Local Heart, Global Soul

March 2, 2019

For The Artist And The Weather Watcher…

For both the Artist and the Weather Watcher, clouds are a tricky conglomeration of elements that can be quick to be admired but seriously difficult to master defining. Especially on canvas it is difficult to capture the moods of the skyscape in a way that looks realistic. On our way home from our 2017 Easter break in Zeeland, we spied enough different cloud formations to make use wonder what on earth Mother Nature was up to. I think that with everything people have been doing to the planet, she is very rightly confused. Here as we drove, the clouds were bright, white, grey or black, there were even patches of blue skies in-between. We didn’t know if we were running into bad weather or away from it, or if it was passing us in a horizontal fashion and we just had to pass through it. These images are for my arty Reference files, and saved… to the cloud.

(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)

September 4, 2018

Is This The Midnight Train To….?

Checking out the current state of Christchurch’s central city, I find yet another grand piece of artwork to document. There is a blue mural on the side of a parking building, close to the building that I would call “Noah’s hotel’. It’s changed its name long since to Rydges, but since I no longer live in Christchurch, or even New Zealand, I’ve never gotten used to using the new name and my brain still registers the name as Noah’s as the default setting. Apologies to Rydges.  The blue colour of not just this wall but also the car park is vibrant and immediately catches your eye, my only beef being that I can’t get close enough to zoom in and get some proper detail. Making do with what I can get, will have to do. It’s a stunning mural and credit to yet another artist who is helping make the city as beautiful as possible even as buildings have been being demolished, repaired and rebuilt all around it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 28, 2014

For Me, A Knippenbruggen Really IS A Bridge Too Far…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Three years on crutches has produced in me a bit of a split personality: On one hand I’m determined to get out and about whenever I can because  otherwise I would go stir crazy sitting inside all the time and on the other I’ve become super cautious, fearing any activity or action that could extend my exiting physical damage or add it it in any way.

I’ve lost count of how many activities my family have done without me,  I’ve stayed at home whilst they have taken the tent and gone camping for the weekend, gone to the beach for a paddle,  or cycling and walking.

My outings necessitate the use of our car and there are limits to the distances I can walk from it once we are out.

Generally what happens is I walk as much as I can because I want to make the most of being “out” , usually that involves over-doing it a bit because I’m determined to make the most of my outing and then I  suffer the consequences for days afterwards as my foot and back complain about the extended exercise I have subjected them to.

Usually it’s worth it, It gives me some family life outside the four walls of home, but there are many situations when we are out where I need to put on the brakes and say “whoa… maybe not”.

This was one such occasion: I wanted to go and investigate the beautiful gardens on the other side of the canals,  so gingerly negotiate the humped-backed bridge to do so. Hmmm, I reach the top of the bridge, it’s steeper than I anticipated and because of the rain, slipperier too.

Alarm bells start to ring. I’m not even going to try to continue down the other side, it’s way too risky and not only that, how on earth an I going to get back down again?  Himself is a little way ahead of me but luckily Little Mr. has been sprinting around the French garden I have just taken photographs of.

I send him off to fetch Himself and hold the handrail very tight whilst I await rescue. Himself approaches laughing and then looks dismayed when he sees where I’m perched. “Don’t move” he orders worried, (err, as if I was about to start dancing on the handrail or something?). Between his steadying firm arm and the handrail I slowly descend and am soon back on the flat ground again feeling very relieved.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is an information board that tells me:

Hump-backed bridges known as “kippenbruggen” and flat bridges known as “kwakels” span drainage channels and canals, giving access to the land beyond.

On the other side of the canal lies the “over-garden”, elegant gardens often designed in the French style belonging to wealthy merchants wishing to protect the view from their house.

Clearly the “knippenbruggen” were built for able-bodied souls.

Less able folks like me would have to have had assistance, take their chances or taken the long way around via the flat bridges.

Annoyingly I only have one decent photograph of the “knippenbruggen” I was on, in hindsight I maybe should have tried to get a side on view to show just how steep it was. Mind you, to do that I would have had to get rather closer to the canal edge, it’s been raining, the ground was soft and slippery…   so on second thoughts  …maybe not. I think that the “blauwe reiger” (blue heron) fishing for his dinner close by probably agrees.

(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)

April 16, 2013

No Hint of The Blues When Looking at Delft’s Blauw…

Filed under: Activities,DELFT,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another diary page from when my New Zealand cousin and his family were visiting us here in The Netherlands. We’ve left the De Lelie Chocolaterie and clutching our chocolate creations, and bought treats in our bags,  have a little time to kill before meeting back up with Himself and Little Mr.

