Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Closing 2008

Writing this as there are about 5 hours left of this year. Just returned from a birthday visit 45 miles away. Weather started very cold this morning, with -9C at 9 am. Mercury rose to just below freezing, but at the moment we're way down again at -6C. It'll fall much lower, unless we get the fog that is currently forming over the west of the country. When you look out to the southwest this evening in the clear sky, you can see the moon and planet Venus apparently very close together. In real terms they are of course millions of miles apart.

This was taken just after 6pm local time.

Fireworks are already being let off around the country (it is legal to do so from 10 am this morning until 2 am on New Year's morning), and some €65 million will go up in smoke tonight.

I hope all will see in the New Year 2009 with high spirits, with new hopes for the new year. If you drink, please do so sensibly. If you let off fireworks, take the usual precautions. Unless something crops up, this will be the final post on the Shell Gallery for 2008. I'll keep posting in the New Year, until I return to Stornoway next Monday.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Winter's day

Another bright and sunny afternoon in eastern Holland, after an overnight low of -6C; which was the reading at 9 am. People are getting very excited now about the prospects of ice-skating. And the prospects of burning 60 to 70 million euros tomorrow night. Oh, it´s called the New Year´s fireworks display. Being in an afforested area means we won´t see much of anything, but hear all the more. I can foresee a repeat of some years back, when the fireworks brought on fogbanks with a visibility of less than 3 feet. I´m not exaggerating. Some people had to have their passengers walking in front of their cars, as they could not see beyond the bonnet (the hood for our American friends).

Can't say I'm altogether too impressed with HP. Bought a scanner from them back in May, great machine, but the software is cr*p. First, if you try to install on a computer without a password, it won't do it. Second, it now screams for a piece of installation that is nowhere to be found. Their users have alerted them for months, but nowt is being done about it.

30 December

Yes, it's 1 am and I'm still awake. I've just gone through a lot of journals, leaving New Year's wishes. I'm not actively monitoring blogs at present, but didn't want to leave 2008 without going to the bother of calling round. I'm double-posting this on both Atlantic Lines and the Shell Gallery; Atlantic Lines is my main blog after all. The Shell Gallery takes over when I'm in Holland, like at present.

I'm very sad to note that Jeannette has suspended her journal Outside Looking In after what she has described as a particularly miserable Christmas. Other factors contributed to her decision as well. It is a decision I'm facing for the New Year myself. The year 2008 is one I'd prefer to forget, but can't. You all know why.

Please be careful if you let off fireworks for New Year, wrap up well if it's cold out and have a good 2009 if we don't cross paths again before hand.

Guido

Monday, 29 December 2008

29 December

A very cold start to the day, with the mercury at -5C. It has now risen to freezing in brilliantly sunny conditions. Am off to Arnhem later today to replace my walking boots, which are giving up the ghost after 19 months of hard usage. I wear them every day.

Two people died in a house fire in Arnhem last night. The blaze swept through a property in the old quarter of St Marten at 2.30 am. When the fire service attended, they found one slightly injured man on the roof, but unfortunately two other occupants were found dead inside.

National winter pastime ice skating is prominent in the news, now that we've had a few days of low temperatures. Skating rinks have been flooded (and consequently frozen over). Open water is still way too dangerous, because the ice is too thin. One person has already gone through the ice, but lived to tell the tale. The freezing spell looks set to continue into the new year.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

28 December

A mainly sunny day, but very cold. Don't think the mercury rose much above -2C / 28F all day, and the sun disappeared behind a layer of cloud for a while. Here in Holland, ice-skating is a national sport, and national championships were broadcast live on television all afternoon. Found it difficult to believe I've been here for a week already. A few computer program gremlins around - last November, I spent 4 hours on a live-chat to a helpline for a HP scanner, only to find the program has now decided to malfunction. Everything seems to be falling to bits now, whether it be my camera, my walking boots, or the various computer programs, I don't know. Must be the end of the year.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

27 December

Good morning from a very cold eastern Holland, where the mercury is firmly stuck at -2C, with a very chilly wind. It is sunny, some small compensation I suppose. Had an early night last night, as a nasty little cold deprived me of sleep the night before. Still woke up coughing, oh well, these things are sent to try us I suppose.

My camera will need a visit to the camera doctor, as it continues to show intermittent malfunctioning. Take a picture, and all you see is a field of white. Not all the time, but it's a blinking nuisance. In the nearly 3 years I've had this one, I've taken 20,000 pictures. Which is an average of about 20 a day, varying between 0 and 200 daily.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day 2008

Yesterday, there were 12 at the dinner table. Beforehand, we had a random distribution of gifts. Everybody had bought 3 gifts, which were left on the table. Using a dice and a set of instructions, the gifts ended up with - about anybody. I found myself the lucky recipient of 3 candles, a bathmat with Spongebob Squarepants on it and a few other bits and pieces. Good laugh.

Dinner was on a table-top electric barbecue, and the meat disappeared like snow in front of the sun. A very good day.

As I type this, it is brilliantly clear and very cold. Thermometer shows only a few degrees above zero, and the puddles in the woods were covered in ice. I'm quite bummed, because my camera has decided to malfunction. So, I can only show a few snaps - the majority just show a field of white. The shutter, lightmeter or some such gadget has fallen over. Need to take it to the shop.

I hope everybody else had a good Christmas themselves - forgive me for not calling round journals.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas from Holland. Last night I participated in the Watchnight service in the local church. The building was packed out at 9.30pm. It went very well, and I was warmly welcomed in the choir's midst. This morning, I returned to church for the Christmas Day service, in which I once more sang in the choir. A professional singer, a bass, sang a French Christmas hymn.

Having returned home, I'm awaiting the arrival of my sisters and family who will join my father and myself for a Christmas meal this afternoon. Don't overdo it with the turkey, if that's what you're having yourself.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

24 December

Overcast and grey, but relatively mild - mercury at around 7C. That is set to change after Christmas, when the Russian bear comes marching in from Siberia. Daytime maximum temps will hover around freezing, with nocturnal lows between -5 and -9C. I am aware that readers in the US will scoff at these readings, but it is the first bout of sustained freezing weather this winter in Holland. It will last into the New Year.

Went for a walk of 2½ hours this afternoon, into the Heathlands and back through the forests to Velp, the neighbouring town. Returned in time for nightfall, which occurs at 4.30pm here. Pretty knackered actually. Will upload pictures in a few days' time.

Tonight, I shall take part in a Christmas Eve service, starting at 9.30pm. I am a chorister (I was in a choir on and off between 1995 and 2004), and take the tenor part. Not done prior rehearsals, but I'm pretty good at sheet reading, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

23 December

Returned to Holland last night, after a good if long journey across from Stornoway. This involves a 3 hour ferry trip to Ullapool, 90 minutes on the bus to Inverness where I had 3 hours before the train to Aberdeen. The sun set on the way there, so it was dark by the time I alighted at Dyce. The taxi I took to the airport got stuck in traffic, so it was a bit dear. When I return, on January 5th, I'll take a bus. Didn't know there was a bus, service was only started a week ago. The plane took an hour to fly to Amsterdam, 40 minutes less than scheduled. From there, two trains whisked me down to Arnhem, where I arrived at midnight. 18 hours from door to door.

Slept in this morning, and am having a quiet day. Accompanied my father to the cemetery, on a still and foggy afternoon. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Evening notes



This will be the last post on Shell Gallery until my next visit to Holland. Tomorrow will see me returning to Stornoway, arriving there just after 8 o'clock in the evening, a journey of about 15 hours. I hope to be back to blogging &c the next day. I shall resume regular postings on Atlantic Lines by then.

