Saturday, January 31, 2009

Museum or Scrap yard?

Walking through the Belgian Schelde river town of Baasrode today as the light faded and the east wind cut slices from our faces, we came upon the Scheepvaart Museum Baasrode. So the sign on this rather sad looking barge said. Peering through the chain link fencing, all we could see was a wheelhouse stripped by neglect and a fine old wooden rudder going green with the accumulated moss of decay, not display. The buildings alongside were also gathering dust and grime, but through the windows we could see attempts had been made at erecting stands and exhibits. They had the abandoned air of a project in regress. Very sad to see, but also very Belgian.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Choosing your right side

This is a departure from anything I normally post on my blog. I've just watched it and as Dr Jill Bolte Taylor says at the end of her talk, I think it's a message worth spreading. All I can say is that I cried, but at the same time, it felt like recognition.

Update: Following Dale's comment on this post, I thought this exerpt from Dr Ken Robinson's TED talk went well with the previous one too, even though it takes a different approach and is focused on education. The full 20 minute talk is also available on YouTube, and is well worth watching, if you haven't already. Here is the link.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Isn't this surreal?

Walking round the harbour this morning, I came upon this very special sight...I guess someone had a sense of humour.Later on it had thawed right away. Thanks to my little phone camera, I didn't miss the moment for once.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where the boats can no longer go

I think it's probably true to say this is my first real winter here in the Netherlands. Having lived here full time now since January 2001, I'm pretty sure there has been nothing like this in all that time. Personally, I find this intense cold quite hard to cope with, but it has its compensations, the principal one being that much of the surface water in the country - and there's a lot of it - is now completely frozen over. Although it means we boat people are a bit stuck (our friend Philip is stranded in a frozen canal in France), for the rest of the Dutch population it's as if their beloved winter sports have come to them. In fact they are flocking with unaccustomed and quite wildly enthusiastic joy to any stretch of ice they can find. They've all dug their skates out of cupboards long since assigned to 'cold' storage on account of global warming, and are taking jubilant advantage of a Dutch tradition also thought to have died from climate change: eating pea soup and drinking chocolate milk supplied from a small stand on the ice.

For me - well, I just love watching them. It's such a marvellous sight to see sometimes even lone skaters skimming gracefully over acres of natural ice, miles away from towns and commercialised ice rinks, just skating for the love of it. It really is very beautiful, and as the sun shines low in the sky, and the light leaves a pearly pink glow, casting golden shadows across this frozen world, I have to agree, it beats our usual mild but miserably soggy excuses for winter by a very long chalk.

The stunning photo at the top and these last two are Koos's. I think they just say it all. The other two are my takes on the winter scenery!

Friday, January 02, 2009

A beach a year

I love the beach, but not in summer when the hordes of sun seekers stretch their slickly oiled lengths in neat rows over the hard sand where I want to walk. Winter is my time for the coast and the sand, and it's become almost a tradition to chivvy Koos into coming with me every year. The winter before last, we went to the Hook of Holland in November. Last year at new year we went to Breskens, just west of Terneuzen, and this year, we found ourselves just a little further west still on this glorious stretch of golden sand. We shared our walk with countless other dog walkers and horse riders, all of us enjoying the almost wondefully illicit feeling of letting our respective four legged friends run free on usually forbidden stretches.