Leave Townsville  9 July 6 AM
Arrival Schiphol  10 July   7.15 AM
Ket 10 July tot 14 July
Harlingen start 15 July
Harlingen leave 13 August
Eric and Anneke 13 August to 20 August
Staines (GB)  20 Augustus
Leave Staines  10 September
Amsterdam with Pim and  Nick 10 September till 14 September.
Zwolle with Marjan 14 September till 17September
Kras cruise 17 September tot 26 September.
Praag 26 September till 4 Oktober.
Back home
Arrival Townsville 6 October 4 PM


9th of July. Early rise the plane left Townsville 7AM for Cairns. We have never flown in a near empty plane. But the flight to Cairns only had a dozen passengers. Three hour wait for the flight to Singapore. This was also a fairly small plane from Silk Air. Only two rows and we were lucky enough to get the seat behind the Business class. This means no seat in front of you and more leg room. We had a six hour wait in Singapore. I had Googled already the possibilities to do a tour and found a free one. When we got there we were the last one on the list. We visited the harbour and botanical garden. After the tour we still had eight hours to wait. The flight to Amsterdam was thirteen hours. Susan tried to book a similar spot as we had on the flight to Singapore but the travel agent said it would cost a lot of money to do so. But somehow we ended up behind the business class again. This made a lot of difference. You could rest your legs elevated against the wall. We slept a lot better than previous times and when we arrived in Amsterdam we were reasonable fresh.  Ket was waiting at the airport which made going to her place in Zalk a lot easier. Public transport is good but nothing beats getting there by car.



                                Singapore harbour                                                                     First day in Holland Susan and Ket.


The first day we could sit in the garden because the weather was good. Things have changed considerably. When we went to Harlingen to meet the exchange family we had pouring rain on the way but when we got there it was perfect and we could sit outside. The family is still young with two teenage children. We were greeted very enthusiastically. The house is in a canal estate. They have a canoe which will be used when we are there. So far this week not much chance to look around at least Ket is keeping me busy with odd jobs around the house.


On the left our house in Harlingen.        On the right the statue of the little boy who averted a flood disaster by sticking his finger in the dyke and is famous all over the world . Mary Mapes Dodge (1831 - 1905), an American author of children's books, wrote the story around 1865. She did not visit Holland till after she wrote the story.

                                 "Our" home for the next four weeks.  Schuitenzand 8 Harlingen
Saturday 15 July and our first day in Harlingen without the owners. Ket drove us up and stayed the night. First chore a lot of shopping. Next morning a quick stroll through the town. It was a cold and overcast day. After Ket had gone home and Susan had a rest we drove to Groningen and my brother Eric and his wife Anneke. It was great to see them again. After a few hours and a delicious Chinese meal back home. Sunday we took the pushbikes in to town. A lot of places are closed on Sunday because a lot of area's in Holland are very religious and do not open on Sunday. Live in Harlingen starts at 12PM. Luckily a few coffee shops were open. After lunch and a nanny nap off to Hindeloopen. The distances are not comparable to Australia. So everything is within 100 KM. We had to wait a lot of times for bridges which open for boats passing through.
Monday. Went for a short drive to Sneek. However we did take the back roads. These are all single lane but of good condition. Sneek is a very historical city with lots of old buildings and as everywhere a lot of canals. And because the weather is very good and it is holidays there are boats everywhere which also means waiting for open bridges.
Tuesday and the day started with a phone call from our exchange host. They just moved in to our place and found the power  off. We only gave them the key to the automatic garage door. At least it is easy to lift and crawl under. Luckily we did not have too much in the fridge because it had all perished. No cold bubbly as a welcome drink.

