The great outdoors - Skutsje silen and Grutte Wielen

Hi there,

so I was gone. Again. The reason being loads of work-related stuff which we will not discuss here. And I should actually go back to this work-related stuff asap but everybody needs a break now and then so I will use my break for blogging.
What I wanted to share with you are two lovely options to spend your free time when visiting the north of the Netherlands.
Number one: Skutsje silen
The province of Friesland has two national sports, one of them is this sailing spectacle. In brief, traditional sailing boats formerly used for shipping goods all over the country compete with each other. The boats belong to frisian cities and the winner will be announced after a series of sailing competitions. Yesterday was the first competition, traditionally held in the village of Grou. The Mr and me were lucky enough to attend it on the little starting island that the boats have to sail around and where the finish is. So top row spots for us!
For those of you thinking how on earth a sailing competition could be fun, let me tell you that I thought the same. BUT! Here is the but. It is one giant party! The whole village is into it, whoever has a boat will be on the water to get a top spot to watch the race, there is life music, food, drinks, sunshine, mild wind and to be honest... it is pretty exciting to watch your favourite boat fighting for a good position. Also, this year the wind was coming from an angle that made the boats come very, very close to the island we were standing on.
I could almost touch them.
So have a look at the beautiful frisian boats competitng and our very patriotic frisian-flag tent on the island.
 The island
 The old days - historic ship passing us
 The officials: Skutsje comissie
 The first round: leading boat is from the hosting village
 The last three: second to last is my favourite boat, but not for long
 The second round starts
 The hard working sailors
 The winner: Grou
The sixth place: my favourite, Drachten!

After all the excitement on saturday, we needed peace and serenity on sunday. So we headed out for a quick stroll at the Grote Wielen, a nature reserve right next to Leeuwarden. You can go swim there, drive around with boats, lie in the sun and oh yes, you can hike. Altough with the landscape being completely flat, hiking sounds much more serious than it is. I was wearing a long flowy skirt and sandals and had no problem moving around whatsoever.
The area is the result of a flood that happened loooooong ago in the middle ages. The sea that caused the flood - the middelsea - is long dried out and gone, but the little lakes are still there. Since it was scorching hot today we met absolutely noone, maybe the area is busier when the weather is less.... demanding. We did like the solitude though, it made the scenery so much more enjoyable. Have a look:

Have a good start into the new week!