Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter in Delft

We're trying something new this year. We have come to Holland, staying with one of the Camping and Caravanning Club's International Rallies. Our camp site is on the outskirts of Delft, at Deftse Hout.
We're less than twenty miles from the ferry port at Hook of Holland, and given some of our recent European antics, with defective auto electrics and dropped exhaust pipes, this holds a certain attraction for me. Call me a coward, but once on site, corner steadies down, I have no wish to temp fate on the roads again until it's time to go home.
Here's the thing with Holland, though: cars are irrelvant. The Dutch know how to do public transport, and they know how to do cycle routes. Oh my goodness, do they know how to do cycle routes - this is bike heaven.

Anyway, first thing was to get here. We stayed one night on a CS near Clacton-on-sea so as to be on pole position for a nine AM sailing. We even rehearsed the twenty-minute run to Harwich the night before, which was just as well, because the road junctions round there have this funny thing where you can only join in one direction, the wrong direction, so we ended up clocking an extra forty miles getting lost in Colchester and then Ipswich. Even the sat nav seemed to make a Horlicks of it. Her normally calm and patient voice, I swear, became all strident and panicked and confrontational.

We got our ferry without incident the next morning, though, and settled back for a restful seven-hour cruise. Except it's not so restful, really, because once we'd had breakfast, before even leaving Harwich, I was casting about for something to do to relieve the boredom. The Stena Britannica is a big ship. Seriously big. But there's only the one deck available for wandering about. I didn't fancy seeing a film in the cinema (because despite the mill-pond crossing my innards were demanding I kept an attentive eye on the horizon) and at 10 AM it seemed a bit early to be thinking of lunch. I visited the shop and bought some beam deflectors, because I'd forgotten about them, even though I had no intention of ever driving at night. So then I got out my ipad, but found the queezy rumblings returned as soon as I took my eyes away from the sea. And on and on.

Lunch was excellent. I have to say the ship was spotless and the service was very good. We fancied a veggie dish and although it was on the menu it hadn't been pre-prepared, but the chef said it wasn't a problem, he'd knock something out and bring it over to us, which he did, and it was more than just knocking out a quck lunch, it was delicious.

We arrived at Hook of Holland late afternoon. Always a bit scary venturing out from a new port and getting to grips with wrong-side-of-the-road, exotic road signs, anti-clockwise roundabouts and everything else, all while towing. White knuckles should never be a part of the holiday experience. Strange how often they are, for me. We had our route plan, and we had our girl in the sat-nav box, who I have to say, was quite useless and quickly showed the stroppy side of her character. All the way along she insisted we "exit right", even though this instruction seemed to involve toboganning down the grassy embankment of a steep-sided dyke, because despite what she said, there were no exit roads. As each kilometre went by she became ever more snotty about our ignoring her advice. Well I'm sorry, girl, I don't want to drive down into a water-filled ditch. We had our map and we were sticking to it. We followed the official site directions, and eventually our girl-in-the-box went into a sulk, decided to stop belly-aching, and went along with our choice of route.

We found the site without incident, and a lovely site it is, too. English spoken on reception, in fact better English than my English. Then on to our pitch and a chat with the helpful folk who are the stewards for this rally. To cap it all, the sun was out and it was hot. It's Easter. We've brought all our jumpers and woolly hats and summer has gone and sneaked up on us out of the blue.

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