Long drive in the afternoon with plenty of cokes to keep Ryan awake in the Discovery. Arrived at a busy, minicamping campsite on a working farm near Middleberg, way out in Zeeland. Too late and too far to go to eat anywhere after setting up camp so Ian Y and Tim went to buy a selection of Pizza in Middleburg. More than enough for hungry Morris men and wives. Ryan destroyed a chair that night so we may need industrial standard seating in the future. Out popped assorted bottles and that saw us off nicely.
And finally a round of ‘night John Boy’ echoed around the camp and somewhere the sounds of Kumbaya lulled us all to sleep as it wafted, among other things, across the campsite.
Monday 240619 – Vlissingen
Phil denied all culpability for snoring and blamed the tent over the hedge. No such tent existed and a local camper pitched next to Phil commented on his robust sleeping habits, ‘I could hear that you all slept well…’. ‘Noisy devil’ springs to mind…… Dutch English is very good and very appropriate and the Dutch are quite direct!
An 8am breakfast of bacon & egg sandwiches set us up for the day ahead. Flowers were in short supply by now after the exertions of the weekend. Hence a bit of a melee ensued to grab the remaining best, embellished by some rather splendid white privet flowers from the hedgerow. Sadly though they attracted the interest of flies. No worries thought the squire – ‘I’ll simply spray them with insect repellent’. 5 mins later they were all withered and brown! Hate to think what the insect repellent does to human beings! So off we set in search of the bus stop for Vlissingen and the seaside under the expert guidance of our navigator Tim. The beast opted to remain behind with his pony friends as it was turning out to be a rather hot day.
On disembarking from the bus we were greeted with a rather bleak view of a building site. Surely this can’t be right? Luckily a local pointed us in the right direction and off we went in search of our first drink of the day which proved to be a most enjoyable cafe L’Archief. Some tough decicisons required now – low strength (5.5%) or high strength (8.5%). Small or Large? Phil found a solution ‘I’ll have one of each’ he said! That set the scene for that day and there was no going back! The cafe had a most wonderful interior decorated in dozens of pictures of 60’s and 70’s pop stars. We danced a few dances vigorously with bells, bellowing and sticking ringing round the small square. The few locals were very friendly. In particular Boris from Slovenia who was very enthusiastic and insisted on trying to buy everyone another drink. Well – we succumbed to a few extra glasses. It would have been rude to refuse. We gave him a tankard as a thank you.
On to Bellamy Square which was lined with cafes. We decided we would stop anywhere the waiting staff smiled at us. Needless to say progress was slow and – well – basically we stopped almost immediately at the Stadscafe de Dighter. Although the sea was not yet in sight we could smell the salty air. This turned out to be a lunch spot for some and another opportunity to test the strength of beers for others who were holding out for fish and chips. A couple of dances for the locals with a video going viral.
A few hundred metres later we found the harbour and a yes – hooray – a fish and chip van! Well it seems in The Netherlands it’s called kibberling and chips and very tasty it was. The eccentric owners of the van were most enthusiastic (he had won a laughing competition in 2015) and excited to see us so we performed a few shambolic dances followed by kibberling, calamari and smoked eel (ugh!)
A long stroll along the waterfront was interrupted by a couple of bars with enthusiastic smiling staff and a chance to relax in the ever increasing hot sunshine. Time to cool off we thought as we headed on to perform our customary dance in the sea. Well it has to be done! We prepared by removing shoes and socks except for Ryan who went one step further – put your trousers back on Ryan – please!!! The squire called Happy Man – well – we were all ‘very happy’ by now. The beers had taken effect and the debacle that followed summed it up. Small splashes as we stomped through the shallows soon turned into full blow tidal waves ending up with Ryan going arse over elbow and getting thoroughly soaked. The Fool legged it pdq just as Tom was about to pull him over – a very narrow escape indeed. Photographic evidence later showed that Tom also had a hand in Ryan’s downfall! Sneaky!
Sandy, dripping wet and thoroughly soggy we managed to find a very smart and comfortable up market cafe bar on the seafront with lovely sofas and cushions where we disgraced ourselves by wringing out wet shirts, brushing off sand, water pistol in the kitchen, making lots of noise and knocking over the odd glass of beer. We did feel for the poor souls who would come to sit where we had just been sitting! One staff member, ‘I shall be remembering you for a long time….’.
