Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Monday, 28 September 2009

Caption Competition

No, I have absolutely no idea either. As it is in Gouda (I'd have liked it to be in Assen) I'm assuming it's not Simpson and his donkey though.
Keep it clean please.....

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Cruising through Utrecht

The posts seem to have become a little mixed up and any element of surprise lost. We obviously made it through the bridges with minimal damage - only a scraped handrail.

We lowered the canopy, nav frame and windscreens,

crossed our fingers and ducked.

lots of bridges.

The Indian restaurant where we had dinner the night before. Last year Rob was on a beer tour this year's quest has been for the perfect vindaloo. Not bad here.

-and as always in Holland there's an army of people keeping everything nice.

canal garbos scooping leaves out of the water

and wharf cleaners blowing them in.....

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Utrecht Bridges

The bridges over the canal through Utrecht are only 3.25m high so we are a bit nervous (well I am) about our ability to get through. We'll have to take down our canopy, nav frame and windscreen - and then duck!

The first bridge
The lock keeper tells us we'll be fine as long as we can get through the first bridge as it's the lowest.

The canal basin with lock in the background. If we can't fit under the city bridges we'll have to turn around and go back.

Entrance to the tunnel

I'm more concerned about the tunnel in the centre of the city as it has a bend. It's also the focal point for the whole city and overlooked by cafes full of people hoping for some entertainment. The Dutch Film Festival is in full swing at the moment as well and there are people doing interviews to camera on every corner so any stuff up is bound to find its way onto film. It seems I always have to be worried about something.


The old part of Utrecht is lovely though. It's a university city so full of life and bicycles - well it will be later in the day anyway.

The canal runs at a lower level than the city streets and there are trendy bars and restaurants at both levels.

A Tight Squeeze - Utrecht's Canal Tunnel

Through the tunnel in the centre of Utrecht.

- and since the Film Festival is on here's my contribution.....

Miffy the Rabbit

Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy, is one of Utrecht's favourite sons.

What greater accolade could any author have? 



Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cruising the River Vecht to Utrecht

What a contrast to the week on the meers! As soon as we passed through the lock at Muiden onto the River Vecht everything changed. Not least the weather. We've had a week of balmy, autumnal days to cruise this lovely river.

You could easily do it in a day or 2 but there's something about a slow moving river in the sunshine that makes you want to relax (with beer and book) and take your time.

We are not far from Amsterdam here and the river is lined with magnificent mansions and stately homes built long ago by the wealthy merchants of that city and now occuppied by their present day equivalents. Probably financiers....

The houses have the beautiful manicured gardens common to most Dutch homes but on a much grander scale with sweeping lawns, formal rose gardens, statues and topiary.

Some even have moats and draw bridges-
or ferries

Here's one for sale if you have a spare few million (euros that is).
Lifting bridge, Weesp

We stopped at several of the villages on the way through and took to our bikes to explore the countryside.

This region has always been of strategic importance so there are fortifications from different eras; medieval castles, forts from the 19th century and WW2 gun emplacements and shelters.

As ever there are plenty of churches with their tuneful carillons marking the passage of time, this church at Maarseen joltimg us into consciousness and its parishioners into action each morning with Waltzing Matilda of all things!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Back with the Big Boats

Once we joined the River Ijssel we were back onto commercial waterways.

This sign is encouraging us to be nice but it all looks a bit cosy to me.

Personally we prefer to keep our distance - though we do the smile and wave bit.

Sometimes you have no option but to get up close and personal.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Frayed around the Edges

And that's not only the flag. Things have gone pretty well this summer but there's nothing quite like a force 7+ gale to blow away your complacency. Over the past few days we have been wending our way back south and west towards Amsterdam. We locked out of the deserted canals of eastern Holland onto the River Ijssel and then out onto the Randmeren - a series of meers, or lakes, 97km in length. When we came this way 3 months ago it was sunny and the lakes were full of yachts and cruisers. I remember commenting then that I wouldn't like to do it in bad weather....
The first 2 days weren't too bad. Just wet. A year ago, when we first embarked upon this, a woman said to me, 'Don't worry about rain. It can't hurt. Worry about the wind.' We've had plenty of windy days along the way but it's really a question of where you are when they start blowing. Out on a meer wouldn't be your first choice. The final in the series of meers is Markermeer which is the southern part of the Ijsselmeer (which you may recall was once part of the North Sea). The wind had been building all day but we weren't too concerned as we had been in relatively sheltered waters. As we emerged into the Markermeer we could see the colourful chutes of dozens of para surfers. Picturesque but not encouraging. Then, with an almighty lurch sideways accompanied by a crashing of waves over the roof (and unsecured dishes from cupboards) we were out of the shelter of the land. I know some people enjoy this sort of thing (people like those in the Volvo Round the World Yacht Race team who followed us into port) but I am not one of them. No pictures I'm afraid as both my hands were in use clinging on. Thankfully we didn't have too far to go before we were able to turn south and head into Muiden harbour.

This castle guarding the entrance to the River Vecht at Muiden dates from the 13th century. We did normal, sedate tourist stuff yesterday and had a look round.

Very Hogwarts!