After the extreme busy-ness of our daughter and son-in-law’s wonderful wedding it was great to be able to just relax and unwind for a few days while they enjoyed a “mini moon” in the beautiful Hotel des Indes in The Hague.
While they were away we looked after their cat and enjoyed daily walks around their neighborhood.
As in so many countries, a second spike in the Coronavirus infections had increased restrictions. In the Netherlands this meant a partial lockdown with all cafes, bars, and restaurants closed and households only allowed two visitors a day (although these rules didn’t apply to children under 13).
We felt very fortunate to be able to stroll through the local streets and see fantastic sights that we might normally have missed if it hadn’t been for lockdown. Coronavirus might have halted our plans but our eyes have been opened to so much beauty!
For example, a beautiful heron poised to catch a fish in a nearby canal and the many colours of autumn in the trees both on the streets and in local gardens. Other beautiful sights such as some amazing bright purple berries and the still evening light reflecting trees in the water, have us great pleasure.
Sadly Hannah and Pieter’s romantic honeymoon on a beautiful island somewhere had to be postponed as overseas travel was just not possible under the circumstances.
Despite all the restrictions, outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling etc have been encouraged and as Pieter and Hannah were still on leave they took the chance to show us some lovely forest areas within driving distance from where they live near Delft.
One such place was Den Treek Henschoten- a lovely old forest with winding paths and cycle tracks criss crossing many hundreds of acres of estate land in Leusden.
Hannah had heard that the estate was famous for its wide variety of fungi. We had only just started on our walk when Pieter discovered the first of many wonderful toadstools (and perhaps the occasional mushroom but we weren’t game to try and identify these!)
There were beautiful red toadstools – the ones with white spots much beloved in fairy tales; there were toadstool towns; we spotted gorgeous ones that looked more like sea creatures than anything belonging to the land.
There were purple ones, wet-look ones, lacy ones, flat ones, domed ones and many more besides.
We couldn’t believe how prolific they were, or the huge variety – it felt like a real revelation!
After so many years in Australia we have really relished experiencing a European autumn again.
The leaves have been so beautiful with many shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. As we waded through the crunchy, crisp leaves, enjoying the feel and sound of them, we started to relive our childhood – scooping up great armfuls and throwing them in the air and of course over each other! Such fun.
Another lovely outing was a walk in some woods quite near to where Pieter and Hannah live but somewhere we had not been to before.
After a really lovely hike we stopped at a popular and pretty cafe right in the middle of fields on the outskirts of Delft. In normal circumstances it would be crowded with customers – any day of the week and in any season- but because of Coronavirus it was only serving takeaways.
Fortunately it was warm enough to sit outside and we found a table nearby where we could enjoy our coffee and apple pie.
The Dutch arguably make the best apple pie in the world and we have been doing some serious research to establish whether this claim is true or not!
We also paid a visit to a wonderful farm shop situated close to the cafe and spent time patting cows before buying some lovely farm-fresh vegetables.
The weather was really glorious – wonderful sunshine although a little cooler than we are used to! It was so lovely to be able to sit outside at Hannah and Pieter’s in November!
After a relaxing time staying at Pieter and Hannah’s we decided it was time to hit the road again. We had planned a visit to see family and friends in England but the country went into full lockdown and travelling was banned unless it was for an essential purpose.
We decided to postpone our English trip and instead, travel in the Netherlands for a while. There is always something new to discover and although it’s a small country there are plenty of interesting places to visit.
As usual with us, we headed towards water and a yacht marina (I know, we just can’t help ourselves!) to a place called Warten in the province of Friesland in the north of the country.
We were the only ones in a campervan staying in the marina and it was blissfully peaceful. Our grassy site was surrounded on three sides by water and there were lots of boats to look at.
We were amazed at the bird life there – particularly the massive flocks of Canada geese flying overhead, filling the skies with the sounds of their belligerent honking.
Coronavirus might have stopped us doing some of the things we had planned but the plus side is that we have seen some natural wonders and new places that perhaps we would have otherwise not encountered.