Now we were getting hungry again so we said goodbye to the sea and headed back to Bellamy Square in search of dinner. Plenty of choice ensued but we were drawn by one cafe advertising – yes you’ve guessed it Fish ‘n Chips! And yes – Kibberling again!!! We performed a few more tired dances as PR Phil promised not to let the other diners down but by now we were literally on our last legs. We found an open shop, Polish, and topped up with random Polish beers & snacks for the evening.
As we boarded the bus to return to the campsite with tankards full the bus driver asked suspiciously ‘Is that beer?’ ‘Yes – would you like some?’ Ross replied. He was so taken aback he forgot to ask for our tickets. Just as well as only later we found out they were not return tickets after all!
On returning to the campsite we quaffed a few nightcaps and shook the remaining sand out of our nooks and crannies before retiring to bed to the gentle tones of Ryan and Tom singing Kumbaya My Lord. ZZZzzzzz……..
Tuesday 250616 – Middelburg
Another hot day promised! Trad breakfast taken. Additional flowers from Lidl plus a surprised, stripped privet tree was more than sufficient.
Back on the bus for a short ride to Middelburg, regional capital with a magnificent town hall to match. Off into the centre, we stopped at a bar (quelle surprise) and did a short spot (Banbury Bill & Bluebells) in the shade. Regina came out to say hello, a perfect Notts accent despite living in Holland all her life! Trundled to the main Church (Lange Jan/Nieuwe kerk) square. Genuinely too hot to dance! But we did anyway – jigs x2, a number of dances and a very sweaty beast chasing guests and waitresses, one spoke ‘horse’ encouragingly – ‘neigh, neigh, NEIGH!’. Concerned owner passed out iced water (our only freebie in Holland). Magnificent beer barrel urinals!
Tim, Andy & Graham scored a free visit up the tower (Uk cards or cash not accepted!), Ross & Phil went inside – contacts were made (the lovely Wim) with Ian being invited to cast a professional eye over the organ, Ross boomed Psalm 117 from the magnificent pulpit, Andy performed Nuttin’ Girl and we all did Bumpus O’Stretton in the cool cloisters. Great spot.
Out through the backdoor for an exploration. The Fool (he thought wisely) asked a builder if he could use their portaloo and smugly nipped in….only to find the whole loo being vigorously rocked a few minutes later to the amusement of YMM, the builders and a no of passersby. Screams and various suspicious sloshing sounds came from within…
We collapsed into the shade at the next (bit grotty) bar with beer and icecreams watching local urchins dive into the dubious looking canal. Still blooming hot, we moved on and entertained a surprised Belgian party on a boat who had strong views on Brexit. A quick beer to decide on evening meal, Andy scouted and we found a nice bar right on the main with amazing loos – unnervingly one seemed to be completely on view at all stages…. Steaks and pasta for most. We danced Postmans, Valentine & Upton to the café with a very muted response until we sat down – then everyone had questions. Up and away, with ice creams (accidentally large) on the way back – bus and walk with feet now glowing! We hadn’t finished yet tho’, plenty of people at the campsite so the Fool frogmarched the campers to see a short set of dances with everyone (we were in that mood) joining in Shepherd’s Hey. Rod offered warming whisky macs to all and sundry – a very pleasant end to the day’s performances. Whisky, Polish beer and suspect cheeses saw us nicely off.
Wednesday 260619 Home, Lads Home
Leisurely lie in with an excellent omelette breakfast, we broke camp a little late, leaving Rod & Jinnie who were spending another day on site. Tents folded, broken chairs discarded, cars loaded and goodbyes said we headed off. Conflicting satnavs painful for some, we all got home in good time. Phew, what a trip!
Many thanks to the many photographers who have contributed to this writeup, including Csilla Appeldoorn for many of the action photos.
Mention must be made of Andy’s outstanding leadership & patience, Ian & Janet’s unstinting hospitality with the chuck wagon, Rod’s magnificent musicianship as our only musician, Phil’s enthusiastic PR work, Tim’s tour guide skills, grat to be out with Graham (who remembered everything!), the drivers, those who had difficult journeys. In fact everyone involved in the tour!
Andy Pobjoy, Andrew Armitage, Tom Brady, Graham Wood, Ryan Cooper, Phil Goddard, Ross Healey, Tim Lloyd, Ian & Janet Young, Andy Young, Rod & Jinnie Crane, WFYH.