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Sunday, 7th February 2016 – The Mid-Winter Check Up.

Our first trip over of the year and we were booked on the 09:50 Shuttle. Well there was no point rushing over at the crack of dawn! For our first trip, at a generally quiet time of the year, it didn't get off to a great start as there was a half hour delay to our scheduled crossing with no explanation. It wouldn't have been quite so bad if it wasn't for the fact that we had gone down to the terminus early hoping to get an earlier crossing.

In the end we got to the boat at about 13:30. Like last year we had taken some lunch and with the fan heater on, it was quite cosy, or as the Dutch would say gezellig.

In order to make things a bit easier at Easter when we take all the gear back, we took some stuff with us this time. The sails, having got the genoa back from Wilkinson Sails on Friday and very smart its new UV strip looks too, a crate full of ropes and the boat hooks, man over board rescue sling, ensign staff and danbuoy. These things were mostly taken home as leaving them on board clutters up the inside for when the marina's fitter is on board carrying out the winterising. Since that was done before the cold weather, there was no reason not to put the stuff back.

Once we were finished at the boat we headed off into Goes to the Terminus Hotel where we had stayed last year. Nothing had changed and it was just as good as before.

In the evening we went in to Goes to have a few beers and then went to the Smederij, a restaurant we had liked the look of last year but couldn't get in, because it was packed. This time, we had booked well in advance and just as well - it was packed solid! We had an excellent meal and at a very good price, even with the Euro's recent strengthening against the pound.

On the subject of the euro, we have been a bit unlucky. On Saturday we went in to the marina office and paid the fees for this coming year. Towards the end of last year the euro really weakened and Kim was rubbing his hands together thinking how much we were going to save. By the time we got to Saturday it had strengthened and a £200 saving had disappeared. Well never mind, it's still better than it was a few years ago.

On Sunday morning we left Goes and drove up to the Grevelingenmeer. Wendy had seen on Dutch TV that a flock of flamingos from Germany (escapees from a wildlife park) were wintering on the Grevelingenmeer as the water is brackish and doesn’t freeze. We found a Dutch “twitchers” website where lots of people had reported seeing them on Saturday at Battenoord. So that’s where we headed and despite the howling wind, there the poor little mites were huddled together on the Grevelingenmeer.

After that we drove over to look at Oude Tonge, a small town and port on the northern shore of the Volkerak. It looked a really quaint little town with a little harbour...

..and a rather impressive Harbour Master’s office.

This could be a possible destination for one of our extended trips in the coming year.

We spent a little more time “sight seeing” than we had planned and so when we got back to Calais we had missed our scheduled return shuttle by half an hour. We ended up waiting over an hour to get the next available crossing which was a little frustrating, but hey, it was our choice and did have a great day.

We got home at around 17:30 which wasn’t bad and we’d had a wonderful weekend. As always, it was great to get back onboard Emjaytoo and to be back in the Netherlands and we can’t wait for Easter.

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