Ravenhorst Camperpark, DiepenhamOctober 19 in the Netherlands
The number of free camperplaatzen are dwindling as we head south. Although the little Dutch towns we've been staying in are lovely to look around, we feel we need a change of scenery. Therefore we've taken a break from the free camperplaatzen and settled into Ravenhorst Camperpark in Diepenham for €12.50 a night with electric. The leisure batteries had been underperforming to the extent we thought we needed new ones, but since forking out a couple of euros here and there for electric hookup, they seem to have been rejuvenated.
Ravenhorst is set amongst miles of open fields, criss crossed by canals. It has space for 20 or so vans on grassy pitches. Unlike at a campsite, there is a limit of five nights, nobody checks us in and payment is via an envelope in an honesty box. When we arrive we plan to only spend a couple of days here, but a couple turns into four as we relish the greenery and time away from the hustle and bustle of towns.
It is lovely to have some outdoor space to call our own, so we get the table and chairs out and Poppy begrudgingly lays in the sun with Vicky. Will spends a great many hours sitting on the bank of the nearby canal, fishing. On the first day he is lucky enough to spot a Kingfisher; always a special sight. He is improving his technique and patience and usually manages to catch a few tiddlers at least, but at the end of the second day he finds himself with a huge pike on the other end of the line! He reckons it must have swallowed a little fish he'd caught and was trying to land. The thin line he is using isn't designed for fish over half a metre long and he has to play the pike very carefully, scooping it up in his net despite it being far too big. Pike are known for their nasty bite (they even have teeth on their tongue and roof of their mouth!) so Will removes the hook very carefully and returns the fearsome predator to the canal.
With loads of walking and bike trails signed, we explore the local area by tandem. There are canalside paths and the single track roads are unbusy, many of them bordered by the great woody columns of tree trunks. When cycling between two fields we come accross an unexpected bonus; a 250 year old oak tree with a spiral staircase winding up to a large, earth covered platform in its canopy, giving 360° views of the countryside! It even has a garden bench for you to sit on and take in the sights! De Boomtuin or Tree Garden was built by artist Jeroen Kooijmans as part of 'The Non Urban Gardens; Garden of the 21st century project' back in 2014 and is free and open to the public.
We revel in the quiet and back at the van Will bakes olive and tomato focaccia so we don't need to go to town for bread. Vicky makes use of the electric and water supply to give the inside of the van the cleaning of its life and power through the dirty washing, setting it outside to dry. It is rare we spend so long in one place and she enjoys having the time to set our little home straight.
The nights are cold and the mornings misty. The first night drops below 1°C and the following dawn is glorious; pinky orange hues colouring the clouds before the massive pale golden circle rises behind tall trees, slotting into the vapour layer like a pound coin into a vending machine.
When it comes time to go we both feel mentally relaxed and are ready for a bit more exploring. When the driving seats are turned around Poppy insistently pushes her way to the front and lays down between them in her travelling position. After 4 days of chilling out in her bed it looks like she is keen to see some new sights too!Read more