Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Well, that was a ride

One day you're frantically running around The Hague trying to UPS your kids birth certificate to Canada and then before you can have lunch, you're in a rental car driving to Italy.  Sometimes life takes a hard turn.  Though it took a harder turn for my sister in law who'd been in Italy on a cycling trip and got hit by a car, hence our hurried departure.

I'd gotten a general hey how are you message from her while I was running aound the Hague trying to express post youngest's birth certificate to Canada so they could get home, long story but it basically involved an expiring passport and the airline wouldn't let her board.

I swiped the friendly message away as I was focused on the task at hand.  Once on the train back to the boat, I messaged the man who told me about the accident and the fact that she always in hospital flat on her back, not able to even sit up for any reason at all and about to be discharged to a hotel room.  Could we come and help
  Texted and googled the entire way back, chatted with the man when I got there, rented a car for 3 hrs from then and called to find a place to leave the boat.  Wham blam t'ha k you ma'am, and we were off to the races. Mad packing, the only things we forgot were the wall plugs for the phone cables and nail clippers.  Not too bad all told.

We were going to drive it straight, but SIL said she had a friend staying with her overnight anf that the rest of the crew were leaving the next evening so we stopped for the night on the way down.  Italy was Italy, wonderful and beautiful and gorgeous food. And warm.  Mostly we nursed and bought food and cooked and ran errands, but as SiL improved we managed a few outings, Ravena was astonishing, glass bead mosaics dating back forever

#

Walks in the hills and along the coast, visiting Sant Marino (disappointing) some excellent meals at the hotel, oh, the hotel, you could never ever ever find kinder more helpful people.  Ever anywhere.  Astonishing. If you're ever in the area, nstay at Hotel Fedora in Riccione, especially if you like cycling.

Eventually we all headed home, we took SIL to the airport and got her in a wheelchair and on a flight, then we took 3 days to get home.  Stopping in Reggio Emilia, Neuchâtel to learn about the pile dwellers from thousands of years ago, and Strasburg.

Now we're back on the boat in a beautiful quiet stretch of river eating our way through the last of the Italian groceries and getting psyched for going to TO in a couple of weeks.

Wow.  It was quite a ride.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Delft to Dreyfus' birthplace, it's been a ride

Well, sometimes life takes a tack you didn't expect.  We left Delft Saturday morning and motored slowly and peacefully up to a canal side spot we'd taken a few days before near Voorschoten, Delft was lovely and we were now headed north and back towards Weesp.  Then we discovered that youngest desperately needed a birth certificate, and so while it was being searched for in her town, we tore the boat apart and found one!  That's amazing, didn't think we had a copy of the kids birth certificates with us, but we do.  So, by this time it's 4pm on Saturday and everything closes as 5 so despite wanting a nap rather desperately I headed out to courier the birth certificate to Toronto.  30 min walk later, it would be 60 Euros and it might get there on Wednesday.  Sub-optimal.  I decided that I'd go into Den Haag on Monday morning, bright and early to send it off.  Big international city, should be possible.  So Sunday, we kind of mooched around, except I slept most of the day because my cold had made my ear really painful and I was all doped up on cold meds.  Nap in the morning, nap in the afternoon and early to bed.

This morning, Monday, bright and early off I headed for the train to Den Haag, google maps had a bit of a hissy fit and didn't want to give me the street directions properly to find the DHL office, despite this, I found the first one, drop off only for people with accounts.  Found the second, in a men's clothing store and opened at 12.30.  Found the 3rd one, earliest it would get there is Wednesday, but only 40 Euros.  Done and sent. 

Headed back to the train station only to discover as I was getting on the train that my sister-in-law had smashed herself up on her bike on a cycling trip in Italy. She'd been in hospital for 3 days and was being discharged to a hotel, unable to get off the bed for any reason whatsoever.  The friends from the cycling trip leave tomorrow, Tuesday.  She needed help as she has another 4 days minimum of complete bed rest. 

