Thursday, 13 April 2017

More of Zeeland and a bit of Haarlemmermeer!

More of Zeeland and a bit of Haarlemmermeer

Monday 10th - Wednesday 12th April 2017

Hello again, and I've got a bit of a confession to make!  For the last 3 days we've been so busy cycling, walking and relaxing๐Ÿ’ค that I've really neglected our blog a bit, and now (Thursday), because the sun is shining I don't want to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to catch up! So all I'm going to do is write a quick resume of what we've been up to, and if I really wanted to use the fewest words possible it would be 'cycle 42 miles, walk 10 miles and cycle another 46'!  However, I do feel the need to elaborate a little bit more on that because when I'm old and grey and want to look back on these ramblings I'll probably need a bit more of a clue to remind me of what we did!

On Monday we did the Dutch thing and cycled from our campsite and out onto the Brouwersdam which is another part of the Delta Works.  The Dam separated and isolated  the waters of the North Sea from the Grevelingen estuary which resulted in the largest saltwater lake in Western Europe being formed - approximately 14000 hectares.  Following the work the lake also lost it's tides and it's ecology changed dramatically, but today the waters are crystal clear and provide what is described as 'a superb buffet that is irresistible to all sorts of water birds'  

But birds aren't the only things that find this lake irresistible!  The shores and dunes below the Dam were strewn with loads of motorhomes, cars and caravans as well as numerous mobile eateries, and even on a Monday there were literally hundreds of people out enjoying the sun sea and sand!

What a lovely pair !!  We met these chaps along our way๐Ÿ˜€
Once we'd crossed over the dam we continued our ride gently meandering along the shoreline of the lake until we'd racked up about 23 miles, but then because it was to far to get to the next crossing over onto our island (another 40 miles) we turned around and retraced out steps home.

On Tuesday we decided to have a walk through the town of  Ouddorp which was very busy with it's market, and then out into the marshes to do a bit of 'twitching' at some bird hides John had spotted on his map. Along our way we met up with hundreds of geese of different varieties - Greylag, Barnacle, and I think Canadian, along with lots of ducks, moorhens and swans, and additionally some birds of prey such as buzzards kestrels and harriers!  So really, our mission had been quite successful - that was until we attempted to get to the bird hides!  To access them we had to traverse along a narrow overgrown bank of a ditch and when we arrived, not only was the hide in a state of disrepair, it's views were also obscured by foliage etc! Oh well, you can't win em all!

On Wednesday we ended up cycling a bit further than planned as we half circumnavigated the island we were staying on (Goeree), and unfortunately it wasn't all as scenic as we'd come to expect.  This was mostly because for a far bit of our time we were ๐Ÿšด below the dykes and on the land side, and therefore our only views were of very flat farmland - but having said that, our ride did have some 'moments'

Marsh Harrier
A borrowed pic!
The first of these came when we were riding through the same marsh areas that we'd walked through the day before - when we spotted a huge bird of prey riding the thermals just above an adjacent cycle track to the one we were on. To try and get a better look I quickly put my bike into turbo mode and sped off down said track - but even though I managed to reach 22 mph he always seemed to keep just a few yards ahead of me and I certainly didn't have time to snap a pic of my own!  However, we did manage to identify that he was a lovely marsh harrier and very majestic in his flight and manoeuvres!

The second 'moment' occurred much later in our ride when we cycled through the very pretty town of Sommelsdijk and followed the signed route down a canal that tipped out into another huge lake.  The map had indicated that at the end of the canal there would be a  bridge across a lock, however when we got there the lock and bridge were open and looked as if they had been for a very long time - so our only options were to either fly, swim or retrace our steps back to the town (a mile or more detour)๐Ÿ˜’!   Then to add insult to injury, the town was just clearing up after it's market, so traversing through it's busy streets was a bit like an obstacle course, and additionally, by now the wind speeds had picked up quite alarmingly requiring us to use 'tour' mode on our bikes to maintain even a reasonable pace!

But forwards and onwards we went, and then came the big 'ooohhh aaahhh moment' as we came across huge fields of colourful ๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒทgrowing and stretching out in colourful banners - this was one of the main things we'd come to Holland to see and we weren't disappointed ๐Ÿ˜€!  And with any luck we'll be seeing many more similar sights when we get to our next destination which will be further North in the Haarlemmermeer region.

Thursday 13th April 2017

This morning we've moved about 60 miles into the Haarlemmermeer region and we're now parked up on an Aire like camper park near the town of Leiden.  We've come here specifically to see the famous Garden of Keukenhof and the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek Flower Parade with it's many floats which pass between the towns of Noordwijk and Haarlem on the 21st April.  But as well as those things, there are numerous other attractions and things to do around here so I think our time will be quite busy and I'm not sure how much time I'll have for writing!

Anyway take care and bye for now ๐Ÿ˜™

Click here to see our camping spots in the Netherlands