Local Heart, Global Soul

October 14, 2019

Our Washing Machine Runs On Sunlight!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterday’s post  I talked about the very “non-sparkly” topic of insulation. Today’s topic literally sparkles like the sun. We have some “extra” cash left over from a house sale and I mean, whilst a luxury holiday sounds appealing, life as an adult means you have to balance the one or two week “rush” of something special like a holiday, with all of the other weeks of the year, paying the usual bills, trying to be a responsible citizen of planet earth.

Trying especially, since we now have the possibility, to be a far Greener citizen of planet earth. Some 10 years ago, Himself and I saved up for three solar panels. They cost just a fraction under Euro 10.000,– and we said at the time that * since these cost an arm and a leg, we would add more solar panels once our arms and legs grew back.”

Times have changed! There is a Foundation /Association (“Vereniging Eigen Huis“)  for people who own their own homes in the Netherlands. Homeowners become members of the Foundation and get tips and examples of what’s going on in the industry, the good, bad, ugly etc. Mostly it’s advice , but on this occasion the foundation joined up with local city councils and basically said “why can’t home owners join with other home owners to make a large order of solar panels and get an extremely competitive price because of a bulk order?” Then they said, “Why can’t city councils and home owners, join with the neighbouring city councils and home owners to make an even bigger order?”

Then … Why can’t the entire Province join in? …. Why can’t the Provinces join forces? … Why can’t we cover the country and make a massive order and get an amazing deal for everyone?”  So basically that’s exactly what they are doing.

Called: “Vereniging Eigen Huis / Collectieve Inkoop Zonnepanelen” (Home Owners Association / Collective Purchasing Solar Panels) (Dutch language only)

Of course technology has come on in leaps and bounds since we bought our three solar panels, prices have come down and there is even a rebate “subsidy” available (which I warn you, takes a HUGE amount of running around and a mountain of paperwork to get, but Euro 1.000,– is Euro 1.000,– so persevere!!!”)

In the end we paid exactly: Euro 7.026,97 for sixteen solar panels, including installation! (and we should get roughly Euro 1.000,– or a bit more, back from the subsidy, but the wheels on that turn slowly so that’s for the some time in the distant future).  I’m putting in the exact amount that our bill came to so that one day in the future when these are due for replacement, I can compare prices and the number of units we got for our money.

We were lucky enough to get these installed during the summer,  Himself called me over on one of the really warm days to see that the numbers on our meter were running rather quickly…backwards! We were generating more electricity with the solar panels than we were using in the house! The excess energy was going back into the grid. Of course the winter months will even things out, but it was pretty amazing to know that at that moment our washing machine was running on sunlight!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 13, 2019

Starting At the Top…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing from yesterday’s post, Himself and I have begun a “Needs” and “Wish” list for our Dutch home. We have always attempted to live as “green” as possible, but we have an old(-ish) 1930’s home and what’s imaginable had to be weighted up with what’s actually possible to put in place within the budget that we have.

We decided that “future proofing” whilst we had the chance would be a wise idea, so insulation (that less sparkly topic of home renovation) started to make it’s way to the top of the list. A complete clean up of the roof and a handy little “lift” parked onto the street, saw pallet after pallet of 8cm (approx. 2 inch) insulation pads make their way up, and onto the roof. They were installed and weatherproofed, so et voilà, our electricity bill would be happier in future because the house should now be kept cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It would literally pay to start at the top…

October 12, 2019

Like Hidden Table Extensions…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It started when we bought a house in Christchurch, New Zealand almost twenty years ago.

It was a small house on a decent sized piece of land, but more importantly in several school zones that parents would fight over to get in to.

In New Zealand you have to have permanent residence inside the zone allotted to a school before your child(ren) can attend that school.

Priority is given to kids who have an older sibling already at that school and a few “out of zone” spaces are reserved for kids out of zone. We already knew that one year there were 1800 applications for just 16 “out of zone” places, so needless to say, competition to get into the zone is fierce.

Property prices within popular zones command far larger than normal and in the end it’s all about “location, location, location“.

Himself and I got lucky all those years ago and snapped up this little house for  NZD 195,000.– at auction. The earthquakes in Christchurch hardly touched our small place,  the liquefaction stopped literally a few houses away from it, we have a heap of small repairs but over-all we fared well. Then came the hard part of owning a property 16,000 km from where you live: the creeping up of small repairs that at a certain stage are fast becoming big repairs. We decided to sell up with the house “as is” and let someone else take care of the big renovation is was long overdue for.

The scarcity of “quakeproof” houses close to the city also drove up house prices so when we put it onto the market we knew there would probably be some interest but not that we would sell it in two days for the asking price. Our buyer needed a bit longer than that to sort his mortgage and in the meantime we got additional offers over the asking price but ok, we had accepted the first guy so c’est la vie. We now had NZD 443, 000.– in our pockets and with banks paying almost nothing in interest, thought that the Savings account was in this case, not  actually a wise idea.