Autumnal images

I have taken pictures of the autumn colours round here both today and on Sunday. Also on Sunday, there was a lot of activity around the birdfeeders, which will show in those images. I'm showing a few appetisers on this page, with links to the pictures from both days.

Sunday 2 November





Tuesday 4 November






Afternoon stroll

Left home just before 1pm, and headed for the Heathlands through the forests that surround the village. The autumn colours are simply stunning at the moment, something I have not really seen for a while. Up in Stornoway, the leaves are blown away by the gales before they can turn colour properly - except for 2006, when it did get quite spectacular in the Castle Grounds.

The foggy conditions made for some very limpid colours, and the moment we left the woods, the mist increased to a fog. Visibility was at times down to 150 metres or less, improving in patches of woodland. The Watch Tower had a little bit of fog enclosed in its upper reaches. Although the mercury was stuck down at 10C / 50F, it did not feel cold. We returned via the Zypenberg through to Velp and across the Koningsberg / King's Hill back home. As I type, dusk is beginning to creep in. I have not yet uploaded pics, but will add them to a separate entry.

Tuesday 4 November

Day started very foggy, and it was so dense at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport that every third flight was cancelled. Schiphol lies several metres below sealevel at the bottom of a former lake, so tends to be very bad for fog. Up here, I'm 40 metres above sealevel and the fog has now lifted. Having a bit of lunch prior to go for a walk to the Heathlands - those who read Shell Gallery on AOL in the spring will be familiar with them.

More later.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The wonders of modern technology

It's 3.30pm, and I've spent the past 3 hours on-line to the HP helpdesk, trying to sort out a software problem with my scanner. Meanwhile, it may be interesting to know that when you're in Holland, you get Dutch adverts on the websites. One of those lonely-hearts things told me in the UK that someone had a crush on me. This is being mindlessly translated, and I am now advised someone has a shattering on me. Oh, and I seem to have lost my wee bag with USB sticks. Probably at Aberdeen Airport, so will have to get in touch with them. Nothing I don't have a back-up of, but it's a nuisance nonetheless.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sunday 2 November

Today dawned brighter than of late, and the five different variety of tits continues to flutter around the bird feeders in the garden. The mercury gradually rose to about 14C / 57F, also much higher than yesterday's chilly 8C / 46F. Family arrived at 9.30 a.m. to join us in the commemorative church service, which went well. Both scripture readings and hymns and psalms were appropriate for the occasion.

After a very good lunch, we also went to the cemetery. Family returned home at 4pm, and as I'm typing this darkness falls - it's now 5.10pm. Quite a contrast to when I left here in late July, with darkness setting in at that time at 10pm.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Do you believe it?

My father told me today that he received an email from AOL about the demise of the pictures service. He has NEVER used any service by AOL; I may have emailed him the link of an album - otherwise, I can only surmise that AOL has used my address book on my pharmolo account to email everybody in there. I don't hope.

Saturday 1 November

Greetings from a grey and wet Holland. Quite cold, 8C, but beautiful autumn colours. In the next few days I shall take pictures, it was too wet this afternoon to go out with the camera.
Last Saturday's storms in Stornoway blew the Hebridean leaves off the trees.
Tomorrow, my sisters, my dad and myself will attend a church service dedicated to the deceased of the previous 12 months. My mother passed away on May 1st, and will be mentioned. That is the primary reason I'm in Holland at present.

I am going to transfer the ownership of the Magic Smoke journal to myself, and will therefore become Jland Editor. Anyone wishing to join me in maintaining that journal is welcome, and will be added to the writers list. I am very glad that Yasmin and Jeannette have also opened a tricks & tips journal. The best thing to do with AOL is forget it ever existed.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

20 July

Not much doing today, apart from preparing for tomorrow's journey. The weather is showery and windy, and a gale is forecast for the northwest of the country.

I leave tomorrow morning, and this is therefore the last entry on the Shell Gallery, until I return to Holland. I'll close with a few images of the past 2½ months. Blogging will resume on Tuesday 22 July on Northern Trip.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Saturday

Not much improvement in terms of weather, continuing with the heavy showers and mediocre temperatures. Went to the cemetery for the last time before my departure on Monday, to leave some flowers. Next week, the weather in Holland should get warmer, so I hope they will keep. Have taken a few pics, some of which will feature on the public part of my Flickr site. Don't think we escaped the rain on the way back - no chance!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Soggy day

Although I was lucky to return dry from a shopping trip, my dad was not. He got caught in a downpour of monsoonal proportions. No surprise that we did not venture out today. The other, more valid, reason was a visit from my sister. Unfortunately, she got caught in traffic on the motorway, so her 75 minute drive now took over 2 hours. It was nice to see her and her family before I leave on Monday.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Picture links

Yesterday's pictures, about the walk round to the swimming-pool, can be seen here.
Today's pics, "Rainy Ride", can be viewed here.

A few images are a bit fuzzy; the light was low, and trying to take pictures from a bicycle when you're doing 10 mph in those conditions is asking for that.

Anyone got any ideas yet what a cerviduct is?

Rainy ride

In spite of the damp forecast, we did set forth by wheel just after lunch. From the centre of Velp, it was northeast bound towards the Zijpenberg (nice ascent) and onwards further north towards the Imbosch, where we were only two days ago. As we arrived at the crossroads, the heavens opened, so we waited for a few minutes. Three other intrepid cyclists did keep going through the rain. After it dried up, the journey continued north towards the Loenermark. This is an area of woodland and heathland, with a few treacherous hills to keep you on the pedals. Once out on the western side, near the hamlet of Groenendaal, it was a straight run down the old Apeldoorn to Arnhem road. It runs close to the A50 motorway, which is busy. It is spanned by a cerviduct - I leave it to you to work out what that is. We returned home along the Koningsweg and then down the cyclepath past the cemetery. As we passed the Castle, the heavens opened again. Although it was but a brief shower, it has now been raining for nearly two hours.

I'll post a separate entry when I've uploaded all the pictures.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Nostalgia

My trip down memory lane, which much of the past 9 weeks has been about, took me to a swimming pool this afternoon. A former one - it closed in 1988 after 33 years of service. It was the place where I was awarded my A-diploma swimming (to certify I would not sink like a brick) many moons ago. My memories of Beekhuizen (on the periphery of Velp) are of arriving on the pushbike in a searing heat, park the bike in the racks, walk up the hill and pay a small fee. Change in the communal changing rooms, and then go outside to the pale-blue pool area. There were three pools; one paddling pool for the tiny tots, a shallow pool (2 feet in depth) and a deep pool, where the water depth would increase from 3 to 5 feet, until the floats, where the depth would increase sharply to 7 feet. A diving tower loomed over an area of 12 feet in depth. After a swim, you'd lie on the sunning lawn on your towel, until you got too hot again and would take another plunge. You'd be there all day on a really hot day.
Hardier souls, like my father, would go down there at 7.15 am for a constitutional - when he was the age I am now. The pool's heating system wasn't all that good, and the water only got up to 63F.

The pool closed down in 1988, and I had left the area some 6 years previous. I had taken a peek through the fences in the 90s, but today's visit was a shock. The bike racks have gone, as has the paving around them. The entire pool and lawn area is heavily overgrown, to create a nature reserve. I felt very sad to see the smartly painted bath & buildings so delapidated and unrecognisable. Wonder what the old poolmaster, if he's still alive, makes of it all.

Updating

Updates on this blog will cease after next Sunday, 20 July, until I return to Holland again. I am flying to Stornoway on Monday afternoon, and will review things from there. Northern Trip will become my primary blog again, but probably with a changed remit.

