1136-1137: Windmills and Steam

1136-1137:  Windmills

Tuesday 16th – Wednesday 17th April 2019

We left the Wildcamping campsite (there’s an oxymoron!)  a.m. – most of our friends and ourselves moving to a pre booked aire at Alblasserdam – and for a farewell meal…..

We drove to the Cruquius Museum on the way to the aire – site of Hollands largest steam engine – from Coventry! Massive steam power driving more water power – sucking the water from the Amsterdam basin into the canals – and still working! British engineering working with Dutch technicians….  

I slept later in the adternoon and K took doggies to the Zaastad windmills – rush hour with tourists and selfie sticks – not the best way to see a place.

Driving to Alblasserdam took far too long … well into aperitif time!  We might not work, but we hit Amsterdam and Den Haag rush hours … 2 for the price of one.  Instantly on arrival two things happened.  1)  We got chairs out and joined our friends for a drink.  2)  K got told off by the aire manager … all dogs on leads at all times.  Now Corrie was technically was on a lead, just K was not attached to the other end.  Juggling a tugging Oscar, a chair and a drink, Corrie had been allowed to walk over free and was spotted.  K apologised and the manager offered to show her the site rules!  In fact he was a bit of a mini Himmler, he pounced on any misdemeanour almost before it happened, but that’s what keeps the aire pleasant for all.  Our tour leaders also came under his displeasure too, as they pretty much arrived last in our group … apparently tour leaders SHOULD arrive first!

The next day we caught the free shuttle bus from aire to the UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmills.  On arrival coffee & cake was consumed whilst we downloaded an audio guide. No sign of Don Coyote – sorry, Don Quixote – wrong country methinks…  no tiliting here.   Later K walked the children (well, they are our kiddies) – Holland is not great for dog walking off lead, but she found a park where they were allowed … until May 1st!  Shopping – and a lovely supper out with our wild camper friends! Not a wild supper, but in a smarts restaurant – and afterwards to a nearby hostelry – managed to stay until 1:30 am with Ben and Lin – ‘Benelin’ – good for easing throats – we eased some wine into ours!

We all left after 2 nights – and lots of adieus/Hasta prontos, etc. “We’ll meet again, somewhere sometime…” 

Now after the lovely flatlands of Holland – to Germany and the mountains…….

Slan go foil – the Irish readers will know this – another ‘Pasta Honto” – adieu for now…


Cruquius Museum:


You can see the metal spider like arms that pull plungers up, to pull water up from the lower level the the canal on the right.


The machinery was set in motion which was an amazing sight.  The cylinder is in its highest position, pulling the spider legs up, drawing up the water.  It was a really smooth action, and had a breaking mechanism top and bottom.  It has not been used since 1933, but still in complete working order.


The ‘wells’ that sucked up water.

Zaanse Schans:


Tourist territory.  Typical houses and windmills have been moved here.  



Kinderdijk Windmills:

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19 windmills used to drain Alblasserwaard.  They had to keep adding new drainage pools and windmills as water levels changed.  

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A few are museums, but most are lived in.

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There was a story about how a mother died saving her child from a sail, as he’d forgotten which exit door to use (depending on wind direction).  The come down to a foot above the ground and do move fast.

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Cosy interior

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Where the Noord and Lek converge.  And my fave pic of the windmills.




1131-11135: Flower Power

1131-1135:  Flower Power

Thursday 11th – Monday 29th April 2019

Well, the warly bird catches the warm!  So early we sailed to Royal Flora Holland – parking beside the big ‘uns… HGVs akimbo… Short queue good as not pre-cooked us! Or maybe pre-booked.  Massive production facility with auto fork lifts on tram tracks. Auction in process – lightning speed…

The photos tell the story, as always.

Beach doggy walk and on to campsite for the Wild camping friends. Bikes at the ready – to a village nearby – for coffee and cake – apple pie again… we cycled watch the carnival floats parked ready for the morrow.  Following day, with San and David, cycled to the same cafe to watch this incredible parade passing – with coffee and cake – and a modicum of vino…   Lots of Oompah bands…….

Evening meal with S and D – tales and excellent company….

Pm – K cycled to walk the pooches on the beach – no bike locks – so local security guard provided one – human kindness? 