We paid off a massive chunk of mortgage on our Dutch home, put something aside for the kids University costs, then made a “needs”/”Wish” list for our home in the Netherlands. Much like a table that has secret compartments underneath to hid the extension sections, all sorts of ideas started to come out of the woodwork… and the “needs” list grew as fast as the “wish” list did…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 11, 2019

Jolly Good Day For A Drive Old Chap!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Vehicles,THE NETHERLANDS,Wassenaar — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s weird, but whenever I see people out and about in Vintage / Classic cars (called “Old Timers” here in The Netherlands), I can’t help but assume that everyone driving them speaks with an English accent circa 1930.  It’s a totally stupid idea, especially when you think that most owners of these automobiles are older and Dutch is their native language. We were out and about one day during the summer and saw several of these cars whilst driving in Wassenaar, just north of The Hague. Wassenaar (pronounced: “Wos enn ah“) you learn quickly after settling in here, is where even small “stand alone” houses with gardens command property prices in the millions.

The large houses have prices that are never listed in the brochures, along the lines of : “if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it“. These are often no ordinary houses and gardens though, many of the houses are palatial and the gardens massive. Diplomats, Bankers, Directors and CEO’s of multinationals, and people in high paying professions, or “old money” live here.

It’s one of the richest residential areas of the Netherlands (think the last stretch of the Monopoly board) an extremely affluent area of the Netherlands, and I learned from Wikipedia that: “…(home to) …the country’s most expensive street, the Groot Haesebroekseweg” Now that’s a tiny titbit of useless information I didn’t know until now.

Himself and Little Mr are excellent spotters of unusual or expensive cars, but this one was right in front of us so even I couldn’t miss it.  It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realised that there was another Classic car on the opposite side of the highway turning into the street coming up to the left of us, and in my second photograph you can see a second Classic car  on our side of the road waiting to turn left into the same street. All of these beautiful cars turned off into the same street so there must have been some sort of event going on close by… an event and social circle far above our pay grade! These cars are beautiful, we may not be able to buy, but hey! …window shopping is free!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 10, 2019

My Tourist Trap Treasure…

About ten years ago I bought this little print from a flee market in the Hague. The Lange Voorhout is a tourist trap as far as curios and antiques are concerned and nothing is particularly cheap, but as is the way with these things, I saw this and fell in love. I’m a detail fanatic, I adore the scrolls, the patterns in the background, dress, and side panels. It’s also lovely to see a babies head pop out of this very flat surface and quirky arrangement of the entire thing. It’s a religious piece of course, and whilst I do have faith I have no clue what the meaning is behind this picture. It’s in glass so the photographs were terrible to take, and I should probably take it somewhere to see if anything can be done about the dark spots splattered around the outer edges. It’s probably not worth enough to have expensive restoration done on it, it might even just be a page out of a religious book or  magazine.

I daren’t open up the carefully sealed and obviously old backing papers; if I have learned anything from antique TV programmes is that clueless amateurs have destroyed priceless objects with their “little clean-ups, cutting, plugging, sanding, gluing mending jobs and dabs of cleaning stuff that the internet told them would “be perfect for the job”. Nope, I’m not kidding myself, this is not in any way a priceless object, it’s of miniscule financial value and it is probably not to many people’s taste, but I love it so the sentimental value of my little treasure is indeed priceless.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 9, 2019

Is There A Lost Property Box For Murals?

Filed under: ART,Mural,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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As in the case of yesterday’s mural, this one has escaped my labelling system so I have no clue where I took the photographs. It could be Rotterdam, but could also be Haarlem, were we visited one weekend. I’m starting to feel like I need a “Lost Property” box for photographs like these.  I could also be completely wrong and it could be somewhere else that I can’t remember in my moment(s) of brain fade.

Once again, location is not the biggest feature or factor of this mural; beauty is. This is a bold statement piece, it’s full of details and vibrant colours so anyone who walks or drives this way often can find something new even after weeks or months. It’s on a busy intersection, the red light worked in my favour this time, keeping the car still was one thing, getting a photograph between traffic passing in the other direction. Luckily, “Sport” on the DSLR enables me to take rapid photos one after another, the chip allows me to take my twenty pictures and then delete all but these two, and my Blog enables me to share them. Hurrah for the Digital Age!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 8, 2019

Beautiful No Matter Where It Is…

Filed under: ART,LIFE,Mural,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Himself has been ferrying me back and forth to multiple hospital appointments in recent months and in addition to that I’ve tagged along on a few of Little Mr’s Fire Station hunts so on one chips sometimes I end up with a few photos where I scratch my head and think: “Was that there?, or There?, Or There?!”.
I think there are ways to track down where you took a photograph but if I’m honest I’m lazy and I have enough technical issues with computer as it is.
So, the biggest chances are that this Mural is in Delft, Leiden or Rotterdam (but could be somewhere else in South Holland too since I’m a bit out of synk at the moment). In the end, never mind, we can enjoy it’s beauty and the creative spirit that made it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 7, 2019

I’m Right! … Actually Maybe Not!

