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ManVanNoPlan Visits Hulst, Roompot, Middelharnis, Spijkenisse & Gouda

ManVanNoPlan Visits Hulst, Roompot, Middelharnis, Spijkenisse & Gouda in the third blog of our 2022 Spring tour of Europe.

Sunday the 13th of March 2022
When we arrived at the Blankenberge Aire on Thursday we took the last space but every subsequent night there were fewer vans and this morning there was a mass exodus, including ourselves.

We had until noon to leave so there was no real hurry so a long lie in was in order, especially after yesterday’s exertions. The van was serviced again as for the next few nights we would have no facilities and when we left for some reason the satnav took us on a circular tour of Zeebrugge including the massive docks complex where a few massive ships were either loading or unloading cars.
Once on the N39 dual carriageway it was plain, if bumpy sailing as the roads were the worst we had driven on since the anti clockwise M25. Our destination, Hulst was reached in just over an hour and was our first stop in the Netherlands.


“Hulst is a historic fortified city in Zeeland, in the Southern Netherlands, near the border with Belgium. With its entirely intact fortifications, Hulst is often seen as one of the finest and best-preserved national examples of a vintage fortified city. The main church in the middle of town was voted as the nation’s most beautiful church.

Being very close to the Belgian border (just 3 km), the town has a lot of influence (and visitors) from Flanders. Hulst promotes itself as the ‘most Flemish city’ in the Netherlands. Its border location, cosy atmosphere and nearby beaches attract lots of day-trippers. Hulst is still missing from the average guidebook and thus very authentic, with very few foreigners (other than Belgians) (and the odd Scots) having already discovered this hidden gem.”

We arrived just before noon and found the Aire after missing the correct turning and having to double back through a tunnel under the walls surrounding the city and it was a very tight fit to say the least. 

The Aire here is really just a section of a car park specifically reserved for motorhomes with no facilities. The car park is within sight of the city walls and sits between a large retail park and the shops within the city walls. We bought a few necessities from a really good Dutch supermarket called Jumbo and after lunch we walked the short distance to the shops in the centre and the whole place was very busy as all the shops, bars etc were open and doing very good business from all the tourists and day trippers from nearby Belgium.

After exploring for a while we managed to find a table at the most popular bar and sat in the sunshine with a cool lager.


After that we headed for the City walls to take a circular route back to the van and found an old windmill with its sails turning in the increasing breeze. A deserved cup of tea back at Bessie and after checking our steps on the App (6,993) had a piece of cake, well, we earned it! The car park in front of us was full as was the car park over in the retail park but by the time we were having dinner the cars had virtually disappeared and we had a quiet night in the company of some Dutch and Belgian motorhomes.


Monday the 14th of March 2022
Over the years we have been woken up during the night by a variety of animals and birds but last night was the first time I can remember ducks being the culprit, although The Navigator slept through the rumpus. The joys of being in the Netherlands with a moat directly behind us!

Monday is market day in Hulst’s main square and that would be our entertainment this morning. It’s not a big market square so it was a fairly small market but just like Ypres you cannot help but be impressed by the quality of the stalls which are mostly trailers with an open side. There were 2 forty foot trailers lined up together with all kinds of fish and seafood, a forty foot cheese trailer, another for fruit and veg, another with flowers and plants and a rotisserie chicken van, the smallest we have seen on our travels. We were not tempted today as we’ve been overdosing on chicken lately but what we did try was a Vietnamese spring roll type thing to nibble at on the way back to Bessie.


After lunch we walked to a nearby Lidl to stock up for the next few days as we will be on a farm site in the middle of the countryside. We were impressed by range and quality in this store at really good prices too. The Navigator was particularly pleased with herself as they had a collapsible basin, something she has coveted for a long time so that was her holiday present taken care of!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in Bessie and late in the afternoon the woman in the motorhome next to Bessie left leaving us as the only motorhome here until another Belgian van arrived later in the evening.

Hulst GPS = 51.277611, 4.048739 & What3words = ///endless.dwelled.truncated € FREE

Hulst is a great motorhome stopover and would thoroughly recommend it, and not just because it’s free!

