Moored just shy of the road bridge in Garnwerd, ready for dash to Groningen tomorrow and feeling very pleased with ourselves. Mooring wasn’t easy and then we had to move along and do it all over again to make room for another boat. We got talking to the skipper of an enormous, aluminium yacht with orange sails moored just behind us.
Going to Groningen tomorrow too.
We asked his advice about the best place to stop there and he recommended Oosterhaven, but then said. ‘I’m off at 7 tomorrow because the forecast is for very strong winds, starting mid-morning. We asked how strong. “Gusts of 30 or 40 knots.”
We decided to go at 7am too.
Strolled around the village looking for a postbox, without success. Inward-looking place then. There was a pond with a large and vocal frog population, a very plain but cool and peaceful church and a house built at the top of an embankment, with a very ‘English’ cottage garden. The local schoolchildren had visited the church and their paintings were on the wall. Almost all of them were the expected views of the church building, but two were of the church clock’s mechanism. Spot the budding engineers. We also discovered a much easier place to moor, on the top side of the bridge. Local knowledge helps.
Into the waterside cafe for a couple of beers and mustard soup, which was delicious. They have a way with soup here. It’s creamy, with recognisible vegetables, lots of garlic and usually smoked ham or bacon fragments. Had a conversation about the state of UK politics, our expectations of the General Election on Thursday and the best places to visit in Scotland, with a vey friendly woman. Of course, she spoke excellent English. But what can we Brits learn from Europeans?
Come 0700 hours, we followed the orange yacht, through the first bridge and off down the route. They soon left us behind as their engine is much more powerful, but as always, we caught them up at the first bridge, where they’d done the waiting and we went straight through. Pretty windy, but nothing too difficult. We were penned in a lock next to them and could agree that local knowledge is useful, after they’d warned us that at a subsequent bridge, we’d have to wait until 9am. Before that the bridges around the city don’t open, so the commuters aren’t held up.
In Groningen, as in many towns and cities, you can take a boat trip around the waterways and see all the interesting features and notable buildings. No need for us to do that, as the route in took us past almost all of them. There’s something about following another mast, around a city, past houses, factories, churches, a railway station with a million bikes parked outside and having the traffic stop and the bridges lift for you. Groningen is unmistakably a city; busy, not always beautiful, certainly less cute and more untidy than the tiny villages, but stimulating and full of promise.
Moored in the nick of time, before the wind really got into it’s stride. Rain too. It was the Big Storm, also predicted by the man in the cruiser now moored next to us. Local knowledge again and we’re glad to have benefitted from it. But if we’d had the local knowledge about the mooring last night, we’d have set off at our usual much time today and been caught out in the worst of the weather. So, as with everything else, you have to pick and choose which local knowledge to use and sometimes it just works out for you. Thankfully!