Local Heart, Global Soul

February 25, 2010

Often disaster strikes when you least expect it…

Sven Kramer

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Disaster often strikes when you least expect it, at the last hurdle when you thought that things were pretty well done and dusted, all in order, in the bag and certain…

Late on Tuesday evening (Continental European Time) hundreds of thousands if not millions of Dutch citizens sat in front of their TV’s to watch and cheer on one of our national sporting hero’s skating at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics: 23 year old Sven Kramer.

He’s at the top of his form, already has one Gold medal under his belt for the 5,000 meters in the last week and was hot tipped for a hat-trick in all the long distance speed skating events.

The 5,000 meter race draw, saw him unusually skate in one of the middle pairs of the line-up,  instead of as one of the last racers, and many wondered how he would plan his race.

He came onto the ice it was soon abundantly clear: he set such a blistering time that the competitors after him burned themselves out trying to match it.

Sven Kramer

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the 10,000 meters he was in the last pair to skate. He’s been unbeaten over 10,000 meters for the past 3 years and even his opposition were admitting that this race was his… he deserved it. Sadly no matter how well you prepare and how fast you go, it doesn’t always go as you’d expect.

Speed skating is a very fine art of speed, balance, co-ordination, strength, stamina and concentration.  Competitors compete in pairs, but over-all, all of the competitors are racing the clock. The clock is your Nemesis, the foe that has to be beaten. The other person on the track is just the rabbit to chase, or be chased.

Laps are alternated and skaters take turns at having and “inside” lane and and “outside” lane, but there are always certain parts of the track where both skaters will be in the same lane whilst the cross-over takes place. Especially in longer distances, the job of the coach is to let the skater know which lane he should be in, which lap they are at, lap times etc.

Sven Kramer

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Skater can then concentrate on skating fast, very very fast, aiming in Sven’s case to make a new Olympic Record and hopefully without any high speed spills.

So what happened Tueday evening? well, two-thirds of the way though the race, Sven’s coach made an error, he called Sven into an inside lane when he should have called him into an outside one.

Sven was so concentrated that he didn’t realise that he was in the wrong place, but he knew that the atmosphere inside the stadium had changed. The massive band of fanatical Dutch supporters knew that Sven was disqualified, long before Sven knew it.

Race officials never stop speed skating races mid way, they only flash the dreaded “DS” sign for disqualification onto the board at the end of the race. This is because there are two skaters on the ice and both are racing the clock so to pull one of them and leave the other with no-one to chase would be unfair.

Sven Kramer

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So imagine how you would feel if you saw that you had made a new Olympic Record time of 12 minutes 54.50 seconds as you crossed the finish line… you’d think you’d won a Gold medal.
Sven thought that. He was wrong.

Korean skater Lee Seung-Hoon took a surprise Gold in 12:58.55, also by Skating an Olympic record, with Sven’s Russian skating companion in the final pair (Ivan Skobrev) taking Silver. Fellow Dutchman Bob de Jong therefore tipped in from what would have been 4th place to win the Bronze.

Imagine the devastation of finding out that a mistake on the part of someone else cost you a Gold medal… even the Russian admitted that Sven surely deserved it better than anyone.  But as in any sport, rules are rules, in speed-skating you cross the line in the wrong place, or are in the wrong lane at the wrong time and it’s all over.

Sven Kramer

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m certain that no-one can feel worse than Sven’s coach, Gerard Kemkers. If you realised how high a profile Speed Skating has in the Netherlands, it would come as no surprise that there was only one real topic on Dutch News today… it’s Headline news with a capital “H” in all the media.

As I type this in my Wednesday lunchtime, I take away from this that even when you’ve worked hard, things seem to be going your way and you really really deserve a reward for all the blood sweat and tears, that Life sometimes derails our train and the good stuff simply doesn’t come to pass.
Is it fair? No. Is that the way Life sometimes just “is“?. Yes.