Early bird again with S and D – to Kookyhoff Giardino.  Brekkie in Jez for all 4 of us – and doggies on lead – off to explore the wonders of this magical place.  Too busy by 11:30 – just as well we were the early worms…

Random fact:  62% of the world’s bulbs are grown in Holland.


Royal Flora Holland: 

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Trays and trays of perfect blooms.

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This was towards the end of the auction, but you get an idea how long the warehousing is. 


Dutch auction:  a count down timer; the price dropping as the red dot moves round, until a bid is made. 


An army of pallet movers, hitching up and scanning the barcode.  Headphones to receive instructions.  And lots of safety posters, so they must have a few bangs.


Most of the bidding is done remotely now.

The Flower Parade:

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We got to see the floats up close where the were parked up the night before.  Amazing detail  Volunteers pin the blooms in place.

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Local firms entered cars with displays, but I thought a few of them looked funereal.


One of my favourites … the horses are made from bulbs.


This year’s theme was the changing world.  its of flower power, love and peace references.

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 Celebrating in the local town  the church was awash with displays.

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 Our comfortable seating to watch the parade … two coffees, cake and a couple of glasses of wine … Each!  Sanchia and David led us astray!!!

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 Marching bands both adult and children.

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All the local kids had decorated their bikes and took part.

The Keukenhof Gardens: 

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We rashly entered the maze, but only met one dead end.  And got out again 🙂

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Reflects our mantra.

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Looking down from the windmill onto J and CO2.

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King Arthur’s Sword like … the axe was not to be shifted.

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A fair bit of denim around, most of it being used as a display.


No tunes came out of this …not J’s lack of talent but the lack of working innards.


Who planted that here?


Not just one, but two rivers of Muscari …





All around are bulb fields.  Apparently it takes 25 years of work before bulbs come on the retail market.  





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The sun came out and so did the Aperol Spritz.

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CO2 encouraging me to get up … my morning hug.


Check out the value of one bulb during Tulipmania … know we’d rather have one motorhome!

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Biting winds most days and we woke to frost … I did NOT take this picture … still snuggled up!

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Final night on the campsite BBQ with most of the wild camping.co.uk crew.

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It’s a Dutch Dogs Life.  No walking off lead virtually anywhere!  Sign everywhere to keep dogs on leads and too many bikes on the paths.

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… except at the beach.

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Street appropriately named.

1129-1130: Lovely Leiden

1129-1130:  Luscious Leiden

Tuesday 9th – Wednesday 10th April 2019

We arrived at the Leiden car park – after travelling for all of a half hour via an LPG refill. The special motorhome parkings were full – so we waited until a Belgian van left and moved into their space – tight… Light lunch and – the free shuttle city bus takes dogs!  2 minutes to city centre……. A K-guided walking tour quickly convinced us the we like Leiden even more than Gouda!   And we liked Gouda more than Delft.  28 km of waterways – most outside Amsterdam…  found a park where our doggy/children could roam free – kids after school activities – footy and tag games. The park has a sun trap cafe – for – wine…..Eased our way home via a bank for cash. Leiden is the birthplace of Rembrandt – and lots of sculptures, etc. 

Chilled evening (is there any other kind?) – with some vino and (the cooking) Marsala…..Zzzzzzs.  Definitely Leiden again tomorrow – possibly a boat trip. 

Wednesday dawned – windy and very chilly – so lots of layers.  Walked the short distance to the same park – for doggy freedom – and same cafe – for coffee and cake – K had cheesecake and I had traditional Dutch apple pie – yummy – no calories….only coffee as Wednesday is another alcohol free day – quite a few of those recently.   (n the park, Corrie feasted on pizza from the grass!  Met two lovely Dutch ladies – with a Kooiker dog – same colours as Oscar – they had a mad chase all around the park!  They gave us lots of local advice…. 

Kooky narrow streets – and suddenly a large and lively market!  I bought some fruit/passion e-juice – and K got her phone screen protector replaced.

Back to Jez – late lunch and – nap for me…..

Early night – as 6:00 am start – to visit a massive flower auction area.  We will definitely revisit Lovely Leiden! 

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CO2 make themselves comfortable!

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 Making friends with the locals. 


