Local Heart, Global Soul

October 21, 2017

Who Can Resist Stopping And Getting A Photo?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sorting out my archive photo files brings many older folders to light.

The Hague doesn’t have the many canals that makes Amsterdam the tourist draw, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s share of beautiful buildings.

Architectural detail is a passion of mine, old buildings, decorative elements, and things of beauty in brick, stone, wood, wrought iron and the like.

I also like that in the Netherlands bikes come in all shapes, sizes and styles: these ones both sport wicker baskets on the front, but the one on the left is twice as big as the one on the right.

In fact I haven’t seen a basket that big before (or since) so I was delighted to have my camera in my backpack.

I also spotted a map shop that looked inviting but we were in town for an appointment so didn’t have time to go inside. I did get a few quick snaps of one of the stunning old maps on a stand outside though. It’s a detail fanatic’s dream. Then there is a door that has decorative grate work incorporated into it and two caved figures into the stone above it, Who can resist stopping and getting a photo? Not me that’s for sure.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 24, 2017

Spotted Around The Hague…

Today’s post is a photographic one: camera on hand, I take photographs on the move, this time these places were spotted around The Hague.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 17, 2017

Dragonflies: Nature’s Brilliant Feats Of Engineering…

We have a glass window over the first set of stairs to our house, at the bottom of which is a stone shelf that is on the inside facing the stairs.

After one of my hospital appointments, Himself and I arrived home and I went to go up.

Himself was already at the top of the stairs, unlocking our front door.

I on the other hand was slowly bringing up the rear as usual and on this occasion stopped on the bottom step because I could hear a strange fluttering sound.

It was a sound similar to the ones that flies make when they are fluttering their wings in frenzy, attempting to fly outside but the pane of glass of the living room window is stopping them in their tracks.

It was similar, but different, so I stopped to try and figure out what the noise was. As it turned out it is just as well that I did because the frenzied fluttering was coming from a trapped dragonfly. I carefully put my hand out towards the little beast and to my surprise instead of trying to flee, it climbed onto my fingers. I made my way to a bike leaning on a pole outside our stairs and stood in the semi-shade as I tried to see if the dragonfly had damaged itself in it’s attempts to get out of the stairwell.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There seems to be a tiny bit missing off the very tips of both top wings, it had collected some dust from the shelf, but for the rest it appeared to be more or less intact. I was lucky to be bringing my camera in from the car at the time, so with the dragonfly still balanced on the fingers of my left hand, I started to take as close-up photographs of it with the camera with my right.

The DSLR was heavier than I anticipated without having two hands to balance it, and the front wanted to swing about a bit, something I had to take great care to avoid so that my little insect did not get accidentally swiped.

My newfound friend seemed in no hurry to leave, so I had time to get the wavering camera under control and press the shutter as I did. Slowly, after a rest lasting several minutes the dragonfly started to recover, miniscule shudders passing through it’s wings as it seemed to be checking that everything was in working order.

In the meantime Himself had come back to the street to see why I had not followed him upstairs and several of our younger neighbours arrived home with their parents. We called them over to take a closer look at this beautiful creature and they, like us, marvelled at the delicate wing structure, flecks of colour and intricate body.

After at least five minutes and the dragonfly still on my hand, I started to wonder if I suddenly had acquired a pet, but I was luckily not in a rush. I wanted it to have the time it needed to recover so that in it’s weakened state it did not get eaten by birds. Another two minutes later, after an unsuccessful attempt to lower it onto the tan bicycle seat, it slowly turned around and then took off. These are my “studies of a dragonfly” photographs, it’s a little creature that is beautifully made, one of natures brilliant feats of engineering. I hope that my assistance means that it eventually lived to a ripe old dragonfly age.. at least on this day, it had a second chance at life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

September 14, 2017

Like Cash Burning A Hole In Our Pockets…

Filed under: ART,Objet d'art,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

About six months ago (Ok, it may have been longer and I just didn’t notice), a new edition of the Twenty Euro bank note was issued.

The five and ten Euro notes have already been updated, this time I managed to find a few of the older ones before I forgot, spent them and then could not find any old ones again.

All of the new notes have a series of similar design features, the placement numbers, width and placement of the holograms and security strips etc.

The easiest way to tell if you have an old note is to look for the red cathedral window instead of two blue-ish ones and the coloured arc underneath the number ’20’ in the center of the note.

This arch also features on the five and the ten, and probably will on the new 50 Euro note when it arrives in the near future.

In my photographs where the two notes are side by side, the top one is the new note and the bottom one the old.

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of historic architecture so I never tire of looking at the detail of these up close. I also think that if we never document the changes, they will slip through our fingers and out of memory like cash burning a hole in our pocket.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 28, 2017

So Much To See, Even More To Make You Curious…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Gouda has some beautiful public buildings but there are some very interesting and quirky private ones there too.

