Sunday, 16 April 2017

Holland's Bulb Fields and Lakes

Holland's Bulb Fields and Lakes

Friday 14th - Sunday 16th April 2017

At the mo T4rdis2 is settled comfortably in the bottom of an old LakeπŸ˜“ at the Het Groene Hart Camper Plaatz in the Haarlemmermeer Polder and this is going to be our home for the next 10 days - and even though it hasn't quite got everything a campsites got, we're really quite impressed with it.

The food/grocer wagon comes a couple of times a week with his massive van that sells lots of local goodies, the bread man comes every morning and the owner provides soup and information for lots of interesting places to go!  I think our only complaint would be that there isn't really anywhere we can go for a walk from here, everything is just a bit too far away - so our only choice (unless we move the van) is to cycle! Therefore, over Easter, while many are binging on food, it's quite likely that John and I will be binging on lots of cycling!

Now, one of my first questions when we got here was 'What's a Polder?'  Wiki informs me that 'it's a low lying tract of land enclosed by dikes that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually operated devices',  and I suppose that may explain why everything looks a bit dry here!  But that wasn't so in this lands recent past!  The particular Polder that we're in at the mo is apparently  6 metres below sea level, but many years ago it used to be a large lake that carried the nickname 'Water Wolf'.  It was so called because due to storms and floods it constantly increased in size engulfing large tracts of land, and destroying villages until it eventually covered 18,000 hectares and reached the gates of Leiden and Amsterdam.  So in the mid 1800s work started to reclaim the land and three pumping stations started work, but it took 3 years and 3 months to move the water into a canal that was dug by hand around the Haarlemmermeer - and this is now called The Ring Canal.  Since then the Polder had been used as agricultural land, and the farm where this camper plaatz is located mostly produces potatoes and onions, but they also rent some land to the tulip growers.

tulips in holland 9 april 2017

Other interesting facts that I've found and want to just quickly mention are that geographically 26% of the Netherlands's land and 21% of it's population lies below sea level, and only about 50% of it's land is more that one metre above sea level - however, since the major floods of 1953 they seem to have got their defences just right!

Anyway, on with the story!  On Friday we set of on a 38 miler which initially took us towards the town of Lisse and then out towards the famous Spring gardens at Keukenhof which we plan to visit later in our stay, and it was here that we became  a bit daunted by the amount of traffic and visitors!  Imagine Alton Towers on a bad day and then double it, and this seemed worse - πŸš—πŸš—πŸš—πŸšŒπŸšŒπŸšŒπŸš²πŸš²πŸš²πŸš² parked for as far as the eye could see, along with loads of people  Oh well, it was Good Friday, so we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that it will be less popular when we go.  Once we'd waded  through all the traffic our trip became much more pleasurable because we quickly found ourselves out in the midst of the many bulb fields.  And we were quite surprised to note, that not only do the Dutch grow tulips, they also grow almost as many daffodils and hyacinths, however, I'm sure it was the latter that was providing the wonderful heady perfume that was pervading the air.

The flowers were everywhere we looked, and as we went we debated why there were so many - they obviously weren't specifically for the flowers to be picked and sold because most of them were too far advanced and open for that.  So we decided the bulbs must be the end product for sale - apparently, towards the end of April lots of farmers 'top' their tulips - big adapted machines roll into the fields and chop the flower heads off just leaving the greenery so that the bulbs can develop more strongly before they are taken out of the ground in the summer months - I'm glad we came to see them when we did!

On Saturday we added another 36 miles to our mileage, but this time we went in a different direction, first along beside a very pretty canal and then on to partially circumnavigate  lakes West Einderplassen, Langeraarseplassen and Braassemermeer.  However, although we saw some very pretty sites, this ride was maybe not one of our best, possibly partly due to the very strong cold winds and also because we failed, until nearly the end, to find anywhere to eat our picnic.

Then on Easter Sunday 🐣πŸ₯šπŸ£πŸ₯šπŸ£ we had a much shorter ride (10 miles) into the town of Lisse to see  some of their 40 flower dressings!  There a bit like our Well Dressings, but mostly very cleverly made out of Hyacinth flowers

And after that we came home to rest - but the only eggs we've enjoyed today were in a lovely blue cheese omelette that John made for our breakfast this morning - never mind, I'm sure I've got a big bar of chocolate stashed somewhere😁😚

Click here to see our camping spots in the Netherlands