A trip to the Netherlands

Last week I spent five days in the Netherlands on the look out for windmills – and what a fantastic week it was! My son and I managed to spy 52 windmills during our time in Holland, Belgium and France.

On our first day we visited the world famous Kinderdijk where there are nineteen 18th-century windmills. Originally built to drain the water logged land just outside Rotterdam we managed to see a millwright setting the sails and unreefing the sail cloth on a set of four common sails. Situated below sea-level the Kinderdijk is a very special place that is well worth a visit. The windmills are a combination of smock, round and hollow post mills that are used solely to drain the Alblasserwaard ‘polders’ (reclaimed land). The excess water is then sluiced into the River Lek (the Rijn). The Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is really breathtaking to see the sails of so many windmills turning at the same time in the wind.

A few days later we visited Zaanse Schans – a folk museum located just outside Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans also has a number of windmills, some of which have been moved here from other parts of the region – a place that used to have a thousand windmills! The mills are still used today to saw timber, grind peanuts for their oil, crush chalk and make pigments for artists’ colours. It was great to see how each of these windmills had been adapted for different purposes.

Anyway, after looking around five windmills my family rebelled and banned me from going in any more, but the game of who could see the most windmills continued. The last one was spied just off the M20 in Kent.

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