The bridges of South Holland County

When in Gouda …..

Gouda- Town Hall

When visiting Gouda, you can’t really avoid cheese. So, we decided to metaphorically immerse ourselves in cheese and spent a very entertaining half an hour or so in a cheese shop. The woman serving us was very helpful and did a great job of selling us more and more. She even persuaded us to pose for pictures with a large plastic cheese. Those pictures may never get published! We kept sampling different cheeses and they were excellent. We have bought several for on board the boat and also a load to take home.

The cheese shop was followed by a trip round Sint Janskerk – the longest church in the Netherlands with spectacular stained glass windows. The church is 123 metres long and has around 70 stained glass windows many dating from the middle ages and the Renaissance. At the time they were made most people couldn’t read, so the windows were designed to tell their stories pictorially and symbolically. The windows often feature dogs – a symbol of faithfulness – bears – a symbol of iniquity and sin and kings and queens – a symbol of ……. ?

The final stop (after watching the puppets on the Stadhuis which enact a scene each half hour) was then an off-licence for some Oude Genever.

Gouda dates from the 13th century – it was granted city rights in 1272. During the summer of 1438 the town suffered a devastating fire and it was reduced pretty much to ashes. The council then built a new freestanding town hall and chose a soggy peat bog location. No evidence of sogginess remains and the town hall now stands proudly at the centre of the market square. Sods law, we missed the cheese market which was the previous day, but we still had a good look round the town before leaving the marina around midday.

Gouda to Braasemermeer – 13.8 miles in 3 hours 55 minutes

Gouda rail bridge – the first of the day

A day of bridges today – 13 in total. The day started well with a container barge in front as we left Gouda. We followed him through the first rail bridge (which only opens quickly every two hours) and then carried on following him through around 4 more bridges. He very selfishly pulled in just before Alphen aan der Rijn, so we paired up with a Dutch yacht to go through all the bridges around Alphen. The canals were a real mixture of scenery, but we spent a lot of time people watching as we went through the town – looking into houses, cafes and gardens as we went close past them. We even managed to help prune someone’s tree with our mast as we avoided a barge coming the other way.

The final stretch was through to the Brassemermeer where we decided to stop for the night. The friendly harbour master appeared more or less instantly on his bike with a present of a jar of gherkins and he took 18 euros off us for the night, plus one euro in the meter for the electric – all very reasonable for a nice marina with good facilities.

Tomorrow we head through the Westeinerplassen and on to the start point of the night convoy through Amsterdam.

Through Alphen aan der Rijn