After agreeing a price on a boat, we had a couple of weeks to wait for the survey – it was the silly season on Holland with everyone getting their boats ready for summer, and boatyards and surveyors very busy. So we went north and we stayed in a pleasant studio flat in Noordlaren, a tiny village near Groningen.
Noordlaren has a population of 400. There are no shops, one restaurant that people come from miles around to eat at, a hairdresser who has a small space in the old school building the villagers use as a village hall and, a preschool, also set up in the hall.
Our hosts suggested we go to their fundraising night – the locals are trying to buy this old school building from the council who were intent on selling it. This building was seen as strategic in keeping the village atmosphere and encouraging the youth of the village to stay in the area. A great night with home cooked food, live music and plenty to drink for 10 euros each. The locals were very friendly and most spoke good English. Someone lent Anne a bike so we could explore the countryside. John borrowed a bike from our hosts – a mother’s bike with a child seat up front. Getting on and off proved a challenge as the seat back impinged on his movement on and off the bike.
When we landed in Amsterdam the weather was unseasonably warm at 26 deg centigrade, but it had now dropped to 10 deg max. with rain and wind. What a change! Didn’t seem to put off the locals who still cycled everywhere on their sit up bikes with panniers.
Groningen was a lovely old city with the usual network of canals through the centre, very cycle and pedestrian friendly and actively discouraging cars in the centre.
After a few days we returned to Leiderdorp to be close to the boat, and stayed in another Airbnb on a farm. There were hares, spotted sheep (that looked like small Friesian cows) and lots of geese and other water birds just outside the door. The area behind the farm is a wetland and closed from March until June to walkers while migratory birds are nesting.
We spent the waiting time getting stuff we needed for the boat – a trip to the massive IKEA store to buy linen etc. An act of faith, you could say, since the survey had not yet happened!