Steenwijk - Ossenzijl

After arriving in Steenwijk on Friday the 16th of June we rented a car to be able to visit family and have a music lesson, both in the centre of the country. Later on we used the car locally to refill a few diesel-jerrycans. After returning the car we flew to the UK on Thursday the 22nd, rented another car over there and -the most important!- witnessed our son marrying his great love. See last week. We resumed ‘normal life’ on Friday the 30th, after a fortnight-stay in Steenwijk and left at 10:44AM. One of the interesting things we noticed shortly after entering the Kanaal Steenwijk-Ossenzijl was the fact that houses are built on top of an elevation in the utterly flat land. Clever!

Large herds of grazing cows never fail to attract our attention. Therefore, here’s a picture of this typical Dutch scene: a perfectly flat meadow and happy cows, without doubt enjoying themselves. Nowadays it reads proudly on milk-cartons ‘weidemelk’ (= pasture milk). Are you able to tast the difference?

The three-fork at Ossenzijl was reached about 12:20PM. We arrived from the Steenwijk/Giethoorn direction; on the right the Kalenbergergracht, leading to Blokzijl and Zwartsluis, is visible and behind us is the little village of Ossenzijl situated. Since the 22th of May we have visited all of them places.

This is the scene behind when making the picture before this one. The picture from 1917 proves there has been a lock where nowadays we see a bridge. ‘Zijl’ (‘siel’), ‘sas’ (,’kolk’) and ‘verlaat’ are equivalents for ‘sluis’ (= lock) in our language. The (village-)name Ossenzijl is a combination of the Osse-family, who built a lock here in 1470 and were granted to collect toll. Hence the name Ossenzijl = Osse-lock. There’s even more to the story, but too long to explain all of it in a blog.

  • Situation at present

    View of the other side of the bridge, the left one showing the present situation; the other the situation around...

  • Kolk around 1925

    ...1925, when there was still a lock. Note the same buildings in the background and the unchanged steps in the (lock)wall.

A view now from almost underneath the open bridge towards the former lock and the Ossenzijler Sloot. We are moored in the background in the sloot, on the right-hand side. The word ‘sloot’ literally translates into ‘ditch’. We can assure you that the sloten (multiple form) here are a lot wider and deeper than one would think, based upon the word alone!

Here we are, moored in the Ossenzijler Sloot at Ossenzijl since last Friday, 12:57PM. Just when this picture was taken from the opposite bank the better half of us two popped up between our little ship and our neighbours cruiser. We always make more pictures of the same (the time of valuable films is left far behind) and pick the nicest. This time the choice was a no brainer, as you’ll understand.

A house alongside the Kalenbergergracht at Ossenzijl – only reachable by boat. If we ever win the lottery…

  • House 2

    Another one...

  • House 3

    ...and another.

  • House 4 (1)

    As seen from the front left and the front right. There’s some disadvantage too, of course. The houses can only be reached by foot or bicycle. Maybe roller-skates.

  • House 4 (2)

    That makes us think of Giethoorn – it’s the same over there. A car must be parked at a certain distance. We did not investigate the exact distance.

Today, Sunday the 2nd of July, we visited, by tourist-boat, De Weerribben National Park, part of the bigger Weerribben-Wieden National Park. (See, more comprehensive in Dutch.) De Weerribben is the north-westerly part of the large green-coloured area. As you can see the village of Ossenzijl is situated at the left upper top of De Weerribben – the information centre is to be found there. A ‘weer’ is the area where the peat was dug out, a ‘rib’ the piece of land in between the ‘weers’ to dry the peat on and to be able to transport the stuff. Peat was a common means of heating houses up until the second WW – and beyond. As you’ll understand De Weerribben is 100% man-made by digging out peat.

Anyone who knows peat only from, say, drinking whiskey and wondering what the stuff looks like, here’s a picture of it. If the peat-diggers would have delayed their activities for another few thousand years it would have been coal, wouldn’t it?

Thanks to the need for warm houses we now enjoy looks like this…

…or this. A striking thing is the growth of Krabbenscheer (, in English too, but not as informative). This aquatic plant causes the water to change into a form of land during the years. It is the dense green low ‘rug’, visible between the waterlilies(???) in the front and the reed behind the krabbenscheer. This plant forces the maintenance crew people to remove it regularly, to avoid the waterways taken over by new land.

There’s still more…

…and what about this.

Nowadays there’s a large reed (cane?)-growing culture established as the only commercial -and allowed- activity in De Weerribben. We touched this subject already when visiting Giethoorn around Ascension Day/Whitsun. Thatching is a very interesting subject, if only based upon the admirable results. We were told that a thatched roof requires an investment of about € 1.000,00 per square metre. ‘That sounds expensive, but less so when I have explained what the men must do before your roof is constructed’, to paraphrase our very informative guide. A well maintained thatched roof will last some 35 years, according to the same man. We believed him and are contemplating to have one, whenever we will change back to a house on dry land, after having won etc., etc., see our comment with the 8th picture (double pictures count for 1).

Irrigating the reed

A short, 28 seconds, video to end with. These little wind-powered mills are of crucial importance for the reed-growing industry. The little machines pump water from out of the sloten (multiple of sloot (and slot too, to make things more complicated)) into the reed-fields. Without water the reed will simply die – it’s an aquatic plant, that simple. These types of mills are capable of pumping 6.000 to 8.000 liters an hour into the reed-fields. That’s an amazing 600 liters a minute – at least! Bye for now.