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Published: June 19th 2014
We only realise later that evening that we actually had 2 more of those gigantic sluis’s to do – they are actually 260m not 100m as reported earlier – but the next day dawned beautiful and we set off to an empty river. The only monsters we saw were more like pussy cats and we had a lovely journey on a wide and meandering river in the sunshine virtually to ourselves, doing a constant 7.5kts ( a lot for Isabela) until we reached Arnhem where we moored up in the only, surprisingly small, haven. Even sitting doing not a lot seems tiring on the boat so we wandered in to town for an Indonesian meal – Holland having a long history with Indonesia.
We had told the HM that we planned to stay 2 nights at which he expressed surprise but there really was so much to see and in the event we only scraped the surface, not for want of trying. In the morning on the way to find the bus to take us to Oosterbeek where there is an impressive museum about the Allies’ action in 1944, Operation Market Garden, we almost fell over a 100ft pink aardvark
a friend had told us about. Yes we have a friend who knows all things about aardvarks which probably confirms all you have ever thought about us and our friends! It is a sculpture bequeathed to the city for a commeration of 100 years of something, but it lies in the middle of a rather forgotten little green patch surrounded by high buildings. I suspect it was loved a great deal at first but now it looks rather unloved although Heather did have to have her photo taken astride the massive tail.
And so to greater matters – the battle over “a Bridge too far” - What a catalogue of managerial and leadership mistakes – it was so sad to read about all failures in intelligence, and subsequent strategic and tactical errors and the losses on all sides including civilians but it gave us a greater understanding of what this region has been through and which is still commemorated every year by both the Dutch and the Allies. A sombre but worthwhile morning. The plan then was to go to the Open Air museum which is written up as very impressive but we only had time to finally buy
the much sought after museum card – like an Oyster card but for museums across the country – I fear Paul really will take me to see the central heating museum when we get to it!!! – before we had to dash back to go to the St Eusebius Church before it closed. This church tower was destroyed by the allies because they thought the Germans were using it as a firing post – there is a lovely memorial to the parachutists in a side chapel where the roof is the parachutes for the 18 men. We did get to see that and to go up the tower from which you can get views of that Bridge, and the hills – yes real hills, around Arnhem. The church and tower has all been substantially rebuilt – only to discover that virtually the whole thing needs to be rebuilt again because they used substandard stone. It will take 6 years. A wander through the centre and the odd drink and we were exhausted – and we had done much less than we had planned.
The following day we left earlyish – it’s all relative - to go down the Geldersee
Ijssel – out of the haven, turn left and we see – red and green buoys on the bank, the river is so low, 2kt of current going with us – and camels!! We then have our first experience of blueboarding , the barges coming up river with blue boards indicating that they want us to pass them to starboard to starboard(rather than port to port) so they can hug the inside of the bend and keep out of the current. No lifting bridges or sluis on this river so the blueboarding was the greatest challenge. The next stop was what we thought would be a small town – Zutphen – but turned out to be substantial. Our intention was to swap Isabela for an hour for a whispering boat, which takes you round the canals in the old city and gives you a history – but we missed it by 6mins!! The lady in the museum said that the Allies had been trying to destroy the bridge over the river but had missed and basically destroyed the centre of the town – there was a large plan on the wall of the intended building of a major haven in
the town, in the process knocking down quite a bit of the buildings that had been put up after the war.
We set off again the next day with the intention of stopping at Deventer which we had been reliably told is beautiful – the day started miserably and continued – as we turned into the haven it was desolate – surrounded by industrial buildings and blocks of flats with an active gravel extraction creating loads of mud and dirty bubbles on the surface of the water – we turned tail and continued up the river, hastily deciding to go to Hassem. This turned out to be absolutely delightful and we arrived in the sunshine. Generally we have loved this river but not thought much of the towns we have visited which have been larger and less inviting than other places we have been to but the beauty of this country is that you can just continue on and within, in this case 2 hours, find something really nice which Hattem was. The haven is pleasant, the town pretty and interesting – and would you believe has 3 museums, all of which we did that afternoon! How could I
persuade Paul that he didn’t need to go to the national baking museum! We then had probably one of our most interesting meals in a restaurant allegedly haunted by a dog that locals still threaten their naughty children with.
We decided to stay here the following day to do some cleaning and to move the dinghy off the aft deck where we have been tripping over it for 2 months, and the bikes out of the front cabin as we have our first visitors arriving on Saturday from Schipol. This summer a number of people are coming out, none of whom came with us on our previous trip – let’s hope the rain stops!! The plan is to go to Meppel tomorrow where there is a direct train from Schipol.
We have just checked the blog and it seems that about 35-40 people read each one – I hope some of them are people we know but it has given us the motivation to continue reporting our daily trivia!!
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