Local Heart, Global Soul

December 20, 2016

A Small Snippet Of The Landscape And Character Of The Netherlands…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I may be restricted to home at the moment but Kiwi Daughter has suffered no such constraints.

This summer she went abroad several times this summer, the first time with a school friend and her family to Portugal.

The school friend lives outside of the Hague in Oegstgeest, just outside of Leiden.

Kiwi Daughter needed to be taken to their house in time to join the friend’s family who would then take her to the airport with them, and of course she would also spend the rest of the holiday time, and trip back with them too.

With Little Mr spending the day out with friends of his own, Himself and I made sure that Kiwi Daughter’ packing list had been checked, double and triple checked, then got her and her stuff into the car and set out for our rendezvous and transfer of cars before she then headed separately for the airport. Our eldest may be growing up fast, but this would be her first holiday without us (not counting school trips and weekend stays with cousins).

This was also the first time that she would be spending a week with parents she did not know particularly well, she and her friend get on famously of course, but there were lots of unknowns and uncertainties and a few little worries at the eleventh hour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I spent the car trip out reassuring her that we would never have agreed to her going if there were any doubts about the family, the house or the location, that the parents assured us that they would take care of her as they did their own daughter and that we were just a phone call away day or night should she feel homesick or feel the need to have a heart to heart with Mama and Papa.

(She did need the phone calls in the end, there were moments when she was hit with unexpected homesickness that none of us had anticipated and then there was “that” incident).

It’s one thing for a kid to spread their wings as they prepare to learn to fly, it’s quite another them stand on the edge of the precipice and look down as they prepare to jump.

In the end the trip was not without incident: a moment of inattention saw her loose her bag to an opportunist thief, but she was unharmed, a massive, if rude Life lesson was learned and she came back with both high and low point “first” experiences.  First flights are not without a rocky landing or two it seems.

Still, many good times were also had and in the aftermath of the trip Himself and I tried to concentrate on the positive rather than the negative.

Telling her off was unnecessary: she lost her own worked for babysitting cash, the phone she worked and saved for, nothing we could have admonished her for could have been worse than the beating up she already gave herself. On the way to drop her off at her friend’s house I took a few photographs of the journey, these views another small snippet of the landscape and character of The Netherlands.

(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)

November 9, 2015

Stadhoudersplein, Not All Of The Change Occurred Willingly…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s been six years since the Den Haag Gemeentearchief (the Hague City Council Archive) placed large billboards around the city of the Hague to celebrate  their 125th year anniversary.

Himself and I, both interested in local history and the quirkiness of “discovering” these as we traveled around the city, decided to look on the Gemeente website (it has been removed since) to see if we hd seen them all.

We were stunned to find out that there were just over eighty billboards up at the time, so the twenty-three or so we had found were only the tip of the iceberg.

We also discovered from the website that whilst the Gemeente website detailed all of the historic photographs, that none had been taken of the present day views, and this is a gap that Himself and I decided that we could fill. With the list of locations in hand we decided to check as many of the other billboards off the list as possible and eventually we managed all but one of them. The last and most elusive one was a puzzle, we went back twice because we thought we had missed finding the right location but later we found out that it had only been in place a short time and during that time it had been vandalised three times.

The Gemeente took the decision to permanently remove it from the exhibition rather than replace it for the fourth time, so for us it meant it was simply no longer there to be found. However there was also good news: one of the other billboards in the series sustained a little damage around it’s base but otherwise the rest, some eighty-three billboards in total stayed in perfect condition for the several month duration of the exhibition. I’ve been showing off the series of billboards here on my blog ever since and learning a little more about my city in the process.

Today’s billboard was located on the Stadhoudersplein and the caption reads “Stadhoudersplein in aanbouw op een prentbriefkaart van circa 1905. Het linker deel van het Stadhoudersplein is afgebroken in de Tweede Wereldoorlog” which translates as “Stadhoudersplein under construction in a a postcard around  1905. The left portion of the Stadhoudersplein was destroyed in World War II”. 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)

 

November 2, 2015

Facing North Is Good (Oops, That Depends On Where The Equator Is)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My New Zealand grandparents were avid gardeners, Grandma had her beloved roses at the front of their house and Granddad had a large fruit and vegetable garden at the back.

I remember many a childhood visit, helping strip red-currents off the bushes to take inside so that Grandma could make current jelly (although usually more made it into my stomach than the picking bucket), climbing the pear and apple trees to get the pears and apples Granddad couldn’t reach, picking runner beans in the cool rows of tall greenery on hot summers days.

