Over the last few months my husband, Ian, and I have been having discussions as to what to do for a certain significant birthday of mine this March. My thoughts were that I definitely didn’t want a party but perhaps we could go away somewhere as a family (we have two girls, Emily, 7 and Lucy, 4) and with friends.
This was the guide that Ian was left with to go and do some planning. I was thinking he might come up with a weekend in a cottage in the Lakes which would, no doubt, involve family cycling. However, Ian had other ideas which he thought would be a good idea to share with me before too much planning went on!
“How about a family cycling holiday to Holland with our bikes and only our bikes?” My first impressions were that it sounded rather exciting but then thoughts of how, where, what kit to take, weather at Easter and so on all came into my head.
Is a family cycling holiday to Holland at Easter a good idea?
My friend Jo and her family had been to Holland a few times cycling so I needed to get together with her to work out logistics! Jo was very positive about the experiences they have had (read her article here about her family cycling holiday in Holland) and was keen to tell me all about it, showing me places they had been as well as arming me with maps and diaries.
It certainly sounded like a great place to cycle with it being the ‘norm’ in Holland with cycle tracks literally everywhere you go which are well signposted, safe and traffic-free, perfect for family cycling. It has to be said that she was a little unsure about the time of year as they had only been in the summer months and Easter may be rather colder and windier!
I am a ‘cold mortal’ so do not relish the idea of wind, rain and cold but sometimes you just have to forget the ‘what if’s’ and just go for it and live a little! The children would not even consider such things as long as they have a thermal and a waterproof and know where the next ice cream is coming from/next play area will be – beautiful carefree years.
Our friends Kathryn, Richard, Alice and Tom were to join us in the adventure, themselves having had a Dutch family biking trip last summer. After inviting them for brunch one Saturday in January the initial idea was built upon, whilst the children played and interrupted us when they were hungry!
Our Dutch family cycling holiday plan
We plan to board the overnight ferry from Hull to the Hook of Holland with the 8 of us, 8 bikes, 2 trailers for the bags, lots of excitement and that would be about it (oh, perhaps crossed fingers for some sunny weather). Camping is a no-no at Easter (phew) so we’ve decided to stay in the Dutch youth hostels and planned a route around them. The hostel is in a castle and 2 minutes from the beach and sounded like one not to miss! This will mean a combination of cycling and train to get to Zeeland , a peninsula to the South of the Hook of Holland. The idea is that we will have to do some cycling to get from AàB but weather (and tired nippers) depending we can then tailor our 4 full days to do more or less riding to suit us.
Once we had a rough plan I rang up my Dutch friend, Renske, who I met some 15 years earlier at Aberdeen University and have stayed firm friends ever since. After downloading our morning discussions from my head with excitement yet trepidation Renske definitely gave the seal of approval. Amongst other things Zeeland is a beautiful place where she has been many times to relax and enjoy holidays. It has the most sunshine hours in Holland and was also a child friendly area, both of which were a bonus.
This was now feeling more like it was going to happen, it was going to get booked!! Renske, Co and Yfke also want to come and meet us at Zeeland although this depends on the fact that Renske is due to give birth the week after Easter!
Following my phone conversation to Renske I updated our fellow travellers and the ferries and hostels were booked the following week. It was also a pleasant surprise to find out that there was no additional cost for bicycles on the ferry. The girls keep asking ”when are we going biking with Alice and Tom?” (Parents obviously surplus to requirements). Timescales are hard to comprehend at their ages and the end of March does seem some time away but you know it’s going to come around really quickly.
Holland here we come!
Now the fun really begins with planning, which I love nothing more! What to take – bikes, bar, trailer, thermals, waterproofs, maps and so it goes on…and what have/haven’t we got? Next blog to follow when hopefully we will have answered some of these questions!