Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Good news!!!!

First things first, Chuck's lump does not seem to be malignant!!!!! Yipeeee!!!! Chuck has grown a big lump on his ribs, it's probably 7cm x 5cm x 2 or 3 cm.  It's bony hard and adhered to his ribs.  It doesn't bother him, he never scratches it or licks it and is totally unmoved when I poke it.  But it's big and it came up in 4 - 5 weeks.  We took him to a vet to get it biopsied and no malignant cells were found, only blood.  Which is good.  She did say that if it continues to grow, we should test it again.  So that's that, and it's good. We'll be keeping an eye on it.

Currently we're in a little wee town called Winkle, which is a fun name all on its own, but even more amusing when you know that a winkle in Dutch is a store!!!! So we're spending the evening in Store.

Today was a little more packed than usual.  Chuck and I went off for our morning walk and as we came back we could see from a fair way off that there were a couple of boats waiting for the railway bridge just ahead of where we were moored, and which we had to get to open so we could continue on.  As we got closer, the boats were still there.  Closer still, bridge hadn't opened.  I got back to the boat and as I'm loading Chuck aboard, I'm calling out to the man to get the key and maybe we can go through with them, and we did!!!!! All the laundry still flapping in the breeze, I think we got the cover off the tiller, X didn't have a coat on, but we made the bridge.  The next few minutes were spent getting organized, you know, coiling, finding the chart, getting dressed.... We went a few km and stopped again cause there was a public mooring spot close to an Aldi and a Welkoop and we needed groceries and dog food.  The crappy god food they sell in the grocery stores is not ideal, but Welkoop is a great store!!!! It's kind of a Canadian Tire, but for farmers.  So there was a chicken and a rooster for sale, lots of different animal feed, great practical nice clothes at fair prices, fire wood coke as in charcoal for trains, neat tools.... It's not serious farm equipment, you can't get parts for your tractor or seed by the ton, but a really cool store.  We got food for his nibs, which he actually seems to approve of (the Eukanuba is gross it seems) and groceries next door at Aldi.

We'd brought the bike cause we needed enough stuff and it was probably half a kilometre away.  Gosh it was nice to get on the bike again, but off roading on wet bumpy grass with slick tires and a wildly overloaded bike was exciting!!!! We had to go over a really steep super narrow bridge, just wide enough for the saddle bags, and then up a steep grassy dike to head back.  My feet just slid right out till I was on my knees.  Wet grass is slippery as all get out, but also makes for a soft landing.  X gave a push at the back and we got up the hill. 

Back to the boat and a fast but much needed lunch and we were off again!!!!! We're getting better luck with the correspondence between what's on the chart and the public moorings on land, which is a relief. We motored through some very pretty wetlands, this is a lovely stretch, plus it's spring so there's lambs and baby grebes and coots and geese and ducks everywhere. 

Oh, and tulips!!!!

Finally tied up at around 3.30, time for tea and a coffee, it was a little cold today.  No worries till I poured the milk into X's coffee and it was solidish.  Smelled fine, but, not a good texture.  He drank most of it, but I set off to the grocery store for more milk and the few groceries we didn't get at the Aldi.  Great, back to the boat.  X goes for a walk to the Jumbo grocery store to look for stove alcohol, readily and cheaply available in the grocery stores and I set out to make paneer and tea.  Separately,  not good together.  I get my tea ready, pour in the milk, which looks strangely thick for skim milk and take that first delicious sip.

GAH. What is wrong with this milk????? It tastes horrid.  Frantic whatsapps to X to get him to buy more milk, and some more intense work with the translator.  Buttermilk.  Damn.  2 liters of the stuff.

We had buttermilk vinegrette on the salad and a buttermilk curry on rice with the paneer I made from the milk which had separated.  Chuck however managed to tip up the pot of whey I was saving to cook the rice in, spilling a good cup of it, requiring a long and cranky tidy up because it also leaked down through all the hatches.  He has to stand on the counter to get out of the boat and for some reason he had to go out right then and could not be dissuaded. Still no tea.  But the man turned up with more milk and all is good.  Had a short nap too before setting out to walk the dog. 

Buttermilk pancakes for breakfast!!!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

In the end, we went precisely nowhere

So, yesterday we thought we'd move to a different spot.  Where we are seemed a little weird, and on the chart there's a spot on a island on a lake that looked good.  Before that though Chuck and I went for a walk, and got a better impression of the place than we previously had. We walked through the little town and out the other side and there was so little traffic (early Sunday morning after Koningsdag - kings day, a big party) that he was easily offleash on the road.

In the coutry side they make a lot of roads that are barely two lanes wide and they have dotted lines down each side marking bike lanes, but if two cars meet there's space for them to pass each other carefully.  Brilliant design.