Since achieving possession of our chocolates in their bags, and this also invariably meant “testing” a few of our creations and purchases, (“quality control” being one of the most important parts of the entire procedure  you understand)  a decision is reached between the adults that a little more walking in Delft would at least be a token gesture toward burning off a few of the calories we have added to today’s supersized and sugary total.

Since Himself and I realised that my cousin and family would not be with us long enough to do all of the possible treats on any decent visitors list, we had chosen to bring them chocolate making today instead of tile painting as we had previously done with several other lots of  visiting friends and family.

My cousins boys were especially pleased with this decision, but my cousin and his wife still wanted to take a quick peek at the world famous Delft’s Blauw.  Luckily there are a few shops in the centre of Delft where you can watch artisan painters at work:  hand painting what will become the blue and white patterns, so it’s to one of these establishments that we head next for a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 17, 2013

Letting Your Own Delfts Blauw Creativity Loose…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We wanted to do something very special with our New Zealand friends when they visited a few years ago so bought them to the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles  (The Royal Porcelain Bottle) pottery in Delft for a unique experience.

In this establishment, where the  famous Delfts Blauw (Delft Blue) has been in continuous production for more than 350 years it’s possible to paint your very own blue and white tile or small earthenware piece.

Since we are not experienced pottery artists we opted for the safer option of the flat surface of a tile rather than the possible Christmas bauble.

The workshops (reservations necessary in advance)  take two and a half hours and the brushes, the paint and the earthenware item to be painted are provided. Our tiles are 13 x 13 cm in size ( 5 x 5 inches) square and cost € 37,50 per person.

The staff provide  papers with various popular patterns  of things like windmills and flowers pinpricked into it and then they dust it with some sort of coloured dust that  goes through the holes and leaves a join-the-dots type of pattern on the tile to give you a starting image to fill in and embellish, or you can simply make your own image free-hand.

I’d made a tile here before with American friends who we also bought here in 2007  for a visit, and after learning from the first trip that there was an option to design your own tile, I took inspiration from my favourite plate: also a small  Royal Delft and designed my own tile ( or “ode to Delft ” since it’s a poor imitation of the professional version), preparing it with a zillion tiny pin pricks before I went and luckily it all worked fine when they dusted it with the coloured powder: the image transferred correctly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You paint your tile in what looks like thin black paint which turns into the beautiful blue once the tile is fired.

The lighter your paint layer the lighter the colour blue and I now know that if you want really intense dark blue that you need to make several layers of paint because some sections of my tile still weren’t as dark in colour as I intended to them be.

The paint substance kind of soaks instantly into the tile, there is no second-chance for error and no rubbing out so a steady hand is needed and you get a very short practice on some small shards of earthenware before you start your tile design.

A few points worth noting: If you have a complex piece like my second tile you’ll be under real pressure to finish on time, the time zooms by and there are no extensions of time in the workshop possible.

You tend to try and hold your breath a lot as you attempt to keep a steady hand so it’s intense work!

There’s an age limit so Little Mr. who was too young on our first trip here, went to a playground with Himself instead. Also if I go here to make a tile again I will ask if  it’s at all possible to skip the tour of the factory that’s included in the price and use the extra time to paint instead.

After you’ve painted your tile they will take it away to be  fired and you can pick it up in person at a later date or pay extra to have it posted to you worldwide. The others got their tiles posted to their home address overseas since they were busy touring Europe so I didn’t see them finished, but I have “before and after” photos of our tiles so that you can see get an idea of what they look like after firing. (I’ve edited the photos to remove some identifying name information).

http://www.royaldelft.com/index.asp?lang=2

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Different interpretations of the same patterns: the butterflies were very popular with the kids, windmills with the adults.

(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 chose the above pattern as well for my first tile: before, after photo follows…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. was old enough to take part the second time and went for a free-hand design of his own making (incorporating several names)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Turned out brilliantly!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My little plate is my beautiful inspiration…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My second tile…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 7, 2012

Blues and Red Hot Blues… WOW!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sunshine Organics in the small town of Maungaturoto in Northland New Zealand is the place where I found these next gems

Blue tortilla chips are made from blue organic corn  (ALL new  discoveries for me!) and are to die for!

We tried the Blue chips first and thought “ooooh Bliss!!” … Then we tried the Red Hot Blues and I had to pinch myself to see if I hadn’t actually died and gone to heaven.

