Medemblik

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The last day of our European odyssey. We’d spent the day before at one of those swimming pools where nobody actually swims because they’re too busy swooping down slides, messing about with inflatables, or waiting for the wave or current machines to perform their magic again. Not usually my cup of tea, but the kids enthusiasm was infectious and we all had a great time.

Now we’d had to leave our accommodation quite early, but didn’t need to board the ferry until late afternoon. Time to squeeze in a little more sight-seeing.

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We’d already visited Medemblik a few times, mainly for groceries. We’d also been for a meal – Trip Advisor had recommended a bar as the best place for vegan food locally. When we arrived it was to discover that the only vegan option was a Caesar salad. Without the chicken. Or the parmesan. Or the dressing, which contains anchovies. So – a bowl of lettuce. For sixteen Euros. Fortunately, the Italian restaurant next door was much more accommodating.

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As you can see, Medemblik has a castle.

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It also has a marina and a complex of harbours and lots and lots of boats, which made me very happy.

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Many of the boats were leaving the harbours for the IJsselmeer, which seemed like quite a complex process, requiring some careful manoeuvring and a plenty of consideration for other sailors.

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Frankly, I could have watched the boats going in and out all day.

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Holland really does seem to be absolutely criss-crossed by canals. Both of the properties we rented in the Netherlands neighboured small canals. It also felt as though almost everybody had a boat of some kind.

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This prevalence of waterways and passion for boats means that driving anywhere requires a fair deal of patience, as lifting bridges seem to be the norm, even on very major roads.

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I have a feeling that this rather odd building might have housed some sort of gallery or museum.

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A sculpture to honour the sailors and fishermen of Medemblik’s past.

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One last trip-advisor outbreak of muppetry to report: too tight-fisted to book breakfast on the ferry, we took a convoluted route through South Shields to a recommended vegan cafe to find that not only was it not vegan, but that it didn’t even exist. After another interminable drive, the second recommendation provided an excellent vegan breakfast, I’m told. At lunchtime. Better yet, the boys and I found a storming greasy spoon just around the corner without any online assistance.

That being said, not all online advice is bogus, and I can heartily recommend the area around Medemblik and Enkhuizen.

Medemblik

Greifswald

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Another day, another picturesque Baltic coastal town to investigate.

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I’m not sure how I managed to take a photo of the market without managing to include a fish sandwich stall: they were legion. Clearly, the good burghers of Greifswald really like their fish sandwiches. Having tried one, with a plate of salads too, I can see why.

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Greifswald has several large churches, but this is the Dom St. Nikolai. As in other German towns we visited, because of other buildings nearby, it was difficult to take a photo showing the exterior of the cathedral.

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I assume the shabbiness of parts of this church are a consequence of its location in a part of the former Eastern Bloc.

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This…

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…is the corner of a slab in the cathedral. I assume that it’s a fossil of some sort. Always gratifying to sneak in a nature photo!

I’ve included this photo of a courtyard…

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…because it appears to be the only photo I took in the thoroughly underwhelming Caspar David Friedrich museum. I studied his paintings when I took an OU course years ago and was very pleased to discover that he was born in Greifswald (when it was part of Swedish Pomerania – who knew?). I think it’s fair to say that he’s a major artist, so I didn’t expect to see any of his famous paintings on display, but maybe some sketches or juvenilia? But – nothing. This was a museum with no content at all, just lots of information boards and a video. It did keep us out of the rain, but it seems a bit cheeky to charge for an empty museum.

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Greifswald

Strahlbrode

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After our highly enjoyable week in Ratzeburg, we moved on. I’d found a house on airb’n’b in a tiny place called Sundhagen. The house was very comfortable, the area chosen, not very scientifically, by looking at maps and photos online.

The nearest place to Sundhagen of any size (still pretty small) is Strahlbrode. From our couple of visits, I would say that Strahlbrode is a good place to buy a fish sandwich, which seemed to be a specialty of the area; to catch a ferry to the island of RĂ¼gen, but there’s a bridge further up the coast, so we didn’t; and to see lots of House Martin nests on one of the harbour walls.

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Strahlbrode

A Boat-trip and a Walk

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Quite a busy day. It started, for me and kids anyway, with an early swim in Garrensee.

Then we met a large family party for a boat-trip the length of the Ratzeburger-see. Actually, running late as usual, we almost missed the sailing and had to purchase our tickets on the boat, rather than at the ticket-office.

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B in a borrowed hat.

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Our plan was simple – having travelled the length of the lake, to walk back again along the western shore.

Sadly, the best views, across the lake, were often obscured by the dense vegetation adjacent to the path. There were other things to see though – especially some very swish lakeside properties. (Which reminded me of my walk around Windermere last spring).

