Sunday, 30 September 2012

Project X comes to Holland

I am ten days late commenting on this event, but Project X visited Haren, Netherlands, on September 20th. A kid put her Sweet Sixteen party on Facebook, but forgot to make it private. So, 1500 hooligans turned up in the town, burned cars, looted shops and fought pitched, running battles with police - in spite of the fact that it had been amply announced that there was no party. The hooligans (rent-a-mob variety) had come up from all over the country, and it says enough when I tell you that Haren is about 130 miles northeast of Amsterdam.

Blame Facebook? I'd say they had some part to play, with their blasted privacy settings. For events, they should be private (user-only) by default, with users having to actively select who to invite, or to actively make it public. However, there is never any excuse for wanton destruction and violence.

More factual information on this Channel 4 output.

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Weekend 29 / 30 September

Well, here I am, back on the Shell Gallery, and you'll be getting a series of posts completely out of chronological sequence. As I type this, I still have not uploaded all 1,050 pictures I took during my holiday in Vlieland, but if you are one of my Facebook contacts, you will have gotten a good sample by now.

Today (Sunday) was a nice and sunny day in eastern Holland, and we went out for an hour's stroll, 3 miles, in the woods around the village. The streets were very busy with walkers, unusually so. The local agricultural college has organised a series of walks, varying in length from 9 to 50 miles (indeed, 50 miles). Wherever we went in the forest, we came across throngs of people, all on those walks. Not used to it.

Yesterday, Saturday 29th, I took the bus to the town of Rhenen, 16 miles west of here, to visit relatives that I had not visited there before. I had previously seen them last December. The journey took 90 minutes and involved three buses. The Dutch public transport system has a chipcard that gets charged for each journey you make, but you do have to remember to check in and out at the start and end of each leg of the journey. I enjoyed the trip, as Saturday too was sunny. I took the GPS along, and this showed a different trace for the outward journey on the road from Wageningen to Rhenen, than for the return trip - even though it was the same road. The problem occurred as a result of heavy woodlands on the Grebbeberg.

Tomorrow, Monday, I shall once again be busy most of the day, so I don't think I'll get down to much uploading of pics, or updating this blog regarding my Vlieland trip. However, I have it all written up in the word processor, so it's a question of copy & paste in a matter of minutes.

Picture post - 30 September

P9308739 Church
P9308742 Castle
P9308750 P9308749 In the forest
P9308752 Silent watcher

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Picture post 29 September

P9298730 Airborne Memorial, Oosterbeek

P9298732 Railway station, Rhenen

P9298735 Bus station, Wageningen

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday 28 September

Last day in Vlieland, boohoo. We finally leave the "Snik" (nearly with a sob, which is another meaning of Snik) at 9.45, and head down for the ferry. Leave the bags on the luggage carts, then wait for developments. The ferry docks at 10.30, and disgorges a large number of passengers. By 11.15, we're allowed on board, and take up position on the top deck. Half an hour later, the Vlieland gives its customary three hoots and sails away, for its 90 minute crossing to Harlingen on the mainland. It's a nice day, quite bright and not too choppy in the bit exposed to the North Sea. The island slowly fades into the distance, with Texel to the south, Terschelling to the north and Griend to the east. Passengers are enjoying themselves on deck, and downstairs in the lounges. At 1.20, we dock at Harlingen, and disembark on time to see the 1.30 train leave in front of our noses. Never mind, the 2pm train is next. The Arriva trains don't permit GPS signals to pass through the windows, leaving me with a 16 mile black-out on the trace. From Leeuwarden onward, there is no such problem. The Intercity trains provide free internet access, and I avail myself of the facility for as long as my battery allows. 40 minutes. Change at Zwolle, which involves going up 42 steps from platform 1 and down 42 steps onto platform 7. The service to Arnhem departs at 3.48pm and quickly takes us to Dieren, 6 miles short of our destination. A local sprinter, infamous in Holland for being looless, then whisks us to the destination.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Thursday 27 September

A nice day for our last full day in Vlieland, albeit with varying amounts of cloud. We set off just after 11 am for a walk to the Pad van 20 crossing, about 3 miles southwest of the "Snik". It was overcast and breezy, but we made good progress. There was considerable erosion on the dunes, particularly between the Pad van 30 and the Pad van 20 crossings. We reached the latter one at a quarter past twelve, and turned a little way up the cycle track to sit on a bench for our lunch. A good number of cyclists came whirring past; I have "fond" memories of that stretch, which would get covered by sandblow in years gone by, something I found almost impossible to cycle through. At a quarter to one, we went east down the Pad van 20, and soon came across large circles of toadstools which (in Holland) are referred to as witches' circles - the witches would sit on the toadstools whilst engaging in their evil activities. A little way further, close to the Nieuwe Kooi plantation, we encountered about 40 Soay sheep, which have been roaming that area for the past two decades or so. These originate from the island of Soay in St Kilda. They certainly have gone forth and multiplied from their original number of 4. Upon reaching the main road, we turned across to the Wadden Sea dyke for half a mile, before crossing back over to the Oude Kooi. This has been restored to give a fair idea how a duck decoy pond worked. Beware of the mossy ground in the forest. As we sat there for a cuppa, a shower came down. Always something. Afterwards, we crossed back to the Pad van 20, straight through the dunes. This is normally closed to walkers, but the breeding season has ended. Our walk continued into the Nieuwe Kooi forest, where we briefly called into the pond. Others had taken the seat. So, we carried on and had a break on the northern edge of the plantation, where I admired a large spider in its web. More rain fell upon our return to the next forest, Lange Paal, but after that it stayed dry. We proceeded past the campsite and onto the cycle track leading to the main road. After half a mile, we joined a bridleway to the edge of the forest around Oost Vlieland. This offered us nice views of the Kooispleklid, a little way to the north. The cycle track around the forest led us back to the Ankerplaats. At 5pm, I jumped on my bike for a final look round the east of the island, by going into town first. Well, I went down the Willem de Vlaminghweg, which circles town. At the ferry terminal, I turned left and went to the marina, which I circled altogether, before going up the Fortweg to the northeast corner of the island. After whizzing down the hill from the crossing, I turned up the cycle path to the Stortemelk campsite and the Kampweg. When another shower came down, I took shelter in the trees around the Gold Fish Pond "Klaas Douwes", disturbing a heron in the process.

