Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tuesday 25 September

Pretty awful weather through the night, with frequent downpours, at times accompanied by thunder, as well as galeforce winds. It took until 10 am for this lot to move away, but we were not in the clear; by mid afternoon, another set of downpours moved in from the south. At 11 am, we went for a walk “Round the Hook”, meaning the northeasterly corner of Vlieland. In view of the southeasterly wind, I decided to do the walk in reverse; rather than head east along the beach we left the beach for last. First, we cut through the forest to the new Eureka holiday complex. This was built in the late 1980s to replace an old sanatorium building, dating back to 1912. This had become impossible to maintain, after it had been used for stabling during the Second World War. Paint would come flaking off the wall the moment you put it on. However, as a family we have fond memories of Eureka as it was; the modern complex is without sentiment to us. Our walk continued east past the IJsbaan (Ice Rink), finally ending up on the western end of the Stortemelk campsite. This is a sprawling area, and thousands set up their tents and what not during the peak holiday season; their numbers are dwindling now. We proceeded east, a little way off the campsite perimeter, to cut through to the marina, about half a mile east of the ferry terminal. Our attention was drawn by two search-and-rescue choppers landing at the helipad, outside the marina. The marina, which coexists with a working harbour, saw three large sailing craft leave port at low tide. The trick is to leave this harbour when the tide turns, as a 15-20 knot tidal race exists outside the harbour entrance when the tides flow. I have seen motorcraft having difficulty negotiating that, let alone sailing craft with only a small auxiliary engine. In the distance, the coastguard cutter “Stormmeeuw” was tied up alongside the ferry pier, as the ferry had left for Harlingen just half an hour earlier. Having circled the marina, we gained the beach and made our way north. We couldn’t get over the number of jellyfish on the beach. The sun had been shining brightly, and continued to do so for a wee while yet. Had lunch on the eastern perimeter of Stortemelk, just past the Fortweg dune crossing. The Fort used to be a casemate constructed by Nazi forces during WW2, and blown up in 1968. The bits were flung hundreds of metres away, and were washed away by the tide to places miles down the coast. After lunch, at 1.30, we covered the remaining two miles to the Strandhotel, but cloud began to increase from the south. Wildlife remained interesting, as was shipping in the nearby Stortemelk shipping lane. There were a fair number of people out and about on the beach, even some with small children. We proceeded past the Strandhotel and left the beach at 2.30pm after a walk of nearly 7 miles. An hour later, I jumped on my bike for a 5 mile run to Pad van 30, near the Lange Paal campsite. I wanted to ascertain that I could ride a bike without having to flop onto a bench by the roadside every two mile – yes I could. People were very busy gathering cranberries. Nowadays, everybody can gather cranberries (between mid September and New Year). For gathering on a commercial scale (using a rake and bowl) you need a license, and you’re not allowed to use those implements when it’s raining. On the way back from Lange Paal, I was overtaken by the showers which had been moving up from Texel all afternoon; and I was barely back in the “Snik”, when the heavens truly opened. Fortunately, it did not last, but there were more ‘cumulonimbus’ clouds around. One displayed a classical set of ‘mammatus’ clouds, hanging from its western outflow – a mammatus is a breast-shaped cloud. The next one, which turned up at dusk, just before 8pm, presented a massive ‘arcus’ cloud that initially looked like a huge tornado. Fortunately, it moved up the sky and showed its true face: an arc-cloud. The worst we got out of it was a downpour. I was sorry to lose the daylight, as the cloudscapes were absolutely magnificent.

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