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)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 28, 2017

This Air Craft Is 15 Stories High And Is Stratospheric!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before we leave the Air Force and War Museum in Texel,  I spy what I first assume to be a life boat.

A closer look determines it to be the “Dutch Viking“, which is the cabin of  a transatlantic high altitude balloon that set a record for the transatlantic crossing on 02 September 1986.

Captain Henk Brink,  his wife Evelien, and Major Willem Hageman, an F-16 squadron commander in the Royal Dutch Air Force comprised the three person crew.

They departed from St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada just before midnight on Saturday and touched down in a Dutch wheat field 51 hours and 14 minutes later.

In the Youtube video (Dutch language only, linked at the bottom of this post) Henk explained their near disastrous ending  to the journey:  sudden swirling winds made the balloon tilt to one side, at quite an angle to the gondola,  this in turn meant that the heat from the burners went up the outside of the balloon and they lost a lot of height very quickly. Since the balloon at that moment was close to crossing over the town of Velsen close to Amsterdam, they had to make a decision about how best to avert a crash landing in the town centre.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They carried bags of lead balls as ballast, the usual method of using these was to toss out handfuls of these balls at a time, but since their situation at that point was dire and time was of the essence, the decision was taken to dump 19 bags in their entirety.

Two of these bags crashed through a roof of a steel plant and another through the roof of a fish factory, amazingly no one was hurt but damage caused was considerable.

The drama was not over however: on landing the gondola of the balloon flipped end over end, and whilst Willem and Evelien were securely strapped in, Henk wasn’t and he was thrown out into the field, injuring his hips.

After being airlifted to hospital and checks done, it was pronounced that nothing serious was broken, he just had to rest for a while since his hips were badly bruised.

The flight broke the record of 53 hours for a transatlantic crossing, marked the first time that Europeans had made the crossing and Evelien became the first woman to make the crossing in a balloon.

In essence this text is my translation of the Dutch commentary in the video, even if you don’t speak any Dutch, it is well worth going to time stamp 04.36 in the video where the view from the edge of space, the amazing curvature of the earth is a wonder to behold.
They also talk about needing to descend to 10 000 metres before getting into busy European airspace, it required a special maneuver where they needed to all wear their parachutes for safety reasons.

I’m guessing that that was a nerve wracking part of the trip! Four F14 fighter jet colleagues greeted them as they crossed the border.
I read in the information here that the balloon itself was 15 stories high and the gondola /lifeboat is not your average balloon wicker basket size either, so I can see why they were concerned about crashing into the town of Velsen. It just goes to show that air craft come in all shapes and sizes, even 15 stories high!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 12, 2015

Limburgish, Yet Another Regional Dialect…

The Netherlands is not a large country, but like many European nations it has many dialects that are regional versions of the Dutch language. The most internationally known of these is of course  “Fries” (Frisian), in the far north western province of Friesland which is also spoken in parts of Germany and Denmark. Interestingly, linguistically as a language Frisian is more closely related to the English language than to Dutch!  Here in Limburg the local Germanic/Dutch dialect is known as “Limburgish” and the road signs are therefore made in both Limburgish and Dutch. Let’s take a look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 26, 2015

How On Earth Do They Manage To Make The Detail Defy Belief?

There are many more sand sculptures to see in the “Veluws Zandsculpturenfestijn”  (Veluwe Sand Sculpture Festival)  that takes place annually in  Garderen,  Today’s post features sand sculptures of  Johan and Cornelis de Witt,  and entire table of figures from the VOC  (Dutch East India Company), the detail of which defied belief, I mean how on earth did they sculpt the rims of the hats, the pierced work in the crown at the very top? … but enough of me drooling over them all,  you really need to see for yourselves…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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February 21, 2014

History Relocates Itself To Zaanse Schans…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mostly we like to take our visitors to the Netherlands off the beaten track, to places off the tourist trail, but sometimes it’s nice to see a little bit of a tourist spot because it gives an insight to the kind of “the Netherlands” tourists expect and want to see.

Zaanse Schans, located a short distance from Schipol airport is just such a place.

Wikipedia tells us:

Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood of Zaandam, near Zaandijk in the municipality of Zaanstad in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland.

