Family time in the tulip fields
Although we’d scarce been in the UK for three days after returning from our 5 month European Tour, it was time to cross the channel again. We’d dropped Rex off for his service and habitation check and spent some brief time with family and friends in the UK. Now for some family time in the Netherlands and with Rex in the garage, we took our little T5 camper, Ted T5, on the tunnel for a mini road trip.
What better time to visit the Netherlands than spring. The low country turns into a riot of colour with the fields sporting bright yellow daffodils, purple, pink and white hyacinths and every colour of tulip imaginable. There are flowers everywhere!
Our visit coincided with the annual flower parade, or ‘Bloemen Corso’ which is a parade of floats fully decorated in flowers, depicting anything from beach scenes, trains to dragons, whatever the designers have come up with that year. The floats compete for First prize for the most beautiful float, and the parade covers 40 KM from Noordwijk to Haarlem. 1000’s of people, residents and visitors to the region, line the streets to watch the parade and this year it was once again a beautiful sight!
We enjoyed bike rides through the region to see the tulip fields in bloom, and cycled to Noordwijk to see some of the floats displayed after the parade as well as having a walk through this lovely seaside town. Apart from the long promenade and nice little high street, Noordwijk has a fabulous and very big beach with plenty of beach bars. There are a number of locations on Camper Contact for Noordwijk.
As we hadn’t had enough of all the tulips yet, we decided to visit the Keukenhof Flower Gardens. As soon as we entered we felt our hearts lift, even though we were in high spirits already. The stunning displays of colourful blooms leave you with no choice but to feel happy. The gardens show a wide variety of tulips, as well as an orchid exhibition and a weekly changing cut flowers exhibition. The park is beautifully landscaped, with miles of walkways, a beautiful windmill complete with miller and a boat trip along the tulip fields. The keukenhof is only open for about 6 weeks each year, usually from late March to early May. The middle of April is the best time to visit, but also by far the busiest so arrive early! The carpark allows motorhomes to park for the day and there is a location nearby where overnighting is tolerated (as long as it’s not abused). Parking only on one side of the road.
To turn this trip into a complete dutch tourism experience, we decided to go for a visit to the cheese market in the old market town of Alkmaar. The cheese market takes place from April until about the end of September on a Friday morning. It gets very busy so arrive early. This cheese market is a little bit like seeing watching a living museum. The way the cheese is traded is steeped in traditions from folk-dress, uniforms and coloured straw hats, to the ‘hand-clap’ trading and the weighing of the cheeses. It’s wonderful to see, and to stay on theme, on our visit they unveiled a new tulip; the Freedom Flame!
It was great fun to be a tourist on our own country (well for one of us anyway), and to visit all these places with family, to spend some quality time together. This new lifestyle means that we spend time together in a different way to before, when we’d visit about 4 times a year, but now we meet up all over Europe as we’re only really able to visit twice per year now.
The weather was pretty good but it was very, very cold indeed! As our Ted T5 doesn’t really have any facilities yet other than a bed and certainly no heating, it was a very good thing that we were staying comfortably in a house. Very soon we’ll be working on upgrading Ted T5’s interior to include some more organised storage, a leisure battery and a bigger bed. We’ll one keeping it simple but keep an eye out for conversion updates on our facebook page if you’re interested.
A week in the low country and it’s once again time to cross the channel, back to the UK to spend Easter with our British family and see some more friends, before getting settled in Devizes for our summer of work, short UK based trips and to start planning for our next big tour!