Our plan for today was to fill up and empty the van, go shopping and drive through the flower fields. We didn’t get the shopping done but, as they say, two out of three ain’t bad.
We tried to shop at a supermarket a short way from Vianen, the only good thing about that decision was that we passed some interesting glass office blocks on the way to the supermarket (we were to see more amazing buildings later on during today’s journey) but when we got to the shop (which involved negotiating a chicane) we discovered that the van couldn’t fit in the car park so we had to turn around and go back to the main road.
The plus side to not being able to stock up is that in the evening I used up food that we’d been ignoring in the freezer for months and made a curry. It would have been ridiculous to have carted that home with us. Now we just need to use up the jars and tins of food that have been enjoying a tour of Europe with us.
We desperately needed to empty and refill the water etc but filling points seem to be few and far between. Darren found a couple of aires that had water and emptying facilities and he programmed them into the SAT NAV in the hope we could pay to use them.
The first aire we went to was a small one on a farm down some narrow roads. The farmer informed us that the facilities were only for people staying at his aire. We asked him whether we could pay to use them and he was happy with that so for 5 Euros we were allowed to fill and empty, thank goodness. Having done that we were free to make our way straight to the flower fields which was our main reason for coming to the Netherlands.
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed the journey from Vianen, we saw a number of memorable things, we had an entertaining moment when we caught sight of a Dad collecting his little daughter from school, he appeared to be completely unaware that his daughter was having to sit at a rather jaunty angle behind him because his rucksack was in her face!
Then we had an unexpected moment of excitement when we passed under a bridge on a road which cut through the centre of Amsterdam Airport, just as we neared the bridge an aeroplane taxied across it! Moments before we’d been surprised to see a ‘plane apparently out for an afternoon drive down what looked like a country lane lined with trees but which must have been the runway! Further into the journey we passed some intricately thatched houses lined up along the bank of a canal.
Darren had programmed in a route to ‘t Zand and across to the sea. We’d been told to come to this area by the Dutch man that we met in Marvao.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we caught sight of the first flash of colour from a strip of bright red tulips, it was awesome. Our trip through the flower fields just got better and better as we passed field after field full of wide strips of flowers, each strip a different colour. The colour of the flowers was intensified when they were bunched together, they were so vibrant and there was such a vast array of colours. The red and yellow strips were my favourite. We could smell a lovely perfume as we drove along, I didn’t realise that tulips had a scent, we’ve come to the conclusion that the flowers in the shop have very little scent because it’s blown away by the ice cold wind that’s constantly buffeting them! Unfortunately the flower fields were so pretty that I got a bit trigger happy with the camera and spent the whole of the drive snapping away like mad.
Our drive through the fields took us along beside some sand dunes so we stopped at a car park, dressed ourselves in numerous layers of clothing (including a hat and gloves) and followed the path that snaked between the dunes.
We were lovely and toasty as we soaked up the sun but the minute we stepped out of the shelter of the dunes we were blasted by the freezing wind coming in from the North Sea. The beach was a wide strip of golden sand which stretched into the distance to the left and right of us. I did consider having a quick paddle but I put my hand in the sea and decided against it! We didn’t stay on the beach for too long due to the sand blasting but we were in awe of the man who we spotted jogging along the beach in a t-shirt and shorts, kudos to him!
A little further along the path I stopped to take some photos and we were passed by a mum and her little boy who was smothered by her coat, it came down to his ankles but he was walking with bare feet, the question is had he been brave and had a swim?
We stopped to warm up in the little cafe, I had a cup of coffee and apple pie, Darren had a cup of coffee and an ICE CREAM! We had a nice surprise when the waitress brought us a little chocolate egg with our coffee, I wasn’t expecting that. I felt so cold when we entered the cafe that as my hands started warming up they felt like they were burning. I’m glad I didn’t subject my feet to that too.
Our next destination was Medemblik and our journey there was punctuated by splashes of colour as the flower fields gave way to ploughed fields.
The place we’d chosen to park from Park4Night was beside what initially looked like a lake. We were parked facing out over the choppy water and could see a couple of kite surfers hurtling across the water in the distance, every so often they jumped up high in the air. It looked great so we put our numerous layers back on and wandered along the beach to watch.
It was SOOOO cold out there on the beach, how on earth they didn’t get hypothermia is beyond us especially when the girl lost her board and we noticed she had bare feet. Up to that point we hadn’t realised that the boots were attached to the board. Once again I ended up taking lots of photos of them doing their tricks, the wind was taking them extremely high off the water.
Eventually the cold got the better of us and we went back to the van. A lot more people had turned up, they were getting their kite surfers out too, very soon the sky above the water was filled with pretty colours as the kites flew back and forth. It had been a very colourful day.
As the sun set on the horizon we watched a flotilla of waterfowl paddling across the inlet with babies in tow as terns swooped overhead squealing. A heron appeared as well for a while then as if by magic they suddenly all disappeared and everything went quiet as darkness descended.
I thought I’d try to be a bit more organised so I began to transfer my photos from my memory card to the external hard drive, that was when it finally hit home that I REALLY need to reign in my photo taking, 1,057 photos in a day is excessive by anyone’s standards. I’ve never made it over 500 before! Needless to say I immediately stopped transferring and started deleting instead!