Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Back for Christmas

Late November sees us returning to the UK with the intention of spending Christmas and the New Year at our adopted home of Crich Lane Farm 
Several previous stays here have been very convenient as it is well situated for us in stunning countryside in Derbyshire. David gave us a tour in the summer of his newly furbished B & B accommodation which I must say is first class

You will see that we are entrenched in the lower part of his farm yard just down from the B & B and in front of the summer CL which is currently home to our nearest neighbours, Monty and Cyril, their breeding rams

Even when we are not touring we seem to hit the jackpot with views from our bedroom window..

We are of course now chomping at the bit a little to return to the Continent, as soon it will be 2014 and there are so many places to see this year. At the moment we are visiting my elderly Mum in hospital as much as possible. She has just had a hip revision done and is such a remarkable brave lady. At nearly 85 she never complains and is a great motivator to us to continue exploring and enjoy our lives while we can. We are really pleased with her progress to date and are relieved she is in good spirits given the extent of her recent trauma

A mention must go to the local pub here in Wessington, the Horse & Jockey. Its managers, Phil & Tina are excellent hosts and both the traditional food and real ales are what makes our stay back here a very pleasant one. Not that we are there every day but our recent visits have been great. This is a traditional English pub with roaring fire, friendly dog and regular locals. 

So the plan is………
See in the New Year with a meal at the emporium above and spend a few more weeks here and locally in Derbyshire, visiting Mum when we can and departing when she's a lot stronger on her feet.
We plan to drift down to Portugal again and fly back late May and stay with friends whilst hiring a car. This will be so much easier and less expensive for us as we can leave the van in storage in Spain. We then plan to drift through the Med to Italy and spend the summer there following the coast, we may even be tempted to jump across to Greece but that may be another year!

Happy New Year and good luck for 2014!

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Eventually we get to visit Amsterdam after missing it six months ago

Having parked the van on the Camping Zeeburg site some way out of the city for a couple of nights, we purchase rover tickets and begin the ritual of getting lost in a big capital
The Dutch are an odd bunch with no set demeanour, our friends in the service industry either greet you with enthusiasm and are very helpful to us English, or you are treated with glum faces and forced responsive grunts
This was just on the Tram network!

Leaving the big camera safely locked in the van I took our compact one and was soon regretting the decision photographically

We'd been told by the Dutch to be vigilant but to be honest with some common sense we never felt unsafe even late in the evening

An early opportunity for Nina to peruse the diamonds that give the city some notoriety...

After a good lunch in one of hundreds of cafés we head for the Rijksmuseum 
The museum is huge and its collections of art and historical artefacts are stunning, my favourite being the huge collection of dutch pistols and rifles
Several works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet and many others enhanced our 'cultural afternoon'

After several hours and with aching backs we emerge in to the bustling evening city life and head for a superb Pizzeria with friendly hosts and Belgian beer

More Tram use and we head for the Red Light District after a tour of the Christmas markets

Having been a little apprehensive initially of touring the shadier side of town we find ourselves in the heart of the famous red light district (yes it wasn't by accident)

Having settled in a waterside bar we teamed up for the evening with a French couple who were great fun and spent the late hours analysing the morals and antics of what was going on right in front of us
Great entertainment watching the hoards of folks crawling past the 'windows' opposite us in the bar

The night bus home was less entertaining at 2.30 am especially when we yet again got off  2km before our intended stop…..
Hamburg all over again…

3 or 4 days in Amsterdam is really needed as there's so much to see and do so yet another city to add to our 'must return' list

Thursday, 21 November 2013


The next few days are spent at Middenmeer & Oudendijk
Middenmeer gave us the chance to do loads of washing at the yachthaven and break out the bikes for a very cold ride in to Schagen
Oudendijk was an empty quiet car park belonging to Eetcafé Les Deux Ponts over the small waterway bridge and an opportunity second night to sample some strong (and expensive) Dutch & Belgian beers

Alas not my photo, but the cosy interior more than made up for the howling rain outside on a late november evening

One of many pumping stations that push fresh water out to sea when needs be to control the dyke levels

Its a brave face but it was actually really cold to the bones on our ride to Edam

A visit to a cafe put us right and we decided to return the next day as we'd discovered a good parking spot near the sea

We were rewarded next day with some much missed sunshine which reminded us more of when we were here last several years ago with our respective parents on a trip

We gave this a go and were quite annoyed at the small children in front of us who spent an eternity at the pick n mix, wall to wall chocolate and candies…..

'Black Pete' again and in most of the shop displays we've seen this week

'Mouse heaven' can be found in this shop
Also strangely enough some overpriced tourist cheese that caught us out at the till

Just for comparison this is the modern side of Dutch architecture which we really quite like

Rather naively I'd forgotten that Edam was actually by the sea (Markermeer)

Monday, 18 November 2013


We left Groningen quite late and ruled out two overnight stops en route to Doezum where we stayed on a technically closed private stellplatz 
Almost all facilities were closed for the winter but the very friendly owner moved his own van aside to let us park there overnight.
We were quite surprised to find that we slept in until 10.30am and woke to see our neighbouring sheep giving us the critical eye..

Later we were home to hundreds of descending birds which pecked the lawned area furiously
A bit late with the camera but they had the last laugh...

as they left the whole van with aerial souvenirs……cheers!

On to Harlingen on the coast and I was quite surprised to see so many fishing boats all moored with little activity. I had thought the industry was all fished out!

You can't travel far round here without crossing these lifting bridges, amongst a myriad of canals and shipping routes which are kept busy

More quaint architecture

These 'town houses' are quite expensive I guess with some very swish interiors that beg to be 'gawped' at on passing by

The canals and waterways really come in to their own at night, lined with quality restaurants and cosy bars

This is a quality location we think for a summer vacation or just a romantic weekend away