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Later, we met up again for a slap-up family meal.

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A Boat-trip and a Walk

Boat Trip from Bowness

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Before our encounter with the Sparrowhawk, we’d had a visit from our friend J, who had won in a raffle a ’24 hour freedom of the lake’ family-ticket for the steamers on Windermere. Would we like to use it? We certainly would. We were a bit tardy getting out however, and by the time we’d found somewhere to park in Bowness, only really had time for a trip up to Ambleside and back.

B was adamant that he wanted to sit in the open seats on the top of the boat, despite the November cold, and I volunteered to join him because the rest of the family went for warm and dry inside.

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I love the fresh perspective you get with a view of the hills from a boat.

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And as we progressed, the sun shone, the forecast showers held off, and the higher hills at the northern end of the lake got steadily closer.

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The hills around Langdale.

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The Fairfield Horseshoe.

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Waterhead, Ambleside.

On the way back, the hills were mostly behind, so the views weren’t so dramatic, dark clouds shrouded the sun, and I really regretted choosing to wear shorts. Still, we had a nice pub meal in Bowness to round off the trip.

 

Boat Trip from Bowness

How Do I Get Down?

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We were at Fellfoot park with a bunch of friends from the village, for the annual church picnic. To us the park has become Fell-ten-foot Park because of Little S’s unfortunate experience here: our family has track record with tree-climbing accidents. I spotted A high in the tree and decided to take a photo. She managed a smile, as you can see, but was hissing at me, not wanting to attract the attention of our friends, but wanting a private word with me:

“I don’t think I can get down.”

After taking this ideal opportunity to lecture a captive audience on the inadvisability of climbing anything you aren’t absolutely sure you can definitely climb back down, I relented and helped her find the good footholds on the knobbly trunk which she was having difficulty picking out from above.

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The weather was very changeable and would eventually have us abandoning our idea of a barbecue in the park. However, this didn’t deter The Tower Captain from taking his Mirror Dinghy for a row…

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…or the boys and their friend E from swimming to the far bank. This was some feat, because, after rain, this bottom end of Windermere has quite a strong current.

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A and I also took one of our inflatable canoes out, which she described as ‘extremely relaxing’; presumably much more enjoyable than being stuck up a tree.

I chatted to a National Trust volunteer about photographs of camping pods which were on display and she told me that the plan is for the Park to become a campsite, or perhaps, in part a campsite. Apparently it has been one in the past. The Trust’s campsite at Low Wray, at the far end of the lake, was fully booked for the entirety of August when I tried to make a booking, so more capacity for camping on the lake shore seems like a sensible plan.

How Do I Get Down?

A Paddle to Wildcat Island.

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The day after our exertions on Scafell Pike and the forecast had changed considerably, with the weather now expected to stay fine for most of the day. We packed the inflatable canoes into the car and set off early, hoping to get one of the parking spaces at Low Peel Near on the minor road which runs up the eastern shore of Coniston Water. I think that we were the fourth car there, although it transpires that far more cars can squeeze in there than I ever would have expected.

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We’ve had previous messing-about-on-the-water trips to Coniston Water, but have always parked at Brown Howe on the opposite shore.

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We’d switched the venue because I’d done a bit of googling the night before and discovered that Peel Island, in the lake, is considered to be one of the inspirations for Wildcat Island in the Swallows and Amazons books and was also used as a location for the recent film. It’s close to the shore and not far from the launch spot at Low Peel Near, so ideal for the focal point of a canoeing trip.

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After we’d rocked up and inflated the boats we had a short trip out then paused for our lakeside picnic and brew.

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I really enjoyed the canoeing. The splashes of the steady rhythm of the paddles in the water were very relaxing, and the views across the lake to the Coniston Fells were stunning.

This is Wildcat Island…

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Whilst we circumnavigated the isle, I handed the camera to Little S, since he wasn’t paddling at the time. I was surprised to discover later that he is even more prone than I am to get his horizons off-kilter, often wildly, sea-sickeningly so.

He was adamant that this house and boathouse…

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…were also used in the film.

Eventually, we landed on the island itself. We were far from being the only visitors, but that didn’t seem to detract from the experience.

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We explored the Island, it’s only small, and whilst I enjoyed the views the kids were climbing trees, clambering over rocks, and then…

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…venturing into the lake for a swim, at which point I decided to join the fun.

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Whilst we were on the island, the wind picked up and paddling back against it proved to be a bit of a battle.

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Here we are at the end of the afternoon, just be for we began to pack all of our kit back into the car.

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A Paddle to Wildcat Island.