Tuesday the 15th of March 2022
First stop this morning was a Texaco garage a few minutes away on the other side of town as it had laundry machines and this was now needed after being on the road since the 22nd of February. As with everything in this country it was easy to find, easy to park and easy to use the machines. Also at this location was a great view over to the windmill which was working yesterday, but not today. 


From here we headed out of Hulst but only six minutes to the north to Camperplaats Hoeve Konstance, a farm camping site with fifteen places although there was only one other van there when we arrived. It looks as though the owners have spent time and money to upgrade the site and it does look neat and tidy, however the hard standing pitches are far too narrow and I had to move as my first choice pitch was so narrow we could not open the habitation door because of newly planted trees which would have been okay for a continental van with the door on the other side.

We had lunch and The Navigator hung out the washing she had done this morning and I worked on the last blog. The site owner had told us we had a chance of seeing deer if we were awake early in the morning but we did see one in an open field not far away in the middle of the afternoon.

We are on the nearest pitch to quite a big pond and there are quite a few varieties of ducks and geese in the pond and nearby field along with a selection of finches and tits in the trees near the van. The bird that caught our attention though was a huge European Owl in a big wire enclosure near the owners house.

We had a relaxing evening and I watched the footie with Manchester United turning in another lacklustre performance to get knocked out of the EUFA Champions League.

Wednesday the 16th of March 2022
Not a lot to report today as we hardly moved out of the van. We were going to go for a cycle in the afternoon but it clouded over and was a tad chilly so we thought better off it.

There were a few more arrivals today and I’m sure this place will be full a lot of the time through the summer as it is in a good position and so quiet. I went out in the afternoon to take a few pictures of the site…


…and wandered across the road to get on top of the mound that runs along side of the road and in the huge field on the other side of the mound was a herd of about a dozen deer. I signalled for The Navigator to come over to see them as well but by the time she came over most of them were lying down and difficult to see.


I had taken the opportunity to plug the laptop into the power to finish off the next blog describing Bruges, Blankenberge and Brussels and then configure some more 2023 diaries and upload them to Amazon so quite a busy day in a way. Here are just 8 of the new 2023 week-to-view diaries. It’s never too early to buy for yourself or as a useful Christmas present for friends and family! See all 28 titles (so far) HERE.

Thursday the 17th of March 2022
Who knew there were gales in the Netherlands? At 2am a gale came out of nowhere and we were both woken by the wind noise and the van being rocked from side to side as well as the nearby geese and ducks kicking off as they seemed to be caught unawares too.

The worst of it eventually passed but it remained blustery for the rest of the morning. It was time to move on today and for the first time on this trip I had no fixed idea of where we would be spending the night. There were a couple of free Aires we could try but they only took a maximum of four vans so the chances of getting on one was remote so I had a backup of paid for Aires too.

Exiting eh? Not for The Navigator though as she likes to know for certain in advance where we are going but this is manvannoplan after all so for today at least we are winging it.

After servicing Bessie and giving her cab a wash to get rid of the Sahara dust that had covered her overnight we set off west towards the coast. In 2011 we had travelled up the coast of the Netherlands in Louis the McLouis as far as just south of Rotterdam before turning and heading back to Calais.

Camperplats Hoeve Konstance GPS 51.300763, 4.019486 & What3Words = ///unbearably.tighter.reflective € 17.00

I had a strong memory of staying in a car park of a sports centre and walking along the foreshore of the town on the banks of a huge river which was busy with huge ocean going cargo ships and barges. There was a circular restaurant where we had a drink watching all the activity on the river. This was pre blog days so I had no written record of where it was but by studying the satellite view on Google Maps I had it narrowed down to Terneuzen on the south bank of the river Scheldt and Vlissingen on the north bank so we headed off for Terneuzen first and lo and behold this was the very place. We passed the sports hall which you can’t overnight at now and drove along the bank of the river and parked near the circular restaurant. There was an amazing amount of activity out on the main river and barges heading inland on smaller canals. I say smaller canals but in reality they are much wider than British canals and used mainly by cargo barges where in the UK the canals nowadays are almost exclusively used by narrowboats for leisure purposes.