For a sheep chaser, Corrie was most unhappy with these!

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Oscar – and Corrie’s Diary.

So – missy Corrie thinks she can out-Franglais me!  Hallo and Goedemorgen – and Hoi!  Doei and Tot ziens – (but that’s after you read the blog).  That’s put her in her place – for now…

Our owners K and J say we’re still in Neverlands – from Daft to Lazing cities.  K and J are now almost fully trained – after 2 years from me – and 1 from missy. They will always need refreshers of course… today K was walking beautifully to heel – I only had to correct her once. J was – well fairly normal – for an almost 72-year old – that’s 504 in doggy years – very scary, old man!  

They were intending to take us to a country called Pooland – but now it seems it will be Germilly – and the Cheque Republic – (must be lots of banks in Chequeland). Our good friend Kerstin will be 350  doggy years young…. she’s a mad hatter…..  The party will last all weekend, at least!  We just hope they have enough dogfood….. Slallammy and sausidge with loads of kertchoop – will do nicely…

Tot zien – for now – all our 11 readers…

O and C










1125-1128: Discovering Art in Den Haag and Delft

1125:  Den Haag Camper Platz

Friday 5th April 2019

A leisurely departure from Gouda to the DenHaag Camper Platz, to be greeted by a huge metal gate, an ebullient hostess and strict dog rules.  BUT they do allow two dogs, have showers and are cycling distance from both Delft and Den Haag.  The site is a flat (no surprise there, we are in the Netherlands) open expanse with a motorway on two sides, so not the prettiest.  We elected not to pay for hook up and give our new lithium leisure batteries a good test.  The result is that we cannot harvest a fraction of what our new solar panels are producing with only sunny-ish weather.  We just don’t use enough electric.  Should we be running the fridge and hot water from our leisure batteries as the next investment in the van?

The afternoon was spent hand washing underwear and using the site machine for laundry … didn’t like to get  the twin tub out here.  A goodly breeze 🙂

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We found James Willy Boulevard in Antibes and now this on todays short journey.

1126:  Den Haag

Saturday 6th April

We checked the weather and mindful of how cold we’d been in Rotterdam, and knowing how it feels a lot colder on bike, we seriously up.  My thermal leggings came out.  We took turns in the Mauritshuis, which had free wifi, so you could download a tour of highlights.  It was a good size, i.e. not too big, so you could actually take in the paintings and not just have a retina image for a nano second.

We joined a walking tour … but it was far too large a group, the guide had superb English but was softly spoken and didn’t add to our Dutch history knowledge.  Quite a few Brazilians on the tour who are working in Amsterdam … they had all independently descended on Den Haag.

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The Mauritzhuis … C17 building housing a collection started by William V of Orange.

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 Perhaps the Maurithuis’ most famous painting – The Girl with the Pearl Ear ring by Johannes Vermeer C17. Her eyes really do follow you.

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Jan Steen drew on bawdy humour.  He was brought up in a bar and his father was an art dealer  it is thought the young lad being taught to smoke was his younger self.

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Another Van Steen  check out the lady who has fallen over on the ice  she forgot to put on her knickers!

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Peter Paul Reubens Old Woman and a Boy with Candles.

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This is just a tiny corner of a still life  such attention to detail.

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Hans Holbein the Younger painted Henry VIII of England’s falconer and was offered a place at court, but he declined.

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Just liked this one.

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 And now for Rembrandt.  Wed visited the house in Amsterdam where he lived, worked and taught.  It is 350 years since his death, so the Mauritshuis had all his paintings that they own on display.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tilp 1632.  Rembrandt was only 26.  At one point this hung in the greasy kitchen of Amsterdam’s Surgeons Guildhall.

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Rembrandts last self portrait 1669.

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And my favourite – we have a copy hanging in one of the bedrooms in Combe Martin.  Carel Fabritus’ The Goldfinch.  He was killed in a gunpowder magazine explosion in Delft aged 32.  He was considered Rembradt’s most talented student.

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The small octagonal building is the Presidents cosy office.  An island off to the right had hemp seeds scatted onto it, which then grew (and were quickly removed) as part of the protest against recent anti pot smoking legislation.

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The Hotel Indes, where the ballet dancer Pavlova died … or natural causes we were told, nothing to do with eating too much pudding!