The Shell Gallery will, as I already indicated, remain where it is, as will the pictures.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Weather forecast

You're promised a sunny day, so off we went at 11 am for a long walk. Well, we hadn't left the woods before the clouds pulled across from the west. Didn't see the sun after that, which made for a cool walk to the Imbosch, 6 miles away. Visibility was not great, only just 2 miles or so. Pictures are therefore a bit hazy. I am currently uploading them, so give it about half an hour to go and have a look. Annotations will follow tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Cycling the circle

We went out on wheel (to quote my dad) today, cycling around the city of Arnhem, without actually really going into the place. First port of call was the town of Oosterbeek, which is 7 miles away. It was at the centre of hostilities during Operation Market Garden in September 1944. A little ferry put us across the River Rhine to the town of Driel, which boasts an impressive weir-complex, where the barrages can be lowered (as they were today) at times of low water. Currently, the river runs at just shy of 9 metres; in winter it can get as high as 14 metres; 16 metres means it floods the dykes.

We then turned eastward, through a nature reserve at Meijnerswijk where horses roam wild. A warning is posted that horses can damage vehicles. The route took us under the three bridges that Arnhem has to the ancient city of Huissen. It is a formal city, although it is not terribly large. There is another ferry there, which brings you to the town of Westervoort on the river IJssel. A noise crossing by bridge took us into Velp and back home. I'm currently uploading the pictures, and due to the lateness of the hour, I am not going to annotate them today. Check back tomorrow for those.

I take the opportunity to also draw attention to yesterday's pics, taken in the forests near the town of Rheden. This place boasts its very own flock of sheep, which (until 1990) were grazed on the Heathlands, which I frequently mention on here. Small wonder the Heathlands now look more like grasslands, with no sheep to graze them.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Wednesday's walk

Got pictures of Wednesday's walk on view here.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Arnhem

Went for a 3 hour walk round the green parts of Arnhem this afternoon - as per usual, just after we returned, the heavens opened. You can view the pictures here. To whet your appetite, here is a wee video of a waterfall.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Downward slope

Referring to the weather over the last two days. Yesterday, cloud gradually increased over our neck of the woods, to end in rain. At 3pm, my dad and myself went off for an amble over to the Heathlands, as I call them. Just as we reached the highest point (100 metres or 330 feet above sealevel), a pall of grey cloud could be seen moving in from the southwest. Not hurrying, we continued to the Watchtower (where a watchman would keep a lookout against any heathland fires until the 1960s) and back home. Just as we walked up our street (it is the second steepest in town) spits and spots of rain started. And just as we sat down for a glass of juice, it poured.

Today is just plain miserable and wet. It is reported from Amsterdam that a woman police constable was shot at point-blank range last night. The WPC was on her way to the station in her private car, when she noticed a vehicle being driven erratically. She contacted her station to say she was going to speak to the driver. When she walked up to the vehicle, she must have identified herself as police, upon which the suspect immediately opened fire. He fled into a nearby house, where he was later apprehended. The police woman died of her injuries. It has since become clear that the man had opened fire on a house elsewhere in Amsterdam earlier that evening. The WPC was not aware of this.
Fewer than half a dozen police constables have been killed in Holland in the line of duty over the last 30 years.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

One of those days

When nothing happens. Went down the shop to buy a USB memory-stick and some fiendishly expensive photopaper. Then it was on to the supermarket, where the arrangements on the shelves make no sense to me. Why do the cookies have to be spread over three different aisles, for goodness' sakes. The weather this week is not worth writing about; it's showery, and when I say showery I mean downpours. No improvement in sight. I'm not complaining about 70F weather (like it), but I don't like getting wet if I can help it.

Yesterday evening, someone decided to blow up an old bunker in the town of Bilthoven, some 35 miles west of here. The bits rained down on the town, leaving cars and homes damaged. I've watched lots of programs on demolition by explosive, and the debris usually all stays on the site. The municipality of Bilthoven will be coughing up for the damage.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Church interior

Had access to the church this afternoon, and was able to take 24 pictures of its interior, including some of its exterior and the street running past. The pictures, by request, will also be made available to the church community. Pictures available on Flickr after the upload is complete. Any eager beavers are gently recommended to wait for about 45 minutes after I post this entry, in order that I can annotate the pics.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Church in pictures

These pictures are linked from the church's website, which unfortunately is all in Dutch. Translating through Google turns it into an unwholesome mess. It is a large block of text, but I've extracted the most important bits for your information.

You are looking from the back of the church towards the pulpit. To the left is depicted Christ on the donkey, entering Jerusalem. To the left is Christ speaking with the Samaritan woman. The left quote reads: "Go forth and do likewise" (Luke 10). The central quote, above the pulpit says: "All that breathes praiseth the Lord" (Psalm 150). To the right: "Worship in spirit and truth" (John 4).

I'll endeavour to get access to the church in the next few days, should not be a problem.

Church

Went to church today, partially because it is 250 years ago that a church was established in this village. The link with the local nobility was essential; without a substantial endowment from the Castle, the church would not have been there today.

Our church is quite unique, in that it doesn't look like a church from the outside. Some have likened it to a warehouse, with its two separate porches and hatches in the attic. Inside, all is reveiled though. Unusually, the wall either side of the pulpit is adorned by a large mural, stretching 30 by 40 feet. It shows two biblical scenes and three biblical quotes. The organ is situated on a balcony above the entrances. Today, that little house of God was nearly full up; my estimate is about 100 people. I felt it inappropriate to take pictures at this time.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Saturday

Day started with blue skies, but ended with a shower of rain. A very gradual deterioration took place over a period of 12 hours. Never mind, a maximum temperature of 21C / 70F is not to be sniffed at. In the morning, we cycled to a garden centre in Arnhem to acquire some grass-seed. In the afternoon, I sat outside in the shade (sun is a tad hot) to read The Mayor of Casterbridge, one of Thomas Hardy's classics. Does tend to get you down a bit, so I switched to Soil and Soul by Alastair Macintosh, about the empowerment of the people of the Highlands and Islands, most especially those in the Isle of Eigg. After supper, we nipped over to the cemetery to have a look at my mother's grave.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Fickle

I saved the previous entry at the start of a thunderstorm (or a line of storms) that passed through like a goods train for another 90 minutes. One bolt struck within a few hundred yards of here, and rattled the windows. Don't think any harm was done, but it was pretty loud. The rain pelted down for a while as well. Now the sun is out and in between the clouds, it's quite warm. After all, it's July, so what do you expect.

I was sad to note that Chuck [chasferris], Dribble from Chuck Ferris, had passed away, but pleased in a way as well. I read his journal for a while, and found his tales from the home for the elderly amusing. Chuck succumbed to cancer, and he is now free from pain. If you didn't get the alert from Call for Support, you can leave a message of support on his journal.

Folks in the US, stand by for Bertha. That is a tropical storm, currently a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands off Africa. Due to the combined forces of winds and the rotation of the earth, Bertha will be heading westnorthwest to northwest. It is still thousands of miles away, but if you find her mentioned in official news reports in a week's time, you have been forewarned.

4 July

Happy Fourth July to my American readers. Have a great day, but please be careful with fireworks.

Over here in Holland the weather is improving, with some sunshine amidst the dark clouds. A roll of thunder just rang out. Temperature is down to 60F / 16C. It should get a little better over the weekend.

At the moment, I am in the process of scanning old photographs of holidays in the 1990s. If anything, it serves to show the changes there have been in places like Vlieland and Scotland since then. If you're interested, here are some links:

Vlieland, August 1997
England & Scotland, May 1997
Scotland, January 1997
Scotland, July 1996

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Very wet

The contrast with yesterday could not be greater. It has been raining virtually all day, and we're on a miserable 18C / 64F. Twenty-four hours ago, it was nearly 15 degrees C warmer. However, yesterday evening saw a good set of thunderstorms passing through. The last of the hot weather is being driven out of Holland as I type.

