15. Family celebrations in England and reunions in Amsterdam.

We were away for less than a week, but fitted in a lot, managing to slot various appointments between the celebrations for Dad’s 90th Birthday; a meal out with the family, Top Golf and a fabulous garden party organised by our daughter Laura.

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The hard bit….

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…The easy bit!

Dad had a wonderful time and was surprised when several members of the family turned up unexpectedly.

 

90 years young!

Family reunited.

The ‘Tash’ doesn’t suit all of us!

The celebrations were rounded off with a lovely family Sunday lunch together and Andy Murray winning the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon for the second time.

Unusually for us, we chose to return on a late afternoon ferry which enabled us to visit Tesco for some ‘re-vittelling’ during the morning. We arrived back in Vreeswijk at 10.30pm on Monday 11th July.

After a day’s rest, we set off at 10am and headed out onto the Amsterdam- Rijnkanaal. A couple of hours later we turned sharp right under a bridge and onto the pretty River Vecht.

We stopped in Maarssen, a pleasant town with a good range of shops and were disappointed  when someone came around that evening to collect a mooring fee of 20,60 euro. We knew to expect mooring charges in the Netherlands bearing in mind there is no annual licence fee, but it still puts us off staying for longer periods. We can’t help but think it’s a little too steep bearing in mind we shop and visit the bars and restaurants.

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Approaching Maarssen.

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A pretty river, much like the Upper Thames – apart from the windmills of course.

We would have liked to have stayed on the Vecht, but had arranged a couple of reunions in Amsterdam with different friends. A recce by car from Vreeswijk a few weeks before had given us a couple of mooring possibilities and we knew we needed to get close to the city.

We left the Vecht at Nightevecht turning right and back onto the busy Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal. A short distance north and then a sharp left onto the River Gasp. This route used to be popular before the construction of the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal as with the Vecht it was the only route joining the city to the River Rhine.

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The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal can be more like the sea with all the huge commercial barges and pushers going along at speed.

Luck was with us as we secured a mooring on the quay in Diemen (a suburb of Amsterdam). It was on the No.9 tram route into the centre and would suit us very well for a few days.

The next day we cycled into the city centre which, to quote Peter, was ”totally bonkers”. It certainly was challenging, with so many cyclists, pedestrians, trams, cars and scooters to negotiate. The ever present smell of ‘Weed’ did nothing to enhance the experience for him!

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Available from any good Amsterdam florist!

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Only a little bit ‘bonkers’ – a nice wooden bicycle.

After a welcome beer in a bar in an old lock house, we cycled to Central Station and caught a free ferry across to the old shipyard area, which is apparently undergoing something of a transformation…it still has a long way to go and is more akin to a New Age commune!

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A much needed stress break!

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Ferry trip across to the Old shipyard.

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The very busy waterway behind Amsterdam Rail Station.

After a circuitous cycle ride back we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon. The next day would be busy as we hoped to meet up with Jerry, an old friend of Peter’s from his early days as a PC in Willesden Green.

In the morning we caught a couple of trams into the centre and met Jerry at his hotel. He is now a senior pilot and trainer with Singapore Airlines and had a couple of day’s stopover in Amsterdam.

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A mere 35 years since we last met up!

After coffee and drinks we headed back to the barge for a spot of lunch and much reminiscing. It had been 35 years since they had last met.

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A lot of catching up to do.

Early evening we ‘trammed’ back into the bustling centre and had some great ribs in an ‘eat as much as you want bar/cafe’. More drinks in another bar and before we knew it midnight had come and gone and the trams had stopped running.

Sadly we had no fairy godmother to get us home, just a sketchy map and a vague awareness that a night bus went our way and of course it was dark. But first we had to find the bus route…not easy with a 6’3’’ inebriated husband who had been drinking for over 12 hours and thought he knew the way.

The only taxi we came across wanted 50 euros for the trip, which I actually considered paying as it seemed we were completely lost. However, somehow we managed to get back to Diemen, hailing a night bus in between stops which dropped us a short walk from the barge. Our return trip had taken just 2 hours!

With one reunion successfully completed, Paul (Peter’s brother) arrived by car from Cherbourg. We were then able to pop back to Vreeswijk to collect our car. Louise and Alex were still there and invited us to lunch before they set off to Friesland.

As usual, Paul brought some fine weather with him and our gazebo had its first outing of the summer. I spent a day in Amsterdam, accidentally stumbling into the red light district and making good use of my tram day pass to explore the rest of the city. I returned mid afternoon though as it was so hot.

We all headed back into the centre in the evening to meet up with Arthur, Peter and Bob who were on a motorcycling tour of the Somme and Operation Market Garden area. We had a lovely evening together and this time I made sure we left in time to catch the relevant trams back to the barge!

Our reunions over, we shuffled the cars and left Diemen on 20th July heading north.

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