Local Heart, Global Soul

October 10, 2019

My Tourist Trap Treasure…

About ten years ago I bought this little print from a flee market in the Hague. The Lange Voorhout is a tourist trap as far as curios and antiques are concerned and nothing is particularly cheap, but as is the way with these things, I saw this and fell in love. I’m a detail fanatic, I adore the scrolls, the patterns in the background, dress, and side panels. It’s also lovely to see a babies head pop out of this very flat surface and quirky arrangement of the entire thing. It’s a religious piece of course, and whilst I do have faith I have no clue what the meaning is behind this picture. It’s in glass so the photographs were terrible to take, and I should probably take it somewhere to see if anything can be done about the dark spots splattered around the outer edges. It’s probably not worth enough to have expensive restoration done on it, it might even just be a page out of a religious book or  magazine.

I daren’t open up the carefully sealed and obviously old backing papers; if I have learned anything from antique TV programmes is that clueless amateurs have destroyed priceless objects with their “little clean-ups, cutting, plugging, sanding, gluing mending jobs and dabs of cleaning stuff that the internet told them would “be perfect for the job”. Nope, I’m not kidding myself, this is not in any way a priceless object, it’s of miniscule financial value and it is probably not to many people’s taste, but I love it so the sentimental value of my little treasure is indeed priceless.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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 4, 2019

Also Called “Drop Scones” …

My New Zealand Grandma always said: “You are either a Cook or Baker“. She was beyond doubt a Baker. Her meals were fine in a “meat and three veg” sort of style, but nothing adventurous. She probably did roast lamb dinners when her children were at home but even making the easy roast at home got ditched as “not worth it for just two people” (Grandma!!!… have you never heard of awesome Cottage Pie with leftover roast beef or lamb?). If they wanted a roast dinner then there were enough family style restaurants around with it on the menu and they would “treat ourselves”, as she would put it.

I’m definitely a Cook. This was confirmed rather painfully after visiting our Canadian friends. “F” had made amazing scones. Light, fantastically risen, beautiful, delicious, mouth-watering scones. She said they were mega easy and gave me the recipe. I was so confident that I printed it out on paper and laminated it, as I do for my recipes that see regular use. I should have remembered a certain line about Pride, and falls. I’m good at falls. Regular readers know that only too well.

So… I followed the recipe to the letter. To the last full-stop. I crossed the “t’s and dotted the “i’s”. I measured precisely. The oven was perfectly pre-heated, I adjusted the racks, laid out the scone dough exactly as “F” had instructed. I even set timers. And I surprised myself.

Sadly it wasn’t the good surprise I had been expecting. The first photograph is not a “before” baking photo, it is regrettably the “after”. Delicious tall, light scones? Nope, these are more in the “decorative brick” category. In fact I think that LEGO probably has bricks less tough than this. They didn’t even cook completely though. My beautiful laminated sheet with its “perfect picture” of scones and the recipe, sits in my kitchen drawer (with another non-baking recipe that I DO use on the back.) It’s either taunting or haunting me… or both.

Maybe they shouldn’t be called “Drop Scones” for a reason? I am declaring defeat. This is an indisputable: “Fail“. Needless to say. no-one ever asks me to bake scones for them. People have common sense, like their teeth intact, don’t want their jaws wired, and do not wish to purposefully insult their taste buds. I’m definitely a Cook. Whenever I announce that I intend to Bake something, people should be afraid, …very afraid.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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)

September 3, 2019

Beating Depression With…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Architecture has always been a fascination for me, and the older the building the better.

Often though, there are a myriad of details in brick, stone, wood and wrought iron that are no longer replicated in the “fashionably modern” buildings of the late 20th Century and now in the 21st.

I feel that the world would be a far less happy place if all building were just plain, grey boxes, barren, featureless and soulless.

Tourists rarely, if ever, stop and photograph the “box” buildings, but queue and crowd by the busload whenever a town or city boasts beautiful, ornate buildings where the history of hand crafted details are layer upon layer a feast for the eye.

Heading out to Leiden for a medical appointment, I am keen to discover new architectural treasures to add to my digital inspiration files: excellent for my mental health. Indeed I find more buildings had detail, colour, and were an inspiration to walk, cycle or drive past.

When we see streets lined with grey concrete, pattern-less brick or massive panels of steel or glass, I think we as human beings shut down a little. In winter in the rain they become dark, sombre obstacles that we feel like we have to hurry past as fast as possible.

