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.


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:


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


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,, now returns a 403-error (Forbidden). Anyone else got this problem?


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.


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


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


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.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Just wondering how my readers are faring on the issue of language. All the Dutch names and all that. I've put most of my pictures on the map at (not all), which gives you a rough idea where everything is. Basically, you're looking at the area north of Arnhem, which lies 65 miles east southeast of Amsterdam.

24 miles

That was the distance we cycled this morning. Setting off at 9.30, we headed north, into the Veluwe proper. After not seeing a house (save the hunting cottages at the Imbosch) for more than 10 miles, we had a cuppa and some delicious apple cake at the Carolinahoeve [Carolina Farmstead], a few miles east of the village of Ellecom. We then passed through an ancient hunting forest to the village proper, after which a by-road took us into the floodplains of the River IJssel, which I mentioned last week. This literally meanders through the landscape with huge big loops, one of which has left an area called the Haviksewaard. A 'waard' in Dutch means a plain by the river (havik = hawk), and you will have seen in last week's pics what rivers in Holland are like. Huge, broad things, flowing incredibly fast. Anyway, we eventually returned to the main road, which took us home after 4 or 5 miles.

We're now too knackered to do much. The total distance turned out to be 38 km / 24 miles, something I haven't ridden for decades. Hope you enjoy the pics, as per usual on Flickr.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Flown the nest

The young great tits that had been nesting in a box outside the house had flown the nest this morning. No activity was seen near it, and when my dad opened up the nestbox, there was only the remnant of the nest - and a dreadful smell. Box was speedily cleaned up and hung up, ready for the next lot.

The weather today was sunny and bright, if a bit on the cool side still. After dinner, cooked by yours truly for a change (rice, curry sauce and cod fillet) we took ourselves off for an amble round the newer parts of the village, called the Del. These were put up 10 years ago, and house the wealthier in society. Apparently, the houses (as you may discern in the pictures) were designed to convey a Californian look, with broad verandas. Well, the climate here in eastern Holland is a bit more moderate than in Stornoway, but it's nowhere near California's. The roadworks on the ringroad are progressing apace. Returned via the 'new' primary school, which was actually constructed in 1973. It is due to be demolished, as there is insufficient space for all the children. A new building will be constructed on the far edge of the village, close to the Del - and to the neighbouring towns of Velp and Arnhem.


Monday, 19 May 2008

Cool if not cold

We've gone from one face of spring to the other. From summer last week to the last vestiges of winter overnight, with a groundfrost. It was quite cold. Went to the shops this morning, forgetting that on a Monday morning, shops open late in Holland. Just as well I was only 15 minutes early. Assisted my father with a few things computer-related (FTP) and in the house. No pictures today; don't think a set of roadworks is terribly edifying.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sunday stroll

North of the village stretches an area of woods and heathland. It is a favourite place for people to come for a walk, ride or race bikes and walk their dogs. The latter is smellably obvious. In the middle stands a 120 ft high structure, which was in use until 1960 as a watch tower to spot heath fires. Since then, this role was taken on by spotter planes. In the 1980s and 90s, the tower was renovated. It has always been a landmark in the heathlands. We set out at 2pm, to return at 5pm. The tower is 4 km (2½ miles) by the shortest route, although the longer route is about 6 km (4 miles). Closer to the village stands a relic of the era of the Depression of the 1920s and 30s, called the Emma Pyramid. It is a high mound of earth, crowned by a wooden look-out post. You used to be able to look out to the east, through south, to west, but trees have obscured most of the view. Nearby is a small memorial to a number of resistance fighters from World War II who were marched there on December 13th, 1944, by Nazi forces (then occupying Holland) and shot.

Weather today was fairly bright but breezy and cool. Visibility was good, at least 15 miles.

Pictures here.

Pictures here.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Memory lane

I did not take any pictures today, as the weather was too poor and cool to venture out of doors. It was grey and wet. Instead, my father and I selected more than 50 pictures from his own photographs. This spanned the period between 1990 and 2004, when my mother and father went on walking holidays in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Needless to say that my own link to the UK stems from that involvement, which goes back to the mid-70s. It was nice to see mum again in her halcyon days. Great memories, particularly for my father. I think it helped us another step along that long road.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Rainy day

It pelted down with rain most of today, but as we headed across to the cemetery this afternoon it was dry. Took a few pictures along the way - I do not pictures of the graveyard itself. The rain was welcome, there has been no precipitation for 2 weeks out here, so everything was very dry.

You'll also see two images of my father's moth orchid.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

River Scenes

This afternoon, we took our push bikes and rode out of town to the banks of the river IJssel, not far away. Past a platform where storks were nesting to a small ferry, linking the town of Rheden to the watersports complex at Rhederlaag. Having partaken of refreshments just outside Lathum, we wound our way south to the bridge in the A12 motorway (carries a portion open to cyclists). We returned not a minute too soon - a thunderstorm had been brewing and decided to let rip precisely the moment we came back.

Pictures here, includes links to a map

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Village scenes

The thunderstorm has now passed, and we've had some welcome rain. Tomorrow should be another day with sunshine and perhaps a storm or two. Climate here is so different from the Hebrides, although I was told that the mercury reached the dizzy heights of 70F there earlier in the week. Down here, the day was oppressive and stifling, so the thunder came as no surprise.

