Holland: 31 May 1969

Last day and several things to do and see, so an early start. Drove first to Haarlem via Lisse and Hillejom – acres of bulb-fields, now out, and many famous names in the nurseries. Cultivation is immaculate and gardens of private houses beautiful also. Haarlem is a big regional centre, mostly very attractive red brick houses lining the canals. Parked and went for coffee – the children had ices decorated with Japanese fans, to their intense pleasure, and we had a peanut biscuit, very civilised. Then on to the flower market which was intoxicating – masses of light quality flowers – roses, carnations, iris, stocks, peonies,  poppies, Sweet Williams, freesia, sweet peas, pot plants and bedding plants. Had some difficult choosing anything. They all looked so nice.

Went into St Baud’s Church, very high and light with magnificent decorated organ filling the whole of one end. Someone was doing some practising and the effect was superb. They had some records for sale, so bought one and look forward to hearing it when we get home.

Walked down to the Franz Hals museum through very attractive streets, fascinating shops too, antiques, old books and maps, etc. The museum is gorgeous, situated in an old house built round a courtyard with box hedges in patterns around it, and paintings mainly of 16th century and 17th century, including several Franz Hals. Fascinating Dolls House with beautiful models of period furniture and ornaments, also a toy theatre, replica of apothecary’s and various other similar exhibits. The rooms were lovely, they have candlelight concerts here which must be super.

As we left Haarlem the weather deteriorated and after a quick stop in Aalkmaar for asparagus, drove out to Hoorn. Had a picnic in the car by a windmill – more lovely strawberries for our dessert. Hoorn formerly a bit fishing port, but having to develop other industries with the closing of the Z.Z. Pleasant town centre, with market in progress. Drove alongside the protecting wall – level of the water in Ijssel Meer noticeably higher than the polder on the other side. Lots of cattle about, mainly Freisian of course, and hoses all in the same pattern, square with steeply pitched roof.

Edam full of small houses along the canals, narrow streets, and lots of souvenir shops. Looked nice, but didn’t stop, went on to Volendam where we parked right by the harbour. Sinister lines of car number places lining one of the jetties – more in the various garages. Fortunately the harbour shelves gently so I don’t suppose the disasters have been too awful.

Walked along the front, very tourist angled, crammed with gifte-shoppes, people walking around in national costume, etc. The men looked especially attractive in black baggy trousers and clots, black shirts and either caps or astrakhan hats. Nets hanging to dry on the boats but no sign of a fish shop of course! Anyway, the children had chips and we had coffee and then we set off for home via Broek in Waterland, past cheese factories, then round Amsterdam (through the new tunnel) and down the E10 home. Put children to bed in the caravan then took down the tent and got the car mostly packed up ready for the morning. Enjoyed the asparagus for tea, all fat and delicious.

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