Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Zomer in Zeeland 4

Now on the beach of Neeltje Jans. The heat is intense though intermittently not too bad under cloud cover. Seems it could go either way--south half of the sky is clouded over, north side is clear. But in terms of weather and landscape, this could not be bettered.

(original date of this entry: July 20, 2014)
As Mevrouw Nuiten's place in Westenschouwen is occupied tonight, Saturday, I decided I would just go home--three nights is about my limit living on Dutch road food. So I would make for Middelburg (on the neighbouring peninsula of Walcheren) and take the train home. I wanted to see the coast of Haamstede--it was why I'd come--but I couldn't linger around Westenschouwen because it would soon be blazing hot, and anyway I'd seen several terrific beaches already--Rockanje, Renesse and especially Renesse-West. So I would head for Walcheren, choosing the right beach along the way. The point was to get close to Middelburg so it would not be too tough a ride.

Delta Project bridge to (Schouwen-Walcheren)
Before I left Westenschouwen, I stopped at a little supermarket (kitty-corner from a trio of tony restaurants) and made purchases: oranges, a pear, and a new straw mat for just €3. Then I went back and purchased a "beach tent" for €14. it said "easy to assemble" but there were no instructions. And it was straightforward enough and now I'm sitting under it. Not much wind or sun to protect me from but it seems essential to include in the beachgoer's arsenal. It has nice tent pockets for sorting stuff. 

Westenschouwen -> Middelburg via Oosterschelde kering

I recall Neeltje Jans from my last trip here but how different it was in October. Then it was practically deserted, today it is covered with bodies. Then it was sunny with chilly wind and I retreated to a sandy slot in the dunes. (That was when I picked up a malignant splinter in my toe that caused me pain for at least six months after.) So I didn't expect much of Neeltje Jans. But I figured I'd check it out anyway.

Neeltje Jans beach, north end
It didn't take long to get here. Up an atypical steep hill over the edge of the southwestern beach of Schouwen, then up on the bridge, past the endless row of massive hydraulic pumps connected by pipes splattered with seagull excrement. Neeltje Jans is at approximately the middle of the Oosterscheldekering, the southernmost section of the Delta Project dams. There's nothing there but a big parking lot and a dike, which streams of people were walking along to reach the beach. There's a single cafe there.

I rode to the next beach turnoff. There was just one other bike parked at the entrance ramp so I figured the beach would be empty. I climbed the plank ramp over the crest. The North Sea beach, located in the centre of the dam structure, is  extremely calm with greenish water. At either end are towering, almost surreal eolic windmills, and the beach is populated by tanned torsos, mostly middle-aged to elderly bathers. Like a fringe between the sandy beach and the damp tidal flats are thousands of razor clam shells. There can be no better place to spend this Saturday afternoon.

Now it has clouded over though still quite warm, which is good because it'll be easier to ride than under the hot sun.
Neeltje Jans beach

"I think the whole world should go nudist in the summer. You save so much on clothes."

This line by ambitious nudist Florence Cubitt, interviewed -- in the nude -- by Joseph Mitchell. She has a valid point. Not only do you save money, you also save space in your luggage if you're traveling. (Rain gear though is indispensable.)

"No kidding, you sure do see some terrible shapes in a nudist colony." On this beach too. Most of the bathers here are middle-aged with sagging tits and bellies, cellulite-bumped behinds. But it's cool.

It's a little after 5, soon I will depart. The sun has broken out again in spurts, warm enough for a luxurious swim in the cool gently swaying water. Behind my beach tent is what appears to be an Eastern European family: one guy, a boy and three women, all with similarly floppy breasts.
This fietstocht worked out marvellously. I covered much of the same ground as previously but discovered and got to spend time on various fabulous beaches--Rockanje, Goeree, Renesse and Neeltje Jans--and got a different perspective, it being a different time of year.

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