Local Heart, Global Soul

March 22, 2019

Bolderkars Have Had A Tragically Rocky Recent History…

I have featured “bolderkars” on my blog before: “So… just what IS a “bolderkar”?… ” but not gotten the chance to photograph them more often. On this occasion there was not just one, but two for capture the attention of my lens. These photographs were taken in 2017 and I’m not sure if the orange on is still in use; there has been a Dutch ban on the use a certain type of bolderkar after a tragic accident in 2018 where a motorised one went out of control onto a railway line and into the path of an oncoming train. The children and adult perished. There is a large legal dispute concerning the cause of the accident, if it was human error on the part of the adult or if they just couldn’t stop the machine because something was faulty. Other brands of bolderkar are still in use and well used they are too. The perfect way  for one adult to transport a half dozen or more children depending on the size of the bolderkar. It’s green,  clean and (usually) perfectly safe. it was later in the afternoon when I took these photographs and the staff had dispatched the last of the children into the arms of their parents and then decided to use one of the cars to take the adults for a spin. After a day of having the responsibility for, entertaining and looking after babies and toddlers I think they have earned their fun!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 4, 2015

The Train Is Brilliant But The Sheep Steal The Show…

Filed under: GERMANY,Legoland Germany,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m back to my retrospective posts, detailing our travels and experiences in Legoland Germany.

One quick way to get tough overview of the park is to take the Legoland train. On the plus side, the train takes you around the outside of the mini-Lego countries and cities, under part of the Factory and around the back of it and then back to the “Train station”.

Slightly more negatively,  there is only one station,  and since I was on crutches and given the size of the park,  I would have ideally liked to have seen at least four of them.

I was also a bit disappointed that the train doesn’t go past/through several sections of the park at all, but that again was tempered by the fact that we were lucky enough to have stayed long enough to go multiple times during the week so we simply did one section on one day, a different section the next etc.

My biggest tip would be to get the Family Year pass and come as often as you can, taking it all in, in small bites rather than trying to cover everything on a single day.

As you can see from the photographs, we not only rode on the trains on the different days we were there, we also stood at crossings and waited whilst they went by and without exception,  every time a driver saw us waving and taking photographs they responded with big smiles and friendly waves back.

One thing that raised a laugh all along the train was that after we passed under the Factory and saw the robots working in the basement, we exited into the daylight, turned a corner and saw a “shepherd” and his “sheep”  which were bushes with the appropriate Lego heads, hands etc.

It was just another example of the inspired imaginative spirit that is behind the Lego brand and park.

This all goes a long way to explain why every member of our family, even Kiwi Daughter who hates playing with Lego, were excited to come back here day after day, and after the first day she and I didn’t even consider staying back at the hotel as we’d origonally thought we would.

(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)

September 28, 2014

Beware: A Top-Box Puts You Into A Higher Price Fare…

Filed under: Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve blogged about the Channel Tunnel before, but this is the first time that we’ve travelled though it in a vehicle bigger than the average sized car.

Camper vans are tall and are therefore the channel tunnel train operators  are unable to get a double story of vehicles onto the train.

It’s not surprising that the fares for the crossing are more expensive for bigger vehicles too, which of course we completely understand and have no issue with.

However, what I didn’t realise until we boarded the train was that an ordinary car fitted with a top-box also qualified as a “larger vehicle” and had to travel on the more expensive tariff as well.

My photograph doesn’t do justice to the size difference between the car in front of us and our camper van, we are already sitting considerably higher than them and have the compartment that houses one of the double beds above our heads in addition to that so our vehicle is massive compared to theirs. It’s a warning for people who might expect that a regular sized car with a top-box would fit in with the other cars without one, be prepared if you have a top-box for that extra luggage to be land you in the higher tariff section of the train.

April 24, 2014

Playing At Being The Train Driver…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One interesting thing about my hotel being out at Bercy Village in Paris is that my metro stop is Cour Saint-Émilion.

Ok, nothing too interesting there, but the line that this station is on is.

