Law-abiding Dutch go crazy and late night tow

New Year is the one time that the normally law abiding and dutiful citizens of the Netherlands go absolutely wild and act just a little bit crazy.

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s as if on that one night they let off all the pent up energy they have accrued but sublimated over the course of the previous year.

This energy is expended by setting off the most amazing, incredibly noisy, colourful and numerous fireworks that I have ever seen. In every part of the country – even the most sedate suburbs and the normally quietest of villages – massive explosions fill the air, making it sound like you’re in a war zone.

Two second video of fireworks

Fireworks are fired off continuously by seemingly almost every household – and this goes on for hours and hours. Young and old take to the streets to experience what appears to be to outsiders, as total mayhem.

Fireworks from down the street

At the start of 2020 we experienced this crazy chaos for the first time and were totally blown away by all the explosions that went on for hours!

Fireworks were banned this New Year

This year the Dutch Government totally banned householders from letting off New Year’s fireworks and naturally because of Covid, public displays couldn’t be held either.

Despite Covid people were on the streets to watch the fireworks – socially distanced of course!

The normally well behaved and obedient citizens rebelled and although the fireworks weren’t quite as loud and didn’t go on for quite as long, there were enough deafening explosions and beautiful displays of colourful rockets lighting up the skies to feel that 2021 was well and truly welcomed in.

Welcoming in 2021

Our New Year celebrations were a lot more low key than the previous year but we had a great time anyway – playing games in the early part of the evening and then sitting outside for an hour before midnight and into the early hours. Even though the night was very frosty we were warmed by a cosy log fire and an overhead gas heater (and some red wine too!)

We were toasty warm even though it was a frosty night

We were allowed two adult guests and it was great to share the evening with Hannah and Pieter’s friends Ryan and Jess who were obliged to leave Australia when the restaurant they worked in at Melbourne Casino “Dinner By Heston” went broke around the time of the Covid outbreak. Under 13s aren’t included in Covid restrictions at present in the Netherlands so happily Ryan’s son also joined us.

Sparklers and champagne – perfect way to bring the New Year in

The days after New Year were quiet – we spent a lot of time at home, leaving the house only to go for walks – short ones on very rainy days and longer ones when the weather permitted.

Spring is on the way! Some lovely snowdrops flowering already
Some people take their horses for a walk as well as their dog!
Gorgeous winter light filtering through the bare trees
Pieter and Hannah and their nephew/godson
Look out, someone is going to wobble that bridge!
Another lovely winter scene

Just before the 12th day of Christmas we took down the Christmas tree and the rest of the decorations. The poor tree was dropping needles profusely if you so much breathed in it so it was well and truly time.

The poor tree was dropping its needles at the slightest touch
Out it goes!

Putting away all the Christmas ornaments always feels like the real start to the New Year and it was with this in mind that we decided we should try to venture a bit further afield in the campervan.

Sweeping up all the pine needles

We had read that people who live permanently in their campervan had been travelling through France successfully so we decided that’s where we would head.

There are so many spots where you can wild camp in France and unlike in many other European countries, quite a number of official campsites stay open over winter.

So on 8 January 2021, we set off for our first destination, a remote farm deep in the French countryside situated midway between Calais and Boulogne – roughly 20km from each.

The farm was equidistant between Calais and Boulogne

Considering how remote the farm was, we found it very easily even though it was dark by the time we arrived. There were no other customers there so we followed the neatly spaced line of cones thinking they indicated where vans could park.

Whoops! Moments later we realised that the cones were indicating where not to park! Yes we had that sinking feeling – our van was bogged!

Uh oh stuck in the mud! The farmer’s dog comes to help.

After a few futile attempts to get out of the ever deepening mud ruts we decided to stay put and see if we could get help from the farmer the following day as it was already getting late.

The next thing we knew, another van had arrived and seeing us parked on the grass must have thought like us, that it was safe to park between two of the cones. Of course before we could warn them they became bogged too.

With our broken French and their equally broken English we ascertained that they had the additional problem of their water pump not turning off and all their water had drained away so they badly needed to fill up. They decided to call the farmer who very kindly came out straight away to pull them out of the mud and then gave us a tow too!

Looking for the towing point
Getting ready to pull the van out of the mud
Pulling our neighbours out of the mud
We came out backwards

Once we were on a flat piece of gravelled land behind the farmer’s enormous shed we settled down to dinner and a great night’s sleep. The following day we woke up to a beautiful crisp and frosty morning and a lovely view!

A beautiful crisp and frosty morning
Lots of mud in our wheels
Evidence of the muddy mayhem
The farmhouse at La Ferme de l’Horloge

After examining the muddy mayhem of the previous night we went on an excellent walk along the leafy country lanes to the tiny village of Tardinghem (population roughly 150).

Tardinghem Church
The “local” in Tardinghem

It was a glorious day and despite everything being closed (including a lovely microbrewery and brasserie near to the farm) it was great to have a change of scene and have a really long walk in the beautiful French countryside.

Would have been great to look round the Craft Brewery
And even better to have a meal at the Brasserie
No guests allowed because of Covid
Loved the sign

From the village we took a footpath through the fields towards the beach.

Great views across water meadows to the English Channel

From the beach we could see the nearby Cap Gris Nez ( Cape Grey Nose) one way and Cap Blanc Nez (Cape White Nose) the other.

In the distance is Cap Blanc Nez, France’s most northerly cliff
A closer view of Cap Blanc Nez
Again, in the distance, Cap Gris Nez, the closest point of France to England

More amazingly though, the day was so clear that the White Cliffs of Dover were clearly visible – more than 30 kilometres away over the Channel. Apparently the cliffs of Cap Gris Nez are the closest point of France to England from their English counterparts at Dover.

It was such a pristine day we could clearly see the White Cliffs of Dover
Not easily seen from this photo but the White Cliffs of Dover are there!

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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.

4 thoughts on “Law-abiding Dutch go crazy and late night tow”

  1. Salty Tales indeed….I am living through this wonder-filled delight. (I’m a dream world 🤣)… Keep the good times interesting xxxx

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  2. Great to see you all looking fit and well to start the New Year!

    George and I have been reminiscing about my first visit to Germany for Christmas and at New Year, where they have a similar celebration. I remember rockets shooting all over the place and mega bangers. George remembers me ducking and diving like a little mouse caught up in the cross fire!

    We have snowdrops here at a similar stage to yours. As you say, “spring is on the way”, Hooray!

    Happy New Year from us all, may it be a better one than 2020!

    S&G xx

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    1. Hi Sally and George, Happy New Year to you too! I’ve been thinking of you and hoping that you are coping with the latest lockdown – it must be so hard to be apart from your grand babies! Thank goodness for social media! Having had New Year in Germany you can definitely relate to the craziness we experienced in the Netherlands! Scary for those brought up with the very English Bonfire Night where the scariest thing was a penny banger and mostly consisted of Catherine wheels that never worked properly, some silver fountains and the occasional pathetic rocket!! Sending big hugs to you both from both of us xxxx

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