The man and I are driving down!!!  So, I got back to the boat, we called a marina and parked Missinaibi, about a 30 min boat ride away max.  Booked a car, got to the train station, got one stop and had to get off as the power was out on the line.  Got a tram.  Then had to walk for more than half an hour, well out of town, to the 'downtown' Europecar office. 

Ho hum

Anyway, we've driven as far as Mulhouse where I booked us a room, entirely unaware that it is the birthplace of Dreyfus who both Eldest and the Man are obsessed with. Unfortunately we've arrived her in the dark and have to leave very very early in the dark tomorrow to get down to see my sister in law, but we'll come back on the return journey!!!

The packing was a little hectic so we're missing some odd things, and we took the food that would go off and was light.  Here you can see the man enjoying his lunch of straight up iceberg lettuce.  Mmmmmmm


Friday, May 17, 2019

Motored down to Delft

After a quick run to the store this morning for milk,  it had gone sour so tea without milk and leftover pasta for breakfast rather than oatmeal, we headed off down the canal to Delft.  We had to wait for bridges rather more than usual today, tying up twice and mooching around at one of them, only to have a big old barge pass us doing about 5 knots in a 3km/hr zone. Quite something watching him go through a bridge at that speed!!!

Delft is, well, it's another Dutch town.  There is a surprising unity of style throughout the Netherlands, at least in older buildings.  They have a couple of gigantic churches.  The architecture here is generally quite human scaled, and even the big churches are decorated and kind of busy but in a homey, almost craft-like way, rather than trying to intimidate or inspire awe or overwhelm with Barroque-ness (gag), they seem, well friendly.  The houses and streets as well, designed for people.  Not cars, or businesses, but for people.



I don't know if you can see, but there are flowers painted around the edges, and vines and little windows like in houses way up at the top of the arches, like someone might open them up, peer through and wave. 



There's coots and baby coots in the middle picture, and the dog is called 'The Blue Dog'!

We had a wander around town, which was cool, home of Vermeer and my goodness but they have some big churches in this country.  Very touristy, haven't seen that in a bit, but we wandered off into neighbourhoods as well.  Came back to the boat mid afternoon, I was desperate for a nap, I haven't slept well the last couple of nights.  We wandered out again, to check out the university on the other side of the canal. The university area had some interestingly named streets....



and there were a number of displays up of students' work, like this one regarding the movement of tectonic plates.   The black line in the middle of the stripe on the ground was exactly 52º, 00',00" on Jan 1, 2018.  And the tectonic plate that the Netherlands rests on is moving at 1.5cm per year, so the blue strip displays the movement of 52º from 1992 to 2024.  Cool, no?


We also went by the Royal Delft factory, which charges a fee to visit, so we won't be bothering, but it was kind of cool to see.  They had a pillar with work on it outside, so there's that.  All the painting work at the factory is painted by hand, so they say.







Thursday, May 16, 2019

A busy day though we didn't move.

I believe I walked about 20k today, peanuts when I'm going, but still lovely.  I went off this morning on the train to go get Chuck's ashes, and then came back through the Hague.







The tickets to the Royal Collection yesterday included another museum as well, so, since I was there.... And it was OK.  The paintings were all hung in that old fashioned manner jam packed into the walls with no space between them, and they were frankly pretty mediocre.  There were a couple of OK Rubens and a dreadful Rembrandt, can't believe that was actually his.  Weirdly, all the dogs on the paintings looked the same, sort of white and brown spaniel jobs.

That was OK.  Apparently I'm still 14 in some ways though, left to my own devices, lunch was fries and an ice-cream cone.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Then I went off to see the building where they do the international criminal cases.  Just cause I wanted to see it.  And it was pretty cool, built in the Peace Palace, finished the year before WWI. Yeah.





There was a world Peace Flame monument with rocks from every country.  This one's Canada's, with the black and red horizontal stripes.



Spain's??? Missing.  What can I say.

