Slow vacation

We’ve just come back from the ultimate slow holiday – travelling round Holland by barge and bicycle. I can’t think of a better way to see a country. Pedalling through the countryside and villages, stopping to picnic or sightsee or join in a pick-up soccer game. Cycling offers the perfect speed, fast enough to cover lots of ground, slow enough to take in the details. In the evenings you can smell suppers cooking as you glide past the open kitchen windows. Our unorthodox tandem sparked more than one conversation with the locals. Holland is amazingly bike-friendly, with dedicated cycle paths all over the place, even in the cities. The Dutch cycle everywhere. In Amsterdam you see businessmen in smart suits pedalling home from work. Or elegant women in high-heels cycling off to meet friends for lunch. Even bad weather doesn’t put them off. If only the rest of the world would follow suit. Imagine if you could cycle round London without fear of being squashed by a bus or an SUV. No one in Holland wears a cycling helmet, by the way. Apart from the tourists.