Just enough heat to make you go weak at the knees and have your taste-buds soar but  not so much that it rips your insides to bits… perfection!

I’m not mobile enough to go looking for these here in The Hague, but once I am this is the item I’d hang just out of arms reach in front of the treadmill and be prepared to walk kilometres for. … or just say heck and grab the bag and make myself decadently comfortable with the bag on the sofa LOL.

Annoyingly I was sure I’d photographed the makers details on the back of the package but can’t find the photo anywhere at the moment… but if I find it later I’ll  be sure to slot it into this post.

I dare you to find the nearest organics shop to you JUST for the hope that they stock THESE CHIPS   (at the very least) … you won’t be sorry!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2012

Kiwidutch, a Magazine Photograph of a Building Painted Blue and that “One Day”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Years ago I opened up a New Zealand magazine and my eyes rested on a photograph of a blue building.

It was a building that stood alone in it’s glory and not only did it capture my attention at that moment,  it’s beauty made such an impression on me that it embedded itself in my consciousness as a place I really wanted to see for myself in my lifetime.

I’d go as far as to say that  it’s probably the first time I ever said to myself:

I really want to go and see that myself one day“.

Back then, as a young adult in my early twenties I wouldn’t have said that I had any fondness at all for architectural detail.

In fact I probably would have laughed heartily at anyone who proposed the idea, but looking back, the detail fanatic in me was alive and well:  it was there in the fine lines of the etched zinc plates I wound with ink-stained hands through the printing press,  it was there in the wood and lino cuts I was busy carving out and printing, it was there in the pen and pencil drawings that I doodled incessantly in the notebooks I carried around with me everywhere.

I cut the picture of the blue building out of the magazine and stuck it in a little scrapbook of images that inspired me and whilst the scrapbook is long gone after various life upheavals, It’s one of the two building photos I had in it that I never forgot about.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

That blue building is the reason I wanted to come to Napier on our way north, this is the moment when I could actually see my blue building for the first time ever: up close and in person.

In the intervening years since I cut out the magazine picture the building has undergone a facelift, renovation and been lovingly restored to it’s original splendour.

This also entailed bringing it back to it’s original colour scheme so it’s no longer blue in colour but now a creamy beige-peach-pink colour which I suppose changes a bit in depth and hue depending on the light of the day and the season in question.

Finally I’m standing in front of it for real: the building I knew from the photograph as “The Rothman’s Building”.

I discover that this building has had almost as many name changes over the decades as colour changes,  it’s apparently now officially known as the “National Tobacco Company Building” but was also known as the “New Zealand Tobacco Company” building when it was first built.

The New Zealand Historic Places website has a nice history of this building and so I will take the liberty of giving you some edited text from their site (italicised) and of course the link to their site  http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=1170  should you wish to read their entire text in full.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Rothman’s Building, regarded by many as one of Napier’s most elegant commercial buildings dating to the 1930s  can be regarded as a monument to Gerhard Husheer, one the founding members of the New Zealand tobacco industry, and an important work of the architect Louis Hay.

Johann Gerhard Husheer (1864-1954), a German by birth, immigrated with his family to New Zealand from South Africa in 1911, with the intention of establishing a tobacco industry in the country.

In 1913, following successful experiments in growing tobacco crops at Paki Paki, Hastings, Husheer established the New Zealand Tobacco Company and opened a processing factory at Ahuriri, Napier, in 1915.

In 1925 Husheer commissioned Louis Hay (1881-1948), a Napier based architect, to design a factory at the Ahuriri site.

Although the external walls of the factory were to collapse during the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, the internal structure remained largely intact and production continued relatively unhindered following the disaster. The Depression also had little impact on the National Tobacco Company, as demand for the company’s product remained high.

By 1932 the National Tobacco Company was one of the wealthiest industries in Napier and certainly the largest employer.

Husheer commissioned Louis Hay to design a main frontage for his factory to replace the structure that had collapsed in the earthquake.

Hay’s initial sketches were rejected by Husheer for not being extravagant enough. Hay’s second plan, was for a deceptively simple building based on the idea of an ‘arch within a square’, decorated with detailed representations of plants such as roses, raupo, and vine leaves.

The motif of roses also featured on the lamps on the side of the entrance and lead-light windows. Leading up to the doors were steps decorated with tiles, and brass handrails. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Entering through an elaborately carved set of doors, the foyer featured a marble dado, and oak panelling, combined with a domed lead-light skylight to create an overall feeling of elegance and luxury. The entire design, particularly the use of simple geometric forms decorated with applied decoration, reflected Hay’s interest in the Art Nouveau style.