The Navigator, who until this point had no recollection of this place, did concede on seeing the restaurant that she had been here before.

To continue up the coast from here you have to cross the huge river Scheldt via a 6.6km tunnel (€ 7.50 toll) and the prospect of this sent The Navigator into a mini panic attack, not because we would be under a huge river for so long but because at the other end she would have to confront her nemesis, the continental tollbooth! 

The continental tollbooth, be they manned or unmanned, are on the ‘wrong’ side, i.e. the passenger side for a British vehicle meaning The Navigator has to confront them, much against her will.

How much will it be?
Do they take cash or cards?
Will I be able to reach the machine/person?
Will I have to exit the cab to the frustration of the impatient queue behind us?
Will I start shouting at her to “get on with it” and start revving the engine in frustration?
Will the person in the booth speak the Queen’s English?

These are just some of the thoughts going through The Navigator’s mind as we approach the booth, in this case manned, or to be accurate, womanned!

Prepared with notes, coins and a credit card to cover all eventualities, in the end it was painless for The Navigator as the payment terminal was in reach and a tap with the credit card was successfully negotiated. When the payment had been registered the woman said,
“I don’t have a ticket,” replied the Navigator in a last minute panic.
“She’s asking if you want a receipt,” I chipped in and at that the barrier went up and I ended The Navigator’s ordeal by driving off without the ‘ticket.’

There are two further ‘memories’ of this area. First is parking up in a small town and seeing a helicopter arriving with a bride and later taking off with the married couple after the ceremony. It was a lovely little town but I’ve no idea where it was save it was on the banks of a river or lake as can be seen in the pictures.

The next ‘memory’ (for me anyway) is parking up for the night at a marina with lots of holiday cottages and getting blocked in by another motorhome.

I knew the place where we stayed was near a town called Kamperland but couldn’t work out where it was. I chose a parking area at a massive marina/holiday village and we arrived in the early afternoon. After setting up we headed out for a walk and (wait for it) this was the very place we had stayed at before!

We only stayed the one night here and the next morning headed off a few miles to have lunch at a takeaway cabin at the nearby dunes. I had promised The Navigator a slap-up fish supper for her lunch as she is missing her trips to Tarbert to buy fish for our Friday tea.

Roompot Beach Resort. GPS = 51.589428, 3.715409 & What3Words = ///pasting.devise.flowing € 15.00

The place we went to had pictures of fish on Facebook, fish on the menu when we arrived but there was no fish available to order! “Too expensive to buy now,” the guy said since the price of diesel for the fishing boats went up recently. We settled for an old favourite when visiting the Netherlands in the past, kip (chicken) sate and fries. In the UK we have sauces from all over the world in our supermarkets but sate sauce is difficult to find and it is fantastic with chicken.

After lunch we headed off further up the west coast and drove over some of the many river inlets on the Dutch coast with a fair few having some form of hydro turbines incorporated into the bridges which puts the UKs efforts to shame.

Friday the 18th of March 2022
Today’s destination is a town called Middelharnis, a town I had never heard of before seeing it on the Park4Night app. It is a popular Aire as the vans park directly on the canal quayside of the town’s marina which is a dead end in the town square. Very picturesque!

As this was a Friday and there were quite a few motorhomes on the road heading off for the weekend I thought our chances were slim of getting a space here but when we arrived there were about half a dozen pitches to chose from. We parked up and walked down to pay the harbour master € 44 for 3 nights which would take us over the weekend in this idyllic location. For the £ 12.31 a night you have electricity and access to all the marina’s facilities, showers etc plus the usual motorhome servicing points.

We set out for the short walk into the town to get our bearings and immediately could not believe out luck in finding this picturesque place.


Although there was a chilly breeze, if you sheltered from it it was warm and very pleasant to sit outside. We bought a few necessities in a very well stocked supermarket and headed back to Bessie to sit out and bask in the sunshine with a drink watching the yachts coming and going. And very pleasant it was too.


