{Off and away}

So, on Monday we arrived in the the small Dutch town of Hoogeveen to take possession of our home on wheels. Between organising a few extras for the van and waiting for the transfer of the van payment to come through, it is now Thursday and we are leaving for France. I would have loved to leisurely make my way to the west of France, exploring Normandy and Brittany before starting our ‘Workaway‘ in the Limousin region (Haute-Vienne). Now it looks like we will be rushing through the green and cool top part of France, and also missing out on Belgium and Amsterdam. Feeling immensly disapointed about it, but oh well, there will be a next time.

Our 3 days in The Netherlands were ok. We pimped the van, fixed up bikes and rode on what is the flattest piece of land in Europe. Everyone zooms around on bikes, around canals and brick houses. Being the one of the most densely populated country in Europe, housed are uniformly small and made out of brick. Literally, every single one looks the same. The roads are flat, with bike paths everywhere and plenty of bikes without gears. But it is green, so very green, juicy and vibrant. With big trees and overflowing canals and cows grazing. It is lovely to see the boats meandering through the canals….retirees cruising through the waterways of The Netherlands like our grey nomads in their vans.

If you are planning to visit the Netherlands don’t come on account of the food alone.  Apart from the Gouda, not much interesting is to be found here. Disappointingly, even the supermarket vegetables were limp and unappealing. To be fair, 3 days is no indication of a nations food culture and neither is 2 sampled supermarkets, but I will have to leave my assessment at that. Since we now have the van kitchen with all its mod-cons, I am back on the stove whipping up home favourites. I guess its a cross between easy camping recipes and a bit more elaborate home fare. What I am really looking forward to is some seafood, mussels and fresh summer vegetables. So, fingers crossed we’ll come across some markets soon.

The kids have so far been great. A few run of the mill squabbles, arguments over bikes, beds and t-shirts. The usual, really. With the bikes, they have done more exploring than us, riding around the neighbourhood canals and watching the boats go past. No museum or cathedrals, so all is good in their world. In the absence of cultural sightseeing, I have my nose in a book too. Been reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Stories, a series of 4 books. Its a good read, the characters are intense and colourful and being set in the south of Italy, I am reminded of so much of what I know and understand of Italy and its sub culture… In a good, literary way of course. Thank you Sera for the recommendation.

Ok, off we go now. Quick stop in Ghent, Belgium, then a night in Arras. In the Valley of the Somme, we are visiting the Dernancourt War Cemetery. There, we will visit Lesley Williams grave, Piers’s great uncle who died in the war and is buried there.

We will see how the first days travelling in the monster van will go.

Love to all,

Alex

 

 

 

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