Floods, Snow and Ice

On our last leg from France back to the Netherlands we had planned to revisit the northeastern city of Metz – a town that we love and have visited several times before.

Entering the beautiful town of Metz
We had been looking forward to
revisiting Metz

Sadly the river was badly swollen and running extremely fast so the camper parking area on its banks had been completely closed off.

The river was badly swollen
The camper parking area was cordoned off
Driving over the river we could see it had burst its banks in places

It was still only early afternoon so we kept going and drove over the border to Luxembourg where we stayed the night in very comfortable but snowy site at Heiderscheid.

Crossing the border from France to Luxembourg
The site at Heiderscheid was quite snowy

The following afternoon we were back in the Netherlands to another joyful reunion with our daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter.

Back in The Netherlands

We were very excited to learn that snow was on its way to the Netherlands! A couple of days later just as we were turning in for the night, snow flakes started to fall and soon a very thin white layer covered the garden, the road and parked cars.

Snow predicted and minus 12 night temperature!
The first thin white layer of snow!

When we woke up the next morning the whole world was completely white. What a glorious sight!

When we woke up the whole world was white!
It was an exciting moment

Having been brought up in Brisbane, Australia, our daughter Hannah had only seen snow for the the first time just a few years ago so she was very excited that morning!

The snow was really welcome

Lockdown in the Netherlands has been a long haul with small freedoms being withdrawn every time there was a government announcement so the diversion of a thick blanket of snow was extremely welcome.

A thick blanket of snow had fallen
The world looked so beautiful

We decided to go for a walk just to see everyone out and about enjoying this wonderful distraction.

We decided to go out to walk in the snow
At this point the canals weren’t frozen

We saw kids being pulled along on toboggans, people walking with big grins on their faces and families sledging down slopes leading to the local canals.

Kids were being pulled along on toboggans

We stopped to watch one family sledging who very kindly gave our daughter Hannah her first toboggan ride.

Everyone was having such fun!
Hannah’s first toboggan ride!
Our snowman

The local woods looked stunning with snowy Christmas card scenes at every turn.

Walking in the woods
A great setting for the swans
All rugged up for the snow
A classic snow scene
So many pretty scenes

There was also cheering news at this time from our son and his wife in Brisbane – we were now proud great grandparents to a newly hatched duckling. Our great grand duck (called Little Duck) is very cute!

A very cute “Little Duck”
Proud Mamma teaching her baby to swim
Little duck follows its Mumma everywhere

The snow remained all week and each day we went for long walks to enjoy the still-crisp white blanket, coming back rosy cheeked and red nosed for delicious hot chocolate (sometimes laced with a dash of Cointreau – delicious!)

Out walking in the snow again
A picturesque corner of Pijnacker
Jonathan posing for Hannah
Chilly graves
Jonathan enjoying his hot chocolate

The temperatures were below freezing every day and down to minus 10 some nights so towards the end of the week the canals began to freeze over – much to everyone’s delight.

The canals started to freeze
In shady areas the ice was quite thick

By the weekend anyone who owned a pair of skates was out enjoying skating – either on nearby canals or on local lakes.

Hannah trying out the ice on a canal near her home
She was the only brave soul skating on this day
The poor ducks were very cold but had made a little pool in the ice by constantly paddling

Hannah was one of those who took to the local lake to glide across the sparking ice in the bright sunshine. That was after skating canals in the neighbourhood for a few days.

Another day, another canal
More canal skating
The ice on the lake was so clear

The lake was thronged with skaters! It was an wonderful spectacle – reminiscent of a Bruegel painting – there were highly competent speed skaters, parents pushing babies in little carts, toddlers hanging onto small chairs to stay upright, groups of teenagers in long lines, young men playing ice hockey, “elders” sliding steadily but gracefully and everything in between.

Hannah skates off
There was such a feeling of joy in the air
It was a sparkling day
Pieter and Jonathan join Hannah on the ice but without skates!

There was such a feeling of joy in the air but as we walked round the lake I felt slightly nervous about seeing all this close interaction with other people. I mean we were meant to be in full lockdown right? Not even allowed more than one visitor to your home, not even in the garden! I said to Jonathan- we are going to see a spike in Covid numbers in the next few weeks. Sadly, there has been an increase in infection numbers but maybe there were other factors involved. Whatever the case, the advent of the snow and ice was an absolute thrill to young and old and definitely lifted the spirits of one and all.

These snow crystals were so beautiful
Walking home after skating
A stunning sunset at the end of a great day
What a wonderful day it had been
The last rays of the day
Whoops a little spike after all that socialising on the ice!

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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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