Looking through the trees at the back of St Jans Church, I see something that catches my eye: a fish.

It’s a fish of the architectural variety not a real fish but why on earth am I seeing it on top of a building?

Later during my visit I wheel myself around to the street it is on (I was separated by a canal from it earlier, so I had to make a small detour to get to this house). There I find it standing on the corner of a canal and accompanied by some unusual architecture.

First there is a curved piece nibbled out of the corner wall. It’s not for a door, there is only a tiny round window here.

Internally this would mean that the building must surely lose quite a lot of space in this corner. Then there is the window on the side, some times  (I think) called a “hanging window”. Above the chipped out alcove corner is the decoration that is topped with the fish ornamentation. The front door  is around the corner on the bigger street, nothing unusual there. On the far side of the front door I find another fish ornament. It makes me wonder what this building’s history is… some link with the sea can I think be safely assumed: sailor? sea captain? fish monger? Who knows. I love discovering buildings like this: so much to see and even more to make you curious.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 27, 2017

Poking Out His Tongue At History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just behind the Lazarus Gate in Gouda is the Katharina Gasthuis museum.

I noticed when going past the Gate that there was a face starting at me on the wall nearby.

This face was not of a real person, and more specifically, it was wooden, or maybe stone, head.

The face of the male head is poking his tongue out towards the viewer. Whilst photographing this an older couple walk past, and I say “Good Morning” in Dutch.

The gentleman asks if I know the meaning behind this head. I tell them I don’t so they explain that it’s an old fashioned sign for an apothecary.

I know that an apothecary is someone who prepares and sells drugs for medical purposes, but didn’t realise that this was a sign for one.

The couple tell me that these “signs’ told people what various shops sold, for instance the poking out tongue of this face is a gesture of taking a pill, and signs like this were because the vast majority of people could not read, so needed a visual guide rather than a written one. I think it’s a brilliant solution, and delighted that this one still survives. I take photographs of the surrounding buildings before I move on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 24, 2017

Halt ! Artisan At Work…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The narrow street that almost encircles St Janskerk (St Jans Church) in Gouda has the ‘original’ name of “Achter de Kerk” (Behind the Church).

At one point, this little street widens into a sort of regular street size and it’s name changes into “Willem Vroesenplein”.

It is at this point that several exceedingly old buildings can be found, they lean in the fashion of centuries old subsidence problems but stand strong in spite of this.

The closer of the two has an open door and an interesting display in the front window. Always interested in ‘arty’ things, I of course wheel myself over for a closer look.

There is a man working in the back, a vast array of tools fastened neatly to the rear wall and amazing sculptural works of art everywhere. I request permission to photograph his work, and once given, set about snapping what I can from the doorway.

The man is cordial but even when I admire his work, doesn’t invite me in, so I do not presume that I may.

My eye is caught by round and square towers of all sizes, some of them taller than I am, which are crammed full of architectural details.

A kind of cross between the leaning tower of Pisa, the pyramids, an echo of Escher and the spiral of sea shells, these pieces are full of arches galleries, tall doorways, colonnades and staircases. They are fascinating to look at, but other items also clamber for my attention.

There are the wide eyed, colourful little birds, the squares of equally wide eyed faces (which had a sort of “Grover-esque” quality to them … the artist remembers Sesame Street fondly perhaps?). There is even a larger piece that incorporates both of these ideas, and it’s been broken up so that it could be fitted back together mosaic style into a wall, path or floor.

The front window is made up of little panes, these even extend over the door. The man continued to work on the small conical tower in the back, but just as I finished taking photographs he starts putting tools back into their spaces on the wall and drapes a cover over the work that is in progress. This is to stop the clay from drying out too much. This is very much a “made from scratch” workshop, each piece made under one roof front start to finish. That in itself is getting more and more rare these days. The building is interesting too, even the pattern, texture, colour and style of the old roof slates fascinate me. It’s an old workshop in an even older building, and a little quirky discovery. Interestingly, the Google map screen shot also features the multi-roof pattern in St Jans Church, a brilliant additional touch I thought. I’ve marked on the map roughly where this little workshop can be found.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 22, 2017

We Should Not Mangle Our Social History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you come across quirky things in the most unexpected places.

In this instance what was once (long, long ago) a common household appliance, sitting far, far from home.

Maybe it was taking it’s day of rest… Why? because it appears to have made a trip to church.

By the look of things it was in genuine need of a rest, and come to think of it, a prayer.

Wheeling myself around St Janskerk (St Johns Church) in Gouda I find myself looking at an old mangle, the piece of equipment what used to squeeze the water out of laundry long before the spin cycle as part of modern washing machines was invented.

