Local Heart, Global Soul

August 12, 2019

Creepy Or Charming? You Decide…

My next find at the Garderen Sand Sculpture Exhibition in 2017 were these (I think they were cast concrete) faces. They remind me a little bit of Shrek, but somehow, for me at least, there is not quite enough charm and whimsy in the expression to avoid them just being creepy. They were too big to use as doorstops (unless you had a barn door that needed propping open, and as a garden ornament I am not sure what you would do with it.  I live in a big city and don’t have a garden but if I did I’m not sure if knowing that Shrek’s cousin was grinning in the moonlight near the potting shed would fill me with confidence or unease.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 11, 2019

Would You Keep A Cow In The Back Garden?

There seems to be a current trend for painting on stone (or concrete). Sometimes these take the form of small decorative pebbles and stones, other times they are intended to be hyper realistic images of other things. The popular theme of the 2017 Garderen Sand Sculpture exhibition appeared to be cats, but sheep, cows, birds and even a bear (who I think doubles as a post-box) is included. Some are more realistic than others (intended to be or not) and whilst I like, for instance the black crows and black and white cats for their realism, I can’t think of where I could possibly put them, or how I would want them at home.  But full sized sheep and cows? That would make for an “interesting” garden (if I had one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 9, 2019

When Not Washing Up The Pots Is A Good Thing…

Visiting the Garderen Sand Sculpture Exhibition 2017, I found a selection of decorative pots, jars, bottles and the like to photograph and include in my artistic reference and inspiration files. Age, dust, chips and dents are all part of the charm of these pieces and so doing the washing up, cleaning or repairing them would certainly be detrimental in these instances. Cleaning up would be wiping away the character that comes with dusty bottles and lamps so I’m delighted to see that these have been presented in their “as is” state.

I also love that these are all a break from the endless stream of plastic goods, since most of them were made before the “plastic explosion” took place. I hope that we can be inspired to return to more products that use less plastic for the sake of our planet, these were made to last and we need to return to that ideology more too. If only that could be managed despite the constant battle of companies to incite the people of the world towards rampant consumerism.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 24, 2018

The Raspberry Tradition…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you ask any long term resident about going raspberry picking in the Christchurch area, one name will come quickly to the fore. “Pataka”.

This berry farm is one of the many fruit and veggies growers along Marshland Road, the home of market gardens for many a generation.

My mother used to get vegetables from Tralevens, but the lady who owned the property has long since retired and I think by now, probably passed away.

The place is now looking sadly abandoned and rather derelict.

Pataka however is still going from strength to strength and not only can you get raspberries, you can also get fresh fruit ice-creams, made from the freshly picked berries.

It’s quickly obvious that someone in the family has a pottery hobby, various pieces are on display for purchase.

They are bright, quirky and different. I like them. There are flowers in pots begging to be photographed so I amd the last one into the shed to look around before we settle our bill and leave.

The weather was rather too hot for berry picking, a wonderful 31 C / 87.8 F but we braved the sun and picked anyway.

We split up into pairs, Kiwi Daughter and I picked berries and ate as many as we picked, I took photographs of her picking and eating berries upon her request (for her Instagram friends) whilst Little Mr  (berry hater) and Himself, (eater but not fanatic) picked swiftly and didn’t eat or take photographs.

It was little surprise who filled our containers the fastest. Going berry picking has become a Kiwidutch family tradition and one both kids are especially keen to not miss. It’s a wonderful family outing and for Kiwi Daughter and I, a great exercise about who can get the most berries in our mouths, who can find the best berries (look low down on the bushes is our biggest tip) Kiwi Daughter easily won everything and we had a fabulous time. This is what Family time is about: building your own traditions and each time we carry them on the memories of former visits flood back. I still think that I ate the most berries when we were on the field, but Kiwi Daughter may have evened up the score with the berries paid for later in the car. Despite our varying tastes for fresh fruit, no one in our family blew any raspberries at this outing…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Above and below: Marshland road stalls…)

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(Below: Pataka…)

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(Above: Little Mr. has his hoodie up because it was a blazing hot the day we picked raspberries (31 C / 87.8 F) and his neck was already pink from earlier outdoor exposure in spite of sunblock. i.e. not enough applications. This is his effort to stop getting sunburnt because “hats are not cool”).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 2, 2018

Do The Funky Chicken…

A few metres from the convent in yesterday’s post, I found a shop with these funky chickens in the window display. Who could fail to be cheered up by these whimsical lovelies?

(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)

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February 23, 2017

Taking Practical Over Pretty… Even If It’s Not So Posh.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next display that caught my eye at the Air Force and War Museum in Texel is also one that I didn’t expect to be present in this kind of museum.

A closer look revealed it’s aviation connection, because in fact this porcelain is a tea set used by KLM in either it’s Business or First Class service.

There are not just porcelain cups, saucers and plates, but also milk jugs, napkin rings,  salt and pepper set, a small tray for other condiments.

Together with KLM engraved glassware, dinner at thirty thousand feet is indeed a far posher affair at the front of the aircraft than it is with the crowded masses and their plastic implements at the back.

Himself and I buy one lottery ticket per month… if we ever win big I am certain that a nice trip to New Zealand in Business Class would be a wonderful treat.