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Above the central lamppost is the Union Jack, flying outside the British Embassy.  It burned out in 2015 by a disgruntled security employee who had a drink and drugs addiction.  Perhaps the Netherlands was not the ideal posting for him!

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Haagse Harry: a cartoon character who represented the voice of the working class.  Pot smoking, football hooligan but with a heart of gold.Not sure why he had to have a dump in public, but being responsible dog owners, we always carry spare poo bags!

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The Binnenhof  site of the medieval fortress and home to the Dutch parliament until they felt the buildings did not reflect their status and they moved to a flashy extension next door in 1992.

1127:  Delft

Sunday 7th April

A super sunny day today “).  No thermals!  We cycled in the other direction to Delft.  Using a phone app we did our own walking tour.  

The Vermeer Visitor Centre was one of the main sights.  Despite the fact that Vermeer lived all his life in Delft, the town does not have a single one of his paintings, and very little is known of him.  The are a LOT of authorship questions over his paintings.  A number had other artists’ signatures on them.  Vermeer did not sign all his work.  A 1930’s forger created a few more!  He was only discovered when accused collaborating with the Germans … he claimed he passed them forgeries, so was not collaborating! Currently there are 36 paintings that are said to be true Vermeers, but then even a few of these have a big ?.  The Centre had digital prints of all 36 works, BUT they were smooth flat and as a result lost a lot of the detail and depth of a relief.  Lovely to see how he always had the light from the left, used the same models, room and clothing.

I like porcelain, and a must do for me was a Delft factory, so we headed out to Royal Delft.  A very slick display of their work and then you can walk through the factory.  Being the weekend, you could see the work benches, but no work being done.

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Bikes chained up outside the Old Church.  It takes us a full 10 minutes to get the dogs out of the Os-car and tied up, and then get our 5 locks in place.  We ain’t taking any risks with these babies!

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Typical Delft street.

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The New Church, rebuilt after in 1536 and then the gunpowder explosion a century later.  Inside is the private mausoleum for the Royal Family.  William the Silent’s elaborate mausoleum is on display.  A 100 metre spire; sadly we couldn’t go in or up as it was Sunday.

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The spire and the well known (!!!) statesman and scholar Grotius, 1563-1645, in pride of place.

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Town Hall the other end of the Market Place. 

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Think the clue to the fact weve arrived at Royal Delft is here.

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Delft blue copy of one of Vermeer’s paintings.

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This display likened the frenzied trade in tulip bulbs like the Bitcoin explosion.  Bulbs were traded for silly money, such as a bag of 100 bulbs was swapped for a coach and horses.

IMG 1153Having seen so many beautiful tiles in Portugal, I was disappointed to learn that Delft closed its structural production arm in 1990, including the tiles.  I had thought I’d buy a picture made up of tiles, BUT a single small tile would have set me back EUR59!!!

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The factory moved out of the centre of town in the early 1900’s and show cased its own architectural work.

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As it was Sunday, the factory was closed and a solitary worker demonstrated how the black pigment is mixed with water and painted between the lines of a stencil.  The blue colour appears after firing.

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Biscuit ware, after first firing, ready for paint.


1128:  Panorama to See and Not Sea

Monday 8th April

I think the Panorama Mesdag was the Delft / Dresden highlight for me.  Panoramas were popular in late 1800’s, but by the turn of the century, most had been cut up.  People climbed dark stairs, and them emerged into the light of the panorama.  Standing on a central platform you walk around 360 looking at the view.  Explanation of the making is in the first image below.  It was unvarnished, so as not to have a sheen.  The top and bottom are hidden from view (sand dune and roof over the viewing platform, so it disguises the canvas edges.   Our campsite host explained that as the panorama uses natural light above the viewing platform, the look of the painting differs through the seasons.  I was lucky enough to have the viewing platform to myself for about 10 mins.  Really quite magical.  

Note to self, ask how much a cafe charges for cake!  Two coffees and small cake was EUR24!  No tip given!

We cycled on past the Peace Palace, had a picnic and then headed for the coast.  It was as if the Dementors were descending … swirling damp mist and a chill.  By the time we got to coast, it was a pea super!  About 7C cooler than the city.  I still managed an ice cream, whilst J had a warming coffee.  The dogs have not been off lead much, as there is a real lack of places to walk them without causing a bicycle incident … they went ballistic on the beach.  

