It has been a perfect day. The sun has shone and I paddled in the sea. I am ready to go home now. Cycling through green countryside. Then to the dunes, away again to a lake for a late picnic lunch, and back to a beer in the town square before handing my Gazelle back to the hire place.
I may well opt out of tomorrow’s organised activity and have a lazy day reading my book, or watching the world go by. There comes a moment in any group when I get itchy and need my own company. I’d be crap in a commune.
Egmond seemed a pretty spot to be. I made a note of a b&b we passed to check the website later. At the sea, one cafe had a store of towels I imagine you can hire. I took a photo, I shall probably post it and others when I get home. The Netherlands impresses me with its practical approach. The way down to the beach was quite steep, but as well as steps there were tracks you can use to take a pushchair down. The infrastructure that makes cycling here so pleasant indicates a level of planning that contrasts sharply with the short term will-it-make-good-headlines-and-win-votes approach in the UK where cyclists are regularly demonised by those who should know better.
I am very envious of the lifestyles I have seen where ordinary people have houses with gardens leading down to canals where their boats are moored ready for use. Children seem to have more freedom than at home. I have seen them jumping off bridges into canals, a girl of no more than twelve rowing her little brother passed our hotel, so many people just enjoying messing about in day boats, and of course people of all ages cycling. Hardly anyone wears a helmet. People are cycling in flip flops, even bare feet. OK, you can buy ridiculous things to hang from you handlebars like mini curtains to protect your modesty when cycling in a skirt, but generally, it feels very relaxed.
But the happiest creature I met today was a Jack Russell called Diesel. He was at the lake, playing with first this group, then that. Only when I went to buy an ice cream did I realise that he belongs to the lady who runs the small café and takes care of the toilets. Diesel comes to work with her every day in summer. He runs about all day, is known by all the regulars, and is friendly well-balanced dog. While we watched, a man came with his small boy, who looked about two. The man was flying a kite. His son had a ball. Diesel ran up to him and dog and toddler played happily together. Diesel appreciating the intention of each not very far throw, running to get the ball and dropping it back by the boy who smiled and laughed delightedly.
Simple, uncomplicated pleasures and behaviours that seem to exemplify attitudes in this most civilised of countries.
Anyway, it’s just gone seven now, so I had better put on my sociable face and go and join the others for our penultimate communal dinner.