Wind generators near Lemmer    Susan biking on   Terschelling TruusWieringa 60th birthday party: 
Eric, Anneke, Truus, Susan, Ab      

20 July. This time we followed the coast south to Lemmer. Here is the Wouda gemaal. This is the biggest still working steam generated water pump in the world. It can pump 250 000 M an hour. On the way and wherever you go in Friesland you will see wind generators. I don't think that there is a spot in Friesland where you can not see one. Even so wind generated power is only 4.5 % of total usage in the Netherlands. Every day another trip. Some take a bit longer than others. The longers to Terschelling. We took the fast boat otherwise we would have spend 2Hrs. each trip instead of 45 Min. I had not been there since 1965 and Susan had never been there. We hired two bikes. Bike hire is big business on the island because it is the best way to travel here. The school holidays are on and the camping's are chockers with school-leavers. After lunch and four hours of pedalling we handed the bikes in well before the boat left. Next day and off to Zuidhorn and Eric and Anneke. Truus Wieringa the Ex of Onno my youngest brother turned 60 and invited her friends for drinks and a meal. The weather turned out excellent so everyone sat outside up to 9PM when it got a bit chilly. It gets dark by 9.30 PM. All in all a successful day. We spend the night in Zuidhorn and left lunchtime for Home. Dinner guests on Sunday night.  We had the daughter and family of one of Susan's old colleagues over for the day. Next couple of days we toured around the country side. Franeker, planetarium. Franeker was a really interesting old city. We were not that impressed with Friesland's capital Leeuwarden. Also visited Allingawier (historic tourist village) and Sloten. This is the smallest city in the Netherlands. It looked very interesting when we drove through it but the rain prevented us from exploring it some more. In Woudsend  they had a working grain windmill. When I came out I was covered in flower. Everything was original and very interesting.



     Franeker city hall 

Woudsend, working flower mill. There are two types of mill. Water or flower.

The ocean on the right, farmland
on the left and sheep on the dijk.


28 July. The weather forecast was not too crash hot but we decided to explore the north of Friesland up to Lauwersoog. We followed the dyke which separates the Waddenzee from the low lands. We saw a lot of windmills which are used to regulate the water level. Especially Drachten was very interesting. A real tourist town. For the religious ones Bonifatius was murdered here.  He was a missionary who followed the Christian faith He was murdered in horrible circumstances in 754 AD by Friesian heathen.


   Dokkum. We had to spend a lot of time waiting for bridges.

Alkmaar Skutsje
29 July. We had planned a full day but ran out of time to see all. First over the afsluitdijk to Den Helder. The harbour area is interesting but the city was a bit of a disappointment. Next Alkmaar. This city is famous for it's cheese market and it did not disappoint. When we got there it was just about to wrap up but still plenty of activities and the old city is interesting to walk through. We spend a fair bit of time here with salted herring and kroketten for lunch. Australians will say no way to salted herring but we had a few so far. Next Edam and another touristy town and for good reasons. Old buildings and plenty of atmosphere. Close by is Volendam. The place must have changed from what I remember. No atmosphere no old buildings. Next Hoorn. Susan stayed in the car and I had a quick walk in to town. They must have had the same builder for most houses because a lot of houses had a substantial lean forward. Not enough time to explore. On the to do list were a lot more places but that has to be another time.
30 July. A bit of domestic chores and off to Grouw for the first (skutsjesilen) championships.
  Originally an ordinary cargo boat, but today a prized ship and one of the icons of Friesland. Lucky for us the weather was good for watching but no good for the competitors. Not enough wind.  While we sat at the canal we saw a few million Euro's of boats go past.

 Lieke Koenraadt, Cees van Bossum, Susan, Ab, Corrie van Erk, Conny van Zanten

 Loek.  Susan. Bep                 

     van Blokland family in Harlingen
Sunday an early start. This is the day that we are going to meet some of the volunteers we worked with in Nigeria and Cameroon. Some we had not seen for nearly 50 years. Others like Connie and Cees we have seen in Australia over the years.  Drove in to Amsterdam this time all freeway and because it was Sunday not much traffic. Train and ferry to the restaurant. We arrived the same time as Lieke which we did not recognise. The whole day was a success. Old stories new stories all in all a very good day. Thanks Corrie for organising this.

We only just recovered from the reunion and Susan's family came over. Ket, Marian, Martien end Anneke, Geertjan and Gerda. They only stayed for one day but it was very hectic. Lucky the weather was good. Walked around Harlingen, had a drink overlooking the harbour and  dinner at home. It was even possible to sit beside the water having a drink in the backyard. Everyone left us late morning and we needed the rest of the day to recover getting ready for the next guests. The weather was terrible so it was not that bad to spend the day at home.

