Day Two: Wijchen

Had an amazing nights sleep of 5 hours before waking at 5.30am ready to start my day. Everyone else was still asleep so I dozed for a few more hours before rising. After getting dressed, Jip’s mother made Blauwe Bessen pannenkoeken (blueberries pancakes) for breakfast using almond and coconut meal; it was delicious and filling. Jip stayed home whilst Saskia and I took the neighbours dog for a walk around the lake that is near her housing estate. Due to the really hot summer and no rainfall, the lake is terribly unsanitary and has blue/green algae through it so all the local birds including geese and swans have abandoned the area.

Back at home it was time to go shopping in the centre of town and we went by bicycle. I was on one bicycle whilst Jip was on another with his mum sitting on a little shelf above the back wheel. It was a quick 5 to 10 minute cycle into the shopping district and we parked the bikes with the other few bikes. Jip and I got new European phone numbers to use and we went to the local market that was set up within the square that sold fresh produce and cheese!

We bought pesto cheese and mustard cheese!!

We continued to walk around and ended up at the town castle; Kasteel Wijchen. Kasteel Wijchen is surrounded by a moat and has lovely manecured gardens and pretty pink and purple flowers on bushes.

It was initally built (as records suggest) in 1392 but had been attacked on multiple occasions. In 1609, the daughter of Prince Willem of Orange, Emilia of Nassau bought the castle and renovated it entirely. She was only able to do so after the sale of a very valuable pearl necklace. The castle has since been bought and sold multiple times until 1932 when there was an economic crisis and it wasn’t able to be sold so the municipality of Wijchen bought it. Since then, every resident in Wijchen is an ‘owner’.

After seeing the castle, we walked further around town through little streets of houses and cobblestones until we came to a traditional windmill. This particular windmill was built in 1799 and is one of only 10 windmills to this day that is still used to make flour. We entered underneath to the shop that sold all sorts of flours including paper-packaged premix flours for cakes! They had stroopwafel flavoured cakes, watermelon flavour and of course chocolate cake. I chose the Frambozencake (raspberry cake) for tonight. Saskia spoke to the gentleman within the shop and asked if we could be shown upstairs. He said we could but he would grab the owner to show us around. We climbed up this vertical ladder to the first floor that stores the flour that has been made. He then took us outside onto the hill sourrounding the windmill and explained that every morning he uses a set of pulleys to change the direction of the sails depending on which way the wind blows and he has to roll down the canvas for each sail every morning. On the second floor is where the grain is ground up using two quartz plates before being piped down to the first floor where it is collected in large paper bags. The quartz stones (that weigh 1200kg) rub together in a circular motion with the power from the windmill sails - if there isn’t any wind, the grain can’t be turned into flour!

We walked back to the bikes before heading home for some lunch. We sat outside in the courtyard and had fresh sandwich’s with the cheese that we bought and some sliced ham and other spreads. You can purchase egg salad in a container similar to margarine and spread it on your bread!

After lunch we drove to get a poster printed for Jip before heading back home to collect the neighbours dog and go for a walk in the forest in Herpen, the next village across. It is a pretty village with large pine trees lining the street and the street itself was entirely made of cobblestones. The local forest had beautiful large pine trees and lots of sand dunes and was split in two as part of the forest have wild bison and horses within it and you have to walk through a gate to get to the other side. We didn’t happen to see any during our walk.

Back at home, Jip’s brother and sister in law had arrived so it was lovely to finally meet another few family members. He had brought some Belgium beer with him and in return, I had surprised him with some Cascade pale ale. He thoroughly enjoyed it and added it to his lists of beers he has tried (631 different beers thus far). We then ate dinner in the courtyard and had typical fries, croquettes, frikandel (hotdog) and a small amount of salad. It was yummy and fattening as you typically eat it with mayonnaise. For dessert we had berry frozen yoghurt and ate the cake from the cake mix we had bought at the mill. To top off our eating extravaganza, I got Bram and Eva to try some vegemite on crackers with some cheese and they actually didn’t dislike it. I’m happy they thought it was edible!

After dinner we chatted until I started to feel a bit drowsy and went to bed around 10.45pm with the sound of rain the roof.