Local Heart, Global Soul

May 27, 2014

An Excellent Idea, But Also Maybe A Bit Of A Bad One…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are moments when you are recovering from a cold, accident or fever when suddenly you think you feel a bit better, you feel like the old familiar energy is back and you are desperate  to make the most of it.

Unfortunately this burst of enthusiasm is  often misguided and at a certain point your realise you just might have bitten of more than you can chew.

Your mind might be telling you that “of course you can” but after an initial effort the body says ” yeah brain, that was a nice idea in theory but you aren’t the one making 99.9% of the effort here,  the rest of us body parts need to go back to bed and recover from you bright idea“.

Pain relief is like that too. Once the pills  kick in I get all energetic and want to do, do, do. Then it wears off and my foot says “are you crazy?  please don’t, don’t, don’t.” La Roche-en-Ardenne was a bit like that too… I’ve done some serious walking around the castle this morning and now I find myself on a hill in a castle thinking “What have I done?“.

I have more pain relief pills on me but it’s clear that I need to start making my way down from here and get back to our accommodation for a proper rest.The way down was slow,  as I picked my way down very so carefully down those steep cobbles. At the end I was beyond tired but at least pleased that I managed to do this today.  Castles still fascinate me, so here’s one last look before I go…

(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)

(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)

 

May 26, 2014

Having The Possibility To Shop… In A Cave Of Sorts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was a beautiful cloudless day in late August 2012.

Himself, a friend and both families kids are spending the day canoeing on the river further upstream from La Roche-en-Ardenne.

I didn’t think it was going to be any great success trying to negotiate  canoe with crutches in tow,  so elected to stay in town and visit the castle on the hill.

In one of the few “rooms” (it was slightly more like a modified cave) there was a shop selling local handwork and souvenirs and since it didn’t  involve steep steps I went inside to have a look around.

There were all sorts of thing such as medieval style drawings on stone or wood, jewellery and knick-knacks.

The only thing that appealed were the little owl pendants but I wasn’t really in the mood to buy anything like this today so just had a good look around. There was also a bar (I didn’t go inside) and maybe there were more rooms downstairs  but I’m not certain because I couldn’t reach those.

(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)

May 25, 2014

I’m The King Of The Castle (Queen In My Case) And I Spy With My Little Eye…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The ruins of the castle on the hill in the centre of the Belgium town of La Roche-en-Ardenne may not be a castle suitable for living in, but it does form an excellent vantage point from which to get a view of all of the surrounding area.

It was well worth the slog to get here that at least the views are good.

There’s is a lot of forest on the surrounding hills, the buildings and rooftops of the town make for interesting viewing too and the river that snakes in a tight “U” shape around the town  is well used for recreation as there are many picnic spots and a large park to be seen too.

As I walk around it’s nice to rest a while and take photographs and watch the people  in the streets, the canoes on the river and traffic crawl around like ants on the landscape below.

The sense of scale you get makes the building of this castle even more amazing, especially considering that tools (or more pointedly, the lack of them) that were to hand at the time. Let’s take a look…

(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)

(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)

May 24, 2014

Nothing Escapes These Piercingly Sharp Eyes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the summer of 2012  I was visiting La Roche-en-Ardenne and came up to the castle on the hill whilst Himself, the kids and our friend and his daughter went canoeing on the river.

It was far harder work than I imagined with the crutches and so a few decent pauses to stop and rest as I made my way around were most welcome.

After the falconry display the birds were taken to various places to rest, eat and enjoy some shade out of the hot sun but can also come out and sun themselves if they want to.

In one of those places I was able to get close up to one of the falcons and sit very quietly close by taking photographs.

This series of  photographs is therefore a study of this magnificent creature, it’s structure and strength is beautiful to look at, it’s character is evident in it’s strong look and it’s not at all nervous of me sitting close by (although I did of course take care to sit very still and not startle or upset it). It’s a privileged to be able to observe the falcon at such close range: the bird is alert to every movement in the sky around us, nothing escapes these sharp eyes. This is a triangular shaped shade for the falcon, it’s clear that it’s not an overnight accommodation  for the bird but rather just a quiet day resting spot  a little out of the way of the main tourist walkway. Both the bird and I sit quietly enjoying the sun and  the quiet of each other’s company.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.belgiumtheplaceto.be/castles_chateaux_la_roche_en_ardenne.php

 

May 23, 2014

You’d Be A Ruin Too If You Were Thousands Of Years Old…

Filed under: BELGIUM,La Roche-en-Ardenne: Castle,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I did some hunting on the internet to find out more about the castle at La Roche-en-Ardenne…

La Roche-en-Ardenne’s castle began as a Gaulish fort which was conquered by the Romans in 57 BC becoming part of the Roman province of  “Gallia Belgica”.

Archeological excavations on the site of the fort have revealed coins struck during the reigns of the Emperors Domitian (81-96 AD) and Constantine II (337-340 AD).

In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire declined into decadence, the province was invaded by the Franks, a tribe from Germany, and in the eighth century, Pepin of Herstal converted the Roman fort into a hunting-lodge.

The first castle was built on the site of the hunting-lodge in the ninth century and enjoyed its golden age from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries. In the tenth century, following frequent attacks by the French troops, the castle was heavily fortified, but the new fortifications were not well maintained and the castle fell into ruins. However, enough arrow-slits, dungeons and towers have survived to quickly transport visitors back to mediaeval times.

There are steps enough around this castle but some of them I drew a line at venturing near. Crutches and these staircases would not be a wise move, I use some common sense and decide these are literally a step so far.