Saturday the 19th of March 2022
Again we woke to blue skies but if anything the wind was even colder than yesterday. We cycled to a nearby Lidl and stocked up for the next few days before returning to Bessie to sit outside, sheltered by the van.

After we closed the blinds last night we could hear some vans arriving behind us and one of them was a fellow Brit, the first we have seen since Bruges. They had originally been booked on a Hull to Rotterdam crossing with P & O but that had been cancelled so drove to Harwich and crossed with DFDS to the Hook of Holland.


After lunch we set off to explore the town and it was a real eye opener. The main shopping street was narrow and pedestrianised and must have been a mile long. There was a good mix of the main Dutch ‘high street’ chain shops and independent local businesses with no bookies or charity shops that seem to be taking over high streets in the UK.

Our favourite Dutch shop is Hema which is like a mini department store selling a wide variety of good quality goods at very good prices and some of the larger ones have a restaurant and this was one of them so we had a drink and halved an apple cake. The Navigator voted it the best latte she has had since setting off from home but I did not fare so well on the tea front. More on this anon.

Back at Bessie I duly fell asleep sitting out while The Navigator was busy preparing tonight’s curry. When I woke up I chatted to the lady from the motorboat moored next to Bessie and The Navigator came out to join in the conversation. The Dutch are probably the best foreign nation for speaking English and this woman (if you read this I’m sorry we didn’t get your names) exemplified that by speaking perfect English.

As we talked her husband opened a window and spoke in Dutch to his wife and the upshot was he cooked us 10 prawns which were delicious. The picture only shows 4 as we devoured the rest before I thought of taking a picture!

We watched Ireland v Scotland and France v England and both winners had deserved victories.


Sunday the 20th of March 2022
The Dutch couple opposite us sailed away about 9am and we had our bacon butties waiting for the sun to warm up before venturing outside. That was the hope but it didn’t quite work out that way as the usual blue skies remained stubbornly grey this morning.

There was the odd spit of rain on the windscreen but The Navigator decided we should go out and have our planned cycle to the point where the canal meets the Haringvliet, a large inlet of the North Sea, part of the estuary of the Rhine-Meuse delta. What could possibly go wrong?

With the cycle path on the top of the elevated bank right beside us we set off straight into the strong wind blowing into our faces, bringing tears to our eyes and instantly rendering our hands into blocks of ice.


As we cycled the spots of rain turned to proper icy rain but we were committed to make it to the viewpoint so soldiered on. The Navigator’s bike has developed a fault and her electric motor has stopped working so she struggled to make headway but wouldn’t swap bikes to make it easier for herself.

We made it to the end and immediately headed into the warmth of a little cafe for hot drinks to thaw out and take shelter from the rain. When we thought the rain was off we got back on the bikes to be immediately soaked by a resumption of the heavy rain, this time with the added bonus of hail and snow. I took a few quick pictures and The Navigator set off heading for Bessie and I followed quickly afterwards.


After lunch the rain stopped and we dried the bikes off and secured them in the garage as we are moving on tomorrow. I worked most of the day configuring more 2023 week-to-view diaries with one eye on the three FA cup ties being played today.

Monday the 21st March 2022
Today we are setting off and I’ll be…
…Ridin’ along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Crusin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go…

Which is a contrived way of saying we’ve no particular place to go today, or any day this week, until next Sunday when Emma, our youngest, flies into Schipol to join us for a week.


It was snowing briefly yesterday but today could not be nicer with blue skies and warmth of seventeen degrees by ten o’clock. We used the marina’s facilities both for ourselves and Bessie. The Navigator loved the modern showers with lots of space and piping hot water that wasn’t rationed as it is in Bessie. This place would easily make my all time top 10 locations and probably top 5 if I gave it some thought!

Middelharnis Jachthaven GPS = 51.762562, 4.170760 & What3Words = ///redeye.store.looms € 15.00

After servicing the van we drove off through a manicured countryside with the odd old windmill as a forceful reminder of the country we were in along with their modern counterpart turning in the breeze. Whether you are in the countryside, towns or cities you are seemingly able to see wind turbines all the time in the Netherlands.

