|From Hamburg onwards I have been enjoying a belated heatwave. I've been taking advantage and putting in long hours on the bike, and using my tent on a regular basis. Even when I have had hotels and B&Bs, the prices have been reasonable.
Cycling has been a joy for this period, and my slightly sunburned face was a welcome bonus after all the terrible weather I had endured.
I had just ten dry days between London and Hamburg, but have had sort of nine since leaving Hamburg. I say sort of, because on a couple of days ther were a few spots of rain for about 30 seconds on each occasion.
Some days I was cycling as the rising sun illuminated the fields through the mist, and I can't recall ever cycling in nicer conditions. Mostly I have continued until the sun was setting. I've done a lot of moderately long distances (80+ miles) but the result is that now I have reached Middelburg I should in theory only have to cycle 50 miles per day all the way home.
Getting through Germany took a day and a half longer than expected as the route tended to keep to the coast around several peninsulas. I reached Holland late in the afternoon and the landscape changed immediately. As the fields are bordered by ditches, invisible from a distance at ground level, they appear to be several miles wide.
On my second full day I saw a man wearing clogs. Properly, not for show. A car pulled up, the driver's door opened, a pair of gigantic wooden shoes was plonked on the tarmac and the driver stepped into them and walked to his house.
I've had to cycle along a few dykes, including the Afsluitdijk which was 19 miles long. Luckily the weather was almost ideal, with just a slight headwind. I got my head down and did it faster than my usual cruising speed. The hazy light caused the sky to blend perfectly with the sea, giving the scene on either side of the causeway the look of a
painting and the dyke way off in the distance seemed to end in a precipice.
That night I stayed in Alkmaar, a beautiful city with plenty of canals, lift bridges and fine buildings. I'd been planning - and looking forward - to finally taking a day off in Bruges, but decided to take it in Alkmaar instead.
However, after a late night I got up very early, went out and took some photos and decided to move on after all. I reasoned it would be wiser to simply not have a day off at all and spread the remaining distance over an extra day.
I had a couple more dykes to get across today, much shorter ones, but the wind has got up again and the first one was a real struggle. Holland in general has been great, with countless picturesque villages and nice scenery. I plan to do a short tour here again as soon as I can fit one in.
I should reach Bruges tomorrow and after today's (probably) final long ride it really feels like my tour is drawing to a close.