I was born in New Zealand, a country that has only approximately one hundred and fifty years colonial occupation and roughly five hundred years Maori occupation, so the castles of Europe and their long histories are a source of fascination. New Zealand wasn’t even in habited in Roman times, so that fact that this structure was in the process of being established then is for me, amazing. Maybe  it’s a ruin, but wow, what a ruin it is…

(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)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

May 22, 2014

An Exhibition That Includes An Impressive Fly Past…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve walked up the hill to the castle on the hill in the centre of La Roche-en-Ardenne in Belgium.

It’s the summer of 2012 and I’m lucky to be visiting whilst there is a medieval festival going on: and as part of the festival there is a falconry demonstration which I have just made it onside in time to watch.

The falconer has funny stories, engages with the public and clearly loves working with the owls, falcons, and even some vultures.

Vultures are cleaner birds than we imagined and all of the birds show intelligence and amazing skill in the air as they duck, dive and return to the falconer.

The birds are beautiful, and everyone enjoys the show. There is plenty of laughter and fun and the show almost ended too soon.

The day is sunny and beautiful and it’s wonderful to sit and take photographs of these beautiful creatures  and to watch the show.  It certainly makes all the time and effort  it took me to get up here well worth while. It’s also a good rest as I sit for a while…

(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)

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 19, 2014

Stop For A Breather And Test Your Aim, This Place Is Right On Target…

Filed under: BELGIUM,La Roche,La Roche-en-Ardenne: Castle,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For better or worse I’ve committed myself to more walking than I anticipated today.

The path is already steeper than I anticipated but fortunately there’s a flat-ish area  about half way up.

As part of the medieval festival going on at the La Roche-en-Ardenne castle, there is an archery stand  set up here where visitors can try and cultivate their inner Robin Hood fantasies.

I do have to admit that any ambitions I may have had at the idea of taking up archery as a sport were rudely dashed by the realisation after several goes that I was never going to be brilliant at this, not now or in a million years.

You get to shoot six arrows for Euro 1,–  and as the photographs of my efforts show, Robin Hood would be ducking for cover if I were in charge of a bow and arrow anywhere close by.

The man running the stall is friendly and offers a little lesson on how best to stand and howto line up the target, sadly the advice on standing is rather wasted in my case as I can only mainly stand on my right leg and without the help of crutches it can get wobbly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I’m the only visitor here when I first arrive, we chat, half in French and then switch half into Dutch because archery terms weren’t in any of my French conversations to date and I’m struggling.

Of course laughing as you try to follow instructions and shoot arrows is also not conducive to great aim, but who cares, I’m having fun.

Then another visitor, a young man, turns up and gets a lesson as he shoots  followed by a far better round than I managed to achieve.

I took a heap of  rapid fire photographs as he shot each of his arrows, hoping to capture that elusive moment when the arrow leaves the bow.

About seventy deleted images later I achieved the in-flight shots and was rather pleased with myself (even though the law of averages says I would have gotten the shot had I simply kept trying long enough anyway). I love digital photography. I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just me photographing my efforts either… when he finished he rushed up to the board with his camera and took shots, apparently we both love digital photography. Later when I was further up the castle I could look down and see more visitors trying their hand with the bows…  it doesn’t matter if you are just stopping here for a breather or if you want to test your aim: This place is right on target.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The arrow just leaving the bow…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My one and only in-flight arrow shot…

(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)

My efforts (both targets)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 18, 2014

Well, It Looked Like A Good Idea At The Time…

Filed under: BELGIUM,La Roche-en-Ardenne: Castle,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are always moments on holiday when families can not agree on what they want to do with their day. Ours was not actually a disagreement, but rather a realisation that even if I were to head off to the camp site and complete the family group, I was destined to spend most of the day alone.

Everyone else wanted to take a big canoe trip. The idea is that you drive to the canoe operator’s base, a dozen or so kilometres upstream, canoes would be hired, safety equipment organised and then with the canoes on a  special trailer and everyone in the minivan towing the trailer, the party would be dropped yet further upstream in an area of the river suitable for beginners and child canoeists…

…they then make their way back downstream to the canoe operators base and back to our own family vehicles for the trip back home.

Crutches and canoeing are never going to be great dancing partners and even in the shallow river water my foot isn’t stable enough to stand unsupported unaided so my options are: stay at the accommodation / camp-site / canoe base, alone all day or find myself something else to do.

I opt for the latter and having spied a castle on the hill and a sign advertising a medieval festival there, ask Himself to please drop me off at the base of the hill when they head out of town to the camp-site.

Himself  looks at the hill and expresses concern: “How on earth are you going to get up there?” My response is “very very slowly, there are  wide steps all the way up and  after all, I have all day“.

Himself  duly dropped me off  in the shopping street at the bottom and waved me goodbye. I looked at the steps and thought “Ok, I can do this, be careful and go slow“.

Imagine my shock when I negotiate all of the steps I can see from street level and then find that they end abruptly instead of continuing all the way up as I imagined they would.

From here on up there are rough cobbles so I take a look and put my thinking cap on:  It’s still early morning, I have the entire day, it doesn’t look too steep, the stones are bone dry and not wet and slippery so why not do this?

Making certain that the crutches were firmly planted in a safe position for each step, I slowly inched my way up the hill. At first I was so intently concentrating on looking at my feet, bracing myself securely with the crutches, creeping forward and then repeating the process that I completely forgot to look around me. I got tired after a little while and stopped.

Now I found myself looking in horror at where I was, it was much steeper than I’d first  imagined it to be and I now gotten myself into a position where it was as difficult to go back as it was to go forward. Stupid, stupid, stupid moi, what do I do now? There wasn’t a soul around, and certainly no one coming up or down with a vehicle. After a rest I decided to carry on the careful ascent, and the walk that would have taken a normal person fifteen minutes took me at least an hour.   At least the terrain flattens out a little,  I’m not at the top yet but can take a proper rest here.  On the plus side, at least there is a view…

(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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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