4 August. More visitors and this time Loek Lid and Bep Schuring. These are old friends from when Susan worked as a district nurse in the 60s. It was great to see them again. They visited us in France last year. Unfortunately Bep fell when they just arrived. The closest hospital is in Leeuwarden and we went there the next day. After a long wait they could not make up their mind. Lunch in Leeuwasden and we happened to walk past a restaurant in a beautifully ols restored post office. The special was Mule Frite or Mussels and chips. We used to eat this a few times last year but is not as popular here. It was delicious. After another walk through the city and a game of cards at home it was time for the guests to go home again.

                                        Nans 90th birthday                                                                       Zuiderzee museum
6 August. This time we drove to Gouda via Zwolle to pick up Marian and Ket for Nans her 90th birthday. No back roads this time. The party was in a disused and renovated electrical generating plant. For a change I knew a lot of people. Normally when I go to something like this I only know a few. The lunch was very unusual. When we arrived there were a lot of bricks on the table and as it turned out all the dishes were placed on a plank and this placed on top of the brick. We had dinner at Ket's place and were home again at 10.30
Nothing planned for the next three days and the weather forecast was OK. As it turned out overcast, windy and rain. Not a good day to go sightseeing. All we did was sit at home and watched Australia lose from the GB hockey team.
8 August. The weather forecast was not too great but we can't sit at home all day. Decided to explore North Holland province. We took a bit of a detour through Emmeloord, Lelystad and Enkhuizen. Visited the Zuiderzee museum. This is an village rebuild from old houses collected from the surrounding villages. A lot of old trades were on display here. From here we drove to Monnickendam. This is another old fishing village. We stayed in a hotel which is normally used for tour groups because it is close to Amsterdam and accommodation in Amsterdam is very expensive they stay here. We had a very nice meal in one of the restaurants but when it came to paying the bill my credit card was rejected. Went to a pin machine and no luck either. Luckily we had enough money to pay the bill with 3Euro to spare. Next day tried several places to obtain money with no luck till I found a bank which did accept our money. In the meantime we tried to drive to Zandvoort but got stuck in the wrong lane to Schiphol airport. The queue was endless but luckily we got out of this and finally arrived in IJmuiden. This is a large port with the only steel works in the Netherlands.  Had a nice lunch while overlooking the harbour. Went on to Egmond aan Zee. This is another tourist seaside village. And after this we crossed to the other side of North Holland and Medemblik. This village borders the Zuiderzee. Time to go home gain. The weather played a large role in this because of, on and off rain and a chilly wind.
 Eric.      Anneke.       Ad.       Susan.       Henk.      Truus.       Lya                              They do clean up.

11 August. A bit of shopping in the morning and we expected my sister Lya and husband Ad for two days. We had not seen them since we were in France with my brother Onno in the B&B  in 2010. We had a quick look in to town but the rain made for a swift exit home and a few heart warming drinks. Next day we had more visitors. My brother Eric and his wife Anneke and ex. wife of Onno, Truus with partner Henk. We had a very pleasurable day with lovely nibbles lunch and dinner and a walk around Harlingen. Everybody left again by 9.30 PM. The next few days were taken up with cleaning the garden, car and house.  By midday Saturday all ready. The parents of Anna Hester came to take over the house and Eric came shortly after to drive us to Zuidhoorn. We felt sorry to leave because there is always more to explore and one can not get tired walking along the harbour with those beautiful old sailing ships moored there.

Already a few days in Zuidhorn with my brother Eric and Anneke. The weather is clearing up and Eric is always keen to show us the Northern part of Groningen province. One day an open air museum which shows the way people lived in the late 1800s. A large market, zoo and castle.  Another day Eric and myself went "wadlopen" near Pieterburen. This is walking over the part outside the dike and the islands. When the tide goes out there are several KM you can walk towards the sea. If you are really keen you can even walk to some islands. You have to be prepared to get dirty as the mud can be 50CM deep. It was great fun to do this and we got a lot of info on how to gain more usable land from the sea. The walk took three hours. The time in the Netherlands is nearing it's end. Party time ??? Not because it is ending but Truus invited us for a BBQ. This was a great success despite the fact that we nearly ended up like the smoked Paling (eel) you can by everywhere. Thank you Henk. Anneke's birthday and visitors were in and out all day.
20 August early to rise to catch the train to Schiphol. The whole trip went as planned and we arrived in Staines 4 PM.


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