Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy New 2014 - and off to the beach we go

Some of you will know that every year at New Year, Koos, Sindy and I go to the coast or the beach - not to swim, I hasten to add, but to have a good walk. It's probably the one time of year I really enjoy the beaches here in the Netherlands, and the only time I would rather be on one than cruising the canals (although I've done that at New Year as well). If the weather is sunny, I don't even mind the cold, and that's something I find hard to cope with on the canal.

New Years Day - yesterday - was not nice at all, so we stayed at home, but today dawned sunny with scudding clouds, so we took full advantage of this break in the stormy weather and hot footed it to the Zeeuws Vlaanderen coast. There is a spot about ten kilometres west of the town of Breskens, where we can park by a café and get to the beach from behind the car park, so we headed for this. The idea was to have our walk and then go for coffee and gebak, a typically Dutch treat consisting of strong black coffee with warm apple pie and dollops of whipped cream. When we arrived, though, the café was shut. There was a notice on the door announcing that it would be closed on the first two days of the year. Never mind, we thought, we'll go somewhere else afterwards. And so we headed up the huge sea dike to the dunes on the other side and then down onto the beach.

It was stunning. The light was perfect: brilliant sunshine contrasting with dramatic dark clouds drifting up from the south. I took my trusty and very old Leica with me - it comes to the beach every year and never disappoints me - and took some photos for the blog. The wind was strong and chilly, which it has been for days, but there were dozens of people out walking, many with their dogs. There were also horse riders and cyclists in the dunes. Altogether, a lovely mix of people just out enjoying the sun and taking some good solid exercise. I think these photos show what I mean better than I can in words without going into writing mode and waxing lyrical.

The dune path at the top of the great sea dike

A great coastal cycling route for the whole family

Koos being stalked by a collie in herding mode

Shadow play on the sand creating brilliant contrasts

Whole families out for a walk

Cold, but if the sun's shining, who cares?

Koos stalking good photo material

After our walk, we drove back a different route trying to find our Dutch treat. However, it seemed that Zeeuws Vlaanderen takes two days off for New Year, and everywhere was closed - well almost everywhere. We eventually found a small café in the town of IJzendijke which provided us with our much sought after coffee and apple pie. Since it was the only place open in the whole town, I was surprised that we were the only couple in there, but then I suppose everyone else was still on the beach. I am still getting used to the different customs in every part of this small country, but I've learnt that Zeeuws Vlaanderen is really Belgium in disguise (although never tell the Zeeuws people that) and their customs are much more catholic than those of the more calvinist northern provinces. So... only one day to get over their New Year's hangovers? Nah, they think, we'll take two…and so they do.

And the regulation New Year's pic of me on the beach with Sindy


  1. Hello Vel! I am another Val that lives in Sydney. I found you through Patricia Red Cardinal's blog. I love how people truly appreciate the beach in Europe as a place to walk and talk and 'be' rather than a place to fry one's self to a crisp like it is here. Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you, Val! I've been to visit yours and see your last post was a beach blog too :-) I would just love to take a new year's walk on the beach in Australia. Fancy swapping one of these years??

  3. A Happy New Year to you and Koos.
    Two days to recover from the nyc is a very wise decision Val.
    I envy you being able to walk on the beach. We would do the same too, but currently many of our beaches are not safe due to the very strong gales.

  4. What a lovely way to spend New Year, Val - I hope 2014 brings everything you need, and a bit more for fun!

  5. Me, thank you! The gales have been bad here as well, but yesterday it was bearable. The wind was strong, but at least we could walk with some pleasure! Happy new year to you and Mrs H :)

    Jo, thank you too! I'm working on the fun part, and looking forward to hearing your Cuban tales!

  6. Hi Val - you're lucky you've got a beach .. they are being swept away here ... still we've had sunny days ... Love your photos .. and great to see .. Happy New Year .. cheers Hilary

  7. I would so love to walk along that beach. Happy new year, Val.

  8. The beach looks great, Val, and also it is interesting to see a shot of the 'great sea dyke', having learned as a child about the dykes in Holland. I love the beach in cold weather; here it is too hot in summer, although it is popular. Enjoying your book, and now I see that Koos is still part of your life - it is like seeing the next episode in advance :-)

  9. Love the photos, Val, and have flagged this up to read with me lunch later!!!! xx

  10. I love the photos - I do miss The Netherlands in that respect - so FLAT! :)

  11. Hilary, I've seen the news photos of the stormy west. Very dramatic and quite scary! We have had terrific wind here, but as the beaches are shallow and very wide with a huge strip of dune land, we rarely get the kind of thrashing the rocky coastlines have with their small coves and inlets.

    Ros, it is lovely. It's something I wouldn't miss every New Year.

    Thank you, Patricia! The dikes and the flood defences are impressive; the Dutch are just the best at water management. It's a good feeling! Yes, Koos and I are still 'an item' :-)

    Terry, next blog will be about the Hoop's interior. I'll hook out my photos tomorrow!xx

    Vanessa, the flatness has its own beauty, doesn't it? I must say I love it because you can see so far! And these wonderful skies. Never depressing!

  12. Looking forward to seeing your next post as what you have achieved is something I would have loved to do!
    Lovely pictures of your walk, definitely wish I had been there as our weather has been atrocious lately...

  13. Hi Val. I've got used to the strange phenomenon of walking along beaches in my coat. Am back on the Mediterranean this week with views to Africa. Glorious 17 degrees.
    Your photos are stunning. Reminds me of my one day in the countryside out of Amsterdam near the windmills when that big storm was coming.

  14. We were thinking about going to the beach (also for a walk not a swim) last week end but we were not as brave and thought it too cold. We did find a great nature reserve and lake side walk not to far from us that we thought you and Koos might like though.

  15. Thanks Anita, Denise and Stu! Ours is a very special beach and we love it. Stu, I think I might know the place you mean. We've been to somewhere that sounds similar to what you describe! It's lovely, I agree!


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