A few days ago, reports surfaced that the case related to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was heading for closure. Young Madeleine, who would have been 5 this year, disappeared in May 2007 whilst on holiday with her parents in the Portuguese Algarve. In spite of an unprecendented media campaign, sight nor sound of the girl has been had.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Very warm

At midday, half an hour ago, the mercury had already breached the 80F mark. Maximum temps today will be 90F, 32C. Holland's weather being what it is, we can expect to pay the price by the end of the afternoon or into the evening with some electrical storms and a nosediving temperature. I am aware that our friends over in Texas are at 90F at 4 in the morning at the moment, but they are in a different league. Anything over 30C / 86F is hot in this corner of the globe.

People opposed to the smoking ban scuffled with security guards at a courthouse yesterday, when they tried to attend an appeal against said ban. Keepers of small pubs in Holland fear for their livelihoods, as smokers are driven outside. Not a problem in high summer, but it may come to the fore (they claim) when the weather turns. I am totally non-plussed by this attitude. Barstaff in Scotland were delighted not to have to breathe in second-hand smoke after a ban was introduced their in March 2006.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Photovideo Vlieland - 21 June

The final video of this series, showing our last hours on Vlieland and the journey home.

Monday, 30 June 2008

End of month

Smoking will become outlawed in all enclosed public spaces in Holland as of July 1st, i.e. tonight at midnight. I'm mightily relieved - tobacco smoke makes me unwell and can in extreme circumstances make me throw up. Has happened. Also, when you come home from a smokey place, your hair, clothes and everything reeks, and you have to change your clothes and take a quick shower. I could not believe the amount of whingeing being shown on Dutch TV tonight from people moaning about the meddling state. The ban, already common in much of Europe, was introduced on health grounds. Since the introduction of a similar prohibition in Scotland in March 2006, barstaff (e.g.) have noticed a distinct improvement in their health.

I've spent today scanning photographs from 1997, from the months prior to my departure to the UK. The pictures can be found on my two Flickr accounts. The photos of a holiday in the Yorkshire Dales (part) and Western Scotland can be found here.
Pictures of a cycling trip round the Frisian town of Heerenveen, and of a daytrip to Vlieland (now well-known to most of my readers) here. Please allow an hour for the upload and annotations to be completed.

The weather will see a brief tropical spell down here. Tomorrow, the mercury will exceed 80F and on Wednesday, some forecasters see us hitting 90F. I'm not looking forward to this at all. A thundery breakdown will follow late on Wednesday and through until Friday.

Toads

Those who had a look at my pictures for June 28th (last Saturday) will have seen the tiny toads. They were hopping around by the dozen on a forest path in early evening (just after 6pm). The area is not near water (the nearest body of water is a pond a few hundred yards away) but shaded by a hedge. The toads were only 1 cm in size. I'll show my best picture, but it appears something hatched.


Sunday, 29 June 2008

Pictures

I am currently uploading pictures from yesterday and today. If you are reacting to the alert instantaneously, please check back in about half an hour's time; the upload is not yet complete.

Two walks

Last night, we went for an amble in the woods, only to return with purple-stained fingers. The blueberries are out in force, and tasting very sweet. This morning, we headed north again, as far as the Eerbeekseweg (4 miles away). The cyclists had to dodge a herd of Highland cattle that was standing about in the cyclepath. The weather is quite acceptable, just over 70F today with a breeze and occasional sun. I have not yet uploaded the associated pictures, but will do so later tonight.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Photovideo Vlieland 20 June

Photovideo Vlieland 19 June


Veterans' Day

Today is Veterans' Day in Holland. It is a fairly new phenomenon, which was first observed in 2005 on the birthday of the late Prince Bernhard, who died in 2004 at the age of 93. The formal part of proceedings took place in the city of Den Haag [The Hague]. A fly-past and a march-past took place in the centre, and the parade was taken by HRH Prince Willem Alexander, the Prince of Orange and future King of the Netherlands.

The three branches of the Dutch armed forces, Navy, Army and Airforce, were represented in that order. Veterans took part who had taken part in war and peace missions from the 1950s onwards. Dutch military had served in Korea in the 1950s, the New Guinea crisis (1950-1962), Unifil [Lebanon], Balkans and Afghanistan. The (old) soldiers appreciated immensely the presence of a sizeable crowd along the route. The most important matter to them was recognition for the work they had done in the past, sometimes not so distant in time. For many, their experiences are as vivid today as they were at the actual moment.

In the past, on returning from their tour of duty, the politicians, the armed forces and the general public were apathetic to the needs of the veterans. To this day, it is shown that some are not just affected by physical injury, but even more so by psychological damage. Post-traumatic stress disorder, the shell-shock from World War I, is not an imaginary condition.

I have often written on the Northern Trip journal that the military get blamed for going on controversial missions (Iraq is a case in point), which is not fair. The politicians take the decisions, which the armed forces have to carry out. Blame the politicians. Not the soldiers.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Photovideo Vlieland - 18 June

Vlieland photovideo 17 June


Friday

Spent yesterday with family in two locations in the Netherlands. A birthday was one occasion. My dad drove us to a town near Amsterdam, which meant going down the A12 motorway to Utrecht, and then north up the A2 towards the capital. It was incredibly busy, and driving nose-to-tail at 60 mph is a bit worrying. Particularly amidst wide and large lorries. We duly turned off short of Amsterdam and took a shortcut through the countryside. The second was a get-well-soon visit on the other side of the city, but by that time it was past 8pm and traffic had thinned out.

Took a few pictures, mainly of cats. When you follow this other link to the pictures, you will also come across three pictures of our last cat Stapper (which I have referred to as Strider in translation before). The grey-and-white is one of my sister's cats, also dead a long time ago.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Vlieland pictures - 14 June

Worked them into a video with comments - no music though. Enjoy!

Tuesday

Not much to write about this week, just a few bits and bobs. I may work the Vlieland photos into videos, will have a look at that tonight.

This morning I jumped on the bike and went down the hill to Arnhem, 3 miles or 20 minutes away. Needed to buy some shirts. The cuffs of my previous ones were destroyed by a corroded watch - sounds strange perhaps, but my corrosive perspiration had taken the outer layer off my watch, leaving a rough edge. This rubbed against the cuffs of my shirts, taking away the stitchings. Rather unsightly.

At coffeetime, a relative came to call, and we had a couple of hours of chat. The weather was quiet, not too cold, not too warm, about 70F.

Monday, 23 June 2008

More Vlieland pics

I have not yet annotated them all, but you can view the pictures from last week here:

16 June
17 June
18 June
19 June
20 June
21 June


At the moment, only the pictures from June 19-21 carry captions. Check back later this week.

