Local Heart, Global Soul

February 4, 2017

No One Seems To Be Sitting On The Fence…

Filed under: Calais,Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After the funeral service of one of our friends in Folkestone, England, we visit our friend’s wife at home.

We know that there will be some time needed before she will feel like a holiday abroad, but make it known that she is always welcome at our home in The Netherlands.

She made several visits with her husband before, we know that the first one without him will not be easy.

We have a very early start the next morning because we have to be back in the Hague in time to pick the kids up from the locations where they have been billeted.

The journey on the channel tunnel train goes smoothly, and soon we are exiting the Calais area.

At once the tall barrier fences everywhere become obvious: needed because of the constant stream of refugees and people seeking a better economic future in the United Kingdom are risking life and limb to cross the channel by getting into the channel train tunnel.

They also try and gain access to the Port of Calais, board tourist campers and vans, and commercial trucks, and we saw on this trip and previous one, pairs or groups of people walking close to the fences, looking for a way through them or around them. It’s a sad statement about the inequalities of not just standards of living around the world but also the huge variations in political stability that forces people to be desperate enough to make these dangerous attempts.  These fences have grown and grown in recent years, so now we can be even quite a way out from Calais and we see the fences starting. They are a sign of the current times… whatever you think about the situation that makes them necessary: opinions are usually starkly divided: no one seems to be sitting on the fence.

(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)

February 1, 2017

Always Speak nicely To An Officer With A Gun…

Filed under: Calais,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Heading towards Calais, Himself and I needed to cross the channel via the Channel Tunnel in order to attend the funeral of a good friend.

We got close to where we need to board the  train, but first we have to clear French and United Kingdom Douanes (Customs).

As citizens of the European Union, travel between member states is usually just a formality, but the UK does have it’s own additional checks.

The French “Douane” (pronounced “do- arn- nuh“) officers wave drug detecting wands into the car, use mirrors look under the car and we drive past barriers that house goodness what kind of machines for detecting smuggled goods or people.

One thing is for sure, they are not giving away their secrets. Our passports are checked rigorously, casual questions asked. Both Himself and I reply in French, happy to oblige. On this occasion we are through quickly, but the previous Summer when Himself travelled alone to the UK to attend a meeting and fundraise for the charity we support, he was delayed by French customs for more than fifteen minutes. He was questioned at length about the duration of his stay, why he was travelling alone and a myriad of other things.

He had no idea if he was the “lucky winner” of a random check or if a man travelling alone in a large car,  carrying boxes of things to be sold for the fundraiser was taken as being suspicious, either way they were very interested in his movements and intentions. On this occasion we just answered the questions, had our passports checked and were directed to the United Kingdom’s own customs stop under the next set of canopies further along.

We don’t mind the checks,  believing that it’s better to check too much, than too little these days, especially when we are about to travel at high speed on a train through a tunnel under the sea for thirty-five minutes.  Ditto aircraft: better safe than sorry. As some of the border agents left, others arrived. Because of the possible queues here our travel advice is fairly simple, have all of your necessary documents up to date and ready to present to the douane officials when requested. They have a difficult enough job without waiting for you to unpack your car so that you can get your passport out of your suitcase. Also, they carry guns. never joke or mess with an officer with a gun.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 31, 2017

With A Figure Like This, It’s No Wonder It Turns Heads…

Filed under: Calais,Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Calais is a busy place in the summer months, there is a constant stream of traffic heading back and forth to the United Kingdom.

Of course it’s a traffic flow that goes on year round, but I think especially in the summer there is more of a chance to see unusual vehicles and sights.

Personally we have seen highly decorated team vehicles making the crossing just before the London 2012 Olympics, and on this occasion we get to add another interesting mode of transport to our list.

We were waiting behind this one, and it was a very interesting view: a three wheeled vehicle, where the single wheel is at the rear of the car, therefore two at the front, and unique in shape.

This stunning car was also noticeable for the fact that it sits very low to the ground, I’m sure it must have something to do with the handling, style and driving experience but my layman’s first thought was: “imagine sitting that low at a red light with the exhaust pipe of the car in front of you almost fair and square in your face“.  That said, even with the sum total of my car knowledge able to be written in a postage stamp, I could see that these lines were stylish and beautiful, that it had the grace of a vintage car married to the speed and style of a racing one.
I asked Himself if he had any idea what Make the car was. “Morgancame the reply, adding that the company is still in the Morgan family and still running, and from the first day of production until today, each and every car is completely hand made.

Naturally it’s instantly clear that quality is valued above quantity, and needless to say, any buyer would need to have deep pockets.  I have of course edited identifying details from the number plate and also of the driver who’s face was reflected in the mirror.

The driver was wearing a tight fitting leather “helmet” and old fashioned 1920’s or 30’s style driving goggles. I think that this attire fits in perfectly with the car, they clearly care about authenticity as well as a driving experience in a head turning motor. The detail fanatic in me adores this car, it’s sophisticated and stunning and I was far from the only one casting admiring glances. We lost them after they cleared customs, but I bet that with a figure like this it’s no wonder their car turns heads where ever it goes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 18, 2015

Ely To Cité Europe In Record Time, Then Onwards To Home…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch travelled to England in 2013 for a family wedding.

