Local Heart, Global Soul

September 4, 2013

Merging Styles With Style Throughout the Ages…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page from my diary of last summer’s travels.

Our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” is visiting friends in London and since our next destination is south of London, we have arranged to pick her up from a train station south of  London later today.

The village of Great Dunmow has won awards for “Best Kept Village” and between the beautiful thatched houses, the tudor buildings and other neatly kept homes it certainly deserves the title.

I  am fascinated by the tall brick chimneys on some of the buildings and how different building styles spanning as many different centuries sit side by side.

History is all about how societies and cultures evolve, how the new and old merge together over time.

In New Zealand, a young country as far as human occupation is concerned, the history of buildings is very short compared to Europe so I am not used to seeing buildings of the age it’s possible to see in the United Kingdom. Here is my last look around before we hit the road to our new destination…

(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)

This photo isn’t a building of course, but it does have style…

(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 3, 2013

The Thatching Tradition, More Than Just Under Construction…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you just have to get lucky and be in the right place at the right time.

My luck was certainly in on the day that I took photographs of thatched house around the English town of Great Dunmow last summer.

I turned around from photographing one beautiful roof to see another down the road a little on the other side of the street and suddenly realised that the thatch wasn’t all neat and even: it was in the process of being worked on.

A few steps towards the driveway of the house revealed a thatcher perched high up on a ladder busy making a neat line of thatch along the top ridgeline of the house.

I called out a hello and asked if he minded me taking photos of him working and he was so intrigued by my interest that he came down the ladder for a chat.

I learned that far from being a dying trade, there are a small group of local thatchers who keep busy renovating the roofs of local houses and as we saw in yesterday’s photo series, there are also an increasing number of newer homes being built that have thatched roofs. The thatchers each have their own signature styles and patterns of thatch that fit within the local and regional styles and they take great pride in their work.

This thatcher was delighted that I wanted to feature his work and thatching in general on my blog and was very pleased that I wanted to know more about the process. I asked about the fire risk of thatched roofs and was told that because of modern building regulations and modern materials used when installing chimneys these days, that the fire risk was  negligible, but that the cost of thatch was more expensive than a tile or slate roof.That said, the thatch only needed renewing about every forty  years and the density of it made it surprisingly water and weather resistant.

I was totally fascinated by the process and couldn’t believe that Id been lucky enough to see a house in the process of having it’s thatched roof renovated.  I’ve also included some extra photos of other houses I saw that day that better show the thatch in detail.

In some of the houses where the thatch comes low to the ground level, a thin layer of chicken wire encases the the thatch… I saw this house later in the day so didn’t know why… to stop the rodent community from setting up home inside? or birds from stealing straw for their nests? All of it has character and it’s very clear that thatching is far more than a trade, it’s also an art form.

(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)

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(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)

thatched houses in Great Dunmow 1n (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 2, 2013

A Stunning Thatch On Top, With Just a Hint of Weave…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page in my last summer’s diary as we travelled to England.

We were now back in the village of Great Dunmow having earlier dropped off our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” at the train station so that she could meet up with some former colleagues and friends in central London.

We would meet up with her again later on, but on the meantime I had noticed that Great Dunmow had more than a decent share of beautiful thatched houses, so asked Himself if we could drive around the town so that I could photograph some of them.

He and the kids amused themselves nibbling at a picnic lunch whilst they waited for longer at a few stops whilst I happily took photos.

I’m amazed at how some of the patterns along the top can be so deftly done that straw starts to look more like lace…  and how beautifully even some of the scalloped effect trims were made.Thatching turns out to be a far more intricate process than I first imagined, there are beautiful patterns and different styles, and whether atop a newer style building or an obviously older one, it certainly looks stunning. It is however rather amusing to see a beautifully thatched and clearly historic building with the name of “The Queen Victoria” now occupied by an Indian Restaurant…  does that make it fusion building as well as fusion cooking?

(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)

September 1, 2013

Of Course It’s Very Un-Dutch, I Love The Differences…

During our last summer’s trip to the UK, and whilst staying in the English town of Great Dunmow,  my Singaporean friend “Velvetine”and I did a little walking around town with cameras in hand. When Himself and the kids were not at the campsite I also took photographs of the town from the car. I find English architecture very appealing, It’s definitely nothing like the New Zealand buildings I grew up with and it’s so …. so un-Dutch.  (ok, yes naturally it’s not… we aren’t in The Netherlands after all) … what I mean is that I find the differences really refreshing, so made a photo essay of what I thought were interesting images.

(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)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 31, 2013

Loving It, Hating It and Not Knowing What You Might be Letting Yourself In For…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer our visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” (I’m using her internet screen name for privacy reasons) stayed at the  Saracens Head  Hotel in Great Dunmow whilst Himself and the kids enjoyed roughing it in tents with a group of friends.

