Meeting Maaike & Jawing With Josie

30&31/8/16. And spelling her name correctly this time! (Apologies, Maaike, for omitting one of the “a”s last time.)

The campsite in IJmuiden was a little gem. We had ridden out of the town towards the sea through an industrial area thinking “This doesn’t look very promising or inspiring”. Suddenly the factories and warehouses came to an end and the dunes started – and there was the campsite. The map of the site had various bits of information, one of which was to keep food and shoes tucked away because of the foxes.

In the middle of the night Stephen woke to a rustling in the “vestibule” of the tent and, looking out, saw a head disappearing through the half unzipped door and a trail of items leading through it. He gathered everything back in but could only find one of Christine’s sandals. It turned up the next morning, 30 feet away in the middle of the grass. Obviously Mr Fox decided it wasn’t as tasty as he first thought!

What did not turn up was a packet of 6 small cartons of orange juice all wrapped in cellophane. We find it difficult to believe that a fox would be attracted to this but they were definitely by the door to the tent the previous evening and by morning they were nowhere to be found. Bizarre!

With Amsterdam so close (less than 25 km) we decided to take another rest day and to do the touristy thing for a change. The bus stop was dead convenient being within 10 metres of the gate to the campsite in IJmuiden. The only problem was that the bus whizzed past as we walked out the gate – the timetable in the campsite was an old one and the times had been brought forward by 3 minutes! Grrrrr!! Still, it wasn’t a major issue as they went every half hour.

We hadn’t been to Amsterdam for about 15 years but it was as lovely as ever. We enjoyed just mooching around looking at the old buildings and canals – and, of course, all the different sorts of bike.

A couple of days earlier we had received an email from Maaike – the young lady from Oxfordshire who we had met in Germany about a week ago. She was staying with her aunt in Haarlem (her mother is Dutch) and suggesting we meet for coffee and lunch. With Haarlem only about 15 km away this was too good an opportunity to miss so we had a leisurely start to Wednesday before a pleasant but somewhat circuitous ride to the house.

Maaike had been roped into helping with the decorating (singing for her supper!) and I think she welcomed the break. We had a most enjoyable time with her and her aunt (whose name is the unpronounceable and unspellable Dutch equivalent of Mathilda!) talking about her plans for the next part of her trip (to France & Spain), her aunt and uncle’s motorbike holidays in Scotland and, inevitably, Brexit.

All too soon we thought we ought to let Maaike return to her painting and we set off again.  Despite the uppy/downy nature of the route through the dunes, it was even busier than other rural bike paths in Holland, probably because it passed through several seaside towns that are clearly popular resorts.

We found a nice campsite at Katwijk and, after we were set up, a lady turned up with her three children on a collection of tandems, bikes and trailers. We were impressed with her “bravery” in undertaking such an enterprise. All of a sudden Christine recognised her! It was Josie Dew who has written several books, which we have read, about her cycling exploits (before children) in various parts of the world. Not only did these books partly inspire this jaunt that we are on, but she also has a Roberts bike like us!

We had a lovely chat with her and her children, Molly, Daisy and Jack (ages 3 to 10) about their 6 week camping holiday in Holland. Not surprisingly they are not covering the heroic distances that Josie wrote about in her books – just a gentle 5 to 10 miles a day so the kids can also enjoy the sea and sand as well. Interestingly, Molly, the oldest, is not a chip off the old block – she doesn’t really like cycling, preferring walking and swimming. Daisy does like it but apparently also enjoys sunbathing on the back of the tandem while Mum does the pedalling! Jack was racing around the campsite on his balance bike (which is strapped to his buggy when they are cycling).

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