Local Heart, Global Soul

October 8, 2019

Beautiful No Matter Where It Is…

Filed under: ART,LIFE,Mural,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

Himself has been ferrying me back and forth to multiple hospital appointments in recent months and in addition to that I’ve tagged along on a few of Little Mr’s Fire Station hunts so on one chips sometimes I end up with a few photos where I scratch my head and think: “Was that there?, or There?, Or There?!”.
I think there are ways to track down where you took a photograph but if I’m honest I’m lazy and I have enough technical issues with computer as it is.
So, the biggest chances are that this Mural is in Delft, Leiden or Rotterdam (but could be somewhere else in South Holland too since I’m a bit out of synk at the moment). In the end, never mind, we can enjoy it’s beauty and the creative spirit that made it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 7, 2019

I’m Right! … Actually Maybe Not!

Our house has been undergoing a massive renovation this year, so we have taken the chance to do a massive Spring Clean in slow stages around all of the work. It’s been a slow process because we had no idea just how much “stuff”we had accumulated, and  the bewilderment of how many parts of toys were sperad out in so many different areas of the house. (I’m not even sure how some bits got into so totally unrealated boxes in the first place… we have toy goblins who make mischief it seems). Christmas Tree decorations also suffered this fate, so when a little bix of Christmas bits turned up, I recognised a small stained glass orgament that I bought as part of a set in New Zealand.

Kiwi Daughter immediately exclaimed: “Ooooh THAT, I remember that one! I made that so long ago when one time we had to go to one of those School Holiday programe thing that Little Mr and I both hated.” (Himself and I both had to work at the time, so the kids had to an organised childcare programme for the week – tears and drama galore from them both, they HATED it with a vengence, so we did it twice from sheer necessity and then never again).

I tried to tell her that: “No… this angel was one I bought in New Zealand.” She disagreed vermently, this was the one she made. Ok, kid, have it your way. Vindication came about ten minutes later then there was an excited: “Hey! Look at Thi….  …Ohhh”. Silence, Then an explosion of giggles. She had something in her hand that she didn’t want to show me. Eventually when she could mange to talk she showed me what was wrapped in tissue paper in her hand, and said: “uhhh, actually THIS is the one I made in that horrible school holiday programme” Then more laughter. I think that for you, photographs will explain more than words ever could…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I must note though: if there was a fire in the house, it’s Kiwi Daughters ornament I would save in a nano second, the other one, beautiful as it is, would not even get a second glance. One may be professional and expensive, the other is the real treasure and priceless.

October 3, 2019

Rude Information?

Peeling carrots recently, I came across this little gem. I will leave it to you to decide how to look at it… is this carrot giving me Information? Or representing something more rude? Or a combination of them both…. Rude Information!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 2, 2019

Thinning Out The Plastic…

Filed under: LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Plastic has become a huge world issue of late, and for very good and very alarming reasons. The lastest UN environmental reports show that global warming is excellerating faster than ever before, from fires in the Brazilian rainforest to the abnormal amount of icemelt in Greenland, Mother Nature is doing her best to tell us to stop talking and start sitting up and taking notice.

Recycling is big in the Netherlands, (but could always be that tiny bit better)  after all this country doesn’t have a lot of space for landfill, so it pays to avoid the problem of where to put it by producing as little of it as possible.  I noticed whenever we visiting America, I am shocked that things like yoghurt post are make of seriously thick plastic.

