Last night we went to sleep in Harwich, Essex, England. This morning we woke up in the Hook of Holland. After 5 days of having to create every inch of progress through our own efforts, this made a nice change. It was also a relief to the more seasick-prone among us that the crossing of the North Sea took place overnight while we were all safely horizontal – which I have found to be by far the best position to adopt when feeling queasy. But by my standards, last night’s crossing was blessedly calm, the motion of the ferry barely perceptible compared with the extreme tippiness of my little rowboat.
The breakfast was better too. No full English available on the Brocade. We were woken this morning by a tannoy announcement letting us know that food was now being served. Team BB2B has found that we walk best on a good bellyful of breakfast, so we stoked up well on hot eggs, tomatoes, and toast.
We had cause to be glad of the calories. We emerged from the warmth of the ferry into a dark, wet Dutch morning. For the first 3 or 4 hours of our day we walked on an exposed pathway along the top of a dike, through driving rain and gale force winds. The landscape was bleak and industrial. After yesterday’s mellow sunshine and the pretty late autumn landscape of Essex’s Constable country, today seemed especially brutal.
The one bright spot of the morning came when two smiling people caught up with us and introduced themselves as Melanie and Philip. Melanie had been following my blog and they had decided to come and join us for our day’s walk – our first BB2B day guests. They had missed us at the ferry terminal, but had then spotted our orange jackets and caught up with us. Yet another good reason to be glad of our brightly colored waterproofs. They were well field-tested in the worst of conditions today, and came up trumps. Thanks yet again to Marmot!
Aside: 8 reasons why we love our orange Marmot jackets (Palisades model):
- Resistant to rainwater by the bucketful
- Sleeve pocket ideal for storing chocolate – not too hot, not too cold
- Great hood design – hood stays up (even with ponytail) and keeps rain out
- Top of zip doesn’t rub painfully
- Snuggly fleece collar
- Highly visible to day guests and to each other
- Good for team spirit and cohesiveness – great that we all match
- Color symbolic of change – what we need to do in Copenhagen if humans are to survive
Although my jacket kept me nice and dry, I hadn’t put enough clothes on before leaving the ferry and started to feel cold. But I was reluctant to take my waterproof off in order to add more layers underneath. Even a couple of minutes of exposure to the elements would have soaked me to the skin. So I plodded on.
I was losing touch with my toes when at last we found the ferry that would take us on the short ride across an inlet from the sea – and to the refuge of a café on the other side. After putting on ALL the clothes from my rucksack, and gulping down a hot chocolate, with a large slice of apple pie on the side, I started to feel better. A bowl of mushroom soup completed my restoration to health and happiness.
We had to do a few more miles through the industrial landscape before at last our path turned towards Brielle, away from the road and into the countryside. The skies cleared and the sun came out, and my perception of Holland started to become more favourable.
After passing many modern wind turbines, we spotted a proper traditional wooden windmill as we took the final turn in the path that would lead us to Brielle. It turned out to be a gorgeous little town, with quaint old Dutch-gabled houses, restaurants and shops lining a canalful of boats. We are now sitting in the hotel bar with Melanie and Philip, drinking tea and munching on biscuits and chocolate. Chocophile Indian Ocean rower Sarah Outen texted me today to insist that we eat “copious amounts of Belgian chocolate” in her honor – so we are gladly obeying orders. The things I have to do for my friends…!
P.S. I have a load of really lovely photos that I want to use to illustrate this post. However… having spent 10 Euros for internet access, this is what happened:
a) I cannot log on from my MacBook – spent 1:30 hrs trying
b) I am now using the hotel PC, which allowed me to copy using the right mouse button, but did not allow paste using the same – 20 mins
c) Now refuses to recognize the photos on my USB drive, even though it was perfectly happy to recognize the text file of the blog – spent 40 mins trying
d) Now about to run out of minutes on my internet access. Now 10pm, and today started at 5am UK time. Have totally lost the will to live.
e) iPhone blogging (used several times in last few days to email blog and photos to Mum for her to post online) is far too expensive from here.
f) Have not been able to access emails. Probably have 100 unread by now – in addition to the existing backlog of 88.
g) So am going to bed in despair. Will try tomorrow to post the photos. Really sorry.