Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday 21 September

Overcast and cool first thing, with the thermometer only at 7C / 45F. Walked to the railway station at Velp, just over a mile away, and jumped on the 10.02 am local service to Dieren, 6 miles to the northeast, then onto the fast train to Zwolle, 40 miles north of Arnhem. The station at Zwolle is undergoing a major reconstructions on account of a new rail line opening in December. The line will connect Amsterdam to the north and east of Holland via the newtown of Lelystad, rather than through Amersfoort, which is an extremely busy junction. Trains are fairly busy this morning, especially the connection from Zwolle to Leeuwarden. It is well used by students, but also foreign nationals who joined the service at Schiphol Airport. We reach the Friesian capital at 12.20 and have about 15 minutes until the final train to Harlingen Haven. This is a one-carriage affair, and consequently packed. The driver has to ask people to move into the carriage from the balconies. Six stops and 16 miles later, we arrive at the harbour station in Harlingen and make the quick transit to the ferry terminal – as soon as all the ships have finished filing through the bridge which has had to stay open for more than five minutes. Harlingen is a bustling little port for pleasure craft, and dozens of them are leaving and departing in the hour and a bit that we’re waiting for the ferry to go. The ferry too is full to the gunwhales. In spite of the cool wind, many people stay out on deck for the 90 minute crossing. The ferry is going at around 17 knots in places, helped by the ebbing tide. It takes a tortuous route, having to avoid sandbars and shallows all over the Wadden Sea. The last mile or two are exposed to the swell from the open North Sea, but it is not as bad as on some crossings I have experienced on the route. Did I ever mention that I’ve been going to Vlieland for 47 years? We dock at 3.45pm sharp and the hordes flock ashore to collect their bags, rent their bikes and disappear into the interior. Our bungalow “Snik 1” [a snik is an old type of sailing craft] is located on the Ankerplaats [Anchorage] holiday area, about a mile and a half out of the main village of Oost Vlieland [East Vlieland]. The village of West Vlieland was claimed by the sea 250 years ago. The weather is iffy, and it comes down to rain as we cycle onto the Ankerplaats at 4.20pm. Not long after, the supermarket has our shopping delivered (thank you). After spaghetti bolognese for dinner, we head out for an amble out to the beach. By then, it’s half past six, and the tide has gone well out. We cross back over at the Strandhotel / Seeduynen hotels. When we reach the Kampweg junction, my GPS is disagreeing with itself. On passing the same crossroads on coming from the ferry, the GPS put the location some 50 yards to the west. Like you do. Never trust a GPS! During the last half mile, the rain starts to come down, leading some young women on bikes to an abundant use of expletives about the weather. However, an hour or two later, the rain comes down heavier than ever – but by then it’s dark.

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