I’d like to show how we already address the issue of using the least amount plastic as possible, and I wish that the world would pool all of it’s great ideas about reducing plastic: who knows how far we could decrease it if it were like a consumer driven competitive sport. Win for the consumer, win for the environment. In the first photograph we see a typical Dutch yoghurt pot, family size from our local supermarket. It’s empty and the pot has been washed out.  We see the product information and advertising on the outer paper wrapper, and the lid. First remove the lid…

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The outside bit in colour is actually thick paper7cardboard, and there is a “tear here” spot at the top where to two ends of the paper join.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The paper then comes away, and when it does it becomes apparent that the carboard works in conjunction with the thin plastic liner inside to hold the product firmly and in a stable fashion whilst joghurt is on the shelves.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Off comes the cardboard / thick paper sleeve. The bottom is reenforced for strength. This part heads into our paper recycling bin…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are then left with the thinnest of plastic pots inside, it’s very flexible and almost transparent. I hope that with technology, this could become even thinner yet.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The thin plastic pot and lid head to plastic recycling. I wonder if we can find something new to replace plastic ? The world needs to pool resources so that we learn from our plastic mistakes and use the stuff only where and when it is really necessary. Any future plastic we use also needs to be 100% recyclable. Our children and grandchildren will rightly blame us if we do nothing, but will see that we took action if we can redeem this environmental disaster. (I was about to say “looming environmental disaster”, but let’s face reality, with mirco-plastic now found in fish and even in our drinking water, the plastic disaster is already here!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 24, 2019

An Endurance Race To Help The Human Race…

Filed under: LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Sometimes we don’t do very much with ourselves to attempt to change the world because we think “I am just one person, what can I do? What difference can I make?

Well, draw up a seat, today’s post is all about one person making a difference and he has a large majority of the Netherlands currently (as you read this) watching him do it.

This amazing individual is Maarten van der Weijden.

Some people outside of the Netherlands have heard about the famous Elfstedentocht winter ice-skating race.

Elfstedentocht” literally means “eleven city tour” and it’s where when the winter ice is thick enough, 300 speed and 16 000 recreational skaters race around an almost 200 km (120 mi) circuit that connects eleven cities on the northern Dutch province of Friesland.

The biggest problem though is that the entire race takes place on natural ice, so weather has to be cold enough to form ice minimum 15 centimetres (6 in) thick and once this happens, before the freeze turns to thaw,  the Elfstedentocht race gets a green light only about 48 hours before it actually happens. Therefore thousands of Dutch skaters train hard in the hope of a hard winter and the forming of thick ice. These skaters are selected each year by qualifying in other races (speed skating group), or from clubs and general public by lottery (for the rest).

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

It’s a grueling race, natural ice is not smooth like ice-rink ice so it take both endurance and concentration to finish the 199 km race, and many fail to finish.

When my Father was a child he said he remembered one Elfstedentocht after another, actually there have been six of them between 1940 and 1956.

However global warming has meant warmer winters so there have only been four Elfstedentochten in the past 50 years.

If humanity stays on it’s present course of C02 emissions, then my children may never see one raced in their lifetime.

So, on a super sunny weekend in June, why are we talking about a winter ice-skating race? Because it’s being raced again… not on skates this time but swum by a long distance swimmer.

Maarten van der Weijden is a Dutch Beijing Olympic Gold medal winner of the 10 km Open Water event, Gold medal in the Seville World Championship 25 km Open Water event, plus an impressive list of other long distance open water swims. Maarten swims many long distance events in aid of cancer research and attempted this 199 km swim in 2018 for the first time but his body failed him due to sickness at 163 km, three days into this four day, day and night endurance test and he had to leave the water. He raised 5 Million Euros for eleven cancer charities and after a short break, decided that he wanted to try again this year.

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Many lessons were learned, the water quality in some of the canals had been below par and this is what had caused his sickness. The water quality issue has since been rectified. His 2018 wet-suit was not enough to keep out the cold, they had planned too few warm meals for the amount of energy he was burning swimming almost 24 hours around the clock, four days straight, the nights were mentally challenging, swimming in the dark.

Lessons learned, he is now wearing a custom made specially insulated wet-suit, a a volunteer chef on board the support boat makes hot, high calorie, but most of all tasty meals roughly every 40 minutes, so that Maarten eats even when he’s too tired to feel like eating, he’s swimming on the weekend closest to the 2019 Summer Solstice (Friday 21 June) when there are the most hours of daylight and thus the shortest nights.

