Local Heart, Global Soul

March 18, 2017

An Unexpected Date Night…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

One thing about having an extra family share our holiday accommodation, is that in appreciation of the fact that they did not have to hire a separate and more expensive house, they looked after our kids and sent Himself and I off for a quiet “date night” meal together.

This happened during the Easter weekend of 2016 and so Himself and I thought we would make the most of the offer.

Deciding that dinner in the Krim Holiday park’s on-site restaurant would be just as good as one in the near by village, we made our way to eat a quiet and uninterrupted meal.

It was after 7:30pm when we arrived, mostly because a late start to the day meant that we had had in turn a late lunch and gotten back to the holiday park late after being out all afternoon.

We arrived in the restaurant to find a lot of families just leaving, and daylight fast disappearing, so photography was done on a fast shutter speed under artificial light. The resulting photographs are a little bit less than focused, but I suppose better some photos than none. Due to our late arrival, it was easier to take the buffet option than to order a la carte, and since the buffet food looked good, there was no queue for getting meat or fish made to order on the grill it turned out to be an excellent choice.

There was a salad bar, a selection of fish, seafood and meat that was to be cooked to order and all the usuals like soup, fresh bread, warm vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice dishes etc. We almost had the place to ourselves so it was a very easy and delicious meal. The staff were extremely helpful, carrying my plate for me to our table, coming over to ask for instance if I wanted extra shrimps cooked, instead of me having to walk over and wait by the grill. That extra service is not necessarily usual in the Dutch restaurant trade so we made sure to show our appreciation in the tip. It was a much enjoyed meal… there is one photo in the series however where my desert looks like it has something like raw chicken on the side of the plate: never fear, it was aa sort of custardy, creamy pudding that had a shine on it.

(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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March 17, 2017

Sometimes You Have To Get Lucky!

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Last year whilst in Texel for the Easter long weekend, I set up the garden chairs and table close to the window.

The furniture started a decent distance away from the window but every time we were due to go out, I would get Himself to edge it a little closer to the window.

I then spread out a liberal amount of bird seed and by Easter Sunday the table and chairs had moved at least two metres using our stealth method.

My camera resumed it’s hiding place behind the curtains with clothes pegs keeping the gaps to a minimum.  Luckily the early morning sun had not yet reached the glass so this helped since the window glass was between  my lens and the birds.

On this occasion the visitor was a sea gull, quickly dominating the table and scaring off all of the smaller birds. The lens could not be moved because otherwise the curtains would move: so I had to wait until my quarry passed into the field of view that the camera was set to. To my amazement, this first ever experiment was a success!

Of course there were many images where the gull moved and only a wing tip or the top of his head made it into the image, but a few decent close ups made it into my best yet file of bird photographs.

Suddenly, the daughter of our friend was awake and clambering down the stairs. Despite Himself’s best efforts to urge quietness he was too late and so my shutter caught the moment when the gull startled and swooped downwards before gliding out of sight over the lawn, at first, part of this maneuver almost looking like he was falling off the table.  Minutes later the rest of the household emerged for breakfast and with all the noise, movement and the curtains being drawn, the sea gull did not return. I’m still delighted with my efforts… sometimes you have to get lucky!

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

I learn that birds have tongues!

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Using his tongue to pick up the morsel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

It looks like he has his foot stuck but he swooped away in a smooth movement so I think the camera just caught these two nanoseconds…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

March 16, 2017

The Adventure Of The Hunt…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Back in 2016 we spent the Easter long weekend on the Dutch Island of Texel.

We were there with two other families, both with children quite a bit younger than ours. Naturally Easter for each of our families is not Easter without Easter eggs and an Easter egg hunt.

Since our accommodation at de Krim holiday park is the largest and our kids want to be the ones hiding the eggs, we arrange that the young daughter of the friend staying with us is the one who needs to accompany Himself to get bread that morning and that their return coincides with the arrival of our other friend with younger ones.

