Friday, November 28, 2014

And of course no visit to Holland would be complete without a sighting of a molen, this one an impressive, still in use timber mill.
We also re-visit manicured Sloten to give her a taste of the Dutch style.

With Snail comfortable on her out of town mooring, we go in Origami to Sneek with its famous watergate to pick up my daughter from the station, here for her annual summer visit. One of the joys of using Origami is getting under bridges that many boats cannot unless lifted for them.

We headed for the historic boatbuilding town of Sneek with its rows of not quite wide enough boat sheds.

The 'marrekriet' moorings were not always placidly smooth but windy weather did bring out the historic sailing boats for us to admire.

This is a typical 'marrekriet' mooring and very happy we were to be using them. The volunteers who build and maintain them also manage to find the money and energy to add more over the years.We were to miss them when we left Friesland waters.

There's a large expanse of water called the Ijsselmeer which has a reputation for rapidly changeable conditions. It was however in our way so had to be done. Out we went from the sluis (lock) at Stavoren and two slightly choppy hours later, in again at the sluis at Warkum. As usual, Snail handled the crossing admirably so we were slightly taken aback when the Warkum lockkeeper treated us to a diatribe about the unsuitability of narrowboats, of which he must presumably know such a lot, for sea crossings and (the other end of the boating spectrum) for getting around tight bends. While he was regaling us with his knowledge, he deftly short changed our proffered 20euro note for his 5euro charge.

                    Do my feet look big in these?
It was early closing day in Hindeloopen so we could only peer through the windows at the traditionally painted wares for sale. The art work on Snail had often been likened by the Friesland passers-by to this Dutch tradition too but now we were close to it, there were significant differences. The English tradition although just as stylised, is much more primitive.

On to Hindeloopen, another ancient town famous for its decorative boat art work rather similar to that found on the old working narrowboats of the English canals. This lock was officially measured at 20m. Snail is 21m but the lockkeeper wanted to give us a try. By the time we had attempted all the angles of attack possible we had quite an audience. It was a shame to disappoint them but there really was no way Snail could be made to fit.

Approaching Sloten from the other end of town and you are greeted by this lovely line up.

Sloten was a pristine, proudly kept place. Even the satellite dishes there were given the Dutch treatment.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

While there we were fortunate enough to see Sloten's molen having its sails unfurled ready to use. The cannon is one of several dotted around the old fortifications. They are apparently fired every Friday!

The current householders in Sloten continue the centuries old tradition of using communal washing lines strung up around the green.

Next was the ancient 'city' of Sloten, again approached in Origami as larger boats (and cars too) are not allowed in. Much of its fortifications and watergates are still intact, also its stocks which can just be seen by the archway, left over from when the Spanish in the 16th century ignored the surrounding walls and invaded anyway.

Continuing the pattern of our cruising at the moment, we moor outside the town of Lemmer and use Origami. This pretty place was so full of private boats and hire boats that we found it difficult to squeeze Origami in to an Origami sized gap. This touristy town has given its name to a type of traditional boat, the Lemsteraark. Used in the past as commercial fishing boats, now the many replicas moored in this town are all for holiday hire as is the one leaving the lock in the photo.

Well just look at that - a hire fleet of 'narrowboats'. Not sure if they are UK made, they are certainly rather ugly in their straight sided shape. We were to see them often out and about through Friesland, obviously popular so an inspired decision by the owner.

This too is a fairly typical sight, a fleet of hire boats for which you would need rather more than the sometimes cursory 'training' that is offered at the start of a UK narrowboat holiday.

This is a typical Friesland set up. A molen (means windmill, in this case to pump water) in the garden of the steeply roofed farmhouse with some sort of traditional boat moored alongside.

Now on our way to Lemmer and a couple of times are in close proximity to motorways as here where the road goes under us (and this lady had found a much quicker way to travel) but also where we went under the motorway via a lift bridge. We could pass under with no problem but 'mast up' yachts couldn't. We watched in amazement as behind us the motorway traffic was stopped, causing long tailbacks, and the bridge was lifted to let just one yacht through.

