Local Heart, Global Soul

March 24, 2018

The Christmas Spirit On Overdrive…

Filed under: ART,CHRISTCHURCH,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas decorations in New Zealand used to be confined to baubles and tinsel on the Christmas tree, and a mantelpiece full of Christmas cards.

Then, probably under the influence of American YouTube videos, people started adding a few lights outside their houses too.

In the Northern hemisphere I can understand outside Christmas decorations better: it’s dark early so strings of flickering Christmas lights are a welcome break in the long nights.

It’s also often severely cold, even snowy, with a wind chill factor that freezes the pleasure out of going outdoors, so a bright array of fancy coloured Christmas garden ornaments blinking out their Christmas cheer could be a sight to brighten up a day of freezing cold, dark skies, icy foot paths, window scraping and snow shovelling.

Even with a very moderate winter in the Netherlands, I love, love, love the trees around The Hague that are covered, almost every branch and twig in white lights, they are beautiful pieces of season art, you instantly feel more positive when you see them, some tree-lined streets have rows of them and they are a positive feature in an otherwise bleak and grey winter landscape.

I also delight in the fact that the lights on these trees are for winter, not just for Christmas, so we get to enjoy them for all of the darker months. In the Southern hemisphere it is Summer, the days are long and darkness falls long after small children are in bed.

Still, maybe for grandchildren, maybe for fun, some people have begun to install Christmas themed ornaments on their front gardens. A few restrict themselves with a row of lights running around the edge of the roof, a few go all out and start making their lawns into a full-on mini theme parks.

Cute and kitsch, these still raise a smile, and whilst we didn’t have time to come back after dark to see everything in Technicolor glory, I did take time to grab photographs of this lawn. The Santa’s are the star of the show, and there are many inflatable ones here: moving up and down jack-in-the-box style out of boxes and chimneys, on a see-saw, or a decidedly deflated one, attempting to scale a fence.

Santa convention aside, there were also snowmen, dogs and reindeer to round out the display.

It took me longer than I thought to get these photographs, kids passing by kept coming to inspect the decorations at close range so I spent a lot of time waiting until they were out of shot.

Judging by the attention the display was getting whilst I was there, it’s probably crowded at night when according to my Aunt and Uncle who live close by, people make driving “tours” with their kids as a treat.

This can sometimes mean heavy queues of traffic in small suburban streets at different times in the evenings, tolerated more by some neighbours than others. In the end though, these totally, utterly, and wonderfully delight children, and they infuse the Christmas spirit into the community. That Christmas spirit may well be in over-drive, but I think we would be poorer in spirit without it. Light up Christmas! Bring it on!
(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 7, 2018

Hump Ahead…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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I love how different countries have amazingly different names for the same thing.  Ok, Dutch is not English so there is no direct translation, but what might be called a “speed bump” in English is here called a “drempel”. I have heard that apparently these things laid into the road to reduce traffic speed are called in England: Sleeping Policemen. In New Zealand if you have a very raised and narrow one of these, they called them “judder bars” (although usually judder bars are placed on public driveways and off the main roads: think car park entrances into hospitals, schools etc.) I was amused to see the letters on the road leading towards the Swiss Club: “Hump Ahead”! Ah ha, another name to add to my collection of quirky names for these. “Traffic speed reducer” is obviously far too long a name to write on the road and be legible, but if you had to make up a name for these, or know an excellent one, then I would be delighted to know what it is.

(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)

December 15, 2017

They Seem To Have Their Heads In The Clouds…

Filed under: BELGIUM,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It seems to be my lucky day for new finds, wierd and wonderful sights. Driving through just a few short kilometres of Belgium on our way back to the area around Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, I come accross one of the strangest things I have ever seen.

I mean a real, mouth open “what the heck is going on here?” kind of moment.

Even looking at the photographs later on I still can’t even begin to answer this question.

This is what I looked up to see on the roof of somebody’s home.

I was keeping an eye out for decorative weather vanes to photograph, but this doesn’t appear to be one at all, then again, what on earth is it?

Does a metorologist live here perhaps?

Do the inhabitants have their heads in the clouds? or walk around on cloud nine? There has to be some sort of story behind this getting made. A joke? A pun? So many questions. I took several photographs as we passed by, hoping to see something that might solve this mystery. I still have no clue at all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 13, 2017

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? …

Filed under: BELGIUM,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Still inside the supermarket of yesterday’s post I now see a second thing I have never seen before: a machine where customers can slice their own bread.

A different form of the slicer is less unusual, most Dutch barkeries have them, you select your whole loaf and if you don’t want to slice it yourself at home, then you ask the bakery staff to cut it for you on the machine behind the counter.

