Local Heart, Global Soul

June 20, 2015

Clues In The Mill Walls, If Only I Hadn’t Missed Them…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post, Himself and I have a few hours between out Nijmegen hospital appointments and decided to get some fresh air and sunshine.

It was late October 2014 and the days before had been rainy and gray, so having the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine was too good to pass up.

I’m not a natural city slicker and despite being largely brought up in cities, nor is Himself.

We both love the peace and quiet of country life and if there had been suitable work  and the cards had fallen differently then our living arrangement and lifestyle might have been very different.

Like most people we are tied to where the work is, and now that I am less mobile and tied to multiple hospital appointments it’s probably better that things worked out the way they did. I didn’t at first catch the name of the village we have arrived at, it didn’t matter, we just saw a little lane leading to an interesting looking tower and drove down to take a closer look.

Closer inspection shows that this is the remains of an old molen (mill), the kind used to grind grain for flour and it’s location on the edge of the village is perfect, not too far for the baker or locals to come and collect their flour, and also there seems to be some sort of fortification here too.

But first the tower itself has my complete and utter attention. Detail… enough to drool over. Worked into the brickwork is a windmill motif… and around the tower there are various letters. I can make out “G” in upper case and “S and d ” in lower case, and then what could either be “50” or “SO” under the window towards the door.

Annoyingly I only initially saw two letters and assumed that they were the initials of the family who built the mill, it was only later when I looked at photographs on the computer that I realise that there were more letters (or numbers) under the windows… and that I hasn’t photographed all of the windows to get them all. The little triangular windows look like eyes looking down on us, the zig-zag brickwork below the roof section is beautiful and the style and pattern of the  roof is a pattern lovers dream. I love how they have recycled one of the millstones into a large door step 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)

(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)

March 8, 2014

Keeping My Feet From Getting Wet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Windmills have been an iconic part of  Dutch culture and a necessary part of Dutch life for centuries.

Maybe people know that a good deal of  the Netherlands lies undersea level but what many people don’t realise, is just how high the natural water table is in most of the country.

Mills and modern pumping stations work  and monitor twenty-four hours a day and three hundred and sixty-five days of the year to  regulate the water-table so that it does not simply rise to it’s “natural” level and therefore give Dutch citizens wet feet.

This is achieved by pumping water off the land and into the surrounding canal system at a constant rate, the water is directed though the canal network and pumped out into the sea with every low tide.

During especially high tides in Spring and Autumn the sea levels are so high that often it’s difficult to open the gates to release the “inland” water, and this puts the whole system under pressure.

This pressure is often alleviated by the installation of modern technology, faster pumps, the elevation of old dykes and the installation of flood plains where excess water can be directed in emergencies.

Sometimes water can be held at high levels in canals until it can be released into the sea, but one thing is for certain, water management in the Netherlands is very much a full time job. In fact it even has it’s own government department.

The polders (reclaimed land) are of course something that the Dutch are world famous for and there is a half serious side to the popular saying ” God created the world but the Dutch created Holland.

“Molen” (mills) were wind powered but were not only used to pump water, amongst other things they also provided the energy for saw mills or helped mill flour. I like the old style molen, they have charactor and personality. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they are a necessary part of the historical and current Dutch working lanscape.  Here therefore in this last post from Zaans Schans is my tribute to the humble Dutch mill….

(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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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(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 2, 2014

History And The Changing Times Have Dying Occupations Over a Barrel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It gives me great sadness when I discover the death of an occupation. A craft, a set of specialised skills, a trade that was often passed down from Father to Son, gone, leaving behind a long history of hard work forged in fire and with wood.

Such is the case of cooperage at Zaans Schans. Coopers make wooden barrels, barrels that were used in days gone by for the transport and storage of all sorts of goods both locally and worldwide.

Whilst barrels rolled well on stone quays and streets in the centuries before and just after the Industrial Revolution, their round forms did not make for the the most ergonomic shape when filling ships holds and the invention of the shipping container was the one of the many contributors to the death knells of the cooperage industry.

In the case of  Zaans Schans I find a little building that houses the full workings of a cooperage intact. From the information boards I learn:

In the building you see the interior from the barrels and cooperage trade SR Tiemstra Oostzanerwerf & Sons. On the death of the last cooper, Jaap Tiemstra in 1999, he left behind a completely intact cooperage. It’s intriguing to see not just how the craft of the cooper  was put together, but to also catch a breath of the spirit of the cooper in the interior.

