel….. however Dave felt like driving some more and we ended up in Enschede not far from the German border. We had a walk into town, about 1km away and were surprised at the size of it. Apart from a huge shopping precinct it was nothing to rave about, however we did know that prior to getting here, it is just a stop for the night. We have enjoyed our short stay in the Netherlands. As mentioned before, the road network is amazing, the scenery is just lovely and the people are really friendly. The Dutch take a lot of pride in their homes and gardens and it was a delight walking around looking at the azaleas, camellias, Japanese maples and wisterias in full bloom. Too late for tulips, never mind.