Any, way, we were trundling along when a guy on a quad with a trailer shows up, a farmer, goes down off the road and opens a gate before buzzing back the way he came.  We got further down the road and there we saw a heard of sheep being ushered to a new pasture.  Put Chuck on leash.  He wouldn't do anything, but still.  There was a man out the front with a bucket of sheep treats and a trail of sheep behind him. A few willingly, many not. A woman was driving a car along the road to prevent strays from getting up there, the man was on the quad and another woman and two girls were herding at the back.  The sheep were reluctant to move along, great flapping of jackets and clapping.  They eventually moved past us and on we went.

Found a fort we'd seen on the map but Chuck wasn't allowed in the field to see it so we looked from the distance.

Anyway, we got back to the boat in the end, and off we went, maybe 2k to this next anchorage.  A euro a foot and the dog had to be onleash all the time.  We came right back where we started.  The forecast was for heavy rain most of the day so going on wasn't appealing.

We're ok where we are and we're moving on today.

Someone thought we should get going faster in the morning, not wait for the rain shower to pass.  Deafness... Can't tell it's raining till it lands on him.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

A rainy drive to (almost) nowhere

We've come into Nord Holland, and the dutch will say that every province has its own character, something we found a little hard to believe given how very small the country is, but Noord Holland certainly has one characteristic all its own.  Apparently it doesn't allow the surveyors for the chart makers in and it removes most signs for where you can moor a boat. 

This morning, we almost left Nord Holland altogether to head back to a land of information and I have to say that if today had gone badly, we'd have left.... But.... We found a spot.

It is weird.  There is a 600(!!!) page book of rukes and regulations for cruusing the canals in the Netherlands .  Only in Dutch, which is kind if a blessing cause goidness, that's ridiculous, but it does leave us wondering.  Can we tie up on the side of canals anywhere? Can we use some of the multitude if docks that appear to be public but have no signs to say yes or no and aren't marked on the chart? What's with the ones marked on the chart but not there in real life?

Honestly frustrating.

Anyway, we decided to leave Edam this morning despite the mediocre forecast, and the weather was mediocre.  And in true fashion managed to rain hardest while going under bridges and while tying up the boat.  Lashings of rain and a great deal of wind all day.  And we're tied to a dock in a weird little place with a gated community as seen in Florida, creepy, and
two teeny tiny cramped towns with nothibg to them but the church.

Onwards and upwards unless the weather is hellish today.

Walking on the dike near Edam.

Enjoying the Dutch weather


Friday, April 26, 2019

Edam, the secons cheese town

So this morning we headed out down a lovely quiet rural canal to Edam. We stopped in the first spot we saw after the first of 10 bridges.  The outskirts of small towns are best, to our minds.  Quieter and more private than right in the center, we've got better access to places to go walking and it's still just moments to get into the town. 

Got here and I headed straight to the library, what fabulous instutions these are, to get a chunk of work done.

Another thought I had today is that there are many things I love about our lives right now, but part of it is that I really enjoy being in motion.  The act of travelling from one place to the next.  Well, air tavel has become horrific, and there are buses that I don't love - Midland bus I'm looking at you - but being under way, is wonderful.  Just that urge to see what's round the corner. Probably part if why I like walking so much, and dislike loooong straight roads, and trains, and road trips with the right people.  (Commuting is anathema to this idea, except on a bike, and even then.....)

Just neat to see what will show up next!!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Whew a long day and it sounded like a stroke

Well, today was a little more eventful than we'd bargained for.  The plan had been to hang out in our quiet hideaway under the runways at Amsterdam airport cause the weather forecast was abysmal.... But it improved overnight and we decided to go for it.  It was going to be a biggish day, going through umpteen bridges and locks in Amsterdam, crossing the Noordzeekanal, which if you've been to Amsterdam is the crazy big busy one behind the train station, then heading further north.

Off we went, fairly uneventfully on the whole at first.  Though the man's attempts at pronouncing the names of the bridges on the vhf provided a certain degree of astonishment and levity.  The first bridge he called started speaking to us in English spontaneously.  X clarified that we didn't speak Dutch, and they went on from there.  After that bridge I lovingly pointed out that the lockmaster had already started speaking in English, likely recognizing that we weren't Dutch from the butchery of the bridges name....

On into Amsterdam, but not before tanking up on some diesel from a marina who maintained that he didn't have any water.  (!!!?!?!?????!?!) We were very low on water and didn't really need the diesel, but whatever.  He told us of another marina that had water but no diesel.  Ok.  Off we go.  Just before the lock we have to go into we see a hose at the end of a dock at a marina/club/not sure.  We stopped, I wander off in search of someone to consult re the water.... Not a soul.  So we stole it.  I'm sorry, but it was there, we needed it.  You usually get charged 50cents for 100 litres, and there was no one to ask or pay.