It has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses; the circa 35 houses from all over the Zaanstreek were moved to the museum area in the 1970s.The Zaans Museum, established in 1994, is located in the Zaanse Schans.

The Zaanse Schans is one of the popular tourist attractions of the region and an anchor point of ERIH, the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The neighbourhood attracts approximately 900,000 visitors every year. The windmills were built after 1574.

In the Netherlands, sometimes if a small historic building semi-important for cultural reasons but is mill, farmhouse or the like and finds itself in the path of a planned motorway or city development, it is moved to another location rather than being lost to the bulldozers.  If it can be moved intact, then this is done, if not, the bricks and parts are numbered as it is painstakingly  disassembled and then reassembled in order on the new site.

The most famous place in the Netherlands where this is done on a large scale is the “Nederlands Openluchtmuseum” (Netherlands Open Air Museum) near Arnhem where the process has been going on since 1912, but here at Zaanse Schans it’s a smaller scale  attraction that was first established in the 1970’s.We arrive in the area that is the “main street” where examples of commercial businesses and large houses of the wealthy business owners are found. These building are more ostentatious than those of the labours cottages, giving me some beautiful architectural decoration to photograph and admire.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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

July 4, 2013

Zeeuwse Bolus: Zeeland’s Sweet Treats…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From yesterday’s post you’ll have discovered that Himself and I are sitting in a friend’s garden in the small town of Veere in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The weather is fine and sunny but our coats are still on due to a biting wind, so a hot cup of Rooibos tea and some fortification by way of food is most welcome.

Our friend duly presents us with a well known local delicacy certain to do the trick: a sticky, sweet “Zeeuwse bolus”  which is a type of bread rolled in cinnamon and treacle and then rolled into a spiral shape.

The result is softer and less bready than actual bread in texture, an ultra sticky confection that will stick to your ribs and put your teeth into shock mode with a mega dose of sweetness.

(There seems to be a lot of treacle in this particular one) I’d say that the sugar quotient of a Bolus would be on a par with for instance a Greek Baklava. Of course this is just an indication of the ones we had… each Zeeland baker has their own secret recipe and flavours and levels of sweetness differ a bit accordingly. Suffice to say that in the past when I wasn’t watching what I ate,  I *could* have wolfed down two cinnamon rolls  (albeit with a large dose of guilt) but although a Bolus is a close cousin of the cinnamon roll, I’d personally have difficulty even contemplating a second after finishing a first.

Wikipedia tells me:  A “bolus” is a sweet pastry of Jewish origin from the Dutch province of Zeeland. They are made by baking a type of dough in a spiral shape and covering it with treacle and cinnamon. The shape of a bolus differs between bakers. They are often eaten with coffee, and the flatter underside is covered with butter. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The bolus was first created in Zeeland in the first half of the 17th century by Sephardic Jewish bakers. There are signs of the Portuguese Jewish community that inhabited Zeeland at the Jewish cemetery in Middelburg.

Later bakers from Zeeland perfected the art of the bolus, sometimes using steam ovens to keep the cinnamon pastry tender.

Since 1998 every year during the “bolus week”, on the Tuesday of the 12th week of the year, the Bolusbaking Championships Zeeland are held, organised by the Dutch Bakery Centre.

Participating bakers may get eight boluses judged. A jury consisting of two bakers and two Zeelandia employees choses the best ten products and the winner gets chosen from these by the audience. The winner receives the Bolus Trophy and gets to call themselves “Best Bolus Baker” for a year.

The bolus is seen as an originally Jewish pastry and has been spread all over the globe during the diaspora. In New York they are sold in many delicatessen, usually in a sweeter and larger version. Boluses also get sold in Jerusalem, Moscow and in Paris and the south of France.

The word bolus comes from Yiddish. The Dutch Van Dale etymological dictionary says that the word bolus or boles is the plural of bole, which comes from the Spanish bollo meaning bun, or bola which means “ball”.

