Kiri and


Cheesy clogs

May 9th, 2014 (by Steve)

Windmills? Yup. Canals and dykes? Yup. Bicycles? Yup. Cheese? Kind of. Clogs? Nope. Well we needed to do something about that! You can’t go to the Netherlands and not sample the cheese and clogs! By total chance, our next overnight stop was outside a cheese and clog farm near Volendam. As we pulled up, we saw the clogs grazing in the pastures, ready for herding… no, wait, that was just a dream I had, not reality.

All we expected from the farm was a little shop in the same way you might have a farm shop in the UK. We certainly weren’t ready to be greeted by a lady in traditional Volendam costume who talked us through how they make gouda, edam and clogs by hand, before letting us sample lots of different types of gouda. We’d already tried gouda with cumin seeds from a supermarket, but there were some fantastic cheeses here; our favourites being an awesome mature gouda (sadly out of our price range) and a pretty good gouda with stinging nettles. Nettles are apparently good for your skin, as is cheese…? Maybe? Maybe the nettles offset the badness of the cheese? In any case, it was very tasty! We then watched a demonstration of clogs being made; out of poplar wood, not cheese… I certainly think there’s a gap in the market for cheese clogs though!


After staying for the night outside the farm, we wandered into Volendam for a sunday morning service at a much smaller church than the previous week; more akin to a little Welsh chapel. The service had a very different feel to the previous week’s in Middelburg and it was still a lot more traditional than we’re used to, but it’s great to be able to meet with God in different ways, through different traditions. Following the service, we joined the rest of the congregation for a cup of coffee and some lovely biscuit/cake thing (should probably find out which for VAT reasons!) and had a lovely chat with a family from Delft (who were also visitors). It’s great to find instant community that cuts through cultural differences.


From Volendam, we slowly migrated up the coast and across Afsluitdijk; a marvel of Dutch civil engineering. It’s basically a dam or dyke (I wonder what the technical difference is) cutting off a section of the north sea to protect the Netherlands. It’s the equivalent of putting a dam across the Bristol channel from Lynmouth to Porthcawl… no wonder the Dutch have a name for being some of the best civil engineers in the world. Not sure why you’d want to get from Lynmouth to Porthcawl though, aside from avoiding the toll! We stopped for lunch (of the nettle cheese, obviously!) just shy of half way along its 30km length before moving on to the land of pure-bred Friesian cows (they apparently have a lower milk yield than cross-breeds, but it’s better quality).


As we hit dry land again, we were met by hoards of kamikaze flies targetting Bertha. Incidentally, I might not know the airspeed velocity of an unladen mosquito, but I do know that African mosquitos don’t bite me, but European ones do! With our screenwash level dramatically lowered, we stopped overnight at a farm in the shadow of a wind turbine. It turns out these upgraded windmills are surprisingly noisy when you’re close to them, but I think it’s a small price to pay for the benefits of renewable energy.

From the farm, it was only a short drive to Leeuwarden (which I have consistently pronounced incorrectly… I would just like to take the opportunity to apologise wholeheartedly to Dutch people everywhere for destroying your beautiful language with my attempts to speak it). Once there, we pulled up at a prime canal-side spot and prepared Bertha for her first ever dinner guest. Alex (who I sing with in a barbershop group) works a few days a week in Leeuwarden so it was lovely to be able to entertain a “local” who could then show us around the town a little.


He invited us out for drinks the following evening, which we enthusiastically accepted, despite having previously planned to move on. However, changes of plan can have rather large consequences when motorhoming. We weren’t sure that our toilet would last another night and our overnight stop didn’t have disposal facilities. So started our quest, which led us further and further away from the city I can’t pronounce. By the time we were 20 miles away and still hadn’t found somewhere to empty, we realised that maybe we should return to plan A and just move on. With a heavy heart, we bailed on Alex and headed for the German border. I wonder if we might be the first people who have used the excuse of a full toilet for going to Germany?

All posts about Netherlands

Cheesy clogs

The city of water-retaining ‘amsters

What’s the Dutch for “Sikaflex”?

Jousting and windmills

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