Your Gold medal is what you strive for, it’s your goal and your dream, your ambition and your hopes. But sometimes Life isn’t fair, sometimes a technicality, or a very trivial mistake can make all the difference in the world.

We get the cards we are dealt, some of them are great and some of them are pretty lousy. I think that often “Character” is the result of dealing with Life when it isn’t fair to you. Your reaction to life’s unfairness can shape you for the following hours, days, years or decades.
Shape you both positively or negatively if you let it. The trick is getting up, seizing the day and going out to the next race.

I took some photos of him on our  TV (yes, fuzzy photos sorry, since it’s still the 17 year old, 30 inch analogue TV that we can’t bear to ditch since it’s still running fine) as Sven was interviewed  today, he was asked how he felt about his Coach and about what happened. He basically said: “you can’t go back… Gerard Kemkers helped me to become world champion three times, so we had a  long private talk and it’s behind us…” Certainly Sven knows that it was nothing malicious,  just one of those unexplained little accidents  in life when a small chain of events simply goes wrong.

Sven still has another race yet to race at this Olympics, Lets see if he can put this behind him and show us what he’s really made of, …both as a skater and on a personal level.

And if he can do that, then maybe he can inspire us all.

One thing is for certain, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Dutch citizens will be cheering him on.

December 13, 2009

Why remembering people like Harold Geddes is important…

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

Whilst we were visiting Sackville in New Brunswick, I took some  photo’s of  a plaque  on a building and a broom and a shovel…

Later on I  read though the information on the plaque and wanted to tell you about how the life of this man impressed me.

Harold Geddes was born in Halifax, probably in 1914. He passed away in Sackville, New Brunswick at 90 years of age.

Sackville is a not so small town but retains the feel and atmosphere of a small town.  Maybe that had a lot to do with Harold’s life. He was orphaned when he was only three during a famous explosion in Halifax in 1917 and adopted by Charles and Alice Geddes of Sackville where he spent his formative years.

Later he worked at the Fawcett Foundry,  and at an aircraft factory in Nova Scotia during World War Two. When the war ended he returned to Sackville, where he became a custodian at Mount Allison University,  until his retirement.So… nothing unusual then?  Well, not so far in Harold’s life.

But after he retired something special happened.

Apparently ” retirement” meant something different to Harold than it does for most other people…  because every day this brisk  and gruff gentleman took it upon himself to spend his time voluntarily cleaning the streets of downtown Sackville. He took pride in clearing the footpaths , all year long though the heat of summer and the cold of winter he shoveled the pavements free of  snow, picked up litter, broken glass, cleaned gutters of dirt and leaves and even washed windows.

Harold was someone  that we would label ” a character”  someone who doesn’t quite fit neatly into society, and he was apparently rather rough around the edges, and it’s said that he would often refuse to acknowledge “outsiders”. (heck, I thought that that is rather usual practice in many small towns all around the world )

Sackville  appreciated all his hard work, completely voluntary and in all weathers, so a memorial called ” “Remembering Harold” was created by local sculptor and Mount Allison sculpture technician Kip Jones.

In 1998, he was presented with the Good Neighbour Award and In 2000, Harold received the first-ever Mayor’s Award for his “pride, initiative, and interest in keeping Sackville neat and clean…on a totally volunteer basis.”

Clearly Harold was a quirky man, he had his ways and was what he was. Apparently, what you saw is what you got. He might have been a little rough around the edges, but he  sounds like one of those people who was a diamond in the rough.

It’s not often that a town has cause to honour a man for accomplishments  that feature, not on the big and showy world stage, but quite literally at ground level,  famous for doing the messy work, the hard graft, getting his hands dirty, mucking in.  Harold sounds like one of the world’s unsung hero’s… a volunteer, turning up day after day to get things done just because they need doing.

Bravo to Harold for being true to himself, for being his grouchy, brisk self and people just had to accept him for it. You know, if you are a square peg, Why not just accept that you are, and be happy in it, rather than trying desperately  to contort yourself into a round hole your whole life.

