The Netherlands 1 - rain rain go away, watch those dykes

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September 1st 2014
Published: September 1st 2014
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Rain rain go away. Come back another day. We woke early to a dismal morning. We left the campsite under a leaden sky. The clouds looked almost heavy enough to fall out of the sky. And the rain gently pitter pattered on Suzy’s roof. In some ways the rain was a blessing as we were able to test out the repairs done to her roof. Once we had worked out that the leak had stopped we wished the rain would do the same. As we snaked our way out of Cambridgeshire in to Essex the rain continued to fall, the grass verges looked Autumnal, the trees starting to take on their Autumn colours. The purple of the blackberries and the elderberries , the red of the hawthorn . All heralding a change in the season with September just around the corner. The fields were either muddy brown where the farmers had ploughed or golden yellow waiting for the corn to be garnered in. The day felt dumpy and grey. We crossed the Queen Elizabeth Bridge over the Thames and this may the last time we hand over our £2 to the man in the booth as the system to pay is changing to pay by phone by the time we return home. The river looked grim in the dirty murky day. Onwards through Kent where we saw the first accident of the trip. A horse box had overturned and had caused mayhem on the motorway as traffic backed up behind the accident. Luckily it was on the other carriageway and we were free to travel on to the tunnel.

Arriving early we were offered a crossing one hour before our scheduled departure . At no extra cost we jumped at the chance as it would get us to France earlier and on our way sooner. No sooner had we parked up and our number came up on the embarkation boards. Straight through, a quick check that our gas was switched off, no passport check, no check for firearms. On the train under the sea – Bobs your uncle and we were in Calais. Greeted by pouring rain, heavier than in England it bucketed from the sky which was even greyer than at home. There wasn’t a trace of blue in that sky just thick blankets of grey cloud sitting there overhead pouring their little hearts out on top of Suzy. I kept trying to think positive. It could only get better couldn’t it? It would stop and we were dry in our little home on wheels. I had ripped off a piece of my calender this morning which seemed apt – “when you hear the splash of the water drops that fall into the stone bowl, you will feel that all the dust of your mind is washed away” The only thing to do was get on with it , appreciate that we were abroad and heading to what should be a good holiday. We turned right out of Calais whereas most drivers turned left heading south. We travelled up the motorway past the allotments. I want one. Neat little patches all carefully tended. A beautifully manicured little shed on each plot each identical with identical water butts. Unlike our british allotments these look tidy. Ours have ramshackle sheds each made up of recycled doors and windows and bits of old sheds. Each reflecting the character of the person who built it. Rather ramshackle but homely and very different to their French counterparts.

We passed De Panne as we moved from France into Belgium. The da dum, da dum, da dum rhythym of the road repairs under Suzy’s wheels told us we were in Belgium. We spotted the signs for Gent, Antwerpen and Brussels. I come from a land down under , I met a man from Brussels ……………..the song that came into my head as we drove round the rather convoluted and busy Brussels ring road. Our destination a campsite in the nondescript town of Heerlem.

We didn’t stay long. A large security gate blocked us from the campsite. Suzy parked up I went in search of reception. Yes it was an ACSI site and the cost would be 18 euros 30 cents plus 3 euros and 30 cents put on a key to use the showers. Oh yes and a deposit of 30 euros was needed to pay for the key which would not be given back to us in cash but put into our bank account. No thanks we thought and went back to Plan B. Actually we didn’t have a Plan B.

A quick look through the Camping book showed us two sites, one two hours away and the other in another suburb of Heerlem but this one out in the country 5 kms away. We chose Camping de Watertoren – easily translated as Watertower camping. When we arrived it was easy to see why there was a large water tower in the field next to the campsite. Run by the family van Diepenbeek it is a site in the middle of nowhere. Fields surround it full of rabbits and moles. The campsite was empty and we were greeted enthusiastically by the receptionist who spoke impeccable English. We were welcome and could stay on the green camping fields for 18 euros or on the hardstanding car parking for 10 euros. Even for the 10 euro option electricity was provided . We chose the hardstanding and pitched up alongside one Dutch van and a Belgian. The showers were accessed using the same key system as the last site but this time the deposit was 20 euros and this would be refunded in cash upon leaving. The site comprised of a café /bar and a swimming pool which was closed when we arrived. It was a lovely spot , very quiet and peaceful and we showered in the nicest shower block we have seen for a while. Clean modern and tidy the showers were double ones – showering together was an option in this campsite. The Dutch are wonderfully liberal.

Today we travelled through three countries tomorrow we head for Germany and the dream continues.


1st September 2014

That was a fast reply...
grovel if you would be great to meet you finally!
2nd September 2014

:) i shall try
25th May 2015

your blog about Holland
Dear Jennifer, I have read your travelblog about your visit to Holland and it was very interesting! I am Dutch myself and for my Geography Masterthesis I am doing research among tourist bloggers from abroad. Your blog caught my eye because you visited some less famous places in Holland, like Landgraaf. It is so interesting to find out why a part of the tourists in Holland visit those less famous places next to the highlights like Amsterdam and its surroundings. That's why I am wondering if I could ask you some questions about your visit, to complement the info in your blog. It won't be a long survey, but more of a short interview-type conversation about your experience and opinion. You would help me a lot and I am also very curious to know about what you think about Holland and the reasons why you choose to visit it. I really hope to hear from you. The interview will be used in a completely anonymous and confidential way. Kind regards, Theo van Veenendaal
25th May 2015

Hello I am happy to answer anything you ask me but would say the reason we stayed where we did was because we were travelling somewhere else and just happened to stop at this campsite. We did not stay in Holland it was just on our way to our next destination . Jennifer

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