Monday, 30 June 2008
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.
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Saturday, 28 June 2008
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
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.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
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
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
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.
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.
The website for the local radiostation is inaccessible due to excessive demand.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Monday, 9 June 2008
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:
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.
Sunday, 8 June 2008
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
Friday, 6 June 2008
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).
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
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.
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
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.
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
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
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.