Home > Travel Blog > 2013 > July


We are well into summer now. Super weather, barbeques and outside eating, fun with friends. Our stay in Dordrecht coincided with the Big Rivers Festival and we had a great weekend at various musical events including tribute bands to AC/DC, the BeeGees and Queen. All this made us feel young again. The locals really know how to enjoy themselves - great atmosphere.

At the 'Queen' concert Dordrecht waterfront
At the 'Queen' concert                        Dordrecht waterfront

Too soon it was time to say goodbye to Dordrecht and in convoy with "La Tulipe" we set out up the real big rivers for Gouda where we had booked in at the historic harbour. Again, like Dordrecht, the mooring fees are negligible and length of stay not a problem so this fitted in with our lazy pace. We constantly meet other barge owners and soon were joined by Sally and Mike on "Chouette" with their guests Hilary and Tim so we all had a jolly time exploring this charming city famous for and very proud of their cheese. The old style cheese auction is re-enacted for the tourists each Thursday morning, well worth a visit. 

Gouda - typical canal side Gouda - cheese market
Gouda - typical canal side                    Gouda - cheese market

Gouda - windmill tour Gouda - museum haven
Gouda - windmill tour                         Gouda - museum haven

After a week in Gouda Diana developed a dental problem - all promptly sorted out thanks to excellent dentist and hospital care. Having checked the calendar we realised it is time to speed up. We have a rendezvous with friends in Maasbracht by the end of the month which means a few days of business-like cruising and no dawdling.  It makes a change of pace and some of our route takes us over old ground anyway. There will be other summers, we hope to enjoy this lovely area again. Our route took us along the Hollandse IJssel, a twisty narrow river with several picture-book villages, well worth the effort even with the hairpin bends and congested holiday traffic. Oudewater, Montfoort and IJsselstein are particularly lovely and round every corner there is another waterside garden to admire.

Hollandse IJssel, Oudewater Montfoort,
Hollandse IJssel, Oudewater                   Montfoort 

More waterside gardens and more
More waterside gardens . . .                  . . . . and more

Crossing the Lek (Rhine) at Vianen took us on to the Merewedekanaal and on to Meerkerk, a village out in the middle of nowhere; the horizon in all directions seems to stretch for ever. Another unexpected encounter with friends here made it a very pleasant weekend and just like two years ago here in Meerkerk, big thunderstorms! Saved us a lot of cleaning anyway.

Meerkerk prayer flags Gorinchem
Meerkerk prayer flags                         Gorinchem

A big push now to get down to the south-east side of the Netherlands by the weekend so early morning starts for us to ensure we have a place to moor. Crossing the Waal at Gorinchem we made it to 's-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in a day, good cruising, good weather, 45km in one hit is a long way for us. By making a good distance it gave us a couple of nights there. We passed through the famous Sluis Zero where in October 1944 the 7th Batallion Royal Welch Fusilliers stormed across the lock gates to liberate the town. A lovely park commemorates their heroic deeds and every five years the veteran soldiers are welcomed by the town to celebrate the battle of Den Bosch. A long cycle ride to Kamp Vught one the WW2 SS concentration camps, so Diana's fascination with military history was satisfied and we passed a sobering afternoon.

On a lighter note, we happened to moor right outside "The Grass Company", a cannabis cafe where one can eat, smoke or takeaway. An insight into another way of life for us, but only from a distance - no admission for foreign nationals so we couldn't share the experience.  It seems for the Dutch it's just like going to the pub or off-licence really.  

Den Bosch Sluice Zero Bullet holes in lock wall
Den Bosch Sluice Zero                         Bullet holes in the lock wall

Den Bosch from cycle tracks The Grass Company
Den Bosch from cycle tracks                   The Grass Company

Our next stop was Aarle Rixtel, a village near the crossroads of two big canals but a very peaceful spot on the Zuidwillemsvaart. We passed two nights here doing a few jobs and relaxing - the very warm weather meant we didn't do anything energetic!  Just observing the wildlife and realising how lucky we are.

Crested Grebes mother and chicks Mooring place at Aarle-Rixtel
Crested Grebes- mother and chick              Mooring place at Aarle-Rixtel

All the little ducks in a row Kids enjoying the summer hols
All the little ducks in a row                 Kids enjoying the summer hols

A big day's cruising took us south east and close to the border with Belgium but still in the Netherlands - we're not leaving yet!  Maasbracht will be Esme's home for the next few weeks while we have other activities planned.  More about that next month.
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