Holland: 27 May 1969

Early start as we had to pack tent, had to let heavy dew dry off first. Andrew happily occupied playing football with the boys – striking up quite a friendship despite ignorance of the language – all ceremonially shook hands as we departed, Mamma has a perfect Flemish face, straight off a primitive painting.

Stopped in Dinant for quick shop, then held up for ages before we could leave the town by new level crossing construction but eventually set off, along Meuse to Namur, then across to Louvain. Increasingly Flemish place names, road signs (including the casualty announcements) and subtle changes in the architecture too. Land lower-lying and market gardened, and whole feel of the area quite different from the Ardennes.

Went through Louvain, which is compared with Oxford and certainly seems to have similarities in atmosphere. Rather Gothic architecture, stone buildings, heavy traffic. Lots of factories on edge, including food processing – ‘Marie Thumas’ Soups etc. Very much ornamented town hall. Continued across to Malines/Mechelen where we ate lunch in a children’s playground, there was an elephant climbing frame to Andrew and Sarah’s delight.

Then onto Antwerp – traffic heavy and increasingly bad towards Antwerp where it was dreadful. Very heavy and lots of it. Quite muddling to negotiate too, not helped by the street signs. Then more heavy traffic out to Dutch border, lined with palatial houses, modelled on manor houses and most ornate.

Once into Holland – nonchalant Customs – more changes apparent – houses became smaller. Edge of Rotterdam chaotic and continued that way through Den Kaag, very difficult to find our way and traffic dreadful. Abandoned campsite here as a bad job, couldn’t see any signs to it, and pressed on to Den Kaag. Crossed to it by ferry, across quite a big dike, and a very new development in rather pleasant modern style.

Arrived at the site, arranged to rent caravan for the night, so no need to put up tent at 5.30pm praise be! Had nice meal in the canteen – boiled eggs, bread and butter and coffee. Owners of site very nice, room very clean and comfortable, we’ve been lucky again. Soon got children to bed, then walked round the village which had boat building, ski school, restaurant, shops and all amenities. Area reminiscent of the Broads, but surrounded by polders with cattle grazing and windmills in the distance.

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