Whistle Down the Wind

The last few days of peddling into a relentless headwind have made the going harder work than it should have been. The effect on the legs is as if you are constantly working to climb an incline. We therefore felt that it was time to leave the northerly travel up the coast and head inland in the hopes of some relief. A course was plotted, as we were departing from the LF route and entering the fietsroute network, where one travels from junction to junction, each of which are numbered. Mr V had forgotten his notepad this year and so we have been utilising scraps of paper such as the backs of receipts to write these down. As navigator, I am the guardian of these precious scraps and have taken to photographing them as my biggest fear is for them to be snatched out of my fingers by the wind as we pedal along, and all Mr V’s hard work will have been for naught.

The Precious

Our route initially had us skirting around fields of various produce, and it seemed that whichever direction we travelled, the wind was our constant companion, more often than not heading straight into us or from the side, whipping hair into our faces (well mine). Those times when it was at our backs pushing us though, we fair flew along. Mr V is convinced that it is mocking us as it seems to change direction as we do!

We did today though have a little spill, misjudgment of a narrow canal bridge had us toppling, and with Talula’s weight, once she goes it is difficult to recover. Luckily, the high sides of the bridge kept us from critical tipping point, but it was enough to give us a scare.

The Bridge of Near Sorrows!

When in the countryside it is relatively easy to follow the markers directing to the next junction, but like last year, we still had great difficulty keeping on course when going through towns as they are not always easy to see, or indeed present. The View Ranger (or the Ranger as we call it) has been invaluable, and we do wonder how others cope without it. Even with the app we have had to retrace our steps more than once. It has though been a lovely day, as it wore on the wind eased, to the extent that it was almost too hot out of the shade when we stopped. We have enjoyed the wide expanses of the countryside and charm of the small villages, most of which have roads laid in herringbone pattern brickwork. We did have a little difficulty negotiating through one small town where the road was being re-laid. A labour intensive task, brick by brick and we could not help but muse that in the UK this would not be preserved as cost would dictate tarmac be laid over the top.

The fietsroute network as set out on the signposts gives the indication that they are a uniform standard. Not so. You can be cycling along a mini dedicated roadway and then turn a corner and it is a single line of slabs through miles of fields. It all adds to the variety of the journey.

We lunched in Leeuwarden, European city of culture, at a pretty spot at the bend of a river and watched the passing nautical traffic of traditional Dutch barges, tourist boats, speed boats and a couple of ladies paddle boarding. We also considered where we would camp, having decided that a 6-7 hour average peddling day plus stops was ideal for us. We found a site within the radius that was in the general direction of our onward travel and not too far off the fietsroute. Lovely though the surroundings are, set within lakes of a water park. It is clearly a site that people leave their caravans and awnings and return to regularly. I will mention that some caravans have awnings that extend some 3 times the width of the caravan creating the space to virtually accommodate a 3/4 bed home. For some the natural environment can only be experienced just so far I suppose without the comfort of 56 channels and the ping of a microwave, both of which are in earshot as I sit in my tent! There is much greeting of friends and free range children. A little noisy for us, though it is approaching the weekend with hot sunny weather assured, so to be expected. I had hoped to get a good nights sleep tonight, having been kept awake by the snoring of the lady occupant of the next tent to us last night, but I fear that I may be unlucky on that front.

Mr V is checking the weather forecast, he is incredulous; as we continue east, the wind is wantonly shifting westerly. It makes you want to change your plans just to have the wind at your back if only for a while 🌬🚴🏻‍♀️=😖. But then we are in the land of windmills, it is to be expected.

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