Local Heart, Global Soul

February 7, 2017

Den Helder Is Full Of Marine Vessels Of All Shapes And Sizes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving in the North Holland town of Den Helder, we make our way towards the ferry terminal.

The road we are on follows alongside a canal, the large blue and grey building that stated to come into sight in my last post turns out to be for “scheepsonderhoud“, which translates as “shipping maintainance“.

Judging by the way it is situated on the water it looks like it’s a covered dry dock, where ships can sail in and then the water is pumped out of the dock so that work can take place on the hull of the vessel.

This waterway is an extension of the outer harbour, so we see various boats and ships in all sorts of sizes and shapes, from leisure craft, coast guard and various waterways department, fishing boats to tall full rigged sailing ships. The buildings along the canals also vary in age and styles, I’m most taken with the older, more decorative brick buildings and even there there are glimpses into modern non-traditional fishing-village life: we sight a ferris wheel, the “kermis” (fun fair) is in town.

The buildings clearly house activities associated with fishing, but also water sports, proving that Den Helder is that quirky mix of modern and traditional Dutch town, some traditions remain as they have done for centuries, others have long since moved on.

The traffic increases the closer we get to the harbour on the far side of town, it’s apparent that we are not the only ones to have thought that a long weekend away in Texel for the Easter weekend would be a good idea. It’s no surprise either that Little Mr was very excited to spot naval and coast guard vessels, that said, all four of us let out an exclamation when we rounded a corner a little further on…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 27, 2017

Who Needs Glass and Steel When You Can Have Structures Like These?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers will know that Himself and I have one trait very much in common: we appear to have been born with no sense of direction whatsoever.

Our navigation skills are legendary, in a manner that usually involves laugher and disbelief (and sometimes a few face palms) rather than any echos of awe.

During the summer of 2016 we needed to drop Little Mr off to an event on the German Dutch border and instead of keeping within the Netherlands, we accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up in the German town of  Isselburg-Anholt.

We had been searching for somewhere to have lunch, so after realising our mistake we figured that lunch in Germany would be as good as lunch in the Netherlands, stayed and several side streets later found a restaurant.

After we had eaten we headed back to the car and attempted to leave town. This involved more wrong turns and a messy reverse out of a narrow street that Our Lady of The Tom Tom assured us was a two way street, but that the signs on the lampposts assured us wasn’t. Luckily my instruction of “take the next left” was quickly met with Himself’s “Can’t“, and since the street was little more than an alleyway, and deserted, no danger was involved.

Our biggest issue was that several years ago we swapped our tiny Peugeot 206 for a seven seater vehicle and one thing that longer cars are not good at, is reversing out of narrow European alleyways where the layout is as crooked and pieced together as the dwellings built over the centuries around it.

There was no pavement to speak of, doorsteps were right on the street,  vehicles parked as close to the buildings as they could physically manage and still allow exit of the occupants.  Cars vied for position, their drivers expert in squeezing into the smallest space possible, everyone folding in their wing mirrors on the street side so a single vehicle may inch past. The line of the buildings was not straight, nor therefore was the road.

Himself executed a three point turn, which was actually a six or seven or maybe nine point turn, the sensors at the front at rear of the car peeping alarmingly rapidly as we inched back, then forwards to complete the manoeuver.

A small group of German locals watched our progress from a little distance, glances in our mirrors told us that they were taking an interest but they quickly looked away when I looked directly at them. Our tight U-turn completed, we drive past them and aim for the main street. More “One Way” signs greet us even though Our Lady is telling us otherwise.  Another side street looks like a short-cut to our desired direction, we take it and as it dog-legs around to the right we suddenly find ourselves driving in a circle with no side roads to offer any escape.

When I met the gaze of the group of locals as we passed them a second time, this time they were all grinning, and waved.  They pointed to the place where we first tried to exit and then to the left instead the right that we had taken the first time. With a thumbs up and a grin reply, I signal our Thanks and against the wishes of Our Lady of The Tom Tom we headed in the opposite direction of where she wanted is to go.

After half a kilometer a re-set got us back on track. Because of this we needed to back-track a little and turn around on a larger road. Himself opted instead to turn right into a small lane where there was no traffic and we could turn around more easily. At that moment I spied this rickety old structure, filled with wood, charming, age unknown but full of character.I love buildings like this… rustic in the extreme, it half looked like the wood being stored inside was holding the pla ce up. I snapped off a few photographs of it and a brick building next to it that is definitely older than it first looks for my archive files.  Who needs glass and steel when you can have structures like these?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 2, 2017

The Urbanisation And Desolation Of Pulau Ubin…

Filed under: Architectural Detail,ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

The island of Pulau Ubin, just off the north east coast of Singapore is today largely uninhabited, but some of the  former buildings remain.

Our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” tells me that the building in her first photograph is a wash room, and that another of the buildings they came across has a quirky history.

Apparently built by a Scotsman who hankered after home, it was demanded that it be built in the Scottish style of the place of his birth, right down to the inclusion of fireplaces in the rooms.

