Strange things

Been a bit of an odd week or so. But then again, it wouldn’t be so much fun here if everything was predictable.

Going past barges of this size is becoming fairly usual though.

The NL has an excellent internal transport system: flowers, food, manufactured goods, sand and gravel, building materials and even machinery and manure – some of these are used within the NL, others are for export. They always have been great exporters and have trade links all over the world. I wonder if the UK should be asking them for a few tips.

Seeing Lady Christina ‘flying’ was on of the more alarming things. She’s now back where she belongs, on the water, but she had to spend a day in a boatyard while a Marine Surveyor crawled all over her, tappingĀ  her with a screwdriver, lifting floorboards and asking lots of questions. The result is that she’s in good shape and doesn’t need any work doing to make her sea-worthy. We were pretty sure that would be the outcome, but our insurance was up for renewal and the Insurance Company must have thought that Marine Surveyors needed a bit of a helping hand!

While all this was happening, I took myself off to explore the neighbouring town of Franeker. It’s one of the ‘Eleven Historic Cities’ visited by various Elfstedentochs (boats, bikes, ice-skaters, swimmers and walkers) and has all the things I now expect from such a place- carillons of bells, a bakery, public gardens, a beautiful church and very friendly natives. I was sitting on a bench next to the church, when a man of about my age, stopped his bicycle and engaged me in conversation, starting by telling me that the bench on which I was sitting was especially orientated for conversation – being at right angles to the one next to it. So, converse we did and he told me that all the Eleven Cities were getting a fountain this year and I was sitting opposite Franeker’s one, due to be officially switched on the following day. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me, so I have no photo of this fountain, but here’s Workum’sĀ  fountain, which demonstrates the Dutch sense of humour, I think.

As a foil to having the boat out of the water, we decided to brave a trip on The Waddenzee a couple of days later.

So far, we haven’t been on ‘the sea’ because we were either sensibly cautious, or scared. You decide! Anyway, we did it and although we thought the Wadenzee was huge, it was less exciting than we imagined…partly because the route was along a buoyed channel,

so very little navigation required. However, it was the sea and I’m glad we gave it the respect it deserves. There was absolutely zero chance of getting lost, as there were so many other boats, either going in the same direction as us, or the opposite one. There were some beautiful boats further out and they definitely needed to know where they were and the status of the tide, so they didn’t go aground.

After all this excitement, we felt we deserved a beer, once on dry land. There were various bridge shenanigans before we arrived in the village of Tjerkwerd. A sociable sounding group was outside what we thought was the local bar – but we were wrong. It was a private party in the village hall, celebrating community spirit, so in the spirit of themselves, they insisted on providing us with a beer apiece. Thank you very much, Tjerkwerd people!

And here’s a giraffe – from Harlingen – the start of our Wadenzee adventure. I’m not yet tired of the way so many buildings are decorated and given an individual touch.

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