We cut and ran into the lock.  And on into Amsterdam proper.  Out air height is 2m35cm.  The lowest bridge was nominally 2.44, but we had found in our travels that water levels are not fixed (duh) so some 2.5 bridges were rather less. There were a lot of very very close bridges in Amsterdam, something like 15 of them, and for each and every one X had to go on deck and determine if we could get under it without ripping the mast off the deck.  The closest one we cleared by 4cm.  As an added joy we had a good stiff tail wind so stopping if he thought we couldn't make it would have been fun. We were relieved to be out unscathed at the end.

The Noordzeekanal was super busy and kind of rough, but fine. We've been through New Yrok City and Miami,, and the Kiel canal, well, we've done busy before but it was still a relief to get into the NordHolland Kanal which was much quieter.  Except, the place marked on this years chart as a place to stop? Yeah, it wasn't.  On we went to the next town.  It had 7 official places to stop, the first had no signs and was a little decrepit.  The next 2 didn't exist.  The third was one boat length long, in front of a restaurant and beside a busy road.  The fourth was filled with barges who shouldn't have been there.  Through the lock and under some only just tall enough bridges (not in that order). The fifth was a paid slip, the sixth didn't exist and we're in the seventh which has some weird signs we cannot understand but no one's kicked us off and it feels like the town has removed all the listed free spots so you stay in one of their many paid slips. That feels like a scam and I don't like that feeling.

We're going on tomorrow.  We'd thought we'd stay, but not on those terms.  A Bronx cheer to you Pumerend.

Oh, but the best.  As we're coming up to that last lock here in town, X has to radio for them to open the lock and he made the most awesome hash of the name.  I swear to god, it sounded like he was having a stroke.   Shloootshloos, shlootshloos, shootshloos, this is.... Etc.  I'm sure the lock keeper could hear me laughing while he was on the radio.  Maybe you had to be there, but we were staggering around laughing about it while we went through the very slow lock.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Two days in one

Yesterday we motored all of about 3 k to the town of Oude Wetering cause Chuck had to go to the vet.  He's grown a large hard lump on his side and we wanted it looked at.  His apt was for 7.30 pm so we haf all day in town.  It eas nicer than the place the day before, Liemuiden, but still hardly a tourist destination.  The library opened at 7pm, unfortunate as my computer is almost out of juice. I did a bunch of work, and we got sorted on wjere we're going next.

We went off to the vet who said that it is a growth, it's not a clump of fat which he'd had before and took 4 samples for biopsy.  They'll email us the results.  He was a trooper throughout.

Off today a little early and we're tied upnat a municipal dock under the runway for Schilpol airport.  On one side there's a wee bayou with masses of bird song and action, on the other. The airport and a road.

Going through Amsterdam tomorrow!!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

This town's a dump

We moved on today, about 20 k, we knock ourselves out!!!!! The first place we wanted to stop didn't have any of the signs that say you can stay overnight, nor did it have bollards, we'd have to hammer in pegs, so though it was lovely, we kept going.  Not fun being told to move at 7pm for example.  We had a couple of bridges where we had to wait 15 min or so, but it was otherwise quite uneventful.  We made it down to Leimuiden, tied up with other boats in a bit of a park.  A power boat came in and tied off immediately ahead of us, stern to stern.  Not much privacy there, though they didn't have a lot of choice at the time.  I was hoping they'd leave as it is the last day of a long weekend.  Nope.  So when Chuck and I came back from our walk around this fairly dismal town we turned the boat so our bow was off their stern. They kinda should have moved first as the were last one in, but whatever.

Walking around town, there was even a guy missing some teeth wearing a confederate flag flat back style cap with 'rebel' written on it.  The fact that he was riding a Dutch sit up and beg bike detracted a bit from the image, but still.

On another note, we're currently quite the erudite boat!!!! The man is reading Herodotus and I'm digging into the Russians!!!! So far so good.

We'll move on tomorrow.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Head in the bilge, or spring cleaning

On Friday we moved a couple of kilometres up to a quieter spot.  We can still access the amazing park, but the highway has been replaced with some woods.  Much more pleasant.  As an added bonus, there's a rowing club so we get all manner of entertainment, one single even dumped.  The water is damn cold, he got it righted and got back in pretty quickly. 

Anyway, we're having several days of beautiful hot sunny weather, so it's time to clean.  Mattresses on deck, scrub brushes, water and soap to the for, along with small amounts of bleach.  How I hate mildew. 