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wednesday 26 September

A beautiful start to the day, with nice cloudscapes. Fortunately, the showers appear to collapse as the morning wears on. At 10 o’clock, we cycle away south towards the Posthuys restaurant, which is about 5 miles away. The route takes us through the dunes bordering the North Sea beaches, but the one down side to today’s weather is the stiff breeze from the south – which we experience as a headwind. Unlike on Sunday, I have little difficulty with the cycling, and we duly drop into the Posthuys at 11, to enjoy a cuppa and some applecake with warm cranberry sauce. The ginger cat that I remember from our 2008 visit is still around – or could be a successor. Need to check pictures at a later stage. The earlier cat only had one eye. This one has two and knows exactly how to pose for piccies. We set off for the walk to the Kroonspolders, just across from the Posthuys. The Kroonspolders were a land reclamation project by civil engineer Mr Kroon between 1905 and 1930. The polders were, however, too wet to be of any use, and 15 years ago the two areas closest to the Vliehors (to the south) were reconnected to salt water. We encounter a couple, toting a huge telelens hitched up to a camera. We had spotted some large white birds some distance away, and my small camera (in spite of its 18x zoom) can’t easily make them out. Theirs can, and the creatures turn out to be spoonbills. The colony on Vlieland has grown over the years; in the past, they would appear on the eastern shoreline, within feet of the main road. However, our discussion falls flat when the man appears to know everything, and his wife comes out with the clanger of the year: “Are there many birds here, do you know?” We quickly head away south to the end of the dyke and disappear into the northeastern fringes of the Vliehors. A landscape of colours, water and the distant shimmering outline of Texel – which gradually is obscured by towering clouds as a shearline approaches from the south. Whilst we enjoy an early crop of blackberries, the downpours commence and the temperatures plummet. We make it to the army camp, which used to be the home of a tank regiment, which boasted of the nickname “The White Mice”. Defence cuts have removed the tank boys from the Vliehors, which is now just a target range for military aircraft. As we settle down for lunch on the Lifeboat Path crossing, a military vehicle emerges from the Vliehors, having just hoisted the red flags. This closes the range for civilian access, and bombing is about to commence. After lunch, we head north along the beach, which is fringed by hundreds of gulls of different shapes and sizes. We cross back over the Pad van 6 crossing to do the Bomenland circular walk. As regulars, we are surprised to find beehives in a clearing, and keep a respectful distance. A cup of tea later and we head northeast, the short distance to Dodemansbol on the eastern fringe of Bomenland. Dodemansbol [Dead Man’s Hill] is named after the dead that were disinterred in 1907 when the main road was constructed. The remains belonged to sailors who had come ashore in Vlieland over the centuries, suffering from contagious diseases such as smallpox and plague. They were never buried in hallowed ground, in fact 4 miles from the nearest church yard in Oost Vlieland. A plot, surrounded by wooden fence planks has been maintained and a headboard has been erected, bearing the following lines, famous with every visitor to the island:

Hier rust het stof uit vroeger dagen – [Here rests the dust from days long gone]
Verborgen in een houten kist – [Hidden in a wooden chest]
Wilt eerbied voor deez’ rustplaats dragen – [Please respect this last resting place]
Daar zulks plicht en menslijk is – [For duty and humanity]

Behind this simple gravesite, the Forestry Commission has erected a large bird hide, from where those interested can observe birds feeding and resting on the nearby area of the Wadden Sea, which will run dry at low tide. Today, hundreds of shelduck were in evidence. Our return to the cycles, which we parked just past the Posthuys, took us past the viewpoint on the northern fringe of Bomenland, which reminds me of someone I lost in 2008. The plaque says enough: “Look around you and revel in the beauty of the world”. At 3.15pm, we made our way north, back to Oost Vlieland. The wind behind us, we made short shrift of the 5 miles, doing on average 12 mph. However, when we went in search of a snackbar in the village, all three of them had shut for the day, for various reasons. Disappointed, we returned to the “Snik” via the IJsbaan (Ice Rink) and the Kampweg.

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