Then I wandered through town a bit before deciding to walk back to the boat, about five and a half km.  Saw this adorable unobtrusive statue on the way


And these very neat hats....


And there were these adorable goslings getting a swimming lesson.  Their parent had led them up to the sidewalk level, about 4 feet above the water and then flew down to the pond.  The goslings dithered for a bit and then one by one plopped off the edge.  I tried to video it, but I don't like watching through the camera, so I watched myself and got a glorious video of my hand over the lens!!!!! Never gonna make it as a professional videographer, but I'll see cool things.

I did manage a photo while they were dithering


And another after the jump while they were preening their fluff after the adventure.



This evening I went for a walk after dinner, we're in Voorburg, and discovered that Spinoza had lived in this town for a while as well as the Netherlands' most important scientist - presumably historically as there have been 13 Nobel prize winners at Leiden University.  The man even knew his name, Huygen.  I'd never heard of him. He had a nice house and there were some parks with giant trees.









Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On to Den Haag

From our stop in the country we went on for a couple of hours to a stop on the side of the canal near the town of Voorschoten, where we hung out for a bit.  There was a great couple of lakes to cycle round, though my approx 20k bike ride ended with changing a completely flat front tire.  Ah well.  The innertube I put in, which already had two patches, is completely flat again.  Work to do there.



Yesterday we stayed put as I had a lot of work to do, but I did mamage a nice 2h walk in the afternoon.  The man was in heaven though as there were three different rowning clubs nearby and they all went past us when they were training.  He didn't sit still for more than a couple of minutes at a time, getting up to see who's going past!!!

This morning, we motored down to a town, Voorburg, near the Hague and took the train in.  They don't really seem to want passing boats, it's pretty complicated, but this town is lovely and its about a 10 min train ride.  So, meh.

The principle objective was to go to see the Royal Collection, wich includes primarily Dutch masters.  Thery had all their Rembrandts on display....



The Girl with the Pearl Earing


As well as this astonishing landscape of Delft



Detail here


They also had these sincerely weird creepyass wall sconces






Plus this brilliantly named street!!!!


Back to the boat via the train, a stop for portabellos for the best burgers in the world and icecream. 

Not a bad day, though I started out kinda grumpy.  Got over it though.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Leiden and a stop in the country. Brrrrrrr

Well, X and I are working on adjusting to life without Chuck.  There are some hiccups, but we're getting there.  We moved on from Haarlem and made it down to a relatively random island in some fen like lakes, our only company was one reclusive guy on a power boat and some cows


It was blowing absolute stink and the wind was perishing, so in all fairness there were a huge number of boats sailing madly around outside the little bay where we were tied up, but brrrrr it was cold.  We're still getting highs of about 11 and lows around 4.  Needs to warm the f up!!!!! I love my sweater and down coat, but come on.

After spending the night there... Oh, and a little dog came along really skinny but well cared for.  Boy though, kinda wanted to keep him.  He was in reality a practiced opportunist from the neighbouring houses, coming around to see what the boaties will give him.

We headed off to Leiden this morning, squeaking under some of the bridges.  Feeling flat today, both of us. We lucked out on a place to tie up, not gorgeous in and of itself, but a reasonable walk to town and there are two lovely big parks nearby, one entirely off leash and the other partially.  Chuck would have adored it a couple of weeks ago when he was still able. 

Leiden was likeba settled middle agedvversion of Utrecht in some ways, though itbwas Sunday morning and there weren't many students about so it may be an unfair comparison.  Cool town.  Rembrandt was born here.




