Pedal Power Immersion
It has been just over three months of travel (Spain, Provence, Belgium–briefly–the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Vermont, Massachusetts and finally the Netherlands once again—-), and eight places of residence since departing the UK at the end of May–before I was booted out due to my visa status.
It has all been an adventure and an exciting one at that! The Very BEST part of it all was my marriage to Paul. Even though we had less than two weeks to plan it, it came out perfectly thanks to my beloved friends and merciful weather gods! We both enjoyed our simple ceremony and our blissful five days together in Vermont which culminated in a sail on a Friendship sloop owned by a dear friend of mine on Lake Champlain.
It was another tearful parting at the train station in New York where I said yet another good bye to my dear Paul. The following week found me in a flurry of activity as I wrapped up my life with the selling of my house in Vermont. I spent another month tying up the other loose ends in the states and spending quality time with dear friends in various locations.
I ended my final two weeks in the states with picking up the newest addition to our family—Florence, a 4 year old cousin of Tasha’s who was quite overweight due to nursing a large litter of puppies just before I picked her up.
We spent the last two US weeks living in an idyllic setting–a carriage house in Dorset Hollow–the “Disneyland” of Vermont where every turn in the road is a feast for the eyes—exquisite homes and a nice mix of open green fields and wooded mountains. We had a stream that ran beside the house and the sound of it lulled us to sleep at night. It was heaven!
On the morning of 23 August a friend took the two of us to Montreal to catch our flight to Amsterdam. All went well and Florence was a champ–nothing seems to disturb her! All the airport people at Schipohl were so kind and helpful–a warm welcome that the English could certainly learn from!
Unfortunately, meeting up with Paul and Tasha in our motorhome proved to be quite stressful, as he could not find a place to park and come to the terminal. I had two capable gentleman help me out with my things and Florence and we finally located Paul, loaded the motorhome and headed for my next and last abode–Rottevalle–a small village near the market town of Drachten, about 80 miles north Amsterdam.
We were aided in finding the out-of-the-way place by a local gentleman who kindly drove us to the house. It took some effort to manoeuvre the Hymer into the parking space, but Paul as usual managed to do so with minor upset to the neighbors.
We decided to spend the next few days exploring more of our favourite town Dokkum just north of Rottevalle, along with a number of the coastal towns west of us on the inland lake IJsselmeer, which is HUGE and is fresh water! We loved this area and found ourselves quite drawn to life on the water Dutch style. We both are setting our sites for a future back on the water after spending the next 2-3 years land bound in the Hymer. It will be a good mix and balance for us. I have always felt most peaceful when I am on the water—especially in a sailing vessel.
We had an early celebration for my birthday and Paul cooked us a delectable dinner in a beautiful country setting. Alas, he had to return to England for his job and wasn’t able to spend my actual birthday with me. He was able to sing me a lovely “Happy Birthday to you” song on the phone and send me a loving message so that helped. Being alone on that day was not one of my favourite birthdays–no friends and no husband–don’t want to repeat that!
However, the next evening I got together with my hosts and we enjoyed a lovely al fresco evening and dinner on my patio. A nice way to celebrate a new decade!
And here I am! Immersing myself in the Dutch way of life– I LOVE the bike culture and now I (we) are part of it. I knew when I had finally made the grade and didn’t look like an outsider when I had a Dutch person come up to me in town and ask directions!
After breakfast each day I do my chores around the house then pack up with my “to do” list in hand and head into Drachten. It’s about 2 1/2 miles to the centre of town, and I have my usual “haunts” where I do business—the pet shop, post office, health food store, bank and organic green grocer. People there know me now and I am amassing a “my people” list. Everyone here is kind and helpful and (thank goodness!) speak English for the most part! Some of the Dutch is similar to German, so I understand a bit.
I convinced Paul that a fold up dog cart would be a good choice so that we can take the girls with us on bike rides. Florence took to it like a duck to water and loves accompanying me. And it is certainly helping to build my stamina and leg muscles! And another good thing about the cart–we can use it for big shopping expeditions when our panniers would be too small.
I am taking photos to add to our journal and hopefully Paul will show me how to post these. Oh! And I am also learning Spanish with Coffee Break Spanish online—just like to prepare for our Spanish winter experience, and it never hurts to add to my language list.
Life is Great and we are Very Lucky to be able to live it so fully. I am looking forward to writing my side of the story in the months and years ahead. I hope you enjoy our adventure vicariously as much as we enjoy it firsthand……