It’s resting right up against the wall of the church. This mangle has clearly seen many laundry days of service.

Maybe it had been recently dumped? Who knows? The upper roller has been eaten half away by wood worm and destroyed by too many years of hard work.

The iron bars that keep the tension below the main top bar were corroded, in general this poor machine was in a sorry state of repair.

I however, am a lover of cast iron and find this beautiful. Maybe it’s an art installation? (you never know these days). For me it is indeed an object of beauty.

I didn’t need any attempt to lift it to know that it weighs a ton, it’s not the kind of thing that you just drop off on your way to do some shopping. The tiny wheels on the bottom look like they are barely up to the job, and on the bricked and cobbled streets of the central city?… surely this hasn’t traveled far.

If I had a garden I’d love to see about restoring this to it’s former glory, someone has already put a crate underneath it that obviously had plants in it at one time.

I saw this on my last trip to Gouda and wonder what happened to it.  I shudder to think that a beautiful piece like this may have met it’s maker at a wreckers, I can only hope that it’s prayers at St John’s church were answered and someone showed it some love, gave it the care, attention and restoration it deserved and gave it a new life in a garden or maybe as a shop fitting piece. We should not mangle our social history, but instead give it a spin at new lease of life.

August 15, 2017

Blink And You Miss It, But A Little Experience Not To Be Missed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Visiting Gouda’s “Stadhuis” (Town Hall) you should know that the building has a special treat for young children if they are present two minutes after the striking of the hour and half hour of  the “Het klokken en poppenspel” (carillon  / chimes / glockenspiel).

On one of my visits here a man arrived in a hurry with his two children, the half hour chime having alerted him to the fact that if they wanted to see the puppets, they had better be quick.

Luckily they were on time and arrived just as the little red and white doors were opening.

I had arrived eight or nine minutes early, but having taken the wheelchair to get around with, I just sat patiently waiting to capture the action.

Despite visiting Gouda many times I’d never seen these playing before, so was not certain what to expect. There is a Wikipedia page on the Stadhuis but it’s in Dutch, so I translated into English the relevent information here:

The “klokkenspel” (chimes) on the side of the town halls date back to the 1960’s and was donated by a managing director of a Gouda insurance company, therefore not part of the original town hall. T

he Gouda locals refer to then as ‘ the Bouwmeesterrvue” (the chimes of Bouwmeester’).  The leading figure in the carillon is Floris V,  and the puppets depict the ceremony where he grants Gouda its city rights.

Every two minutes after the hour and half hour, the carillon will provide a lovely spectacle, as the puppets begin to move.”

The man with the small children sees me waiting poised with my camera and warns me there is not a lot of action in the puppet show and it will all be over rather quickly.  He hopes it will not be a disappointment.

He is a local who has seen it many times and now his kids (about 2 and 4 years of age) love coming to see the doors open and the little figures move. Eventually the final seconds tick over and the “performance” starts.

The little doors open first, the figures outside turn to greet their VIP guest Floris the 5th, who bows ever so slightly as he hands over the documents that grant the city rights. Then without much ado he retreats back inside, the doors close and the crowd turn to face outwards again. I had the camera on “sport’ mode and the shutter clicked almost continuously as the short show took place. I edited out most of the photographs as there were of course too many for this post but at the same time noticed something interesting: even in miniscule increments at no time did I manage to catch the outside figures making their inward and outward turns.

After the little doors close the two small children clap their hands applauding the show before heading away with their Dad. I am reminded by the Dutch Wiki page that other events here would also delight children. “at Christmas time, the Stadhuis and surrounding Markt buildings are lit only with candle light  on “Kaarsjesavond” (Candles’ evening) a yearly event that delights thousands. After this the Stadhuis is turned into a ‘canvas” for art light projections.  Called “Gouda bij Kunstlicht’ (Gouda by Light) this has grown to include not only the Stadhuis, but other monument buildings in the city, such as the “St. Janskerk” (Church of St. John).’

The little dolls of the klokkenspel carry out their little show every half hour, if you blink you might miss it but for me it was a new experience not to be missed for the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The outside groups of figures turn to face the doors as they open… and the middle figures move forwards…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Floris V hands over the documents confirming Gouda’s city status…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the next photograph Floris V gives the smallest of bows …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… before his quick retreat, along with whoever he gave the document to (they probably had stuff to discuss over lunch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

they retreat…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I don’t catch the groups on the left and right turning around between the photo above and the one below…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… or the two middle figures turning either, as they slide back…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia:  Gouda Stadhuis  (City Hall) / (Dutch language)

November 20, 2016

Gouda Wheels In The Air…

Filed under: Architectural Detail,ART,Objet d'art,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

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)

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