Wednesday, 29th July
This was to be a leisurely day, spent in a wonderful Dutch city with much to offer by way of architecture. The whole feel of the place was different to others I had visited, even Venice with its magnificent buildings like St. Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge, plus its network of waterways where gondolas glide. Unlike Italy, everyone I spoke with in Holland had a basic knowledge of English, which made communication easy. I believe that’s because all Dutch children during their schooling have to study English. I was of the opinion that citizens of Middelburg were rightly proud of rebuilding their ninth century city after the devastation caused by bombing during the Second World War. Buildings of note were the City Hall, the Monastery, the Abbey and the Oostkerk.
Before we could continue, we first had to buy a ‘Kaart voor zeil-en motorjachten’ to pay for motoring and sailing on the inland waterways. My brother went to the bank to get the necessary cash, while I overhauled the engine, including refitting the silencer and replenishing the gearbox oil. Again, it was a day of sunshine which gave colour to the waterside, where boats were on the move. During the morning, between walking around the city while taking in the sights, tastes and smells, we spent time aboard each other’s boats just chatting and enjoying the company.
Early in the afternoon our flotilla of yachts got under way. We motored northwards along the canal to the pretty town of Veere, arriving there at 1550, where there was a long delay before we could pass through the lock to the Veerse Meer. This is a large man-made lake. At the seaward end there’s an enormous dyke, and in the middle of the lake there’s an island called the Haringvreter where we docked at the North Yacht Harbour. The facilities for yachtsmen were first-class. We could berth at floating pontoons from were we had direct access to grassy areas, complete with discretely camouflage green-painted chemical loos. The centre of the Island was wooded. That evening we had a pleasant get-together sharing food at a barbecue. I found a four leaf clover which I pressed and kept for many years as a memento.
Thursday, 30th July
Again, the weather was sunny with little wind, but there was enough for a sail around the Veerse Meer, and before lunch we all rafted together by the Dam (Dyke). Taking knapsacks with us we climbed the steps to have a view of the sea and the Lake. At the top of the Dam there was a monstrous piece of sculpture which could not be ignored, but what it represented I could not tell. As we ate our meal, one of our folk had us in fits of laughter. He was surveying the ‘beauties’ lounging on the beach beside the lake, and rather naughtily he proclaimed he wanted a radio-controlled wasp. His sense of humour did not go down at all well with his wife, who didn’t think his request was funny. As it was, they weren’t getting on too well. The cruise was becoming a bit of a hassle for her, and she told her husband she wished she had stayed at home.
Later that afternoon after our sojourn at the Dam, we made sail and headed for Veere Harbour, where we arrived at 1540. My brother and I explored the Town and bought postcards for sending them to relatives and friends. After the evening meal we took another stroll to look at a windmill. Later we joined others of our group at the Yacht Club.