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Pedal Power Immersion

Lion lake RotevalleIt 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.

Florence the rotund - A basset and a half

Florence the rotund – A basset and a half

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!

I didn't mean to climb into the muddy pond!

I didn’t mean to climb into the muddy pond!

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!

Our new basset taxi

Our new basset taxi

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.

With the 1,100 square kilometre freshwater lake IJsselmeer behind and a reed fringed canal in front, Paul should have looked a little happier

With the 1,100 square kilometre freshwater lake IJsselmeer behind and a reed fringed canal in front, Paul should have looked a little happier

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!

A quaint Dutch house in Rotevalle village

A quaint Dutch house in Rotevalle village

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……

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Martin Ross September 11, 2016, 7:05 pm

    Good luck in your future endeavours! I hope you blog about technical matters that crossover from boating. I am trying to get away from inverter use. I recently bought a five port USB charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket. I also use a wee gadget to measure the current going into phone or laptop. It’s amazing how much difference the charger and lead can make. My ASUS T100 charges via a micro-usb and everything has to be spot on or the battery slowly goes flat in use.

    • Paul Smith September 11, 2016, 8:17 pm

      We aren’t going to have an inverter on the Hymer either. Unlike on the boat, we don’t have either the room or the payload for a large battery bank. We’ll cut down on the 230v appliances we use and use our Honda suitcase generator for those we feel we need to use.

  • Martin Spiers September 11, 2016, 8:07 pm

    This is my first visit to the new website, thoroughly enjoyable and as readable as your exploit’s on the cut.
    I look forward to the next instalment.

    • Paul Smith September 11, 2016, 8:19 pm

      Thank you Martin. We’ll actually be publishing posts more frequently once we begin our travels. I hope you enjoy our journey.

  • Raymond Walker September 11, 2016, 8:30 pm

    As above my first visit to the new website, my congratulations to you and Cynthia, and I too found it an enjoyable read and look forward to the next instalments

    • Paul Smith September 11, 2016, 9:09 pm

      Thank you Raymond. The next instalment won’t be until the second week of October, but they’ll be coming thick and fast after that.

  • Jerry Scales September 11, 2016, 8:55 pm

    Hi you happy couple,
    Life is a journey not a race , a narrowboat was your first transport and the Hymer is your second , it matters not what transport you use …….provided you leave us with snippets of an insight to what we would all like to do . Having the courage to set off into the sunset together………..
    May you have many Happy times ahead .

    I may just find myself copying your example soon .


    • Paul Smith September 11, 2016, 9:07 pm

      I hope to see you on the road somewhere in Europe then Jerry. It’s a large continent, so please let me know if you’re heading in our direction.

  • Neal September 12, 2016, 11:38 am

    looking forward to reading about your escapades across Europe! Don’t get that Hymer stuck!

    • Paul Smith September 12, 2016, 12:39 pm

      I have absolutely no doubt that the Hymer will get stuck from time to time. I also have no doubt that we’ll treat each incident as a memorable part of our grand adventure!

  • Steve Parks September 12, 2016, 5:00 pm

    I love the new site Paul. I hope that both you and Cynthia are very happy with your new lifestyle. In my younger days I drove through five continents in my VW camper, and broke down in all of them. I hope your Hymer is a little more reliable than my old bag of nails!

    • Paul Smith September 12, 2016, 5:56 pm

      One of the reasons that we chose a Hymer was because of their reliability. Time will tell of course!

  • Paul & julie September 12, 2016, 8:00 pm

    Great sounding adventures ahead for you both. We look forward to being inspired as we read your posts and plan our next adventure too!

    • Paul Smith September 12, 2016, 8:47 pm

      The grand adventure begins on 11th October. I’m very excited, and just a tiny bit scared!

  • Helen fox September 13, 2016, 11:22 am

    Hi you two ,please count me in to your new adventures.
    I’m so pleased to hear that you are finally married after al, the stress you’ve had .please take the time to travel ,relax and enjoy life together.
    Could we convince James new owners to keep us posted re their adventures in their new boat ,do you think.
    I’m presently recovering from the first of two knee replacements which should have me up and kicking in time for Crick where we hope to finally part with some of our nephews and nieces inheritance .
    Enjoy each other take care helen

    • Paul Smith September 13, 2016, 12:22 pm

      I’ll ask Rob and Deanna if they want to contribute to the blog, but writing regularly is an enormous commitment. I used to spend at least ten hours a week putting the newsletter together.

  • Paul Kelly September 13, 2016, 12:51 pm

    Hi Paul & Cynthia,Have followed yr adventures on water for some time.My partner and I have plans for other way round,trading in our Lunar Roadstar 620 in the winter for a Hymer (as big as pratical/affordable,doing Europe for a year or 2,then back to UK to live on a canal vessel of some kind for a few years.We will not be leaving for Spain etc until autumn 2017,so we will be entranced as always on your adventures.Keep up the good work please:)

    • Paul Smith September 13, 2016, 4:43 pm

      You never know Paul, our paths might cross at some future point. I think that our Hymer is one of the longest the company have produced. We looked at smaller models but, even though I have lived over six years on a narrowboat, the shorter Hymers felt much too claustrophobic to me.

  • Andrew Banyard September 15, 2016, 11:04 am

    Been following your canal exploits with much interest. I am currently in stourport having travelled on my first solo effort on my narrowboat. Unfortunately I lost propulsion and so waiting for engineer to fix her before I can get on my way.
    Will be interested in your Europe travels.
    You might be interested to know that my partner travelled around Europe last year with his son in a daihatsu all of which is detailed on his website little-dai.com .

    Enjoy your travels.

    • Paul Smith September 15, 2016, 6:25 pm

      Sorry to hear about the breakdown Andrew. I hope the repair is relatively cheap. How far did you get before you broke down?

      I’ve had a quick look at your partner’s web site. Forty countries under their belts and no breakdowns. That’s Japanese reliability for you. I hope our German Hymer is just as well built.

      • Andrew Banyard September 16, 2016, 6:31 pm

        Good luck.
        I was in stourport when she broke down. All fixed now, Not cheap but never is when living on a narrowboat.

        Happy travels.

  • Peter Preston September 16, 2016, 2:48 pm

    We spent 6 years on a narrow boat and sold it 9 months ago and got a Swift Bolero motor home. We are currently in France slowly working our way south and going to spend the winter in southern Spain also we have been to Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg.

    • Paul Smith September 17, 2016, 1:45 am

      Hi Peter,

      Yours is a very similar story to mine. We’ll be heading towards Spain next month.

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