Map of Vlieland

This map shows more detail, and the various locations I am referring to in my description. The numbers are explained below

1 - Noordoosthoek / Northeastern Corner
2 - Viewpoint, used in years gone by to spot incoming shipping
3 - Village, Oost Vlieland / East Vlieland. The village of West Vlieland was taken by the sea in 1736, and now lies a few miles west of the Vliehors (19)
4 - Vuurboetsduin / Fireshed Dune - Highest point of the island (40 m / 133 ft), with great views over the adjacent sea areas and the neighbouring islands of Terschelling and Texel
5 - Kooispleklid. An area of dunes, rising to 30 m / 100 ft above sealevel, also comprising an area of marshland
6 - Lange Paal / The Long Pole. Refers to a reference mast for the Dutch survey service that used to stand there. Also features a Forestry Commission campsite
7 - Nieuwe Kooi. A small plantation with a pond, which was to have been used for luring ducks using decoys (hence the name).
8 - Pad van 20 / Path of 20. A wider shell-paved track, linking the main road to the western beach near Dam 20. The dune area west of this track is not accessible during the bird nesting season (March 15th to August 1st).
9 - Oude Kooi. This is the oldest forestry plantation on the island, planted in 1898 with the duck lure pond. Until the Second World War, wild ducks were caught here. This is the 3rd forest from the village.
10 - Dodemansbol / Dead Men's Dune. Those who were put ashore with contagious diseases (or having died of them) were buried in this dune. Burial in local cemeteries was not permitted.
11 - Sailors' Grave. The above burial site.

The memorial reads:

Here rests the dust from days gone by
Interred in a wooden chest
Please bear honour to this resting place
As such is duty and human both

12 - Bomenland / Treeland. The last forest, through which the road runs, is an old plantation, dating back to 1903-6.

13 - Pad van 6 / Path of 6. The road linking from the Posthuys across the narrowest part of the island to the beach at Dam 6.

14 - Posthuys used to be a stagepost for the mails, coming up from Amsterdam through Texel. It is a restaurant nowadays.

15 - Kroonspolders were reclaimed from the sea between 1900 and 1930, and serve as a bird and nature reserve.

16 - Meeuwenduinen, south of the Posthuys, serve a breeding territory for the gulls.

17 - Reddingbootpad / Lifeboatpath - is the last passage from the North Sea beaches to the main road. There used to be a lifeboat station at the Posthuys,from where the lifeboat would be launched.

18 - Kamp / Barracks: An army barracks, dating back to 1958. Military exercises take place on the adjacent Vliehors on weekdays.

19 - Vliehors. The largest part of the island, it is a large sandbar, which is only accessible during the weekend. Please beware of quicksand and unexploded ordinance.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Vlieland, 15 June

Apart from about 14 miles of tarmacked roads, Vlieland has an extensive network of cycle-paths. These are paved with crushed shells, and lead through the dunes on the western side of the island. On Father's Day, we covered the 5 miles to the Posthuys restaurant through the dunes. Once there, I treated dad to some applecake & coffee. At the restaurant, an old, ginger tom made a beeline for our table (I attract cats like magnets do nails) and started to look interested in the cream on the cake. And the coffee cream too. After we had finished, he disappeared again. We did too, into the adjacent area of the Kroonspolders.
Civil Engineer Mr Kroon, who lived early 20th century, had this idea to reclaim the land south of the Posthuys. It never worked. It is marshland, and a wildlife refuge to date. On the other side, the Wadden Sea laps (at high tide) or stinks (at low tide). As we walked the dyke, large families of geese and goslings swam up the various channels. At the end of the wee dyke, we took to the saltlands bordering the Vliehors. Things became increasingly difficult, with no paths, and boggy. Bearing some resemblance to the Lewisian landscape of my acquaintance. So, we climbed a spur of low dunes and had lunch there. Afterwards, we proceeded west towards the barracks. This houses an artillery regiment known as the White Mice. Until a few years ago, soldiers would come here to practice firing tank cannon. The tanks have mercifully been removed. The Barracks lie 2 km / 1¼ miles southwest of the Posthuys, where we duly returned to reclaim the bicycles. We rode the 4½ miles back to the village, and on arriving at the ferry terminal, an oompa orchestra was tuning up for a very jolly occasion. As we continued east, towards the marina, their gentle strains followed us for over a mile. We proceeded to the Fortweg, the road to the fortifications. Until 1968, gun emplacements stood at the northeastern extremity of Vlieland, but a bit of gelegnite removed them.

One of the passtimes on Vlieland is to go and watch the sunset. The beach is only a few hundred yards away, but that evening the sun was not visible at 10pm, sunset time.

Pictures here.

Clattering hailstones

Vlieland, 14 June

Our journey to the island was eventful. Just six miles into the 120 mile journey, the train was halted at Dieren and we had to get off. An electrical fault at Zutphen, a junction 10 miles further north, had cancelled all rail travel. Two hours later, a replacement bus took us there, but it meant we had missed the 2.15pm ferry. Fortunately, there was one at 7pm as well. On arrival at Harlingen, the port, we had a 3 hour wait on our hand. Harlingen is a quaint old port, one of the Eleven Cities of Friesland, and worth an amble through. We also looked round the fishery port, where trawlers from Holland, Belgium and the UK were tied up. The PD registration is very familiar to me, as Peterhead trawlers would sometimes put into Stornoway.

At 7pm, the ferry sailed. It is a new craft, put into service in 2005, and it whizzed across the Wadden Sea in slightly hazy conditions in the timetabled 90 minutes. The familiar landmarks were passed, like the Pollendam (just outside port), the islet of Griend (a bird reserve) and the huge sandbar east of Vlieland known as the Richel. It is a resting place for hundreds of seals. The Brandaris, the Terschelling lighthouse, winked away on passage. The ferry takes a circuitous route to the islands. Reason is that the Wadden Sea is a tidal basin, large stretches of which run dry at low tide. Only deep channels are navigable to shipping, and these are all marked by buoys.

On arrival at Vlieland, which I had not seen for 8 years, we collected the keys for the holiday bungalow, the bicycles and set off for the short ride to the western side of the island. In the Ankerplaats [Anchorage], the bungalow Brander was ready for us as arranged. Shopping was delivered by the local store, and we could crash in short order.

Pictures available here - check back later for full annotations.

Hailstorm

At 2pm this afternoon, the city of Arnhem and environs (I'm 3 miles away) were battered by severe thunderstorms. Lightning struck the overhead cabling for the electric trolleybuses, but it was the hail (1 inch hailstones) which stripped trees bare of leaves, caused flooding and temporary fog. My village, which lies draped across hills, saw spectacular scenes of tree-choked lanes, 2 to 3 inches of floodwater cascading down hills, carrying rafts and rafts of hailstones. Cars were damaged, and some windows were smashed. As I type, 2 hours later, banks of ice still lurk around. For a moment, the scene was reminiscent of winter.

The website for the local radiostation is inaccessible due to excessive demand.

Tags: , ,

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Island



This map "Kaart van Vlieland" is your reference for the next couple of entries. It shows the locations of the names you will encounter in my descriptions.

Vlieland is a smallish island, stretching 12 miles southwest to northeast, some 20 miles off the Dutch mainland. Its southwestern extremity, Vliehors, is a huge sandbar. The Ministry of Defense uses it as a shooting range for jet fighters. The other main part is the village, Oost Vlieland [East Vlieland]. There was another village, West Vlieland, which was taken by the sea in 1736. It now lies a few miles offshore from the Vliehors. The other locations, marked in green, are the forestry plantations.
Cars are banned from the island, save for islanders, meaning the primary modes of transport are legs and cycles. The one main road, which has a tar covering, runs all of 7 miles from the marina to the barracks. Shell-paved offshoots lead towards the western beaches, and are named after the breakwater dams.
When I describe the island, I will not try to translate the names. The descriptions will have to suffice.

Beach scene

A panoramic view of the beach on Vlieland, spoiled a bit by the clicking whilst I found it necessary to zoom in and out all the time. This was taken this morning at 9.30, just before we left for the ferry.


Returned

Returned this afternoon from our week's break. The journey out was a disaster (ever been delayed by 2½ hours?), and instead of 4pm we reached Vlieland at 9pm. The journey back saw us half an hour ahead of planning, due to an efficient disembarkation of the ferry. I am currently putting 800 pictures on the computer (yep, more than 100 a day), and hope to delight you all with them tomorrow.