The first place we were aiming for with no real conviction we could stay there was the unpronounceable town of Spijkenisse on the south bank of the sizeable river Oude Maas and a southern upmarket suburb of Rotterdam. The last twenty minutes of the drive was through dockside industrial estates and built up housing and we eventually found the motorhome park up thanks to Google Maps as this location would have been impossible to find otherwise.

It is a four van free park up with no facilities but a fantastic view of the river and all the passing river traffic of all shapes and sizes. Because it was free for a maximum of three nights I thought it was bound to be full but when it came into view there was one space and we drove straight on.


There are blocks of modern upmarket flats overlooking the river here and we had a walk along to the end of them before returning to Bessie for lunch.

In the afternoon we walked the mile to the Stadsplein Shopping Centre and had a walk about the impressive range of shops including the most incredible bicycle shop we have ever seen. As well as selling a massive range of cycles they also repair them and they agreed to diagnose the problem with The Navigator’s bike if we got it there at 8.30am the next morning.

Before heading back we treated ourselves to another latte/tea and shared cake. We had the same problem here with my tea but this time The Navigator had a cunning plan. In Hema and most other places they only serve flavoured teas and you pick your packet of tea and they give you a cup of boiling water to infuse your choice. I don’t like flavoured tea and they don’t serve ‘ordinary or black’ tea so The Navigator’s solution was to chose a flavour she would drink another time in the van and surreptitiously produce a PG Tips teabag from her handbag for me to enjoy my mid afternoon cuppa. Genius!

Back at the van I sat out in the heat of the afternoon watching the huge amount of ships go past, so many in fact that nine were in view at one point. I also had a much needed haircut from my personal hairdresser. Louise you have nothing to worry about and you can repair the damage in June!

Tuesday the 22nd of March 2022
It was up with the lark this morning or ducks, geese and coots to be more precise. We arrived at the cycle repair shop just as it was opening at 8.30 and someone came to examine The Navigator’s bike and after about 15 minutes they found the problem, but didn’t have the part to fix it. I’ve ordered a rotation ring from Amazon and Emma will bring it out on Sunday.

We bought a few things at a superb Albert Heijn supermarket and were back at Bessie just after 10am, a time we are normally just getting up!

We sat outside in front of the van until about 4pm and talked to our Dutch neighbour who lives full time in his Hymer, in fact the three other vans here are all inhabited by people living in them full time too. The Navigator likes her home comforts too much to contemplate such an existence.

Our afternoon was enlivened by talking to, first, Marco who came over to talk to us as he was returning to his flat after walking his dog. He lived on the 11th floor of the tallest block of flats on the river facing side and he estimates that up to 250 ships a day pass this point which is pretty incredible. He was well travelled, especially in America, and we had a fascinating conversation with him for ages.

Just as The Navigator came out with the 3 o’clock cuppas a Dutch couple pulled up in front of us in their dusty little car. They were fellow motorhomers and we had a long conversation with them about the places we both had toured in France and Spain and the YouTube channels we followed.

These three conversations highlighted the fact that most Dutch people speak perfect English, that Dutch is almost impossible for Brits to speak as we don’t generate the same amount of phlegm and thirdly it is difficult for we Brits to talk to a native of a foreign land without speaking at half speed and with our version of their accent!

Wednesday the 23rd of March 2022 
Today was the laziest day of this trip so far as all we did was sit out sided the van in the morning and after lunch we had a long walk to the end of the riverside park and back in time for afternoon tea.

We were meant to move on to Gouda tomorrow but after dinner I suggested to The Navigator that we should head there tonight as I had discovered on Google that it’s market day tomorrow in Gouda so that may make it busy and difficult to get into the parking space in the centre of the city. So that’s what we did and in the end it was a good decision as we didn’t have to negotiate the Rotterdam morning rush hour traffic and we woke refreshed and ready to reacquaint ourselves with this lovely little city.

