Day 5

The day's route (64 miles exactly):

And the ride to date (268 miles):

We also ticked off our first country, crossing from the Netherlands into Germany.

Breakfast was rustic French farmhouse style.

Breakfast was rather extended as we tried without success to find a guesthouse for the night. The plan was to stop a few miles short of the German border, but the hopelessly unreliable European bank holiday website I'd consulted had failed to register a Dutch holiday today, which meant everywhere was full.

Nine unsuccessful calls later, we decided to try Germany instead, and there were successful on our second call. It would be a long day, but one with a roof over our heads at the end of it, which is my preferred kind of day.

The forecast was for showers in the morning and sun in the afternoon, but I think it took us so long to find a guesthouse that we managed to skip the showers.

It wasn't just the breakfast that had French tones - some of the landscape here did too.

A lovely stretch through a forest.

We were now heading inland, so no dykes today.

We were now used to our system of consulting both GPS's and signs to find our route.

Both GPS's had mixed success at finding the best cycling routes. At one point we found ourselves on the wrong side of a river, so we looked out for a way to cross. This sluice gate and lock would have worked for Eric but not quite for the trike. Eric thought I just wasn't trying hard enough and that a long run-up would work.

But a bridge came along soon afterwards.

We passed through some lovely little towns.

And indeed pretty paths.

Our zig-zag course gave us a mix of headwinds (thankfully few of those), crosswinds and some tailwind.

It was still looking quite French in places.

I had no idea what these were about at the time, but was told later that when you get to be 50, someone buys you a grandmother or grandfasther statue. Cruel people, the Dutch.

There was a 75km cycle ride going on in the area, and when we stopped for our 20-mile tea we got chatting with some of the riders.

Bizarrely, on a day with lots of cyclists coming past, the hotel had tea but no cake! We decided we could survive until lunch at around 30 miles.

It took a while before we had spotted any windmills, and even longer before we saw our first clogs.

We kept seeing all kinds of old vehicles.

People around here are probably quite careful when extinguishing candles at night.

Lots more Dutch scenery.

We made a detour to cycle this avenue of trees and back. For the photo and experience, you understand, not due to any navigational incompetence.

When trying to find direct routes through towns, the word uitgezonderd became one of our favourites.

We may not be able to pronounce it, but we like it.

By 30 miles, we were ready for lunch, and happily found ourselves in a sizeable town. Where everything was closed. We asked a local where we could eat, and she told us there were two restaurants in a square by a windmill. She directed us there, and sure enough there was a windmill.

There were also two restaurants, as advertised. Both were open. Both were serving drinks. Neither was serving food. The waitress at the second one offered us mustard soup, which sounded ... hmm.

I'd spotted a shop about a mile back, so we decided to cycle back to that, buy some picnic things and then come back to the square to eat. The shop was of course closed. We rode back to the restaurant and took the waitress up on her offer of mustard soup. Which turned out to be absolutely delicious.

With the soup, bread and (of course) Earl Grey tea, we felt ready to carry on. We stopped briefly for another mandatory windmill shot.

And back to the Dutch scenery.

Including some rather scenic houses.

Going on a very rural route, we weren't quite sure whether the German border would announce itself, or just slip quietly by, but it did at least pop up a small sign.

Though I was a little disappointed at the lack of machine-gun towers and border patrols.

It's strange the way borders exist again when cycling. Most of the time, we fly over them and don't even know when we pass from one country to the next. When cycling, borders - even very modestly marked ones - are big events.

Six or so more miles brought us to Bed & Breakfast Stapelmoor.

Where Peter & Sissy made us very welcome. There were no local restaurants, so Sissy cooked us a lovely meal and both spent considerable time helping us track down a place to stay tomorrow.

We were chatting with our hosts non-stop while I was writing this trip report, so forgive it if it's a little more bland than usual.

On to day 6