Daily Archives: July 5, 2018

Day 28: Zwollee to Meppen (25 June)

This is the last day in Netherlands as we cross to Germany at 46 km today.

Today was not very warm but there was no wind and mostly flat, riding about 96 km and just about all on bike paths.

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Great Dutch cycling road. One lane for the cars, two for bicycles.

Once again most of the views today were fields of crops with a background of windmills. Even though the weather was not very warm there were people camping and in caravans along the canals in campsites (or in Dutch – Kampen). In the Netherlands there are very few areas you can camp not in a camp site. 

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Camp site on the canal.

Along the canal there was a campsite and next to it was a open Hawaiian bar with a straw roof over the chairs and tables, and row of fake penguins. Too early in the day to be open but not sure how busy it will get in this bleak weather.

We went past one Kampen ground that was previously a farm, and I was interested to see the thatched roof structures they had to cover the hay. There were four poles and the roof was peaked and in the poles were holes with movable pegs, so depending how much hay there was the roof could be moved up or down. Now most the hay we see is wrapped in plastic so these structures are now covering picnic tables.

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Adjustable roof for hay storage

It was interesting to stand underneath a thatched roof and have a good look. Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation, such as straw, layering it so as to shield the water away from the roof. The lifespan of a thatched roof is 20 to 40 years depending on the skill of the workman, and the quality of the material. To replace a roof cost £100 per square metre. The barn had an interesting thatched pattern on the wall that I haven’t seen before.

IMG_5413I forgot to mention in the blog the last two days I did not see a single beggar in Amsterdam. I googled and it says begging is against the law and there are social kitchens and places for homeless to sleep so there is no need to beg.

We went over a canal bridge and stopped to have a look and saw 2 water hens (coots) with their chick. They had made a nest in the canal bridge.

While we were watching we met Gerrit, who is a Dutch canal bridge operator. Gerrit looks after 6 bridges and will follow the boats/ships up or down the canal. This may lead to some waiting if he is opening bridges further up and you are waiting for the first one. There is no fee to the boats, as it paid for by the Dutch taxes. Gerrit is part of a team that works 12 hours a day 3 days on, then one day off. The bridges are only open from 7am to 6pm so if you miss the cross off you wait till the next day. 

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Operator explaining the bridge opening procedures

At the crossing from the Netherlands to Germany I got a photo of Blythe and Rhonda and me.IMG_5437We saw the first Storks of the trip just after the border, and another few km further a baby birth announcement, with two storks and clothes on a line and the name Simon.

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First Storks

Just after this we came to a field with three horses, each with a foal. I was talking to Rhonda and the foals were much younger than I had thought, the one in the paddock closest to us was only 1-2 weeks. Rhonda knows a lot about horses, as not only is she a vet but she also used to breed Arabian horses. Rhonda is from USA and has two sons, one daughter and a cat called Mr Charles.*

I have had lots of problem with Garmin this trip, it randomly stops calculating kilometers for no reason and when it starts again it doesn’t add what you have done, very frustrating and of course it is past its warranted period, but today it has decided to stay on all day, weird!

It was very cold when we got to the lunch spot, and I pretty much put on what I would wear to ride in Wellington in the winter. The day warms up considerably in the afternoon and it was quite pleasant when we got to Meppen.

The view from hotel room today is a construction site. The room was nice. Back to huge square pillows, had forgotten about these in Germany. 

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Dinner was a buffet, we ate with Dan, Shirley, Mary, Rhonda, Michele and Tony. We had white table clothes and candles – what a contrast to camping in a bush camp! The food was nice – nice tomato soup, crunchy bread, fish, salad, chicken and various vegetable dishes. Dessert was a tiramisu type dessert, and strawberries and ice cream, very nice.

Mary comes from USA, she has one son and one granddaughter, and is a yoga and Pilates instructor. Mary has done a lot of rides, but not sure if she has ridden with a TDA before. Mary rides as fast as she can from one place to the next so she can get to the gym and work out. Mary is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat vegetables, much to the understandable confusion of the restaurant staff when it’s à la carte and she sends her meal back. Mary eats anything sweet, and potatoes, bread and butter.

I was amused to see that by each place at the restaurant there was a bit of paper called “The devouring map” which is used to record your drinks, plus food if à la carte.
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* Editor’s note: Clare I hope you liked the inclusion of the pet detail 😀 

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