Spijkenisse GPS = 51.854687, 4.340712 & What3Words = ///showcase.soda.rebounds € FREE

We arrived in darkness which we usually avoid doing but needs must in this instance. There are 30 motorhome parking spaces in the Klein America car park but only 12 electricity points so its first come…

Overnight parking is free between 9pm and 9am then you pay € 2.00 an hour parking fee, however you can buy a 24 hour day pass for only € 8.00 so it is a real bargain to pay so little with the usual motorhome facilities in such a busy tourist location. Luckily there was a space for us but no hook up.  


Thursday the 24th of March 2022
We were only going to be in Gouda for one full day so it was another fairly early start to see the market in the city square. There are two types of market here. There is a market selling the usual mixture of things and then there’s the world famous Gouda Cheese Market but unfortunately this does not start until the 14th of April this year and that could be a reason there were spaces for us to park last night.

The name Gouda cheese is famous throughout the world. And the fact that Gouda cheese is now one of Holland’s biggest exports is pretty impressive considering it’s grown from this humble, picturesque city in the province of Zuid-Holland. Today, some 60% of Dutch cheese is produced in the region surrounding the city of Gouda, also known as Cheese Valley. And naturally, Gouda’s Cheese Market remains a spectacle at the heart of Holland’s cheese industry, with its rituals and rich Dutch traditions now a must-see attraction.

You’ll believe that you’ve stepped back in time when you visit the Gouda Cheese Market, which was first initiated in 1395. The distinctive Gouda cheese wheels are delivered by horse and cart, then stacked on the ground by the farmers, before being sold in a traditional manner in front of Gouda’s beautiful old City Hall. The farmers and traders ‘clap hands’ to confirm each sale, in what can only be described as a theatrical spectacle. The Gouda Cheese Market is held on Thursday mornings from April through August (excluding national public holidays.)


You really could not be parked any closer to the city centre and this is one of the first shops you see in the walk there and it emphasises where you are and what it’s famous for. We were last at the Cheese Market in 1990 when the girls were 5 and 3 and we all had a great day here and as I can’t show you the Cheese Market today here are some pictures from back in 1990.


We walked around the market and all the shopping streets that lead off the main square and found the historic boat harbour which we had never seen before. 


Lunch was one that we had been looking forward too since arriving in the Netherlands, Kibbeling, which is the fish snack par excellence here. It is made up of irregular pieces of cod or other white fish (ours was Pollock) that are first sprinkled with spices, then dipped in a batter made from lager beer, then fried and served with a tasty tartar sauce.


It is not the easiest pastime walking on cobbles all day and after lunch we headed back the short distance to Bessie and timed it to perfection as our neighbour was just leaving and I plugged our cable into the socket and had power until we left the following morning. We rested our feet before going back in a couple of hours later to take some pictures of the buildings in the square without the market stalls getting in the way.


Friday the 25th of March 2022
We were up sharpish to leave before 9am to move to a site near Schipol Airport for the weekend until Emma arrives on Sunday. We serviced the van and eventually headed off just before ten o’clock for the 45 minute drive. On the way I used an App to find a petrol station en route which had LPG as we needed to fill up with diesel for the first time in just over three weeks and although we still had one full tank of gas I thought it was best to take the opportunity to replenish the other empty one.

Gouda GPS =52.010834, 4.717165  & What3Words = ///cautious.everyone.libraries € 8.00

The LPG was $ 1.10 a litre (£ .92p) and the diesel was $ 2.19 a litre (£ 1.83) and the total was a quite painful $ 177.71 (£ 148.27) but in context that is for a months travelling. Before we arrived at the site for the next 3 night we found a Lidl and stocked up on necessities. The site we are on until Monday takes over a hundred motorhomes and has all the facilities including a washing machine and The Navigator made full use of it this afternoon. Instead of boats passing by our pitch we are watching jets take off from Schipol for entertainment today! 


Emma joins us for a week and we spend a few days at a coastal resort we frequented back in the nineties before heading for a few days in Amsterdam!


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