I went looking for an as authentic a Zeeuwse Bolus as possible and found a recipe (dutch language only) from dutch baker Piet Daane,  however the Dutch text also tells me that “this isn’t the official recipe as theirs is top secret”, so I decided to leave the link here but give you another recipe for it that’s a step-by-step recipe already in English. (hey why reinvent the wheel? ) If anyone still really really wants a translation of the Dutch version just let me know and I’ll scribble it out for you.

http://www.thecooksbelly.com/2013/02/zeeuwse-bolus-dutch-cinnamon-ecstacy.html  (please note that Will has iced his version with a lemon, that’s definiately not done in any authentic Dutch version of the recipe, but hey, each to his own)

http://www.zeeuwsebolus.nl/recept.htm  (Dutch language text only). (note the word “hier” (here) underlined in red in the middle of the text, if you click on that you’ll get step-by-step photographs of Bolussen being made in a commercial Dutch bakery)

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

May 9, 2013

Apparently Stripes are The Latest Thing this Season…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is a largely photographic post… Stripes, stripes and more stripes of amazing colour.

Even narrow strips of land along the roadside, between a canal and a farm are packed solid with blooms. The air is pungent with the smell of perfume, the colours are fresh, bright and there are cyclists and people stopping everywhere to admire the views.

We even noticed a number of tour buses travelling ridiculously (and unlawfully) slowly on the motorway behind us probably in response to tourist pleas to try and catch some elusive photos of the bulb fields en route to their next destination.

Also something funny: at one point where we stopped to take photographs we caught sight of a chicken in the tulip field just across the canal. It didn’t falter or dally  but marched resolutely right the the very end of the long field, and entered the last row of tulips and fussed around there: it probably thought it’s owner will never find her eggs here, sadly she will probably return later in the next days to find them scrambled simply because she’s hidden them so well. Needless to say, the nearby town of Noordwijk has planters full of tulips all down the streets… and it’s clear that stripes are very much in fashion this season, along the Dutch coast just north of the Hague.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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May 8, 2013

The Pain of Reaching the Extraordinary Beauty of Full Bloom and then Facing Decapitation…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have turned off the motorway and found a suitable small road that by coincidence runs parallel to the motorway where we can retrace our way back home but at a slower pace and with stops for more detailed photographs.

Himself has a few hours free this (Monday 6th May) morning but knows a client is due to arrive with work after lunch so we are hurrying a little to make the best of a few hours free time and a beautiful day.

Growing tulips from seeds is a time consuming and difficult business, it takes toughly six years to achieve.

Nature provides a quicker method by producing bulbs that will split into two plants during their cold winter months underground and can be harvested in the spring. The splitting process however requires that the plant puts as much energy as possible into the magic of the multiplication process and not into generating and maintaining the flower and subsequent seeds. Other flowers are highly prized for the seeds but not tulips… the production of seeds invariably  means a poorer quality bulb, and thus a poorer quality bloom from that bulb the following year. Since world-wide sales of some three billion Dutch grown tulips depend on consistent quality of the flowers they will produce the following spring, machines are employed in growers fields to decapitate the flower heads before the seeding process can take place. This of course means that if you want to see tulips out in full bloom you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Many factors determine the exact time that the blooms will be decapitated: this year the flowers arrived very late because the warmer days of spring came roughly one month later than normal. Rainfall, temperature and the amount of sunshine then determine how fast the bulbs bloom and for how long.

The sudden rise in temperatures in the last week or so have seen tulips out en masse, but some are starting the process of producing seeds already so the machines are already in some fields chopping off their heads.

Luckily not all of the blooms on display today are unfortunate tulips waiting for their turn at the guillotine  Himself (the gardening guru of the family) informs me that the other little plants here are Hyacinths… Not only do they  look amazing but they smell fabulous too. If only I could present you with photographs that gave off the same heavenly perfume as we were greeted with as I opened the car door to step out and take photos…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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The bulbs were being checked by people walking systematically though the fields… I assume they were checking how far along the seed forming process was…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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The decapitating machine is making steady progress down the right hand strip of blooms…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Off with their heads!  (ouch!)… I felt sorry for the poor flowers.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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It’s as “pretty as a picture”… and I have the picture frame to prove it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 7, 2013

Break Out Your Sun Glasses, Spring Rolls Up Late …But Parties Hard With In Your Face Colours…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My mother in law has been asking Himself for weeks to take her to see the local bulb fields in flower.

Unfortunately for her  the European Spring slept in this year and arrived roughly a month later than usual so there were no flowers to be seen in March and the first blooms only came out in force in late April.