He sleeps for 1 hour at a time in a tent rigged on the boat (judging by the pics on TV he doesn’t look like he even takes off the wet-suit) and this time he is swimming for more charities and hopes to raise much more.

Maarten has said that with the lessons learned from his first swim he hopes to finish this time and he also doesn’t want to be known as the man who set out to do this twice and failed twice, so that should keep him going.

If you are reading this between the Sunday evening 23rd June and Monday evening 24th June 2019 (GMT +1), Maarten is swimming as you read.

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

He also said he has a secret weapon on board the support boat: his wife, who’s job it is to tell him whatever he needs to hear to keep him going through the toughest moments, but so that she doesn’t feel like she can be hurting him by pushing too hard there is also a Doctor on board who’s job is to get Maarten out of the water if for medical reasons it be deemed unsafe for his health to continue.

So far he has swum close to three quarters of the Elfstedentocht route, the public have come out to support him in droves, sometimes lined up 10 deep in the cities. They have been there supporting him during the night too, tractors and cars lined up with their lights on in fields alongside the canals, crowds of people on bridges with lamps and phone lights in the middle of the night, and in small villages between the cities.

Dutch television is following his progress and so I snapped these photographs from the Children’s News (Zapp) because that happened to be where I caught up with Maarten’s progress tonight. Thanks therefore to the NPO TV Channel.

Just like in the official Elfstedentocht winter race there is a card that has to be stamped at a checkpoint in each of the eleven cities he passes through in order to have officially completed the race. Maarten’s support boat carries it for him whilst he swims becuase it’s a large symbolic board, and he gets it back directly before handing it in at the checkpoint.

If swimming almost around the clock from Friday evening until Monday evening was not enough, all of this is personal for Maarten, who is himself a leukemia survivor.

I am not only proud of what Maarten van der Weijden is doing, I am also amazed at what one individual can do to contribute to changing the world for good.

Wiki/Maarten van der Weijden / Elfstedentocht / Cancer Research / Swimmer /Open Water / 199 km/ 4 days / The Netherlands

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Maarten eating a warm meal that’s on a floating tray so that he doesn’t have to get out of the water…

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

June 9, 2019

FIFAWWC: When BBC Commentators SERIOUSLY Dropped The Ball…

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

I’m just popping an extra (unrelated) post in between my Sand Sculpture Exhibition series. Two days ago on the evening of Friday 7th June 2019, saw the kick-off of the FIFA WWC (Women’s World Cup) in the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. Whilst there have already been six other Women’s World Cups, this is the first one I have really been aware of.

According to the Dutch commentators, viewing figures for previous Cups were in the hundreds of thousands, but viewing figures for this one is expected to be just over one billion spectators around the world. Whilst this is still not in the same league as the mens game that captured some 3 billion viewers but it’s a HUGE leap in the right direction and my dream now is to see both World Cups held together, simultaneously.

After all, if we can have one month of crazy football that everyone loves, why not two? We don’t have a separate Men’s and Women’s Olympics after all.

One of the biggest contributors to these viewing figures is that even in football crazy Netherlands, this is the first time not just the final, but ALL of the games will be broadcast on a major TV channels. There are 24 countries taking part, divided into groups of four (by random draw back in December 2018) and this is called the Pool stage of the event.

Each teams takes a turn at playing each of the other teams in their group, their total scores of games won and goals scored determining if they move on to the elimination rounds. The elimination round is where entire countries bite their nails as they watch their teams play these knock-out games.

This televisation of all of the games on a major TV channel is a major step forward not just for womens football but for all female athletes around the world, as they try and bridge the gap between men and women players especially in professional levels. There is still a massive discrepancy in prize money, sponsorship and TV coverage in general, but this at least is an excellent first step.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was also delighted to see none of the “dramatics” of the mens game where players feign falls from non-tackles in an attempt to gain penalty shots or unfair advantage.

