Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 64: to Sotterum (92; 4211)

A little cooler today, and with no wind in the morning providing perfect cycling conditions.

...Except for the thunderbugs which were at times like a slow form of torture as they crawled behind my glasses, down my top, etc. It's tempting to shave every exposed surface of skin just so they get caught less. 

I was feeling quite lazy this morning, perhaps as a result of the good ride yesterday. I also knew that the day would be limited to the beginning of the enormous dyke that is tomorrow's challenge. It is too long to be sensibly tackled at the end of the day, so I could spend today taking a fairly loopy tour through a last bit of Frisian countryside and hitting up a couple more of the eleven towns.

As always, not a hell of a lot going on around here. For some reason I find it hard to identify sources of food and drink in small Dutch towns. There's often an advert for coffee and a sign saying 'open' outside something that looks like a residential house and is quite clearly closed. Plus a lot of residential properties have awnings and/or picnic tables and chairs outside, further confusing me as to where to go. There's obviously some sign I'm not picking up on. And as an aside I do believe I am back slightly addicted to coffee as I really do feel much more full of joy once I've had a cup.

Lots of wildlife around, especially herons, hares, and oystercatchers. The Dutch have an abundance of comedy domestic animals, mostly ponies (Frisians, Norwegians Shetlands and Haflinger types, in that order of frequency) but also a good few goats, pigs and deer grazing the patches of lawn next to the cottages.

The big surprise of the day was Harlingen, which was a lovely town. For some reason I was expecting an industrial and ferry port, but it has a stunning old town centre set around several little yacht-filled harbours. The Tall Ships Races were here a few days ago: flashbacks to the Baltic trip last year where we chased them down the coast, always a few days behind. Perhaps it's time for another Tall Ship trip.

Harlingen also provided some €2.50 flip flops (hurrah for Hema, the Dutch M&S) and some fresh food to see me through tonight and tomorrow. It was actually really heaving, and I don't say that often around here!

The last stretch of the day was another beautiful ride right along the dyke and, for the sake of a peaceful campsite, a few km beyond where I will turn onto the long dyke tomorrow. I am quite excited about it, and have plans to pre-load with plenty of Nutella and caffeine.

I write this sitting on a warm dyke with a curious sheep nibbling my shoulder!

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