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The Peace Flame:  fire from lots of countries combined.

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The Peace Palace, opened in 1913 and we know what happened in 1914.  Also the International Court of Justice.

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Just as well we’d seen the sea  and town of Schweningen in the Panorama, as you couldn’t  see the sea for the mist, unless you were right on the water’s edge.  A spooky figure suddenly emerged … he was carrying a huge camera and catching the waves breaking.





1121-1124: Gorgeous Gouda

1121-1124: Gorgeous Gouda

Monday 31st – Thursday 4th April 2019

Gouda is famous for its cheese and during the tourist season, its Thursday cheese market.  We had planned to come here two summers ago, but responded to a Kerstin’s plea for decorating help in Germany.  Gouda and the market were definitely on our to do list this trip.  Having read that the motorhome aire gets VERY busy on Wednesday, for the Thursday market, AND having had problems finding campsites that will take two dogs … we got here mega early.  Monday, in fact.  We went from 14 vans to 44 on Wedsnday night and back to 7 on Thursday night.  At EUR8 for 24 hours and as we were so early, we got free electric hookup, it was a bargain.

We had planned to stay only 3 nights, but with such a good parking place and so close to a lovely town, we stayed 4.  We managed an ice cream each day … I had two days of some ache and shiver bug (weird), so did little on those days, but still managed a walk into town for a white chocolate and hazelnut, or coffee and pistachio …. purely medicinal.

Gouda really is lovely to wander around, but the high light is definitely the C16 stained glass windows in the Church of St John.  I also visited the Gouda Museum, which had a good mix of furniture, art, porcelain and I learned about the pipe making in Gouda.

The cheese market was disappointing … a fairly ordinary small market with only about 4 cheese stalls.  There was a sort of display and demonstration, which we missed.  Lots of photo opportunities for a pic with a buxom blond lass in costume, which we also missed!  We aborted the market in favour of a glass of vino on the edge of the square and people watched.  I did managed to come away with enough veggies bought to make a caponata and asparagus soup … slow cooker, Remoska and electric hob all in use whilst whilst we have electric!


Sint-Janskerk:  Images depicted various Battles.  This was the battle of Leiden where the town was besieged and the citizens were starving.  The Mayor offered up his own body to feed the people … they declined, but it gave them new heart.  Their rescuers brought bread and herring, which they still consume at an annual celebration.


King Phillip II from Spain thought so much of himself, he had his image included in the Last Supper tableau.


A biblical tale, where the town was saved by a Judith chopping off the head of the attacker whilst he slept.


And from 2015, evil around the outside and good, hope, joy etc inside. 


These are Stolperstein.  We’d have not necessarily noticed them if Mike and Carol did not seek them out on their travels and blog about them.  They are outside houses to show where Jewish people lived before being slaughtered by the Germans in WW2.


Gouda Museum was formerly the hospital and had its own pharmacy.


Gouda had quite an industry in pottery… they adopted the Majolica method of glazing tin to achieve colours.  Most of the colours and styles followed current fashion.


This is one of the museum’s treasures.  Miachel Sweerts’ The Spinner 1656.  He was noted for his use of light, particularly on the head scarf.  A lot of Dutch painters were influenced by Caravaggio.  Feel I should have taken more notice of him when we spent 6 months in Italy.


Not hat pins!  But pipe cleaners …


 Long barrels to cool the smoke.  Gouda was a major production centre, then lost out to French designs and coped the shorter, double walled pipes.


This was the only piece of porcelain I would have happily ‘borrowed’ from the museum.


Just love the very Dutch decorative style.

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From 14 to 44 vans the night before the Thursday cheese market.

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A cheeky little donut with raisins.

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The cheeses laid out in front of the Town Hall for the tourists.

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The small cheeses are the young ones as they don’t have time to develop a thick skin.  To add flavour they are infused with herbs, garlic, beer, pistachio … you name it.  We bought a slab of the much tastier 2 year old.

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He’s sliced off a bit of Sponge Bob Square Pants!!!!  The Cheese Master hosting the demonstration and explanations for the tourists.