Friday, July 9, 2010

Holland 2010 - Weeks 2, 3 and 4

Wow, can hardly believe that we’ve been here almost a month. The days sometime drag but on others, they go quickly. We’ve been busy provisioning the boat even though we thought it had all been done. Because we’ve been doing a lot of sitting (Phil isn’t able to walk far) we are spending more time in the salon. We discovered that our cheap-as-chips Ikea chairs were very uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time. And we are spending a lot of time in front of the TV watching soccer!! So that hole-in-the-water-into-which-we-pour-money - lovingly known as Calypso - is getting bigger! We bought new leather chairs, new pillows for the bed and sundry other items.
Phil now has a complete set of tools to do any repairs or renovations. Getting him to use them is a whole other story! Mind you as we speak he is mounting the bracket we bought in Nanaimo which will hold the TV satellite dish. His next job is to make screens for the windows to keep out the bugs at night.  The midges are attracted to our white ceilings and I spend a good deal of time laying in bed (Did I tell you I hate bugs? Another one of my many phobias) squishing the little suckers. Then, in the morning, I have to wash down the ceiling! Sigh, women’s work is never done! That being said, cleaning the boat takes minutes. I can get the dusting, vacuuming and cleaning done in about 20 minutes. Having only one bathroom helps! Mind you the vacuum cleaner is very small and only draws a very low amperage. So I end up picking the lint out of the rug by hand and then stuffing it down the hose!
We found the rental car very handy so after I took the first one back to Schipol airport, we decided let’s rent locally. Our Havenmeester Rob came through and found us an Opel dealer who would rent for 4 weeks at a very good price. Right – we’ll take it.
My car and driver – I WISH!!!!

We have been getting about in the car a little. Mostly for shopping but we discovered Lemmer, a little harbour town about ½ hour away. Just lovely – lots of shops and restaurants along the many canals. We will take the boat there once we start cruising.
Sitting at the cafe watching the boats come through from the Islmeer.

Great moorings right in the heart of the town.

Our friends, Marian and John Berg from near Utrecht came to visit in their RV, which is right alongside the moorage. We had a great visit – it was so good to see them again. They took us to Staphorst, a town known throughout Holland as a stronghold of strict Christian beliefs. The lovely old farmhouses are painted in characteristic green and blue. 

The townspeople continue to wear traditional dress, a custom that has virtually disappeared elsewhere in the country. The elderly women are seen in blue or black dress which indicates the mourning period.

They also have a unique decoration for their bikes – crocheted wheel protectors in a variety of beautiful colours and designs.

After visiting Staphorst, we stopped on the side of the road by a farmer’s field and had an afternoon snack. Very peaceful as we watched the storks feeding, the cows mooing and the four of us munching and slurping our cider.
We continued our touring by travelling by car in our little rental to Gouda to visit with our Australians friends Arthur and Diana Dixon from Perth and finally meeting Yvonne and Kevin Gilbert. Yvonne does an excellent blog on their cruising through Holland, France, Germany and Belgium. They’ve been doing this for some time and are a fount of good information about how and where to cruise. We arrived for lunch and left after supper dining alongside the canal where they are moored.

L-R: Phil, Kevin, Diana, Arthur, Yvonne alongside the Dixon’s “Secundus”
Diana, Yvonne and I managed to do a little shopping and Yvonne and I took a wander through the town to see some of the remarkable buildings. 

The beautiful town hall (Geementehuis). The main square was set up for a festival – beach volleyball included – and everyone was in orange as Holland was playing soccer that night.

And who says the Dutch don’t have a sense of humour! See below!

Then last Monday, we drove to Driebergen (near Utrecht) to visit with Marian and John Berg in their home. We felt very privileged to have been invited and had a wonderful time in their beautiful home and gardens.

Marian also keeps a few chickens.

Driebergen is in a forested area, intertwined by small roads, bike paths and hiking trails. So different from the north of Holland. Marian and John took us around the countryside to show just a few of the amazing country homes – built by wealthy Amsterdamers in the 17th and 18th century and who wanted to escape the noise and stench of the city in the summers. Some were pretty spectacular and though many have since been taken over and run as conference or educational centres, much of their early glory remains.
This is “just” the orangerie.

And at another country home, this was “just” the carriage house!

We were introduced to a local summer pastime that was a hoot! Marian and John took us to the Cherry Inn – a local cherry orchard where you can join in on the cherry pit spitting contest!! What else would you do with the pit once you sucked all the goodness off the cherry? Makes sense – spit it out. But not just anywhere. Make your way to what looks like a shuffle board marked in metres and centimetres. Standing at one end, grab one of the poles in each hand, work the pit to the front of your mouth, lean way back, launch yourself forward spitting the pit at the same time. Marian, John and Phil did reasonably well. My pathetic try landed at John’s feet! About a half a metre – but then I’ve never been able to spit out my gum from the car window either.
Phil tries with Marian watching.

John’s turn

  The CHAMP!!!!!

 We are now back on Calypso struggling with the heat. However, Phil did manage to get 3 new screens built – 2 more to go. He did an awesome job so I take back what I said. They work like a hot damn and I no longer have to wipe down the cabin ceiling each morning!
It has been a great first four weeks. We are hoping that Phil’s cast will come off next week and then shortly after that we will try cruising. Stay tuned – this could be interesting!!!!
Much love to all
Sharlene and the Recovering Master Mariner.


  1. David Stalen ParelJuly 13, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Hi Guys,

    Trying again, do you have a link to the Gilberts blog.

    Keep up good work

  2. Hi David - yes, I do. it's

    They've seen so much more than we have and I find her descriptions and pictures very interesting. You'll read about it in the next blog but we've decided to leave the north, head south and overwinter near Maastricht. We are getting itchy feet to be on the move and just wandering around Friesland just so we can overwinter in Vollenhove wasn't making sense. Phil should be ready to go (still with cast on) in about a week.

    Take care - please keep in touch - Love, Sharlene

  3. Doing up the instructions...gotta type something in here :o)