We’ve been in this house for 1 year and 259 days and we learnt today there is a sloot behind the hedge in the garden. notwithstanding the hedge is 3 metres high and largely impenetrable to all except Camilla the cat and the pheasant which I briefly saw yesterday. We will probably never see it unless we sneak up a long drive, past two houses, a garage and over a muddy maize field.
In other news, we had a couple of days in Wijk aan Zee. It was a goedkoop hotel and was close to Haarlem where there was a David Hockney expositie in the Teylers museum. That was the main reason for us going there. However, while we were by the sea, it would be a shame if we didn’t experience getting blown around on the beach. It was code yellow so we weren’t disappointed. The museum itself is the oldest in the Netherlands and has an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and fossilised sea creatures.
I didn’t enjoy driving around Beverwijk at night though. The road markings are almost invisible at night and it rained so it made it even more difficult. It’s one of those Dutch towns where everyone is expected to know the road layout so they didn’t bother with lines and signs until they were absolutely necessary and even then, as close to the junction as possible without them being at the junction itself, adjacent to a bike path, zebra crossing and a right turn down an unlit road. Or after!
I love beaches, not those crammed with suntan oiled fly catchers whose holiday consists of getting up at 10, wandering around the shops, lounging on a beach along with ten thousand others then retiring to the pub, wolfing down some local food like steak and chips and throwing a gallon of beer down the throat, oh no, deserted beaches. I love deserted beaches. Maybe a dog, a horse, some wind surfers or walkers. There was an artist on the beach at Wijk aan Zee. Every day whatever the weather, she takes her little trolley down the ramp and sets up pitch at the water’s edge to catch the random and varied movement of the waves to create a uniquely different canvas every time she finishes one. Every day, the local Gemeente have to put the beach back the way it was before the storm ruined it, that’s what the diggers are doing. It’s part of the Dutch fight against the sea.
I like rough seas and the power of waves and the patterns they leave behind before washing over them and creating a new series of patterns. When I lived in the UK, as a kid I’d go to the east coast near Bridlington and walk the beach, in the dunes, along the cliff tops, climbing into the old WW2 pill boxes, now collapsed, filled with sand and broken up. The coastline of the Netherlands is pretty uniform in comparison with the diversity of the huge cliffs at Bempton, Flamborough and gravel beaches and chalk bottomed north bay.
The hotel was nearby the huge Tata ex-Hoogovens steel plant at Ijmuiden. It would fill up soon after our departure with chess players. Tata Steels host or at least sponsor some big chess competitions. There were players from France, America, India and the UK already taking breakfast prior to our returning to our house in Heino.
There you are in Holland, enjoying the beach and the arts, yet we in the UK can’t swim in the see (unless you want to risk a close encounter with something from the sewers!), and everyone’s on strike (including me next week!). How did the country go to hell in a hand basket in just a few years…..because it can’t be anything to do with brexit….or the Tories….the Daily mail said so, so it has to be true
For the record, I went to Spain for Christmas, nice to get out of the madhouse every now and then
It is good to get away. Many people here, if they are retired or live off income from warmer months, spend a few weeks at time in Spain or Portugal.