One of the bonuses of staying in a hotel was that breakfast was included so over the time of our stay we collected quite a few Foodie photos. This is a compilation of them all.

“Velvetine”  adores eggs, so opted for an egg dish every day in the form of a cooked English breakfast or  Eggs Benedict (with Hollandaise sauce)  or Egg Florentine (with hollandaise and spinach), and another version that I can’t remember the name of that had salmon as the extra ingredient.

I also rekindled my love of Marmite… when I first came to Europe I was used to the New Zealand version of Marmite and didn’t like the flavour of the English one,  and then it became a moot point because Marmite wasn’t available in the Netherlands anyway.

Now, years later I can get Marmite in one of the Dutch  ex-pat specialty shops but never bothered because I assumed I wouldn’t  like it. On a whim I tried Marmite again some 20 years after my first attempt at British marmite and probably because I have completely lost the taste of the New Zealand version, I discovered I liked it, and liked it a lot.

A large pot of marmite went into our shopping basket before we went back to the Netherlands and I have been buying it and having it semi-regularly ever since.  Marmite is a “love it” or “hate it” kind of taste, and I have one enduring memory of it as a child.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think that my sister and must have been around eight years old.  My Dutch Oma (grandmother) was visiting New Zealand and she didn’t speak English.

My sister and I had limited Dutch. The kitchen was a little off the dining room and my Father and Mother were busy there, leaving my sister and I with Oma at the breakfast table.

We looked in awe and amazement when Oma suddenly seized the pot of Marmite with great delight and issued a torrent of excited Dutch at a rate we had no hope of keeping up with.

I clearly remember her spreading a very thick layer of Marmite on her bread and watched as the slow-motion-like sequence of events unfolded. She raised the bread to her mouth with a massive smile, My sister and I were still dumb-struck at how much Marmite she had used and sat in stupid wonder.

As she chewed that first bite a look of shock and horror came over her face and her whole face crumpled up, and we then witnessed an elderly lady make a spritely dash for the rubbish tin accross the room, where the offending material was deposited.

Then came the shriek of disgust and another torrent of Dutch that bought my father running from the kitchen, as apparently Oma thought she had found some sort of Dutch stroop (a sweet  dark syrup) in New Zealand that she really missed and had expected something sweet on her bread.

It appeared that her bitter disappointment was both figurative and literal.  My Father then gave my sister and I a strict telling off for not stopping her… which I remember to this day because I thought it most unjust.

How were we to have known that she didn’t know it was Marmite? The transformation on Oma’s face as the realisation hit was however an enduring memory that will remain with me for all my days. Now I can laugh and see the funny side but at the time she definitely couldn’t.  I suppose it was safe to say that we didn’t any translation that day to tell us that she wasn’t in the Marmite  “love it” camp.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think Velvetine made off with the photo trophy of the series with these two very photogenic Egg Florentine photographs…

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

August 13, 2013

A Cup Of Tea and Local Knowledge Sends Us on a New Adventure…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags:
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer  we allowed extra time around the meeting we want to attend in Great Dunmow,  so we find ourselves with a day free of plans, but this changed when we unexpectedly got a morning tea invitation from a new friend we met via the group we were meeting up with.

Our host lives fairly local to where we are so mid morning finds us enjoying a cuppa and admiring her beautiful home, the oldest parts of which are several centuries old.

Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr. quickly make friends with several of the canine family pets one of whom is elderly and equally enamoured with Little Mr. because he seemingly never tires of scratching her belly.

Our host is an avid gardener so the spade knocker on the garden shed seemed very appropriate. I loved how the moss grows around the tiles on the roof and the whole house has character, even one of the exit doors is huge (probably put into place during centuries when ladies skirts were rather wider than they have been for a long long time). It’s actually the local knowledge from this new friend that sets us out on our next and unexpected adventure… tea and talk finished, directions in hand we set out for our recommended destination.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Keys to the potting shed..

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 3, 2013

Finding Edward Makes Our Day Complete…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer Family Kiwidutch took our visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” with us on a European holiday.

As per yesterday’s post she and I are staying at the Saracens Head Hotel in Great Dunmow, close to Stansted airport in the UK whilst Himself and the kids pitch the tent with a group we are meeting here.

This afternoon after lunch I had a nap whilst they went out to the campground and installed themselves, and gossiped caught up with other early arriving friends who are also there.

By early evening Velvetine is back  at the hotel and I’m rested enough to get the crutches out for a walk around town. We are on a mission…  after our earlier disappointment at the hotel restaurant today, we are on a fish and chip finding mission.