Bravo to all volunteers everywhere… who do the jobs that need doing, no pay and not nearly enough Thanks. Volunteers teach us that  money isn’t always everything, satisfaction of a job well done is important too, and that “giving back” can take many many forms.

I can only wish that there were plaques and statues for all those who volunteer…  so if you are a volunteer, then Kudos, this post is a  big Thank-You for the work you do.

December 12, 2009

More Road Journey photos, Part 2…

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

There were too many photos from my last topic to post in one thread so this is Part 2….

More photos from on the road in Maine and Canada…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

..some lovely building decoration…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

I love the forest…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

.. a storage shed that is like a little barn…

(photo © kiwidutch)

the wilderness is gorgeous…

(photo © kiwidutch)

A lovely drawing on historical Acadia…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Signs leading to Prince Edward Island…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

..a postcard I bought shows the Confederation Bridge to PEI far better from the air than I could manage on the bridge itself…

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 11, 2009

Photographic muses of a journey by road…

Of course I took a lot of photos in Maine and during our travels into Canada… not all of them have made it neatly into my blog posts, but there are still some that I found funny, inspiring, beautiful, quirky or just plain interesting.

Often taken just quickly out of the window as we drove, here are a few…

(photo © kiwidutch)

Of course I am enamoured with the wide open spaces that we miss so much, living  as we do in the  densely populated province of South Holland in The Netherlands…

(photo © kiwidutch)

Nothing delighted us more than traveling on first the big highways, seeing so many trees… and so many more trees !

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

.. then to the smaller roads, …

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

…through bigger towns,

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

…though small towns.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

…even to some very very small roads, that lost the bitumen and became gravel, but fortunately connected much later to a bigger road to our relief as we were afraid at one point that we were really heading into the middle of nowhere!

(photo © kiwidutch)

We looked out for moose, and I would have loved to see one,  good for them, but sadly for us they stayed away from the roads and I looked for naught…

(photo © kiwidutch)

.. and saw watertowers that reminded us a little of journey’s though the French countryside…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We practiced our linguistic skills, (or lack of them) with the aid of  some local road signs,…

(photo © kiwidutch)

We moved over for wide loads…

(photo © kiwidutch)

… and drooled over the wide open spaces… again,

(photo © kiwidutch)

..and again,

(photo © kiwidutch)

.. and again …

(photo © kiwidutch)

I played a sport  called ” let’s try and photograph a lighthouse sign”  this is only one that came even close !the other 99.9% of my efforts resulted in blurred imaged of forest greenery…

(photo © kiwidutch)

I loved the houses.. so very different in style to Dutch ones…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

… and the Barns…. beautiful !

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 10, 2009

Crossing the border in St. Stephen and back though Maine…

We have been visiting the Ganong Chocolate factory and museum in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. Now it’s time to cross back into the United States again, so we approach the border on the Canadian side…

(photo © kiwidutch)

..and then across the bridge and  approach the American Customs point…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We are now back in Maine and our short visit to Canada is over. Wow, what a beautiful country we have just seen a little snippet of.. we have already decided that we would very much like to return to Canada if we can mange it next trip in the future.

The afternoon is wearing on and we have some serious kilometers still to cover until we are back at “Camp” on the lake.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

The way back is filled with small towns, a few zillion trees and happy chocolate filled children in the back of the van.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Eventually darkness falls and we are treated to a beautiful Maine sunset…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 8, 2009

Ganong Chocolate in St Stephens…

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

We are in the Ganong Chocolate factory, doing the tour and learning all about chocolate making.

Don’t these look delectable?

Ha ! Gottcha, the chocolates in this photo aren’t in fact real, they are over-sized toy ones,  each just a little smaller than my computer mouse in size and there are two giant ” tray’s” of these side by side.

