Late afternoon, about sixteen hours later than scheduled, the P&O cruise ship Azura pulled away from Amsterdam where we’d just enjoyed a bonus trip to the zoo (complete with a couple of memorable encounters with Dutch cyclists). The weather that had delayed our departure from the Netherlands was still carrying in waves of rain although they seemed mostly in the distance and with the dipping sun behind us we were treated to several rainbows as we cruised gently away.

Heading back the way we’d come into port I was able to grab plenty of photos of the northern banks of the canal to go with those I’d taken of the southern side of the North Sea Canal on the way in a couple of days earlier.

It was great to see shadows of the cruise ship being cast on the Dutch landscape as we slowly made our way westwards towards IJmuiden.

As we neared the northern side’s Velsertunnel Ventilation Towers (still a stunningly lovely piece of brutalist architecture to see up close) the sky cleared and the now-low sun created some fabulous light to really emphasise the nearby metallic structures and help the camera grab some deeply vibrant blues.

At the end of the North Sea Canal were the locks at IJmuiden. As we approached IJmuiden for the second time I got to re-experience the pleasure of seeing the industrial beauty of the area; the great clouds of water vapour created some wonderful, natural, soft shapes against the decidely manufactered lines and hard materials of the towers, and the dusk sunlight illuminating, while not perfect, was helpful.

We sat for a while in the lock gates as we had on entering and, as before, I hit the shower and missed us moving through. Never mind.

Before Azura left the Netherlands the ship did provide some excitement for a Dutch family (I assume) who gathered to wave at anyone leaning out of their balcony. Of course I waved; it’s only polite.


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