The famous Gouda cheese market was washed out and as a result the whole day was washed out for me. I was bitterly disappointed that an hour’s drive and expensive parking had resulted in 15 minutes looking at dishevelled horses, heavy tarpaulins instead of famous yellow cheeses and the fact there were no traditionally dressed porters in sight. All I heard were remonstrations from the kids to “Please go home!” especially after we tried the traditional warm syrup waffles, to try and defrost our hands, only for the kids to feel sick! Great! i am not good at handling disappointment, as Hubbie pointed out to me as my grumps went on throughout the afternoon. I must be a better role model! It hasn’t been the only unsuccessful trip this holiday but fortunately the sun came out for us a couple of days later for our visit to one of the main tourist spots in the Netherlands, Zaanse Schans. It is a really touristy place. It was developed for tourists. Even the nearby town of Zaanse is picture-postcard perfect.
But Zaanse Schans is the only place in the Netherlands where you can still see working windmills, which were brought from around the Netherlands to continue milling amongst other things oil, mustard, spices and flour. Workshops continue traditional skills such a clog, cheese and pewter making. The last of these I found hugely nostalgic. I remember my father lovingly showing us his small collection of, I think, huge German pewter beer mugs which he had collected from his own travels, despite not being a big beer drinker. My brother and I got terribly excited, when we were little, when he allowed us to have a drink of Coke from them from time to time. I also remember pewter spoons with designs on them showing the places from where they’d been bought and I couldn’t resist buying the kids a couple with windmills and a typical Dutch landscape, purely from nostalgia, despite the fact we don’t have a sugar pot to put them in!
Partly because of this nostalgia, I was far more excited than the kids to see liquid pewter and see how it was poured into the spoon moulds. I asked loads of questions! The demonstrator seemed suitably pleased for her work to be appreciated. In fact, just about anyone demonstrating anything to me gets asked a bunch of questions which of course always delights them.
After visiting Zaanse Schans, I felt my duty to the Netherlands had been done. I had shown the kids clogs (we even had our photo snapped all wearing a pair), cheese, windmills (working ones even) and traditional country Dutch architecture. The kids milked a plastic Dutch cow with rubber udders and got their hands on some of those great round Dutch cheeses that had been under wraps in Gouda. And we even visited with a Dutch friend who stamped the whole experience with the hallmark of authenticity. I thought it was rather lovely that she didn’t seem at all bored, despite it not being her first visit to Zaanse Schans. Of course, as usual, we didn’t get to see everything I had hoped to. We didn’t get to visit any of the fascinating museums. I would like to have spent more time just soaking all the Dutch-ness up! But we quit whilst we were ahead and spent the lovely sunny summer afternoon feeding the ducks back at the holiday park cottage.
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