There was no aggression on the pitch, no red or yellow cards given out, an example many of the Mens teams could learn from.

Best of all were the marked increase in women in the stands and not only that, but seeing so many little girls with them, cheering their heroes on the pitch. So, therefore on the pitch at least everything is exceeding my expectations.

I was listening to the Dutch commentary but wanted to try and get some information about the New Zealand team (or even an alternative view of the Dutch one from a non-Dutch country) so switched to the BBC1 coverage halfway through the second half.

I didn’t get the commentators names but “Johnathan”, Alex” and “Sue” were mentioned, Surnames I also don’t know, or the players names (yet!) so apologies for that in advance.

The BBC1 commentary soon however had me spitting sparks, so much so that I immediately wrote what they said as best I could into my phone so that I could transfer it here later as accurately as possible.

The scenario was as follows: The FIFA WWC Opening match, France are playing South Korea and the score was 3-0 to France (at that point). France have dominated the game, the Koren players often getting possession of the ball but not able to keep it for long enough to make any attack on the French goal.

One of the Korean players gets the ball and proceeds a fair way down the pitch, she then looses the ball to a French player and the male commentator said: “Korean player (name) lost possession of the ball, she was doing so well, so she must be heartbroken”…. and a short while later the female commentator said: “player (name) was so brave getting right up to the box” (btw: the box is a square area directly in front of the goal).

I have watched countless mens football matches and NEVER have I ever heard the words “heartbroken” and ‘brave” used by commentators. Worse still it was also mentioned that one of the French players was less involved in play than expected before the match, the remark then followed that “she had cried during the singing of the French national anthem and so was probably quite emotional” THIS  given as a possible reason for her lesser involvement. Seriously?

Excuse me, but I have seem plenty of tears during the playing of national anthem for men… it’s a stirring moment, when your National Anthem plays, the full realisation probably kicks in, feeling both the pressure and pride in playing for their country and knowing the game is being televised to billions. I see NO shame for tears during a National Anthem, be they mens or womens.

But why are the commentators using words during the game that appear to make female players less than their male counterparts? Why are emotional words being used for the women and why are we aren’t getting the same sort of commentary that I expect to hear during a mens match? Shame on you BBC1. The Dutch commentator managed quite easily to talk all about the game and players without using these “soft” words and making it personal. Those players on the pitch are professional athletes, not sporting lightweights, they are tough, young and playing the game at full strength, just like any young man does.

The BBC commentators choice of words are in my humble opinion belittling these fine athletes, effectively forcing one step backwards, for the two steps forwards for all of womens sport that is taking place on the pitch.

Rant over.

Wikipedia / FIFA / Women’s World Cup / France / 2019

May 27, 2019

Sand Gets Everywhere, Especially Your Best Memories…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is a definite advantage to living close to the coast.

Not only that, we live very close to the beach so there was nothing that our kids liked better when they were small than to go play in sand with a bucket and spade.

Sandcastles were not always in fashion, but creating canals and waterways for the incoming waves to rush into was always popular.

Our old washing machine probably met with an early grave having to cope with all the sand that buried itself in the depths of shorts or pants pockets, and jackets too if it was warm but a little freshly windy on the coast.

No matter how many times I  shook them out beforehand, more of the stuff would find it’s way into the internals of the poor machine.

Caps would be wet because they’d blown off in the wind and landed in the waves. Trousers would have wet seats and the cuffs at the bottom would be soaked, their hair would be streaked from their sticky hands, a mixture of sunscreen, sea water and sand. I’d pat the kids down with a towel before they stepped into the bath but there would always be a smudge of sand in the bottom when they got out. You know, I wouldn’t change it for the world, especially when they were toddlers.

