We were staying in a lovely marina at Warten in the Friesland area, north of The Netherlands, enjoying an evening stroll looking at the boats and exploring our new surroundings.
On our first evening we were casually strolling along when I suddenly spied a movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a lovely, fluffy black and white domestic bunny nibbling the luscious looking green grass alongside a normal looking wild grey rabbit.
Then we noticed another black and white one hopping about nearby. Assuming they had escaped from a nearby house we thought nothing of it until we saw a lot more domestic rabbits mixed up in a big group of wild ones.
Where had they all come from? Were they escapees from a pet shop? Runaways from a petting zoo? Or two pets that had run away from home and had bred like er… rabbits?
The strange thing was that we also noticed a few unusual looking wild rabbits – one almost black and several totally black. Had the domestic rabbits mated with the wild bunnies? Is this even possible? Either way, they all seemed to be living very happily side by side.
With a full lockdown in the UK preventing us from travelling there we were taking the chance to get to know our daughter’s new home country better.
One of the things we love about the Netherlands is that we can do a lot of our sightseeing by bike.
The cycling possibilities in The Netherlands are beyond amazing – there seem to be as many cycle paths as roads and many of them go along canals, and through pretty villages and beautiful countryside.
As I hadn’t cycled for 50 years until we bought our e-bikes, I’m not as confident as most people here but as cyclists have priority over cars in most circumstances and with the huge network of bike paths I really feel quite safe and am getting quite comfortable riding now.
Even though our bikes are battery powered we still have to put some effort into peddling so we don’t feel too guilty about buying a traditional Dutch apple tart or some fish and chips after a longish ride – as we did after our trip from Warten to Earnewâld.
We sat by the canal to eat our lunch, watching the many different craft as they floated by. Watching the graceful Dutch sailing barge skim past us was a particularly lovely experience.
Soon we were joined by a non-too-subtle Labrador dog who was just wondering if we happened to have any spare food about us!
After a very pleasant stay in Warten we drove to Lauwersoog – a seaside village about 40 minutes north of Warten.
Again, we had a water view from our camping spot and the place we stayed had a very pleasant recreation room (with a piano!) that we could use during our stay.
We decided to give the bikes a miss and do some walking for a change. Of course we ended up walking where all the yachts were berthed and were fascinated to see some of the old working boats, some beautifully restored.
We were keen to explore one of the offshore islands so we booked ferry tickets to Schiermonnikoog which is just a short ferry ride from Lauwersoog.
On the appointed morning we woke up and looked out of the window to see a thick fog had settled and we could hardly see a thing! Nevertheless, having bought our tickets we decided we just had to go ahead with the trip.
We were able to take our bikes on the ferry and had a slow, steady trip over despite the lack of visibility.
Schiermonnikoog island is only 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) long and 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) wide and is the site of the Netherlands’ first national park. There are numerous cycle paths that take you around and across the island which we enjoyed exploring despite the still-misty atmosphere.
There is only one village on the island and it felt very empty and mysterious with all the restaurants and cafes closed because of Covid and the mist hanging over trees and buildings.
We thought it would be a perfect setting for a who-dunnit murder mystery!