Monday, 27 September 2010
I am not back down to earth yet after our holiday - there was so much to see and so many things to learn and our friends were so good at explaining things to us. Of course in four days we saw only a tiny fraction of the country but my goodness me, our friends took us here and there and filled in the background as much as they could.
I think one of the things which makes the country so fascinating to me is that is so reminds me of my childhood in the Fens of Lincolnshire - the terrain is so similar. Much of the land in the area we were in is below sea level. The roads are built up and as you drive along you look down on fields which in Spring will be full of tulips. At this time of the year they are still colourful with flowers - dahlias, gladioli, astilbe, violas - all making wonderful strips of colour.
I had a good look at the map before we went over and I was interested in a green coastal strip which seems to stretch from one end of the country to the other. Needless to say that when I mentioned this to F and R, our hosts, they immediately took us to look at that area. There is a long strip of clean beautifully pale sand which stretches for miles along the coast. Behind that sand are the 'dunes' natural sandy hills which in many places have been turned into pleasant country parks. We walked on the sands and we strolled through the park - there were fallow deer, roe deer, a herd of cattle and - as everywhere we went - many water birds - coot, swan, heron.
One thing which interested me was a plant which is fairly new to the dunes area - I took a photograph (see above) both of the flower and of the bud and shall send both to Stuart (Donegal Wildlife - see my side bar) for a positive identification, but I think it is Datura. The speed with which it seems to be colonising large areas seems to me to be worrying for the future. In two years it is growing into small trees and there are hundreds of seedling plants - made me think of Japanese Hogweed.
I hope you like the photograph of the fishing lines anchored to the sand - I think it is my favourite photograph of the whole trip. The rods were fastened into the ground with thick metal bars and the lines stretched taut way out to sea. What were they hoping to catch? Does anybody know?
The country seems to me to be completely ruled by water - but it all seems to be so well controlled. There are a lot of polders - areas of land reclaimed from the sea - these areas have been drained and then protected from flooding by dykes. Since the year 1200 the size of the country has been increased by more than a fifth.
The dykes are beautiful both for their plant life and their bird life - and at the same time they are an essential part of the country. Hope you enjoy today's potographs.
1. Datura bud.
2. Walking in the dunes. 3. Datura flowers.
4. Strips of flowers. 5. Toadstools growing through cowpats.
6 and 7 The sands of the coastal strip - and the fishing rods.