Paris Métro line 14 is the only Paris Métro line to be completely automated since the opening of the line. Automated in this case means driver-less!

There’s already an indication that something a little different is going on as soon as you descend into the station: instead of the usual “open” space between the platform and the train, there is in this case a massive perspex wall he whole length of the platform that has sliding doors in it at various intervals.

This is to stop passengers from falling onto the tracks. When the train comes into the station it’s programmed so that the train doors match up with the sliding doors, which once the train is stationary, open automatically.

After a short pause both the platform doors and the train doors close and the train departs. Because the trains on these lines have no drivers, it is possible to nab a seat in the very first carriage and if you are quick, a seat right at the very front by the glass window that faces down the tunnel. The glass was very thick, but I managed to take two little video clips from one of these front seats (which I had all to myself because it was fairly early on a Sunday morning and the train had very few passengers).

The videos give you the same view of the Paris Métro that a train driver would have, and I at least thought that that was rather cool. (I must have “geek” written all over me LOL). From the Paris Métro website I learned: “The line opened in October 1998 and the Line 14 tunnel passes underneath seven Métro lines, the sewers, Clichy-Capucines, four underground carparks and over two RER lines and on average 450,000 passengers take the line on working days.

Usually the line operates without problem but there have been several accidents. While the platform doors prevent access to the rails, they are susceptible to electric outages which have halted service entirely. Fortunately these incidents have been comparatively rare.

I liked the station at Cour Saint-Émilion, I was just a few short stops from the city centre and getting around Paris from this area was easy and relaxed. so much so I’d be keen to come back to this area on any future trip to Paris.

October 4, 2013

An Unnamed Road That Transports Us To France…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuation of yesterday’s post, we are in Folkestone and on our way to the channel tunnel just seven kilometres down the road.

The temperatures are not too bad but the weather is  grey and damp as we leave the United Kingdom behind.

We laugh when we see that our kids first think is a playground area… it turns out that it’s not a kids playground, it’s a dog walking and dog toilet area for pooches to use who are making the crossing with their owners.

We stop at the shopping area so that everyone can take a toilet break before we go back to the car, and spy a delightfully decorated Smart car in the car park.

We then drive aboard the train and giggle as Our Lady Of The Tom Tom gets very confused, can’t finish the instruction she was giving us, pauses, asks us to “turn around when possible”, (sorry lady, this really isn’t possible when you are sitting in the channel tunnel train) and then gives up, labelling our current position as “unnamed road”.  Thirty-five minutes later we drive off the train on the French side where it’s just as drizzly and grey as back in the United Kingdom.   The motorway isn’t too busy as it’s late afternoon,  Velvetine and the kids make themselves comfortable and take a nap in the back as we exit Calais and turn the van northwards…

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 17, 2013

Gifts in Vacuum Packs and a High Speed Exit…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this retroactive post, my Kiwi cousin and his family have finished their stay with us in The Hague. We’ve had some very late nights over good food and drink , with tons of laughter and chat about adventures old and new so time as flown all too quickly.

They are scheduled to take the fast train (Thalys) that operates the high speed train service between The Netherlands, Belgium, Northern France and the region of Germany around Cologne.

They have Eurail tickets that allow them so many train trips within so many days and have carefully allotted their time in Europe so that they can get to as many places on their list as possible in their allotted time.

Naturally the wish list is far larger than can be accommodated in a three month trip, but they are doing their best to squeeze in as much as possible.

Himself and I discovered some years back that various specialist cheese shops will vacuum pack cheeses, and once so packed the cheese will last six weeks without refrigeration. (with one small special note: decently aged ‘old” cheese can be vacuum packed but is the one sort of cheese that will suffer deterioration in quality if stored like this for any length of time, so each time we have vacuum packed it for ease of transport alone and with instructions to open this cheese packet first).