Yesterday, the v-berth where we sleep.

Of course, all the stuff stowed in there has to find somewhere else to go while we clean, so the boat looked like this....

It was nice to get it all put back together again, and cleaner. 

Today, the hanging locker and the head!!!!! Life in paradise!!!!!

Friday, April 19, 2019

An eventful day

Yesterday started off going to see the cheese market in Gouda.  It was mostly just a market like they have in our village every week.  Which was fine but a little disappointing.  The cheese market is put on for the tourists, so there's a couple or rows of cheese and a couple of guys dressed up and a lot of folks taking photos.  It was OK,  but a little weird.

Anywa, I'm glad we went, but we certainly didn't need to stay long.  Back to the boat and we were off.  We had a bridge to go through, then an immediate right to a bridge and a lock.  But.... The bridgemaster at the first bridge told us that the lock had broken down and we'd have to go south, the way we came in.  Ok. 

Off we went, checking the chart and there is a slightly longer loop but we would come out at the same place further down the canal.  No problem, back to the lock into the Holland Ijssel (?) river, and as the door opens, out swims a duck and her ducklings, they'd all just locked through.  In we go, down go the doors, this is a guillotine style lock, and we wait, and wait.  Broken down!!!! Ok.  The lock keeper had been super friendly and he lived on his boat near where we had moored.  He offered us tea and coffee, we thanked him, but we're at home.  Time for lunch and a bit of r&r. 

The lock guys turned up and we were off!!!! Great!!!! 

We turned right to head down the river and at the first corner, what do we see? The back end of a big cruise ship coming upstream, around the corner, backwards.  Instead of trying to deal with him at the corner, we turned around, got way over on one side so he could pass us on the straight away, but he was edging closer and closer to us.  Eventually we gave a big old angry-ish arm wave for him to move over and he did, but we had a meter to the riprap on one side and a meter to him on the other...It was all fine in the end, but still!!!  By law, we have to give way to all commercial traffic, always, however they aren't supposed to smear us against the shore when they can avoid it!!!! 

We had a tight squeeze with another barge fuether on, but that was just a narrow channel and a big boat.  Our air draf is 2.35m.we went under two bridges advertised as 2.5m.  One was.  One was about 2.4.  Ho hum. Then, the place we'd planned to tie up had disappeared, so on and on.  We ended up tied up in a gorgeous park in Alphen aan de Rijn, but there's a highway across the canl and it was pretty loud.  Fine, but not brilliant.  Great dog walking though!!!! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fries, ice-cream and cheese

Dutch cuisine is not inspiring as far as I can see and the grocery stores, unlike in Sweden, Denmark and Germany do not really carry anything all that different from a Canadian store except a pretty awesome display of mayonaise varients.  But, in other ways, I am all about Dutch eating habits.  First, ice cream.  Everyone eats icecream all year round.  Adults, kids, men and women.  Even very small towns have one icecream store.  In fact I can't think of a place that only has one and we've been in some smaaaaalllllll towns.  They like soft cones too... So equal opportunity ice cream lovers.  I'm with you. Weirdly downtown Amsterdam has almost none.  Evidence that the rest of the world, and their citizens visiting the city, are not wise enough to keep a good icecrem place going.

Second, fries.  I love Catalunya and I love Catalans, but *man* they cannot make a decent french fry.  Limp, oily and luke warm.  The Dutch? They have stores that make nothing but fries.  That's it.  Fries.  You get a cone of them and eat them on your way.  You get topping too. Usually mayo (what a surprise!!!) Indeed, there is mayo style specifically for fries. One store had 30 different topping choices.  I LOVE this. They double cook them too so they're nice and fluffy inside and super crisp on the outside.  Mmmmmmmm. The only thing I'm not so keen on is the sometimes downright creepy gigantic french fry cone with eyes amd arms you sometimes see outside of stores.  No picture, I'll take one one day and post it.

Then there's cheese.  Now, this isn't France, which definitely raises the bar higher but we're in Gouda and we're going to do the tourist thing and go to the cheese market. Edam is around the corner too.  I love cheese. In our family there's a question that gets asked.  For the rest of your life, you can eat anything you want except you have to choose either meat or cheese. Cheese.  No hesitation.  Though I'd miss meat, cheese every time. Mmmmmmmm

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Productive day and sometimes it's a production

We had a good day, the man got a lot of painting done amd wood sawn, and tonight for the first time in aaaaages we haven't needed the fire!!!!!! Yeeehaw!!!!