Weather was fantastic, except for Thursday morning (downpour and a half-gale), and the island had not changed much outside the village and holiday accommodation area. I shall be writing long, long entries tomorrow.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Cool and breezy

Slightly better temperatures (16C / 60F) and slightly better weather today. None of those heavy downpours we had yesterday. Spent the afternoon preparing for our trip north tomorrow - in other words, I will not be able to update until the weekend of June 21st/22nd. It's going to be 125 miles or 3 hours by train and 20 miles or 1½ hours by boat. If the weather does not change, it'll be a choppy last 20 minutes or so.

Funnily enough, I get the odd alert through on my pharmolo email account. Vish has promised that my complete AOL/AIM account will be restored to as much as the old situation as possible. It's blown up a little storm in a teacup over at ole AOL, on how customers like me are treated. As in, transferring from Paid to Free AOL.

Meanwhile, keep well all, I'll come back with a flurry of pics.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Cold and wet

Today started cold and grey, threatening rain. This transmuted itself into ferocious downpours after lunchtime. Temperature was stuck at a cold 13C / 57F all day, half (in degrees C) the value we've been used to of late.

In the past, I would wonder at the late light in Stornoway; at the moment, sunset is close on 10.30pm with real darkness not setting in until 11.45pm. As I type this, it is dark outside in Holland. Last night though (when the skies were clear), the light lingered over the northern horizon. Holland lies astride the 52nd parallel - Stornoway is above 58 North. Nonetheless, a late light picture (11.50pm) from Holland. The bright star is Capella, in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer. Read more here.



Wednesday, 11 June 2008

High and low

Went out for a little tour on the bicycle this evening, and it just went to show how hilly the area actually is. The route took us from Velp up to the Zijpenberg, which is 90 metres or 300 ft above sealevel. A fiendishly steep little road then plunged us back into the next village, Rheden, which (like Velp) lies beside the River IJssel. A riverside ride concluded a rather varied outing, which took us an hour and a half. Enjoyed an icecream from a parlour in Rheden. It was noticeably colder this evening. The clouds threatened showers, but none actually developed. Some pictures can be seen here.

Cooled down

Temperature has taken a bit of a tumble, down to 18C / 64F today, as opposed to 25 C / 77F of recent times. The sun is taking a backseat today, shrouded by scudding low and dark clouds. No rain, and we do get some glimpses of the sun. There is also quite a bit of wind so quite a transition. Read a report about a jury in Australia who were dismissed from a trial after they had been concentrating on their Sudoku puzzles rather than the trial. Trial by Sudoku, made me laugh actually.

The European Championships Football are taking place in Switzerland at the moment, and after Holland gave the World Champions Italy a 3-0 drubbing, the "Orange" furore is gathering even more momentum. It is worth bearing in mind that Queen Beatrix is a member of the house of Orange, hence the pre-occupation with that colour. When you spend € 15 (£ 10 / $ 20) in certain shops, you get a Welpie (a miniature lion figurine). Each time. Spending € 100 leaves you lugging 6 of the things home. The worst expression (to my mind) is the roarshirt, which shows a lion's head. When you lift the front, the image changes to a roaring lion's maw.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Carp

To answer a question or two from Jeanie. The carp you saw in the picture were coloured blue/grey, but appeared to have a golden sheen underneath. As a child, I was used to seeing carp in the entire riversystem, which flows the length of the village. One of the ponds further down

used to have orange-coloured carp in it. These days, the water is so troubled (by people walking their dogs in it) that you cannot discern anything in it.

Country Park

Another visit to the Castle Country Park this afternoon. Quite a nice day, if a tad breezy. Most notable were the four carp, two of which were seen swimming in either of two ponds. Large fish, up to a foot and a half in length. Pictures in the usual location. The country park is relatively small, but we thought there was a turnstile to get out at the back. Not any more. We had to wade through 6 ft high bracken to get back to the regular exit.

Music

Well, you've seen my feet, let me now introduce you to my hands. On this video (I don't know how to embed on AOL Uncut) you can listen to me on the piano for 4 minutes or so. The piano is out of tune, and I am too heavy on the right pedal. Ach, hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Awards

I have been presented with two tags by Mort and Yasmin. Because of the primary nature of this blog I cannot put them in the sidebar here, but I shall put them up in Northern Trip's and Call for Support's. The latter journal is particularly appropriate, because it applies to anyone who puts an entry there. The two awards are:

and

ALERT

Just to let you all know I've altered the previous entry and added a photo link to it.

Monday

Another warm and fairly sunny day, although high cloud is making a marked appearance. This is in anticipation of a major change later this week, which will see 20 degrees Fahrenheit slashed off our temperatures. Currently at 80F, by the end of the week down to 60F. A northerly blast will cool things down - temporarily. Hopefully, through the following week, things will warm up a little.

Been very busy with an exercise of selling stuff on Ebay. Old issues of a children's comic which were just gathering dust in the attic. So I put them up. All the costs involved have basically cancelled out any profit - I was not expecting much at any rate - not to mention all the hassle.

Went out for an amble at 6.30pm, when it was still quite warm. My digital thermometer has gone on the blink (yesterday afternoon, it told me it was 45F whilst in fact it was more like 80F), so I don't know how warm it actually was. After some pathfinding in the park, we headed out along the ring road to have a look at the refurbishments which are due to be completed on Friday the 13th.

Pictures

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Summery spell

Today is the first of a brief summery spell, with temperatures of around 27C / 80F. It is mainly sunny, but the odd fluffy cumulus cloud bubbles up. Wouldn't be surprised if there was a stray rain- or thundershower later. We duly went out for a hike of some 11 miles across the Heathlands to the north. It was very busy with cyclists, racing cycles, mountain bikers, horse riders, walkers and what not. Only when we went seriously off the beaten track did the stream of outdoor enthusiasts virtually dry up.

As I said, it was quite warm, especially in the sun, although the odd tree did bring relief with some cooler shade. It was under one of those, dotted across the Heathlands, that we had lunch. We also came across some pools over which blue dragonflies hovered, hunting for midges. They are continually on the move, so could not photograph them. Returned home at 3pm, 4 hours after setting forth. You'll have to wait about half an hour for today's pictures to pop up on Flickr, as I'm uploading them after I put up this entry.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Quiet sunset

After a quiet day spent reading a book or two. Went out for a stroll after dinner, promptly to get overtaken by a rogue thunderstorm whilst in the woods. Fortunately, the canopy of leaves kept us mostly dry, and the further south we came, back towards the village, the lighter the rain became. The summery weather is forecast to come to a close during the new week, just in time for our week's break.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Message

I have visited a few journals tonight and left comments, pointing towards this journal. I am not resuming normal J-land service, but merely (as my comments indicated) putting my head round a few doors and saying hi. It will not be a regular occurrence, just running down the list of journals on Technorati.

I have been in Holland for exactly a month now, and it seems rather longer than that. Slowly coming to terms with the death of my mother, which I still cannot get my head round. I've been busy digging out memories from years ago, primarily pictures. But many innocent things will bring back memories, not just photographs.

As I have indicated in a now deleted entry, I cannot give people my full and proper attention, the way I used to until May 1st. I therefore will not re-engage alerts (yet).

Alerts

My alerts end up in another email account, but yes, I do get them. My complaints have been posted on an internal AOL bulletin board, and cages have been rattled. To answer a question from Jan, Queen Beatrix resides in The Hague, 70 miles west of me and has no intention of abdicating. She recently told reporters her diary was full for 2008 and 2009. Her son, Willem Alexander, is apparently ready for the job. I once met him, he's an OK bloke, some 3 years younger than me.