As soon she is out of the house the rest of us get to work hiding eggs that have been hidden away in our suitcases until now.  Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter race upstairs to find good places to hide eggs, working together to find places not too easy and not too hard.

Then they come downstairs to help me, there are not only eggs but also each child gets a glass drinking jar with a few small eggs inside it.

The kids hide an egg wrapped in red foil in the fruit basket with the apples for instance, I get them to put one out on the bird table outside, another goes inside the wooden umbrella stand in the hall… the list goes on. The photographs were mostly taken by my kids, sorry for the um… “soft focus”.

The smaller kids arrive back at the appointed time and shrieks of delight ensue as they scamper around the house, guided by clues given by our children. The entire morning is topped off with a combined families breakfast at our place and a houseful of kids delighting in a miracle of a day once per year when they are permitted chocolate for breakfast. The story of Easter is of course more than just that of chocolate eggs, but on this day the kids only have eyes on the chocolate and the adventure of the hunt.

(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 )

March 15, 2017

Strange Houses, But Even Stranger Barns…

Filed under: ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,TEXEL,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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We might have thought that Texel’s houses were a strange shape: almost all roof and not much of the ground floor showing. They however are tame stuff, when it comes to seriously strange architecture on this island, it’s Texel’s barns who are at the top of the heap to gain the first prize. Some of these barns stand next to their all-roof houses, so logic has it that maybe the two were joined some time in the distant past. Others just had us stratching our heads: they look like some one has chopped them in two and made off with the other half!

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

March 14, 2017

Literally… This Boss Is A Real Cow!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,TEXEL,Texel: Ice-cream farm Labora,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At  “IJsboerderij Labora” in Texel, Family Kiwidutch and our friends got the opportunity to see something very new for the first time.

That ‘something” was introduced with a sign on the wall of the dairy farm which read: “Wilt u binnen een kijkje nemen? Ingang om de hoek, Hier kunt u onze melkrobot in werking zien” (Would you like to come inside for a little look? Entrance around the corner, here you can see our milk robot in action).

Milk robot?  I’m immediately curious and went in to take a look.

Inside I find myself facing the back side of a large machine called the “Lely Astronaut“. It is busy with water, brushes and milking suction cups and the cows are simply walking up to it one after another and allowing themselves to be cleaned and milked before returning to the main stall.

There is a small screen with a rolling commentary on our side of the machine.  It tells us all about how the milk robot works.

Translated and summarised: “Dutch dairy farmers wanted to find an easier and faster way to milk cows that was less stressful for cows, more efficient for the farmer.

Various machines already in use have a multitude of problems, for example that the cows have to move backwards or sideways and out of stalls, a movement not natural to them and produces stress. Stress is not only bad for the general health of the cow, it also means that she lets down less milk.

Dutch agricultural firm “Lely” therefore decided to redesign the entire milking procedure from scratch using new methods of technology and the  “Lely Astronaut” is the result.

Firstly, the cow moves only in a forward motion, gone are side-steps or reverse, she enters the milking stall at one end and leaves through the other.

She is scanned as she enters, the computer identifies the specific individual and tipping a small feed mix into the container by her head:  if milking has been unproductive the feed mix is adjusted with supplements or medication. She is weighed and her general condition accessed via a scanning system.

An arm with rotating brushes comes out under the cow, cleaning her teats and udder using a steam clean requiring no detergents. The udder is scanned and the robot finds the teats one at a time, mimicking how a calf would do it.

Sensors throughout the process can detect signs of mastitis, the arm under the cow also measures colour, temperature, conductivity, fat, lactose, levels of somatic cells, protein levels in the milk, as well as milking speed. If the machine detects a deviation in the milk value then the milk is separated automatically.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The cups are attached to the teats using a 3D camera and lasers, cow is milked, then mimicking nature at the end they detach one at time. Cow and the equipment are steam cleaned and disinfected again at the end and the cow exits via the front of the stall, whilst the back opens up for the next cow to enter.