It was a long weekend in May and apart from a disastrous cloudburst just the the bride and groom left the church, we have for the most part had beautiful weather.

The rest of the family, taking the ferry from Harrich to the Hoek van Holland have a short car ride and then a long crossing on the boat.

We, having opted for the channel tunnel have a lot of driving but a crossing that only takes thirty five minutes as opposed to the eight hours plus on the boat.

The children have asked about a possible breakfast at the Little Chef that’s almost next door to the hotel and we figure that if we are there when the doors open in the morning then we can have a quick breakfast and get onto the road in time to get to our channel crossing appointment.

As it was, traffic was lighter than we expected and we got to Folkstone over an hour earlier than we expected. We made our way to the channel tunnel and instead of having to wait, were told that there was space if we wanted to catch an earlier train.

We did, and on the French side we had time to pop in to the Cité Europe shopping centre close the channel tunnel entrance on the Calais  side of the channel.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the French side it’s also clear to see the measures that have had to have been made to stop illegal immigrants from attempting to stow away on or underneath trucks, trains and other vehicles about to make the crossing to the United Kingdom.

Exceedingly tall fences surround the Cité shopping mall and for kilometres around the train areas.

It follows the road for quite some distance  before we see open fields again.

Annoyingly we come up against one of the downsides (or upsides, depending on how you look it it) to France: weekend shopping hours have not been embraced so on this long weekend almost all of the shops in this gigantic mall are closed. I was hoping to pick up a cured ham but we are out of luck, we make our way down to find the gates leading into the supermarket are well and truly closed.

We can at least make a toilet stop and after that it’s back on the road and back to The Hague. The kids are tired and after a while squabbling and getting comfortable in the back seats, they fall asleep and a quiet peace reigns in the car as the kilometres glide by.

It’s dusk by the time we turn into our own street and it’s been a long day on the road, but the way has been smooth and the traffic easy, and we are safely home to our own beds.  It’s been a wedding to remember, and a lot of kilometres in a weekend but worth it for a special family occasion.

(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)

Interesting decoration around the restaurants…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

calais way home 1m (Small)

Cité Europe

 

November 21, 2014

Cité Europe… In Europe, But Not Actually A City…

Filed under: Calais — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The previous times we have travelled through the channel tunnel at Calais from England en route to the Netherlands, we have found ourselves for one reason or another, making the return journey on a Sunday.

That has one disappointing down-side: most shops in France (and Belgium too) are shut on Sundays and in some areas you would be hard pressed to find even a bakery open.

That’s annoying if you are a Foodie wanting to stock up on a few of your favourite French supplies on the way home.

Therefore I was delighted to find that our summer of 2013 trip ended with a Friday booking back through the channel tunnel and finally we could stop off at the place I’d been dying to visit: Cité Europe.

Cité Europe is a huge shopping centre just a stone’s throw away from the channel tunnel in Calais. They have clothes and all the regular stops you would find in a large out-of-town shopping centre, but it’s the supermarket I’m interested in with things like tins of Confit de Canard, dried hams and of course wine (for himself because (a) I drink very little wine anyway and because (b) I’ve been completely tee-total since my 2010 accident.

Alcohol and strong pain medications don’t mix but since I drank so rarely before the accident it’s not something that I miss. Himself however, enjoys a glass of red wine so he enjoys a French supermarket as much as I do. Goodies await, we go inside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter and I find a funny and ingenious graphic on the wall of the ladies lavatories to indicate what this hook is for…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr would have gladly taken this home with us, if he could have…( even though it’s as big as he is!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Grocery shopping done, we are on our way…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

September 28, 2014

Beware: A Top-Box Puts You Into A Higher Price Fare…

Filed under: Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve blogged about the Channel Tunnel before, but this is the first time that we’ve travelled though it in a vehicle bigger than the average sized car.

Camper vans are tall and are therefore the channel tunnel train operators  are unable to get a double story of vehicles onto the train.

It’s not surprising that the fares for the crossing are more expensive for bigger vehicles too, which of course we completely understand and have no issue with.

However, what I didn’t realise until we boarded the train was that an ordinary car fitted with a top-box also qualified as a “larger vehicle” and had to travel on the more expensive tariff as well.

My photograph doesn’t do justice to the size difference between the car in front of us and our camper van, we are already sitting considerably higher than them and have the compartment that houses one of the double beds above our heads in addition to that so our vehicle is massive compared to theirs. It’s a warning for people who might expect that a regular sized car with a top-box would fit in with the other cars without one, be prepared if you have a top-box for that extra luggage to be land you in the higher tariff section of the train.

September 27, 2014

A Mystery…But Where Is Google Earth When You Need It?

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

For the last few years whenever we have come close to Calais on the E40 /A16  I have had a fleeting glance of something mysterious out of the window. I’ve tried to take photographs but there are quite a few trees and bushes in the way and we have passed by in a flash. It seems that there are letters so maybe some sort of logo spelt out out on the ground, so curious, I take photographs of  a motorway road sign  to give me a rough geographical book-mark, however when I  look on “Google Earth” I can’t find it anywhere. It’s definitely been there for at least two years and It’s a mystery that I one day hope to solve.

