Local Heart, Global Soul

October 10, 2017

A Monastery Where The Devil Is In The Detail…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing our visit to Meersel-Dreef, the information board describing the buildings history was so long that I have broken it up into two parts: posted yesterday and today.

The board was only in Dutch so I’ve translated it here: “The French revolution: When the French revolution spilled over into this area, the State taxed all religious goods.

In early 1797 the monks were driven out of the monastery. After the Belgium independence was proclaimed, Trappist monks from Westmalle started to use the monastery on 3rd May 1838.

About 30 years later the Kapucijnen monks returned and spiritual life in Meersel-Dreef returned. The Maria Park and the Lourdes grotto date back from 1895. Foundation of the “Valley of Mercy of Our lady of Lourdes”.

After the Maria appearance in Lourdes in 1858 and the renewed interest in pilgrimages, Meersel-Dreef was also given it’s ‘Valley of Mercy’.

Father Jan Baptist, Provincial of Belgium left on a mission to the Punjab in English India in 1895. On the way his ship came into a big storm during which he promised to make a grotto for Our Lady of Lourdes so that he would reach shore safely. He managed to arrive safely so he decided to stand by his promise. In June 1896 he laid the first stone for the Lourdes grotto at Meersel-Dreef in the garden opposite the monastery.

The watermill. In general it is thought that the watermill if Meersel-Dreef already existed in the 14 century, evidenced from a document which describes the renting of the mill “Meerselmolen’ and the farm de Eyssel from Jan IV Van Cuyck, Lord of Hoogstraten.

Like all mills in the duchy of Hoogstraten, the mill of Meersel was a “banmolen” (which means) a mill owned by the feudal lords where the locals where obliged to mill their grains (and pay for the privilege).

The mill was rented out early in the 17 century, and a canal was dug to bypass the mill allowing boats to sail further up the canal. At the beginning of the 20th century the mill burnt down (again) so in 1911 the mill was restored and modernised. This grinding installation is still operational. Opposite the mill is the mill house which was built in 1894. The old mill store house, next to the house, is still used as a house today.’

Try as we might, and with our short walk around just part of the buildings, we found it hard to pinpoint exactly where the mill now is. There was an abundance of outbuildings, some of them possibly dwellings but if one of them was the millhouse, or just part of the buildings and monastery from the Kapucijnen monks, we could not tell.

That said, there was probably a lot more possible to explore but we of course stayed where our hosts lead rather than branching out separately on our own. The Meersel-Dreef buildings continued to delight and as usual I was interested in not just the complex as a whole but also the details. For instance, I love that one window that has diamond shaped panes, opens with nine of the diamonds near the center opening out as one small window. It proves that function and practicality need not ruin the beautiful design, you just work with it and get a quirky diamond-shaped window! Brilliant!

(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 9, 2017

Another Accidental Crossing Of A Border…

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

The beautiful building our Breda friends have bought us to see is called: Meersel-Dreef.

There is a large information board (Dutch text only) so translated here:

The name Meersel consists of two parts: “Meer” and “Sele”. “Meer” means “swamp” and Sele means ‘house’ so the meaning of the word is “house near the swamp”.

Little is known about Meersel-Dreef before 1500. It is certain that around 1200 people were already living there.  Perhaps Meersel-Dreef is older than the village of Meerle, because from as early as 1223 there was a chapel there.

Around 1690 Meersel was no more than a few houses around a lonely chapel surrounded by heather and pine trees.

The Dreef was  built after the establishment of a monastery of the Kapucijnen monks on 25 June 1687. “The northern most village.’

Meersel-Dreef  is the northern most village of Belgium. The northern-most tip is near a farm called “De Paal” on the heath end. 

It is marked by a boarder post (as in ancient stone kilometer marker) No. 219. The border between Belgium and the Netherlands lies between border marker No. 217 in Strijbeek and goes a little beyond marker No. 220 in the hamlet of Scheurdekous , a total distance of about 5 kilometres.

The current border was defined on 8 August 1843 via the Maastrict border treaty. This treaty ratified the dividing line between Belgium and the Netherlands. as was decided in 1648 in the treaty of Munster.

The monastery of the Kapucijnen monks.
After the religious wars 1648) the Catholics in the Baronie of Breda struggled to practice their religion. The Calvinists in power prohibited religious services and worship of Mary.

A few influential Catholic families in Breda decided to establish a religious centre / place for prayer, on the soil of the Catholic Spanish Netherlands. Early in 1686 the decision was made to establish a Kapucijnen monastery  in Meersele which would be in aid of the percuted Cathlics within the Baronie of Breda.

