Picture the scene, it’s Good Friday, the start of a long bank holiday weekend. A perfect opportunity to rest, relax and generally recuperate. Ha!
An alternative is that it is 4:45am on a cold, dark morning when the alarm goes off and you have to get out of bed to begin a journey to the Netherlands. That was reality, it may have felt a bit grim at the time but it really was quite exciting as we were heading to see Juneau in her new home.
Tex spent the weekend with his friends Scamp and Candy because there were quite a lot of miles to be covered in a short period of time and we didn’t think it was fair to take him on this occasion. For me it was a good opportunity to recce the trip so we know what to expect in June.
I won’t bore you with the details of the journey. It wasn’t too bad and we managed to avoid some major traffic jams around Antwerp (as you do). Safe to say the Aalsmeer turn off was very welcome and Juneau a happy sight to see.
Friday consisted mainly of unpacking and putting stuff away. Happily everything had made the journey in one piece. It was quite odd to be unpacking all our bits and pieces again. It was a bit like moving home. But once done it was the same familiar Juneau, just in a different location. It did seem to take ages to get everything sorted and by the end we felt we had earned this glass of wine, just the one mind (yeah right!)
Saturday we awoke to the unwelcome sound of rain on boat! Not only was it raining it was pretty cold too. Hmmmm, not necessarily as planned. We made the best of it by taking the opportunity to explore Aalsmeer. It’s a very nice town a bit bigger than we first thought, it has its own windmill of course and it’s big enough to have 3 bike shops!
Having acquired some soup and a pack of Roombroodjes we headed home with the resolve to take the boat out somewhere. Roombroodjes, for those not in the know, are very soft sweet bread rolls filled with custard. Believe me they a wonderful Dutch invention – many of which will be consumed come the summer I predict!
We did finally head off with the aim of finding somewhere for lunch. We cruised along the Ringvaart to Kaag. Here we moored on some public moorings with a windmill view for lunch. It was very nice (if a bit chilly). On our way back I saw a sign which told me it was 5 degrees, brrrr.
David’s work in acquiring and setting up the TV and satellite paid off as we were very comfortable in our lounge watching Saturday night BBC. There was only one thing missing…
Sunday dawned a little brighter, although still flippin cold! Thank heavens for boat heating. We cruised off in the opposite direction on the Ringvaart which was interesting but not particularly picturesque, particularly when we cruised past the end of the Schiphol airport runway!
We did a round trip on another meer and back again. The difference to Thames boating is that there are very few locks. Instead there are lots of bridges which, even little Juneau is too tall to get under. The power of the boater is such that you can stop the traffic and get them lifted (and you don’t do it yourself – the Netherlands is full of Brugmeisters ). Here we are ‘commanding’ the Aalsmeerderbrug. Quite an impressive bridge don’t you think?
Prior to returning the marina we stopped off on some moorings on the Westeinderplassen, our ‘home lake’, for a cup of tea. Here our British ensign attracted the attention of a fellow boater who seemed to be looking for a source of tea bags and spotted us as his best hope. In the spirit of Anglo-Dutch relations we were, of course, happy to oblige. Bit odd though!
Finally we headed home, moored up and rewarded ourselves with a meal out. I was particularly pleased when, aiming to indicate our table needs, I uttered the word two (just that – two) to the waiter in Dutch, he didn’t say what? correct me or reply in English. See I am on my way to fluency – one word at a time.
Monday was sad as we had to retrace our tracks across Netherlands, Belgium (this time with less luck in Antwerp), France and around the M25 to get back home. But we left Juneau in good company with Dutch friends.
It was a long but really worthwhile trip to familiarise ourselves with a small bit of the Netherlands. We have plenty to do before we go but roll on June!