National Park

As it is a glorious, sunny day, with only a few benign clouds, temperatures well up in the 70s and a pleasant breeze, we went to visit the National Park. It is called the Hoge Veluwe / High Veluwe, and lies some 4 miles north of Arnhem near the hamlet of Schaarsbergen. Better put your teeth back in after trying that one for pronounciation. The Park has two other entrances, one near Otterlo in the northwest and the other just west of Hoenderloo in the northeast. Don't mistake the suffix "loo" - it is a common one in Holland, and totally devoid of sanitary connotations. There is even a royal palace at Apeldoorn, 15 miles north of Arnhem, called Het Loo.

Back to the Park. It covers 50 square kilometres (20 square miles), and harbours a great variety of habitats. Broadleaf, deciduous, marshland and sandblown. Species like wild boar, elk and deer roam freely in certain areas. You pay €7 at the entrance (that's £ 5 or $10). That covers the use of a "white bicycle", and that's exactly what it says on the box. A pushbike painted white.

Within the Park is contained the famous Kröller-Müller Museum - not included in the entrance fee - which was established in the 1920s. There is a memorial to General De Wet, who fought in the Boer Wars around the turn of the 19th/20th century. Next along the way is a hunting lodge called St Hubertus - that being the patron saint of the hunt of course.

We went there on the pushbike, 8 miles there, and 8 miles back, in addition to a 19 mile cycle track around the park. Needless to say after 35 miles in the saddle we're pretty knackered. The scenery was quite stunning, particularly with the weather we've been having today. No thunderstorms expected for a change - it's just too dry for that. The humidity has finally gone.

I am in the process of uploading the 66 pictures I took today onto the Veluweman site on Flickr. Give me about 20 minutes to finish them off, after I post this entry.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

More rumbles

I have deleted the moaning entries about AOL from this blog, as I decided that it was outside its remit. I've vented my spleen, it won't make bit of difference, just makes me feel a little better.

More thunder tonight, and it's now quite blowy and overcast. Looks like another storm could be on its way. Am enjoying watching Springwatch on BBC2 (on cable here), which will be on in a minute or two.

Afternoon stroll

To the tune of 7 miles, to the Watchtower (more accurately, just under a mile north of that) via the Church Path, and back along paved cycle paths. The Church Path is an ancient right of way, linking the hamlet of Imbosch to the nearest church. A walk of 5 miles each way. The weather was a bit muggy, feeling cold in the woods but warm and stifling on the moors, where thermals would form (warm) and upon rising into the atmosphere would draw in cold air. Very strange.

Apart from a unicycle and a two-man race-tandem, there were a few touring cyclists about. Overnight rain has left the area pretty wet, leaving us to dodge puddles.

Pictures

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A tale of two rivers

Went on a cycleride this evening, during a dry spell. It poured with rain most of the afternoon, but between 5 and 9 it dried up. So after supper, we headed off to the river IJssel, south of Velp. We took a shortcut to the bridge at Westervoort (sorry about picture quality, the light was lower than I guessed), thence onto a new bridge, which spans the river Rhine. The Rhine [Neder Rijn, Lower Rhine at Arnhem] splits a mile or two east of Arnhem, with the IJssel going north and the Rhine continuing west. A bridge, carrying a dual carriageway, spans the river just downstream from the fork. The bridge is called the Andrej Sacharov Bridge, after the famous Soviet dissident.

On the far side of the river lies the town of Huissen, which used to be an independent state in the 17th century. We proceeded west along the river dyke to the old village of Malburgen and a small nature reserve. A family of ducks served to demonstrate the speed of the water. Two canoeists braved the force of the current, which is much greater than you'd think. And to think the waterlevel is at its summer low. In winter, the river can rise up to 5 or 6 metres (17 to 20 feet) higher than it sits at the moment.

We crossed the Rhine again via the John Frost Bridge, the same crossing that was the focus of "A bridge too far". Operation Market Garden came to grief here in September 1944, when the push to liberate Holland from occupying Nazi forces foundered on poor intelligence and poor communication. Read more of John Frost onWikipedia.
For reference, the movie was shot at the town of Deventer, 22 miles north of Arnhem.

Pictures (incl. map)

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Thunder

I've written an email to AOL to complain of their lack of information when transferring from paid to free. Changing your email address for alerts, without notification. I don't believe it.

Anyway, we had barely had supper this evening when another thunderstorm came rumbling through. Afterwards, things were washed clean, although on venturing into the woods a bit later on, it was quite muddy. Tomorrow, a cross-country run will be held in the park and surrounding area. Should be a regular bog-slog.

This is my prize pic of this evening, more here.

Electrical storms

We had a fantastic display of lightning last night at around midnight. The storms were far away to the north, so we barely had thunder. Elsewhere in Holland, the storms caused flooding and a house caught fire after a lightning strike. Not had so much thunder for many years.

I am also putting this entry up to check the alerts situation, which is still zero.

Monday, 2 June 2008

80s

The thermometer is showing a temperature of 82F / 28C. Not my favourite sort of weather, so I'm desperate for the thunderstorms that are supposedly heading our way. You would not think so, looking at the glaring sun and the blue skies overhead. Down here we have saying that it's so hot, that sparrows fall dead from the roofs. Don't know if that dead young great tit succumbed to the heat, no telling. Probably just didn't make it. The rest of the week will be cloudier and cooler, with temps at or below 70F.

Finished preparations for the trip to the islands in just over 10 days' time. More for my dad than for me, a change of scenery will be good. Bit of a journey (6 hours), but we've done it many a time before. The lighthouse (now defunct) is the most prominent feature, although only 60 ft high, it stands on a dune of 120 ft.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Changeable

Sunday came in with a good ole crash bang whallop thunderstorm at midnight, with lightning discharges within 1 km. It passed over within an hour, by which time I was fast asleep. The day dawned misty and grey, but the sun burned all the murk away by lunchtime, leaving a warm and sunny day, with only some cumulus clouds and high cirrus in the skies.

Needless to say, we went for a walk of some 9 or 10 miles. Crossed the heathlands to the Watchtower, thence onto the Posbank. There is a restaurant there, which was very well frequented outside, but much less inside. Not as many cyclists about as I had expected, but then it was a bitty on the warm side. Returned through Velp and the short cut behind the school. Pictures on the usual location.

Oh, alerts have really fallen flat on their face. Zero today, although there were quite a few comments. I've emailed the journalseditor, so am expecting a reply by 6pm at the earliest tomorrow.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Rumbles far away

A thunderstorm is passing at a distance, as per forecast. The weather was not as close as it was earlier in the week. Day started nice and sunny, and when I went to town to get a few bits for myself, the weather was pleasant warm. Humidity seems to have dropped away a little. Family visited in the morning and late afternoon, which was nice.

One blogging question: I did not get any comments alerts, even though 5 comments were left on the previous entry. Anyone else got that problem?

Friday, 30 May 2008

Construction site

Arnhem's central railway station is likely to remain a construction site for at least the next 3 years. Came there on the bus today (didn't trust the weather), and was horrified at the terrible mess they have made. The old 1950s station building was pulled down a year ago, and there is now an ugly, open space and construction work going on near the railway tracks. To reach the platforms, you'd better put your hiking boots on, as you'll be there all flipping day. Well, that's an exaggeration, but it's a horrible, long detour over footbridges and all that. The old station and bus station had its failings, but at least it was colourful.