I went into Gouda to the library to do a bunch of work, and mostly to charge the computer up.  The phone however is a little low on juice tonight. Man it gets some serious mileage.  And this is life on the boat.  I forgot to bring a separate wall plug for the phome when I went into the library so it was charging off the computer, which is slow, plus it was a mobile hotspot for the comouter... Longish story, which uses a lot of juice.

So, as I went to bed, I went to plug in my phone.  We have a car style phone charger plug that the previous owner installed (yippeeeee ) for when the solar panel hasn't kept up with demand.

Now at home, you plug it into the wall. Done.  Here I go up to bed and realize I haven't turned on the batteries.  These start the engine too, so one must be cautious.  Back out again to turm them on.  Back into the v-berth.... not working.  Fidget around a bit, back out for a headlamp.  Back in again, fidget some more, cave and get my glasses, fidget a but more.  The man joins in on the fun.  He's fidgetting with one end, I'm jiggling the socket where it plugs into the wall (it's not an elegant set up but it works) and bingo!!!! We're off!!!

A bit of a hassle, but also something of a victory!!!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Happens to everyone

Well, it was our turn.  We made an almighty balls of a bridge today.  We did avoid hitting it and no one was hurt, so all told, really just annoying.

Let's see if I can explain this.  We'd stopped to fill up with water on the side of the canal, about 50 meters away from the bridge.  We were facing downstream towards the bridge, there was current behind us and a fair amount of wind from behind as well.  To get the bridge to open you have to do some precision flying.  You have to bring your bow up the the end abutment and stop without hitting it so your crew can push the button.  The button and the abutment are about 2.5 meters from the bridge. 

Here's a couple of photos

The buttin is right on the end of that closer wall of piles.

Here's another view....

This is from on the bridge and hopefully gives a sense of how very close this all is.

Now, sailboats don't back up well under power (unless they have my beloved outboard!!!!) but that's the other boat. This one is powerful, but as is typical, you have very little steerage at all, so where you go as you back up is anybody's guess.

So.  We came off the wall, but I had no steerage as we were essentially being blown and swept down.  I gave it a juice in forward so I could steer, we got up to the button, stopped, but then started to swing side on, thank you current and wind.  I had a faint hope we'd hold it, so I reversed, but we got pushed into the channel for the bridge (now less than 2 meters from the mast resting in stands on deck) .  Gonna hit the bridge.

Reverse.  A good chunk harder.  But of course it was a crap shoot which way we'd turn.  Yeah, not towards the center of the channel as I'd hoped.  Nope, firmly towards the wall, at a right angle.  Briefly tried going forward, but we were pinned against the abutment.  Reverse as the stern was swinging down and we were now going towards the bridge arse first outside the allowed track.  Needed to get the bow up... Crunch into the wall, bye bye stern light, but we stopped swinging down towards the bridge.  A litte forward and we were (precariously) balanced beam on to the abutment. The bridge guys have cameras and let me tell you, he was banging that bridge up as fast as he could.  Thank you oh bridgemaster.  We were not in the best spot.  Back into forward as it went up and we glided round and through.  The man a little flustered, me a little less, I have a longer history of watching and participating in these kinds of screw ups.  We did have ginger cake before lunch when we stopped though.

It is a stupid system, most bridges have the buttons but usually also a phone number or a vhf channel.  The bridge before this one had the place to wait nice and far out so you can get some control before you get to the bridge and you can phone!!!!

Lessons learned.  I should have turned around and gone upstream before turning again and  approaching the bridge so I could have been better centered.  It still might have been an almighty disaster, but I'd have had more room to manoeuvre rather than been stuck up near the wall.  That said, the river there is only about  30 - 35 meters wide.  We're a bit more than 8 long and in perfect conditions need about 25 to turn.

In infinitely worse news.  Notre-Dame in Paris is burning.  An utter tragedy.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

I always want to have a goofy dog

Walking Chuck today made me remember words of wisdom from a woman I used to know.  She told me that when they get a dog, they always want a goofy dog.  Chuck and I were out happily walking along a new trail we'd found and a guy turned up with his gigantic Rottweiler off leash.  The thing was huge.  I have to say, it was fine, though I had no interest in interacting with it.  It was bloody scary and the dufus threw his ball forwards towards us.  Nothing like a Rottweiler that weighs as much as I do coming full bore towards me.  I told the dog to fuck off.  He did, in his defense.

The other thing is though that Chuck got attacked twice in Weesp, once with a bite litterally on his eyelid.  He's nearly 15, deaf, his eyesight is fading, he limps on this leg then that leg, but he's still doing really well.  But he's getting to that elderly stage where one 'fall' can be a tipping point.  And they basically won't operate on dogs his age cause they can't handle the anaesthetics so if he gets badly beat up, that might be the end of the road.  And it doesn't need to happen. We're walkig probably 10k a day and he's adjusting to being deaf and he's doing great.  So keep your bloody Rottweiler away from me.