Amazingly the farmer can control everything from an App. on a smart phone and so can spend more time with cows that need specialist attention.

Cows feel pressure and discomfort if they are not milked on time and having lived on a farm I know that cows are intelligent animals who happily walk to a milking shed when they feel this need, therefore this robot means that the cows decide according to this need and milk themselves!

It was certainly funny to see the orderly queue as the cows lined up waiting their turn at the machine. The farmer just fills the hoppers, collects the milk, does maintenance and can supervise on a remote dashboard and collect data for management of the herd.
It seems that “teaching” cows to become accustomed to an automated milking machine is a very achievable objective, and a big success. It’s great to see how modern technology can be put to good use, and that everyone in this system benefits: happy cows, better milk, happy farmers.

It’s been an eye opener to see a system where the farm animal can be part of the decision process and that everyone wins. I’d love to see technology extended to help other farm animals have a “say” in their own environment, be in the spaces where they live, to heat and light. Who knows how technology will evolve later in the twenty-first century? I hope that machines like this robot lead the way to better lives for livestock on our farms.

(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)

March 13, 2017

Colour Lacks But The Wheels Still Go Round…

Ijsboerderij Labora” is a Dutch dairy farm where they use some of the fresh milk to make their own ice-cream. Located on the island of Texel in North Holland, it’s where we spent the 2016 Easter weekend with friends. Following my yesterday’s post I am taking photographs for my “reference library files”, and have gone from “klompen” (clogs), to “wheels” as the topic of interest. In taking photographs from different angles I hope to not just capture composition but also texture, something I achieved in some small part, but had the same problem with the klompen: my colours are noticeably washed out. Still, something is better than nothing and the learning curve continues.

(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 )

March 12, 2017

The Most Unlikely Shoe Collection…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

This post finds us still at “Ijsboerderij Labora“, a dairy farm in Texel that uses it’s fresh milk to make the most delectable of treats: ice-cream.

The date was Easter 2016 and Family Kiwidutch were enjoying a much needed long weekend break with two other sets of friends and their children.

Our children were reluctant to leave, not just due to the fabulous ice-cream, but also the abundance of a large variety of playground equipment and toys,  and not least, the presence of at least four large trampolines.

The afternoon was getting on, and the crowd of other visitors who had smaller children suddenly disappeared as their kids dinner and bed times approached, so our party soon had all four of the trampolines almost to themselves.

With queues gone, I took photographs of them jumping for the family album, but their passion for jumping outlasted mine in the end and feeling a little bored after another rest, I moved back toward the car, where other things had caught my eye. I’d spotted some lovely clogs on display as I arrived and wanted to get some photos for my ” reference library” album.

After all, it’s always helpful to have a few studies to refer to should the sketching bug arise.  To this end I set to work making various photographs, attempting various angles and zooms so that the most could be made of these lovely “klompen” (clogs). To be fair, not having a tripod with me, especially in the strong wind, didn’t help and for some reason the colours are lighter and more washed out in the end results than they were in real life, but the “bones” are there. Regular readers will know I adore old stuff like this, I hope you like them too.

(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 )

March 11, 2017

Getting A Very Creamy Ten Out Of Ten!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finding ourselves visiting “Ijsboerderij Labora“, a Texel dairy farm that makes it’s own ice-cream, guaranteed that our 2016 Easter trip was going to have one, less than conventional pre-main course entrée.

The range of flavours in the long freezer cabinet had everyone deliberating on their perfect combination of flavours.

I didn’t get photographs of our selections simply because the kids disappeared outside with theirs and the adults inside were so busy getting down to ice-cream  demolition that slow-poke moi at the end of the queue arrived to find most the evidence already gone.

Needless to say the ice-creams were very good indeed. I also liked that there was an indoor sitting area, not large but a very welcome resting spot  after my tour of the play area.