A selection of vacuum packed cheeses have become a favourite parting gift to friends and family who have visited us and then continuing their journey in other parts of Europe. Needless to say their rucksacks were crammed full to bursting of chocolate and cheese at the train station and we later heard that they picnicked in France and later in Italy with a locally bought wine and freshly baked bread,  and a new Dutch cheese to surprise, taste and enjoy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s a really practical gift on many levels in that it extends the enjoyment of their time in The Netherlands weeks after they left, it’s great for visitors who have discovered that Europe is far more expensive than prices back home and re sticking to a budget (aren’t we all?) and it’s not some weird or tacky object that’s not to your taste that  you feel obliged to lug around both for the rest of your trip and then back home because some relative gave it to you.

The beauty of the cheeses and chocolates is that you can enjoy and finish them as you go further in your travels and there is no excess baggage to check in at the airport  later. …. Well, ok…maybe apart from the extra kilos you may have invariably will have gained after partaking of Europe’s delicious gastronomic delights.

We drop them off at Hollands Spoor Station and wait with them on the platform. There are hugs and sniffles all round, time has been too short.

Some double decker commuter trains pass by first, and a short while later, the burgundy-red sloping nose of the Thalys high speed train. Last minute hugs and then they are aboard, these trains don’t dally in stations, so literally minutes later they are frantically waving  at the window as the train moves off from the station and within seconds they are receding into the distance as they continue to their next destination: Paris.

Naturally almost all of the photos I took were family photos of us together… but there are a few of the trains that came and went, …and the Thalys as it arrived.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 3, 2013

Double Decker, Yes!…. Bus? …No.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two nights ago I must have slept in a bit of a strange position because I woke with some serious back-pain of the type I haven’t had since for more than ten years.

(Raising the height of our bed was a requirement of the Dutch maternity visits and when we raised it my back pain disappeared, so we built the bed permanently higher with a solid extended frame and it’s been great… until two nights ago)

Instead of enjoying my annual leave and getting stuck into a long list of things to do (we have a lot of exceptional events going on with family and friends at the moment) I spent most of yesterday moving very slowly or  flat on  the bed with hot water bottles to relieve the pain.

I think I just have pinched a nerve or stretched a muscle or something…  it’s definitely getting better but I’m not quite out of slow motion mode yet.

Unlike my foot, which I know I can’t rush, I’m finding this frustrating as I have so much to do this week.

At least over the long weekend I had been busy sorting though some archive photos and writing posts, so I’m doing to document one of our previous adventures… Several years ago one of my New Zealand cousins visited The Netherlands with his new wife and his two pre-teen sons from a previous marriage.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During their stay we managed to pack in a heap of activities …  luckily  it was mid-May when they visited,  so our kids were also enjoying  their school holidays  and after being picked up from the boat at Hoek Van Holland and spending a great evening eating, drinking and catching up, we all hit the sack for a fresh start the next day.

The following morning found us at Central Station, about to take a train.

The  visitors all excitedly discovered something new already … a “double decker” train!

Just the kind of thing I had forgotten had also startled and fascinated me years ago when I arrived in the Netherlands.

Soon we are speeding out of the city and past the Dutch landscape…

…some of the religious buildings show how Dutch culture has diversified very nicely over the centuries… other things like canals and farmhouses seem to never change.

Our journey won’t take too long… so in the meantime, sit back and enjoy the view…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the view when another train passes in the opposite direction at more than 100 kms per hour  just as you are clicking the shutter…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 22, 2013

Hollands Spoor … A Grand Old Lady that Knows Her Station…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterdays post I’ve been looking at some photographs in my archive folders and found several concerning the beautiful building that is Hollands Spoor (HS) station in the Hague.

One of the cities two train stations, it’s the one that is a ‘” through” station rather than the cul-de-sac type at Central Station where trains turn in and then reverse out again.

This means that if you need to catch many of the intercity trains or the high speed Thalys train, then it’s Hollands Spoor station that you’ll be departing from (or arriving at, depending on your location).

Both stations are significant junctions for the cities tram systems, although buses tend to go almost solely via Central Station because it’s a far more recent building and has a bus terminus level within it.

With regards to the history of Hollands Spoor Station, I found some interesting snippets on Wikipedia, written in italics below.