It makes me wonder what the local builders must have thought when the concept of an open hearth fireplace was explained to them, especially since they were standing in a place where daytime temperatures are usually at least 33 centigrade (91.4 F) and nighttime temps around 29C (84.2 F).

Indeed, our Singaporean friend said that during the winter when the temperature falls to 25C (77F) the number one topic of conversation of the day is always how cold it is or complaints about suffering from the cold, comparing pullovers and sweaters.

That said everything is relative of course. When Velvetine visited us in the Netherlands I laughed at how lightweight her pullovers actually were, she was very nervous about how she would handle the cold  during our summer but luckily our part of Europe had a mini heatwave at the exact time she visited and she was completely at home in the 30C temperatures.

Wikipedia tells us: “In the 1880s, a number of Malays from the Kallang River area were said to have moved to the island thus began the thriving Malay community on the island.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Many of the former kampongs on Pulau Ubin were either named after the first person who settled in the kampong or by some feature in the area. Kampong Leman was named by Leman; Kampong Cik Jawa by a Singaporean named Jaw and Kampong Jelutong from people from Changi and from its jelutong trees.

During the 1950s and 1970s, there were 2,000 people living on the island and the Bin Kiang School was established in 1952 for the increasing number of children. Lessons prior to this were conducted on the village wayang stage.

With a student population that once numbered 400, enrolment fell as the Singapore mainland developed. The school closed in 1985, and was demolished on 2 April 2000. There was also a private Malay school around 1956 at Kampung Melayu, which closed in the late 1970s.

Pulau Ubin was found to be suitable for the construction of several campsites. Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) was established in 1967 , National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) opened its 25-hectare site camp located between Kampung Bahru and Kampung Noordin. 

Camp Resilience is where Secondary 2 and 3 NPCC cadets have a 3-day 2 night stay for training. Secondary 2 NPCC cadets go to Adventure Training Camp (ATC) while Secondary 3 NPCC cadets go to Survival Training Camp.
On 3 June 2005, in the wake of the avian influenza the Singapore Government ordered that all the farmers rearing poultry on the island were to ship them to mainland Singapore and rear them in government-approved farms by 17 June 2005. 

In exchange, the local inhabitants were offered HDB government housing packages, although they could choose to live on the island.

Today, there are only a few people living on the island and Pulau Ubin is one of the few areas in Singapore that is largely free from urban development, preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads.

Pulau Ubin’s wooden house villages , wooden jetties, relaxed inhabitants, rich and preserved wildlife, abandoned quarries and plantations, and untouched nature make it the last witness of the old kampong Singapore that existed before modern industrial times and large-scale urban development.”

Himself attested that this non-developed style also extended to things like the lavatories: no “western” style loos, just the squat style ones where you are presented with two footprints to guide you where to put your feet and a hole in the middle, he laughed when he truthfully said our kids would have hated these, and for me, with only one functioning foot, using the lavatory may have taken some serious ingenuity… or desperation.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

December 13, 2016

The Habit Of Turning Up New Surprises…

Filed under: Architectural Detail,ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,ROTTERDAM,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Rotterdam has been a frequent destination in recent months as I undergo some experimental pain treatments at the massive Erasmus Hospital.

The effects are cumulative as the medication builds up so it’s still very early days but tentative results look promising, so these detours to yet another city hospital are well worth the time and effort.

The process is very tiring so some days I am half asleep in the car, other days I manage to be more alert and try and pass the travel time (sometimes it can take a bit more than an hour during rush hour traffic) with my pocket camera in hand.

As many people know, Rotterdam was very heavily bombed in the Second World War, but that said there are a few older neighbourhoods that survived, and it is these that attract my eye the most are the tiny details like the strange little decorative overhangs above some of the windows… not just the top floor ones either, but also on a few of the lower floors.

The autumn colours were beautiful, and everywhere I looked there was something interesting to see, be it new, old, modern and sleek or antique ornate.

Even places you travel to often can have the habit of turning up new surprises, if only we have the eye to see them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 20, 2016

Gouda Wheels In The Air…

Filed under: Architectural Detail,ART,Gouda,Objet d'art,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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The first thought that usually springs to mind when anyone mentions the word “Gouda” is “cheese“.  Of course this Dutch city has more famous things to boast about too, but none can top cheese when it comes to recognition around the globe. Naturally too the “cheese theme” proliferates around the city, after all it’s a tourist town too,  and one of the quirky ways that it’s been incorporated into everyday life is in the street decorations. Colourful rounds in the forms of cheese (the correct term for them is a “wheel” of cheese) are suspended over the streets and give a wonderful extension to the theme that is light hearted and whimsical. Some might even go as far as to say that they are also tasteful… but I assure you the real Gouda wheels are far tastier.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 17, 2016

Heraldic Detail That’s Right Up My Street…

During the summer, Himself, Little Mr and I enjoyed a Sunday trip to Gouda. During our visit I came across a beautiful door that had a detailed and colorful coat of arms above it. The decoration is superb, the detail… literally right up my street. Naturally I got out my camera and got a few photographs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

November 6, 2016

A Beautiful Step Up…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Houses in the Hague are like many around The Netherlands: built to a terrace style.

