SLEEPY, picturesque townships skirting wide beaches and deep green clear seawater that attracts swimmers, surfers, sailors, canoeists, water-skiiers, anglers and kite fliers.

Land and sea that is home to diverse flora and fauna.

A territory where the locals have made the most of what they themselves have created and what nature has in turn provided…a region famed for centuries for its palate-pleasing mussels, lobster and shrimp and what is now home to a vineyard and brewery whose products will soon rival the world’s best.

Could this be New Zealand? Well actually I’m writing about the old one, Zeeland.

Located on various islands and the mainland on the south western coast of the Netherlands it is rather easier to visit: the P&O Ferries from Hull to Zeebrugge sail overnight so that you arrive fully refreshed to start your holiday.

I first visited Zeeland back in 1956 on a school trip; it was in the wake of disastrous floods that claimed more than 1,000 lives in a region that sits virtually totally beneath sea level.

Such a calamity should never occur again thanks to the construction of massive sluices and storm surge barriers. If there is a storm flood 32 huge doors are lowered into the water and are hermetically sealed until the danger passes.

A visit to what are called the Delta works is definitely well worthwhile. Children can operate water works, build a dam and even fake a flood at a dedicated playground.

The foe that was the North Sea has now been turned into a friend for the spin-off has been the creation of safe facilities for all those who love being in or on the water.

The 16-mile long Veerse Meer, for instance, once a turbulent and tidal sea arm, is now a quiet, unpolluted and less salty lagoon flanked by the self explanatory Kamperland.

You can tour, as I did this time round, the oyster beds at Yerseke and the expanding De Drei Schorre vineyard and Emelisse brewery both of which transform what is available locally into most palatable drinks.

Wandering around lovely historic towns such as Zierikzee and Veere is a special delight.

Of medieval, Gothic, Flemish and Tudor architecture there is plenty although the latter boasts lots of buildings built in Scottish style. From 1541 to 1799 Veere was the staple port for Scotland.

New-style windmills are now familiar to us all but in Zeeland there are lots of the old ones, lovingly preserved and still earning their keep.

Because of Zeeland’s wealth of culinary delights there are scores of restaurants and cafes.

The fishing industry really took off in the 1960s as the Netherlands reasserted itself after the ravages of war and the Delta works were built.

Today the cultivation of oysters and mussels is vital to the economy.

Fascinating to watch are the fish and shrimp auctions in the village of Colijn on the island of Noord Beveland; it is conducted, oddly enough, in the traditional manner rather than the top-down Dutch auction always used by the tulip growers.

It was to the pleasant border town of Sluis that provided my first taste of Zeeland. There I bought a musical box for my mum.

It is still happily playing its merry tune more than 50 years later.

I must shamefully confess that the excellence of the aforementioned seafood to be lost on me, being one of nature’s oddities.

But I more than made up for my shortcomings by enjoying lots of bolus, a kind of Chelsea bun, papataart rolls with pudding and sugar and the famous ‘more-ish’ boterbabbelaar sweets.

And one was hardly starving given the fare offered aboard Pride of Hull – in the a la carte Langans Brasserie on my outward journey.

And the meal in the self service restaurant on my return journey was just as enjoyable.