In fact those beans were so fresh and tasty that I preferred them raw to cooked!

My parents had a large garden too but since I was less forceful than my sister when it came to setting out my preferences, she got stuff like planting and I got to do the weeding.

I never actually minded weeding: there is an element of instant gratification, you quickly see that you made a difference after an hour or two and since it was a job that nobody else liked I got to potter away in peace without disputes over who’s turn it was to have the rake, hoe or spade.

My sister was always interested in flowers, she knew a bit about what was what, whereas I could have cared less. I was less about the technical details and more about the results.
Later it emerged that I had a talent for cooking and realised that it was truly plants of the edible kind that made my brain light up, rather than flowers in any shape or form, no matter how pretty they might be.

Living in the Netherlands, up two flights of stairs and with a series of balconies but no garden, I have always hankered after a space to grow my own herbs.

The problem is, our balconies face north, a fact that I was delighted with as a native New Zealander until my Dutch husband pointed out that in the northern hemisphere  “north” is not the desired or warmest position for growing anything. Also we live by the coast, where the prevailing wind comes from, so my cold balcony in it’s exposed position was sandblasted by winds that devastated all attempts of my scrawny herbs to stand upright and thrive.

The balconies got late afternoon sun… in summer. In winter the sun got to that side of the house just in time to be setting on the horizon, so for many a year fresh herbs were a distant dream.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then I heard about a scheme that the local Gemeente (City Council) about “Volkstuinen” (literally translates as “people’s gardens”)  or “buurtuinen” (neighbourhood gardens).

This is where you can sign up for a garden plot for the princely  sum of Euro 27,– per year.  It’s another Euro 4,– for your own key to the gate to let you in.

The growing  year is from March 15  until the end of October and apart from potatoes you can grow anything practical between these dates. At the end of October you hand back ownership of the plot to the Gemeente who fertilize, turn it over and mark out the next years’ plots over the winter months.

The plots are fairly small: three meters by five meters. Until a few years ago they used to be double the size but had to be reduced because supply outstripped demand so heavily. Logically there is a stipulation that only one plot is allowed per household.

The only way to get a plot is to arrive on a set date at various locations around the city (depending on where you want your plot) and to wait in line. It’s a first-come-first-served system so competition is fierce and die-hard gardeners start arriving several hours before the office opens.

The sign-up date is always in February, usually around the middle of the month with details on the Geemente website. The weather is cold so people are wrapped up warm and many arrive with foldout seats, blankets and a thermos. We arrive early but even then we are not the first.

After an hour the queue is noticeably longer and then closer to the time people start arriving en masse.  More than three hundred people turn up for the ninety or so plots available. Arriving early and sitting bundled up has paid off, my gardening friend and I are some of the lucky ones.

Although I can not do the manual things like put up climbing frames for the veggies, I at least know that I will be able to bring a chair, happily sit and do a little weeding…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

October 27, 2015

La Flamenca, An Especially Delicious Find…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A few months ago, after a break of several months due to kid events, hospital appointment interruptions and extra Oma care whilst oher family members took holidays, our date nights are back on.

Himself loves Spanish food and on his way to update my physiotherapist on my latest appointments, he spied a new Spanish restaurant in a spot that had been vacant for a while.

He mentioned at the time that he would love to go there for our next date night because it would be nice to discover early if this place could become a regular favourite or not.

The restaurant is called La Flamenca and is located on the Thomsonplein in the bomenbuurt, The Hague, on the corner of the Thomsonplein and then Thomsonlaan.

I had to cross the street and wiggle myself between parked cars to get a decent photograph of the front of the restaurant but it looks fresh and inviting, so we had high hopes for the inside. We were no sooner in the door when we were met with warm greetings and broad smiles, the staff were quick to suggest that we sit at a table for four rather than a table for two so that I could sit fractionally side ways and put my foot over the spare chair.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This suggestion was brilliant because sitting with my foot elevated is far less painful than having it down. They also offered assistance should I need it in any way during our meal, and added with a big smile “anything I needed, just ask”. I then asked if I might take photographs for my blog please and my request was enthusiastically received.