Cooperage Tiemstra was established in 1919 by Jaaps’  father Simon Tiemstra. Jaap ran the company together with his brother until 1987. This coopery was a so-called “wet coopery” which means that they made containers for wet goods such as herring, beer and other liquors. After the nineteen fifties demand fell considerably for wooden barrels.

It’s not just the making of barrels that have become a dying trade. so too slowly but surely have the canalside saw-mills once littered the banks of Dutch canals.

Powered by the wind energy of the wind mills above the wood milling buildings these mills were one of the main reasons for centuries of Dutch supremacy at sea, sailing ships could be quickly built and repaired both in times of war and peace because the wind automated much of the milling process that other nations were still carrying out by hand.

The Dutch rather literally made the wind into their economic power-house and the wood produced was used in the building all matter of things , not least  ships, barges and barrels.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some information referring to an antique photograph tells me: ” Schuitenmakerij Brouwer:  This work shed originally belonged to the ship-maker company Widow K. Brouwer located at the Rustenburg in Zaandam.

In 1964 the shed was to have been demolished in favour of the building if the new headquarters of Albert Heijn Supermarkets.

In 1967 the  shed was rebuilt at  Zaanse Schans. The original shipyard was founded in 1857 by Klaas Brouwer.

After Worlds War I the company specialised in the construction of barges.

At that time  there were still a great number of wind-sawmills, and timber merchants established in the Westzijderveld.

Almost all the timber shipped in at the harbour of Zaandam was bought to the processors and merchants by  hundreds of barges. Of course, as evidenced by one of my blog posts a few days ago,  barge traffic is still very big business on Dutch waterways,  especially for raw materials , so the industry itself didn’t disappear but it  is true that it is no longer visible in it’s old state either: The many hundreds of old wooden barges have been replaced with fewer but far larger vessels, steel giants that transport tonnages that their old wooden forbearers could only have dreamt about.

Keep Up, Change or Die… the mantra of trade and industry throughout the ages. Sometimes we inevitably hold ourselves over a barrel.

(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)

March 1, 2013

Having a Few Hassles and Getting the Wind Up…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is an archive post from the end of last summer when we went out for a picnic and go sailing in our Brother in Law’s (new to him) small sailing boat.

Unfortunately for us the weatherman’s forecast for today is becoming more and more inaccurate by the minute, as the clouds roll in and the wind picks up considerably.

After a very quick test run of the yacht with his daughter, Brother in Law decides it’s way too choppy to have kids in the boat and quickly brings her back to the shore.

Whilst we all enjoy a picnic lunch I take photos of other yachts that are clearly also having some problems in the wind, one tacks back and forth and pitches so far over, that water starts running into the boat.

I photographed one of these boats leaving the marina earlier and after the man bravely battled the wind for almost an hour I saw him call it a day and head back around the corner to the marina again.

I don’t blame him, it looked like more of a workout than fun to be honest (judging by the size of his boat, he would have managed better if he hadn’t been sailing alone).

In New Zealand, friends of my parents had a “trailer-sailer” yacht that I often got to go sailing in, I swiftly learned that sailing often means getting wet and “climbing for the high side” sometimes needs to be done in a hurry if the gusts suddenly have the boat on an extreme angle and water is coming over the side, and that ducking when the boom swings around is the recommended practice…

…one I learned to take more notice of after I was distracted by the view and got unceremoniously clocked on the forehead. Yes, my sailing companions did of course shout warnings for all they were worth but I was stupid and turned towards the boom instead of away from  it, so was greeted by a vision of a rapidly advancing wooden beam nano seconds before it hit me.

I survived and still enjoyed sailing trips but was lousy sailor whenever the water was choppy so I’m hardly a candidate for the Best Mate job any time soon.

Watching these boats in the wind here, certainly revived a few memories for me, and it will be nice for Himself and kids who have never sailed before can have a go one day too, and feel the excitement of the wind in their hair and the hum of the boat as it speeds through the water. From the lazy comfort of the shore I take photos of the sailors struggling with the wind…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 18, 2010

Wind and Solar Energy and going Nuclear about Nuclear…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ask most non Dutch person around the world what they think The Netherlands looks like, and chances are the word ” windmill” will crop up fairly fast in  many of the answers.