In the last week or two the weather has suddenly changed for the better and we  have been treated to some beautiful sunny days.  The bulb fields are now blooming  at a frantic rate and with temperatures rising there is a chance that the petals will have dropped if we leave  catching a good view of them too late. (Most of these  plants are wanted for the valuable bulb beneath the ground and not the blooms we can see above it, so the petals will be left to drop, or the blooms will be beheaded with machines but amazingly none of these will end up as cut flowers in vases. (potpourri anyone?) I’ve taken a few more days annual leave so that I can sort some major family events and luckily, Himself  who works as free-lancer, had a break in workflow yesterday that allowed him to take a few hours off  on a sunny Monday morning. This meant we quickly  arranged to pick up my Mother in Law and soon headed out of the Hague, past Wassenaar in the direction of Katwijk and Noordwijk.

At first we were on the motorway and not being able to pull over and stop meant getting tantalising fleeting glances of bright colours…  there were masses of cyclists on many of the smaller paths and cycleways as people come from all over the region to enjoy cycling along the bulb routes, enjoying the amazing colours and taking zillions of photographs. Naturally I was equally keen to get my camera out, so as we made our way out towards Noordwijk we also started looking for a few good side roads that would allow us to pull over and enjoy a closer view of the flowers.

First however, here are some of the fleeting views I got from the motorway … and I noticed that we were not the only ones enjoying the colourful views.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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May 1, 2013

Apparently There Was a Party Taking Place Yesterday… ???

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As a staunch Republican citizen of the Netherlands on the Day that the country celebrated the retirement of a Queen and the installation of a King,  I drew the line at wearing bright orange but was delighted to join my husband and kids at one of the many traditional flea markets on the streets.

This year we arranged to meet up with five sets of friends at a location reasonably central  to most of us, and four of these families turned up  in the end.

All the kids played together with newly bought toys from the street market and the parents tried to sell off some old toys that our kids swore blind they would be the ones selling, but after the first hour and a half they got bored and slithered out from selling duty leaving all the parents to take over for the rest of the day.

I came home early because I’d been up late baking the night before, had serious pain in my foot because of a lot of standing and walking and needed a nap  because I then spent the evening doing what all good Dutch Republicans do… went off to a French Patisserie class and spoke French all night. Ok, so yes it was still a big  event in Dutch history, so I buckled and took from photos of the Dutch TV coverage before I went out and of the BBC news when I got back.  Therefore here’s a mostly  pictorial post about what the rest of the Netherlands was celebrating yesterday…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Above photo, Beatrix is still Queen… then she signs the abdication document … and isn’t any longer…

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The Crown is present as a symbolic item only, Willem-Alexander, like the other Dutch Monarchs before him, doesn’t ever get to wear it. Not even on the day of his inauguration.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kofi Annan and wife amongst official guests (but there were over 2000 of  them so I’ve only photographed a couple who were on the screen at the moment I had the camera in my hand) Since Willem-Alexander got to choose the guest list there were no Heads of State of State or Presidents attending (they are more of this mother’s guest list material) Instead, he choose all of the worlds Crown Princes and Princesses… waiting heirs to thrones as he was before today.

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There for show only…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Dutch commentator wryly remarked that Prince Charles also attended the inauguration of  Beatrix 33 years ago, so has seen two in the Dutch circle of friends become monarchs but still isn’t one himself.  She then made a comment about how very much older Charles is than Willem Alexander and continued: The English Queen is “still going strong”.  (Ouch, even I thought that was maybe rather a low blow.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Apparently the Thai princess, heir to the throne is rarely seen in public…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And apparently the Japanese wife of the Emperor is seen so exceptionally rarely in Public in Japan that 80 photographers are here to photograph her here today (she’s very reclusive and also didn’t attend the Farewell Gala and dinner given by Beatrix and attended by zillions of heads of state on Monday evening)

investiture willem alexander april 30th 2013 4q (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s a walk to be made between the building where the abdication took place and the church where the inauguration takes place… Willem-Alexander’s three young daughters lead the royal family (followed by “Oma” (grandmother) Beatrix)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Amalia, at nine years of age became the world’s youngest heir to a throne today…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

No longer “Queen” Beatrix, but now “Princess”Beatrix… (or elderly lady about to enjoy her retirement).

(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)

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