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Skiing in retirement
2nd Aug 2015 - 6th Aug 2015 - Skiing the Eurovelos 2015
Through the Low Countries

Cycling into the Netherlands, we pass the 5,000k milestone. Actually, the Netherlands was quite hard to find: there is no visible border point on the cycle path, so we had to stop a passing cyclist to ask what country we were in.

Failing to find a campsite in a suitable place, we opted for a delightful, secluded beach camp with sunset views. All peaceful until 7.00am when we were joined by a herd of ponies who took a keen interest in what we were doing and having for breakfast.  Also an unhealty interest in the bikes (which they chewed) and the tent (which got pawed). Bravely, we shooed them away.

Then a few miles into Arnhem where, after 28 days consecutively of tenting, we opted for the comfort of a B&B and to await the arrival of Andy and Nicky who had organised ferry and trains from BSE in order to join us for 3 days in the Netherlands and the final day from Harwich.

A & N duly arrived the next morning suitably kitted for camping and attired for the rain.  Yes, rain!  But the forecast for sun proved accurate and by mid afternoon it was shirtsleeve order and cold beer in the sunshine.  This set us up well for our campsite, suitably positioned across the road from a riverside restaurant serving delicious pancakes. That left 2 days to cover the remaining 150k.

The first leg ended with a wildcamp in the marshes of the Biesbosch National park after an excellent day's cycling through "typical" Dutch landscapes and a luchtime dip in the river for 2 brave members of the party (A & N, you know who I mean).

And so to the final day in Continental Europe. Day 121 took us through the urban industrialised approaches to Rotterdam, where we admired the modern architecture (well, some of it) and enjoyed an Indonesian meal in a restaurant where we were the only diners. A final stretch along the Rhine into a strong headwind brought us in good time to the Hoek of Holland for our ferry.  Well, we were in good time, but were left standing on the quay for 90 minutes after check-in before being allowed on board.  A small inconvenience, considering........ 

Next: Home again, home again, jiggidy jig
Previous: Meanderings along the Mittel Rhin

Diary Photos
2nd Aug 2015  Proper bikes
Motorbikes have been an ever-present feature of the trip, especially on Sundays when the weekend warriors take to the roads. Usually, the bikes are a noisy nuisance, but these 2 are an exceptiopn.

2nd Aug 2015  Welcome to the Netherlands
Hard to know we had arrived

2nd Aug 2015  Riverside wildcamp
Waiting for dark before putting up the tent: even though there was no risk of anyone seeing or evicting us

3rd Aug 2015  Pony gate
Debs succeeded in preventing my bike from being eaten

3rd Aug 2015  Apres Les Poneys
Packed and ready to leave the field

4th Aug 2015  Drive-thru windmill
There are more than 1, 000 windmills in Holland, but this is the only one you can drive through, apparently. Historically, windmills in Holland served many purposes. The most important probably was pumping water out of the lowlands and back into the rivers beyond the dikes so that the land could be farmed.

5th Aug 2015  Camp site
Even after all this time, Debs is still not sure which way up the tent should go. Andy and Nicky, however, are much more at home, it seems.

5th Aug 2015  Swinging time
Had enough of biking.....

5th Aug 2015  Happy cycling in the sun
Nice to find the sun still shining in northern Europe

5th Aug 2015  Prepare to picnic

5th Aug 2015  Puncture repair
Andy using proprietery lubrication to ensure correct fitting

6th Aug 2015  In the Biesboch
De Biesbosch ('forest of sedges' or 'rushwoods', is one of the largest national parks of the Netherlands [2] and one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe. The Biesbosch consists of a rather large network of rivers and smaller and larger creeks with islands. The vegetation is mostly willow forests, although wet grasslands and fields of reed are common as well.[3]The Biesbosch is an important wetland area for waterfowl and has a rich flora and fauna. It is especially important for migrating geese

6th Aug 2015  Tent drying time

6th Aug 2015  How big?
After a night of wildcamping, tents put out to dry. Andy is indicating how big the mosquitoes are

6th Aug 2015  Eye eye
Contact lens time

6th Aug 2015  Not quite the last crossing
One way and another, we have been on many ferries during our trip

6th Aug 2015  Rotterdam waterfront

6th Aug 2015  Flood management
Maeslantkering is a movable storm surge barrier spanning the New Waterway (Nieuwe Waterweg), a canal that connects the river Rhine to the North Sea. The Maeslantkering acts as a final line of defense for Rotterdam against high levels of incoming seawater. It is one of largest moving structures on Earth. The Maeslantkering is a set of two swinging doors almost as long as the Eiffel tower and weighs about four times as much. Under normal circumstances, these doors are fully opened, providing a 360 meters wide passage for ships to pass. When a storm surge of 3 meters above normal sea level is anticipated, the doors starts to float and move towards each other closing the waterway. They are then flooded and the additional weight makes them sink and turns them into a massive barrier. The barrier is connected to a computer system which is linked to weather and sea level data, so their operation is fully automatic.

6th Aug 2015  On the quay
At the front of the queue, but having to wait

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