The Captain’ s Call

On two occasions Peter James-Martin has on this cycle trip, given a SOA (Statement of Advice) with respect to the recommended restaurant for our evening meals. Let me state quite categorically that as a financial planner he has no equal, but when it comes to deciding food versus finances, he should stick with matters of mensuration rather than  mastication. For the first and last nights in Amsterdam, he called it! Our opening meal at an Italian eatery that gave new meaning to “al dente”. 

The final evenings choice an Indonesian restaurant. It’s a given, demurred Peter that as the Dutch established their eponymous East Indies Trading Company, he adamantly knew that the best country for Indonesian cooking had to be Holland. Well the Indonesia establishment chosen was within an earshot of the famous Concertgebouw. Looking through the window, Peter further advised that it appeared busy , possibly with pre concert patrons. Using all of his tremendous financial intellect, he further advised that this obvious observation led him to the recommend that we take up the option forthwith. We entered. It was certainly busy if one acknowledged that all 4 window seats were taken. The rest of the dark dismal diner was as empty as a nun’s wedding chest. A large cat appeared alive although asleep on a cushion on the window ledge. It appeared as safe and secure as any feline might in an asian eatery . 

The maitre-de was, we assumed from Indonesia as he was a dusky shade of cinnamon, even allowing for the gloomy lighting. He was one of the most disinterested restaurateurs I have come across! The menu was basically any combination of beef, chicken, prawns or tofu with either rice or noodles! No surprises here. We mulled over these dauntung choices somewhat to the irritation of our host. Peter attempted to engage him by asking for a “wine list”. Rather than placate him it added to his irritated boredom as he repeated “wine list”? In a manner befitting of Basil Fawlty he indicated that the choices were so straightforward as to not actually need a list : red wine, white wine, beer or soft drink. Well consider it done we said and diplomatically requested the “red”. He wandered off, went several times in out of swinging doors to the kitchen for no apparent reason as on each occasion he appeared empty handed and we were yet to place our order. Although I did notice that each time he did so, the cat in the window gave a somewhat nervous startle. 
Eventually he meandered back with the bottle and 2 glasses. He poured both Peter and I a glass. Pamela politely suggested that she also wanted a glass! His response was of stunned uncertainty. Looking like a cross between Basil Fawlty and the President of the Christian Women’s Temperance Association, he was at pains to confirm he had heard correctly. Once confirmed he again repeated the kitchen door ritual several times before returning with a glass, thus thankfulky both Pamela and pussy were placated.

By now we were ready to order and the reader will hopefully recall the options were rice (plain, yellow, sticky) or noodles with various combinations. Easy peasy! We settled on a rice dish and 2 noodle dishes! I kid you not – the host explained that noodles were “finished”! FINISHED! We were gobsmacked. Our options reduced by 50%. We should have got up and left but we were so stunned that all sense of reasoning left us! The waiter gave the distinct impression that running out of noodles in an Asian restaurant was quite common and indeed not any cause for alarm. It is all so straightforward he explained : 3 people and there are fortuitously 3 choices of rice. His reasoning was faultless. The whole incident has left me scarred for life so much so that I cannot recall what we eventually ordered!

Anyway I am now at a truely special village and hotel on day 3. Here is a taste of the walk on day 2. I shall add a blog about last night hotel and hosts! 

Cycle Holland last day

We left Utreck in light drizzle – so called Dutch drizzle! Refer pictures. Only in Holland would one see a cyclist riding hands free  in drenching rain – an open umbrella in one and an iPhone in the other!

Then the sun came out on this our last day! 

Gouda to Utreck

Another day that continuously threatened rain, but did not! But there was a ray of sunshine as our luggage was waiting for us at the hotel Malie, Utreck! 

The day’s cycling was quite enjoyable as it remained rain free and the moderate wind seemed mostly to be from behind or at worst, a cross wind! Meandering through villages with canals running parallel to the streets and lush green fields with contented cud chewing cows! 

the sea scouts boats!

the family boat parked at the front gate

Some shots of a village where we stopped for coffee and I purchased a waterproof BBB bike holder attachment and case for the iPhone – which has been exceedingly accurately and useful for GPS navigation using app! Get it ! Better than the Garmin

Thence to Utreck where around 4:30 the rain came! In buckets! Then cleared as quickly as it started! Utreck is a University town – here the students seem to boat rather rowdly along the canals, a far cry from a Cambridge punt. 

Gouda pronounced…

it’s a guttural  “K”… ouda – from back of the throat. 

Another dull overcast day with spitting rain interspersed with periods of  dry but ominous scudding clouds. Not conducive to stopping or photography! 

Otherwise if sunny it would have been a totally enjoyable day of cycling ! We arrived damp and a little despondent, aggravated further by the late arrival of our luggage around 6:30 pm. 

And of course we all would recognise Gouda cheese? A few pics of the village square. 

the Gouda municipal council chambers!


Well it was intermittently sunny! Leiden is a University town and today Wednesday was market day by the Rhine  – a rest day not that we needed a rest! The cycling has not been arduous! 

Pamela has a wardrobe malfunction

the Dutch only do hard cheese . Pamela has a poke to prove it

Pamela needed a steadying hand

It’s soooo quaint!

The hotel at Leiden I described as reminiscent of Fawlty Towers. I am NOT complaining but the two photos below surely demonstrate why the rooms appealed to a baby boomer like me! 

Can you pick the lavatory chain? enlarge it!

the latest in HD entertainment centres and bedside clock radio. The last time I saw this gear was in 1965 when we stayed as a family at the Motel Dimboola

Bloemendaal to Leiden

The third day promised a route through a national park thence several kilometres of long beach shores, shirting along scrubby sand dunes then inland following canals often with huge industrial complexes and finally into the university town of Leiden. It threatened rain all day thankfully it held off till about 7 km from our destination then pelted down for 15 minutes so we had lunch from a supermarket under the awning. 

The dutch version of the Gold Coast equally depressing

The City Hotel Nieuw Minerva is really quite quaint reminiscent in its decore of Fawlty  Towers! 

Volendam to Bloemendaal

The day dawned wet and rather miserable. It was therefore a  less than enjoyable 65 km trip, flatness not withstanding. The delightful Dutch lass who served us coffee around 11am pronounced confidentially that the rain would finish at 4pm and the sun would shine, which it did at 4:01 precisely. The village of Edam a mere 10 km into our day’s journey was delightful.

the more astute will see that this is the same picture as above , but with bridge up


The day remained delightfully sunny and cool – ideal weather to cycle. Our hotel had the feel of a cross between a country club and RSL casino!  This is my bedroom 

As it turned out this Sunday was the annual village fair! The older male generation dressed in the typical black sailors pantaloons! The younger  generation in tank tops. Irrespective of age all were making serious efforts to finish the day inebriated. The village  is quite touristy.

beautiful petunias