Alice in Wonderland

You know that bit where she drinks and eats and gets bigger or smaller? Changing from living on dry land to living in a boat is like that. When I was packing to come here, I kept thinking, ‘I need another jumper/Tshirt/pair of socks…why not take the wool for three knitting projects? ….Oh, I can’t survive without coloured pencils and watercolours… There’s no way I can do my drawings in the diary, so need another pad of drawing paper…Are there any paracetomol on board?…I can never find a biro at home when I need one, so better pack plenty of them, ‘cos I might be in the middle of nowhere and need to write something….’ And so it went on. What seemed like a reasonable amout of ‘stuff’ and ‘spare stuff-just in case’ on land is a different story when your living space measures less than 6×5 metres.
Fortunately, it all fitted in – but I’ll notice the extra space when the rainbow socks I’m knitting have been posted to their recipient , back in the UK.
I’ve achieved a few things in the last couple of days. I wouldn’t cite them as ‘lifetime ambitions’ , but they’re still significant. Because we weren’t sure whether Lady Christina would be ready to go in the water when we arrived, we booked a self-catering apartment, just in case. It’s one where we’ve stayed before and you can moor a boat directly outside. Always wanted to do that!

Towards the end of our stay here last year, we realised that Jumbo: ‘Beste supermarkt van Fryslan’ had a mooring for customers. We couldn’t resist doing that yesterday. No pictures though, I’m afraid.
It’s Monday today, the tail end of the Dutch weekend, which lasts until about 1pm. Not many places are open and if you arrive at an operated bridge before 1pm you might as well just put on the kettle and enjoy the scenery. Our bridges today were all self-operated. So all that was needed for passage through was a prod on the button with the boathook.
We can’t speak Dutch and here in Fryslan they speak Frys, which is a language in it’s own right and the second language of The NL. We tried hard to get to grips with the languages(s) last year and slowly got better – to the stage where if something’s written on a sign, we can figure it out. Usually. Adversity is a good teacher and thus we definitely know that spoorbrug is a railway bridge, which can take a long time to swing out of the way so you can get through with your mast up. In the UK it was locks which made my heart sink…now it’s spoorbrug.
Everywhere is delightful – free from litter, good facilities for boaters and an expectation that everyone deserves a decent standard of living. It’s a lesson for the UK: invest in your public services, which also means paying people to carry them out and everyone feels included and better about themselves.
You don’t have to be in ‘Wonderland’ to be amazed and delighted.

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