Warm feeling

19 Sep 2023

Isn’t it just wonderful when a plan comes together.  

My husband had one of those special birthdays last week, one ending in 0. What to do to celebrate?Whilst I had a massive party, albeit a year late due to lockdown, that is D’s worst nightmare.

How about cycling in Holland? It is easily accessible to us as we live in the East of England. That got a smiley response so organising happened.

One afternoon we cycled to Harwich, stopped off for some excellent fish and chips and boarded the ferry in the evening. Next morning, after a hearty ship’s breakfast buffet, we rolled off the boat and along the delightful Dune cycle path that follows the coastline North. The weather was gentle sunshine - and a headwind. We arrived at our friends’ place in time for lunch.  

I have known this lady since she was our au pair when I was three. She wanted to practice her English for the summer before returning to university. Such a lovely woman, we have stayed in touch for nearly 60 years. Thankfully she no longer needs to help me go to the toilet! She and her husband, both now in their 80s, rolled out the hospitality carpet and entertained us royally for the evening.  

Next morning we set off for Haarlem. By coincidence, the Haarlem Jazz Festival was on, but to make it more inclusive, they have non-jazz music too. Well, we didn’t hear a note of jazz, just lots of pretty good covers bands. It was fun and relaxed - all the crowds enjoying the free music with a few beers. We even managed to snag entry to a rare opportunity to climb the bell tower, super interesting with huge views.

On the actual birthday D chose to go for a long walk towards the coast through woods and dunes. The route out wasn’t great but the return side of the loop was gorgeous. When we finally got back to town we headed for a museum. We enjoyed seeing fossils and rocks, and early equipment for scientific experiments.  As we were starting to succumb to museum fatigue, I spied a special surprise exhibit: our friends had arrived from the East of Netherlands. D had failed to notice me texting location updates all afternoon. He was delighted. After a relaxing beer by the riverside, we scrubbed up into the ‘smart’ clothes (a loose definition when cycling with minimum weight) and we all shared a wonderful Indonesian meal - the Dutch equivalent of going for a curry.

It really had been a perfect day: long walk, museum, good friends and good food.  

The next morning we meandered back down the coast (with a head wind again) and took the ferry back to Blighty.

One person’s heaven is another’s hell, but for D, this had been the perfect birthday celebration. We arrived home feeing relaxed and contented. That doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s good to appreciate it when it does.


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