Our house has been undergoing a massive renovation this year, so we have taken the chance to do a massive Spring Clean in slow stages around all of the work. It’s been a slow process because we had no idea just how much “stuff”we had accumulated, and  the bewilderment of how many parts of toys were sperad out in so many different areas of the house. (I’m not even sure how some bits got into so totally unrealated boxes in the first place… we have toy goblins who make mischief it seems). Christmas Tree decorations also suffered this fate, so when a little bix of Christmas bits turned up, I recognised a small stained glass orgament that I bought as part of a set in New Zealand.

Kiwi Daughter immediately exclaimed: “Ooooh THAT, I remember that one! I made that so long ago when one time we had to go to one of those School Holiday programe thing that Little Mr and I both hated.” (Himself and I both had to work at the time, so the kids had to an organised childcare programme for the week – tears and drama galore from them both, they HATED it with a vengence, so we did it twice from sheer necessity and then never again).

I tried to tell her that: “No… this angel was one I bought in New Zealand.” She disagreed vermently, this was the one she made. Ok, kid, have it your way. Vindication came about ten minutes later then there was an excited: “Hey! Look at Thi….  …Ohhh”. Silence, Then an explosion of giggles. She had something in her hand that she didn’t want to show me. Eventually when she could mange to talk she showed me what was wrapped in tissue paper in her hand, and said: “uhhh, actually THIS is the one I made in that horrible school holiday programme” Then more laughter. I think that for you, photographs will explain more than words ever could…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I must note though: if there was a fire in the house, it’s Kiwi Daughters ornament I would save in a nano second, the other one, beautiful as it is, would not even get a second glance. One may be professional and expensive, the other is the real treasure and priceless.

October 6, 2019

Not Sure If I Would Ever Drink To That…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Design — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Earlier this year Himself and I had dinner with one of Himself’s colleagues, an Armenian lady and her sons. The two boys are adults and help out in her business. so after telephone conversations, texts and emails, it’s nice for them all to put faces to the voices. The Armenian lady bought out a bottle of wine. It wasn’t the wine that was particularly interesting here but rather the label on the bottle. The wine is from Georgia, Armenia’s northern neighbour.  An the unexpected portrait on the front of the bottle?: Stalin!

I always assumed that Stalin was Russian, but in fact he was from Georgia. Although responsible for some of the greatest mass murders of all time, Stalin is still revered by a small percentage of people and his home town lives on the hype of the man (which keeps the local museum open etc.).  Thanks to Hmself for that infomation! Stalin did however murder thousands of Georgians as well as Russians, so there is no love lost for their most notorious countryman in many a Georgian household. Here, this wine celebrates him, but I have to say that it’s weird to see Stalin’s image on a bottle, for me it’s compromible with finding Hitler’s image on a wine bottle… downright creepy.

No, we didn’t open it, this is a special bottlle in the collection of our hostess. There is a little bit of text on the label in English, which reads:” KINDZARAULI”, “Kindzmarauli”  half-sweet, red wine. It is made from Saperavi sort grapes cultivated in  Kvareli district, Kakheti region. The wine has dark red colour and pleasant aroma, It has been produced since 1942.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 5, 2019

Don’t Pull The Plug!!!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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We are having a lot of work done on the house at the moment and have a fabulous and very qualified handyman (who we will call “J”) doing electrics, plumbing, windows, carpentry and a whole host of stuff. Of course it’s customary on the Netherlands to begin the day together with coffee. The work getting double glazed windows into existing wooden frames is something that “J” has been doing, and was recomended to use a new tool supposed to make the job quicker and easier.(It didn’t). The master bedroom was therefore not finished as planned by the end of the day on Friday last weekend. Worried that stormy weather and very heavy rain was forecast for the weekend and the windows were not watertight, “J” turned up on Saturday morning to make them good before the storm arrived. (AND won’t even let us charge weekend rates!)

Saturday morning Himself had made coffee and tea before the work began and whilst we enjoyed our cuppa, the subject of various pranks we played on our kids came up. Himself told “J” about our Soap Magic tricks but “J”told us one that he did that has us in fits of laughter.

When his son was little, “J” told him to stop being mean/backchatting etc to his mother. The little dude didn’t listen and kept up being naughty. Reminders ensued. Some time later “J” walked into the house and witnessed one such occasion, angrily pulled the kid aside and very sternly told him: “If you don’t stop doing that to your mother, I will pull the plug out of your stomach and all  your insides will fall out!” Apparently the kid was stunned not only into silence but clearly so worried about this threat that the naughty behaviour stopped from that moment on.

So now you know… you belly-button is the plug that stops your insides leaking out!

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