As it was pleasant weather on the Sunday, we took the car north to the resort village Egmond aan Zee. Clouds had formed by the time we arrived, but there were still some brief sunny spells as we crossed the dunes to the beach.
The dunescape seemed quite incongruous to the flatlands we had just driven across and covered a much larger area than I had expected. We climbed a number of hills expecting to see the beach on the other side, until we did finally get sight of the sea.
Despite the relatively mild sunny weather, it was still early January, so there were sadly no rabbits to see. Controlling rabbit numbers has long been a part of the management of the dunes, as their eating of vegetation is believed to lead to sand drifts. I was interested to read later that the dunes at Egmond aan Zee were the original home of Miffy, the rabbit from the famous children’s picture books.
The beach was busy with daytrippers. I tried to place the views I knew from van Goyen and Ruisdael. I knew, of course, this was a silly task, as the coastline had moved about 300 metres inland since they had painted these scenes.
After a while we climbed up the dune to see the lighthouse, and then walked into the village where we had fried cod at the fishmonger’s just before the old Dutch Reformed church. I could find out very little about the church, but the datestone from 1746 suggested to me that it must have been built to replace the church that was lost to sea in the flood of 1741.
Confused in the traffic coming away from the resort, we missed our turning, and our GPS led us on a more scenic route back toward the Hague.
On the Tuesday, Alessandra returned to England, and Tom and I drove to the former RAF airport at Weeze, now a hub for budget airlines. From here we flew to Cyprus, where we would escape the northern winter and return in spring.