Was there to assist dad in the purchase of some hiking boots. In and out as soon as possible.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Close of day

Four entries in a day is unusual for this blog - yes, I know, Northern Trip would sometimes see me with up to 10. The rain ceased after 2.30pm, and the sun came out at 4pm. The temperature rose from a chilly 15C / 60F at midday to 24C / 75F at 7pm. Very muggy and stifling. No further thunderstorms. Did go to the shop and got my curry sauce, so it was rice, curry sauce, cod fillet and lettuce. Yep, had that last week as well.

In the evening, after supper, we headed for a walk to the cemetery the long way. The walk took us through the woods, which bore traces of the heavy rain. They stand on hills, so there was considerable erosion and downwash. Bit of a mess. Pictures, two of which have already featured on here, can be seen at the usual location.

Menu

I have changed the menu for today. I needed curry sauce, which I need to get. However, it is pouring with rain, and things are a bit too lively with all those electrical storms. I do NOT cycle in a thunderstorm, thank you. Looking at the weather radar, a procession of heavy rain- and thunderstorms is marching up the Rhine valley out of Germany. When those hit the high ground behind Arnhem, all hell breaks loose.

You get scenes like these:

Commenting

I may visit the odd journal every now and again, and perhaps leave comments. I am not resuming normal J-land service, as I do not feel up to doing so at this time. I cannot offer the empathy and support that so many of you need. For the moment, I'm afraid it'll have to be a one-way street. I trust you understand.

Thunder & lightning

Bad day out here, with rain and thunderstorms. Quite a contrast to four weeks ago, when, on a sunny and warm day, my mother passed away. I'll have to wait for the storm to pass before I can venture out on a bicycle. It is definitely NOT a good idea to cycle in a thunderstorm. It is me doing the cooking tonight, so I'll have to head down the shop at some stage to get ingredients.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Warm shower

Humid, warm and wet. That's today's weather. Went to town earlier, and it felt as if I was having a warm shower. It rained, but the 23C / 73F made it feel warm, rather than cold. Otherwise, I've been continuing my scanning activities, bringing the total of pictures to 179. In a week or two, I will probably accompany my father on a trip down memory lane and revisit the family holiday haunt. I haven't been there for 8 years, he has not been able to go for about 4 years. Should be good.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Hazy evening

The sun did come out later in the afternoon, making it slightly stifling. We had dinner early, and headed off for a walk through Velp towards the heathlands north of Rheden. From there, it was an easy 3 miles back to the village. Distances aren´t huge, and the paths were paved. This being a moderately hilly part of the country, the Veluwe is a mecca for cyclists, racing cyclists and mountain bikers. It is just amazing. Would you fancy flying down a 4 ft wide track at 35 mph, on tires that are 1 inch wide? No thanks.

Pictures on Flickr as per usual. When you access this link, you´ll also get old Thomas´ pictures, as this points to all pictures taken today.

Rainy afternoon

Day started nice enough, so I went to the shops early, just before 10 am. However, cloud rolled in and it's now chucking it down. So, out came some more photo albums and I added another 15 to the list. Total now at 158. I also unearthed pictures of one of our old cats, Thomas, who died in 1988. He is shown as a young cat, with two exceptions. He was an unneutered tom, with the inevitable results of fights and wounds. And kittens. No, he didn't have them, silly. His mates came round to show them off to him. I'm not kidding.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Pictures

And those are the ones I have been scanning from old photoalbums. They all feature my mother, and to date I have amassed 143. I don't put them on public view, as I've said before. So far, they go back to 1990. There are plenty more albums, going back further, to go through in the next few days.

Went for a wee stroll round town at 8.30pm. It was fairly mild, and in the next few days, the mercury will be exceeding 80F again. Not something I'm looking forward to.



Monday, monday

Strong winds and intermittent rain out here today, so a good day for doing more scanning of pictures. Dozens yet to do.

The Blogoversary button appears to be back in working order - they may have been doing site maintenance or something.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Technical problem

I know many people put the blogoversary button on their blogs earlier this year, but mine has ceased working. The site, www.blogoversary.com, now returns a 403-error (Forbidden). Anyone else got this problem?

Amsterdam

Travelled to the capital this afternoon, to attend a concert by an Argentinian tango ensemble. There were engineering works all over Holland, making our journey a trip down the backroads. Normally, you´d take the train straight through from Arnhem to Amsterdam, but today, it required two changes.

On arrival in Amsterdam, it started to rain heavily. We took the wrong turn or two, making it a 45 minute walk in the rain. Afterwards, we went for a meal in a pancake restaurant nearby. Amsterdam is total mayhem, with tourists, cyclists and trams coming at you from all directions. Worse than that, the streets outside Central Station have been dug up, so it was a bit of a cultureshock for the cousins from the country.

The music was excellent (compliments to all performers), and performed with all the passion you´d expect with tango music.

On returning home, the rain had stopped and a late sun came out on passing Amersfoort. Those familiar with Dutch geography will realise that you don´t normally pass that city when travelling from Amsterdam to Arnhem - the result of the diversions in place. It was still light at 10.30pm - but that´s nothing compared to the Stornoway sunset times.

Pictures

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Clearing out

I've been going through a handful of things that still sit in the attic of the house here. Some of it was outdated, no longer relevant etcetera. Net result was 6 boxes of old paper. Now, it was not all due to my clearing out, my dad had to do the same. And when you get newspapers delivered every day, it does mount up.

Local church has a shipping container and every other Saturday, you can leave your old paper there. Off we went, with a big, heavy box on the bike panniers, to the church, three times over, to dump our paper.

The container will be taken away and emptied at a recycling plant, which will pay the church a small amount per kilogram. Think it's a couple of cents. However, by the time we had delivered the last boxes, the thing was pretty much full.

Otherwise a nice sunny day, quite breezy, and the clouds in the sky warning of immanent change. Thunderstorms will move up from the south through tomorrow.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Citybound

Headed for Arnhem, some 3 miles from here, at 9.40 this morning with the objective of buying a few bits and pieces. As per usual, my memories of the place did not quite square with the current situation. The suburbs were much the same, except that an old school had been torn down to be replaced by a replica building.

The city centre had been turned upside down, and I have to admit, for the better. Until recently, Arnhem's city centre had been austere and grey, especially on rainy days. Remember that in 1944 and 1945, the city was severely damaged in fighting between Nazi and Allied forces. The utilitarian approach was adopted for reconstruction, leaving a dreadful muddle. Fortunately, the shopping precincts have been extensively modernised, the traffic flow regulated, and you can park your bicycle for free, with somebody looking after it in an underground ... erm bikepark.

Found the things needed in just over an hour, and headed for home the long way. Which my dad decided meant going all the way up the Zypendaalse Weg, which is uphill all the way. Pretty steeply. You end up near the Zoo on the Schelmse Weg, but you're knackered by the time you reach there. From there, it's another 3 miles back home.

Nice sunny day today, with a breeze. There is a glider aerodrome some 6 miles outside Arnhem, and today's conditions are absolutely perfect. So, we can see gliders hovering a couple of miles north of here.

No pictures.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Lost

Having sorted out various bits and pieces through the day, we set out on an evening stroll, or so we thought. After traversing the woods between the village and the A12 motorway, we crossed into the main body of the larger forest area to the west. There is a problem, in the shape of a fence, which circles the Castle Country Park. So, in order to avoid that, we headed north. Too far. By the time the trees thinned out into heathland, we could see the high-voltage powerlines that run parallel to the main road between Arnhem and Apeldoorn - and a flock of hot-air balloons. Meaning we were about to hit the Koningsweg [King's Road] which runs to the Watchtower. In other words, 3 miles off course. Well done, natives of the land. By the time we returned to the village it was 9.30pm (sunset time). Anyway, some nice pictures, although the low light tricked me here and there.