Rijnhaven, Wageningen, NetherlandsAugust 31 in the Netherlands
Still on our way to Denmark we are parked up in one of the Netherlands' few free Camperplaats. We've not spent a night in this country since we got fined for wild camping nearly a decade ago, but there are official signs that assure us this is a designated motorhome stopover. The plan is to spend October here, so our overnight stop is an effort to dispell our negative attitude towards the country before coming to live in it for a month.
This site is a mixed bag. To our front is a wetland nature reserve, dotted with hawthorns heavy with rich red berries. Behind us are conical piles of sandy coloured grit and the tall, green, metal towers of a processing plant. Trucks occasionally trundle in or out of the compound and industrial barges wait in the canal basin to receive their shipment.
Although we've travelled through the Netherlands many times, we've stuck to the motorways and Vicky found it a bit difficult adapting to the new road markings and signs when we entered
Wageningen; the town that hosted our campingplaats. We were very lucky to nab a pitch beacuse only one of the five was unoccupied. Soon afterwards another van arrived and despite an extended wait, no space became available, so they moved on, explaining they didn't want to get fined.
We took a good stroll around the nature reserve with its dykes and shallow pools that hundreds of Lapwings called home. We saw Sandpipers, Grey Herons, a Great White Egret and even heard the deep, low call of Bitterns in the reeds. A small herd of docile cows and their calves grazed the land and we only crossed paths with a few other people. Following a cobbled road, we came accross a distinctive old brickworks building, with its tall chimney central to the structure. According to an information board, the land had been destined for residential development, but local people protested and managed to defeat the proposals, preserving the wetlands and the historical brickworks, now used as an art space.
Back at the van Will continued exploring the area on Maps.Me, finding a market place in the centre of town. A quick internet search told him there was a popular Saturday food market tomorrow - right up our street!
At 6:30am the following morning Vicky grumpily got up at Poppy's insistence and took her out for a wee. All feeling of grumpiness evaporated when she saw the view; mist had gathered over the meadow and the amber colour in the sky was becoming increasingly intense as the sun rose towards the horizon. Vicky pulled her wellies on and grabbed her camera to spend the next 40 minutes amongst the hawthorn bushes and vapour clouds photographing the emergence of the sun. After the micro states, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe. It was therefore even more of an unexpected and wonderful experience to wake up to such a beautiful natural view.
After breakfast we walked the short distance to the church, in whose square the sizeable market was held. Large covered stalls overflowed with fresh fruit and veg, nuts, dried fruits, cheese, meats and fish. We didn't have much on our shopping list but do like to proiritise buying from local producers, so found our three small bags getting more and more full. Many stalls sold organic products, including one where we bought freshly baked seeded buns. Another seller dedicated to funghi offered the widest range of fresh mushrooms and truffles we'd ever seen and we came away with a bag of portabellos and a foraged wild mix for risotto that evening. From one of the few non-food stalls we purchased a usb charger that could be plugged into the van's 12V socket. Our current one is limited to an output of 1Amp and takes ages to charge anything. We hope this fast charging 3.1Amp device will help us manage our battery operated appliances more easily. In the end we needed to drag ourselves away from the market, the bags weighing heavily on our shoulders. Walking to the van we agreed that we both wanted to return to Wageningen during our Netherlands tour in October; we guess the place hasn't done too bad a job changing our attitude towards the country!Read more