Woke up early and had a messenger call with Tracey and messenger chat with Shellbe.
The breakfast restaurant was much quieter as it was still quite early.
We caught the tram to Amsterdam station, then the train to Heerhugowaard to catch up with TDA staff member Adrian and his family – wife Rosa, daughter Zoe, and Rosa’s parents Dick and Nellie who joined the South American ride in Santiago to Peurto Montt, a very tough section even for those of us who had ridden the whole tour.
On the way out of the city we saw a number of community gardens again.
While we were waiting for Adrian to pick us up at the florist next to the station, I saw a number of Hydrangeas in pots. I mentioned this to Nellie later, and she said it was more usual to get a hydrangea plant in a pot than a bunch of flowers, which explains why Hydrangeas are so prolific here.
When we got to the house we also got to meet Adrianne’s sister Emma who was there for a visit. Nellie gave us a lovely Dutch cake that was like a custard square but nicer with pink icing and cream. Then we went to look around the farm.
Dick and Nellie grow vegetables. Dick took over the family farm which was one building and 50 hectares when he was 17. Now him and his two partners have over 700 hundred hectares and produce 100,000 plants a day. We got to see the one of their smaller operations where Dick and Nellie live.
We watched the cupboard boxes being made, and the process from start to finish. The iceberg lettuce as an example, is picked by a machine, when they are picked they are enclosed in plastic. When they get to the plant they are put into a cooling room for 30 minutes and are reduced to zero degrees. They then go into cold store where there is no oxygen and they can last up to 4 months!
Having gone into the room with no O2, I think I would survive about 15 min – as long as it took to use up the O2 that came in with the door being unlocked.
We also got to see row upon row on of plants growing hydroponically in a green house, and got to see the difference in growth in 7 day intervals. A finished lettuce takes one month. It was all very interesting.
I got to sit in a John Deere tractor. Dick also mentioned that he is growing a whole field of wild flowers for a bee apiarist. He showed us a video of the field, there were hundreds of bees swarming around.We then went inside for a very nice lunch – soup with tomato, parsley and mince, followed by fresh bread, cold meat, cheese, a boiled egg each, tomatoes and of course plenty of lettuce. Then a sweet bun, and strawberries and cherries.
We went for a ride around the channels in their channel boat, very interesting to see the land from another perspective. We had to duck down in the boat a few times when we went under a couple of low bridges, with not much distance from them to the water.
We also got to see a very old windmill up close. A lot of the Netherlands is below sea level and to ensure the land doesn’t flood, in earlier times the water was pumped out by a series of windmills. This function has been taken over by a network of electric pumping stations and the old windmills are now tourist attractions or homes. They are not cheap, there was one for sale in Heerhugowaard up the channel a bit for €1,000,000 (a million euro).
They are not that big inside, and have very small windows. You are not allowed to enlarge the windows or make any modifications on the outside, as they have to be kept in character.
Then it was time to catch the train back to Amsterdam, so Adrian dropped us back off at the railway station. By the time we got back to the hotel it was just after 7pm, so we ate upstairs in the hotel restaurant. I had a very nice bell pepper soup.