Friday, November 21, 2014

This is giant hogweed living up to its name by the mooring near Leeuwarden. It was a good year for the bankside vegetation.

This is Skipper looking sheepish. Origami is normally very reliable but this time her outboard stopped and refused to start again on our way back to the Marrekriet. Thankfully this rather swish launch took pity on us and saved Skipper a long row back to Snail.

Leeuwarden was definitely not as pretty as Harlingen but we did enjoy the pijpen (tunnels) in Origami that took the old waterways under the streets. Too narrow to accommodate us and a tripboat at the same time, it was of course always us that had to get sharply out of the way!

Back in Franeker we had bought a 'Marrekriet'. For a few euros you can buy a small flag which when displayed, entitles you to use moorings provided by this volunteer organisation in Friesland. They are all in out-of-the-way places and this one looked to be so unused that we wondered if it was indeed a Marrekriet mooring. The friendly fisherman who took this photo re-assured us that it was okay and we stayed here for a couple of days, following our now established pattern of taking Origami in to the nearby town rather than paying hefty mooring fees with Snail.

Another one for the birdwatchers - a black tailed godwit, we think? He sat and watched us go past, quite unperturbed.

The following day the bridge is lifted and we are freed to enjoy the sunshine, unlike the cows. By the way, one of the justifications the farmers use for this indoors method of dairy farming is that the cows do not get sunburnt. We pass this juxtaposition of the old and the new.

Now on our way to Leeuwarden, the city of Friesland but are stopped in our tracks by this sign, an out of order lift bridge. Arrangements are made to open it for us the next day and in the meantime Woody makes friends with the farm dog from the opposite bank. This is one of the dairy farms whose methods are growing in popularity here. Outside the meadows are empty, apart from the tractors who everyday cut the grass and take it to enormous enclosed barns in the farmyard. These are full of cows who never go outside with lighting that is kept on to artificially extend the day length. This apparently leads to higher milk yields. Outside there were 8 small huts each with a calf inside. The crying of the calves and the constant mooing of the cows were to keep us awake that night.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walking along the quay, we could see this boat rebuild underway. It was a reconstruction of the 16th century ship that Willem Berentsz (of sea fame) sailed to the north pole in and, like Shackleton in the south, got stranded in the ice. It is a story of endurance against the odds and apparently, every schoolchild here learns about it. When the volunteers have finished the build it's off to Russia (who is helping with funding) to re-trace the route of the original voyage.

Harlingen has been a trading port for centuries and many of the old wharves have the names of their cargo destinations still on them, including Russia, Poland and here, closer to home. We were surprised to encounter another friendly lion that we first came across guarding the entrance to a stately home in Friesland last year but this time keeping the 25euro a nighters safe. The painted 'poster' was a reminder of Holland's colonial past but also showed the local traditional headdress; lots of bling and gold we were told.

We left Franeker via a lift bridge operated for us with a smile by the waitress from the bankside restaurant nearby. It is apparently included in her job description. On to the commercial van Harinxma Canal but quiet today, a public holiday, reaching the portside town of Harlingen just as hundreds of motorbikes did too. The bridgekeeper explained it was a holiday outing that he would have joined in with too if he hadn't been working. He also told us that the cheapest moorings in this popular place were 25euros a night at which point we rapidly decided to push on through to the (free) village of Kimswerd and use Origami to come back and explore. And what a beautiful town it was, graced with so many historic ships, some of which were clearly still used!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three works of art in Franeker, spanning the centuries. The oldest commemorates the building of an orphanage; the top picture illustrates a dramatic and presumably tragic accident and the last a modern sculpture that we found in many of the towns linked to the 'Race' on this route. Delightfully unlike any of the potential skaters we had seen practising in the winter who were all stick thin.

We reach the lovely town of Franeker, famous for its historic 'Planetarium' built by a true eccentric in his living room and still accurate today. Charged 20euros for the priviledge of staying over the weekend on an out of town mooring with no facilities (this is tourist country)we took the ever useful Origami through the little waterways that thread their way through the town. It's full of handsome 17th and 18th century buildings and we eventually stopped to explore on foot.

                     Whatever sort of boat is that??