I had a lovely walk around them myself, bird sanctuary and farm animals, a tea house and loads of paths.  There's a 40k mtn bike path laid out.... Not as tough as it would be in Catalunya, but my tires are slick, flattish and one brake is beyond mushy, plus 40k of offroad, I'm notnquite in shaoe for that right now.  Goals.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Saddest post I've written

We had to put Chuck down today.  I am feeling rather desolate.  I never dreamed how much having a dog would enrich our lives, nor how sad I'd be when he goes.  It has been in many ways a gigantic hassle having a dog with our lifestyle and it has been very hard to watch him decline over this blessedly short and rapid process, and it has been 100% worth every moment even when he was a goofball.  And I miss him horribly.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Haarlem to just outside of Haarlem

Well hello again!!!! This morning the weather cleared and improved dramatically, which was nice.  I didn't even need my down coat for some of the time!!!! X, Chuck and I all went into town this morning for a bit of a wander around.  Touring this way is an odd mixture of being a complete tourist and living like a local.  We have errands we need to run.  We tried to get some keys cut, no luck, we had to buy a chart and batteries and go to the bank, we went to the grocery store, and we also gaped at all the lovely buildings and the really really big square and church. 

The Chuckster got tired of the walk fairly early so we headed back, then X went out for a run and a shower, after discovering that the soap container had broken in the cockpit.  Damn.  Anyway, Chuck and I hung out in the cockpit amd I chatted with my wonderful sister and discussed her son's stupid physics teacher.  Man teachers are just terrible.

The shower? It was a gift!!!!! Hot as you want, and I like a really hot shower and as long as you wanted.  Now, I'm fine with a 4 minute shower, but I stood there for a fair while just cause I could. 

After all that we decided to have some lunch before setting out. Actually, we'd called the bridgemaster first cause some northbound boats had been stuck for half a day!!!! We were good to go though whenever we wanted to. 

While we were having lunch, a couple walked by looking at the boat.  They were young, our kids' age, just graduated from uni in Canada, a pair of Canadians!!!!! Yipeeeee.  We had a nice long chat and as they were going the girl, Hanna, said she was all excited to see the bridge turn.  We told them that it would be in the next half hour or so.  As we left the dock, we could see them sitting by a mill waiting for it.  Big waves were exchanged, then they walked up and over the bridge.  In the end, we asked if they wanted to go through with us, they said yes, as you might imagine. 

So that was good fun!!!! They were chatty and friendly and interested and had a bit of a hike back into town by the time we dropped them off, but seemed very content about it. 

That's us!!!!




Photos courtesy of Kevin, who resourcefully got our email address off Chuck's tag. 

Went to take Chuckster for a walk this afternoon, and he didn't want to go.  Didn't even want to stand up and we had to carry him off the boat.  He also cut the walk short.  Probably 15 min in total, so that wasn't great.  He ate his dinner happily though, and some dog treats!!!!

Finally here's a photo of a ferry that is exactly the shape of a boat you'd make out of newspaper or that a four year old would draw.  It's super cute, small and very very busy!!!!


We motored down to an attractive looking place to stop, just past Haarlem, but we had to go through a bridge and if we didn't like it, another one, so we just came back up to where we are, just outside the bridges in Haarlem near a nice big park where I took a lovely walk.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Alkmaar to Haarlem, 2 days and some rain

I didn't feel like posting yesterday partially cause I was feeling a little sad about Chuck who seems to be going downhill.  His back legs have been getting a bit weaker, the left one in particular for a fair while,  but they're suddenly a bunch worse.  He's been adjusting to this relatively sudden change but it has been a bit hard.  It appears to not be painful which is key.  He can't stand up from sitting anymore, he has to sort of iron cross his back end up by putting his front paws back near his hips and sort of pry/balance his way up.  Delts and core of steel coming his way.  He sort of fell into a ditch yesterday while going for a drink and his slightly out of control back end jack knifed on him on the slope and in he went.  He couldn't get himself out so I had to pull, which seemed to hurt, new that, till I got a hold of him rather than his collar.  The result? He's gotta wear his much loathed harness when I suspect I may have to haul him around, like getting on and off the boat or walking near ditches. This morning was a bit grim, he seemed much worse, limp is 3 of his 4 legs and it was like he'd lost the rhythm of walking sometimes and he'd have to sort it out again, however after a restful day on the boat while we motored along in the rain he was much better this afternoon .  Still kind of staggering and still can't stand up from sitting properly and if he gets his weight too far back, down he goes, but trotting along and coordinated and at a pretty normal speed so that was nicer. 

