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We arrived back home in Fife on Saturday night after having been in the Netherlands and Belgium over the past fortnight or so. We had a really enjoyable time although very little went to plan due to the incredibly hot weather that we apparently brought with us! We had driven through hail and snow on the way down to the ferry in Harwich and when we were driving from the Hook of Holland to the north east of the Netherlands we could see rain up ahead of us but never did catch up with it, a lot of the fields were boggy with standing water after days of rain but the next day dawned bright and hot and it turned out that the Netherlands had the hottest weather in Europe while we were there, 29 Celsius / 84.2 Fahrenheit, very hot for May. Strangely the temperature plummeted to 11 Celsius / 51.8 Fahrenheit the day after we left for home, but I feel that I’ve already had more sun than I’ve experienced in many recent British summers. Hurrah!

So we didn’t have a trip to Amsterdam as planned as I couldn’t face being trapped in a hot and bright train to get there, nor did I fancy being in a sweltering city either. The trip to see the tulips at the Keukenhof was kyboshed too for the same reason, but the fields by the sides of the motorways had thousands of tulips flowering away anyway and I managed to get some snaps of them as Jack drove along as you can see.

Tulips in Holland

More DutchTulips

These tulips are being grown commercially, I think they are part of flower trials, but some of them are used to decorate floats in local festivals.

Dutch Tulips Again

After staying three days with my brother and his wife we travelled to Ypres in Belgium, a four hour drive. It wasn’t quite so hot in Belgium, that was our first trip to that country and one we had been meaning to do for years, mainly to see the Menin Gate. We’ve both had an interest in World War 1 since school history days. Ypres is a lovely city, completely rebuilt in the original style as it was more or less flattened during World War 1. It all looks fairly ancient but the buildings are only around 100 years old.

It seems that Belgium in general is a lot more down at heel than the Netherlands, most of the houses are shabbier as are the roads, but in Holland they do tend to be a bit obsessive about their houses and gardens. Dutch gardens and plantings are gorgeous but the style is very different from a typical British garden which tend to be far less formal and sculpted. Lots of gardens have rows of trees that have been manicured into cube shapes or long rectangles like the ones below in the town square of The Hook of Holland, the ferry port. It’s completely unnatural but very attractive even when the leaves have hardly appeared.

Trained Trees at Hook of Holland

6 thoughts on “Back Home

  1. What fabulous colors! I’ve never seen the tulips in bloom like that. It’s too bad you didn’t get to Amsterdam, Ghent, or Bruges. They’re really lovely old cities.

  2. I’m just “eating up” this travelogue–so interesting, and I’m so glad you had time to visit your brother and his family, and then go on for your adventure to Belgium. Imagine the heat, though! How extraordinary for the Netherlands so early in the warm season. I loved the tulip fields!
    It reminds me of a few weeks in May that Ken and I spent on Peaks Island off the coast of Maine. Temps rose into the 90s! Usually, we’re really lucky if we get daytime temps in the high 50s in May on this family island of his. All the old-timers were scratching their heads. And, because of this heat, one golden retriever amongst our dogs that year, who had always refused to swim no matter what, immersed herself and wouldn’t come out of the sea. Long time ago, now. I was about 34.

    • Judith,
      Islands off Maine seem to be very popular holiday destinations for people in the US. I remember that you mentioned a freezing sea fog that you experienced years ago, that sounded just like the east coast of Scotland – in summer.
      I thought all dogs loved water. The Dutch family dogs Fleur and Ziggy spent their time flopped down in shade.

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