Local Heart, Global Soul

November 3, 2016

Micro-Landmarks Help Us Find And Loose Our Way…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When you see a particular item often enough in the same place, it becomes an ingrained tiny “icon” in your mental roadmap of a city.

Some shops have distinctive signage, other businesses or homes have something that marks them out so whenever you see their landmark feature even if you were a kid waking up from a sleep in the back seat, you could instantly know exactly where you were.

Mostly we are barely conscious of these micro-landmarks, they are just points on our journey that make us smile, or realise how far away or close we are to home.

Maybe they are items to be ticked off on a mental map, once we have passed this one, we know which other one will be next and thus we navigate around without having to bother remembering the names of every street we cross or pass by.

So strong is this way of people making their day to day journey’s that it brings to mind a funny incident from my youth in New Zealand.

I was living in Christchurch and going to a summer BBQ party at a friend’ place on the other side of the city.  I’d finished work, popped home to make a dessert, packed it and meat for the BBQ into a chilli bin (cool box) in the car and set out for my friend’s place. This particular friend was the only person from our social group that lived in this neighbourhood and so I went here far less frequently than other parts of the city where several friends lived dotted close together.

Suddenly I became aware that I wasn’t quite certain of my surroundings. The street didn’t feel familiar but I couldn’t put my thumb on where I had lost my way. I looked around for a familiar landmark and saw none, then rounded a corner to see a small row of shops which I vaguely recognised, and as the shock set in, remembered roughly where I was and that it was nowhere where I wanted to be. I also had no clue how to get to my friends place from this direction. No mobile phones in those days but there were plenty of public phone boxes, so I sheepishly found one and dialed my friend, told her I was lost, could she please give me directions to her place?
Her first words in reply to this was a gwaff of a laugh and then an exclamation: “Another One!” to which I could hear a group of people laughing in the background. A few detailed directions and a little while later I was walking up to her front door.  Out of about thirty guests, five of us completely lost our way that evening and the reason why turned out to be astoundingly simple: the landmark old red painted wooden fence  around a house that we all used on a bigger street to tell us where to turn off had been torn down to make way for  the owners garden landscaping overhaul. We were all so used to being on autopilot that we’d each driven past where we should have turned because we didn’t find it.

Most of the micro-landmarks we use every day are not so important of course but it’s humbling to know that changing them may well change the way people find their way around, or more commonly probably, give others directions. Today’s post is about one such micro-landmark: the white bike outside Kemper Fietsen (Kemper Cycles). Located on the  corner of  Waldeck Pyrmontkade and Prins Hendrikstraat, this company has been going for twenty-five years and is a well known bike company.

The white bike in question looks like a cross between a cocoon and something destined to break the land-speed record. It’s an enclosed recumbent cycle so you can cycle in the rain without getting wet. It’s certainly not your average everyday bicycle. Sometimes we see it parked with the other bikes. other time up against the shop… one thing is for certain, every time we pass, we look for it, our familiar little white micro-landmark.

March 31, 2016

A Wheelchair Bike… What A Brilliant Idea!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Everyone knows that the Dutch have a massive passion for cycling and that the Netherlands has a long tradition of being a cycling nation.

There are cycle paths everywhere and bikes come in all shapes, types and sizes: from the classic models to bakfiets, (cargo bikes), bikes that carry both kids and adults together, trikes for those who need a bit more stability than the classic two-wheeler, recumbents and more.

Recently there are bikes that also come in the electric variety so riders can have some help with peddling when battling a head wind, but even so I constantly seem to be able to find a new sort of bike to surprise me.

My Mother-in-law is 93 years old and recently has had multiple health issues relating to pure old age. After a recent stint in hospital she needed to spend some time in the section of an old people’s home reserved for people too well for hospital but not yet well enough to go back home.

Family have been visiting every day and she will be back in her own home very soon, but reality is that her body and faculties are slowly but surely fading so who knows how long her time at home will last.

In the meantime family are busy making sure that her life is comfortable and that she stays as well and happy as possible. At the home she is presently staying in I found my latest bicycle surprise: a bike that can take a wheelchair for a spin! The bike is of course electric, otherwise the weight of the ensemble would be too difficult to push. It’s a brilliant idea, and what a great way to take someone in a wheelchair for a breath of fresh air.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 23, 2013

A Very Different Sort of Parking Garage…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my final post  for the moment about Hollands Spoor Station, I am always amazed about how many people in the Netherlands cycle… in fact there are said to be around 14 million bikes in the Netherlands, and with a population of about 17 million people that’s some serious cycling.

What’s even more amazing is how often these bikes are used… forget just taking the bike out for a Sunday jaunt maybe if the weather is nice, No: the Dutch ride their bikes daily, in rain, hail, sleet and shine.

Due to my lung condition I’m the only non-cyclist in our household, but our home still currently boasts  four bikes, plus  a child’s “step”  (a non-motorised scooter) and a unicycle that Kiwi Daughter is admirably proficient in riding.

Until a short while ago we had several more kid bikes on top of this tally too but they’ve gone to the neighbours after our kids grew a bit big for them.

Bikes here in the Netherlands are regularly seen overloaded with goods you wouldn’t think possible on a bike:  Amongst the things I’ve personally seen locals peddling down the city cycle paths with are:  a mattress for a double bed (I was waiting for a tram and when this guy went past everyone in the tram halt laughed and then loudly cheered and encouraged him on), a man balancing large IKEA-like flat pack furniture, a bedside cabinet perched on the back carrier…

And then there are the human cargo’s: a girl peddling whilst her boyfriend on the back carrier  held on to two crates of beer, one on each side,  a young guy peddling with a girl on the bar, another on the handlebars and a third on the carrier behind, and people carrying  kids, groceries, shopping parcels and flowers in such massive quantities that the tyres were  squished almost flat to the road… and much more too much to detail in one blog post.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s common practice for Dutch train commuters to own two or three bikes: two will be old bikes that are hopefully not worth stealing… one gets ridden from home to the train station, and left locked up in the bike racks there, the other is waiting in a bike rack at the Station of their destination and get ridden from the station to work. The process is reversed for the journey home.

Often there will also be a “good”  bike at home that lives in the hallway, or in the garden shed if you are lucky enough to have a garden or kept in  a “fietsstalling”  ( with a paid local bike storage business). This is the more expensive bike that’s used for recreational touring,  social trips etc.

This cycle “garage” at Hollands Spoor  is actually rather small if you compare it to for instance the one at The Hague’s Central Station… but the limit  is more imposed by lack of space around Hollands Spoor Station rather than by lack of numbers of bikes needing to be parked.

Over time, I’ve photographed it from a distance, from inside and from the trams that run alongside it:  Let’s take a look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 22, 2009

More Cool Bakfiets…

Filed under: On yer Bike!,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

More cool bakfiets for my collection… I’ve been taking lots of photos lately whilst out and about, and literally making photos whilst the sun shines. Heck remembering that this is the Netherlands, famous for their very very fickle summers: so I should phrase that more accurately: taking photos whilst daylight exisits… the winters are long and if not dark, then a very decent shade of grey. Consequently, I’m now need to urgently spend some serious time sorting photos out before the hard drive on my computer has an anurism from the sheer volume. ( I don’t even want to think about that) please bear with me, many more photo treats are on the way!

bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

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