Anyway, we left Alkmaar yesterday and went back to a previous spot in Oost Graftdijk, great place to walk and it's free.  There was a creepy Romainian dude, he had a weird monosyllabic conversation with me, but he did go away, so that's fine.  Chuck and I saw more sheep being moved and we're they ever delighted to get into the new field with knee high grass!!!! You could hear them tearing it off from a good distance!!!

As the sun had finally come out and Chuck was wet, we sat out in the sunshine in the grass next to the boat for a good hour which was lovely.


Took this picture of the boat too....



After yesterday's beautiful sunshine and sort of warmth, I am wearing 3 layers including a wool sweater and a down jacket, the forecast for today was at best grim, however neither X nor I this morning felt like sitting on the boat in the rain all day so we hauled off for a longish day to Haarlem.  It was grey and drizzly all day, the wind wasn't as cold as it had been, previously it was off the North Sea and absolutely frigid, this was from the south, so not so bad.  There were a lot of bridges and locks so meals got a little disorganized, we may have to plan to stop for 20 min at midday or something in future for longer days cause by the time we got to Haarlem and it was raining properly, I was hungry, thirsty, getting cold and tired cause I'd slept badly that night I had a wee hissy fit as we were coming in to tie up.  Often the signs in the moorings are long and have lots of long dutch words.  I'm doing ok with dutch and I can actually figure a lot out, but it would be nice, I though, if they'd just use the internationally or at least EU offical signs rather than writing freaking essays in dutch that you can't read from a boat through the rain, even with binocular.  Jeez.

Actually, I said rather worse than jeez, but anyway.  We got tied up, had some food, had some tea, had a nap, and then the sun came out!!!! What a difference!!!! So Chuck and I went off for a tour of the town, which was pretty typically Dutch, with some exceptionally big churches and a couple of creepy touches, plus this suoer narrow house!!!!



Monday, May 6, 2019

The North Sea, X2 plus 2 museums

A fairly numerical title there!!!!! Yesterday we stayed put near Schoorl because we wanted to visit the park and see the North Sea and because the museums in the town we wanted to visit further along the canal were closed yesterday which was both Sunday and Liberation Day.  And we have to pay in the town as opposed to our free dock in the countryside.  So yesterday I wanted to ride my bike down to the sea and touch the water.  The man one upped me by running down (tougher) before I went (first!!!!). It was the longest run he'd done for a while but it is a lovely route.  I rode down on my trusty steed which has rather flat tires making this rather more work than necessary.... It was lovely to be on the bike. 


That wonderful bike has been to three seas now, the Med, the Baltic and the North!!! Lovely bike.

After his very long walk the previous day and his steadily weakening hind end Chuck was a pretty mellow walking partner yesterday morning  but was gung-ho in the afternoon and we trotted down to the park entrance, where he made it clear that that was far enough, wandered around town and we came back.  A good 4.5k+ walk. 



Today he was a little wobblier, and a little tougher for him to stand up, but keen to head out this morning.  The walk was shorter than he wanted cause we were off!!!! 2 hrs or so and we're now in Alkmaar, where there are showers!!!!! Power to juice up the computer and two museums.  The cheese Museum, which was not quite as cool as it might have been,  ut was good.  The best was a video of how robot milkers work.  That was so cool.





X went off to the beer museum, which he said was pretty amateur, but you can't win em all.  Back to the boat in the rain, a nap and a shower and another dog walk.  Really nice off leash park nearby. 



Tomorrow onwards again, though likely not too fast a start in the morning.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dunes, a (possibly national) park

We stopped here in Schoorl deliberately because it is near this national park, which is made up of dunes and once we got to the park it was also the first time we've been above sea level in a long time!!!! 8 meters!!!!!  And I thought we were low down at our home in Catalunya.