What is completely different about these two machines is that customers slice their bread themselves: it even has adjustments where you can choose various thicknesses, you choose which setting you want, slice the loaf and then the bag slips over the metal bar that the bread is standing on and everything slides into the bag in one smooth go.

Perfect! I love this idea, the fact that there are two machines and not one must also mean that these get plenty of use.

It would also save time, no need to stand in a queue waiting to have your bread sliced. I think that the main reason bread is only sliced at point of sale is: some people prefer to cut their loaf at home, others not so this saves having two uncut when maybe one customer wants cut the other not, and the uncut bread stay fresher for longer since less air gets around the bread to dry it out. If a household uses less bread they may prefer to slice it as they need it. It’s a way to save waste too, you stock the bread in a form where it can be sold either way then let the customer choose their preference.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 12, 2017

Supermarket Traffic Lights…

Filed under: BAARLE Hertog/Nassau,BELGIUM,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whenever Himself and I cross borders into a different country, we are agreed on one shopping destination: the local supermarket so that we can avail ourselves of some of that countries culinary delights.

This was therefore on our wish list when we went to Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog earlier in the year.

This should be easy since Baarle-Hertog is Belgian territory inside the Netherlands, they should have a supermarket, right? Wrong.

We looked but saw only Dutch supermarket names, so we asked and were greeted with a laugh and the answer: “A Belgian supermarket in Baarle-Hertog? … it would go out of business rather quickly … the Dutch supermarket prices are far better than the Belgian ones, everyone on the other side of the border comes here to Baarle to do their weekly grocery shopping!

It’s logical of course, and very Flemish! (but then, who doesn’t like a bargain?). Luckily whilst en route to our next destination we found that we had crossed the border by accident (yes, lost again) and passed this supermarket. Knowing that it’s hard to even find a petrol station or a bakery open on a Sunday in Belgium and that shops would be shutting earlier than usual on the Saturday afternoon, we said OK, let’s get in there quick before they start shutting up shop for the day.

This is the first thing that greeted once past the supermarket trolley collection area by the entrance; swing doors that lit up like traffic signals! The reason is simple: this is both the entrance and exit door and this is a good way to direct customers with their trolleys coming in and out. Ingenious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 6, 2017

A Vending Machine Gets An innovative Use…

Filed under: BREDA,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Arriving at our friends house in Breda, we were soon joined by Himself’s sister and her husband. Our family friend gave us time to have a cup of tea before leading the way to somewhere special she wants to take us. It’s a beautiful weekend in April so we have a little bit of trouble finding parking when we get there. It’s not like me to ignore a beautiful building but, spotting something quirky I decide to first check out a little shed next to where we parked. The shed / kiosk houses a dispensing machine and the machine dispenses fresh organic strawberries!
I would have loved to get some but we were all due to eat dinner back at our friends place later and all of the others were gathering a little bit further down the path, waiting for me to catch up.I love the idea that people come up with innovative uses for these kinds of machines, eggs in one location, strawberries in another, perfect!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 1, 2017

Taking Your Housekeeping To The Beach…

Filed under: ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,Scheveningen,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are plenty of beaches cafe’s open during the summer but due to lack of parking in close proximity most of them are off limits for me.

Both crutches and wheelchairs are not in any way friends with sand, so luckily the Gemeente (city council) puts in permanent concrete paths.

Most of the time it is far too much work so I do not join Himself, other parents and a large group of kids at the beach, but on one occasion I did and captured these machines in action.

Several large earth movers are keeping a large drum filled with sand, the drum rotates and screens out unwanted debris, the now cleaned sand is then spit onto a pile where it will later be smoothed out.

It’s an excellent idea, the beach along the Dutch coast is crowded during the summer and even with a dog ban in place there are plenty of other dangerous, messy or wasteful debris to be disposed of in the sand.It’s great that the council go to the trouble, but I suppose they have a duty of care to upkeep the coast line in their area. The wheelchair was never going to allow me to get closer but so the zoom lens will have to do.

(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 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 16, 2017

The Small Things Make Me Smile…

Way back in 2012 I featured this as one of my series of electrical substations: Just Humming Along in the City… (or Should That be Buzzing?)  and recently Himself and I  passed it again after having lunch in the Brownie and Downies café and saw it rather congested with bicycles. There had been cars around it too, but for some reason several all left more or less at once, so I snapped up a few photographs before more cars swooped in to take their place. My biggest question was how on earth did someone manage to stack one bike on another like this? I don’t get out so much , so even the small things can make me smile and make my day. This quirky sight certainly did.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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