Yesterday and today, I took the camera out round the village and snapped away. The result can be seen on two pages on Flickr:

May 13th

May 14th

The Castle and Country Park can be visited for a small fee (6 Euro or £4 / $8). They throw in a tour for that money. I only visited the Country Park (smaller fee), and being a native of the village declined the services of the guide. The Shell Gallery is being refurbished - something planned for the winter, but the presence of bats put paid to those plans. Bats are a protected species, and may not be disturbed. The Country Park also contains what I have translated as Tricky Fountains. Usually, when the guide takes a large group round, he or she will tell the visitors to turn round and look at the castle - whilst the guide turns on the taps. Net result, everybody gets soaked. Small fountains suddenly squirt up out of the tiles. It all works through the force of gravity and the laws of communicating vessels. Remember those from your physics lessons?

In the past, access was free, but the Tricky Fountains were not working. I don't mind paying a wee fee to contribute towards the upkeep. I have left many a footstep in the Park with my mother and father, and it was a trip down memory lane of course. Happy memories. It did help.

The Shell Gallery has a different remit to Northern Trip. The latter was born of a journey through Northern Scotland, scenes of which I'm presently putting on the Net. The Shell Gallery is a memorial to my mother, as I have indicated in the sidebar. In a way it shows that we, like shells, are only fragile.

I am not currently active in J-land, with a few-and-far-between exceptions - I don't have the time, and (more to the point) I cannot afford to give people the attention they deserve. I therefore do appreciate the comments, for which my thanks.


No, we only got thunderstorms in winter when I was in Stornoway. I do miss that place, if only because temperatures are a lot more amenable to me than the 77F we've had since my arrival in Holland, 8 days ago. I also miss the late light. I'm typing this at 9.20pm, and it's nearly dark. The thunderstorm that is just breaking out does not help.

I'll resume with a new entry once it's passed, got to close down for safety.


Midas the cat is actually not the house cat of the place where I was on May 12th for the family party. He is a scrounger (an interloper I called him more politely on Flickr), but a very old and thin cat who is easily shooed off. The true family cat I could not show you, as he was forever in somebody's arms. That is a dark tabby by the name of Sirius (as in Sirius Black of Harry Potter fame). To my mind a bit of a misnomer, as that's associated with a dog - and Sirius is a star in the winter sky, also known as the Dog Star.

The Scoundrels' Road (not walk) is a 7 mile road linking the towns of Velp (east of Arnhem) and Oosterbeek (to the west), circling the city that separates the two. Oosterbeek was the scene of fierce battles in September 1944 during the failed airborne landings west of the town. Incidentally, Arnhem is a funny place. As I said Oosterbeek [Eastern Beck] lies to the west, Westervoort [Western Ford] to the east, the province of North Brabant is in the south and until the 1930s, anyone ascending from Arnhem in a hot air balloon to a great height would see the Zuiderzee [Southern Sea] to the north.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Yesterday's pics

Six pictures from yesterday's trip can be seen here.


Been busy with old photographs (see entry on Northern Trip). Also went on a walk round the village this evening, as well as a visit to my mother's grave in the cemetery. I'm still numb with incomprehension to be totally frank.

The great tits that nest in a box on the wall are flying in caterpillars and other juicy tidbits for their chicks at a rate of once every 5 minutes. You'd think there wouldn't be a butterfly left this summer, but to defy the voracious appetites of the wee tits, a butterfly fluttered by this afternoon.

I'm not quite satisfied with all the picture I took this evening, but the low sun made conditions very difficult. I'll have to go back to take pics one morning or afternoon, when there is a different light.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Family Day

Spent the afternoon elsewhere in Holland at a music-related event where the rest of the family was present as well. Afterwards, we all had dinner together.

The same happened on the day of my mother's funeral, when we got a Chinese take-away which the 12 of us partook of together. For the moment, my entries will be purely brief notices on the day's events, if they are noteworthy (in my mind), with pointers to any pictures on the site (link in sidebar). I have now placed yesterday's pics on a map, so you have an idea whereabouts they were taken. Someone asked about windturbines - they can be seen clearly on the picture labelled "Rhein Bridge Emmerich".

I cannot put the pictures of family events on a public photosite, if only because there are children present in them.


During the last few days, my dad and I have gone out in a car in the general area. Last night I took my camera along, as we made our way into Germany. That's only 15 miles away, and since the elimination of border checks an easy trip to make. The difference between the two countries is quite marked, if only in terms of architecture. When I stood on a hill near the village of Elten, the view encompassed dozens of windturbines. It presented the vista that nearly got foisted on the Isle of Lewis, had the Scottish Government not put paid to the proposal to build 180 of the things there.

I have opened a separate Flickr account for my Dutch (and German) photographs. I am not going to upload things twice, which is a waste of bandwidth.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Welcome to my Dutch blog, called The Shell Gallery. I am not updating this blog until further notice, but would like to invite you to put it on alerts. Please note I am using a different screenname, Veluweman.

Northern Trip will remain, and should I return to Stornoway, I'll update that from there.

The shell gallery is part of the countrypark near my town, which surrounds a castle, much like at Stornoway, where Northern Trip is based. This castle dates back to the 14th century and used to be the centre of town.

The Veluwe (pronounce: Fay'-lew-er, stress first syllable) is a large area of forest and heathland, stretching for 30 miles in the east of Holland.