The dunes and the park were really neat and in areas with a lot of traffic, like coming out of town, very loose very fine sand... Tough climbing


And there were hills!!!!! Good lord!!!! 

There's about a billion different trails, too many in our humble opinions honestly, but as X put it, there aren't a lot of places like this here, they may need the volume.  There was a real monoculture of pines in much of the park, which left it a little desolate, lacking bird life and diversity compared to the trees we went through as we walked to the park, which was lovely.





It's a lovely enormous park, we walked for several hours through it and even stopped at a wee restaurant for toasties!!! We're not moving on tomorrow as the library in the town we're coming up to won't be open till Monday.  Also, this is a gorgeous park and I'm going to see if I can ride my bike to the North Sea to dabble my toes.  We've seen the Baltic, now the North. 

And we'll likely take Chuck up there for another walk tomorrow too. Only disadvantage is that he has to be on leash at all times, nesting season.


Friday, May 3, 2019

A quieter day

And a bit cold.  I'd like to get out of my down coat at some point!!!!!

We weren't very ambitious today, we're motoring down the Noorhollandkanal and it is fine, though a highway runs alongside it for much of the distance which reduces the moment to moment joy.  We didn't push particularly far, and we're stopped in an OK place (highway across the canal and parking lot beside us with nowhere great to walk the dog) but, it's only a couple of kilometres from a National Park and the North Sea, so that's the agenda for tomorrow, assuming the weather isn't too dreadful.  It's supposed to be fairly yucky.

So we're tied up near a town calles Schoorl, Chuck and I went for a little walk,  but he wanted to come back after about half an hour, so I have less of a feel for the place than usual. Though we did manage to ger through all sorts of boring chores and a bunch of work which was good. Which reminds me, Spanish taxes up next.

Fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

2 for 1

That is two days discussed in one post cause I got distracted yesterday and didn't write anything. Yesterday was a fairly normal day, we motored on in the cold for a few hours through a variety of bridges and locks, almost to the top of this part of Holland.  We stopped on a lovely dock on a small lake, the Amstelmeer, which was certainly peaceful.



Chuck and I managed to find a trail that was off the road and allowed dogs, so that was lovely, we got a good long walk in. 







It was lovely and also lovely to get off the roads, they drive super fast down these narrow roads here.

Only problem was ticks, I found one crawling on my sweater and five on Chuck.  Ho hum.

Oh, and there was also the guy who stopped on the side of the road, not 50 meters ahead of me as I was walking steadily towards him, went round his truck to stand directly in front of me at the side of the road and whipped it out to have a pee. By the time he got organized and started peeing, I was probably 20 meters away, and I had to wait in front of his truck for him to finish cause there was too much traffic to go round the truck and he was standing peeing in the way. (????!!!!!!?!?!?!?!???!!) WTF?

Anyway, this morning X took Chuck for a walk so I could hop on my bike and ride up to the dike that looks out over the sea, but here it is a bird sanctuary and looks fascinating on the chart.  See?



Well, it was again wonderful to be on my bike, I went past some fields of tulips... One of the real reasons to come to North Holland this time of year.



Rode on to the edge of the sea viewed from the dike, and it looked like, well a beach and the sea.  Probably depends on the state of the tide.  There was a bird watching hide constructed there and with, literally kilomètres of dike to chose from, someone put this post right in front of it.  Really.


Honest to goodness, why?

Anyway, rode back to the boat, saw these two coming back from their walk,



Rode out the dock back to the boat,

So then we were off again, we decided to skip Den Helder, the military port, it didn't look interesting enough for the price and headed down the Noordhollandkanal.  We're now in a little town called 't Zand, which is cute, I guess. Chuck was pretty annoyed with us at the beginning of today's trip as he was made to stay below due to rain. Once it eased off, he came on deck.  You can see he enjoyed the views.