Additionally, a large cupboard with locally made Texel products meant that we could take a few small gifts back for my Mother in law, I choose small pots of lanolin to massage into her hands since her skin was often very dry. I also attempted a few “Still life with tulips” photographs, not the best but ok reference material if I want it for a sketch one day. The wind may be cutting and fierce  today but that’s not stopping everyone from giving this outing a very creamy ten out of ten!

(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 )

 

March 10, 2017

A Plentiful Supply Of Raw Ingredients To Make …Profit!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Texel: Ice-cream farm Labora,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Our next stop during our 2016 Easter weekend visit of Texel is somewhere that our friends have read up on and the children in our extended party voted as a must-see place to visit.

As we get close we see a paddock with several lines of parked cars… clearly not just members of our group think this is a top destination.

As soon as we turn into the gate I see the attraction: there is play equipment everywhere, from items to please toddlers to multiple large trampolines to enthuse bigger kids and adults alike (myself excepting, the idea is tempting, the practical implications of landing on my sore foot immediately not).

Then the second attraction becomes apparent: this is a dairy farm that makes its own ice-cream.

The wind is still blowing a gale, but no one we see seems deterred from the play equipment: certainly our kids peel off quickly enough and make a bee-line for the trampolines. I content myself to talking photographs… who isn’t going to like anywhere where there is ice-cream somewhere on the near agenda?

The house is half typical Dutch and, with it’s strange “all roof” appearance, very much of Texel character. Part of the ground floor has been converted into a small cafe, and of course, the outside lawn into the entertainment section. The kids are quick to want to burn off excess energy… and luckily the foresight of the owners of putting several large trampolines here means that waiting times are kept to a minimum. Of course in the height of summer it’s probably very crowded but the crowd of smaller kids thins quickly after we arrive due to their earlier dinner time so it doesn’t take long before our lot more or less have the trampolines to themselves. This is a prime example of a dairy farm taking full advantage of their space and ready supply of milk to make a secondary income for themselves, what a perfect idea!

(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 )

(phot(photograph © Kiwidutch )ograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

March 9, 2017

We Actually Saw The Easter Bunny… In Multiples!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

In my yesterday’s post I talked about loving quirky things.

The seats modeled with legs in the shapes of lighthouses caught not just our attention, but that of many other too, if the sight of cameras and phones coming out to capture images was anything to go by.

That though, was nothing to prepare us for the next quirky sight I saw.

The kids were in the back, busy with their phones, Himself and our other friends had gone over to the second vehicle to discuss where we wanted to eat together, and what we wanted to do next.

Not surprisingly my sudden exclamation of: ” Quick , Look… I have just seen the Easter Bunny!!!”. Heads jerked up with a sort of  eye rolling” yeah mam, that’s a lame joke… get a life” look , but both heads turned when they realised that I was pointing to something.

What I had seen was a group of men  coming out of the nearby beach restaurant wearing white bunny rabbit onesies and getting into their cars.
Annoyingly I was slow in spotting them so was still pointing them out to the kids  with one hand and retrieving the camera with the other when the first cars drove off, Luckily a few had parked further away so I got a few photographs of them battling the wind as they walked past.The kids in the back were now squeezing themselves against the part of the car that offered a better view, laughing and muttering, “what in the world…?”  as they tried to tally up how many men were taking part in this festive gig.

Numbers ranged between six and twelve, and a small difference of opinion ensued about double counting and missed sightings so we settled on eight as a tentative end number that pleased everyone. We have no clue as to the occasion for this attire: a birthday? anniversary? retirement?something related to Easter? …I thought maybe a  pre-wedding Stag do, since it seemed to be only the men dressed in costume. The ladies accompanying them had hair bands with white rabbit ears on them, it wasn’t clear if they were carrying them as accessories to the men’s costumes or if they were their own.(Of course we never found out, but it’s excellent to see that these Gents dared to get dressed up for their special event, and they bought huge grin to our faces as they did so.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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