Bottom line though, I never want to have a dog that makes everyone afraid, that I cannot let off leash without enduring the rage of everyone around me, however well trained the dog may be.

And also, it's a dog.  I don't care how well it's trained.  You never know. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Calling it out

I think that I don't generally stand for a lot of shit, but as I'm getting older, I think I can stand less.  Especially with what is going on now in politics in so many places.  I've always called things out amongst people I'm comfortable with but I'm just not putting up with it with anyone anymore.  That's not to say I'm going to call people racists or mysoginists or ignorant, though I may be thinking it, but I'm not going to let anything go by me anymore.  Just not.  We need to start these conversations.  There's a fair amount of sexism in Catalunya, even from men who just don't see it otherwise and some of it you have to live with, causenthey aren't *saying* anything specific, but it's there. But sometimes you've got to just call it out.  Happened with a mountain guide one day.  He denied it and said I hadn't understood.  (prick, my Catalan is just fine}.  D with her perfect accentless Catalan backed me up.  All my (male) friends, D and I were the only women in the course, stood by and said nothing.  D:s boyfriend E however, backed us up.  I like that guy, way to be an ally.  One of the group members sided with the guide.... Throw you under the bus chickies foreigners and 'yoots' (ass). 

You also get routine thoughtless homophoboc slurs.  Called them out every time. And there was change, at least in front of me.

Now with politics, post something on fb? I'll ask you about it.  I'll be really nice, but I'm gonna ask.

Here in the Netherlands we've heard a stunning number of racist comments from the few Dutch people we've spoken too.  I'm not letting it go by.  Though I do try and reframe.  The chinesene are not 'stupid' cause they don't understand you and cause they want to do things in groups, immigrants who haven't learned the language aren't stubborn, it's alot harder to learn Dutch if you come from Indonesia (different script anyone?) than it is for a
 Dutch person to learn German.  They're very very similar languages.

So.  I'm just not letting shit slide by anymore, and know what? I've had some cool conversations as a result too. 


Friday, April 12, 2019

Waiting for the Gouda cheese market

We're near Gouda, and had a look up the day to see Gouda's cheese market would be.  Every Thursday, that's good.  We looked on.... Thursday.  We're not very far away, so we're kinda waiting.  We've got a bit if time to spare.  I know the town reasonably well now, Chuck likes a new route if given a choice, and it's chilly these days.  The suns nice and warm but the wind's bitter.  We're down to 0 at night, it's ok in the evenings with our handy dandy wood burning heater, and lots of blankets at night, but a little warmer would be welcome!!!!

We'll likely move about 1 kilometre tomorrow to get past two bridges then move on to the next town the following day. 

Life is peaceful and good.  Sort of a Sunday vibe to it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The witchless town

Despite having a lovely mooring, sunshine in the cockpit, wind from the bow and baby grebes to watch, we decided to head an hour down the river to Oudewater.  The oldest incorporated village in the Netherlands I think. 750 years a proud local told me.  By Catalan standards, not that old, but Catalunya is made from rock and sunshine.  There's been habitation since neolithic times and evidence of it.  We're 6 meters below sea level here.  We kind if don't understand how it's been around for that long,  nor how the river we're on is a river not a canal.

Anyway, this is a lovely little town, a lot of older buildings, mostly early 1600s and a rooe kuseum, I'm super excited about this!!!!! There's also a museum which holds the witch scales.  Women (and a few men) accused of being witches were made to sit on the scales, if they were too heavy to fly a broom, they weren't witches. 

Not a single person was convicted or burnt here.  Ever.  I already like this place!!!!

Town hall, more photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Oh yeah, Crested Grebe babies!!!

Totally forgot to talk about that, so the canal where we are now has a pair of grebes that hang out by where we're tied up.  I have to say, I've always seen birds, and knew the name of a lot of birds, and we've always had a bird book around,  but this trip is turning me into a full fledges (haha) birder.  My friend and colleague who I went to China with in January has just gotten into birds, and she told me about an app, Merlin.  Brilliant.  Today I saw common buzzards, Branr geese, Greylag geese, another one I couldn't recognize, Egyptioan geese with babies, Coots on nests, Moorhens and this pair of Crested Grebes.  I was heading down for a nap when the man mentioned that one of the pair had babies on his or her back, they share the dutues and there is no dimorfism, so, hard to tell.  I was nearly asleep so didn't look, but when I got up, they were still there!!!! Feeding wee little minnows to the babies!!!! I even saw them switching over, the babies could swim along.  Soooo cute.

