Blokzijl and beyond

Yes, the names do become stranger and harder to pronounce. I am personally still struggling with the basic Dutch word for "your are welcome" which is “alsjeblieft”. Have a try and I will test you back in Oz!

Lucky Lynette and Niall who we met yesterday! Lynette being a NZ born Aussie of Dutch decent speaks perfectly Dutch. We had a great chat with the lovely couple from the sunshine coast when moored in Blokzijl.

Sunshine did return as we moved north. It brought all kinds of people onto the water, like a group of very noisy young men who obviously came straight from Amsterdam’s red light district.

They were still with us pumping music out at high volume, when we entered the lovely “Havenkolk”, the old harbour, of Blokzijl.

Luckily they moved on with their listless passenger still strapped to the back of the boat.

The “Kolk” is surrounded by 17th century houses. Work was in progress to replace and paint some of the weathered wooden frames.

A lady who works for a big letting company looking after the heritage buildings told us, that not only the structural elements of these heritage buildings, but also the colour scheme can’t be changed, and that includes the internal colours. Some of these houses, as cosy as they look, must be cold in winter as double-glazing is also a no-no!

Just behind our mooring stood a big canon. It wasn't aimed at us but as far as we know, was once used to warn the town of imminent flooding. The dyke, built to protect Blokzijl from the Zuider Zee, was regularly patrolled by a guards walking up to the next village and back again to check on it’s integrity.

The traditional local cake would have fixed a few holes in the dyke! It’s called the “brok”, “chunk” in English. It is a very solid slice made with the same spice mix used in the speculaas biscuits and is quite delicious.

The cafe on the side of the lock in town is always full of spectators. A lovely spot to have a coffee or a glass of wine.

Apart from peat farming, which has left the  countryside scored with watery furrows, many trades were practised in town. One of the most important was the weaving of rush-mats. But also the timber trade and cheese and butter production played a big role. 

We spent a second night in Blokzijl admiring the night scenery before squeezing into the lock with 5 other boats and moving on.

The strong wind returned, and we looked a bit like this fellow, one of my favourite sculptures so far. It’s aptly called:' In front of the wind'. And like this we sailed through the beautiful, winding Kalenberger Gracht with thatch-roofed houses on the right and the left and meadows with geese, horses and storks.

We finally settled for a mooring in Echtenerbrug at one of three harbours full of boats. 

I really think we have seen more boats than people in the Netherlands and the number of boats here wouldn’t have astonished us, if there was a reasonable town nearby. But all we could find was a street with one small, little supermarket and not much else. 

As our Sapphire Gin had run out, we decided to try the famous Dutch Jenever. We had to walk to a hotel bar to purchase a small bottle of the Dutch Gin.

And try it we did! We weren’t too impressed! We might keep it for paint preparation or pesky guests!?

© Austin Robinson 2019