Monday, 20 June 2011

The one with the cycling...

Our holiday was a fortnight in The Netherlands. As it was all spent in Holland (Nord or Zuid) I feel quite at liberty to interchange the country name but before I get any criticism I am quite aware of the difference between the county and country! A fortnight in The Netherlands was just what the doctor ordered ... and in our house, exactly what the doctor booked and organised. Somehow holidays have always been my husband's job to plan and execute: as usual, it was excellent.

Holland, of course, means cycling. Cyclists get priority at most junctions, which is fantastic if you are on one (and really not too obstructive if you are in a car!) We hired bikes on two days: once to cycle across the dunes near where we were staying (which was about as hilly a cycle-ride as you can get there) and once to visit the windmills near Kinderdijk.

This is a World Heritage Site and there is a point where you can see 19 windmills at once. They are obviously old and one has been turned into a museum. I would never make it as a miller myself, with all those steep stairs, and it must have been so noisy to live there when the sails were turning. Still, I can't get away from the ingenuity of the Dutch to shift so much water around, up and over the dijks they built to reclaim land. Having watched Coast last night I gained even more insight into their engineering prowess and massive land reclamation. How long will they win the battle against the sea? The prospect of them losing is too horrific to think about, for the loss of land, life and livelihood would be immense.

Cycling does give you a different perspective on the countryside you are in. Much of it seemed to be fields (bordered by canals rather than walls or fences) and most of the wildlife we saw - and smelt - was cows. Perhaps the most amazing moment was when we found a pair of coots with their newly hatched young on a nest island in a canal. As we stood and watched we saw the chick leave the nest, and we could hear cracks as one of the other eggs broke open. Driving would never have allowed us to view such a miracle.


Cycling did bring problems with it too. Not least is my ability to wobble (I had to concentrate very hard when we cycled on a bridleway between two canals: I was petrified I'd fall off and into one of them!) My son and I are unused to cycling for long distances and became a little saddle sore. And it was just a little embarrassing to be pedaling away like mad only to be gracefully overtaken by a couple in their seventies...

And of course there was the burning ... but that is tomorrow's post...

1 comment:

Mark said...

The burning..!!! ???

I agree that cycling gives you a different perspective, and different way of connecting with people and the landscape - with cars you see everything form behind a screen, and you smell less, hear less, feel less.

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