Local Heart, Global Soul

March 4, 2014

The Humble, But Hard Working Wooden Shoe…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here in Zaans Schans, located a short distance from Amsterdam an a short distance  past Schipol airport, the museums’ curators have tried to make as much of the historic buildings as they can.

In this particular area they have made a set of 18th Century storage barns and warehouses formerly used for storing grain and dry goods into museum, souvenir and catering buildings and have been laid out to form a central square.

The buildings themselves are wooden because this was the most convenient building material for the soft peaty soil in this area and they were tarred for protection against mildew. Now theta they are protected against the damp they have to stand up to the tourist hordes.

The weather has been fickle and so it’s quiet here today, so although some areas are busy we have other areas almost all to ourselves. In the “klompenmakerij” (wooden shoe / clog workshop) there is also a museum that details the history of  “klompen” (clogs) and shows just how much of an integral part of Dutch life they were. Certainly as “working shoes” they were owned by almost every man, woman and child and there were many companies making them around the Netherlands to keep up with demand. Klompen were also not just confined to The Netherlands in centuries past, as working shoes they were also worn extensively in Belgium, France, Germany and many other European countries.

One thing I did not realise before though were the regional differences in the styles and shapes of the klompen… the large glass display cabinets hold many examples of both local and even some international examples.  The wooden shoe may be humble but it’s got a long and colourful history…

(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)

June 4, 2013

Winching Out the Historical Heavyweights…

Filed under: BELGIUM,Mechelen,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have a few photographs from Mechelen that I didn’t really feel fitted in with any of my posts so far… but I also didn’t want to leave them out.

The first was a photograph on the same information board as the information for the Duivelshuis, Het Paradijs and Sint Joseph’s houses, which depicted a crane. Not a crane in any recognisable form as we might know it today, this “contraption” is clearly both huge and heavy, so I was stunned to read that it was traditionally operated by children. I know that  child labour has a very long and often shameful history throughout centuries past, but surely this one takes the cake?

I only have to think of my own children’s skinny little limbs to shudder at the thought of them being expected to work on docks unloading ships. The text that accompanies the photograph reads:

“Crane Bridge. As the name suggests this was the site of a crane. It was built of wood in the fifteenth century. Operated by the “crane children”, it was used to unload ships. It was demolished in 1887. Before that, in the Middle Ages there had been a footbridge here, followed by a stone bridge. The present-day metal swing bridge dates from 1986.”

Then there are the shoe scrapers… they were used to scrape the mud off your shoes before entering the house and I’ve often seen them in Europe as metal attachments to walls, often in lovely wrought iron forms, but this is the very first time I’ve ever seen one embedded into the wall itself.

Lastly there are the banners, …at first I had no clue who the medieval lady might be, or indeed that it might be a representation of any real person at all, but after my research  it all becomes clear, this is of course the heroine of Mechelen: Margaret of Austria.  I was delighted to read that when the main cities of Belgium were asked to pick someone famous from their history to be their “emblem”  and “representitive” that Mechelen alone chose a woman, and a most eminently noteworthy one at that. Bravo!

(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 9, 2011

A Big Step Forward… and an Apology…

Filed under: LIFE,The Hague — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here’s another update on my foot… I’ve been busy in recent weeks seeing Doctors, Specialists and looking for ways to speed up the healing process. So far it’s been boring, frustrating, painful and slow. But I have been doing my physiotherapy exercises and grinning and bearing it as much as possible.

That’s not to say that frustration levels and emotions haven’t been a little too close to the edge some days, generally it’s the tiniest thing that sets things off,  the long and the short of it is that not handling pain well,  means you have a very much lower tolerance for other things that are not going 100% either.

Wednesday this week saw a milestone: a shoe on my left foot for the first time in just over seven months. I’ve been making fruitless attempts with my own regular shoes and slippers every now and again for ages now but the orthopedic one I finally got into, was two sizes bigger than my regular shoe size and was the only one of several I tried that I could get on anyway, so no choice in style or colour. (not that I’m knocking  “functional”  right now in any way shape or form.)

The trying process was also painful, and Yes, the crutches will still remain for some months yet, but at least with a shoe I’m hoping for more side foot support and that this will speed up the healing process because at this point it’s fair to say that I’m sick to death of not being able to walk properly, drive and get out much.

The shoe is what’s called an “anti-shoe” and is raised at the toe and ankle ends, a bit like a flattened out “u’ shape.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Standing on them gives the same wobbly  feeling you had as a kid when you stood astride the middle axsis of a see-saw and tried to keep both ends horizontal.  Hopefully  the rolling motion will allow me to also make the rolling motion of walking with my foot, albeit at the moment with no weight on the front half of my foot just yet, as the weight stays on the crutches but at least it’s a beginning.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are comfortable to wear, I lace the left foot  as loosely as I can and grin and bear it and the Doctor advised I will have to build up wearing time anyway so that I can get used to the unnatural balance they give, but  they are a step forward.

The two flights of stairs to our house are still a difficult obstacle and it’s true that one can get a little paranoid when negotiating them when you have my track record for accidents.

Generally things are  progressing, but very slowly, which is to be expected the surgeon said yesterday but we are both keen for the fastest possible progress within the limits of the damage.

The physio said this week that I can expect the pain to remain constant  for the next months but that I need to learn to do more within the same pain limits.  This honesty at least helps me to (in theory) be less frustrated but reality is that it’s still one day at the time and there will be good days and bad days as we work to achieve this.

It’s been hard to write posts on less good days and impossible to find the will or clear headedness to sit and reply to comments, for which I can only deeply apologise. I have  been keeping many of the posts of you fellow bloggers (you know who you are) and read them on good days, but again, comments have been beyond me for the most part. It all takes energy that I simply don’t have, since pain that just won’t quit wears me down and focusing energy on things like the physio exercises takes precedence.

There are brighter moments of course and I have stumbled into some (hopefully) good ideas for fund-raising for the disabled kids of  Himself’s and my favourite charity (handcraft efforts that can be done when I am on the bed with ice-packs) but me being me, I couldn’t have a go at a pattern without making some changes so multiple  ideas are in the experimental prototype stage at the moment,.

What that means in reality is that my R & D technique is rather hit and miss so there’s a tray of felt fabric bits next to me that also contains scribbled drawings on scraps of paper that when transfered to the “model” still don’t quite fit (don’t ever ask me to go into building construction, the gaps I can manage between bits would be frightening LOL)

Of course this too has been a slow process,  I have been stitching just a few days a week and not at all some weeks, but if I can use at least some of the time to formulate  and refine ideas for more productive times in the future then not all is in vain.

I’m wishing that I can again become a more active member of the blogging community in the next months but reality is that my resources, both emotionally and physically are somewhat depleted at the moment so please accept my sincerest apologies if your comments are unanswered, I do  appreciate them vastly, and I am lurking on your blogs on good days.

Here’s hoping that slipping on a pair of shoes after so long also signifies slipping into a new and positive next step of the recovery process.

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