Monday, 4 June 2007

The Netherlands

This post covers our adventures so far in the Netherlands with cows aplenty but no deer :o(

We arrived at a town called Winschoten just over the Dutch border on Friday night. We walked into town from our campsite where much to my delight and Sarah's bemusement there were 3 old windmills. We walked along the main street of Winschoten which reminded us in parts of Walsall! We'll let you imagine what it was like...
By the way, the smell of the men's toilets at Winschoten Castle campsite in the morning (fermented urine) could be used an extremely powerful smelling salt and the entire toilet block should be handed over to medical research.

The next day was beautiful, hot and sunny. We headed to the lovely town of Giethoorn an hour away. There are dozens of thatched-rooved houses here all set on a pretty canal. It was a bit overrun with people but it was still enjoyable walking along the canals. There were boats and canoes for hire but we stuck to walking.

Above: Well slap me with a pair of clogs, it's a windmill!

We then headed through country lanes to another charming town called Blokzjil. The local lockmaster raised a bridge to let 2 boats into a series of locks. Sarah was fascinated watching how all this worked!

We were loving the Netherlands by this time, very pretty villages and farms everywhere. Cows, did I mention cows? I've never seen so many in my life!

Above: Giethoorn
Below: Matt trying out his 12mm lens in Blokzijl

That night we stayed in a crappy noisy campsite. I swear our pitch was made of quicksand as we kept sinking into the ground. It wasn't very flat and poor old Ace was hating the 15 point turns I was putting him through. Facilities were basic and the disco went until after midnight right near our pitch. Still, it only cost €10! As I went to pay, the woman assumed there was only me so charged me that instead of €14. Just to seal the deal, I made Sarah go non-nighs in the bedroom as we drove out just in case they saw a second person!

It was cloudy as we arrived in Zutphen, a town twinned with Shrewsbury in England. I was expecting this town to be really pretty but there was a lot of litter on the streets and Shrewsbury is a lot prettier! We had a hot drink and piece of cake in a cafe but her ladyship was not impressed. The hot chocolate was nothing like the milky creamy ones served in the UK (or by me with cream and marshmallows!) but rather bitter like cocoa without sugar. The waitresses were also licking their fingers as they served people... yuk! Anyone who knows Sarah knows about her strange food habits.

In the afternoon we went and visited the Palace of Het Loo, a palace for the Dutch royal family until 1975. William III, King of Great Britain and Ireland and Prince of Orange had lived here. I tried to fool Sarah into thinking he was also the Duke of Pineapple and the Baron of Bananas but it didn't work...
Above: Matt at Het Loo Palace
Below: Bridge in Blokzijl

That night we headed to a beautiful campsite near the town of Hoenderloo. I keep singing that to the tune to Waterloo but again Sarah is unimpressed. She also doesn't like my impressions of Jans from the Amsterdam Police (an old Harry Enfield sketch). Sunday evening we cooked a delicious Sunday roast - seasoned chicken, vegetables, chips, stuffing, yorkshire pudding and gravy! We stayed up watching series one of 24 until 1am!

Today we went on a bike ride to the nearby De Hoge Veluwe National Park where herds of deer live, apparently! The entry price was a bit steep in our opinion at €7 each. The lady on the gate informed us of the "best places for the chance to see the deer". I felt like saying "for 7 euros each love, I want to be able to pat them, pose with them in photos and have a deer steak for lunch!". Jooooke!

We rode around the beautiful park and looked around the visitor centre. I asked a man at the information desk what was the best time to see the deer and he completely took the piss. He said he would have them ready for us at 10 past 4! I was only trying to ascertain if they were asleep during the day or something! After riding around for another couple of hours and spending about an hour in a deer hide we saw..... nothing. Sarah thought she saw a deer's antlers but it was just a twig...

Above: Deer hunting
Below: Sarah canal-side
With regards to the deer, I think the national park should adopt a slogan similar to the recent Australian Tourism campaign... "Where the bloody hell are they?". Maybe my mate Kev could've helped as I've heard he's good at deer spotting.

We are now sitting in the glorious sunshine, I am probably getting burnt again and Sarah is resting her legs after a torturous 5 hour bike ride. Time for dinner! Sarah egg-stra special offering of eggs, beans & chips!
By the way, 3 weeks into our trip and I'm yet to see a woman empty a chemical toilet. This seems rather curious to me. Surely there are women who perform this task, but I only ever meet blokes as I pour our urine down a drain... yes that's right, no number 2's in Ace... yet!


MERVYN said...

Whacko !
Australian saying meaning WHACKO !
Really enjoyed this section of your trip - expecially the old German man trying to crack on to our Matt- and all Sarah could do was giggle !
Saw the windmills again - any sign od Don Quixote ?
Cheers and Love to you Both
Mervyn E

MERVYN said...

You have just solved a vexing issue for me. For years I have wondered where the saying
" Taking the piss out " came from
( Sorry for the language )
But as a real master of the said art of taking the p**** - you would be doing this with ease
(I nearly said with your eyes shut)
Cheers and Love from Mervyn E

dwozz said...

Hi Both
Looking good.....!
I cant believe how many smelly toilets you have encountered. Perhaps you could use your newly equired novel writing skills and pen a "Best Loos in Europe" book!
I would have definately shown you where the deer were, as you know Matt - i have more trophys than you !!! You remember my deer piccies then?- out of focus Lol. Still slighty better than what you saw! Ha haha
Missing you both
Kev (AKA Dwozz)

Big sis said...

Hi its not big sis but mommy here. Still not on internet yet so am still using Rays. Really good to see you both looking so well and can't believe how relaxed you look Sarah. It's a man's perogative to empty the loo count your lucky stars your not having to clean it aswell!!!! Em and Drape coming home tonight apparently burnt and Rach still feeling terribly sick but apart from that all is well except to say we are all missing you. Would be good to meet with your parents Matt am looking forward to it. Carry on keeping us informed of your adventures and enjoy!!! love to you bothxxxxxxxxx

x lil sis x said...

Hi remember me....yeh its ema!!! Sorry havent been in touch for donkies, but we STILL havent got the internet!! Its took me approx 2hours but i have just caught up with ur website, love all ur blogs and the pictures are stunning u guys!! Definatley a career for you there matthew! Cypus was very very hot, hope you see some of that loverly weather too! I am having withdrawl symptons from u 2, and ur quirky ways, miss you loads, will be fab wen u get bk and we all meet up with the aussie crew aswell!! That was a nice pic of sarah in the yellow strappy top...where was that from!!?!! haha!! keep in touch mwah lil sis xxxx