I take the nearest campsite in Amsterdam shower, change and make way for my last evening in the city. Two days have passed, through Denmark and Germany. Side roads and cross fields of ripening corn, the weather smiles on me and I gather it’s 30 – 36 degrees London. It’s noticeably hotter, I remove my clothes under my jacket except the grubby coffee stained m&s cotton t shirt worn for the last three weeks. Two nights ago, some German crowded site, full of Danish couples by a Lake. I make friends with two ducks, female is bolder than her husband… Taking small nips at my fingers, mostly in play. Ducks like dogs will play with you if they trust you. Yes, I did video it, to be added later…
I could tell you in words the scenery but it just is simply inadequate. The miles mount, journeys shorter, slower, stops more frequent. Lunch by minor road; piquant hummus and seeded rolls, peach juice and coffee on my Chinese stove. I ignore huge lorries and speeding cars in the sunshine by a cornfield. Not a care in the world, the anti depressants have now built up a wall to protect my hypothalamus to let it grow back to its proper size. I am happy, not delirious, merely carefree and brave as I need to be.
I type this outside a bar on a canal, a group of sober English boys with privately educated loud voices discuss football. I am hungry, only one coke all day and time is getting on, air a lot cooler. Soft saxophone music pokes out onto the tables outside.
Second night, more eccentric and possibly the most odd stay so far. Three old men in their seventies, pot bellied and in shorts by a plastic swimming pool, blue walls above ground, quite large, steps included inside a chain link fence. Two wearing leather cowboy hats, old men glasses, Hello! Guten Tag they wave at me and march me over to a clear are with pine trees, a carpet of dry brown needles on the ground and pine cones. DANKE I said. Tent up in two minutes, bags clothes mat and sleeping bag, helmet chucked inside.
Hee hee haw haw shouts behind he chain link fence behind me. Hee NEIN! NEIN! Ha haw NEIN!NEIN! Hawhawhaw sound of splashing water. This went on as I made dinner, Sainsbury basics noodles in Itsu seaweed extract soup. I have lost weight, too occupied to eat really. Noise and laughter fade before I notice they had stopped. It didn’t annoy me, I found it comforting and amusing. The rest of the site was deserted, tenderly arranged fences, gardens outside static caravans with pathetic plastic flowers or brightly coloured gnomes outside some, others caked in neglect, pine needles and dirt. Branches pile up on the roofs. Outside the toilets, a list of events in a dusty glass cabinet.
10th Mai Bingo
29th Juli Bingo (crossed out date)
The site has some sad stories to tell; the initial enthusiasm of a happy couple, they save and pay for a twin axle caravan, good spec, one dies or they lose their jobs. Their visits less and less frequent. Last year they never came. The rear window is broken, the curtains inside once clean are grey and lifeless. The men in cowboy hats were paid a year in advance for the rent but they don’t come for the bingo or pool parties anymore, haw haw.
A small oak tree above my head, I think of the Nazis when I see those oak leaves, their significance in symbolism of the master race. Woop whoop! NEIN!
I must confide in you, I had some real concerns I left my detachable jacket lining back somewhere, I looked and looked, was even prepared to hunt down a branch of Hein Gericke on my way home. Resigned myself that I had left it behind, I started to pack. There it was! Stuffed right at the back of my tank bag. I laughed at myself, but was really more worried I was getting the onset of Alzheimer’s.
I say goodbye to one of the men in cowboy hats to pay. Seven euro… Wow that’s four quid, the cost of two cokes on the motorway. Best value. Great site.
I ring the ferry company and change my return date to the day before, the woman on the phone sweetly said it would cost me another Â£47, prices have gone up sir. I want to go home now, so near and my bones ache.
The day rolls on, a brisk ride on the E30, the German part at 85 plus to avoid the lorries. It’s either crawl at 45 or jump in at the maximum speed limit. Most drivers are doing 130mph and you just have to get out their way.
Amsterdam, sweaty, traffic, tourists. Ibis wanted 170EUR a night so I opted for a site. 16EUR.
So coffee shop, Heinekens, meal.
Amsterdam restaurant ; French septuagenarians stand and chat next to me. Another couple sit silently, chewing their dinner, morose. Younger group chatter mindlessly.