(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 26, 2014

Stopping And Finding Our Very Own Art Exhibition…

Filed under: ART,FRANCE,Funny,kid stuff,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags:
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Families with children will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of travelling long distances with their offspring by road.

We get our kids to pack a small bag of favourite bits to keep them occupied. We allow time on electronics that we don’t allow at home and we stop regularly for rest stops.  Last year during our summer holiday we need such a stop.

One kid is hungry, the other needs a loo and I need to get out of the moving vehicle for a bit because I’m feeling green.

We pull into one of the smaller rest areas, there’s a cafe come snack bar, toilet facilities and a picnic table to sit at on the grass a few meters further.

It’s busy when we arrive and the camper isn’t small, luckily another camper pulls out and we take it’s place.

The kids make a happy discovery when the camper’s side door is opened:  the kids who were here previously have been busy adding artwork to the pavement and we have drawn up into the perfect spot to view it. I dare you not to smile as wide as we did…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 25, 2014

Leaving Paris, But I’ve Stepped In Kilometre Zero, So One Day I WILL Return!

Filed under: FRANCE,Paris,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags:
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I mentioned in recent posts that I took several taxi rides in Paris because I was unable to travel on the tour coach that my friends were on due to the tour bus operator rules on not taking non-tour party members because they would not be covered by insurance should there be an accident.

The upside of this meant that I could at least add a few photographs taken from the taxi to the ones I took during the three days I travelled around the city.

These photographs were taken in the Spring of 2009, I’ve meet up with an internet foodie friend and put a face to the name (and internet nickname) that I had been communicating with for several years. She and her husband were lovely people and we shared many a laugh together.

In this post, the last of this particular Paris series, I’ve opted for a photographic montage of some of the photos I took whilst out and about.

Paris is a city that requires some serious walking in order to see it well, Himself and I had already decided to wait until our children are old enough to appreciate Paris and old enough to do the walking themselves and of course in the meantime I have put a spanner in the works by rearranging the bones in my foot and the long recovery that that is now involving. Paris on crutches isn’t on my “to do”  list any time soon, but we will be back one day. Of course I’ve stepped on Kilometre Zero, so legend now has it that I will be sure to return one day. It’s only three and a half hours by fast train from The Netherlands and No matter how many times you visit, it’s a city that always comes up with more to see. Let’s take a final look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Hôtel-Dieu de Paris is the oldest hospital in Paris, established by Saint Landry in 651…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hôtel-Dieu de Paris with Tour St Jacques in background …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

No shortage of stunning buildings…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Voie Georges Pompidou (street)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For Sale: Three rooms (NOTE: as per usual in Europe, this means three ROOMS in total and not three BEDrooms)… also you get a total of sixty-three square meters (678 square feet) for the cheap (sigh) price of  Euro 1.050.000,–

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Interested in something a little larger? This one is one hundred and fifty square meters (1614 square feet), three rooms, yours for a mere Euro 1.700.000,– Yes, this is Paris!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tour St Jacques…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cycles for hire…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Narrow streets…

(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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B4tel-Dieu_de_Paris

April 24, 2014

Playing At Being The Train Driver…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One interesting thing about my hotel being out at Bercy Village in Paris is that my metro stop is Cour Saint-Émilion.

Ok, nothing too interesting there, but the line that this station is on is.

Paris Métro line 14 is the only Paris Métro line to be completely automated since the opening of the line. Automated in this case means driver-less!

There’s already an indication that something a little different is going on as soon as you descend into the station: instead of the usual “open” space between the platform and the train, there is in this case a massive perspex wall he whole length of the platform that has sliding doors in it at various intervals.

This is to stop passengers from falling onto the tracks. When the train comes into the station it’s programmed so that the train doors match up with the sliding doors, which once the train is stationary, open automatically.

After a short pause both the platform doors and the train doors close and the train departs. Because the trains on these lines have no drivers, it is possible to nab a seat in the very first carriage and if you are quick, a seat right at the very front by the glass window that faces down the tunnel. The glass was very thick, but I managed to take two little video clips from one of these front seats (which I had all to myself because it was fairly early on a Sunday morning and the train had very few passengers).

The videos give you the same view of the Paris Métro that a train driver would have, and I at least thought that that was rather cool. (I must have “geek” written all over me LOL). From the Paris Métro website I learned: “The line opened in October 1998 and the Line 14 tunnel passes underneath seven Métro lines, the sewers, Clichy-Capucines, four underground carparks and over two RER lines and on average 450,000 passengers take the line on working days.

Usually the line operates without problem but there have been several accidents. While the platform doors prevent access to the rails, they are susceptible to electric outages which have halted service entirely. Fortunately these incidents have been comparatively rare.

I liked the station at Cour Saint-Émilion, I was just a few short stops from the city centre and getting around Paris from this area was easy and relaxed. so much so I’d be keen to come back to this area on any future trip to Paris.

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