A photo above both the “trays”  showing how the real trays are packed, the game here is for two players to race each other and place their over-sized  “chocolates” into the over-sized “trays” to match the photo we are given… first to complete the arrangement correctly wins!  believe me it’s harder than it looks!

Here are some real chocolates, yes the fake ones are very realistic!

I think that the over-sized proportions are necessary, if they were sized realistically, many a child (and adult) would have mistakenly tried to eat them.

(photo © kiwidutch)

The Ganong factory has what is believed to be the oldest operating candy machine in the world. It is a lozenge machine that has produced lozenges since 1889 when it was installed on the third floor of this building. During a factory fire in 1903, two such machines crashed thought the floor and were badly damaged. Factory mechanics were able to salvage enough parts from the two to rebuild one machine, It us still going strong at the new Ganong plant and produces more than three million lozenges each week.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

And then there are the “Chicken Bones” … err, “Chicken Bones?” for real? No… a sweet one, a candy one!

The original chicken bone was created at least 100 years ago by Baltimore native Frank Sparhawk. The exact year of it’s creation and it’s name are unknown, except that it is shaped like a chicken bone.

The chicken bone has an unsweetened dark chocolate centre, with a hardboiled sugar and cinnamon jacket. Today the chicken bone is still made the same way as it was over a century ago, only the length has changed. The Chicken Bone is the last remaining hard candy to be produced by Ganong.

(photo © kiwidutch)

We of course, stop in the shop to buy some chocolates to take with us…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

This chocolate tour was a delectable stop indeed, it comes highly recommended by the Kiwidutch family and their friends! So if you are ever passing anywhere close to St Stephen in New Brunswick, Canada,  be sure to allow some time to take a break here in this most delicious of places.

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 7, 2009

St Stephens, and the delectable aroma of Chocolate…

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

The children spy a playground as we travel though some small New Brunswick towns heading south… Sorry kids we are not stopping today, because we have an appointment to keep.
We want to stop somewhere famous in St. Stephens and we need to get there before the place closes for the day.. we will be cutting things a little fine as it is, so no unnecessary stopping until we get there, understand?
What are we aiming to see?

The famous Ganong Chocolate factory of course !

Phew, we arrive about an hour before closing time and the kids eyes light up when they see why we are stopping, their eyes light up even more (I hardly thought it possible but truly it IS) when they hear that in this chocolate factory and on this chocolate tour it’s free-all-you-can-eat chocolate tasting as you go!

(photo © kiwidutch)

The old factory at Ganong became too small for their present operational needs so they moved to a purpose built factory just outside town and so the original factory today houses a museum and shop… the museum gives the story of chocolate making from the cocoa bean until the finished product.

(photo © kiwidutch)

During the tour we learn that chocolate’s popularity increased in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the early 1800’s. Dutch and British experiments led to the creation of the solid chocolate we know today and by mid-century, chocolate manufacturing had taken hold in Europe and was beginning to spread in North America.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

The Brothers Ganong made their start in 1873 and interestingly, many of the future famous players in the chocolate business, including Droste, Nestle, Lowney, Hershey and Moirs appeared about the same time.

Ganong’s famous hand dippers were women living in St. Stephen and surrounding areas, and the display tells us that ” a hand-dipper usually worked from seven in the morning until six at night, Monday to Saturday, spending much of that time up to her elbows in chocolate.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Working hours increased after Labour Day, when Christmas production began, when workers returned to the factory for another three hours in the evening. The mark of an experienced hand-dipper was her ability to put a mark or swirl of chocolate on the top of each chocolate. There was a distinctive swirl for each chocolate, and at one time Ganong made 150 different types of chocolate. ” (Wow, what long hours!)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We are having an excellent time and the kids are beside themselves with that most dreadful of choices ” What kind of chocolate will I try from the sample tray next?”

