Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A day out on the bike

Chewing, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Another lovely autumn day and the weathermen predicted a warmer day than Monday. There would be an easterly wind, which would mean it was bets to go west... and then to the beach at Zandvoort. It is a lovely and varied cycle ride which takes one through the middle of both Amsterdam and Haarlem, through a waterland area, with reeds, lakes and ponds, full of sun-bathing herons, ducks, coots, grebes and swans, along past some lovely old polders, with cows, horses and sheep grazing, under the flight path into Schiphol, through some lovely beach woods and over the sand dunes, with the deliciously scented lime trees and down into the town of Zandvoort spread out above the beach. A pity the town of Zanvoort is so ugly, but no complaints about the beach down below, with voews up and down the straight coastline to Noordwijk in the south and Ijmuiden in the north.

As it happened, it was not so warm and the wind was both cold and quite strong, but coming from the south east, it helped me along. Glad I had a vest, thick shirt and woollen jumper, even though I was wearing shorts. I popped in to the cheese shop in Haarlem, Sansom, where we traditionally buy a French stick, filled with cheese and tomato, an old fashioned shop, much better than our local one, which tends to stink because the owner likes to sell out-of-date cheese!

Zandvoort looked quite empty and bleak, as seaside resorts often do out-of-season, but I found a nice spot on teh beach, sheltered from the wind, to relax and eat my roll before thinking of the return journey. Well, I wasn't going to cycle against that wind, so I had the option of a train from Zandvoort or a ferry from Velsen back to Amsterdam. The latter is reached by a lovely cycle ride through the grassy dunes, past little lakes, woods, herds of highland cattle, sandpits and hills.

At the other end, I seemd to reach horse country as the whole area was full of green fields with horses grazing and riding stables. The horses coats gleamed beautifully in the afternoon sunshine and it was impossible not to get teh camera out to take a few photos.

Getting onto the warm ferry seemed a real treat, and time for a snooze as we spod past what is the port of Amsterdam, with container terminals and so on... a part of Amsterdam which is very well hidden from view. Just recently, the poison ship Otopan has returned, in what has been a major victory for environmentalists. This ship contains over 1,000 tons of asbestos and the owners had negotiated with a Turkish company to have this asbestos cleaned over in Turkey. The Dutch governement signed a release warrant for this ship, which it is only allowed to do if there was only less than one ton of asbestos. When the environmental organisations got ot hear about it, they pressured the Turkish government to refuse entry to this ship of poison. There was a diplomatic incident, when the Dutch minister tried to force the Turks to take the ship, but they did not back down and now the ship is back here in Amsterdam, where it will have to be cleaned using the best (and expensive) methods, thus avoiding undue risks to the Turks who would have done the same job, but using more dangerous methods.

There is another environmental disater for which a Dutch company seems to be responsible.... in Ivory Coast, where the company made millions out of a deal which include the dumping of poisonous substances in various places in Abidjan, whereby a number of people were killed and many more injured. It really isn't good enough for us Western democracies to export our filth to poorer countries. If we make a mess, we should be responsible for cleaning it up ourselves. If we did, we would maybe think twice before making the mess in the first place.

Anyway, back in Amsterdam, there was time to visit the travel agent, to visit Mariette and to watch Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two!



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