It doesn’t matter if they have ever visited The Netherlands or not, the stereotypical  icons of Clogs, Cheese, Tulips and Molens (windmills) are as ingrained into people as much as Apple Pie and the Statue of Liberty are for the USA, the Maple Leaf and the Mounties are for Canada, the Eiffel Tour and Baguette for France and the  and Boomerangs and hats with dangling corks are for Australia.

Entire tourist industries depend on these clichés, and whilst it is true none of these icons are actually myths,  they don’t really paint a true picture of the country concerned either.

(In case you ever wondered, Kiwidutch doesn’t go to work every day outfitted in her regional Dutch National costume, complete with hat with pointy sides, wearing clogs and with a round of cheese under her arm LOL). And worse still, I don’t even own a National costume and the only clogs in the house are attached to fridge magnets, purchased by Kiwi Daughter on a spending whim one day ( i.e. her pocket money burning a hole in her pocket).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cheese, I admit to having a small love affair with, but if you have ever tried a Dutch Farmhouse cheese thats about three years old then you would totally, completely and utterly understand this love affair and thus Himself, Old Cheese and myself are a happy threesome.

So… now I’m going to turn a familiar Dutch icon on it’s head… the windmill. ” Molen” in Dutch. (pronunciation = ” mole in” ) Oh yes there are the beautiful mills of Kinderdijk and others all over the country, but there are also modern ones, for electrical power generation and they are the ones that set my inner Greenie on fire and make my heart tilt.

Why one earth do some people consider windmills an eyesore? I find them serene, streamlined, mesmerizing and beautiful. If I ever lived in the countryside then give me a view of a wind farm over that of a nuclear power station any day.

In fact I have a ” thing” about nuclear, a source of energy that creates a toxic waste that contaminates for tens of thousands of years and generically mutates living things is for me an abomination and if I were God : any Government Minister and all advocates of this energy source would be required by law to house him/herself and the next 10 generations of their entire family slap on the doorstep of one of these monstrosities to prove that they are indeed “Safe”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They can be the ones laying in their beds worrying about a possible “China Syndrome”  rather than some unsuspecting community who doesn’t get a choice. Hmmm, think ” official” policy might suddenly experience a swift about-face?  Moi, I’d be willing to put money on it.

But back to windmills… I am DELIGHTED to hear that Portugal is currently undergoing a significant Green Revolution, wind turbines are becoming a frequent feature of the landscape as they are building and installing them flat out with the aim that wind energy should supply 20% of the total energy capacity of Portugal ( but oops, I did forget the year that this was to be completed by, …but it was SOON !)

As we travel around we are seeing wind-turbines on hillside everywhere!

Bravo Portugal,  this beats current Dutch turbine energy generation hands down!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch have solar panels on our roof ( just three at present due to to the cost, but we are saving to extend this) and we get our electricity from wind turbines, our gas come from the most eco-friendly source currently available, but as soon as it’s viable (practical and financial) both Himself and I want to switch 100% to renewal energy sources only.

You might think I’m strange but I can’t wait for the worlds gasoline supplies to run dry, the sooner the better.

Harsh as it sounds, sadly human beings have proved to be at their most brilliantly inventive when the pressure is greatest.  We take swifter deeper, more long lasting, whole hearted measures when the situation demands “reaction” rather than being stepping up to the mark and being “proactive” well beforehand.  But…I want a cleaner greener future and I want it now!

I want focus on zero carbon emissions to be urgent NOW, I want a brilliant zero emission car “today” and the infrastructure to run it all “today” too. We know people around the world LOVE 4×4 cars, minibuses are the large family and small businesses best friend, small vans are a commercial necessity, as are trucks. Why on earth are car companies not giving us these vehicles with radical new carbon neutral emission motors in them now?

I know that wave energy generation experiments are also going on in several European countries, for me, wind, solar and wave energies are the way forward, and Himself and I can’t wait.

Portugal isn’t waiting either… they are powering ahead with their wind turbine programme, and every turbine I see on a hilltop is one step closer to a renewable energy powered future.

I find that to be a beautiful sight on many many levels.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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