(photo © kiwidutch)

Since Dutch handmade chocolates are made from the best-on-the-planet-chocolate produced by our neighbour Belgium, it can be hard to find chocolate in other countries that compares in any way favourably to what we have at home. I was disappointed with the Anne of Green Gables chocolate as it was clearly inferior , but WOW the Ganong chocolate is VERY GOOD indeed, and is up there with Europe’s finest.

(photo © kiwidutch)

This is a very welcome surprise because we have tasted the “Hershey” brand of chocolate whilst in America and to be honest I was very worried indeed that this place was going to be a Canadian equivalent of cheap mass produced lower quality chocolate. I needn’t have worried, Ganong is leagues above Hershey!
We looove learning all about chocolate here ! Let’s take a look around…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 6, 2009

Sawmill Creek .. a Bridge under cover.

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

We are traveling down the coast  of the Bay of Fundy, and stop at Sawmill Creek Bridge.

It’s a beautiful covered bridge and we wanted to take a closer look…
In October 1869 the Saxby Gale was a powerful storm in which the combined force of wind and high tides destroyed homes and killed people and cattle all along the Bay of Fundy.

In that storm the bridge over Sawmill Creek Fell apart.

Rebuilt as a covered bridge, it was for years,part of the highway.

The current covered bridge was constructed in 1905. When a concrete bridge was planned to replace it in 1975, Albert County Heritage Trust, a newly formed organization persuaded the government not to demolish the covered bridge.

It was the Trust’s first of many projects to save historic structures.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

… and No, I have no clue why there’s a fine if you don’t walk your horse!

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 5, 2009

Restaurant Review: Broadleaf Guest Ranch and Restaurant

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

We have spent the morning walking around Hopewell Rocks, and enjoying a glorious day outside. Now it’s lunchtime and we are heading south via the Fundy Coastal Drive.

After a while it’s inevitable that the fresh air and exercise has an effect,  and conversation in the van turns to lunch. We keep a look-out for a diner or family establishment that have been our favourites so far.

This is how we came to stop at The Broadleaf Guest Ranch and Restaurant.

One thing is clear when we arrive: this Farm /Ranch has been very busy to make the most of what it has..  space and beautiful location, it has diversified to be a number of different things in the one place and also appears to serve the local community well, since the far end of the restaurant appeared to be getting ready to cater for a wedding when we  were there.

There is  guest accommodation available and  restaurant, but inside the restaurant there is also a gift/souvineer area, outside there are canoes, a covered wagon, picnic area and  horse riding, so it’s clear that there is a lot going on here at the Ranch.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

It looks like a great place for an outdoor holiday.

Inside the Restaurant there are big couches by a fireplace that would be especially welcoming in the winter months, a play area with rocking horses and stuffed toys, so the kids can be kept amused until the food arrives.

(photo © kiwidutch)

Once again we are treated to some good home style cooking, and while  it is not haute cuisine, it is honest food at a reasonable price. Good Family fare, crowd pleasing food. The kids tuck in and enjoy their meals.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Although this is not the kind of food we would like to have every day, we enjoy ours too.

The sun is shining and while the kids are letting off a little steam running around outside, I take a little walk around to take some photos.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 4, 2009

Hopewell Rocks, having fun with the camera!

(photo © kiwidutch)

We have stopped at the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick on our way back to Maine.

The kids are having a wonderful time on the beach, looking at the rock formations, weird pebbles, small rocks piled up artfully,  crabs and a multitude of thing in and around the waters edge.

We all take a heap of photos, and generally get inspired by our surroundings.

The weather is lovely and we are all loving the walking.   Eventually my asthma gets the better of me and  I get a bit wheezy  after walking a bit further than I intended  and Mr. Four’s little legs are starting to suffer from weariness so it’s nice to see that there is a trolley at  the end of the loop walk where the two of us can catch a lift back.

We leave the fitter members of our party to do the full loop, Mr Four and I take the motorized way back to the information centre, where we amuse ourselves in the outdoor playground until the others catch up.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © elmotoo)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

This is an excellent place to have visited… everyone is very pleased that we stopped here.

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