Crested Grebe babies!!!!

We got off a little earlier this morning as we had relatively far to go.  Interestingly, as we were going through the first very low bridge out of Utrecht, the bridge operator looked to confirm that we'd paid for our night's stay.  His computer said we hadn't as the automatic machine wouldn't accept my cards - what's new!!!! We did pay the men at the lock though, so they let us out.  Onwards through many many bridges, then into the lock that would take us to the mamoth and very busy Rijnkanal (sp?) which runs from the Rhine to Amsterdam and is no place for us.  How we rolled and slopped and flopped, though that wasn't till after a wee delay in the lock into the canal as the door behind us didn't want to close. Fortunately the lock out of the big canal (look both ways before you cross the street boys and girls) worked perfectly.  By then Chuck was lying unhappily under our feet in the cockpit well, where he can't slide off.

We're now in a little town, Montfoort.  Two gigantic churches, the Dutch were pretty religious in the past it seems, two icecream places, my kind of town, and Chuck kind of misbehaving, just not paying attention to directions.  Now. He's stone cold deaf, but we're getting used to that, all of us, but he just didn't care today, going where he wanted.  A little more leash time was the result of that.

Onwards to Utrecht.

We got off at a reasonable hour, tanked up with water, for 50 cents and headed out. One of the things I love about the canal here is that they have little ramps out of the water for the ducklings and other critters!!!!

Neat , eh?

Once through the lock into Utrecht , we made a hard right and tied up for the night.  Fairly expensive, like Denmark was, at 18.70 for the night, though this included electricity and showers, so, not so bad.

At that price we weren't sure we'd stay for the two days we'd initially planned so off we went to view the city, and it is really lovely.  Filled with young students tons of cafés pretty buildings and canals.  There's no overriding massive tourist site and I suspect that a large percentage of the tourists are Dutch. 

While wandering around the man smelled pizza and really wanted some.  It was good and cheap, so why not!

Mmmmmmm pizza!!!!

The man's walking shoes were also so worn out they reminded me of a song originally written by Hank Williams but who I know from the Little Willies, Ain't no getting out if this world alive.  On it he says, 'These shabby shoes I'm wearing lord / they're full of holes and nails. / And brother if I stood on a worn out dime / I bet a nickle I could tell you if it's heads or tails!   Walking on cobbles left his feet hurting for a week.... So we were kind of thinking about shoe stores.  Sadly Decatlon was a long way out of town and the North Face store was a little out of our budget, and then we saw Intersport, a chain in Catalunya too, they sell good sportswear at not ridiculous prices, and they had a 70% off sale!!!! Yippeee, the man has new shoes!!!!

Not a bad day out!!! Then back to the boat to charge everything up with the already paid for electricity!!!!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

This country is flaaaaatttt

And there are some really looooong straight roads.

You really could watch your dog run away for three days, except he'd fall in a ditch or a canal long before that.

It's a beautiful place and the sky is huge and the sightlines are enormous, but man, I miss a mountain, a winding trail, a hill to climb.  The feeling of your legs working and the concentratiin of running down a technical hill.  Here it's one heel strike after another. 

And I am just not mentally tough enough for a road that just disappears as a dead straight line into the horizon.  Oooof.

Now, give me a corner or a curve, and I'll always want to see what's round it and go on and on and on.  The man? Tough as nails.  Just sets the pace and goes and goes.

I'm a kindergartener.  How much loooooonger????!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Vecht muesum and bridgemaster

We went off to the Vechtstreek museum, which was fascinating.  They had two exhibits, one about mills, there was a miller who showed us around and explained things to us, he works in a flour mill, korenmolen... And the standing exhibit about the Vecht region.  Fortunately they had a reasonable amout of information in English.  I'm studying Dutch, but I am still at the childishly delighted stage of understanding a word or two.

This area had many large estates with fancy houses on them, many owned by Jews, often arriving out of Spain. They were banned from living in Utrecht, so settled here and appeared to have prospered. These small local museums are marvelous for helping us understand the region we're visiting.

Chuck and I went off for a walk, this part of the Netherlands is certainly friendly, I talked with another dog walker, a long chat with a bridgemaster, ranging through language learning, him maritime German and Russiam, me a bit of Dutch, to drug use in Urk, to the design of motorcycles.  We started talking as I was trying to read the sign on his door, I understood the first three words, but not the rest.  Then he appeared.  It was also my fault some boats had to wait quite a while for a bridge as we were chatting away.



Got chatting with a group of university students as well who were here this evening with a choir to sing in the church.  We debated going briefly, but didn't in the end.  The tickets were quiet expensive.