Land was bought which was owned by the countess of Hoogstraten; Maria Gabriella de Lalaing.  King Karel  (Carl) of Spain gave official permission on parchment letter to establish a monastery on that land. In the winter of 1687 the plans were made for the future building and shortly afterwards the first four Kapucijnen  monks arrived in Meersele.

The monks were temporarily housed in the “Blauwhoeve’. The monks set to work rapidly and on the 28 September 1688, the church could be consecrated. Around 1728 the church had to be extended because it was so popular. Later on the church and the monastery were extended yet again.”

It’s actually a surprise for me to read that I was in Belgium! Our friend’s Breda house is a ten minute walk away through the woods and even though we came here via the longer road route that goes around the woods, I saw no road signs at all. I later asked Himself if he knew where the boarder was, he said he thought it was about  kilometer away.  The building is beautiful, even if I  accidentally slipped across a border come to see 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)

October 8, 2017

Strawberry Fields Forever!

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

During our visit to Breda, the next information board that I see is all about “de Aardbeienroute’ (The Strawberry Route).

I translated it, (and a small amount of additional text from “de Aardbeienroute” website) into English, it reads:

The Strawberry Route is fully situated in the territory of the fusion municipality Hoogstraten, combining the historic center of Hoogstraten.

The Hoogstraten Strawberries are considered as the most beautiful and delicious in the country.

With an annual output of over 25 million kilos, Hoogstraten is the undisputed center of strawberry cultivation.

The Strawberry Route illustrates the importance of agriculture and horticulture in this region.

It combines the historic center of Hoogstraaten with the beautiful Mark Valley and the vast countryside of the Belgian-Dutch border region.  You cycle past many greenhouses with strawberries and strawberry fields that clearly show the evolution of strawberry cultivation throughout the years. The route was reworked in 2017 , of course, the great features of the original route were retained, but these were complemented by nice spots around Hoogstraten. The Strawberry Route is available free of charge at Hoogstraten Tourism. Ever picked a portion of crispy strawberries from the machine? This is your chance! Sample these ‘Hoogstraatse Queens’ during or after your trip.”

Of course the machine in question is the automatic dispensing machine that I featured two days ago. It’s a good thing that most Dutch fields are bordered by canals, otherwise I envision cyclists being tempted to stop and nibble the produce of the strawberry fields as they make their rounds of the route. As the Beatles most aptly put it: strawberry fields forever!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 7, 2017

Working Towards Real Growth… Not Just That In Trees.

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

This blog is all about noticing the little things, the details of my daily life and surroundings.

I seem to always notice the things that so many others walk by, possibly because I walk the slowest but more probably because I am a detail fanatic; a trait I carried long before my accident.

I am always interested in small signs, plaques, maps, information boards and the like, and as usual I was bringing up the rear of our group, lingering reading several new “finds” of this ilk.

I will start with the smallest one which was located next to a small tree.

The reason for that quickly became apparent: this commemorated the planting of an “Inclusieboom” (Inclusion Tree).

Translated into English the sign reads: ” Inclusion Tree, Planted in November 2001 by the Catholic Disability Society together with the local community.

The planters of the “inclusion tree” wish to emphasize /reinforce that people with disabilities are also part of the community. The coexistence / working together of people with and without disabilities must grow. This is what this tree symbolizes.”

I am not certain how planting trees helps handicapped and non-handicapped people grow together on a practical level, although I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment. I’d personally like to see inclusion and awareness done better, with things like mandatory sign language classes and exams in schools, kids having to “live the life” of someone in a wheelchair, sight impaired etc for the bare minimum of a day each so that they can learn just how difficult it is to negotiate modern life.

Not only might they better understand the difficulties but all kids should also learn that there is a human being behind the disability who deserves respect, dignity and understanding. All kids should learn that people who are “different” still have feelings, hurt when they are called names, bullied, or even just constantly stared at. In fact I would go so far as to say that in an ideal world, part of every kids education should be to help out disabled and special needs kids on a regular basis, to get to know these people as individuals with personalities, feelings and dreams just as they have. Maybe then we could raise a more caring society and if that happened, that would be real growth.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi’s note: apologies for only seeing that this post was missing at the very end of the day, my fuddled brain put this into the schedule with the wrong date on it and somehow it completely missed my earlier double-check. On the upside I suppose that means you get to have a double dose the next day!

