Local Heart, Global Soul

July 10, 2015

Cross The Street To Get The Joke…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post we were picking up mosquito bite salve from the pharmacy and books from the bookshop in the Dutch town of Vaals and afterwards Himself asked if I could start walking back to the car.

There were few car parks where the shops were, so he’d dropped us off when we arrived and parked in a large car parking area a few blocks away.

Now, instead of collecting the car and coming back to pick us up (which he often does) he’s wanting me to walk part of the way… it’s not usual so I’m curious, but he’s not giving us any clues.

I set out with the crutches and kids, making my way slowly down the street.

It’s a beautiful day so this can be my physiotherapy for the day, but I’m still really curious.

A short distance further, he asks me to stop. I look around and don’t see much around me, except that Himself has a silly and expectant grin on his face. I know him well enough to know I’m missing some jok so start to look around  with a more exacting eye. Then I saw it… the border sign half hidden in the hedge… hey wait… I now realise that I’m standing in Germany! Himself knows that anyone born and raised in a country like New Zealand finds it strange that borders can be crossed like this, and since the Schengen agreement, that within many European countries, that border posts no longer exist. Instead the crossings are marked only by signs like these. After I get the surprise, I then see the name of the street next to the sign: “Grensstraat” (border street). Borders between countries don’t always need to be huge imposing barriers… crossing them sometimes it only takes the effort needed to cross the street.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 19, 2013

Red Pedestrian Crossings And Unusual Roofs As We Head Northward…

Filed under: LUXEMBOURG,Mersch Region,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this post from my retrospective travel diary of 2102, we are leaving the small town of Mersch in Luxembourg and continuing our travels northwards.

As usual I’m taking photographs from the front seat of the car and documenting our journey.

The scenery consists mostly of small towns, villages with architecture typical of the region and either rural agricultural or forested landscape.

A few buildings had a character all of their own, but in general the only thing that raised our eyebrows was the pedestrian crossing that consisted of white stripes on a red background rather than the white and black arrangement we are more used to seeing.

We only saw this twice, and in the same village so maybe it was for a specific purpose (everywhere else there were just the normal “zebra”crossings). One building made us laugh, it had a very large overhang of the street frontage facing roof-line: why build a porch when you can have this? 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)

(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 31, 2013

Tunneling North Through the Dartford Crossing…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer we took our visiting Singaporean friend on a big adventure, we have been visiting friends of the Kiwidutch family in Folkestone and are now heading a little north of London.

We are a little worried about the traffic around London and around the Dartford Crossing because we had heard many horror stories of traffic delays there.

I expected to find two bridges there but was surprised to see that there is a tunnel going under the river if you are heading northwards and a gigantic bridge to cross instead if you are travelling southwards.

It’s a toll road and although there is wall to wall of traffic on both directions our northward flow keeps moving at a steady flow so it didn’t take too long before we were out the other side and moving at proper motorway pace once again.

The motor way traffic is kind too despite more predictions of bad traffic problems due to the 2012 Olympics running at the same time in nearby London and we managed to reach our next destination in almost a “normal” amount of time. Our destination is just a short distance from Stansted Airport: the village of Great Dunmow.

(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 19, 2012

Really Less of a Border Crossing and More Of An Obstacle Course…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now that Indonesia has been stuck off the travel list for this trip, there is only one practical alternative  left for our next adventure: Malaysia.

Last evening we made plans and with the help of Reception were lucky to secure a place on a bus trip, but it leaves very early in the morning so we kick ourselves out of bed bright and early (ok, perhaps a little less of the bright…) take a shuttle bus from the Rasa Sentosa to the Casino on the other side of Sentosa Island, change to a larger shuttle bus and then to our tour bus, one of several parked in the carpark of the  Singapore Flyer.

We sort out our tickets, climb aboard a large air-conditioned coach and a short while later are heading north.

Sentosa island is fairly well at the central southerly point of the island State of Singapore and the place we are headed towards first is pretty well right at the central top of the island of Singapore.

On the Singapore side of the Johor Strait is Woodlands, on Malaysian side is the city of  Johor Bahru, which  is usually abbreviated  by the populations on both sides to “JB”.

Our Singaporean friend “Velvetine’  is not only a mine of local knowledge but also an excellent travel companion and friend. We met in person some six years ago for the first time after meeting several years previous to that via the cooking website “Recipezaar”(now called “Food.com”) so have known each other since about 2003 or 2004.

We are living proof that total strangers on different sides of the world of the kind who were often first dubbed as   “oh,  one of your  imaginary internet friends?” can turn into a fabulous and lasting friendship that apparently only gets better with time.

Her internet nickname has always been “Velvetine” and mine naturally enough is “Kiwidutch” and we discovered that we share a passion for not just cooking and all things Foodie, but also for travel, photography and to Himself’s astonished delight, for the small remote Pacific  island nations, namely Kiribati.

Velvetine is the biggest reason that our Singapore stopovers have grown over the years from 12 or 18 hours to five days, and the time always flies by too quickly and there are always sniffles and handkerchiefs at the airport when we say goodbye.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today however we are going on adventures together… and this starts with the leaving of Singapore.

Unlike a bus trip I did as a teenager from France to the uk, where a stack of Passports were collected  by the driver, handed to a customs agent who came on board to check that the faces matched the names and we never left our seats, this is completely different.

We are required to not only exit the bus but also to join  throngs of people streaming into the border crossing building, and on crutches I’m struggling to keep up.

We also have to take a slightly different route to find the lifts and avoid the stairs and to be honest on the Malaysian side it’s not intuitive or brilliantly marked.

