Wednesday 28 March 2018

Netherlands Day 4

The forecast for the day was rain after 1:00pm so we decided to go for a bike ride in the morning. We set off just after 9:30 in a easternly direction using he Dutch “knooppunten “ a junction route network again. The specification for the ride is a matter of debate as I was planning on about 30 miles whilst Lyn was expecting just over 20. The first stop was the bakery adjacent to a windmill short distance from our accommodation, We checked the opening times as it was open until 16:00 decided to visit on our way back. Our route took us alongside the Ellands polder an area of drained wetlands where windmills were used to raise up the various dykes. The route was along minor roads and cycle tracks and turned to a southerly direction towards Alkmaardermeer a large expanse of water. Rather than skirting the top of the lake we decided to extend the route and circle round the bottom. The only problem we had was when at the bottom of the lake and following route 87 we found the ferry crossing across the canal shut. The crossing reopened on the 16 th of April so we had to extend the route and cycle a mile further 2 miles and cycle down the canal until the next bridge, The rain that was not due until 13:00 but started at 12:00 when we had had completed about half the ride. We modified the route to take the most direct route back. The 1 minute journey on the ferry across the canal cost 1.20 euros each. Not a significant cost unless you base the calculation on time or distance. We extended the route by a short distance to return to the bakery. The bakery provides a protected working environment to people for whom 'ordinary' work is too complicated or demanding and in which craft is central. A sesame seed loaf and two very tasty cakes were selected for a late lunch. Ryan offered us a tour of the windmill which we accepted despite being wet. It was brief but interesting tour and Ryan was able to answer all our questions about the mill in his excellent English . He explained the history of the windmill. It was originally built to pump water, later used to mill animal feed. It was burnt down having been stuck by lightning, rebuilt and then used to mill grain. The mill had two set of mill stones and they were made of concrete and not millstone grit. At present the mill is not used on a regular basis to grind wheat for the bakery because they do not have a fulltime miller. After out tour we cycled back to the accommodation to dry off and have a late lunch. A round trip of 33.40 miles with 300 feet of assent. By the time we had eaten and showered it was too late to go to the butterfly farm so we drove the 25 km to Hoorn instead. Our brief visit did not justice to the town. The guide book suggested an overnight stop at least 3 hours to explore the old town. From what we saw it would be well worth exploring in detail on a future visit, preferably on a day when it’s not raining. We had time for a coffee in a brown bar before driving back to our accommodation in Alkmaar. We eat in our accommodation smoked salmon for a starter, followed by pork fillet with mushrooms and onions in a white wine sauce.

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