The curious tale of the black and white bunnies

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.

Blue dot is where Hannah and Pieter live, red pointer is where Warten is
The pretty marina at Warten
Some lovely boats at the marina including this old timer
Not a breath of wind
A lovely sailing boat leaves for an evening sail

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.

What a strange sight – a domestic rabbit alongside wild rabbits

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.

Then we saw more black and white bunnies!

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?

Then these black ones – had the domestic rabbits mated with wild ones?
Very cute!

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.

One of the handsome pure black rabbits
I loved this almost black rabbit.

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.

The canal at Warten

One of the things we love about the Netherlands is that we can do a lot of our sightseeing by bike.

We love sightseeing by bike even when it’s misty!

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.

A barge waiting for the road bridge to be raised
The Warten road bridge which opens to let boats pass
Water is everywhere in the Netherlands

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.

You get to see so much on bikes
Warten Church
The “Big House” at Warten
There are many bike tracks alongside canals

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.

Guilt-free Dutch apple tart
The bike path to Earnewâld went through fields and along the banks of the canal
Jonathan on his bike

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.

Fish and chips after the bike ride
Such an excellent view

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!

Surely you have some spare food?
It smells sooo good!
Another animal friend
A beautiful sunset
Such a glorious evening

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.

The following day wasn’t quite as lovely
The “rec room” at Lauwersoog
There was even a cat to pet

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.

A row of old timers – all in different stages of restoration
One of the restored barges
Models of ancient fishing nets on the water front
You could climb into them if you felt inclined
Buildings reminiscent of Norway

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 woke up to thick fog

We were able to take our bikes on the ferry and had a slow, steady trip over despite the lack of visibility.

We took the ferry anyway and were able to ride our bikes on
The fog still hadn’t completely lifted when we arrived at Schiermonnikoog Island

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.

On one of the bike paths at Schiermonnikoog Island
The sea was out there somewhere but too misty to see!
A shy pony we met
This one didn’t want to know

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.

The empty streets and the mist made the village feel very mysterious
Agatha Christie could have written a great murder mystery based in this hotel

We thought it would be a perfect setting for a who-dunnit murder mystery!

A perfect setting for a “who dunnit”
A creepy art installation peeking through the mist
It was ‘im over there – honest!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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