Himself and I are already impressed: usually Dutch service is of the deadpan “here is your food”, “here is the bill” variety with as little effort taken as possible to please the customer, so this is a lovely surprise. Himself told me that there has been a string of restaurants here in the past, all on the lower side of mediocre and once a location finds itself with a bad reputation it can be difficult to persuade locals that any new establishment isn’t more of the same.

We aim to keep and open mind and see if the food matches the quality of the service. Himself orders a cold cut platter and it arrives on a wooden board with olives and cheese.

There are several little balls on the plate which we discover are a sort of quince jelly, and a recommendation to try it with the meat and cheese. The jelly is divine and when paired with the meat and cheeses: inspired. Himself enjoys the fatty salami’s but I’m not a fan so ask if we could please have a little more of the freshly cut cured ham off the bone, it’s no problem and it’s delicious.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We decide on a tapa selection of dishes: garlic prawns, lamb chops, garlic chicken (both it and the sauce were heavenly) and a large salad to share. This salad came with the addition of melon balls, red currants, blueberries and orange segments to the usual “salad” ingredients, a combination that I adored and Himself was so-so about since he’s not a fan of mixing fruit and veggies in one dish.

He was however game to try when I found it on the menu just to try something new. The bread comes with homemade garlic aioli and Himself is sold on the place after one bite: “better aioli than the other place we like” was his verdict, but that’s personal preference because I prefer the other one.

We thought we might need to order more of the tapa dishes but found ourselves so full already that we skipped that and headed straight to desert. It was hardly a surprise by now that desert turned out to be as good as the previous courses, Himself went for a sort of pudding, I got a slice of heaven that took the form of chocolate cake and wow, it was amazing.

Himself usually prefers to give me his review of a new place after we have left but in this case he was raving about the food all through the meal so I didn’t need to wonder if he wanted to go back some time. In fact we tried a spur of the moment appointment here when friends visited this summer from New Zealand, turned away because the whole restaurant was privately booked for a wedding breakfast, which was our bad luck but brilliant news for them because clearly word is getting around that this is a place worth visiting.

We are planning to take friends there for their birthday, we are planning future date nights here, I can only hope that people will see that the long run of mediocre food here has ended, in fact been demolished by this wonderful new addition. The food, the service will leave you getting out the diary so that you can see how soon you can fit in a return visit… Delicioso or deliciosa, either way La Flamenca is delicious!!!

(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)

Restaurant La Flamenca

 

October 20, 2015

Leidsestraatweg Corner Koningskade, Park Remains, Buildings Slipped Into History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I only realised when cleaning out and preparing some of my photo files, that yesterday’s post should actually have been one of a pair.

Therefore I am slotting this post in earlier than planned and you get to have two historical billboard posts together.

Most of the large billboards posted around the city were single sided, but a small handful were double sided and had different photographs, taken in the same spot (although not necessarily in the same year) either side of the large concrete and metal frames they were set in.

This is one of the few “double sided” sets of billboards and in a way the “now” photographs of the present day belong to both of these blog posts.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post  “Leidsestraatweg: Where Is A Dutch Cyclist When You Need One?”  the Gemeente Den Haag (The Hague City Council) placed large billboards around the city over five years ago as part of the celebration of one hundred years anniversary of the Gemeente archive department. Because there were just over eighty of these billboards it is of course taking me a while to slot them in as blog posts, since I assumed you didn’t really want to read eighty-four of these posts one after another.

The caption on this billboard reads: “Leidsestraatweg hoek Koningskade, met zicht op Bosbrug en Korte Voorhout, circa 1890. Rechts het wachtje” which translates as “Leidsestraatweg corner Koningskade, with view of Bos bridge en Korte Voorhout, approximately 1890. To the right the sentry box”.

Sadly as you can see from yesterday’s post, the large columned building  behind the tiny sentry box is long gone, as are too the beautiful large buildings. I did look on Google street view and found a semi-similar building that had a partial match as far as the roof line, age and general structure but the building on street view can’t possibly the same one as in the picture because the bridge is totally in the wrong place and it’s getting just too far out of the range of the billboard photograph.

I did take a Google street view screen shot of the very new buildings that can be seen on the other side of the bridge today, certainly nothing is left from my great grandparents day. This about sums up the way cities grow, evolve and change, brick by brick, piece by piece. I wonder what the present day photograph will look like in another century or so? Would it be recognisable against my “modern day” photograph of today at all? Who knows…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The house on the right is similar but it’s not the one in the 1890 photograph…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Google Street View)

The view across the street today…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Google Street View)

 

 

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