Delft, The Netherlands

The campsite we have found is wonderful.  It’s along a long narrow road next to a canal.  There is a steep slope down to the campsite but the mothership manages it ok.  (it’s more tricky getting back up the slope when we leave after two nights, but with a run-up and a little wheel-spin we manage it!)  It’s a little disconcerting having the campsite much lower than the canal level, but we soon get used to it. So much of the Netherlands is lower than sea level, it’s just normal here!

We cycle into the town and the first thing we spot when we dump the bake near the central station is a bunch of university students building a house from cardboard.  The doesn’t sound too exciting we hear you cry. This house is a model of a house that will soon be built as part of a regeneration project not far from the station. The model seems to be not far off 1:1 scale and will be over 18 meters tall!  When we arrive in the town they have the roof nearly complete. A few hours later we come back that way to grab the bikes and they have another story finished. It is already huge! But we never did get to see the finished building.

The windmill in the town is also open on the day we visit and we are lucky enough to see it running. This mill is for flour production rather than pumping water. Although the wooden parts have been replaced, they are authentic replacement parts and the mill runs today just as it did hundreds of years ago.

One thing that we noticed about the mill here and those at Kinderdijk is that they are manually steered into the wind.  A large ships wheel type affair is used with pulleys to turn the mill as the wind changes. Our knowledgeable guide tells us that self steering mills were around in the UK at that time that the majority of Netherlands mills were built, but the technology never made it across the North Sea to the Netherlands.

He also tells us that the Netherlands windmills Have non-linear sail geometry that never passed across the North sea in the other direction, so maybe WTO terms would stifle innovation as well as kill national production.

The windmill is particularly tall because it still needs to catch the wind when it comes from the town which was two or three stories tall. The stairs inside are more like ladders and are nearly vertical.  It’s a fun 10 minutes climbing up the inside of the mill to the platform, which is still only about halfway up the windmill!

For our last day in Delft, we go for a long cycle ride and the weather is glorious, so rather than restaurant food, we buy picnic items and have a great meal next to the canal (only a mile from the mothership!)