Tomorrow is supposed to hit 20!!!!! I am more than a little excited!!!!!

Friday, April 5, 2019


Well, one day last week I was sitting around and I just got tired of my hair.  So, I cut it. By myself, without a mirror mostly, with kitchen scissors.  All told, it turned out OK.  Not good by any stretch, but I could go out in public after I tidied it up a bit with a mirror.  But I couldn't do the back, so I asked the man to give me a hand.  He was not a happy participant, but gave it a go.  Let's just say it didn't go that well.  Fortunately it's still chilly enough here that I could wear a coat to hide the shelf on the back of my head. 

However, on reading the forecast which said that it may get up to 20 on Sunday (!!!!!! Squeeee!!!!!) getting my hair cut became a higher priority, so when we got to Breukelen - the origin of Brooklyn, I had a look around at the hairdresseres.  The first wanted 52 Euros for a cut.  I figured for that price the man could have another shot at it.  The place I prefered was cheaper, 26 euros.  Now we're talking!!! They did it on the spot and let Chuck come in with me.  Yippeee!!!! 15 min later, maybe a bit more cause she wanted to straighten it, it was all done. 

Then I was off to the library to get a bunch of work done - wifi was so bad I used data anyway, but at keast I was all plugged in.  Got some dog food and we got back to the boat.  Friday night and the good old (and young) boys were starting to gather by where we were moored and the town was lovely, but there was nowhere nice to walk, so off we went, south (more or less) for about an hour.  We're now moored outside the Vechtstreek museum in Maarssen having figured out that the private moorings for restaurants have a different symbol on the map.  The first three we passed weren't public.  Where we are is lovely though and we'll probably stay for the weekend. The museum is of the entire region of the Vecht, the river we're on, and will hopefully prove interesting.  Plus there's a couple of nice big parks nearby so it all looks grand.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Onwards ho!!! To Broekelan

That's right, we're in Broekelen, origin of Brooklyn in NY city.  It honestly doesn't look much like it's offspring.  On the trip down we were serenaded with a heartfelt solo of O Canada at one of the bridges!!!! I joined in to make it a duet. The man is half Canadian and we'd gone past his houseboat.  He was so excited to see us that he jumped into his car and drove down to meet us as we came through the next bridge.  He's headed for 3 weeks in Ontario in a few days.  Gonna watch the Jays on the 27th in fact!!!

There is something about travelling through the Netherlands as a Canadian.  There is a real connection there for many Dutch people. 

Canadian DNA

While walking the dog yesterday, I got talking with a woman and it came out that we're Canadian.  Turns out her uncle's mother had met an Canadian soldier during WWII, they'd fallen in love, and her uncle was the result of this three week whirlwind wartime romance.  His mom never found the man again, remarried and had a family, but the uncle always wondered about his Canadian family, and never felt entirely at home with his mother's family. 

Then the lady I was talking to said she'd done a DNA search to find relations, and had found some people with a common ancestor 6 or 7 generations back.  But the uncle? He found a cousin in Canada, and he's going there to meet the family and stay with them for several weeks.

Kinda cool.  Apparently he's really delighted to get to meet these people and they're really excited too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Found!!!! Who'd a thought!!!

(small trigger warning in this one) normally a family show here but ducks can be brutal it would seem.

Chuck and I went off this afternoon for a walk and saw a bunch of mallards mating well, there was one female and a lot of males plus one randy coot and the whole thing honestly looked dreadful, it's a wonder the females don't get drowned. 

Anyway, they drifted closer to shore and partially to see better and partially to let her get a bit of air, Chuck and I went over. We were on a boardwalk over the action. The males did move off and she shook herself all over, and was looking rather bedraggled.  When another male appeared, she dove and I didn't see her for a good long while.  I remember a friend whose parents had a farm and the duck ended up in the freezer cause he kept raping the chickens.  Yeah. .

Anywhoo, I looked down off the boardwalk at the end of all this and low and behold, there was the cockpit cushion we'd lost the day before!!!!! In reach too!!!!!

We're on a river with a toich of current, never thought Id see that again, but there you go.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Winter is officially over!!!

We're on the move again !!!!!  Having left Weesp, where we spent the winter, we've headed peacefully southward, that is a generalisation as the Vecht, the river we're on winds and turns back on itself amd meanders.... So southwards, sometimes going west, or north and occasionally even south.  We've come to a cute little town with not much in it, Overmeer, and both Chuck and I were delighted to go for a walk in a new place.  We managed to lose a seat cushion overboard, which was unfortunate but not disastrous, and we are now without out beloved heater as there is no plug.  However, we spent the afternoon laying in the cockpit in the sun, so we should endeavour to survive .