Local Heart, Global Soul

March 8, 2014

Keeping My Feet From Getting Wet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Windmills have been an iconic part of  Dutch culture and a necessary part of Dutch life for centuries.

Maybe people know that a good deal of  the Netherlands lies undersea level but what many people don’t realise, is just how high the natural water table is in most of the country.

Mills and modern pumping stations work  and monitor twenty-four hours a day and three hundred and sixty-five days of the year to  regulate the water-table so that it does not simply rise to it’s “natural” level and therefore give Dutch citizens wet feet.

This is achieved by pumping water off the land and into the surrounding canal system at a constant rate, the water is directed though the canal network and pumped out into the sea with every low tide.

During especially high tides in Spring and Autumn the sea levels are so high that often it’s difficult to open the gates to release the “inland” water, and this puts the whole system under pressure.

This pressure is often alleviated by the installation of modern technology, faster pumps, the elevation of old dykes and the installation of flood plains where excess water can be directed in emergencies.

Sometimes water can be held at high levels in canals until it can be released into the sea, but one thing is for certain, water management in the Netherlands is very much a full time job. In fact it even has it’s own government department.

The polders (reclaimed land) are of course something that the Dutch are world famous for and there is a half serious side to the popular saying ” God created the world but the Dutch created Holland.

“Molen” (mills) were wind powered but were not only used to pump water, amongst other things they also provided the energy for saw mills or helped mill flour. I like the old style molen, they have charactor and personality. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they are a necessary part of the historical and current Dutch working lanscape.  Here therefore in this last post from Zaans Schans is my tribute to the humble Dutch mill….

(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)

(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)

February 23, 2014

First a Mad Dash And Then Milling Around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page of my 2012 Summer travel diary where we are talking visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” on as many adventures and new experiences as we can whilst she is staying with us.

Today’s post comes from Zaanse Schans,  where historic buildings have been relocated rather than having been lost to make way for modern development projects.

As usual the kids have raced on ahead, I’m happily bringing up the rear as I take my time on the crutches, go at my own speed and pause for a rest and to take photographs.

I see Himself and the kids appear and disappear from view from time to time as they investigate attractions ahead of me, and then they disappear altogether for a while so I figure they have found something interesting.  Velvetine is more or less with me, a little ahead, but keeping me company and taking advantage of my slower pace to enjoy taking photographs at leisure.

We are almost the only tourists around, it’s surprisingly quiet probably because the weather is drizzly and threatening, but we like that too.  All of a sudden our peace and tranquillity is shattered by my offspring, emerging from around a corner and sprinting towards us, and is typical for small boys, Little Mr. adds volume to speed as soon as he spots me, shouting  at the top of his lungs “Mama, Mama, Mama, you have to come quick, you have to come NOW !!!

Knowing my son, this could mean anything from an emergency situation to the discovery that a shop sells Lego (things of equal importance in his brain) and he arrives at such speed that he’s now too out of breath to tell me what the drama is about. Kiwi Daughter refrained from shouting and concentrated on running so tells Velvetine and I that they discovered a boat trip that Himself has taken the liberty of purchasing tickets for, they waited for us but we are going slower than they anticipated so now the Captain is really waiting for us so that he can cast off, could we please make haste and get there as soon as possible please?

One of the few advantages of being on crutches for several years is that you get strong arms, so instead of trying to put my foot on the ground and going slow, I lift it up and make (careful) haste in the wake of the kids who are now busy sprinting back to tell the Captain of our transport that I’m getting there as soon as I can. Luckily the distance we need to go wasn’t too far, but that said I was rather relieved to be sitting for a decent time afterwards to recover. Since it’s lunchtime and the place is quiet today the boat only has half a dozen other passengers in it, so we have our choice of seats. The weather closes in as we leave the dock and the rain starts now in earnest so we are just in time. There are windows, some of which open a little way, but I have to be selective due to the rain and take some of the photos through the closed windows.

The first part of the boat tour goes past “molen” (mills) which in the Dutch context means wind mills rather than water mills. There are all working mills, used not only to pump water off the surrounding low lying landscape but also for generating power for grain grinding, saw milling, and driving other machinery.  I know they are a cliché, The Dutch windmills, but I always love them all the same and try and get shots from various angles.

(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)

I took the boat photograph when we got off, but forgot to get an extra photo of the  very large (probably a bus tour) group that were waiting on the dock to take the next tour. It was a good choice to have rushed to the boat earlier… we had almost a boat tour to ourselves without the crush of the masses.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaanse_Schans

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