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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.