A trip to the Netherlands

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on August 30th 2022. We’ve left the boat for a week and headed north, traveling to pastures new.

How do I begin to describe the Netherlands? It’s a wonderful thing when a country takes you so completely by surprise. We’ve travelled much of Europe and are familiar with the feel of it, comfortable with the way the various nationalities do things. My first impression was that the Netherlands stands out as the individual in the crowd, although I wouldn’t dare say that to a Frenchman! If countries were people, the Netherlands would be the woman (or man) who walked down the street and everyone’s head would turn to watch them.

I can’t explain why we’ve never been here before. Perhaps it was the perception that a flat country would be boring or that there wouldn’t be much to see apart from Amsterdam and the tulip fields. Even on this short visit we have come to see the error of our ways and to understand that it requires a different mindset. Two things dominate this country – the water and bikes. Embrace them both and an enthralling experience awaits.

Sadly, our bikes stayed on Olivia as our focus on this trip was to travel just over 400 kilometers up to the north of the country to spend time with some friends on their boat cruising around a series of inland lakes close to Sneek. We allowed ourselves two days for the journey, which meant we could stop overnight and see a bit more of the country. There is so much I could say about our experience but this blog would be so long it would almost turn into a book. As a shorter version I hope the pictures below, plus the videos, give you a flavour of our trip. I can also recommend a book written by Ben Coates called ‘Why the Dutch are Different’.

Canals are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes.
One of the marinas at Enkhuisen, where they also have the best pistachio and chocolate ice cream you could ever wish for.
We don’t understand a word of Dutch but the sign was promising.
The sign led us to a tea garden – with cakes!
A late night stroll out to the beach at Renesse on the island of Schouwen Duiveland. (Don’t know how to pronounce anything.)
We visited the Steam Engine Museum near Medemblik. I’ve always liked tools, and this giant set of spanners was very appealing.
A perfect miniature.
Had to include a windmill.
This is the port where our friends boat was moored. You may need to turn the volume up as I am deliberately speaking quietly as people were still asleep.
Map showing canals and lakes around Grou.
The weather changes quickly here once the wind starts blowing.
A harbour in a housing estate, each house with its own mooring. Immaculate houses, immaculate boats.
Visiting geese.
Old sailing barges.
Cruising over a motorway. Always feels very strange.

We are back in France for the rest of this week, slogging on with the never-ending job of painting the boat, before returning to the UK for six weeks to visit friends and family. We’ve arranged a house-sit as part of this trip, a fortnight up in north Wales with dogs, cats, chickens – and a parrot. I’m currently reading a book called Corvus: A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson. Her daughter rescued a fledgling rook many years ago and set the family on a path of becoming a refuge to birds in need, including a number of parrots. The deeper I get into the book the more I wonder what we might have let ourselves in for – I’ll let you know how we get on.

Take care and see you soon.

MJ

11 thoughts on “A trip to the Netherlands

  1. We recently visited the Netherlands and we felt exactly the same. All our preconceptions were blown away. Such a wonderful country full of charm.

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  2. As ever with your writing and photography, I feel I have visited the places you so cleverly describe. I particularly enjoyed the view of the occasional sailing boat!!

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  3. Why I love travel blogs, one learns about new places and sees things in a different light. I guess all the tourism dollars are spent on tulip time and the bigger cities, so I look forward to seeing more next summer!
    What is the food like? Any specialties?

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  4. Wow, you have captured my homecountry beautifully.
    A little bit of the country as I remember it from my youth, now long gone in most parts.
    Schouwen Duiveland is pronounced like this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/247_Schouwen-Duiveland.ogg
    I tried to explain but found this. It is pretty close to where we used to live. I moved from the Netherlands to Norway and that made me realise what an ‘interesting’ language Dutch it is, lol.
    Reading your third book now, enjoying it immensely just as the previous two. And it made clear why the life on a smallhold would not be for me, no matter how lovely it seems from time to time. I hope you are going to write more books, but I am happy to have found your blog too.
    All the best from sunny Norway…

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    1. Hi Gerlinde. How lovely to hear from you and I am so glad I have done your home country justice. There will be loads more pics etc next year if all goes to plan. Thanks for the pronunciation tip – it’s going to be a challenge!
      So pleased you are enjoying books and blog. I shall begin writing my next book very soon and can’t wait to get started. We travel over the summer and winter is for writing, hopefully a new book for sale Spring next year.
      Take care
      MJ

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      1. Oh, looking forward to yet another book!
        Lol, the ‘sch’ and ‘ui’ are bit tricky yes! Hope you can still do a bit of traveling now since weather is incredibly mild. And get lots of inspiration for your new book, although it seems to come naturally from you!

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  5. Wow, you have captured my homecountry beautifully.
    A little bit of the country as I remember it from my youth, now long gone in most parts.
    Schouwen Duiveland is pronounced like this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/247_Schouwen-Duiveland.ogg
    I tried to explain but found this. It is pretty close to where we used to live. I moved from the Netherlands to Norway and that made me realise what an ‘interesting’ language Dutch it is, lol.
    Reading your third book now, enjoying it immensely just as the previous two. And it made clear why the life on a smallhold would not be for me, no matter how lovely it seems from time to time. I hope you are going to write more books, but I am happy to have found your blog too.
    All the best from sunny Norway…

    Like

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