We’ve been warned that if we don’t find the bus at the other end it will leave without us because they have a schedule to keep and Velvetine is worth her weight in gold at this moment because she has done this crossing many times before and has a good idea where we could find the lifts and how to get back the the main route again once we had negotiated border control.

Even so we are rushing like lunatics, quicker people in a hurry are weaving around us in droves.  Himself  is herding the kids like little sheep so that they don’t get lost or bowled over, Velvetine is helping us both and even my now strong arms from a year on crutches are aching and feeling like jelly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

All in all it’s an awful of lot of bus hopping  and walking through the checkpoints of both countries and seems like a lot of hassle, but clearly I’m spoilt by the ease with which we can cross borders within Europe.

Velvetine warns that it’s probably not a good idea to try and take photos inside the customs areas as they may take a dim view for security reasons, so I have no photos of the route inside, but eventually we end up in a basement area where our bus is now waiting in a queue of some twenty others and on the Malaysian side we negotiate the final obstacles which consist of  massive curbs and no ramps down to get to the bus.

Luckily Himself  is on hand to help me negotiate these.  How a wheelchair user would negotiate this terrain and experience I have no idea, except to say  “with great difficulty”.

If there was an easier way to do all this, certainly no one offered to show us  how,  nor were there obvious signs that would help us, so my first impression of Malaysia ended up being that people with disabilities or mobility impaired are not made to feel particularly welcome.

For an exceptionally new building on the Malaysian side it seems unreasonably complicated to negotiate  your way though, is this yet another case of the designer getting a brief for a building but having no contact with the people or experience needed to take place inside it? Who knows? Either way it’s the most tiring, exhausting, rushed and frustrating way I’ve ever had experience to enter a foreign country.

We all flop into our seats on the bus and grab our water bottles out of our backpacks… we’ve successfully crossed the border, let the adventures begin.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 6, 2012

From Tempest to Calm…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this part of my retrospective travel diary we have boarded the Inter-Island Ferry and are heading out of Wellington Harbour bound for Picton at the top of the South Island.

Himself and the kids leave me with the bags and go check off a few necessary things: a  tour of the conveniences, a look-see out on deck at Wellington Harbour which in squally weather meant they were ready for some hot food once they came back inside.

Once they were settled with food and the kids were being entertained by a magician  doing a show close to where we were sitting, I took the opportunity to venture cautiously outside.

I stayed within a few steps from the door and was only outside for a short while because by now we were approaching the open sea of Cook Straight and in this  inclement weather I knew it was going to be a rough crossing. Kiwi Daughter and I both had our wrist bands on against motion sickness and if I had had any doubts to the benefits of these they were dispelled now. I’m a rotten sailor and have been every possible shade of green known to humankind on boats both large and small over the years and yes the crossing of Cook Straight on this occasion was no picnic.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I will be honest and say that Kiwi Daughter I didn’t enjoy the open sea part of the crossing,  all but the hardiest of passengers retreated to the upper deck lounge areas and as the ship rolled steeply from side to side in the big swells in the middle of the Straight and we did feel very queasy,  but while kids  and adults around us were using sick bags and in tears, we pressed very hard on our wrist bands and actually managed not to join them.

In the circumstances this can be regarded as a minor miracle and even Kiwi Daughter was delighted that she hadn’t parted with breakfast. (I’d looked at the weather and based on past experiences had deemed it wiser to skip breakfast altogether).

Once we entered the shelter of Marlborough Sounds however, two things happened… first we ran completely out of the rain and wind of the storm and second, the sea was suddenly wonderfully calm … for which I’m sure all but t few  passengers were very grateful.  I ventured back outside and from a little spot on the railing just two steps from the door, enjoyed the fresh sea air and took photos all the way as the ship makes it’s way down the Sounds. There are no photos of the open sea section but here’s a look at some of the journey….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So much calmer as we enter the heads of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As we wind our way into the shelter of the Sounds, I look back and see the stormy weather behind us in Cook Straight…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Up until now it’s been raining but not only does it ease off considerably at first, we even run out of it and into sunny skies…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Unusual tree-line on the hills…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Glad we are sailing away from the storm and not into it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This little dome of an island is a well known landmark…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 9, 2010

Sailing South into the Sunset…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We’ve parked the car in the bowels of the ship and come up to spend the next three and a half hours enjoying the journey top-side.

After a short stint looking around, a snack and refusal to sleep, the kids settle down on the carpeted Family area in front of a large  flat-screen TV that’s showing Dora CD’s and then various other kid friendly stuff.

They happily stretch out on the carpet with a small lineup of other kids, some of which are in their pajamas and a few who even have sleeping bags and small pillows.

Clearly this limited space has been thought about on a practical level because slowly as the ship progresses into the night, the kids fall asleep one by one in the little rows and the few bleary eyes one that resist are quietly transfixed by the action on the video.

Himself assigns himself to a chair close by to watch the kids, and to our amazement it’s not Little Mr. who falls asleep in the end but his older sister Little Miss.

I head out to the deck above to check out the journey home and try and get a few sunset photos.

Here’s a small documentary of the trip back to the South Island….

Heading into Wellington Harbour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ships passing in the (not quite) night…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s 11.30 pm and dark as we arrive in Picton.  We had tried to organise accommodation in Picton but only ridiculously priced rooms were still available so we decided to drive the short 20-30 minutes onto to Blenheim where we have managed to get a family room and arranged for late check-in.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We drive off into the night… Direction Blenheim.

Blog at WordPress.com.