Velvetine’s fears of  freezing in the United Kingdom are allayed by the fact that the weather is hot and dry and the early evening temperature is a balmy 25 C so perfect for an evening exploring. We set out down the main street and after several blocks come across what looks like the perfect fish and chip establishment. It’s called “Edwards” and the  fish looks great.  At £4.40  per piece it’s not cheap, but the pieces are decently sized and it’s quality fish so we don’t mind the price in the least.

I’m  also keen on trying a battered hot dog and Velvetine  is interested in trying a fish cake and a pickled egg  as well as our piece of fish each so we skip getting hot chips (fries) and concentrate on the bits that we know we are really craving.  Back in our hotel room we unwrap our goodies from their paper packaging cocoons and tuck in…. hmmm these are exactly what we have been looking forward to in recent days.  Seriously yummy…

(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)

August 2, 2013

Saracens Head Menu, How Much… For HOW Much???!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With some help from Himself and the kids Velvetine and I have installed ourselves  in our hotel  room at the Saracens Head Hotel in Great Dunmow and now the troops  declared  themselves hungry and thirsty so the next logical step is to adjourn to the hotel restaurant for lunch.

As with any visit to the United Kingdom we are usually hanging out for a fix of fish and chips, and so duly asked if it were available on the menu please.

It was, but only on the children’s menu and the mention that we had just arrived from abroad and were really looking forward to fish and chips along with a polite request for the adults to please have a child  (or even and adult) portion of fish and chips was as equally politely  refused.

We were rather taken aback but they were adamant, no fish and chips would be served to adults.  We had no clue if this was standard attitude in the UK these days or if it was as it seemed to us, just plain weird. Half of us were keen to go elsewhere for fish and chips for all of us, but we had hit on that age old restaurant dilemma, we didn’t know the town, or where to find fish and chips, we had made ourselves comfortable, it was hot and the cold drinks we had ordered had arrived, and the kids now wanted said fish and chips from this menu.

The adults craving fish and chips were now in the uncomfortable position of the possibility of looking elsewhere with no guarantee of success so sucked it in and took a look at the menu to look at alternative options.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Under  the heading of “light lunch”  we chose “Pan fried Mackerel fillet  on toasted ciabatta served with herbed potato salad (£11,–)” and a “home-made british beef burger, mature cheddar cheese with smoked bacon, skinny chips and mixed salad (£10.50) “, fish and chips  for the kids and added  a portion of pork scratchings because we none of us had ever tried them before and were intrigued.

Our lunch arrived and we were all very hungry. I have to say it was all delicious but clearly “light lunch” actually meant miniscule portions more than mega healthy menu  and all three adults were still hungry after we’d eaten. (the pieces of bread the mackerel was served on were about as long as your thumb). The waitress came to ask if our lunch was ok and Himself  mentioned that it was delicious but there didn’t seem to be much of it, she shrugged  her shoulders in response and said that was how they served it here.

Now somewhat annoyed by these facts we decided to cut our losses and get an earlier than planned fish and chip dinner. The final blow came when the bill arrived, …with added cold drinks for five people the bill came to roughly £55,–  (approx Euro 70,–) which seemed an awful lot  of money for so little food.

It certainly made the job of deciding where to have dinner easier:  at these prices, anywhere but here.  It’s entirely possible we are out of touch with UK prices… is this maybe now the norm? We remembered it being far far cheaper in the past, have things changed so much in recent years since we were last here?

There is certainly nothing wrong with the food, but the tiny amount for so much, has definitely put us off returning  here again. Live and learn.  We leave still hungry, poorer and wiser.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 1, 2013

The Saracens Head Hotel in Great Dunmow… Our Easier Alternative…

Filed under: Accomodation,ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page of my last summer’s diary and we have arrived in the English village of Great Dunmow and our Singaporean friend and I are off to make ourselves comfortable at the  Saracens Head Hotel.

My foot injury leaves me in no condition to crawl in and out of sleeping bags, or to hobble across a field to a lavatory in the middle of the night on crutches, and Velvetine, direct from her tropical home is worried that she may freeze to death in an English summer.

We assure her it’s probably not possible but Northern european summers being what they are, I wouldn’t actually want to swear to that with any guarantee.

The hotel is situated at one end of what appears to be the main street of the village and has an ample car park area at the back.

She and I are going to share a hotel room and leave Himself and the kids to the joys of sleeping under canvas with the rest of the group we are meeting up with. With my offspring racing our suitcases on wheels like wannabe Formula 1 racing drivers, we go to check out our hotel room. It’s a twin room with all mod cons and will do very nicely indeed. Let’s take a look around…

(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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