Rivers of central Holland

For the last week we have moved along the rivers Ijssel, Grecht and Amstel. The scenery has been very rural with thatched roofed farms, lots of cows, sheep and the occasional alpacas. After the recent long dry spell it was still astonishingly green . But paddocks and fields are lined with small canals keeping everything well watered. 

We learned that the restrictions placed on some lock openings are not so much due to water shortage, but to avoid salt water getting into the fertile soil at low inland water levels.

At times, when waiting for locks or bridges to open while trying to maintain control of the Freshwater in the billowing Dutch wind, we have had an audience. That’s usually when things go wrong, but we have been lucky so far.

Not only the landscape but also the air had become distinctively more rural. Sometimes the rotten egg smell, possibly a byproduct of biological farming, was so penetrant that we had to hold our noses.

In Woerden at the junction of the Hollandse Ijssel and the river Grecht, we hired a car in order to fulfil my duty to the German Pension Office. We drove across the Dutch border to the German town of Emmerich, where at the post office a helpful lady clerk certified my, what is called, “Lebensbestätigung”. This is a yearly requirement for a resident of a foreign country in order to continue receiving the German pension. It basically certifies that one is still “alive". Austin, trying to be helpful, asked the stunned clerk if she wanted to feel my pulse - as extra proof so to speak. I don’t think the Australian humour has quite penetrated Emmerich on the Rhine yet! 

So we found ourselves back at the Rhine, this time without our boat, watching the commercial barges glide past. There is a difference to encountering the big barges on the mighty Rhine or to meeting them on a small river like the Grecht where they look totally out off place.

Still having the hire car for the morning, we decided to head back to Gouda for the Thursday Cheese Market. The market place was full of spectators but Austin still managed to get a few shots of the wheeling and dealing going on! By the way, Jill, we decided not to stand on the scales to find out how many cheeses make out our weight! It would have been too embarrassing as we have been indulging quite a bit! E.g. we couldn’t walk past the Proffertjes Stall without sharing a tray of the delicious little pancake rounds doused in Grand Manier and powder sugar, or leave without buying more cheese. Bad Gouda!!!

Back on the boat our last stop on the Amstel River, just south of Amsterdam, was Ouderkerk. We found a mooring on a long quay opposite the old village. Conflicting signs informed about access to electricity, but also stated that moorings were mainly reserved for day travellers. A friendly Dutch man in another pleasure boat told us not to worry that we could stay there till next Christmas! Nobody came to check or collect money. However it being a Friday, many day travellers in their tenders arrived from Amsterdam to dine at one of the row of terrace restaurants along the quay. On Saturday, lead by a band of drums and trumpets, even a wedding party danced by. They kept us all bobbing along with the wedding march played with a distinct African rhythm.

After having circled around the heart of Holland for the last 2 months, we are now ready to head towards Friesland.

We are hoping for a calm day tomorrow to enter once again the Ijsselmeer. We will pass our winter harbour for the year, Meppel, and then spend our last 4 weeks cruising in the very North of The Netherlands, in Friesland.

© Austin Robinson 2019