October 6, 2017

A Vending Machine Gets An innovative Use…

Filed under: BREDA,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Arriving at our friends house in Breda, we were soon joined by Himself’s sister and her husband. Our family friend gave us time to have a cup of tea before leading the way to somewhere special she wants to take us. It’s a beautiful weekend in April so we have a little bit of trouble finding parking when we get there. It’s not like me to ignore a beautiful building but, spotting something quirky I decide to first check out a little shed next to where we parked. The shed / kiosk houses a dispensing machine and the machine dispenses fresh organic strawberries!
I would have loved to get some but we were all due to eat dinner back at our friends place later and all of the others were gathering a little bit further down the path, waiting for me to catch up.I love the idea that people come up with innovative uses for these kinds of machines, eggs in one location, strawberries in another, perfect!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 5, 2017

Around Breda, Mis-navigation Style…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Around April of this year Himself and I went for a weekend visit to see friends in Breda.

As usual I took photographs as we made our way to their place, but sadly our route did not take us though the centre of the city which is said to be old and beautiful.

Here is a quick glimpse of the outskirts.

At one point we made a wrong turning and ended up going through a wooded area where there appeared to be  park.

We used a nearby driveway to turn our car around so that we could continue in the right direction and in the meantime I became curious about the people who were gathering there.

I don’t know if it was the fine weather or if there was a special event, but there were a group of young people in the park, around the picnic tables etc and on the side of the road, cars and a lot of bicycles parked up. I’m assuming that it had to have been some sort of event because they didn’t really look like separate family groups since I didn’t see any small children.  A large youth group or church outing? Some sort of nature group? I don’t know. We did catch glimpses of interesting buildings, and the weather is lovely so let’s see where the afternoon leads.

(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 4, 2017

The Road To Breda…

Earlier this year Himself and I went to visit a long term friend of his family in the southern Dutch city of Breda. The route we took  was one that took us around the the port of Rotterdam, and but which joined up with the main motorway south later on. There were many sights of one of the largest ports in the words: chemical plants, gas storage silos, and of course the docks and ships. There was an interesting walkway over the motorway we were on, and transport barges in the big rivers that bring goods far into Germany. The weather was moderate or the time of year, traffic light since it was the weekend and the weather was bright.

(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)

October 3, 2017

My Unconventional Collection Grows…

Filed under: ART,Manhole covers / Street grates,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

I am a weird collector of normal everyday stuff.

Luckily ninety-nine percent of these things are not physical collections, but photographic ones.

The beauty of pattern, texture and design delight me so photographing things that reflect these are amongst my passions.

I like to record these not only because they are beautiful but also because we so often walk past these without looking up, around or down.

Today’s post is all about looking at our feet: at drain covers on the street.

It’s not just me who gets crazy about these either, Himself’s Aunt has joined me in my quest, taking photographs of drain covers whilst on holiday with her husband in China in 2016.

Aunty I’s first photograph is from the Grotegans-pagode, the next set are from Suzhou, followed by Xi’an and Yangshuo.

My Aunt’s husband will relieved that these are the last in this particular series, especially since she risked life and limb on occasion darting into roads during pauses in traffic to capture some of these images. No, this was not at my instigation or encouragement.  Stay safe Aunty! Therefore I extend many Thanks to “Aunty I”, for taking these,and adding some more examples to my collection.

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

Xi’an…

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

Yangshuo…

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

(photograph and Thanks to © Tante I)

October 2, 2017

A Few Of My Many Snapshots Of The Hague…

The Hague has many interesting buildings and sights. This photographic post shows just a few…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the same building a few days later…

(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)

October 1, 2017

Taking Your Housekeeping To The Beach…

Filed under: ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,Scheveningen,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are plenty of beaches cafe’s open during the summer but due to lack of parking in close proximity most of them are off limits for me.

Both crutches and wheelchairs are not in any way friends with sand, so luckily the Gemeente (city council) puts in permanent concrete paths.

Most of the time it is far too much work so I do not join Himself, other parents and a large group of kids at the beach, but on one occasion I did and captured these machines in action.

Several large earth movers are keeping a large drum filled with sand, the drum rotates and screens out unwanted debris, the now cleaned sand is then spit onto a pile where it will later be smoothed out.

It’s an excellent idea, the beach along the Dutch coast is crowded during the summer and even with a dog ban in place there are plenty of other dangerous, messy or wasteful debris to be disposed of in the sand.It’s great that the council go to the trouble, but I suppose they have a duty of care to upkeep the coast line in their area. The wheelchair was never going to allow me to get closer but so the zoom lens will have to do.

(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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