Day 1 actually started close to Hi-de-Hi Essex, but for reasons that will become obvious I’m saving that report for later.

The Stena overnight crossing from Harwich to Hook of Holland is a family favourite.  A pleasant drive down the A12 (compared to M11 chaos), easy check-in, spacious cabins, and a smooth 8 hour crossing.  I even got to watch “Sully” for a fiver last night.  No spoilers, but it sinks.

The buffet serves a decent Anglo-Dutch selection based on chicken-and-chip variants, and the sort of beer range to make you glad you live in Clacton. But we’re going to need to get used to Heineken in our pubs soon, though hopefully not at £5 a pint.

Craft tea

Holland, or whatever you call it, is a dull place to drive through, if not to visit.  In comparison the A15 from Lincoln to Scunthorpe is an epic journey of discovery.

A mere 3 hours from the Hook to the German border, passing a good dozen McDonalds and endless out-of-town retail parks. McDonalds really are the old Wetherspoons, the place for loos, coffee and Wi-Fi. On the plus side, it’s one of the easiest 200 mile journeys you’ll ever do, and (France note) toll-free.

We had to see a bit of Holland, so chose the unknown Apeldoorn, famed for a recent Royal assassination attempt and a bankrupt football club.  Coincidentally, it reminded me of Maidenhead with cheese.

Sometimes you turn up in a city with a precision plan to tick off art, pubs and pies; more often you just go in the first big café you see.  In Apeldoorn that was the Grand Café de Notaris.

A hotchpotch of styles, and one of those places with big menus where you can only eat certain things at certain times.  But it was Mrs RM’s big birthday, and she got that Brand Dubbeldock (7.5%) at 10.45 a.m. Warming but thin, she said, the same as my treble espresso then.  Decent brie and burgers at UK gastro pub prices, but no sign of Dutch craft beers.

To be honest Apeldoorn looked dull till we stumbled upon the vast, smelly market, which made our Cambridge effort seem very poor.  With a long car journey ahead I resisted the draw of a kilo of Dutch finest.

What is this ?

By 11.30 the market, and a few surrounding bars, were heaving with the Christmas shoppers we came here to escape.  Nothing appealed enough to keep us from the lure of the remaining Krispy Kremes in the car, not even the mixed media minds man.



    1. Actually translates colloquially more as “promotion” or “Special Offer”. Dutch cheese is an interesting phenomena, unless it is (very) old, it all has a rubbery texture. Because the locals are insanely patriotic about strange things, it is not uncommon to find cheese shops that can provide “vakancie kaas”, literally large slabs of shrink wrapped edam to take on holiday.


      1. Since Brand is owned by Heineken is cannot, by definition, be “craft” regardless of how good it might be. Or so some would have you believe anyway. Personally I just forget about that and enjoy the beer.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have been corrected myself on this before, so I will pass on my recently acquired knowledge. Holland fails to encompass three provinces, so the correct name for all of the country that Dutch people come from is the Netherlands. It would be an understatement to state that Dutch geography would not be my specialist subject should I ever decide to lose on Mastermind, therefore I cannot comment on whether you were driving through Holland or a non Holland part of the Netherlands.

    Dutch cheese is ace, however what is sold in English supermarkets is rubbish (Old Amsterdam is perhaps an exception, although what is sold isn’t Old Amsterdam).


    1. We can determine he was in both Holland provinces and the larger Netherlands. The ferry would land in Holland while Apeldoorn would put him in Gelderland. Hence The Netherlands not specifically Holland. Man this pedant thing is fun! Now that RM is an international blogger and the posts are less frequent I have way too much time…. Here’s to better Internet access soon.


      1. Actually Hoek van Holland is indeed in South Holland but unless a detour was taken my guess is the route to Apeldoorn would have taken Mr and Mrs RM via Utrecht province and avoided North Holland entirely.


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