Until then we will go with the famous quote made by Victor Kiam, who was also famous for the catchphrase, “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company“. The company in question was of course Remmington, and when Kiam took over they were in trouble  so he  told employees that costs would have to be cut to save jobs and keep the company from folding.

Executives who has been used to flying Business were required to change to Economy, an action that Victor Kiam led by example with the famous quote: ” After all, the back end of the plane arrives pretty much the same time as the front“. The plates may be plastic in economy and given the choice I would love to be wined and dined with a service such as this, but when reality sets in I will take practical over pretty any day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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February 22, 2017

KLM Is At “Home” In The Sky, … Bottoms Up!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Leaving the informational movie theatre in Texel’s Air Force and War Museum, Himself and I make our way into a large hall.

The date was Good Friday 2016 and we were taking a little break away from the rest of the family, who were off with friends and other kids.

Just inside the entrance to the hall is a very distinctive display cabinet, filled with of all things, Delft’s blue porcelain houses.

Naturally I am curious as to why on earth this is in a museum dedicated to aircraft and war memorabilia, so went to read the information board next to it. From this I learned that these are:

KLM Delft Blue Houses. The houses, numbered 1 to 94, are filled with Bols Dutch gin and are handed out at the end of intercontinental flights to passenger flying Business Class. House “94” is a copy of the “Oudheidkamer” in Den Burg.

This was the first copy and it was donated on 7 October 2013 to the Mayor of Texel, Francine Giskes.

During this ceremony, all of the houses exhibited here were promised by Mrs Hartman on behalf of KLM, to former President of the board of this Museum, Theo Whitte.”

Unfortunately house number “94” is not labelled and nor are any of the others, so it’s difficult to tell which one it is, especially since the shelves are not symmetrically spaced in the lower half of the cabinet.

By just counting from left to right (as logically as possible) house “94” could be the first house on the very bottom row but I am not certain if the houses are even in numerical order, it is possible that since this house is especially designated that it is either the house at the very top or at top right of the display.

Both are too high up to see if there are any labels, and sadly I am not familiar with the historic buildings of Den Burg to recognise it.

These little bottles are beautiful, I would love to own this collection (certainly not for the gin, but for the bottles) and it’s an unexpected place to find them since Delft is more in my back yard than Texel’s. I have no clue if this is a tradition that KLM still follow, if so, there are some very lucky owners of these lovely little bottles around the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 13, 2016

Napoleon Fixes A Weighty European Problem…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Rijksmuseum has an impressive range of objects on show, and the central cabinets in some of the galleries give one surprise after another.

In this post I am combining the contents of two such diaplay cabinets, one of decorated plates and the other of the first offical standard Europen weights and measures.

I knew that the Nether-Lands (Low Lands) had once (and I think, actually more than once) been an area that combined the current county with what is now modern day Belgium, but I never knew that Luxemburg was included as well at any point.

I also did not know that it was Napoleon that introduced the standardised European metric system… a system now used world wide with the exception of only three countries: United States, Myanmar  and Liberia.

It just goes to show, you can learn something new every day!

18 plates, each decorated with a Netherlandish province“, hard-paste porcelain, gold leaf Paris 1822. painted decoration: monogrammist RD (possibly Raimond Dufour 1784-1847)
These plates refect the period then the Netherlands and Belgium together formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830). The kingdom consisted of 17 provinces plus the grand duchy of Luxemburg. The gold decortion is in the neo-clasical style. On the upper edge are the arms of each province in gold on the blue border: the arms of the United Kingdom of The Netherlands are on the lower side. Today the Netherlands consists of 12 provinces.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Weights and Measures
In the past, units of weight and measurement differed from place to place. Napoleon decided to enforce the use of a single systen: the metre, the kilogram and the litre. The precise values were estabished at a confernce held in Paris in 1799. To prevent discrepancies, the Dutch (and other) delegates were given this iron metre and a copper kilogram. The eight Dutch additional standard volume measures date from 1820.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

June 1, 2016

Barometers and Bed Chambers… Oh La La !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before I leave the 17th century French Influences gallery of the Rijksmuseum, I want to take a look at a large four poster bed that has the most intricate embroidered covers and bed linen.

There is a perspex screen around it, I suppose not only to keep young visitors from jumping on it or older folks from taking a rest, but I suppose more to keep dust off it, after all cleaning a very large heavily embroidered five hundred year old bedspread would make any dry cleaner extremely nervous.

There are ornate golden statues around the bed, candlesticks maybe ? and a canopy around the four poster which is also heavily decorated.

Behind glass on a wall nearby there is a heavily carved piece, a frame (I think in ivory) for what I think is a glass barometer tube that runs to a bulb of mercury at the base.

The detail that has been achieved within such a small piece has to be seen to be believed, there is even a fully three dimensional coat of arms complete with rampant lions at the top of it.

There are also more examples of Delfts work here too, tiled panels, figurines and pots of all sizes  complete the rest of my tour here. Even though the Dutch were at war with France at the time that many of these items were made, it is a relief that the French influences still made it across the border, otherwise our culture would have been poorer for it. I know that the Rijksmuseum is a huge place and there is much to take in, but even a short visit if you are ever in Amsterdam to see a few of these things up close would be a few hours exceedingly well spent.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

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