Den Haag Hollands Spoor railway station, also known as Den Haag HS, is the oldest railway station in The Hague, Netherlands.It was opened in 1843, when the Amsterdam–Haarlem railway, the oldest railway line in the country, was extended to The Hague. This line was further extended to Rotterdam in 1847. The railway station was named after the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij, the company which operated the railway station.

Rival company Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij opened a second main railway station in The Hague in 1870, Den Haag Rhijnspoor, for the railway line to Gouda and Utrecht. This railway station was demolished in 1973, to make way for the Den Haag Centraal railway station. As a result, The Hague has two main railway stations: Centraal Station and Hollands Spoor. Trains from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and beyond (Brussels) stop at Hollands Spoor, not at Centraal Station.

The original railway building of 1843 was replaced by the current building designed by D.A.N. Margadant in 1891. A Royal Waiting Room was opened in 1893.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Den_Haag_Hollands_Spoor_railway_station

I’ve taken more photos of the station over the years, these are just a few…

(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)

September 2, 2012

Not Quite the Regular Way to Catch a Train…

Filed under: Kids and Family,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We leave the winding road of the Akatarawa Valley Hill road and  join State Highway slightly north of  Upper Hutt.

In 1855 New Zealand’s biggest (recorded) earthquake occurred here and some 5000 square kilometres of land was lifted out of the sea, especially along the  coast line.

It’s hard to believe that before the quake the quickest and easiest way to travel between the Hutt Valley and Wellington was by sea and that the river was deep enough for tall masted sailing ships to navigate a good distance up the valley.

The quake lifted the land so high that it reduced the depth of the river dramatically, putting an abrupt end to  transport by sea, but on the positive side there was now space for a road around the western edge of the harbour, which today has evolved into a busy motorway and railway link that connects to the rest of the North Island. In the meantime Upper Hutt and surrounding communities became commuter towns that serviced Wellington so there are many commuter trains on these rails too.

Much to our children’s delight we spy one such commuter  train going down the valley alongside us. The kids urge us to “catch it” and Himself  in their eyes, heroically managed the task but we didn’t let them in on the secret that  the train had a slower speed limit on the rails than we did on the highway and that even driving well within our limit, that with clear road in front of us it was inevitable that we would catch it anyway.

Gotta keep the mystery of childhood alive don’t you think? Why spoil the adventure and the thrill of the “chase” ?

We are heading back to our friends house in Wainuiomata for a few days and so later as we take a short-cut through Petone we are treated to the dazzling sight of one of the biggest Pōhutukawa trees I have ever seen. In full flower it stood like a fiery beacon and made a stunning neighbourhood landmark. We  spent one night  with our friends here on the way northwards in December, now it’s time for a proper visit.

(Here’s a link to more information about the 1855 quake:    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/3 )

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 24, 2012

You Just Turn Me ‘Round, Turn Me, Turn Me ‘Round Baby…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch have just finished their very own individual train ride as semi-inaugural passengers on the Mamaku Railway.

We all express the hope  that next time we pass though Rotorua that we will have better luck with the weather and that the extended tour will also be available.

For the moment there is just one more question to answer…when you only have a single track how do the trains turn around?

After all, trains were never known for being able to make three-point turns.

The answer is one common to many train lines that face the same problem: they use a turntable.

The difference here is that the turntable  is a mini-version of the ones I’ve seen in my life so far, and the turn around almost couldn’t be more  simple or quicker…  in fact it’s so easy that when we were turned around at the other end of the line,  we didn’t even have to leave the comfort of the train.

With a  little help from RailCruiser staff, Himself bought us to a stop on the turntable and we were spun around within a minute or two.

For a better video than I managed to make, take a look at the RailCruising website:  http://www.railcruising.com/

Back at the station I made a short video clip of the trains being turned around… as usual the link to YouTube is there at the end but you’ll have to click it because the frame doesn’t seem to want to appear in this post automatically.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi’s Video Clip below…

RailCruising

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