We had been told about the cheese market held on a Friday in Alkmaar (about 40mins from Amsterdam) and after blocking a parking area with several cars behind us -argh! we found a parking spot for the day. The parking lot took debit cards but it wouldn’t take foreign ones and many shops only took maestro cards even though they had credit card terminals – very frustrating – back to the ATM again.

We were glad that we got to the market early enough to taste cheeses without thousands of hands delving into the samples and we duly bought a few different cow and goat cheeses for Maurice. We were able to get a seat on the grandstand to have a more or less uninterrupted view of the weighing and movement of the large cheeses (15kgs each one). We couldn’t believe how many tourists came to the Waagplein or weighing square to watch the proceedings which have been taking place since 1365 with over 2000 cheeses to be weighed and made ready for sale. The men working there belong to a guild. The rest of the proceedings were a bit too touristy for us so we left and fought our way through the crowds to walk around the old town which was charming.

We couldn’t get over how welcoming, helpful and friendly everyone was in Holland. Most people chatted to us as well as giving you the necessary information which was very refreshing in a city like Amsterdam or town like Alkmaar so crowded with tourists.
Our saga of our flydoor continued so we went to DV Stelling, a caravan and motorhome seller and where repairs could be done. Half an hour later Richard had made an improvement to the door and he also made us a coffee/hot chocolate first and let us use their kitchen.
He didn’t charge us for the job so we gave him something and told him to buy himself a beer. Such prompt and good service!

Maurice was paid a compliment by the guys at Vodafone. He had bought a new phone in Wilemshaven and needed some assistance with it. The sales guy asked him if he didn’t mind telling him his age because he said that Maurice knew knew so much and could tell him a few things! From someone who could just open a computer and type an email a few years ago!
He told us that strictly speaking only the area around Amsterdam and the western coast was referred to as Holland. Further east and south it was known as the Netherlands.

We passed Schipol airport on the way to Alkmaar and we had both never seen so many planes landing, taking off and in the air at the same time. It is one of the busiest airports in Europe and has one the most sophisticated radar computer controlled systems.

We left Amsterdam to travel to Nijmegen (the oldest town in Holland, over 2000years old as documented by the Romans). It was a bit of a non event as there was so much rain we could see very little so decided to go on to Waalwijk where my maternal great grandfather was born. He later emigrated to England. I have a pipe bowl with his name and the date 1823 Waalwijk. I went there 22years ago with my mother and found the archive department where we traced in a couple of hours back to 1650 with the assistance of two staff there. The town had become very affluent and was quite different from 22years ago.
We had a good walk around town and then left to drive to Antwerp. People in the town said we were lucky that we were going south as the day was known as Black Saturday because people were returning north from holidays and school was due to start on the Monday.
We too were glad as there was little traffic southbound. It was still raining so we took the highway. The highways were in excellent condition but the some of the smaller roads were made up of concrete sections which were not so comfortable to drive on.

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