Tilting at windmills

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

THURSDAY, 10th August
We got lost again. And we only wanted to go to Zaanse  Schanse a few kilometres to the east off the A8. But, because of some road works which had been going on all week and which we could see from the train as being very disruptive, I decided to cut across country. As a result I cut across too much country and ended up several kilometres to the north. Bugger! All was not lost. As I said before we are never very far from anywhere in this country.
And we were not far from Edam. This country is full of town names associated with cheese and this one we could not ignore. It was a tiny town on the coast with a small harbour leading back up a canal to the village centre. A centre that seemed to consist of a bar, a souvenir shop  and a cheese emporium although I am sure there must have been more to Edam than that. We tasted and duly purchased some cheeses from THE cheese shop which, the proprietor of assured us, were all local produce. I didn't believe him. There was such a variety of cheeses in his small shop and no indication of cheese factories in the vicinity. [ I have always associated the word 'factory' with a noisy, dirty, untidy barn of a workplace which would churn (ha!) out the nuts and bolts of the aids and tools of everyday living but not the gentler products that enable us to survive such as food. A baked bean factory, for instance, should not be equated with a factory that produces Ford motor cars. A cheese 'factory' therefore grates on my sense of  the word. ] Those cheeses could only have come together from around the country. In fact, in spite of all our driving around Holland and the fact that I am nosey I never saw a cheese production unit or anything resembling a Kaase packaging plant.
We eventually found the township of Zaanse  Schanse and parked the car in its carpark about midday. As far as I could understand the village was a cordoned off area of part of the above mentioned town devoted to showing off the windmills, of which there were four, and the various crafts of the town. In other words it was a tourist trap. But, then, I am a tourist and I entered under my own free will. It was free too...to go in...but they caught you on the way out with a car park fee. Which I thought was rather neat. You only paid for how ever long you spent there. In other words if you enjoyed the village and stayed four hours you would pay  4 x the hourly rate. If you found it to be of no interest and left within half an hour it would only cost about a euro.
First port of call was the cheese factory...naturally. There was some cheese making apparatus at the front of the barn otherwise it was all sell, sell, sell. And taste. And, wow, did they taste nice. You name an ingredient and they could make a cheese with it in. Yes, even peanut butter cheese.
The main feature in the village was the trio of windmills lined up along the river. They were called oil mills and there were four of them. The first in line crushed vegetables to extract the dyes for oil paints.  We passed that by ( but only because there was a long queue ) and went into De Zoeker mill for a fee of 2.50 euros. Inside it was all noise. The sails were whirling around at an enormous rate in the strong wind outside and the wheels were turning and the cogs were cogging and the hammers were hammering and making a terrible din as they crushed the peanuts and squeezed out the oil. On an upper level I nearly had my head knocked off as the wheels and levers raced around transferring energy from one level to another. Well worth the money.
We strolled in and out of craft shops and souvenir shops the most interesting of which were the exhibition of clocks collected from the Dutch clockmakers and a workshop devoted to making pewter utensils. We queued up to watch the clog making but there was too much of a crowd so we settled for a cup of tea and coffee near by. On the way out, realising that we were hungry, I bought a hot dog and Anne had some chips from a van.
We found our way home safely and by the quickest route.  
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