They loved, loved, loved, getting filthy dirty in sand and wet through. Apartment living means we don’t have a garden, so sand in a way was their ‘dirt” and they loved it. Every kid should get to have messy play times. We had a large collection of “special” sticks and shells, but drew the line at seaweed and any shell that looked like it might still have an inhabitant. Some of the shells we kept, now living on top of the soil of the window-ledge pot-plants. This sculpture piece in the 2017 Garderen Sand Sculpture exhibition reminds me of those days.

The Information board translates as: “Building sandcastles”, “On the beach near the tide line building sandcastles with the whole family. Towers and walls, a moat so deep that it fills by itself… And when the tide comes in we see it slowly crumble and disappear in the waves.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 19, 2019

The Cutest, Most Determined Perseverance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I usually try not to post photographs of children but since almost every photo I took of this little girl does not show her face, (and the one that did, I edited), I decided to break my rule.

The other reason for posting this is because I took the photos back in 2017, so this child is no longer in nappies, will have grown a heap and would be rather hard to recognise from just these photos of her back.

I’m guessing her age in these photos to be between two and a half and three years old, and she demonstrates a serious determination, and a perseverance that I am sure will mean that she will grow up to be someone who chases her goals and dreams with a vengeance.

Without interruption, intervention or verbal encouragement that I heard from any adult or other child, she repeatedly attempted to put to the ball into the lowest hole “goal” on this adapted truck. This was part of the entertainment at the 2017 Food Truck festival, where there were quite a few entertainment possibilities, making this also a family friendly festival. I was very impressed with her tenacity, the fact that even though the first goes failed she kept trying. Without having the co-ordination to aim the ball and throw, her efforts were never going to pay off. I was torn between going to help and not interfering,  not seeing who the parents were and expecting that they would probably intervene any moment holding me back. Luckily her father stepped in to help eventually and she scored her ‘goal” with a big celebration afterwards. I was proud of her and her efforts, loving how she determined she was. You Go girl,  you are fabulous!

(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)

April 10, 2019

Bring Your Kids,… and Pets?

Several years ago I attended a weekend Food Truck festival. Himself and I started out early but everything started to fill up fairly quickly. At first I thought this was a small travel pram and assumed a child was inside. Imagine my surprise when the head of this little dog suddenly popped up instead. It was only when I looked more carefully at the “pram” again later that I realised that maybe this hadn’t been something built with children in mind, but was instead a pet carrier. (Not having pet meant this probably wasn’t immediately obvious to me at the time.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2019

This Thin Strip Of Plastic Goes Digital…

Filed under: LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,ROTTERDAM,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Technology is growing around us at a rate that we can no longer keep up with. Even the most simple things in life have gone digital.

I undergo treatment which requires week long infusion every three months in an effort to combat my severe and constant pain.

That’s currently done in a hospital fairly local to me. Concurrently I have also been going through a selection process in a different hospital, and got accepted for for a much larger medical trial: Neuromodulation.

I’ll expand more on what exactly that is in future posts. Today’s post is about the slim white band that gets slapped around the wrist of every hospital in-patient during the registration process.

It’s your ID so that when you are in an unconscious state snoozing off the anesthetic you can be identified and treated correctly. Usually this thin white strip contains printed data: name, date of birth, patient number and maybe a few other details essential or the hospital system. On this occasion I find something extra: a QR Code. Hospital staff can actually pull up a huge amount of my medical data just by scanning my wrist. I attempted to scan it myself with the QR data App on my phone but got no results.

Just in case it’s readable some other way, I have erased part of the QR square, as well as (obviously) my usual printed identifying information. I’m surprised to see that such a simple piece of “equipment’ has gone digital but thinking about it, it is amazing sensible. After all if you are moving patients around from multiple departments, scanning, x-ray, operating theatres and rooms, then having as much detail available on them at possible can be life-saving if things are going wrong. This information also remains private within the hospital system. Introducing a QR Code to my wrist seems to be one digital advancement that makes perfect sense.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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