The sizes of these terraces have differed though the ages as do the decoration, or lack of it on them.

Home from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s have, in general, the most of the decorative features.

This house, seen in the Statenkwartier is an “end of terrace” house where some of these decorative features can be more easily seen.

The biggest windows on all levels are the ones facing the street at one end and facing out over the garden on the opposite end.

Naturally all of the other houses in the row have no windows at all on the side, instead there is a double row of bricks separating you from  your next door neighbours.

It’s not unusual for the top floor houses of these terraces that were built in the 1930’s and 1940’s to have a small domed skylight (that opens), and a few of the ones built earlier have larger panels of stained glass, or on occasion a larger, but non-opening dome. All of these are to let light into the central area of the house.

This end of terrace has a series of small windows that show exactly where the staircases are, the smaller windows further along will denote where toilets and bathrooms are. Of course this isn’t the main point of this post, rather it’s the beautiful brickwork around the windows that caught my eye. The brickwork detail is more than just functional, there are extra touches like the arches that follow the stairwell windows that prove that architects and builders of the past  knew a few things about beautiful design.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

November 5, 2016

The Pace Of Change Clearly Goes Faster Than I Do…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I needed to accompany Kiwi Daughter to an appointment in the centre of The Hague recently, and since I try to avoid the crowds of the city centre I was surprised to see that one ofthe buildings has undergone a face lift.

It may be old news to many people who go there frequently of course, but it was news to me and it put a large smile on my face.

The symbol of The Hague is the stork and the building has been embellished with large stork-like forms all around the lower edge of the façade. I love them!

They are sophisticated, beautiful, and even in their minimalist style, perfect for the job.

They have a semi-Deco vibe and even in the detail of the faces, have a cheeky, quirky humour about them. Did I mention that I love them? Wow!

The legs come out from the bodies to become some of the window divisions and basic black keeps everything looking dapper and elegant. The street lights are new to me too, harking back to old gas lanterns but with a very modern twist. Before we went to where we needed to go, I lingered for just a moment more to catch a few snaps of a dog, perched in the front crate of his owner’s bike, happily watching the world go by as he patiently waited for his owner to return. He seemed to be very well behaved, and confident, no barking or anything. Getting to the center of town is always a hassle because Himself has to bring me there and pick me up, but sometimes I need to make a bit more effort and try and get here more often, the pace of change clearly goes faster than I do.

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

October 10, 2016

I don’t Have The Stomach For That Kind Of Car…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the way home from our holiday in Germany last summer, we needed to take several comfort stops because Kiwi Daughter and I suffer from motion sickness and car journeys are always problematic.

Himself has learned the hard way that it’s better to stop frequently so that we can take a few steps outside and get a breath of fresh air, rather than suffer the consequences of trying to push on “just a few kilometers more” (it never was “just a few kilometers” btw).

I had happened to mention a few minutes earlier that I needed a little break from the road and Himself was on the lookout for a good place to pull over.

All of a sudden we came up to a building and spied a sports car in a driveway, and since Little Mr was now suddenly interested too, we stopped there. This is clearly an expensive machine: it’s bright red and eye catching.  An interesting manhole drain cover catches my eye too, as does the pattern of the fence around the property and the  security ironwork around the windows.  One thing is for sure, I don’t have the stomach for ever trying to go as fast as that sports car can go.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

September 24, 2016

Keeping It’s Photogenic Qualities As Well As it’s History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the buildings in Trier’s main shopping street that makes visitors stop and stare is a white, orange and brown painted building that at first glance thought might be art deco, but quickly realised is far too old for that and has it’s windows in strange places.

There is a decorative shield on the wall, but also an information plaque on the wall which Himself translated for me as much as he could.

It reads: ” The House of Three Kings“,  “The original house ” Zum Säulchen” further developed into a residential tower with a façade that around 1230 changed from Roman style to Gothic.

The painting style is late “staufisch” dynasty style.

The main entrance was reached by stairs. Previous residents included that of an alderman family from Trier.

Renovated / restored 1938 and 1973.
There were a few words that he didn’t know and which we also couldn’t find in our German dictionaries, but we got the general idea.

I was however interested in tying to find out more so looked on line and found more information (website links at the bottom of this post) which revealed this to be called this the “House of the Three Magi” (Dreikoenigenhaus).

There I learned: “… built when the medieval wall around Trier was not yet finished, the main entrance was the door on the first floor that was reached by ladder or retractable stairs, a necessary defensive feature”. 

Now the penny drops because we saw a similar but older residential tower, the “Frankenturm” when we arrived here.

‘The doors at street level are a modern addition, the building now houses a café so patrons have some limited access but the rest of the building is not open to the public.”

It’s an interesting building that keeps it’s photogenic qualities along with much of it’s history and it also goes to prove that when some tradesman all those centuries ago told the client that his work could be relied upon to be ” built to last”, he certainly meant it!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Trier Tourismus und Marketing / The House of the Three Magi

Wikipedia: Trier / Germany

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