I believe that today’s architects have missed the point, I get that they want to do something different,  rebel against tradition, to be something “radical”, to be the “go to” guy  for innovative minimalistic cubes, but for our mental health and inspiration of our souls I think that somehow we have to return to incorporating colour, and making a massive “U-turn” so that beauty is incorporated into every new building and renovation.. Mosaic, paintings, murals, plants,

I believe that when we see something beautiful, our brains kick into “happy” mode. Probably we will not smile visibly, but out souls will feel lighter, and we become more positive. It’s all subconscious of course, but imagine your town or city transformed in style-appropriate buildings that fit in with the age of it’s oldest and most beautiful buildings

During the Rennaiscence period (Between the 14th and 17th centuries), creative times exploded: massive leaps forward were made in technology too because the “creative process” was in full swing. Artists were sponsored by their patrons, their skills, craftsmanship, talent highly valued and cultural life blossomed.

Imagine if we gave the Arts a chance for a second “Rennaiscence” period. Music, art and anything with a creative outlet would be encouraged, free thinking could literally take architects “out of the box” in their design, and it’s already a scientific fact that when the brain is in this “inspiration mode’ that leaps and bounds in technology is also possible. Wouldn’t it be amazing of we could ditch pills and be creative. Who knows? maybe we could even beat Societies crippling and engulfing levels of depression …with creativity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 2, 2019

BBQ Meat With…

Our Armenian friend’s traditional BBQ is usually stacked to the brim and overflowing with meat. Whilst admitting that it certainly was delicious, it was also rather heavy going. The Armenian BBQ menu offered far less in the way of salad but this was a double Birthday party in the Netherlands and so salads were more prevalent. Watermelons grow in abundance in Armenia too so it’s little surprise that melon of one variety or another was a firm favourite on a warm summer day, plus a home-made Armenian Birthday cake and Baklava.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 31, 2019

Come On, Where Did It Go?

I caught this cat sitting inside on a windowsill, staring intently at something in the thin strip of front garden border below. I didn’t see anything but kept the camera trained on where the cat was looking for thirty seconds or so, just in case something interesting happened. Back to the cat, still staring intently. Then it looks surprised and looks at me with a sort of “come on, help me! where did it go?” expression. Or maybe it was only gazing at an insect crawling over a leaf, I didn’t see a mouse, bird, butterfly or anything large-ish at all. Sorry Puss… I didn’t see anything at all, so with the best will in the world, I can’t help you.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 30, 2019

Hotel… Or Restaurant?

Spotted this on a tree whilst on our way to visit family members. These are known here as “insect Hotels” and come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen them in the form of massive log piles in nature reserves, to tiny wooden boxes that have had twigs, bark, mosses, leaves and sawdust packed into them by kids and placed in gardens to provide insect habitat. It helps everyone understand that encouraging insects is excellent for the planets biodiversity, and helps in the fight against the huge drop in numbers of small birds in most big cities around the world.

I’ve seen them at ground level a lot but never before on a tree like this one. The wicked humour that I have thought for a moment that if you stuck a birdhouse next to it, it would be the small birds equivalent of living next door to a restaurant! Oops! Probably not quite the idea that people who installed this were going for.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 4, 2019

A Trailer With A… WHAT On Top?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in 2017 I expressed a wish to go see the Sand Sculptures in Garderen again.

Our kids didn’t fancy this, but also declined the suggestion to accompany Himself on a day long hike through the beautiful forested area around Garderen called the “Veluwe”.

Therefore we came up with another plan: himself would drop me off the evening before, I would stay overnight in a hotel literally next door to the Sand Sculpture exhibition but separated by a large belt of trees.

I could rest overnight, attend the exhibition the next day Himself would then pick me up the next afternoon once I’d been seen everything I wanted to see, and bring me home. A limited number of wheelchairs are provided at the Exhibition complex to use so I’d booked one in advance and arrived early so that I didn’t have to take my own.

We set out on a Friday evening and since Himself as usual was behind the wheel I was fee to take photographs out of the window. The most notable sights were a massive new “Kasse” (green house) complex being built, the length of which was enormous and far too long for my camera to capture as we sped past. The quirkiest sight however was a car towing a trailer.. which had another, smaller trailer on top of  the first trailer! That’s something I’ve never seen before. Before we knew it we had turned off the motorway and were on roads surrounded by forests, and arriving in Garderen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 2, 2019

Alas, Feathers Aren’t Flat…

I’ve been laid up of late, with some big limitations in movement (fortunately it’s all good and all temporary). I’ve been doing very little so grabbed my camera and attempted to photograph these feathers. Yes, I am having some depth of field issues again but this seems to be mostly because the feathers are not flat and there is a big difference between the bits that are closest and most furthest away from the camera lens. These are for my artist inspiration files and well, I’ll keep trying…

(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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