Although built in the middle of the Depression, Husheer suffered no adverse reaction for this obvious display of wealth, as he was also known for his philanthropic gestures, handing out food to those in need in during the hardest years of the economic crisis.

After Husheer’s death in 1954 the company was acquired by Rothmans of Pall Mall. The entranceway was largely disused after the 1960s when a new administration building was built adjacent.

In the mid 1980s interest in the older building increased and work was begun on restoring the building to its former glory. A glazed screen that had been removed at some time was rebuilt based on a photograph of the original.

During the 1990s the paint-work was restored to its original colour and a number of the lead-light windows that had been removed, were remade. In 1999 Rothman’s merged with British American Tobacco Ltd. The company continues to process tobacco at the Ahuriri plant, and the Hay designed entrance building is open to the public during working hours.

The Rothman’s Building (recently renamed the National Tobacco Company Building) is a testimony to the success of the tobacco industry in New Zealand in the early twentieth century, and in particular the role of Gerhard Hussheer, considered to be one of New Zealand’s foremost industrialist.

Architecturally it is regarded as the jewel in Napier’s architectural crown.

The building is perhaps one of Louis Hay’s best preserved public buildings, and it is an excellent example of the craftsmanship of local artists in post earthquake Napier. Today, located on a corner site amongst the industrial buildings of Ahuriri, it is a noted landmark, and is a popular destination for visitors to Napier.

Hmmm,.. not just generic statement of  “a popular destination for visitors”, but also a very special day  for a certain Kiwidutch for whom the “image” of this building, with me for so many years, finally became reality.

(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)

October 8, 2011

Cheese to Cure the Blues…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m taking you on a virtual tour of one of the Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

This post is about a type of cheese that people either love or loathe, the Blue cheeses. For me since I’m allergic to mould, it’s simple, these cheeses are full of the stuff and not for me, but Himself is a lover of the  Bleu’s and indulges whenever he gets the chance.

Like many food variants around the world,  the first blue cheeses are said to have been derived from a serendipitous sequence of events, but the origonal  “where” it all took place remains ambiguous.

Caves have long been the natural cellars and ally of the cheese maker, temperatures remain more constant and the cool dark of the caves meant that cheeses could mature well.  Various fungi such as  Penicillium Glaucum or Penicillium Roqueforti are commonly found in caves that sport the right conditions and cheese makers found that cheeses stored in the caves to mature took on the spores of these fungi and slowly inherited the blue or green veined texture that is so prized by blue cheese lovers today.

Be they the famous (Italian) Gorgonzola,  (English) Stilton, (French) Roquefort , (Spanish) Cabrales , or (Danish) Danablu, these cheeses are soft and creamy with streaks of blue or green mould running though the cheese. These cheeses are  made from cows, goat, sheep milk or a combination of them all  and are generally strong,  both in smell and taste: often spicy, tangy with an edge that sets them apart from other cheeses.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hand made bleu’s (blue cheeses)  are still “needled”  which means they have the air injected into the cheeses by hand, the air feeds the mold that is naturally occurring in the cave and so the process begins, but factory made bleu’s  these days probably have the mold mixed directly in with the curds, to ensure an even distribution.

In most cases these famous cheeses are returned to the caves where the mold occuers to be matured and like all cheese, the longer the ageing process the better the texture and the more intense the flavour.

Today, most cheesemakers use commercially manufactured Penicillium Roqueforti cultures that are freeze-dried.

The best advice that Himself gives is that while most bleu cheese lovers instinctivly go for the “big names”  of Gorgonzola,  Stilton,  Roquefort , Cabrales , or Danablu, that if you ever have access to this kind of cheese shop that you should try a few of the  other lesser known names because there are some gems of blue cheeses to be had that are not on the ‘big name”  lists.

Since these speciality cheeses are not easily opened for tasting, asking for  a piece to try from each packet is usually not done, besides, the cheeses are soft, expensive and sold in small increments of 100 grams rather than by the kilo of their  Boerenkaas counterparts.

However, in a place like Ed Boele’s it’s usual for a few of the Bleu’s to have their own promotional tasting plate at any given time, so if you like your cheese Bleu, Himself recommends a taste test  each time you visit so that you might discover some of the ‘other’ magnificent  bleu’s on offer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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